What keeps you going back to the gym, day-in and day-out?
If you're like me, then you probably need a goal, like a race. I mean, I don't workout only because I'm preparing for an event. I think physical training should be a part of life, like brushing your teeth, only with weights instead of a tooth brush.
But I have found that setting a goal like a race introduces new components to a possibly stale training routine and, well, just makes things more interesting. And thereby more likely that you'll make those scheduled sessions during the week.
So what's the best way to set yourself up for success if a race is in your future? For starters, let's assume this event is some variety of an endurance race, i.e. run, triathlon, obstacle course…
You might be wondering, how could I possibly tell you how to prepare for any and all of these types of races in a single post?
This post doesn't cover mechanics or specific training protocols. This post is about YOU. Covering you so that when you finally take your first step into the gym on training day, you'll know WHY.
And you’ll know HOW to keep going when it gets tough because, as we’ve all heard before, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it...
If yes, I have one question for you: What do you want to accomplish? Possible answers: Cross the finish line of my first race. Compete in several races this season. Make this a long-term sport.
Once you know the WHY, here is the HOW in four steps:
Step 1, do a personal inventory. Are you currently active in any sport? Any injuries, weaknesses? If you’re not starting from ground zero in terms of physical fitness, join a local group that trains and races in your sport. Learn what you can and get referred for what you need. Chances are these groups will have coaches and trainers that can quickly step up your training when the time is right.
Step 2, set a deadline. Pick your race and outline a schedule to prepare. Base this on your fitness level and skill in the sport. Meet with other athletes and find out how they prepare. Once you’ve decided on a deadline, STICK TO IT. No exceptions.
Not to sound like a drill sergeant, but remember this post is about giving you the most effective advice in the simplest terms. Don’t cut corners. Be smart about setting your goals. Set them up in a way that motivates you. Then stick to them.
Step 3, schedule your training days, preferably with others for accountability. You may find while you set aside the time and dedication to DO this, others may not have. They may bail on your scheduled training times. Prepare for this. In case it happens, have a back-up plan of what you would do solo.
If you’re lucky enough to have a trainer you pay to be there, this may be less of an issue. But if it’s a friend or casual training group, anticipate last minute cancellations and have a back up plan. Remember, others may bail out but YOU can’t. Unless you’re being held hostage by the flu or pinned beneath a fork-lift - you’ll make your scheduled training sessions ; )
Step 4, partner with someone more experienced. I am tempted to simply recommend this step but to be honest, I could not have reached my goals for competing in the obstacle course circuit this summer without the help of more than one trainer and mentor in the sport. So if you’re a total newbie, find someone.
This will not only help you with steps two and three but having someone more experienced alongside is invaluable for navigating blind corners. There will simply be parts of your race prep you will not have considered because you don't know. In other words, you don’t know what you don’t know. But this person will.
There you have it. Four steps to success for participating in your next race. Whether you’re a total newbie or already experienced but want to up your game.
At the end of the day, when schedule conflicts, bad weather or the unexpected comes up - all the planning in the world isn’t gonna save you’re training program. Only YOU can. Every day is a new day. Hard decisions don’t make themselves.
But knowing WHY you’re doing what you’re doing and HOW to get there will help keep you on track, every time.
Ready? Set... GO!
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