Welcome to the fourth episode of the Freediving Podcast by Renee Blundon. This episode is about motivation and goal setting for freediving.
Motivation is the cornerstone of success for every great freediving athlete and every great freediving achievement. In this episode I’ll go over motivation, what it is, where does it come from and why is it so important for freediving? I’ll also talk about goal setting in extensive detail with examples from some of top freedivers from all over the world to help inspire you and to ensure that you never quit!
This episode is part two in the podcast series about mental techniques for freediving.
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Please enjoy this transcript of this podcast episode.
Hello and welcome to episode four of the Freediving Podcast, you source for information about training for freediving, not only so you can freedive better, but so you can live the most healthy and EPIC life possible.
I am your host, Renee Blundon, I’m a competitive freediver and freediver instructor trainer living in Dahab. And this podcast represents the efforts of my own personal research and my trial and error from my freediving training, as well as the combined efforts of a public open source information network which I invite you to join on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/powerofthebreath, all are welcome.
Feel free to check-out the podcast page, on my website at http://reneeblundon.com/podcast. There you can also sign up for my new Friday 5 newsletter, which is my round up of 5 facts, fun and f’ups of the week. I try to include information that’s interesting and inspiring and freediving related, so I think you will like it.
And any questions and information can be sent to me at [email protected]
Thank you all for listening!
So in the last episode, I spoke about some of the different mental techniques which top freedivers use to perform more optimally on their dives.
There are all sorts of mental strategies and techniques that can be applied to your freediving training and your lifestyle, which not only to help you perform more optimally on your dives, but also to help you deal with the stress and the anxiety associated with freediving, and to help you deal with any set-backs along the way, so that you can bounce back more quickly from any failed dive attempts.
I also started to unpack some of the mental strategies that top freedivers use. So if we were to try and look inside the mind of a successful freediving athlete, what are the different factors that can be linked to success in freediving? And these are:
So today I’m going to talk in more detail about the first one, motivation and goal setting, and because it’s such a big topic, I’m actually going to continue talking about it on next episode as well.
And then after that, will be an episode about building confidence for freediving and techniques for that, and then one on experience and knowledge and so on and so forth, I’m just gonna go right down the list.
I’m gonna start here by reading you just an excerpt from William Trubridge’s blog, he wrote – and this is in regards to his mental training for his 102 meter CNF dive:
“I knew that for this record attempt I was going to need my full A-game. All the elements of ‘me’ – body, mind, undermind (subconscious) and spirit (the driver, or inner fire that pushes me on) – would have to function at their highest level. So in my mental preparation I regularly checked in with each in turn, addressing it like a person, and letting it know I would need all of its resources.
As I often tell students in Vertical Blue courses, you can’t muscle your way to the bottom plate and back, any more than you can get there with meditation alone. Both vehicles need to be firing on all cylinders, and fuelled by an unshakeable motivation.”
Feel free to read more on William’s blog at williamtrubridge.com.
So motivation is clearly very important in freediving
And it’s really the foundation of all athletic effort and athletic accomplishment
Because without a desire and a strong determination to improve in freediving, all of the other mental factors; like confidence, focus, routines, experience, stress management, etc all of them are almost pointless if you don’t have motivation!
For example, you can have all the confidence in the world, but if you’re not motivated and if you’re a bit lazy (sorry just saying how it is) then you won’t have that drive in you, that fire, to show up and train every day (or well almost everyday), to eat healthy foods, do stretching, etc, etc so you’re probably not going to be an incredibly successful freediver!
So, point is, that if you want to become the absolute best freediver you can be, you must be motivated to train consistently and to do what it takes to maximize your abilities in freediving.
So what is motivation?
Motivation – just to put it simply is the ability to initiate and persist at a particular task.
So in order to perform your best in freediving, you have to want to:
Start the process of developing yourself as a freediving athlete, and then maintain your efforts all the way until you’ve achieved your goals.
Motivation’s SO important in freediving, because it will directly impact the level of success that you ultimately achieve.
If you’re highly motivated to improve your freediving performance, then you’ll put in the time and effort necessary.
And you’ll be willing to train and work hard even when it’s super difficult, when the conditions aren’t very good, when you have thermoclines, when you have waves, or cold water…
Something Alexey Molchanov said in an interview:
“The secret is that I train for this for many years. Freediving is a matter of adaptation, and you can’t go with big steps. I actually like the colder water below the thermocline, because you need to be more focus, you can’t just relax, you need to make an effort to relax. After 20 to 30 meters when the free-fall starts, when I make no move and sink, I make an effort to check my body to be sure I have no tension, I think it makes my focus even better.
