View Full Version : Conflict between training/competing times of day

March 11th, 2010, 10:40 PM
This is somewhat related to the ďeat or not before swimming in early morning threadĒ--though my question is about competition rather than training. I did a search of the forums and couldnít find an answer. First a little background. I am not a morning person. If I could (i.e., if work and life and everything else didnít intervene), Iíd probably go to sleep at 1 and wake at 9. By choice, I generally swim at noon with my masterís group.

Because of scheduling conflicts, on Monday and Tuesday of this week, I woke up really early (for me), didnít sleep much or well, then went to the pool to swim. OMG was that a horrible experience. On both days, I could not warm up or get comfortable in the water or get my body to loosen up. I nearly got out after 1000 yards, and I usually never want to get out before Iíve finished the planned workout. More to the point of my question, I was also about 4 seconds per 100 slower than I would have been at noon, based on perceived effort. And Iíve noticed the same crappy feeling pretty much every time I swim in the early morning.

So, Iím looking ahead to this summer, and to one open water swim in particular, though my question has more to do with time of day than to venue. This open water swim is designed for early birds. It starts at 8:30--but it starts on an island. Which means that you have to take the 6:30 ferry over, then wait around for the start. Which in turn means that I have to get up really early (for me), and that I do not sleep much or well. When I have done this swim in the past, the feeling has usually been more like the morning swims than the noon ones (though, of course, there is more adrenaline, etc. flowing during a race).

Anyone else have a similar experience? Does anyone have any advice about how to get to a place where an early morning competition doesnít automatically mean a handicap? Aside, that is, from some crazy idea like changing all of my regular workout times to the early morning.

March 11th, 2010, 10:57 PM
I'm guessing most folks will tell you to "suck it up," with all due respect of course. :D

That is a constant issue for me as well. Most of the year I swim in the afternoon, which works best for me. As I get closer to my swim season (from mid-April to mid-August), I try to suck it up and swim earlier in the day at least 3 times a week, in an effort to adjust to swimming hard in the morning. I'm not a big fan of this as I am also a late riser, and I don't perform as well initially swimming in the morning, but I think it makes sense to train during the time of day when you'll be racing. Caffeine also seems to help with this. :bouncing:

The Fortress
March 11th, 2010, 11:10 PM
I'm guessing most folks will tell you to "suck it up," with all due respect of course. :D

I won't. I hate people telling me to "suck it up" when I'm already a hard worker. I'm a notorious night owl. And I think my natural hours, if I could do so, would likewise be 1:00-9:0am or thereabouts. I train in the late morning and early afternoon (I'm happy with late afternoon or evenings too), though my swims usually start between 12-1. I never ever swim in the am. My team practice is at 9:00 on Sunday, and that is an effort for me with the drive there.

I struggle in competition with the early wake ups as well. Plus, I don't sleep well when I travel or at meets. I haven't found a good way around my natural proclivities. I sometimes try to find meets with later warm ups times. I have one in the afternoon coming up. :bow: At big meets, I just caffeine-ate a lot and hope for the best. If I can come late and skip the designated warm up, so much the better. But I guess I have grown accustomed to operating with very little sleep during multi-day meets. (And then the predictable post meet semi-collapse.)

I did an OW as part of a tri relay last year. I had to get up at 6:00 am. I'm sure it effected my swim. I guess you could do what funky fish suggests and occasionally try to train earlier. I haven't really tried to do this, though I've read many times that you swim fastest at the time your body is used to practicing fast. What I try to do is get max sleep leading up to the meet, so my body can stand the sleep deprivation -- and live on adrenline -- during the meet/race. Perhaps not the best solution, but with the discrimination against early birds, I'm not sure what else to recommend. That's one reason I like bigger meets that last all day long. There is somewhat more flexibility about when you get to the pool for warm up and there are always afternoon events.

Good luck.

March 11th, 2010, 11:20 PM
I get it, but I'm on the flip side -- I train a lot in the early AM (5:30am) and find it discombobulating to swim after about noon. My disappointment is the opposite of Fort's when I've got a Friday afternoon/evening session for a 1000 or 1650. At that point, I'm winding down and can't take caffeine for fear of it ruining my sleep, so I just swim through it and look for the next meet to have an earlier start. I also don't like racing much after about 1pm/2pm. I'm still looking for that meet with warmups at 5am and a 6am meet start.

March 12th, 2010, 09:19 AM
The swimmers had to cope with this in Beijing where finals were held in the morning. You can adjust your training as the race approaches. I also wake up real early and give my body a chance to get going. I try to fool it into thinking a morning swim is realy an afternoon swim.

