Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.
At the beginning of the year we are buzzing with the big things we want to accomplish over the season. We are reunited with teammates that we haven’t seen for weeks or months at a time. Fall brings along with it the sense of transition, of beginning anew, leaving us energized and prepared for the work ahead.
Inevitably, however, the shine and novelty begins to wear off. Those mornings get a little harder to get up for. It becomes more difficult to get fired up for those tough workouts. And soon, those precious goals you put up on a pedestal at the beginning of the year begin to lose their luster.
These lapses in motivation are perfectly natural; it’s impossible to maintain that high level of excitement over the course of what is a very long season.
Knowing the signs that your workout motivation is about to wane can better help you prepare to ward off the side-effects of low motivation – less engagement in practice, poor focus, skipped workouts, and so on – and nip it in the bud before it cascades into a serious issue.
Here are 5 signs that your motivation levels are about to take a swan dive off of the 10m tower:
1. You find yourself thinking less and less about swimming and your goals.
It’s unrealistic to think that we should be focused on swimming 24/7. We need the balance that comes with having social interaction with others, as well as having challenges in other areas of life (work, school, and so on).
Some swimmers get caught up in the notion that they have to be focused exclusively on swimming and their swim workouts from dusk to dawn – that anything less is a knock on their commitment. Other swimmers need to be completely mentally “off” while they are away from the pool so that they can recharge.
Each swimmer is different, and the key is to find yourself that balance where you are able to deload mentally and physically away from the pool, but while also maintaining a lifestyle that is congruent with what you want to achieve this season.
2. The excuses are starting to pile up.
As the season drags on, and those rest-and-taper meets seem further away then ever, that little excuse-making machine that has been dormant in the back of your mind until now begins to whir to action.
At first you are able to bat the excuses away, but little by little they gain traction, until you are rationalizing not giving your best effort in practice or flaking on them altogether.
To combat this regain accountability for your swimming. At the end of the day it is your swimming, and while there are lots of chefs in the kitchen in helping you get to where you wanna go – coaches, parents, teammates – ultimately it is going to be you that has to live with the results.
Recognize the excuses for what they are, judo chop them across the nose as if they stole your milk money, and focus on the next step ahead.
3. Telling yourself that you will be happy settling for less.
When we first set out on a path to achieve something great with our swimming we are bubbling with drive and excitement. The gains are mad quickly at first, with noticeable improvements in the areas with which you direct the full extent of your abilities.
But then progress starts to slow, the results aren’t coming in hot, and those big goals you have for yourself begin to fade deeper into the horizon.
It’s a natural phenomenon to feel a little less optimistic about your chances of success the closer the big meet gets – it’s a defensive mental trick your noodle plays on you in order to safeguard you from potential disappointment – but to satisfy yourself with anything less than you best is beneath you.
No matter how fast or slowly you are progressing, don’t settle for less than your best effort. As long as you can do that, you won’t feel disappointed with the results at the end of the cycle/season.
4. The little things start slipping.
You start getting in a little later. Where at one point you were the first person in the pool, now you are the third, fourth, or last. The amount of time you commit to stretching begins to evaporate, but you tell yourself it’s okay as long as you give it a full effort during the main set. The amount of sleep you are getting is falling off, and you’ve abandoned your nightly meal prep. Even then your efforts aren’t as consistent, as focused, or as awesome in the main set either.
It’s easy to brush these off – what’s the big deal if I miss warm-up? – but the way we do the little things is almost always a reflection of how we perform the larger, more important things. When the details begin to get lost in the shuffle it is generally only a matter of time before those excuses and desire for shortcuts goes hunting for the big stuff.
The easiest things to do will always be the little things. Getting in on time. Doing warm-up properly. And when you are holding true to doing those things correctly, the rest are more likely to fall into place.
5. You commit yourself to do too much.
Swimmers have it rougher than most. When the training and meet schedule is combined with the demands of studying and scholastics free time becomes a rare commodity.
Making this combination even more challenging are the brave souls who seek out other commitments on top of the hard-to-deal-with-already combo of school and swimming. Other clubs at school, additional coursework, volunteer work, and so on.
When we pile up the commitments like this it can be easily to become overwhelmed, burnt out, and the only way that we know how to deal with it can be to drop things, often the ones that are most important.
Pick your commitments with care and the knowledge that you can’t be in five places at once, and that you don’t need to fill every minute of your day with something to be productive or successful.
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.
NEW: We now have motivational swimming posters. Five of ’em, actually.
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