In a perfect world we would all have a Personal Swim Coach to hold us accountable, correct our technique and just push us that little bit harder. Knowing that this is not realistic for many swimmers (including me) I would love to share some tips with you on how to get most out of your time in the pool without a Coach yelling at you.
We all live a busy life and we're pulled in a million different directions so if you manage to get to the pool a few times per week you're already doing an amazing job at prioritising your health and fitness. Kudos to you! But there is a big chance that the time that you can set aside for your swim training does not match up with any swim squads in your local area.
If you've been reading my Swimfit Blogs for a while now you know I am not a fan of just jumping in the pool and see what happens. Chances are you will swim a few laps at the same pace, get bored and hop out without actually making any progress in your swimming journey. In other words, a waste of your time and money.
If this sounds familiar and you are keen to get more out of your training, check out my tips below on how to train without a coach.
1. Get clear on your why
Knowing your 'why' is the best way to stay motivated when things get tough. Have a clear race, health or fitness goal that you can slowly work your way towards and celebrate the little wins along the way. Set a goal that is between 6 and 12 months away and break it down in weekly or monthly milestones, this way your goal does not seem to impossible and you have smaller goals that you can celebrate when achieving.
I always have a few events on the calendar that I work towards. This year we trained for the Coolangatta Gold which was cancelled in the end, but this only made me realise more how badly I'd like to complete that race! The date is set for next year and this is what I have my eyes set on already. The other events on the calendar will help me to get there by keeping me focussed and giving me race experience.
2. Book in with yourself
The great thing about group swim sessions is that they happen at a scheduled day and time and you book in to attend. This will hold you accountable to stick with the program. Take a moment at the start of your week to 'book' training sessions with yourself. Plan ahead and write the sessions in your calendar to make sure you don't double book your time.
I always take 5 minutes on a Sunday afternoon to plan out what's happening that week and what our training sessions will be. this way we both know what's going on and can plan our work and other commitments around our training.
3. Share the love
If possible find yourself a training buddy to hold you accountable and to make training more fun! Be picky and make sure you can depend on your training buddy when you need them most. When you don't feel like that afternoon session you had planned, your training buddy should be the one to convince you to go anyway.
Swimming together is so much more fun! When one of you is struggling the other can cheer, when a set is though you can complain together and racing someone is proven to make you go that extra bit faster!
I love training with my partner Grant. We swim at about the same pace and always cheer each other on. Whenever I have a bad day Grant will cheer me on and the other way around I help him along when needed as well.
4. Set your program
Make your way to the pool with a clear plan of attack. Have your swim session written on a whiteboard or printed off and put in a plastic cover. It's even better to do this the night before so you don't adjust the session if you're not feeling that motivated. A good swim session consists of a warm up, pre-set with technique drills, main session and a cool down. Unless you are an experienced swim coach it is not an easy task to come up with challenging and productive training sessions for yourself. Even if you can't make it to a training squad it is a good idea to check in with a Swim Coach to see if they can provide training sessions for you.
We train following the Online Swimfit Squad Sessions. The 3 new sessions each week ensure that we always have a training session to follow. We write the session on a white board and put it at the side of the pool so we both know what we're doing.
5. Keep track of time
A Swim Coach times your efforts and this way you know how you're progressing and getting closer to your goal. Without a Coach you can still keep track of your times by using the pace clock that can be found in most swimming pools or swim with a fitness watch. Knowing your times and hitting the right pace set for the session will help you to get most out of your training.
I use a combination of the pace clock and my Garmin watch. I don't like getting to fixated on my match and loose track of how I feel and my technique. By using the pace clock for the main set I feel like I get a good idea of the pace I'm hitting while still being in tune with the important things. The watch will tell me the details at the end of the session and make sit easy to keep track of my progress.
6. Treat yourself
A good training session deserves a treat! A good treat will be something different for everyone, but try to find something that truly makes you excited. I'm not a supported of unhealthy treats which will counteract your good training session. Try to think of something that you will enjoy and will make you feel good.
Knowing we're going for coffee and/or breakfast after training helps me to push through a tough set. 'This too shall pass' and before I know it I'll be sipping on a delicious Long macchiato!
If you are keen to find out more about the Online Swimfit Squad click here.