As a coach this year I have preached to all the swimmers about consistency of training, and how work put in leads to success.
You invest a certain number of hours, a specific volume of meters, and you expect a certain result.
And this is absolutely true.
But it isn’t always the case:
The better we get at something, the more time we invest into improving and tuning ourselves into high flyin’ athletes, the more difficult it becomes to improve.
When we start out we are full of energy and vigor, buoyed by the fact that we can see the improvement occurring on a nearly daily basis.
Think back to the beginning of the season—sure you might have felt pretty rough those first couple weeks of training, but as your fitness quickly improved, so did the results in the pool.
The improvement, for a while at least, came fast and furious.
Seeing how fast you are improving, you can’t help but extrapolate how much you have improved and create a timeline for how much more you can expect to improve over the rest of the year. The calculations typically produce results that are fantastic and overblown.
When the training isn’t reflecting the results that you were having, you get frustrated, become doubtful of the process, and begin to wonder if what you are doing is actually hurting you.
Tapered improvement requires the mental toughness and discipline to stay on track even though you are not seeing the wild improvements in the water anymore.
So what can you do to maintain that steady rate of improvement?
Or at least provide a greater sense of forward movement and advancement?
Chunk your progress.
While it is very difficult to maintain the rapid rate of improvement you experience at the beginning of the season, you can build a greater sense of progress by attacking parts of your swimming one at a time.
Here is what I mean:
Write out a list of areas that you want to improve in your swimming.
And each month hammer at ’em one at a time.
So for example for one month you would work incessantly on your start. The next your underwaters. The next turns.
And so on.
With each part of your swimming you will see wild improvement in the first few weeks before the inevitable tapering.
At that point, switch your attention to something else. There are an endless number of areas where you can swing your focus: nutrition, sleeping habits, stretching, core work, and so on.
Chunking has another valuable attribute: the challenge of each “chunk” will keep you mentally engaged, while also providing you with a steady stream of visible improvement.
Again, this is valuable for all sports. For example, football. Work on dribbling, shooting, passing etc.
While we are now in the swing of term 3 and exams are in the mix alongside training, use this time to hone your skills. Having a term sitting on you back side, certainly is NOT the way forward.