I need to test my psychological strength to challenge my limits on the next competitions, but I will only do it with small steps. My next target is 131 m. It’s not only about breath-holding but also about oxygen narcosis or pressure.”
So also take Matt Malina, for example, who I think has 2 world records in the pool…
“I train mostly every day. My training is complex, so I do everything – I do pool training, I do strength training, I do hypoxic training, I work with the psychologist and I work on my diet and nutrition. There are many parts to my training. As for the training plan, I very often do what my gut tells me. I never write down a plan for the month and stick to it. I do assign some days to certain types of exercises, for example on Monday I do the pool and on Tuesday I do the physical training, so I have this kind of plan, but I don’t have any specific numbers.”
So freediving training takes time and it’s not always easy!
Even if you LOVE freediving, the training can often be super challenging, and so you have to find ways to get through those challenges of, diving in cold water, also adapting to pressure, adapting your body to low O2/high CO2, maybe you’re tired, you’re dehydrated, maybe you don’t feel like freediving that day and you’d rather do something else!
The love of freediving alone, isn’t enough – to make you want to keep going through these tough times and through all these difficulties.
But that willingness to continue to train and still give it 100% effort, that’s all about motivation!
So motivation’s also super important because it impacts everything else that influences your freediving performance!
It influences your; breath-hold times, your physical training, your technique, your mental preparation, even your lifestyle, your sleep, your diet, your relationships with people, really everything!
I know at moments whenever I’m unmotivated or going into kind-of over-training mode, for sure I’m not able to hold my breath as long, I’ll also more be likely snack on foods which I know aren’t healthy, and then I don’t sleep well, it’s all basically linked together and then without a doubt, my freediving performance suffers.
Then another example of why motivation’s important in freediving is maybe you’re competing against another freediver for a particular record or to win a competition, so you’re kind-of head to head with someone.
And let’s say you and the other freediver are completely equal in your abilities…
So rather than the abilities determining what the outcome is – the one who succeeds in the end, is going to one who worked the hardest, who never gives up and who performs his or her best when it counts.
In other words, the freediver who’s more motivated will be the one who succeeds!
So now let’s talk about signs of low motivation.
If a freediver has low motivation, then the person won’t have a desire to train as much as they should, they’ll give less than 100% effort in their training, they’ll skip trainings or shorten their trainings, the person might make unhealthy choices in their lifestyle, etc etc
And keep in mind, an unmotivated person probably won’t be much fun to be around or even very helpful to go freediving with!
I dived with lots of different people over the years and I can say that my favorite people to freedive with are people who are positive, who are motivated and who like me, seek success in their life and in their freediving.
I read an interesting study recently in Gary Keller’s book The One Thing about 500 school kids who had ‘best friend’ relationships…
And the children who were BFF’s with high-achieving students, experienced gains in their report cards.
So just by hanging out with people who seek success, who are high performers, this can subconsciously strengthen your motivation and can also positively push your performance.
And keep in mind I’m sure it works the other way around too, if you’re hanging around with really unmotivated people, it’s going to without a doubt, effect your performance in a negative way.
A quote from Gary Keller’s book,
“No one succeeds alone and no one fails alone. Pay attention to the people around you. Seek out those who will support your goals and show the door to anyone you won’t”
So the people in your life influence you and impact you probably more than you can even imagine. So make sure the sway they have on you sends you in the direction that you want to go!
Ok so we know now that motivation is crucial…
But where does motivation come from?!
Well this question sits in the same category as the question, “what makes people happy?” if we all knew the answer, we’d all be happy and motivated right away.
Personally, I feel that the motivation to train consistently in freediving, day in and day out, is the result of quite a few different things.
So next I’ll go over some of these various and effective approaches, sharing some specific examples from top freedivers around the world, and then towards the end of the next podcast episode I’ll answer the question about helps me stay motivated, since I get this question a lot!
So how does a freediver become motivated!?
Well, one of the best ways to get motivated is to set goals! Goals are really what defines a freediving athlete.
Because the goals that you set will determine just how much drive you have, and how much will you have in order to perform well in freediving.
