Going Swimmingly London is wishing you a happy new year and good luck reaching your sports goals in 2022.
The temperatures dropped, the lights went up and suddenly it is the end of another year. Since every end marks a new beginning, this is an opportunity to learn from these past few months and start the new year with good intentions.
What better time to check in on your fitness progress and sports performance and to remind yourself of the goals you have set yourself. Whether you have been missing your latest penalty kicks or struggling with your backstroke, here are a few suggestions to help you set your new year’s resolutions and stick to them all the way.
1- Set specific goals for yourself
The new year is a great opportunity to refresh your routine and refocus your energy on the things you wish to achieve. Although many may wish to improve on their health and fitness, setting achievable goals is more than just wanting to ‘get healthier’ or ‘become fitter’. It is important to be specific about your goals by narrowing them down into something that is achievable within the coming year and realistic given your lifestyle.
If you are trying to swim faster, try setting yourself the goal of ‘swimming 1 km under 20 minutes’; or if you are hoping to lose weight, try ‘losing 3 pounds per month’. The key to achieving your new year’s resolution is to be consistent, no matter how big or small your goal is. Making sure that your target can be measured will allow you to track your progress and keep you motivated along the way.
2- Coordinate your training with your routine
Achieving sports-related goals does not necessarily require a complete overhaul of one’s lifestyle. On the contrary, resolutions are best held up when they can fit around your schedule and alongside your existing routines.
Take a moment to think about your day-to-day life to see where you might be able to fit in an extra 30 minutes at the gym or swap a car ride for a walk. These might not seem like drastic changes, but they can certainly add up to make a significant difference in your lifestyle once you start incorporating them on a regular basis.
This is especially helpful for those running on a tight schedule or starting out their fitness journey. If you have not practiced a sport in years, it can seem both difficult and intimidating to all the sudden start training every day. Luckily, this need not be the case as you can find ways to be active without attending a scheduled class every morning. Conversely, if you are an athlete or already train regularly, you should try to schedule your training sessions in regular intervals whilst still retaining some flexibility about adding or removing an additional hour of training every now and then.
3- Don’t rule out the gym
Whether your goals are purely fitness related or are targeting a particular sport, chances are that you will at some point or another find yourself training at a gym. Although this is by no means a necessity, weather conditions and convenience will see many flock to the weight lifting machines and treadmills in a bid to fit their training in.
If you often see yourself skipping your football practice because of the rain or calling off your tennis game due to the long commute, gyms can be a great alternative when external circumstances let you down. If you are struggling to find motivation on certain days, additional obstacles like bad weather or traffic can really seal the deal away.
Luckily, you can easily find a gym in your neighbourhood which offers an easy and accessible opportunity to still find a way to be active even on those days when you are somewhat lacking motivation. Getting a gym membership permits you such flexibility since you are not required to make it to a game on time or commit to a 90-minute football match.
4- Write down your progress
Whether you have been training for years or are just getting started, tracking your progress is key to achieving your goals. No matter how big or small your objectives are, checking on your improvements not only helps to keep you motivated but can also inform you on how effective your training plan actually is. Remember that everybody is different and will react differently to different types of exercise.
This point again stretches the importance of performance-based goals as these can be measured and tracked from one week to the next. If you are committing yourself to leading a healthier lifestyle or training in the long-term, changes and progress may not necessarily occur linearly or fast enough for you to notice them yourself. Although you may be getting stronger or faster, there is also value in seeing what type of training plan has helped you see those results and where you might still be able to improve or push yourself onwards.
If you are hoping to learn a new sport, keeping a training journal will encouraging you to keep going when skills become more difficult and techniques harder to master. The more you can learn about yourself, the more efficient you can be in achieving your fitness and sports-related goals.
