12/1/15

The consistent athlete: part II



Athletes are hardwired to want success. Athletes are not exercisers. Athletes want results that often result in an improvement in metrics, body composition or places and include crossing both a start and finish line.
Athletes don't just show-up to a workout, they use their body to perform.

The process of athletic development can be slow and this is hard for many athletes to accept.
I see it all the time in triathletes who are impatient in the off-season and either train too intensely in the first few months of training OR dedicate 6-8 weeks to training for a running race rather than focusing on their slow, consistent triathlon development.
Like many things in life, quick results often come with consequences.

The idea of instant gratification applies very well to athletes of all levels. 
It's natural to believe that if you put in the work, results will come so why not work out harder and longer for faster results? 

But in spite of sickness or injury, no matter how little sleep or poor fueling/eating or the fitness level of the athlete, it's far too easy for an athlete to work out hard (or long) just to "feel" the endorphin rush and/or to believe that he/she is making better athletic progress. 

Do you find yourself performing too many instant gratification workouts? You know you are doing too much or working out too hard, or you shouldn't be working out at all, but you just can't stop yourself from the workout?

 When an athlete performs too many of these haphazard workouts, this rarely brings success because there is little consistency. If you are victim to pushing too hard, going too long or working out at any cost, just to get in a workout in order to feel better, consistency will never be on your side. 

After reading my last blog, it's very easy to now understand why you, or athletes that you know, may always struggle to find consistency in training.

It's not because you are not working hard enough or because you are too busy.
Lack of consistency in training can simply result from the inability to create or follow a smart training plan that fits into your life.

For the typical athlete, the same reasons that make you so successful in your sport – driven, hard-working, the ability to push through fatigue, the focus to put in the work and the determination to make sacrifices to reach future season goals - are often the same reasons why you may get yourself in trouble when it comes to being flexible, adjusting and being realistic with your available time to train.

When I speak about consistency in training to my athletes, we do not find athletic success in just checking-off workouts or moving around workouts. I do not applaud an athlete for waking up a 4:30am every morning at the expense of performing badly at their job, not having energy to spend time with family or eating or performing poorly due to sleep deprivation.

The athletes who succeed the most on race day are those who accept their personal limitations and adjust workouts as needed to maintain some level of "normalcy" in life in order to make improvements. However, these athletes also maintain a high level of commitment and hard work in their sport, in order to reach personal goals.

Never did I say that the most successful athletes train hard all the time or never miss a workout.

It is my goal to help my athletes create a plan that works for them but it is the goal of the athlete to create a positive environment for training, to get great sleep most nights of the week, to properly nourish and fuel their body on a daily basis, to maintain a healthy dose of motivation for their hobby and then execute really, really well throughout the workout.

Pushing through a workout, in the face of injury, fatigue, sleep deprivation, stress or a jam-packed day, will not only hurt your quest for performance gains but can damage overall health as you risk a loss of enjoyment in your sport. 

If your goal is consistency in training AND the ability to adapt to training (as it should be if you are a competitive athlete), you need to learn how to train smarter in order to stay consistent.

By considering the questions that I posted in my last blog, you should learn how to train your body in a way that allows you to make progress. With a proper warm-up and cool down, good nutrition/hydration and a well-defined purpose for the workout, a quality workout can be achieved every day and progress will be made.

When there is consistency, there is progress and then fitness improves.

Consistently adapting to training will also help you improve skills, endurance, power and speed (depending on the specific purpose of each workout).
But, in the face of life (injuries, sickness, travel, work stress, family) you must learn how to adjust in order to train even smarter to handle your training stress.

Every athlete is different when it comes to available time to train but every athlete has the ability to use their available hours wisely. 

To help you better adapt to training and to stay consistent with your training plan, my next blog will list a few suggestions on how you can stay consistent with training with a "train smart" mentality.