In Umberto Pelizzari’s book ‘Specific Training for Freediving’, Patrick Musimu, (he was the first man to dive to -200 meters in Variable Weight), it’s written that:
“For Patrick, it was essential to know exactly what the goal was (discipline, date, location) in order to better plan his preparation, his approach, the depth increase, the loading and unloading of the training exercises, both in his dry preparation and for when he was in the sea. He left absolutely nothing to chance. He was very meticulous and precise”
Goran Colak said in the same book:
“With my trainer I decide what will be the most important event of the year and start to plan the entire training schedule around that goal. In some seasons, however, there are two primary events; in this case everything becomes more difficult. I try to determine which competition is the most important and through precise choices and workouts, try to be as fit as possible, giving priority to my ultimate goal.”
Guillaume Nery also mentioned goals in his interview:
“I planned my workout over a period of at least 8 months, I had some general guidelines that I followed in my training process when I was getting closer to the most important goal of the season….. So let us say that I knew where I had to go, but the choice of the table and workouts (exercise, load, etc) could change a few days before the training session”
The book is full of loads other interviews with Alexey Molchanov, Herbert Nitsch, Branko Petrovic, William Trubridge, Alessia Zecchini, Andrea Zuccari and every single freediving champion in there mentions something, in one form or another, about setting a goal or setting a target and working towards it.
So I think one of the most important things for your freediving and for your motivation are the goals that you set for yourself!!
Because you need to know where you want to go!
You don’t want to be like Alice in Wonderland, remember where she says to the cat “Would you tell me, which way I ought to go from here?”
And the cat’s like “That depends a good deal on where you want to go”
Alice says “I don’t much care where”
And the cat says “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”
This goes to show that if you don’t know where you want to go, if you don’t have a goal or objective, then A) you may never get there and B) then how do you know what you should do right now in this moment, today?.
If you have even just some kind of goal then you know where you’re headed and you’re going somewhere on purpose. And then there will always be something you can do, everyday to help get you to where you want to go.
A quote I like by Alan Lakein is:
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”
So let’s say you have your goal. Maybe your goal is to do freedive to a particular dive, to participate in a particular competition coming up, or setting a record of some sort…
Whatever your goal is, setting just one main goal, this alone isn’t always enough when it comes to goal planning and such
Because it’s also important that a freediver has a number of sub-goals that are related to their performance and their main goal.
So to give you an example: let’s just say your main goal is to freedive to 100 meters!
Your sub-goals for that could be:
I don’t know, I’m just making this up!
But the point is, whatever your sub-goals are, those are going to help drive you and motivate you both in training and in competition.
And so that’s why it’s important that your main goal and your sub-goals conform to certain features, which scientists, and psychologists always refer to the ‘SMARTER’ acronym
Specific – make sure the goal is specific enough
Measurable – how will you measure your progress, what milestones will you have
Ambitious – goals should be ambitious yet attainable,
Miguel in an interview said:
“Ok, [someone with a] lack of adaptation, he goes two weeks to Dahab, has a squeeze but keeps going because he wants the National record, which is nothing other than a bit of ego for ourselves you know because he doesn’t need the record, he works in computers or something. I’ve seen people damage themselves for a national record, like, crazy enough even to give up the sport and I say why?! It’s incredible, you push until you don’t like this sport anymore, you fuck yourself, your hobby, something that you love?! You fuck yourself, your hobby just for this.”
Instead, if we look at David Mullins for example, he said in an interview on OceanHunter.com
“When looking ahead it pays to not put too much value on the limits others appear to be running up against, as there is still so much scope for development and innovation. This applies to everybody, not just me. Although it seems fanciful now, I think that 300m DYN is an achievable goal. Whether I’ll be able to do it or not is anybody’s guess, but I’m comfortable with setting that as a target.”
So his goal is indeed ambitious but also attainable
Relevant & Aligned – ensure the goals are relevant with yourself and your life goals
Time bound and Transparent – give yourself a deadline versus just ‘some day’, share your goals with others
And so that covers the ‘SMART’ part of the SMARTER acronym which is specifically for goal setting and alignment.
The ‘ER’ part of the SMARTER acronym is just for goal tracking
Evaluate – evaluate your progress, this can be done through journaling, or reviewing your log-book, or can be helpful if you have a coach, evaluate your challenges and blocks
Recognize & Reward – so recognize your effort and milestone wins and reward your achievements and goal attainment, so how are going to reward yourself when you achieve your main goal and your milestone goals
By making sure your goals are ‘SMARTER’ – and having goals that are realistic, relevant, specific, measurable etc, this is so important when it comes to keeping motivated in freediving.
