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Jessica Shaw

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01 Feb 2017
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Fitness blogger and writer. Working out is quite literally my job and life.

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Published on: 12 Mar 2017 by jshaw

How Competitive Swimmers Can Stay Motivated All Season Long

The swim
season is a long, long haul. For many fast age group swimmers there is no
season—it’s non-stop from September to August, with a week or two to recover,
catch up on socializing, and prepare for another monster season.

With the
length of the season it’s natural that there are going to be some serious dips
in motivation. Sustaining that kind of focus and discipline for the seemingly
endless swim practices
is hard. I get it. Been there, done that.

But
there are some things you can do in order to mitigate the inevitable dips in
motivation.

Here are
3 tips for competitive swimmers to keep the fire burning bright all season
long.

Sleep more. Yup—you read that right. In terms
of boosting performance in the water and even improving psychomotor function
(i.e. less grumpy and stressed), there is no tip out there more enjoyable than
getting more sleep. When researchers at Stanford
had their varsity swimmers sleep
an extra couple hours per night they got
faster across every meaningful metric in the water, from reaction time, turn
speed, and time to 15m (which decreased by over half a second!). Added sleep
means you are less fatigued mentally as well, and more likely to make good life
decisions in terms of your goals in the pool.

Surround yourself with greatness. While swimming can feel like a very
lonely sport at times, with swimmers spending a couple hours at a time staring
at a black, tiled line, there is lots of opportunity to build a powerful
support system. Ever notice that when you hang out with other swimmers who are
doing big things that their ambition rubs of on you? Choose positive people to
be around. If you swim quite literally on your own, make the things you
surround yourself with on a daily basis be motivating. Swimming posters with
motivational sayings, or watching races of your idols daily on YouTube, for
instance.

Pivot your setbacks. There is a goofy myth out there
that if we have big goals in the pool that we should never encounter resistance
or friction in their pursuit. As a result, when crap does eventually happen—and
it always does—whether in the form of injury, illness, or another swimmer
coming out of nowhere and dusting you, we succumb to that overwhelming sense of
being demoralized and defeated. Obviously
we weren’t cut out for this
, we softly tell ourselves. Here’s the deal—setbacks
are part of the process. Michael Phelps
broke his wrist 8 months out from the craziest performance in Olympic history
(8 golds in Beijing, in case you were wondering). And people also forget that
he actually failed his first attempt at that record in 2004 in Athens. You can
use setbacks to send you reeling on your backside, or you can double down and
get aggressive with overcoming them.

Bonus Tip: Write
out your workouts
. One of the secrets to high performance, uh, performers,
is that they know that motivation isn’t their muse. They don’t wait to feel
motivated to go to the pool and unleash a devastating workout. It’s simply
routine, habitual. And one of the ways to facilitate this kind of routine and
process is to write out and track your workouts in a swim log. Logging your workouts will
help you see big picture with your swimming, connect lifestyle to your
training, instill accountability, and yes, even help you stay motivated on
those days where you’d rather stay curled up in the sheets than head out the door
to morning workout.

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