The end of each training season brings considerable value to each future season. You have gained invaluable insight and lessons learned from a past season of training and racing while being filled with renewed hope for the coming season. As you reflect and look ahead to a new season there are a few essential training principles to remember. These are critical to understand when you first begin training and even more essential to remember as you continue to progress, reach new heights and elevate your goals.
Think back to when you first began training, whether this was structured at the time or not. You likely noticed progress came relatively quick and easy. Over time, as you grew, tangible progress continued to appear, but at slower rates and in smaller quantities. This is the principle of diminishing return. The greater our foundation and the faster we are, the slower and more limited our progress appears. For example, someone new to endurance running would find it easier to break 5 hours in a marathon than an elite runner trying to break 2 hours in the marathon. Higher level goals require greater patience, resolute consistency and the drive to excel in all areas, like recovery, rest, nutrition, psychological training, etc.
With this said, as we aim towards higher- and higher-level goals, our risk of setback becomes greater. As our goals are elevated and the difficulty in achieving these new goals is elevated, our risk of encountering setbacks, like an injury or loss of interest, becomes greater. Referring to our previous example, the five-hour marathoner would (generally speaking) need to continue to build on his/her foundation and begin adding speedwork into training to achieve the goal. Assuming this is a healthy and driven individual, the risk of injury and mental defeat would typically be low. Alternatively, the elite runner would need to be on point in his nutrition and hydration, acing his recovery and sleep, working daily on his psychological strategies, testing and trying the best shoes, scrupulously analyzing every race course, be meticulous in race strategy and running the tangents on race day, running likely hundreds of miles per week in training and partnering with a team of people in order to push the limits of human performance. The risk of setbacks, like injury and mental defeat, at this level is much greater.
You may have accomplished many victories this year including PR's, new distances achieved and/or age group and overall placings. As you continue to look ahead and elevate your goals, both short term and long term, keep these principles in mind. Do not allow yourself to be defeated if progress is not seen as fast as you thought or if you incur an injury along the way to your goals. If you begin to feel mental defeat, stay open with your coach, family, training partners and friends and family in your triathlon club as this will catalyze your breakthrough and continued growth.
If you find yourself in a space where you have achieved high level goals and feel less driven or less excited to reach higher levels and set new goals, spend time reflecting on what achievements down the road would be the most meaningful to you. Drive will desist if you are not identifying your purpose and setting goals that are meaningful to you but rather attempting to impress the crowd or signing up for races out of a fear of missing out.
Take the time to reflect this week and over the course of the next month. The 2023 season will be here before you know it!