Once you know your goal and your sub-goals, definitely write them down!
A study I read about, that was done by Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University of California…
“267 participants were recruited from a wide range of professions (lawyers, accountants, nonprofit employees, marketers etc) and a variety of countries. Those who wrote down their goals were 39.5 percent more likely to accomplish them.
Then the people that wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends were 76.7% more likely to achieve their goals.”
So definitely write down your goals, and if you want, share the progress with your friends and family, because it’ll certainly help.
A tool that I’d HIGHLY recommend for all of this, for the goal setting, the sub-goals and the milestone planning, all of that, as well as tracking the goals and journaling is the SELF Journal. It’s really an all-in one tool for goal planning for well, anything, not just for sports goals.
And no this is not a paid ad or anything, it’s just something that I use and that I really like!
The SELF Journal you can find it at bestself.co, and there they have a free PDF version or you can buy a printed version, I think it’s around 35 dollars.
So this is basically a goal planning and tracking workbook
So I have my main goal written down usually it’s a particular depth goal or training for a particular competition.
And then the workbook guides you in creating 3 sub-goals that you will need to do in order to achieve that main goal.
Then it walks you through setting your milestones in each of those 3 sub goals, so it’s a little hard to explain all the details but if you check it out on their website, you’ll see what I mean.
So by using the SELF Journal which is a 3 month goal planner / tracker / journal in one, it guides you through the entire process of good goal setting and I’d def recommend watching their how-to videos on Youtube. Because I know I was stuck at some points like figuring out the sub-goals and the milestones and the videos really helped me
So now whenever I start with a new 3 month goal, I read again the first few pages of the SELF Journal again and I follow along with their steps in their journal and their videos, and then done. Off I go!
So we’re about 25 minutes into the show, I want to touch on just a few things just while we’re on the topic of goal setting…
And then in the next episode I’ll continue the conversation on motivation for freediving and I’ll talk about other motivating factors, basically everything besides goal setting!
So something just to note about goal setting…
Of course it’s great to have big goals, like going to a competition or diving a particular depth or even setting your goal to do a national record or world record!…
And this is great! I’ve met freedivers where they have these big goals and they train consistently and with 100% effort and some achieve their goals and then some don’t just for various reasons.
But then other times I meet freedivers who have big goals but they’re not putting in the time and effort that they need to in order to achieve their goals.
So there’s basically a gap between the goals they have and the effort they’re willing to put into their goals.
Thing is, it’s easy to say that you want to be this successful, freediver but it’s more difficult to actually make it happen.
So you find that you have a sort of disconnect, where your goals don’t match the amount of effort that you’re putting in or willing to put in, or you find your goals are set outside of reality as far as time goes, then basically you have three choices:
There’s obviously no right answer, only you know what’s best for you, or you can speak with a coach you can help advise you.
But if you’re truly motivated to become a super successful freediver then you better make sure you’re doing the work necessary to achieve your goals.
And keep in mind there’s absolutely nothing wrong with lowering your goals a bit because keep in mind you can always exceed them!
Alessia Zecchini said in an interview with Freedive Your Life:
“I start an event, and I didn’t think about I want to win world championship, every time I try to put a goal that I know I can do. It’s not too much, because it’s better to do something and after happy and then I say ok now I can do a little bit more.”
So Alessia’s strategy is to have a goal that she knows that she can do, and maybe even exceed but she’s not going to set some crazy goal that she’s not sure she can do!
Herbert Niche when he first started had no depth goals and was just focused on progressing and exploring his limits, and then of course later he set specific goals. He said:
“When I first dived to 32 meters (105 feet) during my trip to Egypt, I realized this was very far from any world record. At that time Umberto Pelizzari had the record at 80 meters (262.5 feet). That is quite a big difference. So in the beginning I didn’t even think about world records, it was more that I was astonished at my own progression.
I think this is what keeps most freedivers motivated. They don’t focus so much on what their competitors are doing, but more on reaching, progressing and working on their own limits. My drive is to explore the unknown, crossing physiological boundaries and achieving goals that seem beyond my limits. Of course, it becomes even more interesting if you see that you can push yourself far beyond what you initially thought was impossible. My drive for going deeper is not getting another world record, but if by coincidence that limit comes close to a world record, of course that’s motivating too.”
