Ironman Texas is officially 7 weeks away. Thankfully, my neurotic personality and will to succeed has kicked into overdrive and I am in full throttle training without hesitation. I have noticed something interesting about myself and others during this particular training block. Some of us refuse to miss key workouts and do not put ourselves in situations that could lead to missed workouts or less then stellar race performances. So I began thinking…where does this drive come from? How can I get this drive out of all my athletes?
I narrowed it down to a 2 general motivators: 1. The drive to win and/or 2. The fear of failure.
The Drive To Win – What gets me out of bed at 4:40 in the morning…I know that if I don’t swim when the rest of the world is asleep, there is a good chance that my day will turn into a whirlwind of crazy and I will not swim. My competition is not missing their swim workouts, and even though it does not matter what time of day that they do it, what matters is that they do it. I quit skipping that last swim/bike/run interval when I realized that cutting it short, leads to 10th place… not a podium.
The Fear of Failure – I notice that athletes don’t miss training sessions if they are not sure that they can finish the event or it is a new distance for them to race. Their fear of not finishing or not meeting a “Boston Qualifying Time”, missing the Ironman 17 hour cut off, or letting their friends and family down is what drives their training consistency. The fear of the unknown sits on their shoulder day in and day out. It is a powerful motivator!
Now, there are going to be a few model athletes who don’t care about winning and they know they can finish. They are few and far between. Out of all of my clients, I would say this group makes up about 5%. They always upload their workouts to training peaks and they DON’T miss key sessions. You know who you are and the reward is always PR after PR after PR.
It is no secret, I work a lot. My job is not easy and I do not sit behind a desk in recovery mode all day. I am on my feet, picking up weights, cleaning and scrambling around to get back to all of my athletes and clients when they need me. It is a small price to pay for doing what I love, but it does wear and tear on me. What I can tell you, is that my priority is my training 95% of the time. Sure, there are days or workouts that get interrupted by the call of duty; but most of the time I put my workouts at the top of my list. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have responsibilities, because I assure you I have a lot on my plate outside of my own training. It does mean that I carefully sculpt my day around my key workout and hold true to that commitment. If I ever have children, then my priorities will change. But for now, if you wonder why I can do what I can do, it is not because I am superwoman, it is that training is at the top of my list and winning is my driving force. I schedule my workouts around clients, but I DO NOT MISS WORKOUTS. Also, I don’t have natural talent at any one sport, so I have to work hard at everything.
Here is a list of tips that I have put together that will help you prioritize your life and training sessions:
1. Write down your goals – what is your overall goal (it might be in 6 months, or it might be in 5 years). Whatever your goal is, it should light a fire inside of you that gets you out of bed every morning! Maybe it is to do an Ironman in 2 years, or to qualify for Boston in 6 months… or to finish a 100 mile mountain bike race. Your goals are self constructed and interwoven in your genetic makeup.
2. Determine your priorities. Major things to take into consideration are family and career. Determine where training fits into those responsibilities and detail how you make time for everything. Make sure your spouse is on board with your plans! Work your schedule in blocks, so that you are 100% dedicated the last 12 weeks before your A race. Then, give yourself some downtime to spend on the things that got ignored while you were busy with your training sessions.
2. If possible, stay consistent with your days of training. For example – Monday=swim, Tuesday=bike-run, Wednesday=swim-run etc…. Plan it around your priority list first, then convenience, then productivity.
3. Once you allocate which days are the most open to fitting in those sessions, find a time of the day that you will block out to execute the workouts. For example, 11:30am swim practice on Monday, 5:30am Computrainer Class on Tuesday, 6:00pm Group Ride on Thursday… then stick to that plan. Although your intensity and volume will change within those workouts- the time allocations are set. A little piece of advice… sometimes the hardest part is getting dressed to go workout.
4. Pack your bags the night before! Don’t rush around the house the morning of a 5:15 swim practice and think that you will make it to the whole swim practice. Create a night time routine that will have you prepared to take on the world in the am. On a side note, get solid sleep. However possible, make it happen. Especially during your 12 week kick to the finish.
5. Pre pack your food for the day. There are many tips and tricks to planning your meals, but whatever your method of eating and prepping, just make sure that all you have to do is grab the pre made lunch box and go! This will also cut down on stressful trips to get food mid morning and mid day when your engine is burning hot from all of the workouts! Things that are easy to make are English muffins with almond butter and honey/preserves, Fruit, Protein and Energy barges, yogurt and almonds, etc…
6. Just do it. Nike has it right. Sometimes, we just have to bag the excuses and get moving. Once you hop on your bike, tie your running shoes or tuck your hair under the swim cap, it is game on. If you make it that far and then still don’t want to workout, then you needed the day off anyhow.
Moral of the story is this, if you find yourself lacking drive… have a heart to heart with yourself and redefine your goals or identify that your priorities are your priorities and that sports, are just that..an excuse to drink beer… or eat cupcakes!