Hey everyone, this week I've put together a top 5 of my biggest training mistakes. I've done you a favour I hope, and made the most common training mistakes just for you! I really hope you can take something from it!
This is the primary rule of Triathlon training, but also I guess in almost every sport as well. Consistent repetition, every day, week in week out, is where the benefits and improvements come from. In endurance sport it's easy to be a hero for one day but it's backing it up day after day that counts. You'll only find your top level when you're consistent and it definitely took me a while to work that out. I'd put together some very nice 37 plus hour weeks, but I could only do it once then it'd take me a week to get over it. My best year came from a solid 32 hours a week for 16 weeks over winter in Australia, then continuing a similar work load through the year. It's about working out what it takes for you to be consistent. Usually it means not being a hero on any one day, just good honest work each day plus doing all the things that allow you to perform and for me that's sleeping properly, eating the right things, getting good physiotherapy and massage and being in a warm place. It's a lifestyle choice you almost have to work out for yourself.
Being too fit too soon
I made this mistake in December 2010. By Christmas I thought I was ready to win the World Championships when I ran way faster than I've ever run before in a Turkey Trot. Nobody cares. In fact I had the worst year of my career. You have to structure the year properly and it usually involves getting unfit for a month, before putting in your long base miles before finally ramping up the speed and intensity while cutting back the duration. If you're in your best shape at Christmas it'll never end well. As my friend told me the other day; 'You wouldn't build a house on the sand', and then someone else butted in and said. 'Yea, and building the foundations is the part that takes longest'.
Not taking a mid-season break
It took me until this year to learn this properly. Each year I was super fit at the start of the year but slowly and surely fizzling out, sometimes before the biggest objective of the year. I think it's difficult for an athlete to prescribe a week off here and there for themselves, but in the grand scheme of things, if well placed, you won't lose any fitness and you'll certainly arrive at the races fresher in the body and the mind. It's obvious that you're better off being fresh and ready to go than you are teetering on the edge of fatigue. So I'd always prescribe at least one period during the season where you aren’t racing and have an opportunity to stop training and racing for a while, before building back up for a few weeks.
This is often a big problem with professional athletes. Sitting on the sofa at the start of the year it's easy to look over calendar at the start of the year, seeing all these glamorous races you'd like to compete in and before you know it you've got greedy and you've embarked on a hectic racing schedule all over the world! Racing too frequently is a problem because inevitably your performance will start to dip. That is mainly due to the lack of recovery between races, and also lack of preparation time before the next one. Travel time can also be stressful and hectic and people often overlook the mental strain of racing itself. What looked like a lot of fun on paper actually ends up being a bit stressful and de-motivating. In the ideal world to bring out your best performances you should compete, take some time to recovery properly from the effort, before building up for the next one.
Not using the gym enough
I have to say, gym for me always comes last. It's hard to take the training for the gym as seriously as I would for my standard swim, bike and run training. At the end of a long day on the roads it's the last thing you really want to do. However, I'm definitely starting to view the gym as somewhere where you can make big improvements in performance. Not just keeping yourself injury free but also for improving your performance. I think there are strength gains you can make in the gym that would take you a long time to make on the road, so it certainly shouldn't be overlooked. For example with my swimming at the moment, I'm already up on last year from the strength work I'm putting in the gym, even though I'm skipping a session in the pool to accommodate it.
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