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Change your story

There are days when I'm just not in the mood.

Then there are entire weekends when the spirit isn't exactly moving me to train like an elite athlete.

Saturday morning featured an early-morning swim practice. Motivation was sorely lacking at 6 a.m. to drive to the pool. It's absence remained as I dangled me feet at the edge of the pool. The water was cold. The workout was 3,000 yards.


But in I went with two usual suspects in my lane. I went off last, not moving particularly fast but picking it up enough to make the intervals.

I started to get my groove going a bit. Then two new people showed up.

The women arrived to practice late and I could see them at the edge of the pool, talking to the head of the swim program. They stood, watching us swim a 200 IM. Eventually they got in the pool.

I don't know their story, but it seemed like their first time at an organized swim practice. They were slow, unaware of the etiquette and a little bossy about asking if anyone knew where we were on the workout. Heck, I was passing them. Me. The slowest swimmer ever to don goggles. In part, that was kind of cool.

Only the lane quickly turned to chaos. One of the regulars went to the other lane, since he was lapping the new peeps after a mere 50 yards. The other semi-regular in the lane decided to skip one of the rest intervals and start the next set early. The new swimmers still had no clue, or at least I had no clue what they were doing, and so there were bodies everywhere in the lane. Passing the slow swimmers often meant trying to swim three across the lane.

And the negative thoughts started coming.

Why couldn't people get to their first practice on time so they would know what they're doing? Why couldn't they just follow the group? Why were they so slow?

This, I realized wasn't productive. Or what I wanted to be thinking about these new swimmers.

Because I was a new swimmer once. And I still am.

So I tried to let the critical voice go. How great it was that they had the courage to show up to practice and try to work on their swim, I thought instead. I want to see more people in sport. This is great. Good for them. They will get better.

Meanwhile, I kept bumping into people and lane lines as I tried to complete the workout.

Actually, this is the best training for open water triathlon swimming I've ever had in the pool.

I ended up being one of the last out of of the pool, choosing to finish my slow and easy 300 yard cool down.

That wasn't so bad. Granted, it wasn't a high quality workout, but I did finish 3,000 yards in the hour and 15 minutes allotted and survived the chaos of the pool.

Perhaps more importantly, I got a good dose of the power of changing your thoughts.

Had I succumbed to my need to whine and complain and mutter under my breathe (metaphorically speaking, that is. You can't really mutter under your breathe while swimming) I would have felt like the workout was merely perfunctory and felt terrible about its quality.

Instead, I changed my perspective and actively changed the way I was thinking. I thought it was great for new people to show up and try to jump in. I thought that my ability to do the workout even in those conditions demonstrated how much my swim has improved and my confidence and comfort level in the water grown. I thought what a great way to practice having people bump you, practice passing people and being passed.

When you change your thoughts, you change the way things happen in your life. It can be as basic as that "glass half empty" cliche. But it goes deeper than that. Author Wayne Dyer often talks about how when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

My friend KP once told me it's as simple as the phrase: "Change your story."

We all have the power to change our story -- the ones we make up in our heads. The ones we tell about ourselves, about the people in our lives about what it is we want and need.

If I think that I'm a bad swimmer and the new people are just annoying, then I will be a bad swimmer and those people will annoy me. If I think I'm a good swimmer, an improving swimmer, and that the new people are there to challenge me, then I will not only succeed, but I will feel good about the workout.

Easy to apply in training. Harder in life.

But as February moves along, my goal is to work on changing my thoughts, keeping positive and seeing what the power of the mind can help me achieve.

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