By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Swimmers are a consistent people: We are a people who like routine. Schedules. Consistencies. We like to know that during the hours between 3pm and 5pm we will subject our bodies to 155 heart rates and request that our lungs stop breathing for limited periods of time. Morning practice, afternoon practice, weekend meets, end-of-season championships…we like to plot, jot, and plan out our yardage, our trajectories, our goals, and our seasons. Train hard, drop time, six-days-a-week, forty-eight weeks a year.
So, when these plans are disrupted by the unforeseen, some of us get stressed.
Contrary to many of our peers, some swimmers do not actually like snow days.
Snow days disrupt that routine. Snow days cancel our previous plans to have a great week of practice, especially that rare storm that morphs from “snow day” to “snow days.” Pools close, school is canceled, and swimmers are left to their kitchens and home cupboards, capable of still devouring thousands of calories a day without lapping up and down a pool. It’s blissful for the first hour. But after two or three days of being snowed in (more talking to you winter-weather states reading along here), some of us begin to fret, “These snow days are really wrecking my swimming season.”
While a snow day can be a welcome break, for others, snow days can be frustrating disruptions. Any time away from the pool can cause us to recalibrate and figure out how to manage.
If you’re worrying about keeping up your training on a snow day, here are some tips and suggestions to maintain the feel for the water, even when you’re snowed in at home…
1. Buy stretch cords.
Stretch cords are a swimmers’ secret weapon: They travel anywhere, can attach to any doorknob or table, and can mimic almost any swimming stroke. No pre-shower necessary, either. Just wrap them around something sturdy, and do several sets. They aren’t perfect, but they’re relatively inexpensive and can even be carried in a backpack.
2. Go outside!
Contrary to some beliefs, you don’t need expensive equipment or heart-rate monitors to get a nice workout in. Just go outside! Take a sled. Build a fort. Throw some snowballs. Just go outside and walk around and play in the snow. When we took training trips, half the time, we spent at the beach — and it was a workout! We’d play in the surf and snorkel and paddle around, and it was fun… and we were staying active. If you’re worried that you’re losing your shape from one day’s worth of being away from the pool, just go outside and play.
3. Swim in the snow!
Just kidding. Don’t actually do this.
4. Watch race videos.
When I was younger, I loved watching race videos. Race videos contained so much valuable information: If I was breathing into the turns, how my stroke looked from the stands, if I was taking out my first 50 too fast. If you’re on a snow day, and if you had a teammate or coach record one of your races, take the opportunity and down time to review. Or, if you don’t have any race videos, watch motivational race videos online. Get inspired again. Get motivated for tomorrow.
There’s nothing wrong with rest! Seriously! If you’re freaking out that your practice day has turned into a recovery day, embrace it. Recover. Rest. Sit around. Catch up on homework. Call that non-swimmer friend you haven’t seen since you plunged into practice last September. Go to bed early. Enjoy the free time. Enjoy the snow.