5/17/12

Do you strive for consistency?

Another great read from Coach Matt Dixon in the June 2012 issue of LAVA magazine.

Consistency
This is a word that I use a lot, in my daily vocabulary. For consistent actions bring the results.

If you think about the January 1st exerciser, he/she is so ready to join a gym and do his/her first workout. Of course, with large short term goals on his/her mind, rather than taking it easy and just walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes, he/she goes all-out with a strength workout, cardio workout and aerobic-class workout that leaves he/she walking stiffly for the next 7 days. As a result, he/she doesn't return to the gym for the next 7 days and the following week, questions whether or not it is really practical to join a gym. So, he/she cancels the membership thinking he/she can do it at home and well, back to square one and eventually, 357 days go by and the cycle continues.

Obviously an extreme example but sadly athletes do a similar thing.

The first 3-6 weeks of any new training program and triathletes and runners are loving the results. They feel great, skip the rest days and feel on top of the world. Weeks go by and the energy is overflowing. That is until it all hits them like a stack of bricks. Weight loss becomes weight gain, energy turns into fatigue, the body begins to shut down and sore spots never seem to heal. The mindset turns from wanting to get the miles done to needing to get the miles done. A big difference when the body is crying for a break.

Additionally, then there are athletes that are told to strength train and ultimately, strength training which would be designed to enhance performance, ultimately sabotages performance because too much weight was lifted with poor form by weak muscles.

How about training for miles rather than for quality? Athletes admit to this as well (whether they like it or not) considering that many athletes will have to skip/modify workouts (for whatever reason) and the training cycle continues but with the feelings as if they need to make up workouts, miles or lost time. Once again, the cycle of training with a tired, run-down, fatigued and slightly overtrained body leaves the athlete craving taper in order to "recover".

I won't get into the daily diet. For we all know how inconsistent people can be with good food/bad food, guilty, off-limit and feeling fat all in a vocabulary of someone who doesn't have a healthy relationship with food and the body.

I always enjoying the words of Matt Dixon, as well as his philosophy, I wanted to share his characteristics of consistency. There is a lot in the article that I want to share so invite you to subscribe to LAVA in order to stay up-to-date with all-things triathlons.

1) Long term vision - While we need to train in the now, lack of a long term vision will always lead to panic and loss of direction. Athletes with a clear understanding of the path to sucess understand that no single session will make or break them.

2) Patience - Even long term vision will not promise success. Going on that journey requires plenty o patience. Evolution takes time, and that means pateience throughout the process.

3) Governance: The most consistent athletes are those who have the ability to regulate when to truly apply effort. Certainly coaching can have a huge influence on this, but athletes who can drive or hold back at appropriate times will maintain consistency. Athletes who lack self-governance had better have a good coach on their side.

4) Persistence - This isn't easy, and tough times always lie ahead in the journey to improve. Positive, or expected, fatigue is a normal part of the program, and athletes who can maintain effective training when emotionally and physically challenged will be most successful.

5) Passion - Impossible to coach and impossible to fake. You have to love the journey to really create a consistent approach to training. This is an absolute must.

6) Detail-oriented - So many athletes get the main part of the session right, but forget all the supporting details. Recovery practices, fueling properly, warm-up and injury prevention count for something. Over a long period of time, all those little things really add up.

7) Outcomes of consistency -If you are able to approach training with a long term vision, persistence and patience, you will achieve the results that you set out toward. The result of applying these characteristics to training is that you will avoid the big peaks and valleys that are so rampant in many athletes' training histories. Rushing the journey, wildly training without a plan or hammering every session regardles of your energy level is a shortcut to negative fatigue, injury and a roller coaster of energy and performance levels.

According to coach Dixon, "many athletes feel they are successful in training consistency because they go out each day and work hard. But unfortunately, showing up is not enough to produce results. It is the first key step but ensuring effective training requires thought.
Mistakes happen. Repeat mistakes are called habits. The mistakes that Coach dixon discusses in the next part of the article (chasing power or pace on every workout, inability to back off, giving up before it has begun) are born out of a positive quality: a determined desire to improve. The motivation for gains often ends up being a barrier to success. "

To sum up the article, Dixon says "Don't look for a magic training recipe or plan. There are no secrets in that area. A smart training plan, built around your needs, is important, but the real magic is setting up the best possible emotional approach to training andnn being able to create real consistency. Do this and plenty of good things will follow"

Your thoughts???
If you strive for consistency, are you creating habits that allow for progress?