How Do I Stay Motivated to Train Hard in Swimming?

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.

Easily the most common question I get in my inbox – outside of that friendly Nigerian prince who keeps wanting to give me some money – is a variation of the same question: How do I stay motivated to train, even when I don’t feel like it?

The assumption is that elite swimmers wake up fired up, ready to go, 24/7. What many swimmers don’t realize is that they suffer from the same motivational lapses as the rest. They also have those mornings when the last thing they want to do is roll out of bed. In other words, what you are experiencing is not weird.

What differentiates them from mere mortals is what happens next. That in the face of fatigue, soreness, and lack of motivation they still find a way to make it to the pool and crush their workout.

Here are 6 ways to dust off the inner drive:

1. Remember that motivational lapses are natural. Don’t think something is wrong with you if you wake up tired and unmotivated. Often swimmers will take this lapse personally and assume that this must mean that they aren’t good enough, or driven enough. The lapses are normal, but it is what you do to deal with them that will set you apart.

2. Watch a couple Olympic races. For a quick motivational jolt there are fewer things better than watching some of the great moments from our sport. Lezak’s come from behind win in Beijing, Evans winning the 400m free in Seoul, Agnel’s dominating 200 free in London. If you are in need of a quick dose of motivation there is nothing easier or faster than hitting up a couple fast races on YouTube.

3. Rest up. Ever notice how blinding fatigue can be? When you are utterly exhausted the world could be burning down but all you can think about is your pillow and blankie. Nothing else seems to matter; not your swimming, not your nutrition, not your goals.

We’re raised on being an “all go, no quit” sort of bunch, with pride in doing it better and harder and longer than other sports. Often our sleep suffers as a result. Something as simple as catching up on our sleep can not only regenerate our bodies, but also give us that critical clarity and sense of purpose again.

4. Reconnect with your goals. Often swimmers get demotivated when that they have veered off the path towards their goals. Either their goals are no longer attainable (creating a “what’s the point?” scenario) or interest has waned.

Sit down with your goals for a few minutes. Make adjustments based on where you stand with your training right now, and where you would like to be moving forward. Additionally, if you are feeling particularly ambitious, try to figure out where you lost your path. If you can figure that out you will have a powerful mini-list of things to avoid moving forward.

5. Pick one thing to demolish today. On your way to the pool pick one thing you are going to work on, and forget everything else. It could be a particular stroke count, or breathing pattern, or a specific adjustment to your technique. When you remove distractions, and focus your thoughts and energy on doing one thing spectacularly well, you’ll find that it has the curious side effect of cratering outwards to other parts of your swimming as well.

6. Act. One of the easiest ways to sap your motivation is to procrastinate. To wait. To sit around, hoping, wishing. Action builds momentum and gets you on the path to achieving results, which in turn helps fuel the motivational fire.

So do something, anything, immediately and get rolling towards excellence.

About YourSwimBook

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.

NEW: It now also comes with a 76-page mental training skills eBook called “Dominate the Pool.” It is free with your purchase of YourSwimBook and is emailed to you within 24 hours of your order.

Click here to learn more about YourSwimBook and get your mental training on track!

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6 years ago

Haha, laughed about that nigerian prince reference 🙂

6 years ago

Wow, former swimmer and feeling that motivational lapse in school and staying in shape. Definitely the article I needed to read this morning.

6 years ago

Nothing like a new pair of swimmers. I am set for a solid week or two with 5 new pairs that means I swim more & go to the gym for abs so not to have muffin top/ fat lats spoiling the look.

Family members think I am vain , addicted to swimmers & totally financially wild ( Meaning I could have spent it on them) but it does get me to the pool & gym .

Doing it for yourself is a biggie imo. Is there really any other reason needed?

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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