I Whinge When I’m Tired; Do Athletes Have A Right To Whine?

Written by Rory | Mindset & Goal Setting


This post was published on March 31 2010 while on my journey to South African Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympic team.

This week I have gone back to full time training again… And I’m sore. It’s not the swimming that is making my body hurt. It’s the lifting, but it my body hurts!

Yes, I’m whining about my self inflicted discomfort.

Through my years of training I have been labeled as a “whiner”.

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, too. Steve, my current coach tells me to quit my whining, as do some of my teammates.

Before you jump on the bandwagon, let’s correctly define whining.

I’m not talking about “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 vocalization of my suffering. Not to be confused with the “give up” type whine.

I will very very seldom whine or complain about a practice being too hard. I trust my coaches entirly. I’ll do any workout that gets handed to me by coach, even if I think it’s the wrong thing to do at the time. I have trusted the coaches enough to know what needs to be done on that day, and it always gets done to the best of my ability.

So why do I whine?

I don’t whine to get out of any hard work. I understand “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 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 post on support, read it here and find out why). 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 is a sport with delay gratification. You wait to reap the rewards of your hard work for month. Only at the end of a season when you shave and taper for the big meet do you get to see your effort rewarded.

Some swimmers can hold out until that point. 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 I stand up on the blocks to race.

Whining helps me to verbalize the pain I am feeling. Which in turn reassures me that I am heading in the right direction. In some twisted way it helps 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 reassures grows. It’s like group therapy “Hi my name is Rory, and my lats really hurt, what’s wrong with you”!

This is all completely self justified and self rationalized though.

right to whine

“If you have to rationalize or justify your words or your behaviors, question those words and behaviors hard!”

So this is a public attempt at questioning my whiney behavior… I have told you why I whine, why I think most athletes whine.

Now I want to know if you think I am full of bull?

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. 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.

Can I have a whine when I wake up at 4.35 am tomorrow morning and have a hard time getting out of bed because my legs hurt?