Posted On:
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Patience is a Virtue

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Raise your hand if you’ve already registered for a race or races in 2023?  Keep that hand up if you’ve already planned out your race season for next year.

It’s not uncommon to be thinking forward like that.  In fact, some athletes really thrive on it; they want (or, perhaps, need) a race on their calendar so they always have something to be pursuing and/or to motivate them to stay active.

This week, I want to build on last week’s Coach Tip Tuesday, when I encouraged you to Remember the Fall. This week, I want to encourage you to consider this: Finish out one series of goals (i.e. this season), and then decide what is next.

If the 2020 race season (or lack thereof) taught us anything, it was that things can change, and that includes how you feel about your goals. While early bird pricing may be tempting, it’s often offered so far in advance that it’s impossible to know what will unfold between registration and race day. While it may seem completely bonkers right now, it’s very possible that what excites you as far as races or goals go may very well change.

I’ve seen this happen every single year I’ve been coaching.  (In 2020, 2021, and 2022, I saw it at a higher rate and with a higher percentage of athletes.)  An athlete registers for a race well in advance (often before the end of the current race season), and is truly excited about the goal.  They feel that they have a sufficient amount of time to prepare, especially with how the current season is going.  They finish the current season out and then…

Something happens. Work gets busy. The athlete gets sick. A child needs more time and attention than expected. A family situation occurs. The athlete is more tired and burnt out at the end of the season than they predicted they’d be. Someone is getting married around the time of Peak Phase and/or the goal race. The goal or race just doesn’t feel “right” or exciting anymore. Literally, anything could happen. And then that something that happened snowballs, and all of a sudden, things are not proceeding toward race day as planned. The goal itself feels more like a burden or a job more than it feels like something fun.

While there are certainly plenty of athletes out there who do register for races and see them through successfully and with joy, I can also tell you from plenty of personal experience working in this field that for every one of those athletes, there is another who had something go not as planned.

While it may not be the norm out there right now, I’m here to say that there is great value in seeing how your current season unfolds and/or ends, taking time to reflect on it, and then deciding what you’d like to do next. In other words: Exercise patience. Maintenance Phase is a wonderful opportunity to keep active and to organically let your next series of goals come to you. Let yourself dream with the benefit of knowing how things actually went, assessing where you currently are, and giving yourself time and space (without any pressure!) to decide what is next.

In the meantime, focus on keeping some form of movement in your life. While it’s not possible to maintain peak fitness year-round (and therefore a loss of fitness is not only normal, but actually recommended during this time), it is important to keep active so that you maintain a base level of fitness that can be used as a springboard for goals when you decide which ones are right for you. Remember, the best training plan is the one that you can stick to, and making sure your goal is one you actually want to pursue the foundation of formulating a training plan that you’ll stick to.

I get it; it’s exciting to think about new and exciting goals.  But I don’t want your dream turning into a nightmare.  Exercise patience when planning out future goals and seasons, and see if you aren’t ultimately happier, more consistently active, and more engaged with your training and racing.

About

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.

She can be reached at laura@fullcircleendurance.com.

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