After a little blogging break due to a increase in uni work I am back to delight you with another post from the depths of my mind. I suppose after doing this for nearly 2 years I sometimes feel like I have written about nearly everything. But the beauty of my journey both in sport and in weight loss is that as I continue to grow and learn my opinion about things changes. As this blog is literally my thoughts written down it means that I generally write about that, my opinion. So the idea for this post came to me this week when I was delighted to see some speed return in the pool. I have been doing a hell of a lot of base training over the last few months which involves long sessions without a lot of intensity. I'm talking 3 or 4 swims a week and most of them over 5kms. This is great for building strength and endurance but for someone used to swimming fast it can be a little frustrating. Well yesterday I did my first proper sort of speed session. There was no limit on how far I had to swim. I just needed to do as many 100's as I could on a 1:30 cycle to get to 30x100. This is when you swim, stop and recover before going again all within a minute and thirty seconds. I managed to do 20 before taking a quick break with a recovery 100. In total I only had to do 3 easy 100's to recover. This also meant that for the first time in a long time I was starting to see my average pace creep towards that sub 1:20/100m I am looking for. Don't worry if you don't know what all these numbers mean. It is a case that I want to swim fast and haven't been and yesterday I swam faster than I have in a long time.
So why am I telling you all this incredibly riveting (boring) story about my swim yesterday? Well because when I share my swim times with people the most common question I get asked is 'how do I swim that fast too'. While there are a number of answers specific to swimming such as technique, strength, body position etc there is an answer which is the one I always give. It is an answer which I feel is applicable to everything we do as humans in the pursuit of improvement. The answer I aways give is consistency. I am a faster swimmer now than I used to be because I swim at least 3 times a week every week. I ride faster than I used to because I ride at least 5 times a week. I lost 50kgs because I train and eat well consistently and I am getting decent marks in my law degree because I do all the readings and study for my classes every week. I am improving and getting better at things because I consistently work at them. See what I mean though? Think of a question about getting better at something and I reckon you could almost always answer it with consistency.
I feel like I am going on about it but take diet for example. Fad diets are great for dropping weight quickly but if you want to keep the weight off permanently you need to consistently maintain healthy habits. There is no point in committing to a healthy regime for 12 weeks, seeing success and giving up only to undo all your hard work because you turn back to old habits. Even look at attitude. People who complain about being unable to train because they are too busy or too stressed. They are consistently focusing on the negative. Imagine if they forced themselves into healthy habits. Even something as simple as getting up an hour early or going to the gym for 45 minutes on their way home? By consistently being proactive instead of being negative they would be sure to see improvements.
The funny thing is that I do not even find consistency hard. My lifestyle is based around my health. I still have commitments like uni and work but I am so used to consistently training now and eating properly that it isn't even an issue for me. The last two weeks I have been very busy with 2 large assignments to do. I even went to Melbourne for the weekend to celebrate my Dad's birthday. It would have been easy to skip my training or slip back into unhealthy habits but I didn't. In fact it wasn't even a matter of having to really work to make everything fit in. I got up earlier or opted to train in doors after dark too fit it all in. Because I have been doing this consistently for so long now it was easy. It was part of my routine.
Christ, I feel like I am preaching a bit here about how good I am. That is not my intention. What I am simply doing is trying to demonstrate that for me, that consistency is what has seen me make drastic improvements in all aspects of my life. I was that guy who was too busy to train or cook properly. I was too busy at work and uni who didn't have time. That was until I wasn't.
With sport this is even more important. Endurance sport is all about consistency. One of the things that frustrates me the most about other people is seeing them go too hard. There are some people who despite constantly being injured still do not seem to understand that they need that consistency. There is no point training like a mad-man above threshold for a week only to injure yourself and miss out on the next week's training. If you can aim to train, eat and live consistently you are more likely to improve.
There are alternatives like 12 week programs or 2 hard weeks of training in a row which will lead to faster results or improvements. But I would suggest that those results are less likely to last than those which are slowly and safely earned over time. The saying 'it is a marathon, not a sprint' could not be more appropriate than to endurance sport. Focus on getting quality in over a long period of time and you will be going faster, keeping weight off longer and getting better results at work or uni than your counterparts who rush, go too hard or only work for short periods of time. Their model is not maintainable. At some point in the future they will burn out, lose motivation or undo all of their hard work.
So to put it simply. You want to get better at something, do the hard work, don't look for shortcuts. Remember those words on your bottle of shampoo that is probably some of the best advice you will receive and simply 'lather, rinse, repeat.
Be consistent, play the long game, don't rush and remember to TRI!