March 12th, 2010, 10:07 AM
Here is some research on circadian rhythm and swimming performance:


I have been training at 5:30 am for several years but still notice faster repeat times when I swim later in the morning.

March 12th, 2010, 10:37 AM
I'm not a morning person either, but I've conditioned myself to get to early workouts and make them effective. I had to because of a stretch of limited evening workout times on the calendar. The transition stinks, but it's not so bad once you settle in.

The two biggest things that I've learned about early workouts to make them feel as good (and now better) than evening workouts:

1. Hydration: everyone knows you're supposed to be hydrated, but I was still underestimating how dry I was first thing in the morning vs. after sipping water all day at work. Now I chug about 20 oz of diluted Gatorade as soon as I wake up, and then another 8-16 oz of either Gatorade or Accelerade en route to practice. Makes the difference between feeling strong for the workout vs. not being able to get out of 2nd gear and feeling almost flu-like. I also eat (a mug of cereal or a banana) but if I miss the snack, I can still usually rev it up in the pool.

2. Warmup: It takes me way longer to warm up in the morning before I can get into gear. I have to start off almost ridiculously slow, and build the whole warmup and sometimes part of the first set, about 12-1500 yds. In the evening I can start feeling warmed up after half of that. Once I get over that morning hump, I usually feel better than I ever would in the evening, especially in the legs.

Pretty obvious I suppose, but it took me a few weeks to realize this. Hope that helps.

March 12th, 2010, 12:21 PM
I think your problem is all in your head!
If you let yourself believe certain things they will be true for you.
I personally like variety. Half the time I swim at 5 a.m. solo so I can be at work by 7:15 a.m. The other half of the time I swim with my Master's Team at 7:00 p.m. I try not to think much about either, I just do it. I have to work to make a living and I need to swim to stay sane. I have great workouts at either time slot, and I have had terrible workouts at either time.
As far as meets and ow swims I would recommend getting to bed early the last 2 nights before your event so you feel rested the morning of.
Are you getting a good warm-up before yu swim early?
Try eating different food, or no food at all.
Try different routines till you find something that satisfys you! :)

March 12th, 2010, 12:55 PM
I think your problem is all in your head!

Indeed it is. The hypothalamus, to be precise.

March 12th, 2010, 05:27 PM
Thanks for all of the responses. Definitely a lot to think about here. I know there aren't any magic bullets. My schedule ordinarily works for me except for one or two races a year. So, I'm just looking for suggestions for ways to cope a little better during those races.

I particularly the idea of banking sleep before the meet or race. I know I tend to go the other way, getting too little sleep, then trying to make up for it later. I'll also have to experiment with increasing fluids before early morning swims. I try to make sure I drink enough, but I hadn't really thought of it in terms of first thing in the morning.

And, most importantly, I am also planning to make caffeine my very, very good friend on the morning of the race (and before any other swims I may do in the early morning).


March 14th, 2010, 11:21 PM
Being a night owl has screwed most of my adult life. I just have trouble getting to sleep, I do my best work late afternoon; I get a second wind after dinner and ... it repeats. Going to bed early means staring at the ceiling for hours. Getting up early means I am not totally functional and while drowsy during the day, I can't nap or get to bed on time that night either. Eventually I oversleep to catch up, resetting things.

It means I am often late to work, have to stay late to finish; miss all social and workout opportunities and am generally out of synch with life. When I am able to get up for morning swims, they are generally slow and sluggish despite LOTS of caffeine.

It wouldn't be bad enough, but there's also enduring the disrespect and snide comments from early risers who awaken feeling refreshed.

I am about ready to go for sleep studies to see why I am so wrecked in the mornings and can't get to sleep. Just promise me I can still enjoy my morning coffee drinks...

March 15th, 2010, 01:05 AM
I've been swimming in the mornings now for about 8 years. When I first started, it was a tough change...still feeling half asleep, getting to work starving, then getting tired at around 2-3pm. But after around 2 weeks, my body adjusted, and much of the time I wake up around the same time every day, but just go back to sleep on weekends.

Last summer I tried something different. I usually swim mornings and run or go to the gym in the evenings. But with the summer heat, it was way too warm to run after work, so I swim in the evening. Again, at first it was tough swimming after work, after running that morning...then swimming the following morning (I still swam mornings on M-W-F). But my body adjusted.

Basically, if you get your body in the habit of doing something, it should adjust.