Friday, May 30, 2014

Mega Megan Part 2 - Why Not You Too?

Last week on the blog we looked at one of our swimmers Megan and her stunning swimming progress over the last 2 years as she improved her threshold swimming pace from 2:12 /100m to 1:32/100m. This is a huge improvement, good enough to take her from being one of the slowest in our squad to being close to swimming with some of our fastest swimmers with extensive swimming backgrounds.

It is certainly fascinating to see a swimmer improve so much and get a clear before-and-after perspective from the video footage. We know from all your emails, youtube and blog comments that it has inspired many of you on your own swimming journey - which is great!

Megan and SS Coach Emma Brunning

But what if Megan's story left you feeling a little uncomfortable or frustrated? After all, if she can make such big improvements with her swimming then why not you too?

When you read the post, did you put Megan's improvement down to her age, or her background or some sort of untapped natural talent? If so, you missed her real secret. The fact is that Megan has nothing unusual in those areas, she was and in some ways still is a very 'normal' swimmer... except in one regard.

Megan's secret is simple to state but very hard to *truly* come to terms with. She has:

An Amazing "Can-Do" Mentality

which leads to...

Doing The Hard Work With Brilliant Consistency For Months On End

That's all it is. Not overthinking. Not over-analysing. Never talking herself out of the work she needs to do to improve.

After last week's post, Liz from our squad asked:

You might need to think about this answer before you give it but I've been swimming longer than Megan (a lot longer) but am still in lane 1 - how come?

In answering, we highlighted Megan's amazing consistency, notably swimming a mentally challenging Red Mist Set every single Wednesday morning for months on end. Liz said:

OK, well after this week I'm away for 5 weeks on a cycling holiday then I'm back for
4 weeks before away for 2 weeks, but then I should be able to...

That, right there, is exactly the problem! If you lack consistency with your training then your fitness is constantly in a state of snakes and ladders (see this post). Megan's fitness isn't like that, it's on a constant upward curve and she's still improving even now after two whole years of consistent training.

Of course unless you're a professional athlete, some time away from the pool is inevitable for work or family commitments but the key reason someone else has improved and you haven't is very very likely to be your consistency. Why not throw yourself the challenge of 8 to 12 weeks of unbroken focus on your swimming and see what can be achieved in that time frame? You might just surprise yourself!

Megan (and paddler!) during the 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim

A key part of achieving that consistency is your swimming demeanour. In last week's post Megan put it this way:

"I do know that I felt a big difference when I started swimming Wednesday mornings. I am not sure whether Wednesday improved my CSS or not but it definitely increased my confidence – 1 km TT? *shoulder shrug* … sure, whatever :-)"

Megan's not saying that out of bravado, that really is how she thinks. When was the last time you really shrugged at a swimming time-trial? The key to improving is not to over-analyse or procrastinate but, like Megan, come to terms with the work you need to consistently do, switch off the brain and get on with it.

If you can face your training with an inner smile rather than an inner grimace you've got everything you need to be the next Megan. Don't fear the hard work but actively embrace it - that is the attitude of a true champion.

Swim Smooth!

11 comments:

Kay Anderson said...

I can vouch for hard work and consistency - at the beginning of Feb I could not freestyle at all and no clue how to even try. With the help of a good swimmer and friend I can now freestyle 450m in open water and have started breathing to the other side this week to be able to bilateral breathe. Still a long way to go but much further ahead than Feb:)

Annie Oberlin-Harris said...

Hi Kay, That's great! You must be super chuffed! keep at it with the bilateral breathing- it'll do wonders for your stroke! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great article !!! This is true !!! Don't think too much just enjoy a workout and be consistency. Thank You for this advice !!!

mickthorne said...

What a great and simplistic way to explain and demonstrate how well improvements can be made through dedication to routine and hardwork.

jenniferLH said...

Megan is amazing and I, too, can attest to consistent hard work and the "I think I can, I think I can" mindset being key to success. I only became familiar with SS in Jan 2014, and tackled bilateral breathing on my own in the 2-week challenge, before seeking out my SS coach in Prague, who has been helping me make ENORMOUS changes to my bambino style. The changes were so huge, that initially I regressed to hardly being able to swim 25m without stopping, gasping most of the way. 3.5 months later, after swimming consistently 5 x 2000m every week, I am now a happy swinger, working on my high-elbow catch and tackling the 2 beat kick. Sure it has been tough at times to find the time and motivation, alongside work and family, but the pure joy of swimming is absolutely worth it to me!! Thank you Swim Smooth!!! Sorry this post is so long!!!

Janel said...

Thank you for these 2 great posts. I've been looking at the video the past few days and have been really inspired. The video is going to keep me going for a few weeks as there are so many good points to key into. Plus I'm laid up with a knee injury, and the video is a great way to keep in touch with swimming even though I can't actually get in the water for the moment !

As a previous poster mentioned, the technique combined with endurance work angle is very interesting and shows the importance of working on both aspects of one's swimming.

Also, Megan's attitude is very inspiring. She seems to take things as they come, not over analyzing or questioning what she's asked to do. Give her a hard session and she does it without doubt or complaint. And that is a great lesson. However hard it may seem on paper just do it and don't question your ability.

Thanks SS and Megan.

Yaki Engel said...

Hi there.
Your last post made curious about the red mist session.
Sounds challenging, to put it mildly.
What if I don't have 90 minutes, but only 50?
Can you propose a effective "mini-red mist" session?
How about doing only the last 6 sets of the original red-mist session? Thanks.

Annie Oberlin-Harris said...

Thanks anonymous and Mick ;-)

Jennifer- that is SUPERB progress! Thanks for sharing!

Janel- Glad you're feeling inspired, hope the injury heels quickly! Keep up your PMA too!

Yaki- Juts try shortening the main set for the time you have available.

Yaki Engel said...

Hi Annie.
Not sure what you mean by "main set".
I understand that the red mist session consists of 10 400m sets. Do you propose to do 10 200m or 250m sets instead, with the same CSS+X schedule? Wouldn't it be necessary to shorten the recovery times as well?
Thanks.

Paul said...

Hi Yaki, yes have a go making it 10 x 300 on the same CSS +X as the 10 x 400 with the same rest (+1 beep or ~20s).

Cheers

Paul

jim said...
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