How can we track these all important trends? How do we know if we are improving and really moving in a positive direction?
? To track our physical progress, we can set up periodic physiological testing. Testing is a great way to mark improvement. The lab setting allows us to eliminate external variables and track progress in important markers (such as watts at threshold, a measure which changes with fitness). With my athletes, I like to set up two types of goals, lab goals and competition or event goals.
? If testing is not readily available to you, set up field tests. Pick a course and test yourself on it periodically throughout the year to see if there is improvement. If there's not improvement, ask yourself some hard but necessary questions about your training habits.
? Find a good coach! Find a coach that not only send you workouts, but also "coaches" you. Someone you can sit down with and discuss all the other aspects of the sport beyond just the specific workouts. Set goals, track them and have a relationship that allows for open discussion of many issues ranging from weight management to life stress. The physical workouts (training program) should only be one portion of what a coach helps you with.
? Accept the reality that your lifestyle, training time and competition success will all fluctuate and likely eventually plateau over time. We only have a limited amount of time available to train, given the fact that this is just a hobby.
? Monitor your self talk. What are you truly saying to yourself? Is your attitude good or is it bad? Are you saying encouraging and realistic things to yourself? Remember, how you view yourself is pretty much the direction you will take yourself.
? Always think of the big picture. Remember the positive things that happen, the days you felt great, and just be aware that you will have down days and races and know that the true challenge is the overall journey you have taken. Your growth as an athlete and a person comes from persisting during the difficult times and maintaining awareness that challenging moments are only temporary.
Taking on the challenge to become a better athlete is a huge commitment. One of the most important things to remember is that it is all about the journey. The training, the tracking of trends, the ups and downs are all about the journey! You should pat yourself on the back for taking on this challenge of moving the trend of improvement in an upward direction. And one more thing, if you do have a good stock tip, PLEASE pass it on!Search for a cycling event.