December 13, 2012

The Secret to Your Best Season Yet

To crank up your performance in 2013, make consistency a top priority.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to triathlon or a seasoned veteran consistency will impact your results more than any other training aspect bar none!  The cumulative effect of frequent, focused training over time is where real gains are made.  And we have data to back this up.

Research over the last few years on what it takes to become an expert establishes a threshold of 10,000 hours of focused practice.  Interviews with the 2012 women’s IM World Champion and the 2011 men’s IM World Champion bear this out:  Leanda Cave and Craig Alexander both stated that they had been training and racing competitively for 20 years.  The fact that consistent training over time is the key to lasting performance gains isn’t surprising when you consider the following two axioms:

  1. Small changes practiced over time stick.  Triathlon combines three sports that each requires its own sport specific fitness, strength, and skill…plus the added mental and physiological dynamic of transitioning smoothly from one sport to another. There’s no magic bullet to getting faster.  Improvement demands application of consistent, focused training to step up your performance whether you’re training 6 or 16 hours per week.
  2. You can’t out-race your training.  Your results directly reflect the quality of your training, period.  If you log all your training sessions, fuel and hydrate your body properly, and let your body adequately recover you’ll make consistent progress toward your race goals.  If you regularly skip training sessions, have that extra glass of wine or two the night before a big training day, or try to cram for your next event it will show up in lackluster results.

But here’s a news flash for you

Consistency isn’t the secret to performance it’s just a symptom.  Self-motivation is the critical ingredient that makes training consistently second nature.

The reason is simple…because you if you have a high level of self-motivation then you’ll start training early in the season, find ways to stay motivated, and show the self-discipline to train consistently knowing the payoff will come later in the year at your key events.   If self-motivation is the key to consistency then how do you unlock it and get on the road to better results?

Start with WHY

Why you want to do triathlons is far more important than what event you want to do or how you’re going to do it.  Specifically, Why is the emotional linchpin…it’s your reason for doing what you do.  Your reasons Why fire-up your level of desire.  The more powerful your desire the more motivated you are to do what it takes to achieve higher levels of performance and inspire others to willingly join in support of your journey.  In the words of visionary thinker, Simon Sinek, people aren’t inspired because of What you do, they’re inspired because of Why you do it.

How to Begin

Since participation in triathlon is voluntary, start your 2013 plan by clearly and thoroughly answering the following question:   Why did I choose triathlon over all the other activities I could do instead?

  1. Do I want to get fit?  There are a lot of ways to go about improving your fitness that demand a great deal less time and energy than taking on a complex sport like triathlon.  Is it more about being outside instead of in a gym?  Is it because the race gives you a fitness goal with a deadline?  Is it because you were a competitive athlete in school and the competition drives you to get fit?
  2. Am I trying to lose weight?  Weight management is one of the more popular reasons to pursue triathlon.  But is your reason so you can follow the ‘I can eat anything I want because I’m training for a triathlon diet’?  Or is it because you want to live the triathlon lifestyle, which pays as much attention to how you fuel your body for peak performance as how you train.
  3. Do I want to be a role model for my kids?  Do you want to teach them how to develop and execute a long term plan to tackle a big goal?  To live a balanced, healthy lifestyle that includes rigorous exercise and high quality nutrition?  Or how to suffer through an endurance event that you’re really not ready for?
  4. Is it just an item on my bucket list?  Do you want to do the minimum necessary to beat the cutoff times?  Or do you want the experience of getting triathlon race fit on your journey?

And maybe it’s something else.  There’s no right or wrong answer just yours.  But remember the reasons that come from your answer to this question directly impact your results more than anything else.  So give your big Why the serious thought it deserves.  Write it down and read it out loud to see how well you’re sold on your reasons.  Then when you’ve got it nailed, share it with your key supporters.  Because you’ll be calling on them for enthusiastic support over the long haul.

That’s it for this week.  Until next time train safe, stay healthy, and hope to see you at the races.

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