I had a little debate with myself (in my head, not out loud) on what I wanted to cover that might help EC readers have their best racing season. I never really came to any one conclusion, so the following is a synopsis of the top three topics that seemed to win out amongst all the random ideas floating around in my head.
- Avoid media distractions.
Let’s face it, there are so many fun ways to waste your time: TV, internet, social media, etc. The problem is, there are so many options that you end up placing little value on what’s available. This makes it incredibly easy to waste what little time you have available for training, family life, work, around-the-house commitments, etc.I’m not trying to get you to buy a “kill your TV” bumper sticker and check out, but I do think you should question how much dead time in your day is devoted to watching TV or surfing websites that are ultimately of little interest to you. If you have favorite shows, or favorite teams you want to watch, by all means, get after it. However, most working-athletes are always sleep deprived so ditch the shows that have no value and catch some Zs.
- Take off/easy days on the easy days of your life.
This is a hard one to hear. I remember speaking to a triathlon club in Houston a couple years ago. When I suggested people take an easy and/or off day on the weekend, they just about passed out. (Frankly, I might disagree with me as well if I had to drive to and from the city limits just to get a ride in).Its makes rational sense to go “easy” on a work day when you cannot devote time to training, but your body is still in “go” mode as you hammer away at your work day. When you take an easy day on a day off from work you can actually relax and have a moment for yourself that isn’t directed towards production.
I realize this can be difficult for working athletes (and athlete-athletes) to take to heart. Typically, successful working athletes (in sport and otherwise) like to fill their lives to the brim and cannot allow for empty spots in their schedule to go unutilized. However, I would be willing to bet that the upside to allowing yourself to have some downtime will not go unnoticed. It will likely lead to better consistency, which leads to longevity, which leads to long term fitness gains, which leads to fast(er) race times.
- Direct your training
I say this a lot, so if you have read some of my articles and blogs from the past, then you might be familiar with this. However, I think its one of the most important components of training.I like to use my study methods from college to help explain how I apply this idea of “directed training” to triathlon. Most of the classes I took in school had essay question exams so I used to sit down with a blank legal pad before I ever started studying. From there I would write down everything that I “knew.” After that, I had a better idea of where my studying needed to be focused. I was not going to spend excessive amounts of time going over what I already knew; instead I was going to spend the majority of my time and energy on absorbing new information. Periodically, I would go back to that legal pad and test my knowledge until I felt that everything I needed to do well on the test was in place.
The same can be said for training: ask yourself what the races are going to ask of you throughout the season. What do you have a good handle on and where can you improve? After understanding what is going to be needed for a successful season, make sure that the time you spend training is working towards the tools needed for faster, better racing. It can be easy to do what you want, but make sure you spend time challenging yourself in ways needed for your next breakthrough. Don’t get stuck in only doing what you like and what you do well.