It’s so easy to let your mind wander during practice, especially since you’ve already got 9 weeks of tough practices under your belt. The fatigue sets in, you’re motivation starts to wane, you lose track of your laps, does it really matter anyway at this point?
Heck yes it does.
Rather than focusing on how long the season feels, try thinking about just how little time 3 weeks really is. Use that realization to help keep you motivated in the water. These next several practices are the most important of the year, so let’s work hard to stay focused, stay pumped up, and stay swimming toward your goals.
The following article is via Swim Swam, and in it is some great advice to swimmers who are starting to feel the yards sink in. Give it a read, and really think about why you’re swimming, the big picture, and then narrow down your focus to your individual goals.
How do I Stay Motivated to Train Hard in Swimming?
Easily the most common question I get in my inbox – outside of that friendly Nigerian prince who keeps wanting to give me some money – is a variation of the same question: How do I stay motivated to train, even when I don’t feel like it?
The assumption is that elite swimmers wake up fired up, ready to go, 24/7. What many swimmers don’t realize is that they suffer from the same motivational lapses as the rest. They also have those mornings when the last thing they want to do is roll out of bed. In other words, what you are experiencing is not weird.
What differentiates them from mere mortals is what happens next. That in the face of fatigue, soreness, and lack of motivation they still find a way to make it to the pool and crush their workout.
Here are 6 ways to dust off the inner drive:
1. Remember that motivational lapses are natural. Don’t think something is wrong with you if you wake up tired and unmotivated. Often swimmers will take this lapse personally and assume that this must mean that they aren’t good enough, or driven enough. The lapses are normal, but it is what you do to deal with them that will set you apart.
2. Watch a couple Olympic races. For a quick motivational jolt there are fewer things better than watching some of the great moments from our sport. Lezak’s come from behind win in Beijing, Evans winning the 400m free in Seoul, Agnel’s dominating 200 free in London. If you are in need of a quick dose of motivation there is nothing easier or faster than hitting up a couple fast races on YouTube.
Here you go ladies: 2012 London Olympics USA Breaks World Record 4×100 Medley Relay
3. Rest up. Ever notice how blinding fatigue can be? When you are utterly exhausted the world could be burning down but all you can think about is your pillow and blankie. Nothing else seems to matter; not your swimming, not your nutrition, not your goals.
We’re raised on being an “all go, no quit” sort of bunch, with pride in doing it better and harder and longer than other sports. Often our sleep suffers as a result. Something as simple as catching up on our sleep can not only regenerate our bodies, but also give us that critical clarity and sense of purpose again.
4. Reconnect with your goals. Often swimmers get demotivated when that they have veered off the path towards their goals. Either their goals are no longer attainable (creating a “what’s the point?” scenario) or interest has waned.
Sit down with your goals for a few minutes. Make adjustments based on where you stand with your training right now, and where you would like to be moving forward. Additionally, if you are feeling particularly ambitious, try to figure out where you lost your path. If you can figure that out you will have a powerful mini-list of things to avoid moving forward.
5. Pick one thing to demolish today. On your way to the pool pick one thing you are going to work on, and forget everything else. It could be a particular stroke count, or breathing pattern, or a specific adjustment to your technique. When you remove distractions, and focus your thoughts and energy on doing one thing spectacularly well, you’ll find that it has the curious side effect of cratering outwards to other parts of your swimming as well.
6. Act. One of the easiest ways to sap your motivation is to procrastinate. To wait. To sit around, hoping, wishing. Action builds momentum and gets you on the path to achieving results, which in turn helps fuel the motivational fire.
So do something, anything, immediately and get rolling towards excellence.
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC.