Preparing mentally and physically for The Big Meet
No doubt you are doing lots of hard work each day you come to the pool for workout. You do endurance work to improve your distance events. You do sprint work to improve your short events. You do high-lactate work to improve the end of all your races. You do high quality swims on lots of rest to simulate race conditions. You are trying to be ready for anything and everything your body is going to be subjected to at the Big Meet.
What might you be missing? Think about it. At Nationals there are four days of competition. Each of these days requires a fair amount of warm-up and warm-down swimming yardage along with the yardage required for your events. If you are doing the types and amounts of warm-up and warm-down recommended for meets you will find that your meet daily yardage equals or exceeds the yardage you are used to doing in workouts. And some of that is at the highest intensities and thus highest levels of physical stress you are capable of. And you do this four days in a row. No wonder most people are physically and emotionally drained at the end of a big meet.
But, you can prepare for this to some extent.
At some point in your season, before taper, it would be good to go through four consecutive days of training just to accustom your body to the stress. Your mind needs this too. If you are prepared for the fatigue induced by consecutive days of physical stress you are less likely to let that fatigue affect you psychologically.
If you can plan to do this a couple of times before Nationals, so much the better. If not, then it's something to consider next time you are planning on going to a big meet that lasts more than two days.
I guess we could take the scenario a bit further. Maybe with all the fun and parties that surround Nationals you don't get as much sleep as you are used to while you are in training. This might be a good excuse to plan some fun and parties (and perhaps a big meal or two out with your training buddies) during your "4-Day Nationals Stress Simulation" period. Go to bed late, sleep on a mattress that's too hard or too soft and then get up early and hit a 6:00am workout. Sit on a hard metal bench for several hours (or till your butt gets numb) each day. Ride to and from workout in the cramped back seat of a rented economy sized car with six other people - yeah, do the whole nine yards.
OK, so maybe the rented car is taking it a little too far, but the general concept has merit. Think About It.
This Article first appeared in Schwimmvergnugen, the monthly newsletter of H2Ouston Swims.
Emmett Hines is Director and Head Coach of H2Ouston Swims. He has coached competitive Masters swimming in Houston since 1982, holds an ASCA Level 5 Coach Certification, was selected as United States Masters Swimming�s Coach of the Year in 1993 and received the MACA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. His book, Fitness Swimming (Human Kinetics, publishers), is in its third English language printing and is also available in French (entitled Natation, published by Vigot), Spanish (entitled Natacion, published by Hispano Europea) and Chinese (entitled Jianshenyouyong). He can be reached for questions or comments through his web site www.H2OustonSwims.org where more of his articles may be found.
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