Staying Consistent Part 2: Getting “Lifed”

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Continued from Part 1.

Last week, I told you about how consistency, with its physical and psychological benefits, is the foundation to long term swim success for beginner triathletes. The key to building consistency is to focus on doing the bare minimum. But the minimum that you know for a fact that you can do. Unfortunately, life sometimes gets in the way. Your planned workout is canceled because:

  • A kid had an accident in the shallow end.
  • Lifeguards or coaches did not show up, so the pool opens late.
  • The high school swim meet went long and cut into recreational lap time.
  • You get a call that you have to come in early for a meeting.
  • Your car doesn’t start.
  • Your kid wakes up with a fever and you have to go on nurse duty.
  • The list of life events is endless. However, despite these unanticipated events, it is still possible to stay consistent.

The trick is to have a plan B. (Pro tip: always have a plan B, C, and sometimes D).

My plan B is always to swim on the Vasa SwimErg. I use the SwimErg routinely throughout the week as part of my “plan A”. If something prevents me from getting to the pool for my guaranteed swim times, then I use it as an excellent substitute. Having this machine is a game changer since I can closely mimic a swim workout, and get in my yardage despite unforeseen circumstances. No kids making accidents in the shallow end will cancel those workouts.

There are other plan B options too.

Ideally, you swim at another pool, swim at another time, or switch your workout to another day in the week. But for time crunched athletes like me and most likely you too, the week is already blocked out so rescheduling everything is not realistic.

In these cases, Plan B could consist of:

  • A dryland circuit with stretch cords.
  • A weight circuit with lat pull downs, rows, bench press, back extensions, weighted flutter kicks, explosive squats, hanging med ball tosses, and planks with arm extensions.
  • Rowing machine intervals.

While stretch cords and rowing are not the same as swimming, you are still building the habit of working out. And keeping that time you blocked out while engaging similar muscle groups. It’s not ideal I know (which is why it is plan B and not plan A). But it’s something that will keep you active, fit, and in the right mindset. This will carry you through until you can resume plan A.

It is important to get back to your plan A as soon as possible. Settle back into the routine that you were building the following day or week so that you are able to resume your consistency so that plan B does not become a habit. If events continue to get in the way for more than two or three weeks, it is time for you to rethink your plan A so that you are able to consistently follow it.

So next time the unexpected happens, take a deep breath. Realize it’s out of your control. Then pull out plan B, and get it done.