Just under 100 days until the first races at the end of June. We’ve gone from counting the months to counting the days. The hay is in the barn, the work is done – it’s now time to fine tune your efforts and work on your speed. With two weeks of high-speed action at the women’s and men’s NCAA Division I meets underway, the anticipation and predictions are ramping up.
Rest = Speed.
With less that 100 days until the Big Dance, speed and rest are synonymous, but don’t confuse rest with taper. Taper is a phase of training where volume and intensity decrease in an attempt to elicit recovery and the ability to reproduce top-end speed for multiple bouts. Taper is coach-induced. Rest is athlete-controlled.
Rest means giving your body and mind the opportunity to recover and your nervous system the time to catch up from multiple training phases of stress and high intensity. Rest means adding a short nap of 15 to 30 minutes to your daily routine if you are not doing so already. Rest means not spending as much time on your mobile devices or video games as you typically do, especially at night before bed, to allow your ocular systems time to recover while not over-stimulating your brain ahead of sleeping. Rest means taking care of your homework and other assignments in a timely manner to allow yourself time to unwind and recover without the monkey on your back of assignments and test prep hanging over you.
As the emphasis in swim practice shifts to speed work, it is imperative for athletes to get as much sleep as possible. Over the next 97 days, build up your sleep bank account so you’re rested and ready for the big day. Waiting until you begin taper is too late. Start resting more now to build as much speed in practice that you can.
You have very few opportunities to replicate top-end speed, other than in a meet, so grab every opportunity you can to do so before you start your taper. As you give yourself more rest, you will notice your excitement to train go up and your quality of speed work improve. Pay special attention to your streamline and breakout as you focus on your speed work. Again, don’t wait until taper to rush your nervous system into adjusting to the new speed you are feeling and the extra distance you are travelling on your underwater work.
Focus on your finishes. From the flags to the wall can mean the difference of stepping on to the podium, qualifying for the finals, or swimming a best time. As you rest more, your distance per stroke will change, affecting your finish. Practice your finishes a few days a week ahead of your taper.
Rest = Speed. You’ve put in the hard yards. Take care of the little things each day for the next 97 days and give yourself the chance to be great.
Good luck - make every day count! #Bridge2Rio