One of the key elements I stress with athletes that I coach is how important it is to have long-term consistency with their training. It's basic that if you want to see the most gain or improvements in your training and racing, you've got to be consistent—and that's over the long haul.
Acquiring fitness is not a short-term process. It can take at least a year and a half of consistent training to become race fit. It's worth the wait, as you will then be able to reach your potential as an athlete.
So how do you get to be consistent in your training day in and day out?
You need to make a 100 percent commitment to train and back that up with action. It isn't easy to be consistent and self-disciplined, and there will be times when it will be hard and it would be easier to take a seat on the couch and turn on the tube instead of lacing up your shoes. But, if your goal is to reach the next level or race your best, you've got to decide you really want it and fight through the tougher days and adversity—do this and you will succeed!
Once you've decided to commit, hiring a coach to help you plan your season and design a training plan that works with your life schedule will also help you be consistent long term. Having a coach to provide helpful feedback, positive motivation and accountability, especially during tougher periods, will help you stay on track.
Whether you decide to use a coach or plan your training yourself, it's important to have a training plan that is realistic with your schedule. A schedule that will allow you to be successful includes adequate time for recovery, training, and is in harmony with both family and your work life. Trying to cram training in and not allowing enough time for recovery/sleep, or having a training plan that puts stress on work and family time won't be sustainable over the long term.
Keep your training simple—to improve you don't need a complicated training plan or complicated devices. Most of us are busy and have lives outside of triathlon, so keeping it simple allows for consistency. Put in the work long-term and you will see the rewards!
I have my athletes use repetition to build consistency. Repetition of workouts provides a number of positives to your training. It helps develop skills and a greater understanding of your training; you'll develop awareness and intuitively feel better than if you have a plan or workouts that are constantly changing. You'll see improvements and notice over time that you feel better and recover faster.
By repeating workouts week to week you will be able to see progress and work to get better with each training session. It also keeps training simple; for instance, knowing you will do a certain type of workout each Monday brings better time management. This all adds up to long-term consistency.
Fueling your body properly will also help you be consistent with your training. I tell my athletes to think of their bodies as race cars; to get the most from your vehicle, you want to use premium-grade fuel. Aiming for a high-quality diet will keep you healthy and recovering better. If you can stay healthy and injury free you will be more consistent over the long term.
Sleep and recovery are vitally important to success of consistency. You can't truly train hard if you are not recovered and haven't gotten proper sleep. Aim for getting quality sleep each night—a minimum of seven hours.
As you plan your next racing season, think about the power of consistency and what it can bring to your training and racing...the rewards in improvement and success are worth investing in!Choose your next triathlon.
Kelli Montgomery is a Connecticut-based USAT Level l triathlon coach and ACSM Health Fitness Specialist with over 18 years of triathlon experience. Kelli has been putting her expertise to work for over 15 years to help athletes meet their personal performance goals, while maintaining a healthy life balance. For more information, visit http://www.coachkelli.com.
This article was originally published in USA Triathlon Life magazine. USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the national governing body for triathlon—the fastest growing sport in the world - as well as duathlon, aquathlon and winter triathlon in the United States. Visit usatriathlon.org.