I’m actually learning this lesson as a Masters swimmer of two years, well past the high-pressure days of club and college swimming. More than any other time in my life, showing up to Masters practice has been all on me - every week, I have to choose to drive an hour to the pool on days I go to work and get up early on Saturday to make it to the workout. There’s no pressure from a coach, or anyone else really, to be there.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a competitive person, so it was only a matter of time before I learned to love racing again as a Masters swimmer (about 3 months in, to be specific). It was fun to see what I could do swimming only 2-3 times each week, and I gave myself a blank slate of “new best times” to challenge myself in this new chapter of swimming. This past season, though, was different.
Recently, I showed up to our LMSC’s Zone Meet having already defeated myself. I almost didn’t even sign up for the meet, and when I arrived at the pool, all I could think were negative thoughts, reasons I had been telling myself all season that would prevent me from swimming well:
I’d had health issues for three months.
I’d gained (and then lost) ten pounds since the start of the season.
I hadn’t lifted weights since December.
I hadn’t been training fast.
I hadn’t done enough aerobic work early in the season.
I hadn’t done enough speed work late in the season.
I stood behind the blocks for the 500 free and 200 IM with zero positive expectations - and then proceeded to swim times that were only 1 second per hundred off the times I swam last year when I felt far more physically, mentally, and emotionally in shape. I showed up the next day and swam within 4 seconds of my best Masters time in my favorite event, the 400 IM (yes, I know I’m crazy). None of my races were best times, but I was thrilled - and shocked - that I could be that close after such a rocky season of training.
That got me thinking… if all I could think about was what I hadn’t done, maybe I’d missed an opportunity to do what Coach Christen had told the athletes at LEAD: Give myself some CREDIT for what I had done: