Summer is well and truly here, well in all honesty we have had weeks of it and its great! Many of us are showing the ridiculous cyclist / triathlete tan lines that go with that too.
Summer can also be really hard for athletes. You have trained so hard all winter, paying attention to detail to all the elements you know will make you succeed come race day. You entered the season excited and ready, Ok race 1 wasn’t great, but you are just finding your feet. Race 2 was not quite as planned a mechanical scuppered your race. Race 3, you got held up on the course or things were not quite going to plan. Before you know it you are 3/6/12 weeks into the season and thinking, ‘hmmm this aint working’.
Many of us experience this and managing this is really tough. The training and racing can be such a central part of our lives that if you are not careful it can become a negative stress factor.
I have great personal experience of this and to be honest this season is a classic example. My training was excellent through the winter and early season, although my specific focus and planning of my own race season was not great. Focusing on my athletes i totally neglected my own plan. Failure 1 . Lack of specificity.
Early races were ‘average’ by what I’d expect, excuses were flowing and i only really can name 1 race that was well executed. Why was that? having looked back and analysed it was driven by 3 things:
- Messing about with my bike and position
- Lack of specific training to the races I was entering
The last one being the big issue. I have always trained a lot (many say too much!) but i know that when i am and can produce the numbers I expect i can move on. What i failed to do this year is recognise the signs of over tiredness and act on them (ok I recognised I just ignored!). I was not hitting the numbers I could and should, i wasn’t sleeping well, i was working long hours and rarely stopping.
Coming in to the National 12hr Time Trial Championships this was noticeable and I consciously stepped back to focus on rest . I started too late, and for various reasons ended up with a DNF, one of my first (outside of mechanicals) What i didn’t realise was the time it would take to get over this. All in all its taken me 5 weeks of backing off, focusing on sleep & recovery. The interesting thing is my ‘fitness’ has on paper stepped back 25%, but I am fresher, able to sustain longer and harder sessions and race better.
Simple, obvious, clear. Pit falls we all fall into. Having that sensible ear of an experienced, dispassionate 3rd party to support, advise and make you step back from seeing the ‘wood for the trees’ is key.
Being able to remove yourself and truly analyse the good / bad and the ugly is really important AND acting on it.
Its important to be able to step back and get that perspective and remind yourself what is important and your strengths.
As a coach 50% of my role is nurturing reassuring, directing and reminding athletes they CAN do it, and dispelling those doubts.
Stay focused, step back, rest to move forward