I also posted this race report on my Training Lab thread on the Favorite Practices and Sets conference.
Forum member Andyinnorway asked:
>>Could you share some information about how you prepare on the day of a meet and any warm up you would do before the first race, or is it actually smart to enter an event prior to your main goal to use as warm up time?
Is it normal to have a second pool for warm up at US masters events?>>
Great questions. I'll answer the 2nd first.
At USMS events, it's required to provide continuous warmup throughout the meet. If there's not a 2nd pool, then 1 or 2 lanes--those on the ends--are reserved for continuous warmup.
Ithaca College has a 50mx25y pool. There were 8 lanes in the racing course. On the other side of a bulkhead, many more lanes for warmup.
Saturday I ached all over and that night my sleep was interrupted by neuropathy (nerve pain) both symptoms of an autoimmune condition I've had for 8 years. So Sunday morning I did 30 min of gentle yoga. I felt much better after that and all day, so I'm going to continue that morning routine. Now to the 1st question
A Brief 'Essay' on Warmup/Tuneup
In college (1968-72), we did the same warmup every single workout for four years -- 800 Swim, 200 Pull, 200 Kick. That was very much in line with what conventional thinking said the body needed--distance and/or duration of activity--to be ready to work hard. Indeed, most club and college teams today--nearly 50 years later--use virtually the same routine: 200SKPS (200 each of Swim, Kick, Pull, Swim) or 200 Swim, Kick, Pull, Drill.
Repeating a rote routine every day starts that process of shutting down cognitive neurons--putting the swimmer on autopilot.
When I began coaching I stuck with what I knew or the first year or so. But, before long I began to introduce far more drill practice, and made it quite rigorous.
When I took up Masters swimming at 39 initially I reflexively warmed up as I had 20 years earlier in college.
When I swam meets I felt I needed an even longer warmup, generally about 30 minutes.
But in the last few years, as calf and foot cramps have limited me from doing more than about 2500y (100 pushoffs) in a practice, I began to feel that every single lap--starting with the first--was a precious opportunity to build, refine, or embed skills. So my swimming was very purposeful and focused from the first length. I noticed that I could feel tuned up MUCH faster than I formerly felt 'warmed' up. I believe this is because of two factors
1) The brain responds to stimuli much faster than do the muscles and circulatory system.
2) My nervous system is so familiar with the tasks of efficient swimming and increasing Stroke Rate/Tempo while maintaining Stroke Length/SPL that it needs only a brief reminder.
On Sunday at the meet I tuned up prior to my first event--200 FR--for about 10 minutes. I swam 500y alternating FR and BK at 14 and 15 SPL respectively. Then I swam 2 rounds of 3 x 25 FR -- one each at 15-16-17, the range of counts I expected to use during the race. I finished each with a flip turn/foot-touch. Then I went straight to the starting block to swim.
Following the event I went directly to warmup pool and swam super-gently for 200 to 250y -- alternating 25BK and 25FR -- to assist my muscles in clearing lactic acid. I never even left the pool since my 2nd event, 100 BK would come so quickly. Before going to the blocks for that I swam 3 x 25 at 15-16-17 strokes. I finished each with a turn and foot touch.
I repeated that routine before and after each event--a cool down to clear lactic acid following a race, a brief tuneup to 'remind' my nervous system of its next task before the next race.
Except the final event, 200 BK. I got deeply engrossed in a conversation which was interrupted when I heard my name being announced for my 200 BK heat, for which everyone else was assembled. I grabbed my goggles and raced to the block, without a tuneup. The event still went well, as my splits show.
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist
May your laps be as happy as mine.
My TI Story