PHOENIX, Arizona, October 31. AS the Holiday season approaches, competitive swimmers everywhere start preparing for the most challenging time of the year: peak week. It can be a time filled with yardage in the tens of thousands, wrapped up in monster sets concocted in the laboratory of a mad-scientist-slash-sinister-swim-coach. For a period of time, coaches challenge their swimmers' capabilities and push them to their limits, both physically and mentally.
Rather than worry yourself sleepless anticipating the workload (believe me, you WON'T swim faster tossing and turning at night), instead, prepare to do everything you can to recover between marathon swimming sessions.
Recovery is most effective when viewed as a three-part puzzle:
-Getting adequate nutrition to have the energy to take on the workout: eat a balanced diet of complex carbs, protein and fruits and vegetables.
-Getting plenty of sleep to aid in recovery: never say no to a nap!
-Paying attention to your body's signals: soreness, tightness and fatigue.
Of the three, many swimmers find that the hardest piece to fit into place is paying attention to their body's signals during heavy training. It is not enough to eat and sleep between swimming practices; instead, swimmers must recognize when sore, tight and stiff muscles need extra attention.
To minimize recovery time and maximize efficiency in the pool, many athletes look to the benefits of massage during periods of heavy training.
Lactic acid and other toxins build up in muscles during training, causing fatigue and tightness. Massage is one of the best ways to jump-start the lymphatic system to remove the build-up of toxins caused by heavy training. Tight muscles need to be stimulated to increase blood flow, remove toxins and start the recovery process.
Even if you don't have access to a licensed massage therapist, an easy solution to increase blood circulation to muscles and speed recovery, is by “rolling out” your tight muscles.
You can personally apply pressure to tight muscles, or have a friend do it for you in places that are tough to reach. Using products such as The Stick will have added benefits, because the tough core will be able to penetrate deeply into muscles, increasing circulation to problem areas.
With adequate sleep, nutrition and paying attention to areas of your body that need extra attention; you'll be able to recover fully for any challenge set your coach may throw your way!