Even if you don’t “do” New Year’s Resolutions, the new year and a new training season require us to make some choices.
Which races or events do you want to ride, run, race? Do you want to hike the West Coast Trail or go on a cycling vacation with your friends? Or is your primary goal to keep up with your spouse, friends, grandkids?
If these are the types of decisions you are making, you need to start planning to arrive at your goal ready and prepared.
5 Rules, in their order of importance, that will help with any goal
Rule #1: Give Something Up (temporarily)
We have a limited number of hours per day. Adding in a new training program will require a considerable amount of your time. You will need to decide what you can temporarily give up to achieve this goal. Will it be less time on Netflix? Or will you keep on binging and hire someone to clean the house, walk the dog, prepare meals, or enlist your family to help with these chores?
“Yes, you can have everything you want. Just not all at the same time.”
Rule #2: Trust and Follow YOUR Plan
It doesn’t have to be expensive or complex, but you need to create a plan that will guide and motivate you throughout the journey towards your goal. Your plan will need to account for travel, family commitments, work obligations, and possibly a tiny buffer for the odd seasonal cold/flu or an unexpected obligation.
There are many different programs you can choose from, and everyone will have a different opinion of which one is the best. Instead of flip flopping throughout the season, you need to give your program 100% commitment before deciding if it does or doesn’t work for you. There’s no sense in choosing a plan, program, or coach if you don’t follow them.
Rule #3: Be Consistent
Not one particular day will make or break your training, but every day is important collectively. It takes consistency over a minimum of three to six months before you will start to see significant changes. So enjoy the journey. Any efforts to rush or rely on any last minute “cramming” will most likely only leave you injured.
Rule #4: Listen to Your Body
Listen hard as it can be deceiving. Are you feeling tired – or lazy? Are you overtraining – or getting sick? If you are unsure which it is, try training for ten minutes. This is usually enough to get the endorphins pumping, and your laziness will disappear. If it doesn’t, and you still feel unwell, it would be better to quit and take a nap instead. If you aren’t enjoying any of your workouts, as you are struggling to keep up, the program is too hard. You may need to completely abort your plan and choose one that will help you grow, not destroy you.
Rule #5: Write Down Your Goals, Recognize Victories, Reflect on Failures
Fitness progression is a slow process, and if you are not paying attention, many people fail to recognize the change in themselves. As they become fitter/faster/leaner, they unconsciously alter their goals to the next level, barely recognizing how far they have come. By writing down your goals, you can look back and celebrate the victories as you achieve them. Not only does this help with motivation, but it also helps to keep things in perspective. We can’t all be Tour de France riders, but we can get a personal best (PB)in an event, lose 5lbs, or complete ten pull-ups, whatever your goal may be.
If you didn’t achieve your goal, look back and try to uncover the reasons why. We often learn more about ourselves through failure then we do through our successes.