Autumn is my favourite time of year, I love walking through a park with the leaves changing colour. Autumn almost means that open water swimming races in the UK have finished for the season. Now is the time to try something new. This part of my season was called ‘pre-season’.
My focus would be on getting strong, lean & spending more time in the gym that the pool. Spinning, rock climbing, HIIT session, weights & even the odd beach session ensured variety and solid cross training for the coming season.
It wasn't just the change of focus, I loved pre-season as it was the perfect time for my support team and I to reflect on last season & look forward to the next. We would talk about what went well, what didn't & what we could improve this season. This conversation would start the process of putting a training plan in place. Having a flexible plan with measurable goals throughout the year kept me motivated & helped me keep on track for my main goal which tended to be the World Championship, Commonwealth Games or Olympic Games.
Here are my top tips to a motivating season plan:
1. What is your win and what will it take to achieve it?
I would start with a conversation with my support team, considering what it would take to ensure that I was utterly confident in my performance when I was standing on the start line of my big race that season.
Early on in my career, I realised that I can’t control outcome of the races as I had no idea how fast the other competitors would be, but I did know that I could control the type, frequency & effort level of my preparation. So my win would be based on what was within my control like a time, not a placing.
I would call this the win. Having a realistic goal here is key, the goal has to be tangible with a date & time that you would like to achieve.
I would then think about the new skills or tactics needed to overcome any situation during my race giving me the confidence that I’d be ready to race and ensured that I was always motivated to train!
Ask yourself :
What do I want to achieve?
When will it be?
What skills will I need to achieve it?
What is the measure?
2. Why do you care?
My purpose was to be the most well rounded Open water swimmer & to inspire as many people as possible to take up open water swimming. That's why I cared so much about swimming and this kept me motivated all season especially for all those endless laps of the pool. It gave the hardship and struggle a reason & a purpose way beyond just the laps or beating everyone else in my race. My purpose sustained me over the long term, it made me feel proud & motivated.
Ask yourself :
Why do you care about achieving your win?
3. Review & Renew
Now that you know why you are doing it & you have a win, the next step is to have a look back at the previous season of racing & training. I would call this the review & renew. Time to review your training & performances of last season & renew anything for your coming season. I would ask questions like:
Ask yourself :
What went well?
Was there anything that got in my way?
What could I have done better?
Was I missing anything?
4. Time to plan
Once you’ve answered those questions you can start to put your personalised plan in place. You might find that you need some expert advice, this could be expert training tips or technique sessions from an expert to ensure that your stroke is helping you and not hindering you. This is the perfect time of the year to make those changes. You can get a huge amount of confidence knowing that everything you are doing is contributing to your win.
5. Get to it!
The final piece of this puzzle is finding a routine to stick to. Ask yourself realistically how many times a week can you train? Make sure you have considered work, family and life into that equation.
Once you have a set number of days, which can change from month to month, you can start to piece your Autumn training plan together.
You now have all the right questions, the answers & have set about on a mission to make this the best season ever, you will encounter challenges along the way. Don’t be afraid to cycle back through these questions and answers at any time. In fact I would constantly revisit 1-5 on a weekly basis, ensuring my team and I know what we were aiming for, we knew why we were doing it, reviewing and renewing our season, planning and getting to it!
We would love to hear what your win is for next season - tweet us @triscape_ with the hashtag #mywin2018
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