Today, Tuesday, October 22, is a WONDERFUL time to share this tip: Don’t cram for races.
Why is this particular Tuesday a WONDERFUL time to share this? Well, because almost all athletes are currently in the off-season or “Maintenance Phase.” If they aren’t already in it, it is imminently approaching.
I see this ALL.THE.TIME.: An athlete is signed up for race or sets a goal, sometimes up to a YEAR in advance. It’s a year away, so mentally it goes on the back burner. The athlete thinks to themselves, “Oh, I have plenty of time to get ready. I don’t need to get serious about it right now.” And then, “magically,” six months or more goes by. The race or the goal is staring the athlete in the face, and all of a sudden, the athlete realizes that they need to get serious if they want to accomplish the goal.
The reality is this, my friends: You need to be serious about your goal always, not just when it’s looming over your shoulders time-wise. Does it mean that you need to be doing TONS of workouts or very DIFFICULT workouts all the time? No. But what it does mean is this: you can “set the stage” now. Frequent, consistent, smart work now will yield TREMENDOUS results next year. You will be SO much more successful if you consider a long-term approach to your goals versus a “cramming approach.”
Many of the athletes I have worked with over the years can verify this: While we are able to accomplish wonderful and amazing things together in relatively short (5-6 month) spans of time, the athletes who work with me for long periods of time (1-2+ years) can tell you that their success today is the result of many consistent cycles of training strung together.
Aim to stay consistent throughout the process that it takes to reach your goals, even if it seems like it’s a “long time.” You will not only reap physical benefits from this, but mental ones, too. If you don’t perceive a time-crunch and give yourself plenty of time to prepare, do the right things for you, and to establish that consistency, you will be that much more confident in your ability come race day. Who doesn’t want to reduce that nervous/panicky energy that tends to visit athletes come race day?
So, my friends. Do yourselves a solid and don’t cram for races or goals. Formulate a plan and then work the plan (perhaps with the assistance of a trusted friend or coach) steadily and consistently over time. Make the most of your Maintenance Phase/off-season and use this as a time to set down a solid foundation for what lies ahead in your future. Adopt this long-range view so that you can set yourself up for the best possible chance of success!
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.