Hi Nicola! You came in second place overall and first in your category at the State Championships. 32’33” is also 4 minutes and 30 seconds less than two weeks ago on the same distance. You smashed it. And after training for just 4 months. What do you think about your performance?
Well I must confess that even if this race was my first seasonal goal, I was the most surprised by my placement and time. I can say I am satisfied, wow!
Can I ask you a few more question about your performance?
Yes, of course. Any question…well, not too personal ehy!
Ok, don’t worry. First question. You just told me that you were surprised, but didn’t you focused your preparation on this event?
Yes, I hoped to win my category, but that was all. I really didn’t expected of coming in second overall, and just behind a masters swim hero. I also didn’t imagine of shaving off more than 4 minutes and 30 second from my Coogee race time. I just thought I was going to do maybe one minute less, or something like that. How did this happen? I have no guess, but it seems that I did my homework well.
When you say homework I think you mean your training. Tell us how you prepared the race.
During my preparation I followed just a loose plan, I must confess. The weight training that I did during the last four years built a good conditioning. When I went back to swimming in early August, at the beginning I just added laps and laps doing lots of sets of 1000 freestyle at a medium~low pace. This helped me gaining back some sensibility in the water and building at least a base of endurance. Once I decided to join Masters Swimming in late September I began diversifying my workouts, doing at least one or two medium-low pace long distance days, one medium/fast endurance day, one negative splits day and one sprint day each week. I began in September with three workouts a week of 3~3.5km each, and slowly I builded up weekly volume, arriving at six workout a week of 5~6 km each two weeks before the event. In late October I did a small deload, then programmed a last 5-week training cycle. During these last five weeks I joined for two times a week an informal group of swimmer preparing for the Rotto, and their workouts suited nicely my goal. I also finished my strength training program eight days out and then I didn’t touch more the barbell. One week out I started reducing swimming volume, proggresively decreasing from 4 km to less than 2 km the day before the race. It seems that all worked nicely.
Tell us a bit about your psychological approach.
The week before the race I thought that between me and my goal there were other swimmers. However, on the race day, while having breakfast early in the morning, I realized that between me and my goal…there is just myself. It’s not the others that influence my race, the very first variable is me. I don’t have any control over others swimmers, but I have control over myself, thus I do have power over the most important variable. Thinking this built much more confidence. Nearer to the start I began visualizing myself happy and successful at the presentation ceremony, and I kept this thought with me until I passed the finish line.
And what strategy did you decide to adopt for this competition? Is it a secret?
No secrets. To tell the truth, I didn’t have a clearly detailed and defined strategy at all. I knew that I was not going to start at a slow pace, but I was not going to sprint and led the group either. My idea was to stay in the first group, and to avoid lefting anybody going away. Of course, the pace of the group was not that fast from the beginning and I could draft behind the first swimmers quite easily. Which means that after just 300 meters three of us already had left the group behind. Then, after the first turning buoy we were just two. I was following easily even if I realized that the leader speeded up the pace little after. I didn’t want to lose him, but just past half the race we began overtaking the last swimmers from the earlier 5 km wave. And that is when I couldn’t see him anymore and was left behind. I swam “alone” until the finish, but I kept myself motivated thinking that somebody could come up from behind.
We also know that you follow a particular nutrition plan. How did you fueled this time?
I just followed my usual low carb regimen, with a weekly 24 hours carb load, usually the day before a race and on the race day. My carb intake is 50~60 gr of total carbs a day, while weekly carb up is 600~700 gr. The day before the event, as carb refeed, I had 140 gr of steel-cut oat (with braised beef brisket), two bananas and a mango with honey, and some dried apricots and dates. On the competition day for breakfast, 3 hrs and a half before the race, I had 80 gr of rolled oats with some more dried apricots and dates, and 2 more bananas with mango and honey. I also had one more banana one hour before the competition started and I took with me a bottle of honey water. Other carbs, plenty, came after the race, but this is another story.
Well, thanks for the quite detailed explanation! That was interesting. And now, what is your next goal?
When I started this season I had two goals in mind. One was trying to win at least my category in this Masters State Championships. I though it would have been a goal well within my capabilities, because I knew that my 30~34 years age category is not crowded. The only variable was…me, because I had no guess about my conditions, and times of recent races were just numbers, as I didn’t have any reference from past years. My second goal this season is my category overall tally in the Master Swimming WA Open Water Series. I still have many races to go, but I think I didn’t start that bad. It’s important to think in advance “what to do next”, because it keeps you motivated and without a goal you cannot plan your training.
Do you want to thanks somebody?
Oh yes. I want to thank my wife more than anybody else. If I am back to swimming, it’s because one Sunday morning in August she suggested to go to HBF Stadium. She has been with me at all the races I competed in, even when it meant for her to wake up very early in the morning. She is always cheering and supporting me, she is amazing. And she also takes most of the wonderful photos that I publish on my blog.