How did practice go today?
However it went down, it’s time to either (a) turn that bad practice-frown upside down or (b) capitalize on the momentum of a good workout.
Here are 7 easy and absolutely doable things you can do today to help you punch tomorrow’s workout in the gullet:
1. Go to bed early.
Wanna know what the best supplement for your training is?
It’s not that free-range whey protein, or the overpriced Xtremme Mega Gainz pre-workout from your local GNC.
It’s your favorite pillow (you know you have a favorite) and your sheets.
Hands down the best supplement for your training is an extra couple hours of sleep.
Not only will you recover more deeply with added rest, but you will improve brain function (i.e. you’ll be more focused and attentive in training tomorrow) and also give your immune system a boost.
If you are anything like me you’ll also be about 16% less of a cranky-pants with an extra 1-2 hours of sleep tonight.
2. Drink a bunch of water.
It’s hard to remember to drink an adequate amount of water over the course of the day.
But the benefits of being properly soaked with water are hard to ignore.
Performance declines happen with as little as 1-3% loss in body weight from sweat.
Cramps and headaches are more common. And perhaps most noticeably, your rate of perceived effort goes up.
Why make that hard workout feel any harder than it has to?
3. Write out a little goal for tomorrow’s practice.
Most swimmers walk on deck and brace themselves for the workout ahead.
They react to everything that comes their way…whether it’s the main set, the stroke rates, the intervals…
Instead of being a purely reactive swimmer, go to practice with a specific goal in mind.
It doesn’t have to be crazy…
Do one extra dolphin kick per wall.
Do ten minutes after core work.
Setting yourself a little goal will give you a sense of ownership and pride in your swimming.
Sit down with your training journal tonight and write out what you are going to accomplish tomorrow.
4. Write out 3-4 things you are grateful for.
This is one of my best stress-busting techniques, and is something I lean on mid-week when I need to pull my head above water to get some perspective.
Writing down a few things you are grateful for will help accentuate the positive in your life, give you a broader view on the struggles in your life and in the pool, and even help you to sleep better.
For best effect write out your little gratitude list before bed to help clear your brain of anxiety and the stressies.
5. Pick one piece of self-talk you want to change.
Becoming a mentally tougher swimmer is a vast challenge that encapsulates a number of different things, from learning how to suffer (pain coping), to using visualization to help prepare ourselves for competition.
But the one thing you can do right now is pick a piece of self-talk to use at practice tomorrow.
In my opinion, corralling our self-talk is the first and biggest step in developing a tougher, more high-performance mindset.
There are things you usually say during tough workouts and sets that is counter-productive…
Write it out, and do some mental judo to give that negative self-talk a positive tone.
“I’m tired and I don’t feel like I can go faster…”
“I’m tired, but so is everyone else…let’s give the next rep an awesome effort and take things from there.”
6. Spend 5 minutes visualizing a great workout tomorrow.
Ever tried visualization to improve your swimming?
(Trick question…I know you have. We all daydream about our swimming in some measure or fashion.)
Instead of freelance daydreaming and visualizing your swimming, take control of it.
Spend 5 minutes tonight visualizing what you want your stroke to feel like in practice tomorrow…That top-of-the-water, clean, smooth feeling…Picture your breakouts, popping to the surface like a nuclear submarine…Your flip-turns crisp and fast, feet exploding off the wall…
You get the idea.
Doing this kind of process-based visualization has been shown to reduce stress and boost performance…so, giddyup?
7. Write out today’s workout.
Self-awareness is one of those mega under-rated aspects of high performance swimming.
It helps you create realistic goals that are also super ambitious.
It helps you to be more honest with yourself when it comes to the things you need to work on in the pool.
And it can help you stay accountable to your big goals in the water.
Writing out today’s workout is a simple way to start gaining some of that whole-grain self-awareness. Write out the sets, your level of focus and effort, and the major lifestyle factors (sleep, food and stress).