And that brings me to my last topic which is goal setting for more beginner level or intermediate level freedivers…
If you’ve been freediving for let’s say less than 8 months, or a year, I don’t know, somewhere around that – obviously it depends on the person and how often you’re freediving, if you’re more of a beginner level freediver, for sure you can certainly set goals but it might not make a lot of sense this early on in your freediving journey, especially setting depth goals or competition goals. It might just be a bit overwhelming.
Miguel Lozano in an interview recommended that rather than focusing on objectives and progression, many freedivers would benefit more just by gaining experience in the water to understand yourself and your intuition and sense of the sport.
“And this is the main problem I think in freediving – there is a rush to get objectives so fast, you lose a little bit the essence of the sport. I think once your only goal in freediving is numbers, the game is over so fast: You do world records or you black out.
So I think the learning process is so important, and so beautiful. To understand yourself. When you just focus on progression, you lose a little bit of this. For my first dives below 110m I never had alarms because I don’t like them. I didn’t count any pulls or kicks or where I do my mouthfill.
I did it naturally because for me, alarms make me anxious because I have an expectation: When the alarm doesn’t sound when I think it should sound I get nervous! When I take off the alarm I know where I have to do my mouthfill because I feel where I am. Now I do use an alarm because I think that if you have a methodology for deep deep dives you can play safer and know if you are good or not or if you have to turn or not. I think it’s possible to be too technical. You see people with the best equipment, the best neck-weight, [fluid] goggles and everything to go to 30m or whatever! It’s good that there is more equipment, there’s more media and everything, but don’t lose the sense of the sport.”
And this makes perfect sense, and I totally agree, if you’re just starting out in your freediving journey, I think it’s excellent if you can first just get some experience in freediving, enjoying it, having fun, playing, trying out all the different disciplines, and then when you want to try a new experience in freediving, and challenge yourself on another level and in new ways, you can start maybe with some goal setting.
So I think this is a good spot to conclude this episode because we’re at like 30 minutes into the show and I’m trying to keep the episodes within 30-40 minutes that that you don’t get bored or too overloaded with info.
I’ll continue this topic about Motivation for Freediving in the next episode where I’ll talk about other factors and tips for motivation!
Don’t forget to join the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/powerofthebreath.
And feel free to follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, you can just search for my name. Now that my Wifi is working again, I’m trying to post regular training updates on my Facebook page and on Instagram
And that’s it for now, so feel free to listen after to find out more about what’s going on with me and my training!
Dive safe and please share this widely!
Thank you very much for listening.
So my depth training in free-immersion is progressing, slowly but surely. I’ve been mixing it up between deep dive trainings, just inching my way deeper and deeper, and then also doing medium depth sessions or even some shallow sessions where I’m working on dive time or FRC dives.
A new training I just incorporated, as recommended by Harry Chamas from Freedive Passion.
One of the things he suggested I do to improve my breath-hold, dive time and my mental, was to do a static on the surface and then immediately go on a dive. So I did two sessions like this in the week, doing a couple of warm-ups and then (3) 50 meter dives right after a static apnea on the surface.
So I started with, I don’t know, a 10 second static apnea and worked up to a 30 second static apnea, and then plus the 50 meter dive.
The tricky thing is not to speed up, even though you’re super tempted to right after doing a static apnea on the surface! The feeling of doing a dive like this is actually super similar to a competition dive, I kept having dejavu actually, feeling like I was on a competition dive! Same sort of feelings and stress!
So keeping the speed, just normal speed when you’re slightly more stressed and feel like you have less air, this is another good challenge about the training. So I’m going to keep doing this training and hoping I can get up to maybe a one minute static on the surface, who knows maybe 1:30, and then the 50 meter dive, I’m just going to kind-of build it slowly slowly.
I got up to a 30 second static apnea with still quite a lot of gas in the tank, so I’m hoping I can over time get the static to 1 minute, who knows maybe 1:30!
Unfortunately, this week I had two LMC’s on my deep dives, so I’m still trying to figure that out. I think it was due to eating dinner too late in the evening, or because I had kind-of a deepish dive right before each the deep dives. So it’s hard to know for sure but I’ll dive a little bit shallower on the next deep dive day, and change my dinner time and not do a deep dive after another deep dive.
So one win this week was that, I got up to a 3:30 minute dive time, I think it was a 32 or 33 meters, but that 3:30 time was super feasible and quite easy, so I hope to get my dive time for in the 4-4:30 range in these coming weeks!
And that’s pretty much it! Take care and hope you have a great weekend!