Notwithstanding New Year’s Resolutions, it’s tough to get off to the right start in January. Here are a few things I find bulletproof for ramping up training and getting stoked for the coming year. They’re simple and in some respects obvious when you look at them individually, but if each is an ingredient to a recipe, then the recipe produces motivation!
- Develop Focus– What’s the point of training? A key race? A breakthrough in personal fitness or accomplishment? Write down the vision. Keep copies in key places (at your desk, in your car, with your workout bag, etc.). Personally, when I start my training year, what gives me motivation is to write down the splits that I want for my key “A” race. Any time I’m not “in the mood” to train, I look at them and remember what I’m working toward and how important it is to get out and get the training done!
- Create the Road Map– This is likely your training plan. If you have a coach, one will be created for you. If you don’t, you will need to create one (Some background in how to develop a good training plan is recommended) or you can buy one online. You wouldn’t get in the car for your family vacation without first knowing where you were going, or what roads you were going to take to get there. Don’t try “just doing it” without your map!
- Be Consistent– It’s hard, for everyone! Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. Sometimes it’s sickness, soreness, business or family commitments. And sometimes it’s just the “I don’t wanna’s”. Consistency in your training will pay off in big dividends. Get out and do something. Even if you have to cut back on your planned training day, get yourself started and many times you’ll find that you feel better after your warm up and get the whole thing done! In any event, do your best not to post any “zeros” on your training log.
- Maintain a Flexible Mentality– Don’t let the weather, your job or other variables destroy your plan. Keep options available. If the pool is closed for some reason, switch your training days around and do something else. If you can’t ride outside, ride on your trainer. If your boss schedules an early morning meeting, bring your running gear to work and get your run in during lunch (or immediately after work). Don’t let variables get in the way (A personal note: Nobody will ever know how many business meetings I’ve gone to with my cycling shorts under my suit!).
- Have a Support Team– Few people (if any) can do “life” on their own. We all need a support team to help us through. When I ran my first marathon in 1978, I made a pact with a good friend that we’d call each other at any time we “didn’t wanna”. And we kept that pact. After speaking to each other for a few minutes, we’d get the kick in the butt that we needed. Develop your own support system with Family, training partners, co-workers and friends.
- Visualize!- You have a vision that gets you excited and stoked for the season (if it doesn’t, you have the wrong vision). Spend some time visualizing your accomplishment. Close your eyes and experience being “in the zone” as you ride smoothly and effortlessly through the course. Feel the excitement of crossing the finish line. Re-live a “perfect day” of racing or training where you were totally in the zone and loving life.
- Take Good Care– Your mental stamina will go a long way, but we all have to maintain our physical health as well. Adequate sleep, quality nutrition, scheduled quiet time and maintaining balance are all important factors. Eating junk and only getting a few hours sleep will not support you in your training! Maintaining a sense of balance between training, social/family commitments and career is crucial to your longevity in sport. The balancing point is different for everyone but rest assured, focusing only on, say, Ironman Training, may get you a successful finish, but you may have to rebuild your life after the race. The better you manage your nutrition, rest, training and life balance, the more you’ll be up to the task both physically and mentally. And you’ll be more likely to have a lifestyle that you can love for years to come.
As the adage goes, “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. Take all of the above as part of the whole and use all of them to get you to the next level.
Chuck Graziano is the owner of Inspired Performance Multisport and provides training and coaching to endurance athletes of all levels. He is a USA Triathlon level II certified coach, is certified by USA Cycling at level III, is a Training Peaks Level II Coach and is certified as a Level III Alpine Ski Coach. Chuck owned a franchise (The Alternative Board) for 8 years and provided executive coaching for owners, CEOs and managing directors of small businesses in New Jersey. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.