Most of us find Endurance Sports with some sort of goal in mind, whether it be to lose weight, have some fun, enjoy the outdoors, or to qualify for Kona or Boston. If your just starting in that journey, chances are you have a lot of questions on how to train. You may even not know the questions you are supposed to ask. There may be things you’re doing, or not doing, that can easily be changed for added success. If you want to improve, and take it to the next level, it’s time to ask yourself if there is low hanging fruit in your training! I’ve outlined five possible areas of low hanging fruit I sometimes find when people come to me for coaching. Do any of these things deserve a closer look for you? Grab these areas of low hanging fruit and step up your training!
I’m always surprised when I talk to new clients with big goals and they balk at how many days per week I want them to train, or they don’t want to start the training just yet. That works for people who want to have fun, and run a 5k every once in a while, but doing long course races and making meaningful improvements takes time and consistency. There are no short cuts. What a lot of people don’t realize is the need to build consistency before adding training load. It doesn’t do you any good to go from couch to high intensity track workouts in a week. That will almost always end up in injury. I always tell my clients “consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat” in that order! So take a look at your life and daily schedule. Align your goals with your time realistically. Shift things around where possible to find more time needed to stay consistent. I’ve been know to make home improvements that require less maintenance to find more time in my schedule. If you have the means, maybe hire someone to cut your lawn or clean your house to free up time. Find ways to train when the weather isn’t ideal. Remember to make the proper amount of time for consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat, that aligns with your goals. It will take you a long way in keeping you injury free and setting PR’s for your next race!
I can’t stress enough how important Nutrition is to Endurance Sports. Especially once you’ve already built a strong engine! The old saying “Garbage in Garbage out” applies here, because the majority of us can’t out train a bad diet. Some people are better blessed in this area with genetics, but deep into those long efforts nutrition still matters. So whether looking at nutrition for you means cleaning up your diet and losing some extra weight, or finding the best way to fuel your training and races for the best results, ask yourself some questions about your current nutrition. Be honest with yourself here! Because fooling yourself is not going to get you anywhere. If you don’t know enough about nutrition, ask someone to help you!
Some things are really this simple, and it’s very difficult to judge for yourself if you’re doing something wrong. There’s no doubt getting help with your form can make a huge difference in swimming, but it can also make a difference in your running or cycling. Take a good look at your running mechanics and bike fit. Sometimes we focus so much at the pain and suffering to realize we don’t have a proper forward lean running, or we don’t realize we are breaking plane with our knees while we pedal the bike. Get someone to help you look at these things and work on them. They may help you avoid an injury, or even add a bit of power to your pedal stroke. Either way, it’s an easy mechanical change you can make to help you keep training more and go faster!
4. Injury prevention
This relates back to 1 and 3. However, it’s worth talking about a little more in depth. Staying injury free increases the time you have to train and race. So in addition to keeping your form and fit in check and following the consistency / load / rest / race / rest / repeat mantra to stay in the game with your training, here are some other things you should make a part of your training to keep you going and add to your success.
-foam rolling and/or yoga
-proper warm ups and cool downs
-keeping up with maintenance of prior injuries
Keep yourself in the game and able to train! Pay attention to keeping yourself injury free!
5. Long Term Progression
This is an area a lot of people don’t understand, and it’s difficult to have a broad enough outlook to do this on your own. A lot of people hire a coach for this reason. Especially, if you have multiple races per year, it can be difficult to know when the best time is to add in the hill or speed workouts or know what distances need to be built to at what point in the plan for the next race. Doing these things successfully can really make a difference though. If your not ready for the hills on your next race, or your not fully rested for your most important race, it can create havoc for you physically and mentally. Getting these things right will make a big difference to your success. So take some time at the beginning of the year to do this, or hire a coach to do it for you!
Do any of these areas deserve special attention for you? Take hold of the low hanging fruit in your training. Make positive changes to your training and have more success!