Last night I headed off from work to training.

I really struggled…I had a hard time getting away from work on time, there was a bus breakdown on the way that made me late, I was stressed and tired and feeling generally a bit rubbish. By the time I got anywhere near the pool I seriously considered turning left instead of right and going straight home.

Usually when that happens I’m fine once I get there and get in the water, but occasionally that doesn’t happen.

I hopped in and started my warm-up. My shoulder was sore and I just couldn’t get into a rhythm the whole set. I was swimming slower than usual and the voice in my head was feeding me some very negative thoughts.

Swimming, at the end of the day, can be a very solitary sport. It’s pretty social before and after and when regrouping and sometimes at the ends of the lane, but while you’re actually doing the swimming part of it, you’d better get to know the voice inside your head pretty well because that’s all you’ll have for company out there.

And my particular inner voice runs a very steady internal monologue.

It’s a bit of a roller coaster for me too, usually. At least once every race I wonder what the hell I’m doing there. I hate the sport and should just hitch a ride back to the beach. Something hurts and it’s too hard and what was I thinking in the first place imagining I could do this stupid thing.

Luckily at least once I realise how much I love doing this. It’s heaps of fun and I see something new and I feel good and I feel strong and just focus on technique and so on and so forth….

It’s important for me to be very aware of that voice as it tends to team with my aches and pains against me. Usually I can recognise what it’s doing and focus on my technique or something positive until it pulls itself into line.

Last night, though, there was no tricking it. But you know what? It may not have been the best session I’ve ever done, but I finished the set.

I think you shouldn’t let it become a habit, but sometimes you just need to accept that you’re going to have off days, and give yourself a smidgeon of a break. The habit of going anyway and doing as much as you can means that one bad day doesn’t stop you and skipping one session doesn’t lead to skipping another and another….

And that leaves you wide open for the good days!