Coach Tip Tuesday: You Know What You Need to Do…But Are You Doing It?
Building on the last several weeks, where I’ve shared some practical, tangible ways to help increase the enjoyment you get from training and racing, this week, I want to share a question that prompts some reflection on your part.
Now - in 2022 - it’s easier than ever to find information about training, racing, and all related endeavors. The Internet and social media has made it beyond easy to seek out material related to a subject you want to learn about and to connect with people who have a lot of experience and know a lot about said subject.
I see this a lot in social media groups that are centered around endurance sports; members will post questions to the group, will share resources (articles, books, training plans, etc.) that have worked for them with others, and will refer experts (such as coaches, bike fitters, physical therapists, etc.) to other athletes as-needed. Combine that with The Powers of Google, libraries, local training groups, etc., and there is no shortage of information that is available to people who want to learn about endurance sports and set training and racing-related goals.
Nope, access to information is not a problem. Access to information is, actually, easy. It’s accountability that presents a challenge, and it’s accountability that makes the difference. Accountability can come in many forms (it’s basically my number one job as a coach to provide that for the athletes who hire me), but ultimately, accountability starts with one person - you. No one but you can actually make you accountable. Thus, here’s my question for you this week:
You know what you need to do, but are you actually doing it?
I’ve talked to so many athletes over the years who can talk about what the “right” thing to do in training is and what the “right” race plan looks like. But when it comes down to it, talking about what is “right” or “ideal” and doing it are two very, very different things. The doing is the challenge for most athletes I cross paths with.
Now, to be clear, there isn’t one exact “right” way to do anything related to endurance sports. In my experience, however, there generally is a “right for you” way to do things, meaning that there is a path forward that will work best for you by taking into account your training history, injury history, life schedule, etc. The trick is determining that “right for you” path, and then, well, following it.
When I say “actually, truly think through what it is going to take,” I’m referring to what it is actually going to take. Not some idealized version of what it will take. Not a “perfect case” scenario where all the cards fall exactly into place all the time without adversity along the way. No, I want you to really, truly think about what it is going to take.
While the following reflections/questions are phrased in the future tense, they can also be asked in the present tense. (i.e. Are you currently doing the thing I’m asking you to consider?)
Consider how many days per week you will need to train. Do you actually have that time available with all of the other commitments - family, work, social life, etc. - that are important to you and your life?
Consider the seasons you will need to train in. Will you actually like going out for a long run when it’s hot and humid in the middle of the Summer? Will you be willing to layer up and get outside when the cold wind is blowing in the Winter?
Consider the actual number of hours your workouts will take. Remember that workouts actually do take longer than their planned durations, especially if you need to account for travel time to a workout location (such as a pool or a park). Furthermore, workouts also are more than just the workout; there is preparation time (nutrition/hydration preparation, warm-ups, etc.) as well as recovery time (cool-down, stretching, mobility work, extra sleep, etc.). Are you willing to go to bed early - possibly forgoing social events - so you can wake up feeling good and ready to tackle your workout?
Consider what you’re willing to say no to. Working toward a goal - saying “yes” to a goal - will always, always mean saying “no” to something else. It could be any number of things, not limited to, but including: house projects, social gatherings, last-minute family outings, etc. Are you actually willing to say “no”?
Consider that you are human, so you will get tired. There will be days when you don’t feel like doing something training-related or that will serve you well on the path to achieving your goals. There will be days when you have to work extra, or something pops up in your personal life that you didn’t expect. However, consistency is at the foundation of all endurance sports goals. All of them. So are you going to be willing to show up a majority of the time, even on some days when you don’t really feel like it, knowing that the work you do will ultimately lay down a solid foundation for you?
I know most of you out there know what you need to be doing. My hope is that after asking yourself these questions and reflecting on your training, you’ll be able to see whether or not you’re actually doing what you need to do.
If you are, then great! However, if you are not, you’re left with a couple of choices:
Make some adjustments in your training and life so you can be doing the things you need to be doing to set yourself up for success at reaching your goals.
Modify the goal to be in line with what is actually feasible for you in this season of your life.
Watching someone not reach their goal because they had an idealized version of what their training/preparation and what accomplishing their goal would look like is one of the worst things for me to witness. It never fails to make me feel like my heart is breaking. It’s so incredibly important to be honest with yourselves about what you want and what it is going to take to achieve it so you can have a positive experience in training and spare yourself that disappointment. If you truly understand what you’re actually doing, you can plan an honest path forward that has a high probability of success.
You know what you need to do. Now, be honest. Are you actually doing 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.