I was listening to an interview recently with Michael Phelps - one of the greatest swimmers in human history. He shared something that stuck with me.

When you need to perform at such a high level - among the best of the best, you can’t let a single rep go to waste.

That doesn’t mean every day will be a good day. Far from it. Michael talks openly about his personal battles with depression.

But what it does mean, is not throwing your hands up when you’re having a bad training day, packing it in and coming back tomorrow.

Everyone - even the most elite performers - has bad days, bad weeks, and bad years. No matter how ready you feel when you first turn up, sometimes you get in the pool and just can’t find your rhythm.

The difference-maker is that even on their worst-performing day they will push themselves to get another 30-50% out of their body. It still won’t have been 100%, but 60% is better than nothing.

Finding an extra 30% may already sound strenuous but it was a comforting reminder that we’re all human and that world-beating Olympians are not robots.

Two things separate world class athletes from the rest of the pack is two things:

  1. their ability to push themselves when mental resistance is at its highest.
  2. the way they take care of their bodies, to make the most of rest and downtime.

Performance athletes understand the importance of sleep and rest.

They know how crucial it is to have low-load days, and of stretching before exertion.

They journal regularly, regulate their internal voice and moderate their psyche to push themselves beyond what they might otherwise have expected.

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