As the end of the triathlon season approaches, with season ending championships on the line in the upcoming weeks, triathletes wear one of four faces.
- Tired and worn out from a long season of training and racing already, struggling for motivation to finish out the season
- Pumped and excited that the finish is in sight, hoping to race one more time to cap off the season with a positive result
- Sad that their season ended due to injuries that kept them on the sideline
- Relieved that their season is already done, having started early and they’ve already put a dent in the couch and a ring on the coffee table from their favorite libation
For those athletes already done with their season, by choice, I hope it ended well and that you can look back on all your hard work and appreciate what you’ve done. If it didn’t end by choice, I hope that you’re already working on your recovery and planning ahead to next season and how you can turn things around. For those of you still out training and preparing to race at least one more time, especially if you’re already tired from the long grind, here’s a few thoughts on how to finish the season on a high note.
The key to a successful race always starts with setting reasonable goals. Smart athletes plan ahead and build training plans based on early season goals they set after the previous year, looking to build on their weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths. As their seasons progressed they evaluate each race, looking at the highs and lows, seeking to continually raise the bar for each race until they’ve met their pre-season expectations. For these athletes the last race of the year is the culmination of 10-12 months of hard work and dedication, staying focusing, staying the course, and they are ready to toe the line one more time to finish the season strong.
For the rest of the athletes out there, tired, growing tired, looking more forward to just being done than actually doing the race, it’s time to hit the reset button to turn things around. If you’ve got more than a couple weeks left before your race, here’s a list of options to think about to refocus your motivation.
- Do an honest evaluation of your races this year, focusing on any problems you had during those races, situations that you didn’t deal with very well, or just out right failures to perform up to expectation.
- Yeah I know, this is hard and you just want to move on, but, if you do this and pick a couple things to work on these next few weeks, then you can rewrite the wrongs and hopefully put a positive spin on the season.
- If you’ve already done the race you’re training for, then look at your previous results and see if there’s something about the race that you can improve from the last time.
- Again, there are many variables involved from year-to-year racing, but if you think about trying to improve just one aspect of the race, then that can be the carrot that gets you to the start line looking forward to racing.
- If you haven’t done the race before, look at other races you’ve done at the same distance and again, look at places you can improve.
- Focus on your times and see where your expectations did not match up with your results that day, and think how you can make a positive change.
Now if this sounds a lot like cramming for a test back in high school or college, you are correct. And yes, this is not the preferred way to prepare for a race. But we’re talking about athletes, maybe even you, that just aren’t bringing their A game when they go out and train, so anything you can do to add some spark is in play.
Once you’ve got something to focus on, one of the events, the transitions, or the overall pacing, etc., focus on this in your training from now until race day. Thinking about what you need to correct, practicing it, 2-3 days a week can actually help more than you think. Sometimes we forget to focus on something, maybe even our strongest event, and then like a muscle group that you’re not using, it atrophies and before you know it you can’t perform like you used to. So get on focus, practice with intent, and on race day really concentrate on making that one thing better than any other race of the year.
Sometimes when we distract ourselves from the overall event, the weeks and months of training, and dig down and focus on one thing, the other parts of our races also improve. As they say, a rising tide floats all boats. So think positive, get focused, put in some time to regain your resolve and on race day you’ll have something to look forward to.
Good luck with the rest of your races, whether it be the 70.3 Championship tomorrow, Ironman Hawaii next month, or setting a PR at your local sprint race, winning bragging rights with your friends for the next year. Think, focus, train, and go kill it!