5- Vary your activities
Varying your exercise is a great way to keep you motivated and help you find balance in your training. Although you might be a running fanatic, it is important to fit some strength training or flexibility routine into your schedule every once in a while, as these all work together to help boost your performance. Keeping a varied exercise routine can also help prevent injuries due to overexercising a particular muscle group or exhaustion.
If you have never stepped into the weights section at the gym or have never stretched before a workout, consider enlisting the help of a friend who can show you around the gym or show you some effective stretches. Similarly, you might consider booking a private instructor to help you get to grips with a new activity or to teach you alternative ways of training.
6- Try out a new sport
It's the new year so why not try a new activity.
Whether you have been wanting to learn how to swim for years or have been recently inspired to try out some boxing, this is as good a time as any to try it out. There is such a great variety of sports out there that there is no need to restrict yourself to your weekend tennis game, even if you have been going for years already. Sometimes you might lose interest in a sport, or perhaps you no longer feel challenged as your body has become accustomed to the activity.
7- Brush up on your technique
The new year is a great opportunity to look back on the months that have passed and reflect on their success and failures. When you are training to become better at a sport like swimming, not every lap you swim will necessarily be better than the last. It can be helpful to reconsider your goals and perhaps take a few steps back to check what might be keeping you from beating your lap time or swimming for longer.
Perhaps your technique might need some polishing up or maybe your general cardio might be holding you back. Either way, the quality of your performance is often more important and should be prioritised over the quantity of exercise that you do.
If you are struggling with your front crawl, adding three more hours of swim training to your week might not be necessary. Focusing on the quality of your strokes and working on your breathing within your allocated training session may be more effective to begin with. Once you feel more confident in your technique, then you may wish to increase the amount of time you spend in the pool to get more practice.
8- Don’t avoid the things you are less good at
Although you might enjoy the swiftness or your breaststroke or the gracefulness of your front crawl, there are always aspects of our sport which we appreciate less and yet are still an essential part to our performance. Whether your flip turns are slowing you down or your dive ins still feel shaky, you can only avoid these for so long before they start to impact your overall progress.
If you have been avoiding a particular skill or technique, why not spend a few minutes practicing them the next time you jump in the pool. Set yourself the goal to dedicate a few sessions to working on those things you feel less comfortable with or simply do not enjoy and soon enough you might find yourself enjoying them.
9- Get to know your sport’s community
It is never too late to connect with your sport’s community, whether you have been going to the same swimming pool for years or only just recently signed up for your first lesson. Swimming might be an individual sport, but this certainly does not mean that it cannot be a social one. Indeed, swimmers tend to be very supportive of each other and can be a great source of knowledge and advice.
Although some enjoy the peace of swimming on their own, training can sometimes get lonely when you are spending the hour swimming in your own lane. Luckily, you will find swimmers of all ages and skill levels scattered in and around the pool who all know what it is like to learn how to swim for the first time or to swallow mouthfuls of water when trying to perfect your front crawl. Do not be afraid to ask advice or simply have a chat about each other’s swimming goals. Getting in touch with the sport’s community at your local pool is a great way to keep you motivated and engaged in your training.
10- Sign up to a competition
You do not need to be breaking records to enjoy a little bit of competition. Whether it is signing up to a local event or charity race, signing up to a competition can be a great motivational factor in your training whether you are a novice or professional athlete. It is also equally rewarding to be able to apply your skills and measure yourself against other people so do not be afraid to try out new things.
Even if you do not end up winning gold, it can be a great opportunity to meet new people and set new goals for the coming year.
11- Sign up to a sports lesson
Taking sports lessons is a great way to learn a new activity or improve on your existing technique. Whether these are grouped or private, enlisting the help of an instructor is the most effective way of learning a new skill and obtaining expert advice on how to improve.
Adam from Going Swimmingly London offers a range of private swimming classes and sports activities for all ages and skill levels. With his helpful advice and encouragement, there will be nothing stopping you from achieving your sports goals this coming year.
Get in touch to book a lesson and get one stroke closer to achieving your new year’s resolutions.