I’m going to start this with two thoughts. First is that this entire post will be a practice in my process and a therapeutic exercise for me, so it might be a little more about my hurdles than you care to read (which is perfectly understandable). The second is that I want to make it clear that since my last post I have really felt pretty darn good, which may be what led me to this point.
As you might be able to tell from the title, I ended up pushing myself a little too far this summer, and have paid the price the last few weeks. It’s definitely not one thing either. Instead it’s my failure in my own process, it’s stress, and what I’m coming to understand in that what I believed to be a strength of mine, is now showing up as a weakness.
I’ll start with just laying out my plan, and what I can clearly see now as a bit overly optimistic. This all started when my schedule was as such:
Three straight days of camp – all day on deck, with the majority of it entirely focused on swimmers. I thought it was the best camp I’ve personally led, but it’s definitely taxing.
A few days later I left for World Champ Trials, a week in Indianapolis. Thus far I was good, in fact great. Consistent in working out, decent on process, etc. Feeling as good as I have in years really. But I was only getting started.
After a week there, I flew home on a Sunday morning, spent a few hectic hours at home getting ready to turn around and fly to Croatia for a 2 week training trip with Rose Bowl. This is where the wheels started coming off for me.
As I start I want to make it clear that everything I am experiencing is on me, no one else is responsible in any little bit.
The travel was fine and the camp started great, as we had 3 days of doubles and meetings, and as a coach, I was pretty happy. Then came the hurdles and the stress that I am still recovering from a bit.
Here’s the deal. Croatia is an absolutely beautiful country and the people are amazing. If I was going on vacation it would have been incredible, but I wasn’t on vacation, I was there to work. The problem is I failed to take into account the “vacation effect” of taking 24 swimmers to a place like that, yet asking them to focus on their swimming more than ever. I refuse to admit that it can’t be done, but I do know that it’s going to take more from me to make sure I have a plan that will work and I have the swimmers there that are focused first on their swimming.
So I get asked a lot, “how was it” and my answer is always the same, the location, country, etc are amazing, as a training trip, we didn’t get half of what we could have overall. Of course, some were incredibly focused, but then there were others clearly on vacation and wanting to “experience” everything. This then had me doing a lot of soul searching. Should I care as much as I do, or should I “just enjoy it”. I get it, there are a lot of coaches out there that would have just enjoyed the experience and just gotten what they could have out of the trip. I also understand that in the end I coach a club high school team in this case.
I accept that I did not plan the trip that I should have, but I do not believe I need to change my outlook. I was told, in a very nice email not too long ago, that this person really saw me as a professional coach. Not by definition of being paid, but by my approach to what I do. I explained to the group at one point that I understand I am different than most this way, but if my experience in Croatia was only being on deck and coaching (especially with the view of the coast we had), it would have been amazing for me. It’s something I’ve learned through this journey, I love my job.
In the end, the swimmers had a great trip and I learned a lot as a coach, so in many ways the trip was a success. The only problem is I failed to manage my own stress levels, added to the schedule and a lack of process in a number of areas, and it has left me in more pain than I have been in since my diagnosis. My back and core (“insides”) was definitely different pain than 2 and a half years ago, but the worst I have felt since that time. Which if you can imagine, didn’t do great things for my head. From there I was on the struggle bus for a ride that has slowed down for sure, but still working on coming to a stop and getting off this thing.
So, I think you get the point, and while I feel weak just “whining” about this type of stuff and now sitting out of prelims to make sure I get some rest. This is one of the hardest things I do now. Learning to take care of myself is very tough thing. This is where I found what I thought was a strength is a weakness in this case. Through my swimming career I prided myself on working hard and pushing through. How’s that old saying go? When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s clearly an attribute that I think takes a lot of people to great success and has served me well over the years, but I also now believe it can be an attribute that takes you right by that success and into a hole if you aren’t careful. I have so much to learn about what true strength is and how I tell the difference of “just working harder” like it was ingrained in me through swimming or working smarter and taking care of myself when it’s needed.
I think that will do it for now. In the end, I know I am fine. I am feeling better as I go, and the remnants I am still feeling are clearly associated with the stress I am under now. I have found that my body is not a fan of stress. I don’t think it’s good for any of us, I just feel it in my mid-section immediately, and that reminds me of things I’d rather not focus on. So it’s time for me to get things done, decrease my stress as soon as possible, and get back to my process.
Thanks all for the support and, if you made it all the way here, for reading my therapeutic ramblings.