Early morning practices are part of the sport. Here’s how Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu makes getting out of bed early a little easier.
Early morning swim practices are a rite of passage for most developing age group swimmers.
Because of school and limited pool space later in the day, early morning swim practices are almost an institution when it comes to our sport. A badge of honor that we wear to further separate ourselves and our Herculean workload from other sports.
We’ve all experienced the resistance that comes with getting up at 5am, the sky pitch-black, comfortable in our sheets, privately wishing to see a text from coach that swim practice has been canceled.
Elite swimmers aren’t immune to this feeling of “meh” when it comes to waking up at what can feel like the middle of the night.
Including 4-time Olympian Katinka Hosszu of Hungary.
Like any regular human being, Hosszu has days where she feels rested, motivated, and ready to rock and roll. When she is fresh, she is keen to get down to the gym and throw some weights around. Monday mornings, for instance.
But as the week goes on, and the training and the workouts pile up, fatigue begins to catch up to her.
By Friday morning, Hosszu and her snooze button are seeing plenty of each other. In response, she makes sure that her early morning routine includes something that she enjoys.
“Since I like drinking coffee, and coffee causes positive feelings, I tell myself I am going to have a coffee in bed,” she says.
This small step and switch of focus—by using the small, positive step of a coffee as something to look forward to—helps her get her feet on the floor in the morning. From there, it gets easier—once the coffee hits her system, she isn’t falling back asleep.
Make getting up in the morning a positive experience
It’s tempting to focus on the downsides of getting up early in the morning. It’s dark out, everyone else is still sleeping, and you are about to head down to the pool and throw down on a two-hour swim practice that will test your mental and physical limits.
But you can find ways to make the experience more enjoyable. There are ways to iron out the creases of resistance and make getting up in the AM something you can look forward to.
Here are some simple ideas you can try out:
- Set your favorite song as the tone for your alarm.
- Eat your favorite (healthy) snack in the morning.
- Catch an episode of your favorite show on the ride to the pool.
- Have a morning playlist that is inspirational and gets you going.
- Drink your morning coffee or pre-workout in bed.
- Build a simple routine that you use every morning to make getting up habitual and automatic, and less a test of willpower.
- Set out your swim bag and workout gear the night before so that you feel prepared.
- And of course, make sleep the priority it should be and be relentless about getting a full night of rest and recovery under your belt each night.
The reluctance with getting up super early is part of the process. We all experience it. If getting up and going to early morning practice were a piece of chlorinated cake, everyone would be showing up to the pool. But it’s your job to find ways to make getting up “easier” and smoother.
And yes, even one of the best swimmers on the planet struggle with this too.
“In some difficult moments, I am not as motivated as I could be,” Hosszu admits. “I try to take smaller steps. I am glad for the small victories.”
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