Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions
What can I do to keep myself motivated to keep training when I don’t really feel like it?
The way I stayed committed and dedicated to training was to break each week down into single units. I would look at each session as a means to improve. So instead of looking at one eight-week cycle of training, I would break each week down and look at each swim as a single unit. This tricks your brain into focusing on the short-term and ensures that each session is as good as it can be – rather than getting daunted by the whole eight weeks’ training.
I believe it is important to set yourself goals and targets. I used the SMART system of goalsetting: I would set one very short-term goal, which would be for the next training session; one medium-term goal, which would cover a training cycle; and one long- term goal, which would normally be for the end of the season.
SMART stands for:
Specific – something really personal to you that is going to help improve your swimming. For example, if you are working on your catch phase, ensure that on each stroke you focus on ‘elbows high, fingertips low’.
Measurable – something that is easily measured. For example, a medium- term goal would be to drop your critical swim speed by one second per 100 metres.
Achievable – There is no point setting a goal so hard that you will fail.
Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective towards which you are both willing and able to work. For example, if you know you are only ever going to start a race from deep water, there would be little or no purpose in improving your dives.
Timely – A goal should be grounded within a timeframe. With no timeframe there’s no sense of urgency. So an upcoming race is perfect as a focus around which you can set your goals.