When Karel raced his first IM in Lake Placid in 2013, he told me he made a few rookie mistakes. He grabbed his wrong transition bag from the hanging rack of bag as he was entering the T2 changing tent so he had to run back to the rack to exchange his goggles and wetsuit for his run shoes and visor.
On the bike, he took a swig of his gel flask and put the flask upside down in his tri top pocket...opened. A few miles later, his leg felt incredibly sticky with every pedal stroke. It wasn't until he reached back for his flask that he noticed that his entire flask emptied out in his tri pocket and essentially onto the side of his body.
"I need to do more strength training."
"I need to eat better."
"I should have recovered better."
All athletes should follow a periodized strength training routine that addresses functional strength exercises that will transfer fitness gains in your sport. There must be a smooth progression of how you incorporate strength training in your routine as you do not want to risk injury as you try to prevent injury.
In the Trimarni 8-week transition plan, I have your first 8 weeks of foundation strength all laid out for you with corresponding swim,bike, run workouts as well. This is an easy way to not only help you build good foundation strength before you start incorporating more dynamic/complex, intense strength exercises into your strength routine but it is also a no-excuse way to kick-start your strength training routine. If anything, you can at least tell yourself that in 2015 you followed a well-designed strength training routine for 2 months which may be longer than you lasted last year.
What's eating better? Perhaps you define it differently than my definition but the bottom line is that you likely have a few key areas that you'd like to focus on that you feel are preventing you from reaching your health, performance and/or body composition goals. This doesn't mean you need to be extreme, restrictive or obsessive about eating in order to "eat better." But perhaps you need to make more time for meal planning and cooking. Maybe you find yourself overeating in the evenings because of poor eating choices throughout the day. Maybe you aren't spending enough time understanding your sport nutrition before, during and after workouts. Maybe you are just trying to get more fruits and veggies into your diet or eat more real food. Whatever eating better means to you, focus on making only a few small changes at a time or else you are destined for failure as you can't expect to change everything all at once and keep those new habits for the next 10-12 months.
If I can give you one tip it would be to recognize that your eating habits will change throughout the season accordance to your training plan. Be mindful of how an increased training load will affect your cravings, appetite and macronutrient distribution. Don't let this scare you if you feel like you don't know how to eat in a periodized training plan. My tip for you is to not start the year eating a plant-strong diet made of real food and then find yourself skipping meals, eating ice cream for dinner and passing on your pre-workout snacks when your training load increases. Put a great amount of energy on your daily diet and fueling regime throughout all phases of your training plan to get the most out of every workout.
As a suggestion, I often find that my age group athletes do really well with a day off (or at least a morning off from working out) later in the week as the season progresses (around 4-6 weeks out from taper) whereas Monday off or a true active recovery day (following waking up rested) is best applied in the beginning part of the season when athletes are more fresh and motivated to start a training plan but also slowly adapting to training stress so that continued stress as the week progresses is very important mentally and physically. Because the entire point of training is to place intentional stress on the body AND adapt to it, there is certainly going to be more to balance as the season progresses so there really isn't a time in your plan when rest isn't allowed. My suggestion is to take advantage of all of your rest days and active recovery days when they come and this includes taking care of yourself emotionally, nutritionally and spiritually when you aren't training on those days. Pay attention to red flags that your body needs a rest day or a change in the routine to ensure that you are training hard but recoverying harder.