The hardest part about training is simply making it stick. By making it “stick,” I mean actually staying consistent. Looking at the most successful athletes in endurance sports, you will see a history of quality consistent training.
Uninterrupted. Relentless. Unstoppable. Daily.
These are all words that describe what these elite athletes do. What does this mean for you? It means you have an outstanding opportunity to be an elite athlete if you are able to create the conditions for success.
But there’s no point in talking about the elites or about the big picture if we don’t stop and figure out what the baseline elements are that are required for you to be successful.
In this article I’m going to cover six ways that you can make sure this time, as you restart your training for the next year, your training will be better and more effective. Let’s get started!
Connect Your Current Training to Your Race
Getting up in the morning to train or leaving work to train or sneaking out at lunchtime to train are all preceded by an important fact: you are training for something.
Some people love to train, and by that I mean training is a very social exercise for them. With the vast majority of us, whether we are serious or just in it for fun, need a goal to which we are working from which we can derive motivation that gets us out the door.
If you haven’t done so already go and find a race and put it on the calendar. It doesn’t have to be big, far away, expenses, or audacious. It simply needs to be on the calendar so that you can do the math between when the event is and where you are now.
By defining that gap between present time and event time you are then establishing a sense of urgency and eventually a set of criteria this you can execute which will get you ready for your race. Reaching those criteria is achieved on a daily basis by means of accomplishing your workouts.
So the best way to make sure you have the successful training cycle is to reverse engineer your season in a way that creates urgency and specificity to your daily workouts.
Set Easy-to-Track Targets for Charting Your Progress
For many athletes – and this goes for the beginners and the elites – saying that you’re training for and “Ironman” is not specific enough to get you motivated. Sure, sitting around and watching videos on YouTube is motivational… But it doesn’t make you any fitter. What makes you fitter? It’s the daily activity of getting out the door and getting your workouts done. Rather than relying on the big goal as a means to motivate you daily, use that goal as a tool to set benchmarks and it is those benchmarks for which you will aim with your training.
For example, let’s say you are training for a marathon. You know that by the time your training is over and the taper begins, you need to have the fitness to run 26.2 miles. Instead of waking up every day and saying “I need to be able to run 26.2 miles,” you can break on your training into different levels were you can say something such as:
- I need to be able to run 10 miles.
- Then I need to be able to run 12 miles.
- Then 14.
- Then 16.
- You get the idea.
Over time you will be able to hit those goals for your long runs and as you do so cross them off your targets. By achieving a 10 mile run you will be able to achieve a 12 one. Then 14, then 16 and so on. Each of these incremental targets will ensure that you are walking the path towards being ready for the event, and the performance, you desire.
Get Social – Share the Workouts
One of the most powerful elements of the Endurance Nation experience is connecting with other athletes around the world who are training just like you. Do not underestimate the value of posting your workouts and getting support and feedback from your teammates and training partners online. It may sound a little wacky doing all of that digitally, but the effect is really the same: you are encouraged to do the workouts to have something to share, getting feedback from your training partners and colleagues and peers gives you the motivation and support required to continue your training.
Of course there’s lots of other benefits to sharing your workouts to go simply beyond you getting your workouts done. You’ll meet a whole host of new people. You’ll be able to see a variety of different workouts and perhaps even derive some inspiration from what others are doing. You’ll make friends that will become training partners down the road, or at least someone you can cheer alongside with as you compete on race day.
Studies have shown that you are the sum of your 10 closest friends. If you can do your best to make sure those 10 closest friends embody the physical fitness that you desire, you’ll be well on your way to being successful.
Start Slow — Just Like College
I remember when I went off to school my freshman year at Boston University. The first, and best piece of advice I got, was to pick two out of my four courses that I knew I could perform well in. This would not only boost my grade point average, but it would also give me confidence and that I’d be able to achieve my goals academically at school. Bonus that it also listed some of the pressure off of my back that I felt heading into a new environment.
