There is a difference between getting the work done, and getting the work done well.

It’s one thing to feel like you barely survived the 1500 meter swim. It’s another thing to do it feeling strong enough at the end to continue with the rest of your triathlon. It’s another thing do to it with consistent pace, precision and sense of ease, and repeat that on each leg of the race.

There is a difference between being able to work for 2 hours, and being able to work with perfect posture for 2 hours.
There is a difference between being able to work hard while tuned out for 2 hours and being able to hold attention and standard on quality for 2 hours. 
There is a difference between big muscles feeling strong and small muscles that support the joint being strong and balanced to keep up. Joints do not develop fitness as fast as big muscles do.
There is a difference between going out strong and barely holding on to finish, and swimming with steady stroke count and pace over an entire distance. Technical control does not develop as fast as one’s ambition does.

There is a need, in the kindergarten of athletics, to have a coach or your own internal drive push you to get the work done. But you eventually need to mature and train at a higher level. You need to get a coach or the internal drive to not merely get the work done, but push you to get the work done well. To truly excel in your chosen sport or art, you need to become capable of doing the full quantity of work at best quality the entire way. Finish with excellence, not merely with grit.

For this objective, the training of qualities comes before quantities, and always with them. Make excellence of technical control and internal efficiency your value from the start – then gradually increase the standards you set for both qualities and quantities, together. Increase the challenge of training according to the needs of the weaker part of the performance system.

Fitness is your ability to get work done.

Efficiency is your ability to get work done with the least amount of expense – including depletion of resources, recovery time, and avoidance of injury.

Excellence is your ability to get the superior, external and internal results you seek.

I encourage you to aim to become, not merely fit, and not merely efficient, but an excellent athlete. 

Your true ‘fitness’ in swimming (or in any sport) is measured not by what your strongest component is capable of, but what your weakest component is capable of. Your potential will be limited by your weakest link in the performance system. The more you tolerate the weakness and increase work load according to your strengths, the sooner you will hit a plateau, and the more risk of injury there is.

There is one form of satisfaction that comes from survival. There is another form of satisfaction that comes from excellence. You may start out learning lessons in the first, but eventually you need to graduate to the second – your longevity in the sport will require it.

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