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Friday, June 10, 2022

Use Long Course Season to Lift the Level of Your Training and Move Closer to Your Goals!

Use Long Course Season to Lift the Level of Your Training and Move Closer to Your Goals!

While the long course season is shorter and, therefore, typically less intense than the grind of short course training and meets, it's a perfect time for you to set yourself up for success once the fall season rolls around. If you have some big dreams that you desperately want to accomplish, then NOW is the perfect time to begin working on them!

One of the key ingredients in your future success lies within the quality of your day-to-day training this spring and summer. Understand that reaching your long term goals does not simply depend upon the time that you put into your practicing as much as what you put into that time!

What do I mean by this?  

Far too many swimmers spend their time in practice logging massive amounts of “garbage yardage!” That is, while they're training physically, mentally they're out to lunch and not really present. They're not focusing on what they're doing, not working on strengthening their weaknesses and not paying attention to the important details. As a result, their training is of very low quality.

In order to set yourself up for success in the future, whenever you practice, you need to be able to keep your focus on what you're doing in the moment by moment flow of the practice. This is much easier said than done, especially when the training gets harder physically or you have to work on your weaknesses. High quality training in the pool requires that you, as a swimmer, continually practice the ultimate success strategy: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable!”

This means that in order to grow as a swimmer, you have to regularly practice stepping outside of your comfort zone. You do this when: Your arms and legs feel like lead and you keep pushing through the discomfort anyway; You decide to go in a faster lane or even lead the lane; You make a conscious decision to work on your weaknesses and the strokes that you tend to struggle with and/or dislike; You pay attention to the little, important details as you train. Etc.

As you can imagine, consistently pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone is always fun or easy to do. On the contrary! In order to do this and consistently raise the quality of your training, you need a very good reason each and every day to get comfortable being uncomfortable. That “good reason” is your big goals or dream in this sport, what I call your “Big Enough Why!” Your “Big Why” could be to swim in college, qualify for Olympic Trials or another big meet, achieve a certain cut or even beat another swimmer.  

If you have a good enough reason to push yourself every day and do all of the hard things, then it will become that much easier to do all of those hard things more consistently. Your dream or “Big Why” becomes the high test fuel that you want to take with you into each and every practice. When you train with a purpose in mind, with a specific direction that you want to go in, then your practices will become much more high quality sessions. When this happens, you will improve much faster and simultaneously reduce the amount of garbage yardage that you log.  

So in order to ensure that your training is of the highest quality, you must carry your “Big Why” with you whenever you train. And when the going gets rough in practice, you want to be able to ask yourself, “How is what I'm doing right now going to help me get to that goal of mine?” Staying aware of your “Big Why” as you practice will help you make the right decisions in practice, decisions that will insure your training is at the highest level.

Remember, your big goal in this sport is a motivational tool for practice only and should be used to help you refocus yourself on why you're doing what you're doing in that moment! You don't ever want to use your goals in practice to evaluate whether you'll be able to achieve them or not. Nor do you want to use your goals to beat yourself up if you fail to make an interval or have a bad swim! Your “Big Why” serves a very narrow and important purpose: To get yourself to work harder right now!

So take this long course season to make some important inroads in moving closer to that big dream of yours. Train with awareness of that dream and continually remind yourself why you're working so hard right now!

As a Sports Performance Consultant, Dr. G works with swimmers at every level from Olympians right down to age groupers. A popular presenter at coaches clinics and clubs around the country, Dr. G specializes in helping swimmers get unstuck and swimming fast when it counts the most. Dr. G. is the author of  Swimming Fast When It Counts The Most,  DMTS (Developing Mentally Tough Swimmers), and his newest mental toughness training program, Swimming With The Competitive Edge.

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