Rules To Train By
A few weeks ago I posted some goals for this upcoming year in triathlon for myself. I enjoy setting goals for a couple reasons; first it is a great way to set out to try and accomplish something that previously you were not able to accomplish, and it also sets the bar higher each time that you set a said goal for yourself. My two main goals are based on times that I want to acheive in certain races this year. To beat those times, I incorporated other goals for my training that I believe will lead to the successes that I am aiming to have at those specific races. But recently I have figured that I should build my own set of rules to train by to help keep me intune with my training. These goals are almost like my own Bill of Rights, or to keep me level headed while I train. So without further adue below are the rules that I promise to abide by, follow, and keep to myself to help me reach my fullest potential in this sport.
1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: If you think you should ever be comfortable in a triathlon chances are you are wrong, or could be pushing a lot harder. Triathlon, no matter what distance is based heavily on discomfort and thus it should follow in your training. Last summer when I would do my long rides on the Ironman Wisconsin course, I too many times, would ride in zone 2 throughout the ride. I would never add in long intervals, or tried to push the pace. The only time I wanted my heartrate to raise above 145 was on climbs. Looking back on this, I think it was a huge mistake and something that I could have gained from tremendously if I had been willing to take myself out of my comfort zone more often. Knowing what it is like to be out of your comfort zone, how it feels, and what to expect when you pull yourself out helps you prepare mentally and physically for when that moment occurs during a race. By training out of your comfort zone you learn to be comfortable when uncomfortable. This goes in line with training no matter the weather, or any other variable that will take you out of your comfort zone. Saying I don't want to run in this heat, or ride in this rain takes you out of an uncomfortable place and puts you back into that comfortable place, what happens when it rains on race day on the bike and then heats up to 90+ degrees on the run? So my new focus is to embrace the pain more, enjoy the feeling of discomfort and learn to push through it better either in a race or in training. The more I learn to be comfortable when uncomfortable the faster I can go.
2. No Workout Can Ever Be Made Up or Rescheduled...Ever: Everyone is guilty of this, in fact it was seriously how I trained last summer and even a few times this year as well, and it just doesn't work well. The fact is, is that you are better off to move on after a missed workout then rather try to make it up after feeling guilty about it, this all goes back to consistency (one of my huge training goals for the year). By rearranging your schedule you are then changing your plans, interferring with other training, disrupting your recovery time, and neglecting your life that you have painfully tried to plan out in advance. Most athletes, myself included, after missing a workout often feel guilty about it, to the point that they/you/I try everything in their/your/my power to reschedule that workout to feel good about getting all the planned training in. But more times then not the end result is of burnout, or reschedule of training that does not make sense, an unrecovered body, or other commitments in life that remain left undone. In the case that you know your are going to miss a workout it is best to forget about it move on "out of sight, ouyt of mind", and focus yourself and the next training session upcoming. Ideally the best way to prevent any of this from happening is to write a schedule that you can follow as best as you can. For myself, I may write out a sechedule months in advance, but I only write each forth coming week detailed training no more then 10 days in advance. I plan on following this rule better then I did last year as it always seemed I was missing certain and key workouts because I was trying to makeup for a prevous session that was put off for some reason.
3. Every Workout/Session Should Have A Purpose: Just like when you go into work and ask youself "What should/will I do today?", this applies to training as well. Junk miles or more common then anything in triathlon and the best way to avoid those wasted hours spent training is to have a singular focus for each workout. The same workout, done twice, can have two completely different focuses and be succesful, but only if they have that specific focus. As long as you have something to focus on during your workout you can acheieve a lot more then if you don't. Again this is something that I am guilty of as I did it plenty of times last year, too many times I would go out and do whatever my book/plan or whatever I was following at the time told me to do, I did it because I was told and didn't understand the "why". A sprint set at the pool was simply that, I didn't think that I was trying to hold my form while my arms were exhausted at the end, or during a brick run that I wanted to run the first few miles controlled because I always go out way too fast, sometimes I would just do what I was told. This is not the way to train, adds up too many junk miles, and you fail to recognize what your key workouts are each week. Ideally, I have been told and like to follow that, each week one key workout should be finished correctly in each discipline. Meaning that those workouts should be completed in full pushing myself as hard as I can focusing on my goal for the workout. Following this rule will not only make each session more productive, but also help build upon each workout as well.
4. You Don't Need To Train For Every Race: "A" races are meant to have a full taper and recovery period after. "B" races might get a 2-3 taper at most and a day off after, these will usually only be longer races with a serious effort, and "C" races you are simply to train right through, basically a glorified training day/speed session. I am racing a lot this year (as you will see when I post my official schedule) and this is for two reasons; first I want to get as much experience as possible, and secondly, so that I can use some races as training days to work on speed. Because of this I am expanding the types of races I will do this year to everything from triathlon, duathlon, OWS, time trials, running races, criteriums, etc. I will not "train" for each race specifically, but rather use these races as training for the bigger days on the calender.
5. Smile, Have Fun!: This one is simple and should be followed by everyone, even the pros in my opinion, but it is just that, my opinion. Chrissie Wellington is a great ambassador for triathlon simply because you never see her without a smile. She gives off a great positive energy wherever she goes. In this sport with so many items to keep track of, time spent training, and money spent getting everyone people sometimes forget about the simple things in triathlon. Having a body that allows you to compete and train in this sport should be enough alone to be happy. It is not about the carbon fiber, computers, cool jerseys, post race party, etc, although those are all great perks!
So there you have it, five simple rules to train by for myself. Feel free to add these into your training and see where it gets you. The whole reason I have made these rules is to become a better triathlete in every way that I can. This list will continue to grow throughout time as I learn more about myself, my habits, and what is preventing those from growing.