This week I have gone back to full time training again… And I’m sore. I’m not so sure it is the swimming that is making my body hurt, I think it is more likely the lifting, but it does hurt! Yes, I’m whining about my self inflicted pain. Through my years of training I have been labeled as a “whiner”. I think my father may have been the first to bestow this title upon me. Caroline, my Malawian coach gave me a look when I whined. Ryan Skinner, my South African coach,  had no hesitations about letting me know about my whining. Steve, my current coach lets me have it about my whining too, as do some of my teammates.

Before I go any further, I think I need to define or explain this “whine”. This is not a “down in the dumps”, “life sucks”, “I don’t want to do this any more”, “God, take me now” type whine. This is a tongue n’ cheek, based on the true story, of me hurting, but not to be taken as a give up type whine. I will very very seldom whine or complain about a practice being too hard. If I do have a moan, any one who has trained with me knows that I will do the practice that gets handed to me by the coach, even if I believe it’s the wrong thing to do at the time. I have trusted the coaches that coach me enough to know what needs to be done on that day, and it always gets done to the best of my ability. But why do I whine?

I am pretty sure I don’t whine to get out of any hard work. I have a good understanding of “what you put in you get out”, so short cutting the training process is only going to hurt me in the end. I don’t think of myself as a big attention seeker, maybe I am wrong here… But I am pretty sure I don’t whine for the attention or the pity. I may sometimes I look for a little pity from Carla, because she is the best! (If you didn’t read my “S is for Support” post read it here and find out why), but I’ll never look for pity in in public! So why? I know that I am not the only one that does this, so why do we whine?

Here is my simple, self justified answer… Whining makes me feel better. Swimming, as with pretty much every other sports does not allow you to reap the rewards of your work until the end of the season when you shave and taper for the big meet. Now maybe some of you can hold out until that point, but I get impatient, I want reassurance that my hard work is going to help me achieve my goals, that it will make me as fast as I need to be when all is said and done. I feel like whining helps me to verbalize the pain I am feeling, which in turn reassures me that I am heading in the right direction. It’s a coping mechanism that helps me build confidence in my training and my ability. It verbally and sometimes loudly reminds me that it is all worth it.

Most of the swimmers that hear me whine will jump on the whining bandwagon with me and let me know where they hurt too… When this happens the reinforcement that helps build confidence in my training, gives me the reassurance, and makes me feel better, grows and grows. We talking group therapy here people! “Hi my name is Rory, and my lats really hurt, what’s wrong with you”!

Finally, sometimes being called a “whiner”, a “baby”, a “little girl”, a “sissy”, makes me step it up to a new level. This doesn’t always happen, but on the odd occasions this little voice inside my head goes off like a fire alarm at 3.30am on Sunday morning. This internal voice yells at whoever it is that just called me a “baby”, “little girl”, “softy”, etc and this is his reply… “Oh really, well can a little girl do this?” Forcing me to dig a little bit deeper and push harder than I thought I could in the hope of preserving my name.

So, here is the deal, this is a completely self justified and self rationalized explanation of why I whine. There is a book called “Don’t Squat With Yer Spurs On!: A Cowboys Guide To Life” and it says this… “If you have to rationalize or justify your words or your behaviors, question your words and behaviors hard!”, it then goes on to say, “After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good that he started  roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.  The  moral: when you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”

So this is my attempt at reflecting on my behavior and actions… I have told you why I whine, why I think most athletes whine. I now want to know if you think I am full of bull and should just keep my mouth shut… So I’m asking you to judge whether you think it is ok for an athlete to have a bit of a whining session when everything hurts. I have 5 Whitworth Swimming T shirts to give away to any 5 people who can give me the best explanation of why it is, or is not ok for an athlete to whine. Be serious, or entertain me with your answers, just comment at the bottom of the post. I’ll let you know by Sunday if I like your answer. I’ll email you, get your mailing address (wherever you are in the world!), the size of the shirt you want, and then I will share your answers and explanation in a later post I write. Simple as that.

A couple of cool things to point out before I end this post… My brother, Damon designed the sweet new banner at the top of the page. It took him like 4 minutes and 8 seconds, what can I say, the kid is good at what he does! I have also made it really easy for you to subscribe to my blog so each time I put up a new post you get a quick email letting you know that there is something new to read. So subscribe by clicking on the sign me up button!  All you got to do now is tell me whether or not I can have a whine when I get up at 4.55 am tomorrow morning and have a hard time getting out of bed because my legs hurt!