8. You Ignore Your Seasonal / Life Constraints
Regardless of where you live, your athletic world has a season. There's a time when getting outside to train is feasible and there's a time when training indoors is deftly recommended. There's a time and a place for both within the context of improving your fitness. Recognizing this pattern and using it to your advantage can be an incredibly effective way of boosting your fitness for the long term.
Ignore these basic truths about your climate zone or the nature of your job (accountants should never race in March or April!) at your own peril. Every year I hear stories of people trying to accomplish six-hour rides on the trainer because they sign up for an early season race even though they live in New England.
On the flip side, I also hear the grumbling from people who've signed up for a late-season race in November or even December long after their friends have stopped training and things have ceased being fun.
One of the most important things you can do is identify this rhythm and build your season around. This will reduce friction both at home and at work, and allow you to build your fitness to peak when it matters—and when your body is ready.
9. You Don't Recover Well Enough
One of the more amazing things about triathletes is the sheer amount of work and stress they can handle. From work to home to social commitments to volunteer opportunities to training and racing, the list of things to do is both impressive and intimidating. While it's easy to get caught up in the game of doing more, success in our sport is actually a function of doing things well.
The shift from "more" to "better" has to do with one simple thing: absorption. Anyone can fire up an insane 6 x 1 mile repeat workout after a century ride. The difference between you and someone like Craig Alexander is that he can absorb that work and grow off of it. You and I? We're lucky if we simply survive, spending the next 3 to 5 days trying to recover.
The most important thing you can do for recovery is to get enough sleep every night. At a minimum you should target an average of 7 hours a day across a week. If you can get 8 hours a night, that's even better. You'll want to follow a consistent schedule so that you have adequate time between key sessions each week.
Do your best to avoid overreaching in any individual workout, remember the goal is to be consistent instead of flashy. If you can feel the signs of fatigue setting in, whether it's in the context of your daily life or work out, take the time to dial things back. It's always better to rest a day now because it's good for you then it is to wait until you have a problem and you have no other choice but to fix it.
10. You Don't Have a Baseline Execution Plan
While this might not be the most important success factor for peaking, it is a critical part of achieving your best. I'm constantly amazed at the sheer number of triathletes who choose to wing it on race day with no plan.
From my experience, the exact opposite would be more effective: minimal fitness but a fantastic race plan. The longer your "A" race of choice, the more relevant this becomes.
This allows you to test your plan against the reality of race, and then learn from what happened. Without a plan, you're arbitrarily applying your fitness and resources to the race. Even though that might work, there's minimal opportunity for growth because you have nothing against which to compare your outcomes.
Having a specific plan allows you to incrementally improve it between races until you reach a place where racing itself is more of a habit than an event.
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