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Complacency is evil

March 20th, 2009

Today, in the Salmon Arm community swimming pool, I swam 100x100m,…it was far from perfect.

My intent was to swim the 10km building stronger throughout the set. Knowing it this was going to be a long workout, I prepared myself to make good on swimming with an emphasis on technique in order to decrease the risk of shoulder injury. I also knew that I needed to swim smooth and easy to start, in order to finish strong.

I started the repeats on 1:30, arriving at the wall on 1:25. I didn’t have much rest, but it was easy. No problem,…just worked technique. After a little while later, I was pulling them on 1:25, arriving on 1:20,…then my body and mind got into a funk and didn’t feel like descending from there. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel like swimming anymore. The workout became a chore, and lost it’s meaning to me as an important exercise.

I then thought about something I recently said to someone, “if you ever find yourself simply going through the motions in a workout,…sometimes it’s a good idea to stop for a moment, and ask yourself – am I accomplishing the intent of this workout? if not,…why not? are you really really tired and have nothing to give? or are you just being lazy?”. Hanging my head in self-inflicted guilt, after 50x100m I opted to get out of the pool, go home, and refuel. I was being lazy, and way too naive to think that nothing but a bunch of easy 100s had value. Knowing that I had to return to the pool in order to finish the workout, I also knew that I had to make up for my lack-luster performance thus far, and hit round two with a new attitude.

Remarkably, I had a huge turn-around the second trip to the pool, I was way faster for the next set of 50x100m – I was swimming with anger, and it seemed to really make me move well. 20x100m swim on 1:25 arriving on 1:15, then 10x100m kick on 2:00 arriving on 1:45, then I lit up the last 20x100m pull on 1:20 arriving on 1:10s).

I think it’s a good idea to question the extent by which complacency affects our performance outcomes. I think humans are fallible and flawed in this respect. Perhaps such recognition might help us find motivation to rise to a new level; and/or explain why many of us succumb to performance plateaus.