I was listening to an audio book on the subject of productivity, something I’m working on getting better at.
The last chapter I read was about actually not working harder, or doing more, to be more productive.
In fact, the author recommends spending hours away from your work in order to come up with ideas and inspiration.
You may have heard that expression “You get your best ideas in the shower”. This is what the author is referring to.
When your grinding away at your computer, you’re not coming up with brilliant ideas.
But out on a walk, or a hike or a run, without headphones, you may come up with some of your best ideas yet.
I’ve noticed this same phenomenon in swimming too.
If you are always “working on something”, or trying to get to a faster interval, or make every workout (or every set) filled with goals, you will be missing out.
One, trying to be “on” all the time can easily lead to burnout. You must have some “off time” to get better at swimming- more efficient and faster.
What does this mean?
A few things you can do to create that “space” to get better:
1. Mix in non-purpose parts of your swim workout. This can mean different things to different people. When I was a kid, it was often playing on the diving board for 20 minutes, or playing “sharks and minos” with a group. Maybe you can grab a kickboard and have a chat or just meditate for a bit. Perhaps you can do several lengths of breaststroke. Or side stroke. Or just float on your back. Or put on those giant diving fins and see what happens!
2. Take a day or two or three off. Sometimes it’s extremely important to have a break from things. You may have plateaued, or you may just feel like mixing it up and going rock climbing or watching Netflix instead of swimming. That’s A-Ok! That break and then getting back to things can do wonders for your swim.
3. Mix in random dryland to your workouts. Maybe you normally swim for an hour. Try doing 20 minutes of dryland (i.e. swim-helpful workouts on land, like planks, elastic tubing sets, or even just pushups & squats) before your swim.
4. Count your strokes. It’s that simple. Just count 1, 2, 3, 4…you can count per length or just count until you can’t count anymore! It’s sort of a mediation and focus exercise. Do 500 meters like this. Your only purpose here is counting- not trying to improve your stroke or make an interval. This can help with creating space with your swim, and for focus in the open water (so there’s a swimming-specific purpose there too!)
And as usual, have fun and befriend the water!