In the last post, we had good math and bad math. The good math was that over a year of training, an athlete can make a lot of progress, simply by having a good plan and being disciplined.
The bad math showed how easy it is to take a year of training and incinerate your goals, casting their smoking ashes out into the adipose-filled ocean of everyone who’s said “I like to work out” and ended up like this guy:
Yikes. Time to make a plan.
A Real World Strategy
Just to recap, here are the values we gave our training days:
Great days = +2
Average days = +1
Bad days = -1
With those numbers in mind, here’s the plan:
Maximize +2s, minimize -1s.
Umm….duh (as we used to say back in the 90’s). Have more good days than bad days.
But we need to put words to a concrete and simple plan. “Do better” is a good plan but one without directions, and while writing out a complicated plan would make me look smart, qualified, and guru-like but overly complex strategies don’t work because people don’t follow them or they break down in the real world.
Simple is sustainable. The key to progress is long-term sustainability. Because a lot can happen, good and bad, over a year of training, we want a simple plan that focuses us on increasing training profits and decreasing training losses.
How do we put our plan into action?
There is a common thinking that +2 training days are happy accidents. Like a glorious workout unicorn appearing briefly in a grassy field and then disappearing into the misty horizon, great workouts appear and then never are heard from again. They happen randomly and when you least expect them, and that’s that.
But this is exactly the thinking that keeps good training accidental. This thinking comes from athletes who think that the quality of their training stems from things outside their control – how the coach coaches, what the programming is like, the attitude of a training partner, the workout itself.
There’s no ownership and so there’s not great training.
The key is to own your training. Get out of the truck, go into the misty, grassy field and murder every glorious workout unicorn into extinction. Or if you’re vegan, you can ride the workout unicorns into a rainbow and then sit down together and nibble on some leafy greens.
Work to make today a +2 – Hoping a great workout will happen to you is like going to the bar thinking your only chance is to stumble into one random hot drunk girl with terrible standards. You might get lucky (and probably commit a felony along the way), but this is not the key to long term success. Walking into a training day hoping that something good will happen is sabotage before it starts.
But if expecting that every day of training can be a great day of training, there’s a better chance of your mind and your actions aligning with your work ethic and making it happen.
Then work to make tomorrow a +2 – Today’s training session is over. Evaluate it and think about how you can improve on it for tomorrow. If your eating was bad, eat better. If your sleeping was bad, sleep better. If your thinking was off, think better. Prepare yourself to have a great day tomorrow and stack the deck in your favor.
If you know something increases your chances at having a +2 day, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t.
This is usually where you’d get paragraphs of preaching about how you’re not recovering well enough and that your mental focus is off and your technique sucks and your coach sucks or the kind of training you’re doing is terrible.
But the key here is finding the one thing that will make the most difference and working on that till it’s fixed.
How do you find your weak spot? Think about all the things that affect your training: coaching, programming, recovery, mental focus, environment, etc.
Which one is holding you back? Which one are you the worst at? Chances are it NOT the one that is easiest to fix – it will be the one you think you have the least control over or the thing you find yourself wanting to make excuses for.
Speaking of excuses, be careful not to default into things that give responsibility to other people for what you’re doing – “I don’t think my coach/programming/training partner/gym is good”. These MIGHT be the case, but be sure you’ve exhausted all other ideas and efforts before putting whether or not you improve into other’s people’s hands.
Find the one thing, and fix that.
Tomorrow: The Discipline