It’s like Christmas in July...with Coach Tip Tuesday as the present!
Over the course of the last week, many of my Upstate New York friends have been expressing concerns over the heat wave that we’re experiencing (some of them have been full-on complaining...I’ll be sure to remind them of this when they complain about our six months of winter, ha!). I have received MANY texts from almost all of my Performance Coaching athletes who are concerned about the weather and wondering how they can possibly make it through their workouts. Do you know what I told each and every one of them?
Manage your expectations.
As an endurance coach, I talk a lot about managing expectations. Honestly, that is one of the biggest things I do as a coach for the athletes I work with, as it is one of the greatest lessons I can impart. I talk about managing expectations as they relate to a training cycle/race day a lot, but the reality is that this lesson can be imparted on a number of situations. One of these is on hot days.
When an athlete tells me that they don’t want to do something for a particular reason, my reply is almost always: “What would you do if the same situation/circumstances existed on race day?” 9 times out of 10, their answer is that they would race anyway. If that’s the answer, then my response to that is that it is in the athlete’s best interest to practice in those same situations or under those same circumstances.
This week, that means heat training. As my friend and mentor Coach Mark Turner can tell you, I am personally exceptionally adverse to training in the heat and I get very, very dramatic about it. While I certainly am a drama queen about it (to him), I do get out there and train in the heat. Why? Because it will never, ever feel better unless I do. My body needs to learn what it feels like to work in those conditions, and the only way to teach it that is to do it.
Now, while I will get out and work out in high temperatures, I also modify my expectations of what I think I’ll be getting from the workout. My heart rate might soar due to the temperatures, so I might need to run off of RPE while monitoring my heart rate to make sure it doesn’t go too high. (This becomes a very classic case of why training by RPE is an excellent way to train.) I might need to up my fluid and electrolyte intake significantly. I might need to walk a few more times than planned. My RPE 10 might be equivalent to my pace for RPE 4 in cooler conditions. And you know what? That’s totally okay. The biggest thing that you’re actually getting from the workout is EXPERIENCE. As we often say: uncertainty is the number one enemy of athletes on race day. It is in your best interest to train in adverse conditions (and heat is certainly a form of adversity) so that you KNOW what you’ll be doing if the same thing happens on race day. Believe me, you don’t want to wing it and hope for the best. Additionally, don’t get angry at circumstances that are absolutely out of your control. Heat is heat, and you can’t change the weather. What you CAN change and control is your attitude towards it.
So, my friends: embrace adversity. Embrace the challenge of conditions that aren’t your Goldilocks “just right” conditions. Know that if you do, you’ll be that much smarter, stronger, and faster for it. :)
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.