As human beings we are constantly looking to make things easier, to make things quicker to take shortcuts. In endurance training there is no difference. We want to see results immediately; we want to go faster tomorrow, next week, and the week after that. Technology certainly helps. We have more aerodynamic wheels, lighter shoes and faster wetsuits. All of them, if you think about it, represent a shortcut, a shortcut to go faster, without any kind of physical investment but just money. And that’s great! But what about when you ran out of options? When you can’t buy anymore speed? I guess it’s time to realize, there are no shortcuts.
“There are a no shortcuts to any place worth going” -Beverly Sills
-If you want to improve Consistency is KEY/KING! – I find myself repeating this over and over again because I found it to be true on my personal experience not only in sports but in all aspects of live. I have swum my fastest when I’ve been consistent in the water. I have ridden my fastest when I’ve been consistent to crit practices. I’ve ran my fastest when I’ve run many consecutive days in a month/year. To be good at something, to improve, you need to make it a habit. It’s not just pretending to be a superhero on a weekend and then slacking off during the week. The winning equation is to be consistent today, tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. It’s an accumulation game! It’s a savings account type of thing. You put in the work today with your training, a run, a ride or a swim. Then you add some more tomorrow and it keeps adding up, collecting interest. When you get to race is like going to a bank or atm and checking your balance which in this case will be called FITNESS. You just need to remember; the interest rate in endurance training is VERY LOW. You put up a LOT & and you get a LITTLE BIT back! But that little should be enough to make you happier, hungrier and eager to keep saving for your next race!
(Consistency = persistency x patience)
-Being consistent is a product of persistency x patience. You need to be persistent when the training is not going so good, when you lack the motivation, when life gets in between. Then, when you’ve put up some work for a consistent period of time you need to be patient, hold yourself back and wait for the magic to happen. I consider myself a very impatience person but daily lessons have taught me otherwise. Whenever I really want something and forget about it for a couple of days everything feels so much better and seems to work itself out good. This advice may sound counterproductive, but forget about your training here & there! Focus on something else. Get your workout done and move on! Concentrate on the process -endurance training is repetitive and will seem boring often -enjoy it, meet new people, explore new places, get to know yourself and your body. If you’re able to do this for some time, you’ll surprise yourself with the fact that you’re going faster or that you’re feeling better at certain workouts. It’s a very nice feeling! Going back to your watch after practice and realize that you got to the top of a hill quicker or that you finished your run stronger. But the pressure of constantly looking for shortcuts is what kills the process. Remember, things only mean something when you look back and realize how much it cost you to achieve them!
-Maybe if you take the time to understand what’s going on inside you, your thirst for immediate results can subside. Endurance gains come from physiological adaptations. Your body reacts to a stimulus/stress and therefore becomes stronger in order to handle the load better and be more efficient. It’s based on the principle of “Super compensation” and that magic takes time. First you need the correct stimulus. You can achieve this by managing load factors; duration, intensity & volume. Then you need to do perform that stimulus for an extended period of time and balance it with rest so the body cannot only absorb the load, but avoid injury & overtraining. This other magic is called “PERIODIZATION”. Now, if everything went well, your body is ready to perform at a new level which might only mean a 3% increase in vo2 max or in your lactate threshold which results in going :05 -:10 x mile faster while running a 5k or going up that hill on your bike :15 quicker. Just stay positive and conscious that changes are taking place inside you! Cells are regenerating, mitochondria’s are growing, new fibers are being recruited and, your metabolism is more efficient. It might be invisible for now, but be patience, it takes time, trust your coach & your program!
“We are what we do repeatedly, Excellence then, is not an act but a habit” -Aristotle
-Take for example your favorite professional athletes, one would think they are just fast because they have all the genetics but you’ll be wrong. Pros spent their whole careers trying to optain marginal gains, one second here & one second that would put them in contention in a race or eventually win it. I’ve been a freak of endurance sports training for over 10 years now, backstage passes, days in the life, training days, thousands of videos, talking to professionals in person, reading books and magazines whatever I can find that give me access to their process and all I ever found was that there is no secret, there is no shortcut.
-Some stats for you to wrap your head about these facts. This year Lauren ten Dam a professional cyclist for Team Giant Alpecin in preperation for The Tour of France rode 13,620 miles. In those six months he rode his bike 212 times for an average of 8 rides a week. Lauren climbed a total of 930,190 feet for a total of 665hrs of traning on his bike. Again, no secrets, no shortcuts just a lot of discipline and patience.
-If you like triathlon, take for example Ben Hoffman a professional triathlete with multiple Ironman and Ironman 70.3 wins. His Strava stats for this year so far. Ben has ridden his bike a total 141 rides for 357 hrs total hours and an average of 5 rides a week. He has covered 6,625 miles and climbed 301,818 ft. On his run training Hoffman has covered 1,059 miles in 137 sessions for a total time of 128hrs of running. If you add up all that training it equals 485hrs of training and the history keeps repeating for swimmers and all endurance athletes. If we just compare ourselves to them, not the volume, but the consistency, we will quickly find out how long of a road it is!
-Finally, If you just till can’t handle the anxiety and frustration of immediate results thirst, try using that energy to focus on the smaller details. Supplement your training, it might be a good idea on this time to work on nutrition, strength & body conditioning, RECOVERY, transitions, mental focus, bike fit, technique, etc. Like I mentioned before, endurance it’s an accumulation game and everything adds up. So, at the end of the day, focus on the process, and like with everything else in life work on it hard enough for long enough and results will follow.