Consistency is King
There are so many different facets to a training program that determine whether or not an athlete is successful or not. However, when looking back at an athlete’s training log the single biggest indicator of improvement is consistency. Were they able to follow their plan in big chunks of consistent training throughout the year. But as we all know, it not that easy. Below are some guidelines to help you be a little more consistent as you get in your crucial blocks of training:
Put travel dates on your calendar before you build your training blocks
Planning big blocks of training only to realize you have a family reunion or a week long cruise to Belize right in the middle can greatly impede improvement and consistency. If you know where these things are before you plan your blocks you can easily maneuver around them. Make that business trip a rest week, or a run focus block if you will only be able to run.
Make sure your training matches your fitness level
When coming up with your training program on your own or with your coach, you need to keep in mind your current level of fitness and start out at that level. If you start too far below, you are wasting your time and if you start too far above you are risking injury or overtraining. Don’t start where you left off in the fall and expect to be able to complete your workouts at the same pace, power or volume. I often have athletes start logging their workouts a month before we start their official training schedule so that I can see exactly what they have been doing. If you start your program and feel like you are doing too much, tell your coach or reevaluate on your own before you get injured.
Your volume and intensity must be realistic
A 12 hour per week training schedule will not work when you only have 8 hours to train. A well planned 8 hour week is much better than a 12 hour planned week that you just can’t manage. Athletes often allot training time based on the best case scenario. Don’t! Make conservative estimates of your time. You will be able to get more of your workouts completed without cutting them short.
Incorporate a strength routine
One of the keys to staying consistent is avoiding injury. A strength routine that focuses on imbalances often found in triathletes can help ensure that you miss fewer chunks of time throughout the season trying to rehab injuries.
Don’t stack missed workouts
In general, if you miss a workout, move on to the next workout. Do not try to stack multiple days into one. This only leads to increased fatigue and chance of injury. It also usually sabotages the workouts for the rest of the week because you are too tired to properly execute them. If you know the workout you missed was a key workout for the week see if it can replace another workout later in the week, but don’t do both.
Training should be a priority, but not your top priority
Unless you are a single professional triathlete, training is not going to be your top priority. You have your family, career, etc. which need to be properly taken care of first before you can think about your training and racing. Plan your training around these more important items. If your family and career are in a good place, you will feel much better about getting in your training time.
Become an expert at time management
The athletes that consistently get in their training are those that know what day and what time they are doing their workouts each week. Without a schedule it is much easier for something to come up that takes the place of your workout. I have also found that having planned days and times for each workout leads to far fewer excuses for missed workouts. For example, if you know what time you plan to swim you will not plan a conference call during that time if at all possible. Schedule your workouts just as you would an important meeting.