Here are 4 more mistakes I see athletes often make. I’m traveling this weekend but back in the office on Monday for a few days before my next trip (speaking in Saco, Maine on Dec 12). I’ll finish the last 3 early in the week (email permitting).
#7 mistake: Haphazard training.
Correction: Have a purpose for every workout.
Comments: In my Training Bible books I explain 6 abilities that workouts can be focused on: aerobic endurance, muscular force, speed skills, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and explosive power. Two others to add are testing and recovery. If one or more of these 8 aren’t the purpose of the workout then you aren’t training—you’re playing. It’s ok to occasionally do a non-purposeful workout. But if you have high goals such play must be rare. The lower your goals, the more you can do whatever you feel like doing at the time.
#6 mistake: Inconsistent training.
Correction: High goals? Don’t miss workouts. Ever.
Comments: Consistency is the single most important aspect of training. It’s more important than long or intense workouts. You’ll improve faster by working out frequently and regularly rather than by doing hard workouts with lots of days off in between. This comes down to moderation and infrequent attempts to find your limits. Pushing yourself to the edge frequently leads to soreness, illness, injury, burnout, and overtraining. These will cause you to miss workouts and lose fitness. You gain fitness at a much slower rate than you lose it. But, let’s face it, you will miss a workout on occasion due to things you have little or no control over—weather, work, family activities and other responsibilities. When these happen you need to do some workout rescheduling. Try not to miss any of the key workouts on your schedule.
#5 mistake: Too little rest, not enough race intensity before race.
Correction: Rehearse the race every 72 hours for 1-3 weeks prior.
Comments: The purpose of pre-race tapering is to shed fatigue—not to improve fitness. Being rested provides a greater payoff than becoming more fit in the final days. But race prep goes beyond becoming fresher. It also involves preparing for the unique demands of the race. In the last 7 to 21 days before race day gradually reduce workout duration. That’s the taper part. And every 72 hours or so do a challenging workout that simulates a key portion of the race. The workouts in between these are for recovery.
#4 mistake: Workouts too intense.
Correction: Increasingly train at goal intensity in last 12 weeks before the race.
Comments: I once spoke to at a triathlon club meeting. Afterwards one of the members told me he and a few others were training for an Ironman. He went on to explain that they were doing anaerobic endurance training on the bike. It was very hard, he said. Would that help? My answer was “no.” It is counterproductive. At no time in an Ironman do you go anaerobic. If you do, the party’s over. Just because a workout is hard doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. Train at intensities that are similar to what’s expected in the race.