May 202011

I feel like our 2010 Camaro on a good day!

Owners of high performance cars often feed them the highest grade of gasoline, wash and wax them regularly and take them in for regular preventative maintenance work. As the owners of bodies that at least have the potential for high performance, shouldn’t we treat them equally well?

Instead of stoking your body with empty calories, why not hydrate it regularly with water and nourish it with plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains? Salmon and spinach will elevate your mood; whole grain cereals and breads helps make your body feel full and satisfied; grapes, yogurt balances the enzymes in your stomach and softens your complexion, mangos and berries energize, and a variety of colorful vegetables helps ward off illness. A balance of vitamins and minerals in your system means your brain and body will function more efficiently, you will feel more optimistic and have an overal feeling of “wellness.”

Keep your muscles and joints moving fluidly with regular aerobic activity, strength training and stretching. Aerobic conditioning, such as swimming, cycling, running, walking, will help keep your heart in optimal condition. Bones and muscles become denser and stronger with strength training and muscles retain elasticity and range-of-motion with regular stretching. Just like you make an appointment to take your car in for work, make an appointment to take your body to the gym so you can get it an keep it in top condition. Regular visits to the chiropractor and/or massage therapist can also keep your spine, muscles and connective tissue healthy so you can move with more ease.

Exercise and healthy eating reduce the incidence of many health problems. But they shouldn’t be used as a replacement for proper health care. Keep your body up to spec by following your doctor’s nd dentist’s recommendations for preventative maintenance. When a health issue comes up, get a second opinion if it seems relevent; then address the ailment rather than allowing your health to decline further.

So start your engines and get moving. Before you know it, you’ll feel more like the new Camaro than an old jalopy.

May 042011

Susan Dawson-Cook, 200 Breast, USMS Spring Nationals

Susan Dawson-Cook, 200 Breast, USMS Spring Nationals

I am home safe and sound after four exciting days of swimming in Mesa with 1817 other swimmers from all over the country. Among us were Olympians (including Gold medalist, Rowdy Gaines), USA National team members, and people like myself out there swimming to stay healthy.

Over the course of the meet, I swam five personal best times, proving to myself that I am only getting better with age. I placed 6th in my age group in 50 breast, 8th in 200 breast, and 9th in 100 breast. I also met some amazing swimmers who were there to give their all, despite coping with cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart failure, and other severe and/or chronic illnesses. These people remind me what a wonderful gift it is just to be alive and serve as inspiration to help me keep my chin up when I face what is really nothing more than a petty difficulty or two compared to what these people face.

When a competition goes well, I like to analyze what went right so I can replicate the conditions again the next time. Hopefully you can glean something from my analysis and use it to your advantage in your next race.

1 – I tapered well for the meet. I did a 10 day taper, gradually reducing yards, emphasizing speed work and I halted all cross training activities. I also avoided spending a lot of time on my feet. This is particularly important for breaststroke, because my kick is such an important part of my stroke. I know a couple of swimmers who went out and did a 50 mile bike ride 2 days before the meet – not a good plan.. Patience is a virtue when it comes to a successful taper. I waited until after the meet and then bounced all over the place in Zumba on Monday 🙂

2 – I got lots of sleep before and during the event. 8 or 9 hours a night… Stretching before bed helped me relax so I could go instantly asleep.

3 – I hot tubbed and stretched every night so I never experienced any muscle soreness. I also did a very long cool down (400 to 500 yards) right after my last race.

4 – I avoided static stretches pre-race, which have been proven to reduce power to muscles for a period of time afterward. I did “shake” the muscles to keep them super loose.

5 – I stayed away from the pool as much as possible when I wasn’t racing. I found the 1800 people plus family and friends mob scene very over-stimulating and needed to have time away from this chaotic scene. Some swimmers around my age are also very exclusive of people outside their clique and I prefer to stay away from those people as much as possible.

6 – I stayed covered so I didn’t get cold or lose energy from the sun.

7 – I made sure to do some fast swimming during warm-up. I watch my times, so I’m sure I’m really warmed up. It takes longer to warm up a 48 year old body, so I need to spend more time in the warm-up pool than I used to.

8- I got back in the warm-up pool very close to my sprint events so that I was “keyed up and ready” to swim super fast. There is nothing worse than doing a sprint and not feeling fast until the race is almost over!

9 – I swam my own races. This may not work well for everyone, but I find that if I am too concerned with what other swimmers are doing, I forget what I am doing or allow myself to get psyched out. In Masters swimming, you often don’t know what kind of times swimmers are capable of doing. Some people put in very slow entry times, whereas I always put down my best times in nationals. If a swimmer who has put in a slow seed time is suddenly way ahead of me, it is easy to start freaking out and convincing myself I’m swimming a disastrous race. I try to focus on my own race so I don’t swim a poor race needlessly. I always have a plan for what I want to do and I try to stick with it first and foremost and go by how I feel instead of by what is happening around me. Within the boundaries of swimming my own race, I compete with others.

What I did wrong? There were a few things…

1 – This was the first nationals I attended where I actually did not enjoy myself at all. It was very crowded there, I had some personal issues going on and so I never felt relaxed. I didn’t laugh and joke with people like I usually do either. I hated the hotel where I was staying and kept wishing I was at home all weekend. I feel like I would have swum even better had I felt a little light-hearted.

2 – I got too inside my head before my 200 breaststroke and so I didn’t meet my expectations in that race. I also don’t think I adequately warmed up that day because I got annoyed with the crowds in the warm-up pool. Again, a little patience would have paid off if I had had more of it…

I hope some of you will share your thoughts on competition and what works and doesn’t work for you!!