(This post was originally sent out to my newsletter subscribers last week. You can join thousands of your fellow swimmers and coaches who receive my weekly motivational newsletter by clicking here.)
Another cold, miserable day here on the west coast.
(I realize “cold” is pretty subjective here…)
Looking out the window, at the rain, thinking about you guys.
About how many of you seem to struggle with not only getting motivated, but with finding the best way to get motivated.
Should I reward myself for a great practice with five episodes of my favorite show?
Should I write out my goals with a sparkle pen and plaster that bad boy on the fridge, above my bed, and as the background on my phone?
And while these external rewards and motivators are good, and can act as a band-aid in case of a motivational emergency, there is a better, simpler and less sparkled way to get and stay motivated in the pool.
It doesn’t come from trophies, gold medals, or giving yourself a cupcake for having a solid session in the pool.
It comes from progress.
It comes from seeing with irrefutable certainty that the work you are putting into the pool is paying dividends.
From elevating your game, inch by inch, stroke by stroke, lap by lap.
When Our Motivation Stalls Out
We’ve all experienced the doldrums of motivation in our training.
When we are frustrated, our morale has sunk to levels that are nearly unfathomable, and a dark cloud of doubt follows us around and infects every decision we make.
“No they won’t!” you blurt out, tears welling in your eyes when coach says that things will turn around eventually.
This depth of despair is common (frustratingly so).
The cause of it?
It’s not because you ran out of TV shows to reward yourself with, or ate all of the cupcakes…
It’s because progress has stalled out.
Where once you were improving by leaps and bounds now progress has ground to a grinding halt.
You are possibly even swimming slower in some instances.
All that work, all those meters and early meters…
What was the point?!
Turning It Around
Our greatest source of motivation comes from being in control of our swimming, of mastering our technique and conditioning.
Of seeing ourselves improving.
It comes from progress.
Progress Every Single Day
Okay, let’s be realistic here…
You are not going to swim a best time every day in practice.
(Although that would be great.)
Each practice doesn’t need to be the best ever.
But there should be a tangible little win each day.
Just…something that you did that is a sign of progress.
A set that was overcome. A breathing pattern that was mastered. A commitment to technique that was upheld.
These little wins, although they barely cause a ripple individually, cascade into a giant wave over the long term.
And most importantly, they are the engine behind having consistent and legitimate motivation.
The kind of motivation that is real, internal, and 100% fair trade.
Get serious about your progress
The top athletes—regardless of sport—track their workouts.
Because they know that in order to make progress, to secure those daily wins, they need to be measuring their performances against past results.
Writing out your progress seems obvious, or overly simple, but it’s crazy how many up and coming athletes forgo using this simple tool.
At the end of the day…
If you say that your swimming and your goals are important to you, why aren’t you measuring them?
The featured image for this post was shot by Neil Hodge, a talented photographer based out of Victoria, BC. You can check out his work by visiting his Facebook page by clicking here.