I find that when I enter a race I start to train like mad. But then I feel like I burn out a bit, losing interest and I totally take the foot off the pedal. What’s the best way to ensure I don’t over-train and to ensure I can focus on doing the right amount of training. – James
James – often in endurance sports people enter events quite a bit of time ahead of the actual event (several months or more, quite often) and then they start training because it takes time to build up the required level of fitness.
With something so far in advance it isn’t unusual for someone to start out full of enthusiasm, only to see that focus wane and this can lead to a fall-off in training, which makes it difficult to arrive at the event in the best possible shape.
The best way, I find, to deal with that is to break the build-up into bite-sized chunks. Firstly, set yourself a goal for what you want to achieve from the race and work backwards from there. Whether you want to just get fit and finish, do a personal best or actually win, work out what you want to achieve and then look at what you have to do to get there.
Then, break that body of work down into small manageable chunks. If the race is in October, don’t think about everything that has to be done between now and October. Think about what needs to be done between today and the end of August, take it a month at a time, training in blocks. Then break that month down into what has to be done this week and down again into what has to be done today.
A useful tool when you’re doing this is to keep a training diary. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, just a note of what goal you had for the day, what you actually did, and how it felt. Also add in a line or two on what worked and what needed work from that day’s training. After a few weeks, you can look back on what you’ve done and say to yourself ‘wow, I’ve come a long way!’. This becomes a self-perpetuating feeling that helps keep you focused on your training because you are getting the small wins along the way, feeling a sense of mastery over this task.
Training for an event like this is likes steps of a stairs. When we’re standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs we’re not focused on getting to the top, we’re not thinking about where our feet are – we’re focused on what’s just ahead of us. In other words; the next step. Don’t think too far ahead and simply focus on what’s just ahead of you.
With regards to over-training – have you a frame of reference for this in terms of having information on what is required when training for this sort of event? Have you spoken to people who can tell you ‘this is what you need to do now and this is what you need to do next’? If you haven’t done this, it can be extremely useful to join a triathlon club, or at least speak to someone who has some expertise in this area such as an experienced triathlete or a coach. In conjunction with breaking training down into small manageable chunks and getting the small wins along the way, this will keep you interested and also healthy along the way.