September is officially the beginning of the new swimming season. Whatever your level, it is the best time to reflect on the past year: what did I enjoy, what did I succeed in, what was harder, what will I do again, what will I never do again? All of this reflection should lead to two things:
1) Reinforce the positives and
2) Change the negatives and find a way to turn them into positives.
Whatever your year has been, there were definitively positives and negatives. This reflection process will help you pinpoint them. Most of the time, you only focus on the negatives and forget all the wonderful things and improvements you achieved. Psychologically it is important to recognize them, write them down and celebrate them. Look at the bright side and do not dwell on the negatives. All negatives can be turned around with the correct and proactive attitude. The only mistake you can do is to not try.
With that attitude in mind, September is time for tune up, change and goal setting. In regard to swimming, tune up generally means going back to technique and assessing your stroke. It is important to correct those bad habits you might have, or learn a new stroke before going into longer mileage. I have a motto: “Never practice a bad stroke”. It will only lead to injuries and or flaws that will get harder and harder to break. This also means tons of repetitions before a positive change can occur. Be patient!
Changes are needed to reach your goals and turn the negatives into positives. Usually if you keep the same process, you will get the same results. If you want another result, you need to change the process. For example, if you were disappointed with your speed, maybe you need to incorporate some more sprints in your practices. If you were not able to go the distance, maybe you need more mileage. If your dives and turns were not up to par, maybe you need to incorporate more core and legs exercises.
The next step is to articulate those changes into achievable and measurable goals. Break down those lofty ideals into mini goals. What is the one small thing I can do today to make me better tomorrow. Before you start each practice, you should have one and only one mini goal to try to achieve as a focus point. For example, keep my head down, keep my streamline, keep my kick going, work on my vertical forearm catch… and stay focused on it during the whole workout. It does not mean you will achieve it 100% of the time, but you will focus on it 100 % of the time. There is a big difference.
The process of changes, finding the correct fit thru trial and error and setting goals does require time and leads me to the topic of New Year resolutions. Although we are still three months out of December 31st, I want you to start thinking about your New Year resolutions. Most of the time, New Year resolutions go down the drain because they have not been thought about long enough and experimented with beforehand. For example, if your New Year resolutions will be to lose weight or to get fit, now is the time to start experimenting with what might work for you. What kind of diet do you like and tolerate? What kind of exercise do you like and will be able to sustain in the long run? This may require a lot of trial and errors; be patient, have a positive attitude and you will be ready to succeed when 2020 arrives. If you discover the magic formula right away, it is OK to have a head start.