There is a basic training principle you need to keep in mind:
The better your warm up, the better your swim will be – a practice, a race, or a long recreational cruise.
It does not fail – when I am disciplined to swim gently and quietly for a certain number of minutes, so much of my tension and tightness drops away and I feel free to work with more attention, more freedom, more energy, more intensity than when I don’t.
For me there is one critical marker – I need about 12 minutes of gentle, ‘silent swimming’ to get the systems of my body and my mind online and in tune to the first necessary degree. My next marker seems to be at around 25 miunutes. My warm ups are always longer than 25 minutes for this reason.
And, at about 45 minutes, I can feel my best strength and attention emerge, ready to work much longer.
With mindful experience you get to learn how your body responds to exercise. It may vary a bit for different people, but the basic principle of warm up applies to all humans. The longer you’ve been a consistent active athlete, it may be possible to have a shorter warm up than others, but considering my 30 year record of training, I suspect you may need at least as much warm up as I do to really step into your best working state.
I realize that many people have such a short time for practice and 25 minutes might consume most of that. But consider that for longevity sake, it is better to perform small portions of high quality activity and do it more frequently, than trying to fit more volume or intensity into a short and infrequent practice. The less frequently you practice, the less your body is prepared for that activity and the more you need that warm up.
If nothing else, aim for Silent Swimming – even in a variety of stroke styles if you like – for your first 15 minutes and let your body pull you into more intensity when it feels ready for it.
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