Waking up in the early hours
I am luckily a morning person – or maybe I became one. Waking up in the early hours, getting dressed and tiptoeing downstairs to my car (in America) or my bike (in the Netherlands) to get to my first training session of the day was something that I automatically did. I was and am on auto-pilot during those early hours. Once I jump in the pool I am speeding up to get warm and afterwards I have a smile from ear to ear, satisfied from a great training session.
Depending on the team, swimming organisation and country I was in, the training schedules varied, but waking up in the early hours is something that got stuck on me – something I grew up with. If I am not swimming in the pool, I am jogging in the woods with my two dogs.
Image: Carmen van Boeckel portraying Bieke Vanderkerkhoven in the documentary ‘Stil Vallen’ (Falling silent)
And people ask: How do you do it?
It takes discipline
One boss of mine described my personality with the, in Dutch saying ‘Ijzeren discipline’, literally translated: Iron discipline. And, with this discipline, I know it takes hard work to achieve what you want and so, maybe due to my first strokes in the water, my athlete personality was born.
It takes drive
Despite losing competitions by a mere-second or getting disqualified due to something as simple as a leg cramp or incorrect turn, I have many memories of going on and winning personal set victories. I set and plan goals to be able to contain my single-minded focus in the face of the adversity that may come.
It takes focus
‘To be the best you have to strive for the best’, and focus is all about setting personally demanding standards. When the smallest of margins can make the difference between success and failure, discipline and a strong drive to succeed are crucial. I believe in the large impact that small improvements have on performance, both physically and mentally.
It takes self confidence
Losing is an inevitable part of any sporting game. However, I view defeat as merely a small delay on the road to success. An unshakeable belief in the ability to achieve my set goals is perhaps the most important attribute to my personality. The ability to perform is not enough; it’s that motivation that gets me out of my bed at 04:30am and me knowing I am able to perform and succeed that is critical.
The Sport Motivator
I have had the privilege to carry the title Sport Motivator at the various gyms I have trained and the motivator in me is still very active.
Green smoothies that taste delicious, cacao nibs that explain my over-enthusiasm, it is all part of my daily life. If you know me, you probably have tried one of my smoothies or I have managed to convince you to go swimming or running with me – or I am still trying 😉