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How to Set Goals Like Katie Ledecky

How to Set Goals Like Katie Ledecky

This past summer Katie Ledecky showed the world that she is better at swimming than the rest of us are at pretty much anything.

She thoroughly cleaned up in Rio, winning four gold medals—three of them individual—and a silver. Her 400 and 800m freestyle wins were devastating, with her margin of victory in the latter a staggering 11-plus seconds. She swept the 200-400-800m freestyles, something that hadn’t been done since 1968, displaying a once-in-a-generation range of speed and ability.

She’s now a two time Olympian, kicked an American Ninja Warrior’s butt at a made-up game on Ellen, and tossed a heater when she threw the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game.

And did we also mention that she’s only nineteen years old?

Here are some goal setting tips us mortals can pick up from the greatest active swimmer on the planet:

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Keep them visible.

Thinking and dreaming about our goals is easy. Everyone does that. If you are even mildly serious about crushing your goal, jotting it down and having it in sight is almost mandatory.

After all, something changes when you take literally five seconds to write down your goal. It becomes a little more real.

When Ledecky and her coach Bruce Gemmell sat down after the 2013 FINA World Championships, where she rocked the world records in the 800m and 1500m freestyles, they discussed what was possible over the next three years leading into Rio. They decided on two goal times: 3:56 for the 400m freestyle, and 8:05 for the 800m freestyle.

Even though they kept the goals to themselves as they prepared for the Olympics, the goals she had set were never far—she had written “565” to signify her two goal times on her pull buoy. Every day during her swimming workouts, during the long 8,000-9,000-yard training sessions with a nearly endless number of flip turns, those three little numbers were there waiting for her, motivating her, reminding her of the purpose of all the work.

And how did she do in Rio? She pretty much nailed her goals right over the head, swimming a 3:56.46 in the 400m freestyle, and 8:04.79 in the 800m freestyle.

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Be willing and ready to fail.

The word failure carries with it so much negative baggage that the moment we slip up, fail, or otherwise disappoint ourselves we quit. We tell ourselves, “Ah, we didn’t really want it that bad” and move on to the next thing, never giving our goals a fair and consistent effort.

Which is too bad, because without the ability to brave the initial hurdles and resistance we can never truly improve or advance towards the hard and rewarding things we want from life.

One of Ledecky’s strengths is her willingness to fail in practice, to see past the initial struggle and keep at it. In Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, her coach related just how serious Ledecky was when it came to being willing to fail:

“There are days she fails catastrophically,” he said. “She fails in practice more than anybody in her [training] group, because she’ll start out like, ‘This is the pace I need to swim in the race, so I need to replicate it in practice.’ And she’ll go six repeats like that, and the tank goes empty and she just falls off. But you know what? She’ll come back the next day and try it again. And on the third day, she’ll nail it. And she’s been doing this since the first day I walked on the deck with her.”

Nobody likes failing at something or not being good at something the first time out. Being willing to fail is not about getting comfortable losing or sucking—it’s using the rage and frustration from not nailing it the first time to get the hang of it in future attempts.

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Surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you.

If you looked at the people you keep in your circle, would you say that they are inspiring bigger and better things out of you, or are they encouraging mediocrity and the status quo?

When you hang out with people who are doing the things you want to do it’s inevitable that their influence will help push and propel you upwards.

Ledecky, having outpaced the female swimmers on her team, trained predominantly with male swimmers in the lead up to Rio. During altitude camps at the United States Olympic Training Center, she would go head to head with male swimmers on the national team and routinely “break” them.

One of the male swimmers that Ledecky “broke” included Conor Dwyer, who is no slouch himself in the middle distance swimming events—he placed 4th in the 400m freestyle in Rio and won a bronze in the 200m freestyle.

By surrounding herself with swimmers who were faster than her she rode their wake towards faster swimming, elevating her to times and records that are so far and above the competition it’s ridiculous.

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Meet and Exceed Your Goals

Whatever your goals are—whether it be learning how to swim faster freestyle, or get that promotion at work, or get in better shape—there are lessons that the top swimmer on the planet can teach you.

Write out your goals and keep them in sight. Be ready to fight back against those first few moments of difficulty. And surround yourself with people who will push you upwards.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Published on October 17, 2019

How to Build Endurance Fast and Enhance Stamina

How to Build Endurance Fast and Enhance Stamina

Day to day we all suffer. Life is hard, have you ever got to work and just stopped right in front of the stairs and just absolutely dreaded the thought of having to go up to them? By the top, you’re out of breath, uncomfortable and sweating.

