Training for a goal race can be physically and mentally draining. A proper build begins months in advance, and revolves around a result way down the road. I started training for this season back in October. While it was initially only aerobic base work, I was mentally focused on my first race in April at the Oceanside half ironman. The beginning of this month I ran into a wall. Having trained almost exclusively indoors since October, I cracked mentally and got off the bike mid-workout. It’s not that the workout was too difficult, but rather the countless hours of training had gotten to me. I’d been hit with the “training blues” as I like to call them. Over the years I’ve found ways to stay focused when things go south in training, and I hope a few of these will be helpful to you.
SWITCH THINGS UP:
Your body can definitely become stale doing the same activities over and over. If I’m feeling flat for a couple days I love to switch things up and play a completely different sport. A group of my friends plays basketball once a week and I’ll jump into the game instead of my evening workout. You can still get plenty of aerobic benefit out of something like basketball, and I always finish feeling mentally charged.
Just because you have an “A” race on the horizon doesn’t mean other races should be ignored. I’ve always believed you can push yourself further around other people, and racing takes you to another level completely. Use smaller races to test how you are progressing in training, but don’t change your plan. It’s better to be tired during a small race than to peak before your goal race.
The power of visualization can bring your performance to new levels. When times get tough, picture yourself in your upcomig “A” race. Note everything you can about the experience. Where are you? How do you feel? Who is around you? What is the weather like? I often practice this during aerobic workouts because I can fully zone out. This exercise also prepares you for the many scenarios that could happen on race day.
“You show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” -Cam Newton
With racing season right around the corner, training intensity is much higher. There will be workouts you can’t make it through. While most people would say not to let poor performances bother you, I’m gonna say otherwise. It’s okay to get pissed at yourself after a bad day. Learn to let your emotions run free, and then let it go for the rest of the day. Getting upset shows you genuinely care about your performance, and want to do better. Use these experiences as fuel for future workouts.
SUCK IT UP:
Sometimes you can’t pull yourself out of the hole mentally. This is the time to just suck it up. The workouts that are the hardest mentally are the ones you can benefit from most on race day. If you can dig that deep in training, doing the same in a race will be much easier.
Regardless of the methods you use to combat the training blues, the best piece of advice I can give is to stick to the plan. While things may not be going great at that time, the plan is there especially for when times get tough. Don’t second guess yourself and believe in the process at hand.