Eat right. Move. Sleep. And don’t be obsessed.
It’s become really difficult to organise our preseason swimming prep. When it comes to Covid-19, we thought we were through the worst. Wave one. Wave two. And now we are in the grips of wave three, with the stay-at-home orders to prove it. But the swimming scene forges on as the worlds’ eyes get set to cast their gaze on the Tokyo Aquatics Centre for the “2020” Olympic Games, while 16-year-olds are setting junior world records, clocking 47.30 for 100m freestyle. Despite the closures, the curfews and the chaos, you’ll be back in the water before you know it, racing the rival who seemingly never left the water. By following the guidelines below, we’ll have you prepped and ready to return to in-water training and the racing that’s sure to follow.
Whether you’re an age-group swimming champ, an up-and-coming senior, a masters swimmer keen on competition or a triathlete looking to best prepare for the water leg, it is highly likely that you have been left waterless with the recent lockdowns. Access to the familiar environments you have possibly taken for granted in the past have been restricted, and you’d do anything to swim that extra 100m butterfly or push up that final hill in the local spinning class.
Despite your despondency, the temptation of the couch, Netflix and that bag of darn Doritos offers, you have decided to push that aside and rather pursue your preseason swimming prep. The plan may not be as comprehensive as what you’re used to, but sometimes it’s all about doing the basics right – eating well, moving, sleeping and avoiding obsession (here is something I wrote on the same four elements when it comes to overcoming anxiety).
Now we think about the facility-less sportsman yearning to train – here is a revised edition of those four elements focused on preseason swimming prep.
Although not immediately obvious, the same four elements can help guide our out-of-the-water preseason swimming prep during lockdowns or whenever you find it difficult to make your way to your training facility of choice. Below, we’ve given you some guidance on how to implement these very straightforward, yet life-changing elements to keep you fit, healthy and ready to return to the pool.
1. Eat right
Deep down, we all sort of know what this means, even though dieticians seem to struggle to agree on the right answer. Ditch the refined carbs. Increase your intake of healthy fruits and veggies. Ensure lots of good (vegan or non-vegan) protein enters your oesophagus. And lots of water to wash it all down.
Think that burger will go down well? Ditch the buns. Would you like a salad or fries with that? Tricky question (not really though). You should totally go with the salad. Would you like your chicken grilled or fried? We all love that glorious coating of golden crisp deliciousness, but we know, deep down, that it’s probably the wrong decision. I don’t have much more to add here. Nothing scientific, just gut instincts (pun totally intended).
Ultimately, be aware of cause and effect:
- Feeling nice and light – what did you eat?
- Feeling overwhelmed, anxious and lacking motivation – what did you eat?
- Have the most amazing workout of your life – what did you eat?
- Eager to get back to training – what did you eat?
Keep reworking your diet until you find a good balance of nutrients that aid the good vibes all around.
For legal reasons, I should probably mention that I’m not a qualified dietician, health practitioner or foodie necessarily, so this is based on my own life experience as it were – not only dabbling in the good stuff but also the bad, instantly gratifying stuff too.
This is the part we struggle with, mostly because our routines have been disrupted. Or we have struggled to find a facility to accommodate us. This is where the real creativity needs to fly free – and luckily for us, it isn’t as tricky as one would think.
My saving grace was some of the online workout apps, which made it so easy to develop workouts targeting all muscle groups, integrating work targeting speed, flexibility, agility and power all from the comfort of my lounge, with no equipment requirements (although there were ones that use equipment, should you be lucky enough to boast your own at-home gym).
What I loved most about the app I used, Nike Training Club, was the time it saved me not having to think of a workout to complete. Also, linking my device to my soundbar allowed me to control the playlist, while the soothing robotic tones of that lovely lady narrating each of the workouts motivated me along, defining form expectations and pushing me through the sweat and tears.
A pair of running shoes and cycling cleats present an awesome opportunity to ditch the cramped lounge environment while you hit the roads to work out your sweat in a different way. Vary those cardio workouts balancing some longer aerobic sessions, with some shorter, anaerobic high-intensity interval training.