Setting Yourself Up for Success – Part II: Workout Execution

Setting Yourself Up for Success – Part II: Workout Execution

<img class="size-medium wp-image-628 alignright" src="×300.jpg" alt="gina_kona-1" width="193" height="300" srcset="×300.jpg 193w, click for source.jpg 494w” sizes=”(max-width: 193px) 100vw, 193px” />Last month I started a series on setting yourself up for 2016. I mentioned that for the past 7 years coaching, the most successful athletes I have worked with had four components to their training in common. Those components were:

  1. Consistency in training.
  2. Mental toughness and workout execution
  3. Confidence and belief in themselves and their training
  4. The ability to maintain a positive attitude

In that article, I went back to the basics in simply giving tips on how to set up for consistency in training as this is the number one component for a successful season.  This time I am going to focus on the workout execution and mental toughness that needs to happen in order to have successful workouts.

As a coach we write plans that follow basic principles of training. We write workouts and plans ranging from base building to threshold training to peak performance. There are classes and endless information on how to write these pieces of art in order to help athletes become their best performers. The part that is challenging is teaching an athlete how to follow a plan while being flexible.

Most plans will have efforts involved in workouts. A plan may have descriptions like easy, mod, hard, very hard. Some plans may even give descriptions like, 40K effort, 10K effort, 1500m effort. When you get a private coach the plan may have specific paces to follow that result in performance tests you have done. All are great ways to coach and the more specific you get the better, however, there needs to be a bit of knowledge and flexibility with all of them.  

When getting ready for a workout there is information you need to know. The first thing is what is the purpose of the workout? This is the most crucial part in getting started with any workout. If a workout states easy run or bike or swim it should be assumed that this workout serves at minimum two purposes: recovery and frequency. When you are getting ready to execute this type of workout knowing the purpose it will help in determining two things.  

  1. How important the workout is.
  2. How you may feel during the workout.

Many times athletes will see that an easy workout may be the time to drop the workout and get more work or errands done for the day. In reality those easy workouts help to prepare for the next workout and flush the last workout. If you tell yourself the purpose before you get started it may help you get out the door and prevent you from saying, “Oh, an easy run? It’s not worth my time.” Knowing the purpose changes the importance of the workout.

The same thing goes with how you may feel during a workout. An easy run, bike or swim indicating recovery and frequency can tell you that you may feel tired, stiff, and sore in the beginning of the workout. It is good to know this to prevent surprises and create unnecessary negative banter in your head. Any easy workout should indicate that pace is not to be a focus. The only reason to look at pace would be to keep you in check, especially if you do feel better than you thought you would.   

What about a more intense workout? When a workout indicates threshold or any level of work that contains real focus you must know the purpose of why you are pushing yourself. Here are questions to ask yourself:

  1. What type of workout is it?
  2. Why am I doing this?

Knowing the type of workout will help you understand what you are working on. Maybe a challenge for you is holding power the second part of the bike which indicates you need more muscular endurance. Knowing why you are doing it should allow you to accept the discomfort you may need to feel in order to break past your barrier.  

Mental toughness in a workout is what you use to help train the brain so when the going gets tough during a race you are ready to attack it and push through. By knowing the purpose of what you are doing you will be able to mentally find that space you need to “practice” pushing past your limiter.

Now that you have all your information, what happens if you start the workout and it is not meeting your purpose? Most athletes will quit the workout. I believe you must earn your way out of your workout. Here are two more questions to ask yourself:

  1. Why am I quitting?
  2. Is it too hard or am I just being weak?

Honesty has always been the best policy and it is no different here. For most athletes, quitting a workout will be because the workout is hard (not too hard) and that mentally they are being challenged. To build confidence rather than quit the workout because it is hard ask yourself: Can I adjust the workout so I can hit it and still get an A for the day?

Here is an example of how to win the day. Let’s say you have 6-minute intervals at a certain power or run/swim pace. You are nervous to do it and as you go you just cannot seem to make it. Rather than say it is just too hard, it may be that you are not ready. Simply, decrease the interval and the rest due to shorter interval, do the number of repeats that has the same amount of total time of work as the longer intervals. By shortening the interval you are building confidence in yourself and the workout. Allowing yourself to increase the next week, keep consistent training, and enter the discomfort zone that you need to in order to race at your highest level.

Categories: Mind, Training

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