In the past two articles, we discussed what to do when training is going poorly. Now, it's time to discuss what to do when you're training is going REALLY well. These suggestions are the opposite of what most people do, which is why I am writing the article! They're counter-intuitive, but they WORK.
Training is Going Well
On occasion, every aspect of training is going smoothly. You feel great and you’re lighting it up consistently. Life is good! So, what’s the problem? As everything is going so well, it’s not so much a matter of creating change. The real problem is how to keep the streak going. While it would seem that it’s just a matter of continuing to do what you’ve been doing, that doesn’t always allow you to keep the momentum going. It can actually make it worse.
The challenge is that the more you continue to improve, the more motivated you are and the more excited you are, and then the harder you push. The drawback here is that the harder you push, the more fatigue you create. If you push too much, you could create enough fatigue to cause your performances to begin to stall. In contrast to the negative momentum we described above, you now have positive momentum. The challenge is not to stop the momentum, but to control it.
Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to use the situation to your advantage, as well as ensure that the situation remains favorable to you. If you follow these steps, you’re much likely to be able to continue to perform at a high level, rather losing your momentum. As with many strategies for success, they’re pretty counter-intuitive. However, once you put them into practice, you’ll find that they’re very effective for maintaining performance.
Understand that you’re in the danger zone.
A wise swimming coach once told me that it is precisely when a swimmer has a breakthrough that they are at most risk for overtraining. I have found this to be the case time and time again. As hard as it is to believe, it’s when you feel most invincible that you are actually most vulnerable. As is often the case, awareness is the answer. If you are aware that your ability to dominate training sessions is actually a potential problem, you’re more likely to exhibit some constraint instead of going crazy every training session. Which brings us to the next point.
This is the most difficult task for any athlete, particularly when they are ready to perform. The best way to ensure that you REMAIN ready to perform is to control your effort and performance and selectively attack certain workouts. When you’re performing really well, your instinct is going to be to attack every repetition of every workout. Going fast is FUN and you’ve earned it. Unfortunately, this is the perfect way to accumulate a ton of fatigue and short-circuit your success.
The solution is simple, if not easy. Once you realize you’re in a place where you can perform at a high level, choose where you’re going to place your efforts. Attack selectively and strategically. In doing so, you can experience the great performances while also ensuring that you’re setting the stage for them to continue. There is some nuance to this approach, and we’ll explore that below.
Do The OPPOSITE
As with when training is going poorly, don't trust your instincts. Do the opposite. Show some restraint so that you can continue to train really well. You'll be surprised with the results.
FASTER. EASIER. BETTER.