February 29, 2012

Triathlon Training: Three Critical Questions You MUST Ask Yourself Each Month

You started the year with specific triathlon training goals in mind… so my question is, how’s it going?

If out-sprinting the field for a podium finish in your next race feels like more of a stretch than it did two months ago then it’s time for a system reset.  The plan you had in mind at the beginning of the year was just that:  a plan.  Fact is, very few plans can survive intact when they come in contact with the reality of life.  Don’t sweat it.  Pat yourself on the back for what you’ve gotten done so far and then inject a dose of realistic optimism to get back to task.

Start by grabbing a pencil and paper, sit down, and carefully answer the following questions before pushing ahead with the same old training plan…or, perhaps even worse, trying to pile on more training to make up for lost time, a sure-fire recipe for over-training, injury, and misery.

1.  What were your original training and racing goals… and given where you are now are they achievable?  Only you know your real purpose for pursuing triathlon racing.  So now’s the time to ask yourself:

  • Are you getting more fit?  Is qualifying for Kona this spring even possible at this point?   If you’ve been consistently training 10-12 hours/week since January 1, then you should be feeling fit and fabulous.  However, to qualify for the World Championship at those same training levels you have some serious work ahead of you.  Be honest with yourself.  If you can’t crank things up a notch, then it may be time to back off on your dream of racing in the lava fields this year.  

2.  What can you eliminate from your daily routine to get you back on track?  You already have a full day, right?  Then it’s time to get ruthless and eliminate some activities.  Otherwise you’re just creating more stress for yourself.  And sleep is your friend so sacrificing rest to get up earlier is a dumb idea.   Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Dramatically reduce or eliminate TV from your schedule
  • Enlist a landscape company or house cleaner to free up your precious time on the weekends
  • See about taking an afternoon off of work every other week to fit in more training

3. Is your support team holding you back? Needs of family members and friends can be challenging. Remember they won’t be out there treading water waiting for the gun to go off wishing they had logged more time in the pool… you will. You need to sell them on how they can support your triathlon lifestyle and you must inspire them to do so.

  • Don’t schedule big training days the morning after dinner parties or a big family get together.  No one wins when you do this.  You need rest to get the most out of big training days and to recover from them… plan wisely.
  • Share your triathlon training plans and goals and be very clear on how they can support your success.  Don’t assume they understand what you need from them!  They probably don’t.
  • It’s not all about you until race day (okay, race week).  Be sure to schedule time to do things others want to do and STAY PRESENT while you’re with them.  Going through the motions of having fun doesn’t fool anyone.

Work this exercise into your schedule every month or two and be honest with yourself.  Is it time to pull together a new goal?  And then maybe a new plan?  It might sting a bit to change everything you had your heart set on.  But it’s gonna hurt a LOT worse if you continue down the same track and discover that your effort and your goals are at odds with one another.  Remember, you don’t do this for a living so enjoy the journey… and make sure you have packed the right bags to take along with you.

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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