So, how to build endurance fast and enhance stamina? We will look into the tips in this article.

What Is the Best Exercise for Endurance?

When faced with any exercise venture, we will always ask ourselves “What is the best way to get to our goals?”

Really it does depend. Why do I say this?

There are a lot of variables as to what form of exercise I might recommend for you. Not to worry I just won’t leave it there. I’ll give you examples that will fit for many different scenarios.

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When recommending forms of cardio for people, you have to examine many things like, how long have they been training, their age, any injuries that were diagnosed by a medical professional and just some nagging pains that they may have from overly tight muscles.

When faced with someone who is very under trained, has worked years at a desk, and hasn’t trained in decades, I would recommend a non-impact form of cardio like a bike, elliptical, row, reason being that their muscles, tendons and ligaments aren’t used to bearing hundreds of pounds of impact that is caused every single time we jump, land, run. This same idea would go for someone who has any kind of arthritis in the knees, back etc.

When faced with running, and sprinting, I would recommend these modes of cardio to those clients that have experience with these forms of cardio, whether that be athletes or just casual runners; of course, assuming that they have good running technique and footwear. Without good running technique or footwear, you are bound to run into some sort of injury eventually.

Types of Cardio: LISS Vs HIIT, Which Is Better?

There are two main forms of cardio that people are familiar with or have heard of.

One of them is “LISS” which stands for low intensity steady state. This form of cardio wood be represented by a form of cardio that is not very taxing and doesn’t involve any sort of intervals. A good example would be walking on the treadmill on a slight incline and moderate paced walk that you are able to keep up for approximately an hour.

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Currently on fire, the very well known form of cardio “HIIT” which stands for high intensity interval training. This cardio is very intense and includes spurts of near maximal effort followed by a complete rest or active recovery (walking). Perfect example of a HIIT workout would be interval sprints, sprinting maximal effort for 20 seconds followed by a minute of walking (1:3 work to rest).

Now that you know what they are, you may be asking which one is better for you. And the answer is, both! Both will build your endurance and when we combine both of them into your training protocol, you will build your endurance and stamina even faster than just using one or the other!

Here’s a routine you can take reference of:

Mock Training Week (Novice Trainee)

  • Monday: HIIT sprint (1:3 work to rest) 20 min
  • Tuesday: LISS bike (slight resistance) 60 minute
  • Wednesday: LISS walk (outside if possible) if not slight incline light pace, 60 minutes
  • Thursday: OFF
  • Friday: HIIT row machine(1:2 work to rest) 20 minutes
  • Saturday: LISS walk (outside if possible) if on treadmill small incline, light pace
  • Sunday: OFF

*the allotted work to rest ratio will vary based on the level of physical fitness of the individual

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How to Build Your Physical Endurance

When building a customized cardio program, it is very important to know your baseline level of cardio done via fitness testing. These tests will give you a good measure from where you are starting, so you can easily measure your progress a few months down the road.

If you’re not familiar with exercising programming and really want to train efficiently and with good form, it would be a good idea to hire a Personal Trainer. The trainer will be familiar with performing these types of fitness test and can ensure they are being performed exactly the same each time to ensure accurate results. A Personal Trainer can also help you build a customized cardio program tailored to your goal of building endurance based on your current fitness levels.

How Endurance Is Actually Built

Endurance is actually built by challenging our base fitness of cardio which in turn build our Vo2 Max (most amount of oxygen we can use during exercise), which is the best measure of cardio/endurance.

In order to challenge our endurance, we must make our heart more efficient. A good measure to see if you are improving would be to do a run for 5 minutes at a certain speed on the treadmill and then measure your Heart Rate immediately after; then repeat that exact test 8 weeks down the road to measure your progress that way.

Another good way to measure our progress would be by increasing the difficulty of your workouts weekly/bi-weekly so you can see that you are progressing week to week.

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Final Thoughts

Besides the workout advice above, I suggest you combine all these following quick tips:

  • Eat healthy and unprocessed foods.
  • Challenge your cardio/endurance (train with intensity).
  • Train frequently.
  • Track your progress.
  • Get to a healthy body weight.
  • Build a good cardio program.
  • Have a goal.

Do these consistently because without sustainability, we will not see the most amount of results possible.

Great changes require consistency and hard work. Keep at it and follow your goals, results will come!

Featured photo credit: asoggetti via unsplash.com

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