Courtesy of Gavin Cooley
Being ready to do your best is no simple task, but with these tips you can prepare yourself mentally and physically.
1. WARM UP THE RIGHT WAY
So many people think warm up is, for example, a 400 smooth, hop out and go race. As much as I wish that’s all it took to get ready to race, it takes quite a bit more. After all the training you’ve done throughout the season, your body can handle a lot more than you think it can. I’m not saying wear yourself out before the race, but you need to be hot when you’re behind the blocks. As a sprint to mid-distance guy, I warm up with a 600 cruise, then three rounds of a 50 on 1:00, 3x25s all out on :45, then a 25 easy, 1:00 rest between each round. The best way to warm up is different for everyone, so find what works for you.
2. EAT WHAT YOU NEED TO COMPETE
I’ve seen swimmers eating skittles, M&M’s, cupcakes, ice cream, anything with lots of sugar, the night before the big meet, and they don’t understand why they don’t swim best times after they’ve shaved and tapered. I am not saying never eat anything that’s delicious, but rather time when you decide to eat sweets more carefully. The two to three weeks leading up to championship meets are critical for nutrition. Make sure to get a good balance of carbohydrates and protein, which will provide your body with the fuels to still recover well from training, and drink LOTS of water consistently throughout the day.
3. SLEEP MORE
Sleep is your body’s natural recovery process, along with many other important functions. Without enough of it, we are unable to reach our full potential in physical and mental challenges. For more on sleep deprivation and its affect on the human body, check out the National Institute of Health’s article, a brief 46 pages of complicated words that make you feel smarter if you can comprehend them (unless you’re sleep deprived, in which case the writing may not make much sense).
4. TRUST YOUR TRAINING
It may seem cliche, but you’ve put in the hours, believe you can live your dreams. Take what you’ve done in practice, and apply it to your race. Don’t change what you’re doing last minute because of what you see someone else do, and trust your instincts.