I encourage you to do the same thing with your training. No, I’m not suggesting you go back to college and live life as a freshman – there’s a great movie about that though, and you should definitely check it out this holiday season. 🙂
What I’m saying is, make starting again easy. Don’t set goals that are based off of the fitness that you finished with last year. I want you to build it a rest day every week. I want the first four to six weeks of your training to be easy. I wanted to finish your workouts feeling like you could’ve done more. I want you to finish your training weeks feeling like you could’ve done more. After three, maybe four weeks of training just like this, you’ll be ready to actually begin the real training that will lead to your race.
Inside Endurance Nation we do a great deal around structuring your year. A deep part of it is making sure that you have the fitness and mental durability to last a complete season do yourself a favor and stack the deck in your favor by making sure the beginning of your training cycle is achievable and easy.
Rest Early to Peak Later
One of the most common things I hear from new athletes who are using Endurance Nation — as well as our training plan customers — is that our race preparation training plans have no days off. This is a cause of much consternation and worry. These athletes are genuinely concerned that our training plans will hurt them, injure them, or set them back.
Every training plan inside Endurance Nation is built in such a way as to create conditions for success starting at the beginning of the year and ending with your rates. One of the reasons why our race proper training plans don’t have but one of rest built into them is because we had you resting frequently and effectively throughout the early part of your year.
We have manageable, yet highly effective out season training programs, as well as several “focus” training programs the continue to ratchet your fitness up without taxing your overall system in a way that’s going to impact your ability to race on the big day. However, since most athletes have been grinding it out since December, January, February…crushing themselves in the basement doing tons and tons of work…they don’t have the opportunity to recover like Endurance Nation athletes have been able to recover. As a result they enter the race prep phase of their training significantly fatigued.
By resting early you are giving yourself a chance to be successful later. When you reflect back on your seasons big about the phenomenal race experience you had you’ll be able to point to several key factors that created the conditions for you to be successful. Most athletes look to critical workout events or races: the longest run, their fastest swim, their performance on a bike in their last race. All of that as well and good, but the majority of that was built through consistent quality training that included rest. So do your best to work like an Endurance Nation athlete: rest early and effectively NOW so that you can do your best when it matters.
Plan Out Each Week in Your Calendar
This is one of our power user tips. If you want to make sure that you have time for your training each and every week than simply getting workouts in your inbox is that enough. Neither is signing up for a race that happens in 6 to 8 months. Instead, executing this weekly task will make sure that you get the majority of the training sessions in and thereby are incrementally working your way towards the level of fitness you need to be successful race day.
Go ahead and pull on your calendar and schedule for Sunday night a 30-minute block to sit down and look at your computer with calendar in hand. During this 30-minute block you will take a look at the workouts you have scheduled for the week and then using your calendar you will book those training sessions into the actual calendar. Of course not everything will fit for some weeks are more challenging and others. But you are in control of the situation on Sunday night and can manage set expectations around what is and is impossible this act alone will ensure that the majority of your training sessions will be done, and if not all of them at least the most appropriate ones will be done.
Inside Endurance Nation we have a ranking score for each workout that lets you know which ones are the most important for each week and puts you in charge of selecting the right workout if your schedule becomes compromised on any given day. As an Endurance Nation athlete you are then able to prioritize your training based off of your given week on your own, as well as interact with the coaches to get our input on how to make the right decision. Going through this exercise will not only keep you on track for the week but will also become a powerful tool in reviewing what you did before that worked.
The second level of this activity is looking back on last week and seeing what you did or didn’t do. This exercise of recapping and planning incrementally on a rolling seven-day basis will make sure that the right workouts are getting done on time and that your fitness continues to progress in a linear fashion allowing you to be successful.
Learn from the experts been there before you to be your best all year so that race day isn’t anything more than just another day of you being your awesome self!
If you have tips or advice, please share them in the comments below!
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