Consistency + progress = success

It doesn't really matter what you call yourself..... athlete, fitness enthusiast or in need of improving overall health. When it comes to exercise, we all need to move our body on a daily basis and often. 

But when it comes to using exercise to reach a racing goal, the most important part of any training or exercise routine is consistency. 

It takes consistency to see progress. Because there's nothing more gratifying than sticking to a plan, the progress is an added benefit of having a well laid out plan and being able to stick to it. 

As a coach, one of the biggest pitfalls I see with athletes who are training for a race is devoting more time and energy to training than is needed to experience performance gains, not knowing how to lay out a season of training and not pacing properly at races (sport nutrition/fueling is often a big confusion for athletes as well). 

I also see this happening at the early part of a training plan. An athlete is excited and every morning there's an early morning workout or an evening workout (or both).
Certainly you need to have a minimum amount of training to adapt to training stress but I find far too many age group athletes are not considering the year as a whole and the specific types of training that must be done at specific times throughout the year. Instead, I see athletes just focusing on one week at a time, often trying to resemble peak training from season's past or not building a good foundation for when peak training actually needs to occur. 

Because we can't let injury and burnout be the only two deciding factors that a training plan is not working, it's important to understand why you may not be able to reach exercise-related goals. 

When was the last time you sat down with a piece of paper and pen and figured out how much time you have available to commit to your training program in order to be consistent? 

In your head you may think you have all the time in the world when you aren't working but after you factor-in sleep, meal planning, stretching, strength training, commuting, traveling/extracurricular activities, family obligations, chores/errands, etc. 

Here's an example of the time you may think you have to train: 

5am - wake-up
5:30am - 7am - workout
8:30 - 5pm - work
5:30pm - 7pm - workout
9:30pm - bedtime

So looking at this, you think you have 3 hours a day to train and if you love to train you are likely filling up this time training. 

Here's how I would plan the day with a "train smart" approach:
5am - wake-up
5:15-5:45am - pre-workout snack + foam rolling/dynamic stretching
6-7am  - workout
7-7:10am - stretching/refueling
8:30am - 5pm work
5:30pm - prep meals for tomorrow, cook dinner. 
6pm - 6:30pm - hip/core work or walk outside for fresh air
6:45pm - dinner
8pm - prepare for tomorrow (clothing/food, etc.)
8:45pm - evening stretching, relaxing
9:30pm - bedtime

Consider how important balance is in a consistent training plan and also, all the many ways that you can improve fitness besides just "training".  For if you can not adapt to the intentional stress load on the body, you will not be able to recover and rebuild for the next day of training. And if you can't adapt, you can't be consistent.  

For example, if you are training for an Ironman, it would be logical that you would not do a 100-mile ride or 2 hour run in your first 4-week block of training. But then ask yourself if it is logical to train 7-days a week and 4+ hours on the weekend in the first 4 blocks of training? The idea of training is to keep progressing, to build mental and physical strength, to teach the body how to be more efficient and to properly metabolize food for fuel. If you want to peak and reach your full potential properly, remember that training isn't about how many miles you can put in in 1 week but instead, how well you are able to adapt over 4 or 6 months of training. The magic doesn't happen in 1 week but instead what you are able to do with your body overtime. 

This same theory applies to time goals. Accepting your current level of fitness, if you want to be able to be x-fast on race day it's understandable that you likely are not that fast today (or else you would likely want a more challenging goal). So your training must be devised in a way that you can improve with your speed, power and endurance but not all at once. 

Quality training has many benefits - it keeps you balanced in life but also allows you to raise your thresholds, build strength, improve economy and power and build mental toughness all while building a strong body. This allows the body to adapt gradually and in a healthy way for consistent performance gains. 

The beginning of the year is a great time to feel motivated and fresh for your upcoming racing season or with a new exercise plan. 

But the key with any exercise routine is being able to maintain that excitement, speed and energy over the next 12, 16 or 20 weeks in order to see performance gains.

If you are not working with a coach, consider the Trimarni 5-week transition plan to help you build a strong, resilient body before you start "training" for your upcoming race. 

If you are a self-coached athlete, take a moment to write out your entire year for races and how you will build to peak for each of those races (and include recovery time as well). Prioritize your phases of training and include any important life moments that should be considered that may affect consistent training. 

After you do this, device a plan as to how you will be consistent with training in 2-3 week blocks at a time. Every day you should move yourself closer to your goal and remember that sometimes the plan may need to change but you can always stay motivated with your goal. 

Interested in a pre-built plan to help you train smart?

Trimarni has several to choose from.

Happy consistent training!