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.
I had a coach that used to give us advance warning on the soul-breaking sets.
Just a little hint to let us know that something awful was coming at week’s end, and that we had never seen anything like it. That we were gonna hurt. Hurt real bad.
At Tuesday’s practice after scrawling up a difficult set he would drop something like, “Oh, you just wait till Saturday morning.”
A collective groan. A couple bravado-coated snickers.
“Bring it on, Coach!” someone would almost always retort with faux bravado.
On Friday night, as we all shuffled out of workout, he would call out after us—“Make sure to get a full night of sleep. ‘Cause you are going to NEED IT!” (Emphasis clearly his, not mine.)
By the time that set got scrawled up on the board on Saturday morning a quarter of the group had skipped practice with a sudden case of something-made-up, while most of us who did show up were so tuckered from anxiety and fear of the set over the course of the previous few days we were almost thoroughly psyched out.
For the swimmers that inevitably didn’t show up, they didn’t want it more than they wanted it. Yes, that sounds overly simple, but let me explain.
There will always be a big part of you that is screaming to not do the hard stuff. A part of you that wants absolutely nothing to do with it. To not show up to early morning practice. To not do extra, to not pay attention, to not make the most of your time in the water.
In those moments you need to connect with the part of you that does want it. And once that part is larger and it’s voice is stronger than the side screaming “No, run away! Fake an illness! Anything but another round of 1500’s for time!” than things get a whole lot easier.
Here is how to reconnect with the side of you that wants it:
Revisit your why.
In the lead-up to those brutal workouts (that would turn out to be not so brutal once started – as usual) I would revisit my season-end goals as many times as I needed to in order to quiet the voice of panic in my noodle.
When those moments of strife popped up I would think about my goals, what it would mean to achieve to them, and perhaps most importantly because it was the most visceral part of the process, imagining how awesome I would feel accomplishing them.
Remember the struggle is part of the process.
The path of least resistance is the path of comfort. It’s where we expect things to be easy and to fall into place on their own. Where we depend on genetics and talent to get us where we want to go.
Success in the pool requires struggle, requires failure, it requires you getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and it requires you getting the upper hand on that voice telling you that the easier option is better for you.
You have the opportunity to do what others won’t.
Even in the moments leading up to coach writing up that terrifying set, and seeing all of the missing bodies and the fear on other swimmer’s faces, I felt oddly encouraged. Because I knew that the exact same thing was surely unfolding on my competitor’s pool deck across town.
It’s rare that someone will be willing to go above and beyond consistently, so embrace the opportunities to do so when they arise.
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.
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