Swimmers are always on the lookout for an easier way forward towards their goals.
Under the impression that somewhere out there, if they just look hard enough, is the Holy Grail of training hacks that will get them the results they so desperately want (but so desperately would rather not have to work for).
Feel free to try out the hot new suit, the minimalist shoes, and every supplement under the sun, but the one thing that cannot be “hacked” or short-cutted is the consistent application of hard work…
It’s a word that doesn’t get the street cred that it deserves, which is too bad.
It’s the least glamorous of training habits, and yet, it is far and away the one that should be getting your full and undivided attention.
Not only have I seen it in numerous athletes over the years, but I was that athlete…
The guy who would bang out a few amazing workouts in a row, and then miss two sessions.
And it sucked.
Not only is it frustrating to be feeling like you are starting over from scratch every time you fall off the wagon, but those missed and botched workouts add up to some serious training time over the course of a season.
(Let alone a career.)
Here are a few tricks that I have picked up over the years that have helped me to become much more consistent in training:
1. BE THE CONSISTENT SWIMMER.
When you think about what kind of swimmer you are, what comes to mind?
Are you the type of swimmer that never gives up on the main set?
That always shows up for morning workouts? That is awesome at breaststroke kick?
Or that can kill it any time, any stroke with a pull buoy?
Whatever the identities are, you chose them.
(Well, a coach or teammate might helped things along by telling you that were a great kicker, or a great puller, or whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s your call how you identify yourself as a swimmer.)
First step is to identify yourself as a consistent swimmer.
Because we skew effort towards the things we believe ourselves to be good or skilled at.
And being consistent is exactly one of those things that you can identify with.
After all, perception drives action.
The idea is that when you identify yourself as a consistent swimmer you are more likely to behave in ways that align with the way you see yourself.
When you identify yourself as being consistent, and follow that up with consistency in training, it sets off a powerful feedback loop that further drives home that by golly yes, you are a consistent swimmer.
2. DESIGN YOUR ENVIRONMENT FOR CONSISTENCY.
At this point I am assuming that you want to be more consistent in training.
But in all honesty…
What have you been doing to make it as easy as possible on yourself to succeed?
I’m not talking about making easier goals.
What I’m asking is…
Are the things you are doing outside of the pool making it harder for you to achieve that ambition of being steady and true in the water?
Here are a few examples:
- Removing the tablet and cell phone from your bedroom so that you get to bed early and make those morning workouts.
- Pack snacks and meals before you head out for the day so that you are fuled up and ready to rock by the time your afternoon workout rolls around.
- Making an effort to spend more time with teammates and friends who are not only positive influences, but also down to be consistent in training.
It’s one thing to say that you want to make the most of your training, that you want to be the best version of the athlete you can be…
But if the time spent outside of the pool is acting in direct conflict to your goals, than how serious are you really about them?
3. SET SPECIFIC, SHORT TERM GOALS.
Staying focused in the short term can be difficult for swimmers with big dreams.
Because they are perpetually looking down at the bottom of the calendar, at that big championship meet, for when they are going to throw down that wildly massive best time.
The problem with this is that the end of season meets are usually so far off that they remove any sense of urgency.
As a result, valuable chunks of training time are brushed aside.
“I got lots of time!” these swimmers might catch themselves saying.
Instead of dropping the consistency ball, stay focused and dialed in on your training from day one by setting short term (monthly, weekly, daily) goals for your training.
The options are endless for what kind of targets you want to set: attendance, effort level, spending extra time after practice working on your start, and so on.
While you have one eye on the long term awesomeness, keep the other on the very next step in front of you.
4. BE CONSISTENT AND PATIENT. FUN!
The hardest thing in the world can be to wait for something you really, really, really want.
Christmas Eve when you were a kid, for example. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t think straight. Just wanted to ransack the house looking for the gifts.
Being willing to commit for the long term with your goals is kinda like this.
You want your awesome goals and you want them right now.
And so when results don’t happen as fast as you think they should, or you aren’t pumping out times as quickly as you expect, it’s natural to get a little frustrated. Sometimes you get so frustrated, so put down and out that you temporarily throw in the towel.
Patience you must have, my young Padawan.
You don’t cut down a mighty oak with one big swing of the axe.
You show up every day, give it ten solid swings, and then do the same thing the day after.
And after that.
And so on.
5. RECORD YOUR WORKOUTS.
Wanna know the simplest way to keep your feet to the fire?
Record your workouts.
Doing so has a few hilariously powerful benefits:
- It forces accountability on you. You can fib to your coach, your teammates and parents about how your workout went, but it’s harder to lie when it’s just you and the pen. Simply logging those workouts can push you out of 6/10 territory into an 8 or a 9/10 just by thinking about the fact that you will have to write it out later.
- It gives you greater transparency of progress. When you know exactly how long it takes for you to see progress in the water you will not only have a more accurate idea of what type of results to expect you will also be able to set smarter goals. And yes, this is important.
- It’ll keep ya motivated. It can be hard to stay fully engaged and motivated over the course of a long season. Having a record of your training history—something to look back on with pride and satisfaction—can provide just the jolt you need to get your butt back to the pool.
I could go on and on, but you get the gist.
Being successful in the pool isn’t some secret.
No matter how hard we get pitched the latest and greatest in swimsuits, supplements and swim gear at the end of the day it boils down to who can best wield their talents and skills on a consistent basis in practice.
Will you be the swimmer that prides themselves on being consistent?