You can't really be strong until you see a funny side to things. ~ Ken Kesey
I had a bad race, it happens. My approach to training is based on a creative application of scientific information, basically I learn the hard way through "trial and error", so I know how important this reflection can be to improving my performance. Though I am a coach, I am self-coached and believe that all runners and triathletes can be their own coach (with proper guidance). What did I learn from a bad race? Does a bad race necessarily mean bad training?
The first question I have to ask myself is: was this actually a bad race? The answer is no. But during the race it felt like I was having a "bad" race [see the lame photo of me not wanting any proof of a bad race]. I felt this way because I was much slower than I have been in previous years. My training and racing goal for Bone Island 70.3 was to finish the race because my last attempt at a 70.3 resulted in a DNF - DID NOT FINISH. That feeling haunts me, and has haunted my training since. I lost confidence, and I obviously have to regain that to achieve my ultimate goal. My goal was to finishing this race, and I did that, and my training was focused on completing the distance, not racing fast. I did not have a performance goal for this race, but I am competitive and performance-oriented. That is sometimes hard to let go.
The lesson learned is to keep believing in yourself and training program. There are two major themes that guide my training approach: the best outcomes in training depend on taking a adaptation approach and attaining a goal not only depends on physiology, it equally depends on our mental ability and inner thoughts. These two beliefs are central to how I have planned my 2014 training and racing season.
The human body is smart. If you put it in a certain situation consistently, it will adapt by making you stronger, creating new muscle tissue, increasing cardiac output, tolerance to pain, mental toughness, etc.. The goal is to gradually increase what your body is capable of doing so that it is constantly adapting to these new demands. This continual adapting should lead to continual results, but if you are always doing the same thing, your body will remain the same, and you will not progress. If you go too hard, progression may also not be possible. The ultimate goal is to find a training "sweet spot" of optimum adaptive responses: the problem is everyone is different!
2. Training/coaching begins with the person first
You have to work on the individual first before you lay out a performance plan. If your training is incongruous with you as a person, no matter how fit you are, it is unlikely you will achieve your goal. You will always be fighting against your training. That is because your decision making is intrinsically linked to our emotions, but how each of us act upon them will vary. I am an emotional person, but I am not suggesting you need to be more emotional or let emotions guide your training. There are downsides to relying on intuition alone to guide a training program: I made the same mistakes over and over again, and remained stagnant because I wanted to stay within my comfort zone. I signed up for Bone Island to force myself out of this training/performance problem. In other words, what I am positioning is that you have to be in the right frame of mind during your training, focus on your individual priorities and goals, and be mindful of how you feel.
Here is a breakdown of my planned training steps for 2014:
Endurance Block, Mental Preparation ~ October to January, Bone Island 70.3 on January 25th
Quality Training Block 1 ~ February to April, New Orleans 70.3 on April 13th
Quality Training Block 2 ~ May and June, Kansas 70.3 on June 8th
Ultimate Goal: Qualify for World 70.3 Championships in September
Staying the course
It is important to be able to choose what works and schedule it when it is important. So, changing the training program is not necessary. A bad race is not a direct result of bad training. Once you commit yourself to a program, it is important to see it through, only making necessary changes on a day to day basis to ensure you are adapting to the work you are doing. Time to get over a bad race and continue onto the next period of training. The next two posts will discuss the details of my planned training periods for 2014 and how you can develop your individual training plan.