Our local newspaper runs articles every Friday on endurance sports and athletes. A couple of weeks ago sportswriter Don Norcross asked coaches, trainers and some pretty successful local athletes for fitness tips.
Subjects ran the gamut from running, and triathlons to diet and general fitness. You can find them all on the San Diego Union-Tribune web site. I was struck by the numerous mentions on the importance of rest in training. Both Olympians Meb Keflezighi (who grew up in San Diego) and Michellie Jones (who this summer beat fellow Ironman champ Heather Fuhr in a 10k that finished right behind my backyard!) both stressed it in their advice.
Others like American record holder Steve Scott and several personal trainers reminded everyone to vary their workouts and increase intensity gradually.
My personal favorite came from triathlete extraordinaire Paula Newby-Fraser:
The performance pressure of racing is such an abstract quantity to people. Getting a handle on the objective nature of the physical training is easy ñ miles, heart rates, pacing, calories, etc.,” she said. ìLearning that it takes effort to get control of the emotional component is extremely difficult. I always reassured myself that the race was just another training day, and that I had handled pretty much every nature of things in the training process. I knew what a great day of training felt like and I also knew what a crappy day was like … and everything in between.
So, I always went in knowing that the race would land up somewhere in that range. The greatest error is to think that something different (and in our fantasies, something amazing) will happen from what happens in training, and the feeling will be different. Itís just the same. So make sure expectations are firmly based in exactly the range of what you feel in your preparations.
In other words, don’t expect to miraculously run, swim or cycle faster or farther if you haven’t put in hard work ahead of time. And don’t immediately discount those lousy workouts. Consider them your race performance baseline—and not a reason to give up on your goal.