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Noora Valkonen (@nooravalkonen), is a journalist and MySwimPro community member based in Helsinki, Finland. In the third blog in a 4-part series, Noora tells us how journaling helps her set intentions that keep her on track toward her swimming goals! Read Noora’s first and second blogs here. 

My Morning Routine

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m., but I almost always wake up before it. I get up, dress and go to the kitchen for my morning coffee. When it’s ready, I sit down and pick up my journal, enjoying the quietness around me.

The first sentence I write is “I’m swimming every day.” It’s like an affirmation. Swimming is what I do, it is what I love and it helps me be the best version of myself.

Then I just write freely. I might reflect on the day before, how my swimming went and how I feel. Writing feels like meditation sometimes.

Lastly, I set my intentions for the day. They might include something like, “be mindful of how you use your hips when you swim” or “do a longer yoga flow today to speed up recovery.” I always carry my journal with me. Whenever I read something interesting or hear a quote, I write it down.

These days, pools are closing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully I still have access to a pool, but it may not be for long. Once my pool closes, I know my daily intentions look different than they used to. Journaling each day reminds me how far I have come and helps me accept that some things are beyond my control.

Related: How Swimmers Can Be Mentally Strong in a Pandemic

The Importance of Setting Intentions

I think setting short and long term intentions is very helpful in whatever you want to pursue. They offer clarity and direction and help to keep you motivated, especially when there are obstacles. I keep both my long term intentions and dreams as well as short term intentions listed in my journal.

The real driving force is the why behind your intentions. That is the one thing that helps you keep moving forward. Do you know your why? Have you written it down? I strongly recommend that you do.

I don’t plan to set any goals related to pace or building mileage this year. Since pool access is uncertain due to the pandemic, I will simply continue to swim for as long as I can and reevaluate when my pool closes.

Writing and Swimming Keep Me Grounded

Just like writing, swimming is like meditation. When I swim, I often lose my sense of time and place.

In the water I can hardly hear or see so there are no distractions. Add breathing and staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool and there I have it: I no longer think, I just flow. There are no problems, and nobody demands a thing from me. Swimming also helps calm my mind and offers a space to think and reflect on difficult things.

This is also why swimming was so helpful when I was recovering from my eating disorder.

Noora screenshots

MySwimPro has helped me keep my love for swimming alive, even when I can’t go to the pool. I love reading about people in the community who have their own swimming journey with ups and downs, just like me. New ideas and dryland workouts keep my practice fresh and interesting. If you are not familiar with dryland training you just need inspiration, take advantage of the great dryland workouts, programs and bootcamps that MySwimPro has created.

Inspired by Noora’s story? Stay tuned for part 4 in this 4-part series! Read Noora’s first and second blogs here! 

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