by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join 9,000+ swimmers and coaches who read his motivational newsletter last week by clicking here.
It’s 7:45pm, and you are schlepping your bag—wet towels and all—over one shoulder, and a bag of soon-to-be-attended-to binders and textbooks over the other.
You stumble through the front door of the house, and it’s already dark outside—it’s been a few days since you’ve seen daylight at home—and summon what remaining energy you have to grab a ladle and start shoveling pasta into and around your mouth.
The last thing you want to do at this point is sit down and write, let alone think, about the hours of training you’ve put in that day. About the thousands of meters, the test sets, and the technique correction you just couldn’t wrap your head around.
But, if you do manage to see past the exhaustion and mental fatigue to do some quick journaling, you’ll find that you can make more of your training, keep yourself a little more accountable, and even put the occasional bad workout into perspective.
The simple power of writing out your workouts is easy to underestimate. By the time you get home at night, with a couple hours of homework staring you in the face before passing out and repeating the whole process the following day, it’s just one more thing you don’t want to have to do.
But, if you can squeeze out those 7 little minutes, you’ll discover that tracing the journey of your swimming will do the following for you…
It will help you think more objectively about your performances.
Our swimming is a reflection of us in many ways. It is a mirror of our commitment, and very often, our self-worth. When we have a great workout we walk out of the pool with our heads held high; when things go poorly we often take it personally, letting it infect the rest of our day or night.
Sitting down and critiquing your practice and/or meet allows you the opportunity to detach yourself from your swimming for a few moments. To see where things went off the rails, or to gain perspective into why things went so well (so that you can duplicate those conditions moving forward!).
You learn about yourself as an athlete.
Thinking about how you perform as a swimmer is vastly different compared to being asked to write it out. When you need to put words to the flurry of thoughts going through your mind after a terrible or a terrific performance it forces you to learn a little bit about yourself, and actually come to terms with why your practice went the way it did.
As mentioned above, when you can see the habits and patterns behind why you seem to wreck shop at some workouts, and then lay a perfectly formed goose egg at others, you can make the adjustments necessary to increase the frequency of those good workouts.
It helps you create better goals.
Whether you realize it or not, you are already reflecting and “logging” your workouts.
After all, it’s not like you swim your practice, and then forget about it forever. It gets filed up there, along with the thousands of other workouts, destined to become a hazy and foggy memory, the details lost in the honeycomb of early mornings and test sets you’ve executed over the years.
Why is it important to have an accurate representation of your past work? Because it is how you base your future performances.
Think about it: the way you judge the way you will swim at a future meet, the speed you can expect to have come race day, is based largely on how you have been doing in practices up until that point.
Having a catalog of your performances in practice will give you a much clearer indication of what to expect when it comes to competition, while helping you avoid those unrealistic and baseless goals that tend to demoralize and discourage.
It helps you to be more consistent.
I’ve always found that when I am in the middle of a questionable workout I find myself thinking about how I am going to have to write out the mediocre workout later that evening. Typically that is enough to shake me out of any feelings of apathy and do my best to salvage the workout in one way or the other.
Separately, when you have your training and attendance history at your fingertips you gain a deeper understanding of just how consistent you really are at practice. We tend to fudge the numbers when it comes to attendance and effort when we look back on it. (“I’m pretty sure I only missed one morning workout last month,” when in actuality it was 7.)
When it comes to “hacks” or ways to improve your swimming, logging your workouts is about as low tech and unfancy as it gets.
With just a few minutes a day you can use it to keep you accountable with your training, infuse a strong sense of purpose and meaning into your swimming, and most importantly, train smarter and faster, and who doesn’t want that?
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.
Note: We now have motivational swimming posters. Five of ’em, actually.
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