The purpose of training is to gain fitness that will help us achieve our goals. Here's 10 common training errors that can derail the best training plan.
1 – Missing out on the recovery window
The 10 to 30 minutes after a workout are critical for replenishing your glycogen stores, rehydrating and promoting recovery. Chronically missing this windows adds up over time and a few weeks to months later it’s not uncommon to find yourself in the proverbial “hole” of underrecovery. While it may not be convenient or even desirable to put something into your mouth right after a workout, it will help you recovery go a long way. The better you recover, the more fitness you gain, the more training you can integrate. Many companies make packets of recovery drink.Pick up a few samples at the local tri/running store, throw them in your gym bag with an empty water bottle. On your way home or as you stretch after the workout, drink the recovery drink. Then, once you are at home and settled, follow up with a well-rounded meal.
2 – Timing is everything
Training is all about timing. There are times to go easy, times to go hard. Knowing when to push and how hard to push is critical to breaking through. And, the timing must be right. Every session cannot be a breakthrough session. Know when to hold back and when to go hard. A heart rate monitor helps to hold you back more than to push you. Use it wisely and to keep yourself in check. Going harder and working harder every time you train is a surefire way to cause the opposite reaction than what you are hoping. Be wary of situations where you know it will be difficult to hold back. In other words, don’t bring that fast friend along on an easy ride. And when you need to work on technique in the pool – swim alone. Doing the right work at the right time by following your prescribed heart rate zones will lead to improved fitness in time.
3 – Adding workouts
Adding workouts not only disrupts the flow of your training schedule but also sets you up for overuse injury and fatigue. Design a training plan to help you meet your goals (or work with a coach) then stick to it. A proper training plan should optimize a proper mix of training and recovery. Adding workouts may cut into your recovery time or leave you fatigued for your key workouts – the time when the work really counts! Avoid the temptation to add workouts or add time to your existing workouts. There is a purpose for everything on your training schedule. Training is not about cramming as much as you can when you want, where you want. It’s about how much training your body can assimilate in a given period of time.
4 – Dwelling on the negative
You win some, you lose some. And sometimes you don’t even finish at all! Part of being an athlete is accepting the ups and downs that are a natural part of taking risks and bettering yourself. The important thing is to learn lessons from both. When things go well, take note of what worked and plan to replicate it. Similarly, when things do not go well, take note of what did not work and think through how to make changes to improve next time. There is always a take-away, lesson or something positive in every race and training experience – no matter how poorly it went. Stay focused on the positive, learn your lessons and look at difficulty as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and how to bring out your best race.
5 – Getting in your own way
Doubts, what ifs, negative self-talk – we have millions of ideas that swirl around in our head every day. What you say to yourself and what you attend to is imperative to becoming the best athlete you can be. Before a workout or a race, take the time to clear your head and let go. Learn to let go of attachments you have to numbers, placement or splits. Often these attachments limit our performance rather than push us to race in the moment and focus on the task at hand. Start each workout with what I call an “open heart and open mind” allowing only positive thoughts to enter and being open to the opportunity of what could happen out there.
6 – Underfueling or underhydrating before, during & after training
As an athlete, you need to fuel with a purpose and that purpose is performance. Like a vehicle, you will run poorly with poor fuel. It takes time and energy to keep on top of your fueling needs and it can be inconvenient. But in all of the things you could use or buy to get faster on race day none are as economical or effective as good fuel. How do you fuel right? Eat well and eat often. Use quality fuel in several smaller meals throughout the day to keep energy levels stable. If you find yourself in a situation where you have underfueled, consider moving your workout or deferring to something easier. The same goes for hydration – hydration is a habit not something you do before race day. Hydrate with water throughout the day; hydrate through your workouts to keep your energy levels up and recovery quicker. Look for signs of dehydration; headaches, fatigue or high heart rate during your workout. Lastly perform a sweat rate test for each sport throughout the year to determine your specific hydration needs.
7 – Paralysis by analysis
Data can be useful in analyzing trends, charting progress and identifying weaknesses. Yet resist the urge to analyze yourself after every workout and, more importantly, during the workout. Instead, after your workout take a look at the data to make the connection to how you felt, how you performed and what the numbers said. You may find that you bolt too early or take hills too hard. Your heart rate may have drifted up through the workout to indicate dehydration. Analyze the data, make some notes and then move forward. Overanalyzing data or beating yourself up for “bad” numbers is a sure way to stifle progress and frustrate yourself. Within workouts, getting caught up in the numbers and data only lets you lose touch with how you feel and your full focus. And remember on some workout days to leave all gadgets at home and get in touch with the good feeling of simply “doing” without attachment to numbers.
8 – Always doing what is fun rather than what is boring
Performance improvement is not always fun. Practicing technique, refining form and working on the basics of aerobic efficiency require patience, mindfulness and slowing things down. This is the work that allows you to become more economical and efficient, which, over time, is free speed. Even at the professional level, athletes take time in each session to practice the basics. Many novices make the mistake of jumping ahead to a high level of intensity or training before the basic building blocks of economical performance have been set. These are the blocks that allow you to stay injury-free and help you reach that next level of speed. Take the time to meet with a skilled coach in each sport at least once a year to revisit your technique and find your best form. Then, be patient and mature enough to work on these skills. Keep these sessions easier to balance out the training intensity in other sessions.
9 – Keeping up with the Jones’
All too often athletes get caught up in comparing themselves to others and getting lost in these comparisons. A little friendly competition is good for a push and motivation. Yet keep yourself real about the comparison. Comparing yourself to someone who is more experienced in the sport or even comparing yourself to a younger version of yourself is not appropriate. You are who you are right now. Be content with yourself and focus instead on bettering yourself and being competitive in your age group. Be mindful of who you practice with and when.
10 – Too much, too hard, too soon
In sport timing is everything. Doing the right work at the right time on a consistent basis is how you achieve success. If you are unsure of when to do which work, enlist the help of a coach or a quality book. Know that in most cases, doing less is more and erring on the conservative side is better than tipping over into too much. If it sounds like too much, generally it is! Resist the urge to do too much just to feel like you can do it or build confidence and resist the urge to make every training a hammer session. That’s a quick recipe for injury and burnout. Balance your training plan realistically with recovery and work toward your goals. Confidence comes from trusting your training and being prepared just the right amount at the right time.
How to avoid making these training errors? Enlist the help of a coach, an experienced athlete or resource. For more information on coaching, contact us at multisportmastery at comcast.net.