Monday, 21 September 2015

Rules for the journey

The art of training well is to take it seriously, with full commitment and professional discipline, whilst retaining a lightness of spirit so as not to take it too seriously... obviously not an easy line to tread! All athletes are at risk of the dreaded plague of over-training, none more so than those who have a tendency to seek perfection, which is a large proportion as sport naturally attracts high achievers. Saying that however, some of the world's best swimmers (Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte) have barely taken a day out of training in years, while many other pros have missed entire seasons with burnout.

I put a lot of pressure on myself this year because I've taken physical, emotional and financial risks to try to reach my goals. Had I known I was getting sick with hypothyroidism and anaemia, I wouldn't have pushed so hard to make every training session. Now it's time to redress the balance.

So as I start up my training again I have some new rules to continue my journey;

1) Train softly - let my body command when to exercise and when to rest. Often it's bleedin' obvious when I need a rest day, but for the days when I'm not sure I'll keep track of my heart rate variability which shows whether I'm under stress or not. I can take time out guilt-free.

2) Food is medicine - eat wholesome, nutritious homemade food whenever possible

3) Feed up, not down - now that I'm on a gluten and dairy-free diet I need to be careful that I'm eating enough carbs and protein to fuel my training. That means careful planning around training sessions; more carbs in the morning and higher protein at night

4) Gratitude - when I'm grateful I find my grace. Be happy for every day I can train and accept with kindness the days I need to rest

5) No pride, no shame - I'm not defined by how far I swim, how heavy a weight I can lift or whether I win or lose. My diving is about exploring my own potential. It's about being the best I can be, and no comparisons with anyone else. It doesn't need to be perfect, but it does need to be 100% right for me.

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