A Survival Guide To Two-A-Day Practices
2017 Oct | By
Competitive swimming is not for the faint-hearted. It takes dedication, discipline and strength. If you’re fully invested in the sport, and deep in the heart of training, you’re likely swimming for two hours, twice a day. Regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete, or a student practicing before and after school, two-a-days can be extremely taxing.
While swimming for four (or more) hours each day can be physically exhausting, it also takes a toll mentally. In order to be successful in the pool, finding new ways to stay energized and motivated is key. Without those driving components, getting burnt out is inevitable.
That being said, we're sharing a quick survival guide to two-a-day practices, because we’ve all been there and it’s not always fun.
Don’t underestimate sleep. Although you’ll likely be waking up at the crack of dawn, five days a week, you should not underestimate sleep. In order to perform well in the pool, you need to be well rested. We suggest adjusting your sleeping schedule to accommodate your early wake-up call. Go to bed an hour or two earlier each night, and allow yourself to take an afternoon nap if needed (even if it’s in the car on the way to practice).
Set a goal. We’ll be the first to admit that waking up at 5am every morning, and leaving a warm bed to jump in a cold pool, is not very appealing. It requires a great deal of motivation to do so. Setting a goal, and realizing that you are working to achieve said goal, helps to keep you grounded during the long hours of training. It validates and gives purpose to the fact that you’re pushing yourself to exhaustion day in and day out.
Snack often. It’s not a secret that nutrition plays a huge role in training. If you are denying your body the nutrients it needs, and running on empty, you will not perform to the best of your ability. It is important to replenish and refuel, especially after an intense session in the pool. Eat a big, protein-packed breakfast after morning practice, a generous lunch, and snack (healthy) throughout the day. This will ultimately help maintain your energy level and aid in muscle recovery-- both of which are necessary for two-a-days.
And, of course, it doesn't hurt knowing there's a big breakfast burrito waiting for you at the end of your workout.
Utilize your time. Especially for students, juggling sports and (school) work can be a hard balance. When you’re spending a fourth of your day at the pool, time management becomes essential. If you’re traveling to and from practice, start a carpool group and rotate turns driving. On the off days, when you’re not behind the wheel, use the time in the car to finish homework, study or respond to emails.
Listen to your body. Perhaps the most important tip of all is to listen to your body. You will get sore, you will get tired and you will get burnt out—it’s undeniable. Understanding when it’s time to take a step back and lighten your schedule is critical. Sometimes you have to let yourself rest and recover before you can successfully give it your all.