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  • May

    My Pre-Race Routine

    By Michael Andrew, 100m IM World Champion

    Last month, I broke down my typical race day routine and emphasized for everyone how important it is to have a consistent routine that keeps you in you focused on your objective and not distracted by other details. As you get closer to race time, it’s even more important to zone in, so I wanted to take you through my own pre-race routine (within an hour or so of competition) that I try my best to implement in every race situation; I will also highlight some key things I focused on and learned leading up to my gold medal at the World Championship at the end of last year.

    While my Race Day Routine (covered last month) starts however far out from your race when you arrive at the pool, my pre-race routine starts precisely 30-minutes from the start of my event. I call it my race build-up routine. It’s important to remember that if you have more time than expected until you start your race build-up routine that you must have certain coping behaviors. So that would be default things you do to maintain excitement, not waste energy, stay warm, stay hydrated, and to continue specific race segment imagery.

    My race build-up (in five-minute intervals)

    1. 30 minutes before – Suit up, giving me plenty of time to comfortably put my race suit on.

    2. 30-20 minutes – Lay down with legs elevated, go through final race imagery, listen to music that keeps your heart rate low.

    3. 20 minutes – Easy jumping around for blood flow

    4. 15 minutes – Light stretching, to feel strong and ready, and loose.

    5. 10 minutes – Light sweat must be present and body warm, continue to go over segments of your race imagery (it’s easier to create a sweat the warmer you are dressed).

    6. 5 minutes – Deep breathing, body warm, light sweat built up, maintain until start of race movements and imagery intensifies; mimic start of races in front, if possible.

    7. 0 minutes – Undress and step up to the blocks, you are ready to perform.

    For my hydration, I have a water bottle that I bring from home that I can fill up and keep filled at all times and be sipping on. Hydration is a tough one on race day because there is a balance. Obviously you can drink a ton and be bloated and uncomfortable in your suit etc. and because of race nerves you will most likely have to pee a bit extra (I certainly do anyways).

    2016 World Championships

    What was so cool about getting to race with the best in the world at 17 years old at Short Course Worlds last year is that I was able to learn so much from experience. I remember being in the ready room before my race. I had warmed up properly, was very warm, and had gone to the bathroom and felt great. I was so ready. I would pray as I get more nervous as time would come closer to walking out. As my anxiousness settled, I continued to do a lot of deep breathing, I had maintained a slight sweat from my warm clothes and the jump rope I had done 15 minutes out. 

    There was definitely a ton of seriousness in the ready room, but at the same time getting to race with those guys and know them outside of the ready room was pretty sweet cause there was a lot of chillness about what was about to go down.

    As I walked out for the final swim with Team USA going nuts and the crowd cheering there was the awesome feeling of exuberance. I could not have won that race in my own strength, I was not physically prepared to do so, as training had not gone as planned leading up to Short Course World Champs. I even considered withdrawing from the meet shortly before as I could not hold my paces in training and we do not train to go slower. 

    What gave me the ability to do so was simply a blessing from God. Somewhere after my 200 IM I had a bit of a “Wake-Up” call reminding me that it is not all about swimming. I get so caught up in what I can do and have done that I leave very little space for God to work. I believe God enables me to do extraordinary things when I simply race because I love racing and not because of all the things I dream of or even wanting to prove people wrong.  Once, like at trials, I did not fear the outcome – I was able to race with my whole being and simply accept whatever had been predetermined for that day and that race. 

    Have the Right Mindset

    A friend of mine has a metaphor of race day being like Christmas, sometimes you get underwear and sometimes a laptop. We need both of those items, but would clearly prefer one over the other – the outcome has already been determined, the question is how am I going to react to the result. I need to be thankful for both and realize they are both a blessing for me my 200 IM at Worlds was terrible, it was my underwear, I had to brush it off and be thankful for the experience and that the first race was out of the way. And clearly the 100 IM was a shiny laptop!

    While my experience at Worlds last year isn’t specifically highlighting my pre-race build-up, I felt like it was important to share with you some realizations that I had come to at Worlds that certainly gave me the ability to rise above myself and race free of fear. It’s important to have the right mindset DURING your pre-race routine. This of course doesn’t mean that every race is going to turn out the way you want it or always go according to plan, but there are definitely things we can do to give ourselves our best chance to race to the top of our ability!



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    Barb ,Lemm
    3 years ago.
    Really appreciate your sharing your pre-race routine. I to pray before I swim and rely on Him and not my open devices. He has blessed me this year in major drop of time from a year ago. Keep praying and he will amaze you.
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