Kevin Portmann, Sponsored Professional Triathlete
It’s a new year, new season! Like many of you, I enjoy the process of reflecting back on the accomplishments of the previous year and look forward to setting new goals for the new year. When it comes to jumping back into a training regimen, for me the challenge is always finding the right balance. It can be discouraging to see just how quickly fitness devolves in the offseason. My knee-jerk reaction is a desire to immediately go into an intense, hard training block to regain what I lost in the offseason; of course, that approach would only set me up to crash and burn. Here are a few ways I kick off my triathlon training while staying highly motivated, tempering the enthusiasm of “letting loose” and ensuring I’m setting myself up for long-term success.
Don’t focus too much on numbers
Don’t get me wrong, training data is important and something I analyze with my coach regularly. But getting caught up in my swim pace, bike power, and run pace much too early in the season isn’t productive because those numbers don’t tell me much yet. Early season numbers are most likely going to be lower than where they peaked last season; the offseason is meant for full muscle recovery to replenish from a long, enduring season and also to prepare for another one. So instead of constantly looking at my numbers and getting frustrated that it isn’t where I want it to be, I tap into more of “the feel.” The beginning of the season is the perfect opportunity to go out and just experience swimming, biking and running without the pressure of hitting a certain target. It can be fulfilling to get on the bike to explore new routes and just ride by feel – it’s a reminder of how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. So after a training session, instead of reaching for your watch to review the workout summary, first ask yourself, “how did I feel?” Take advantage of the time you have early in the season to build a solid base.
Treat all aspects of training equally
You indulged and were a glutton over the holidays – as you should! But just as important as getting back in a routine of training sessions is also properly fueling and listening to the signals your body is giving you. Training is so much more than getting the toes in the water, clipping into the pedals and lacing up the sneakers. It’s very easy to neglect proper hydration and nutrition, as well as adequate rest and recovery. It’s important to get back into a routine of fueling “Kleaner” to nurture your body from the “aftershock” of training again and getting to bed at a decent hour to catch those much-needed zzz’s. Recovery is just as important as those hard training sessions – it is what adequately prepares your muscles to bounce back and give 100%. So make sure you’re giving your body the time it needs to adjust to getting back in the swing of things.
Trust the process
Training and preparation to get you race-ready does not happen overnight. It is a process. There is a reason behind every decision my coach makes to guide me along in this process. He knows what my goals and objectives are and has that in mind when creating a plan of attack for my training blocks. While I might not understand it all the time (though he chats about it before kicking it off!), I trust that he is the expert and objectively knows what I am capable of. As long as I trust him and surrender to the process completely, I can be confident progress will follow. I know it is easier said than done, but anytime I have trusted the process and surrendered to it completely, I have only seen positive outcomes. So long as you’re surrounding yourself with coaches and people that believe in you, you will have the best tools to prepare you to succeed.
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