How to Stay Positive and Focused During a Pace Set

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How to Stay Positive and Focused During a Pace Set

Every swimmer knows the pain of doing a pace set. Whether it’s threshold or just 50s at 200 pace, ending a hard practice with either of these can totally kill the mood. The question to ask yourself is, how can I stay positive during this practice?

While some may say to not think about it, it may not be that simple. In my many years of elite swimming, I have learned to think about where I want to be at the end of the season. Rather than focusing on if you’re missing your pace, focus on how you plan to swim these parts in your races. Don’t get mad if you can’t hit the specific time right away! Midseason practices are always the hardest and oftentimes you are expected to struggle with reaching these times.

As a swimmer, I have competed in many midseason meets where I do not swim well at all. These completely break me down and make me wonder what happens next. You cannot think like this! It’s ok to be upset about a bad race but once you let the negative thoughts into your head, the whole meet can be ruined. The best thing I’ve learned to do is take a deep breath and move onto whatever is next. By adopting this approach, you have now put the bad swim in the past, and now have a clean slate for the relay or 400 IM that’s up next.

Attitudes are something that can be infectious. Coaches tell you to keep your negative thoughts in your head when you hear a hard main set but have you ever questioned why you can’t complain to your lane mates? Well, when you surround yourself with negativity, odds are you’ll begin to feel the same way. If you don’t like the main set but the lane leader is killing it, and you bring up how all you want to do is go home, this spreads an attitude of, “Oh I don’t want to do this either.” Then the main set is not important anymore and efforts have diminished.

Easier said than done right? Not always! Next time the thoughts in your head tell you to stop trying, clear them out and instead come up with another thought. Maybe focus on how many strokes you’re pulling on each lap. Even begin counting 1-2-1-2-1-2 for each stroke you take. Think about if your arms are pulling all the way down on free, and if not begin to do so! These are all thoughts that can take the place of a negative mind set. Before you know it, that 500 pace set will be almost over and you will have focused on something much more important, your swimming!