"The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don't." -Marie Kondo
Spring cleaning is the common practice of giving your home and property a thorough tidying at the end of Winter. It's also a great time to identify and correct minor, seasonal problems that could end up causing more significant issues, frustration, and expenses down the road. While this is the perfect time to dust the furniture, it's also a great time to metaphorically "dust" your training program. Here are the Top 5 Spring Cleaning Tips For Endurance Athletes.
#1: Stop Trying
It's been said that "trying is lying". When our response to a challenge is "to try" we create an outcome vagueness that gives us an excuse for coming up short. Subconsciously we have already determined that we won't make it, and when we don't it really won't be our fault. The "trying" mindset focuses critical attention on unknown factors that potentially prevent you from attaining your goal. Don't "try", rather intend to commit yourself fully to the challenge by engaging the process with effort. Effort is something that is applied, not tried.1
#2: Slow Down
One of the most common mistake endurance athletes make is performing their "active recovery" training units too hard. Training intensity may be monitored using heart rate, pace, or power. Active recovery units are designed to add sport-specific training volume and enhance maximum lactate steady-state by increasing Type 1 skeletal muscle fiber function without the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal stress. For optimal benefit these training units should be performed at less than 85% of threshold heart rate, pace, or power.
#3: Tighten Up
Strength training is critical to performance for endurance athletes. It's fairly easy to get to the gym during the long cold dark winter months but as the daylight hours lengthen and the weather warms up we tend to commit ourselves less to the practice. It's reasonable to reduce the volume of training in the gym as the amount of sport-specific activities increase, just make sure you are still performing a total body routine at least twice a week. If on the other hand you haven't been to the gym in months, now is a great time to commit yourself once again.
#4: Cut Back
Every endurance athlete has an optimal performance-based body weight. Very few of us are at that weight at the beginning of Spring. Too little time spent outdoors in the wintertime may result in a relative Vitamin D deficiency. This can often lead to seasonal disturbances in mood. These seasonal mood disturbances may cause us to seek out comfort foods like sweets and alcohol in an effort to balance brain chemistry. The result is that we are often a few pounds from that optimal performance-based weight. An excellent first step toward that goal is to cut back on two sources of empty calories including sweets and alcohol. While eliminating them may be unrealistic for many endurance athletes, cutting back by avoiding during the week saves significant calories and often leads to positive changes in body composition.
#5: Find Balance...Again
Our love of endurance sports is one way we define ourselves. Yet sometimes it becomes painfully obvious that our training and racing doesn't happen in a vacuum. The stark reality is that our training and racing happens in the context of the rest of our lives. Our very busy lives. In this age of social media-based training communities it's easy to caught up in what everyone else is doing. This often leads to us feeling insecure about the amount of training we are doing and causes us to overextend ourselves. When the delicate balance of training and "life" is upset, our training is often sacrificed. Now is a great time to sit down and sketch out a training plan that fits your life, rather than your life fitting your training plan. When endurance athletes have it the other way around, it's only a matter of time that this "house of cards" comes crashing down.
1 The Rock Warrior's Way by Arno Ilgner