If you've ever finished a race and thought, "Oh, if only I was better at the bike," or, "I'm just not confident in the swim," you're certainly not alone. Even the most elite athletes have weaknesses or limiters that hold them back from the performances they hope to have.
However, it is possible to turn your perceived weaknesses into strength with time, focus, accountability and of course patience.
Dedicate a Block of Time to LearnPick a time of year or a dedicated training block of time (six to 12 weeks) to make engagement with your weakness a priority. Just as collegiate and pro athletes have structured seasons in their discipline, so should a recreational runner or triathlete. In fact, recovery and repair is essential for growth.
For triathletes, this postseason or offseason is an ideal time to stop chasing massive fitness gains and work instead on improving limiters or weaknesses. With no goal race looming, you can dedicate your training block to focusing on strength, mobility and development—plus give more credence and attention to those skills in which you seek to improve.
Invest in Education and Accountability
Once you've scheduled your specific training block and made the time investment, it's time to invest in the proper education or coaching to help move the needle of your performance. Is there a specific clinic or online course that addresses your needs? Is there a dedicated local coach you can hire to help? For measured results, accountability and organized progression are indispensable.
Often athletes think the only way to improve in something is to do more of it. This can ultimately lead to stagnation and plateau, not to mention fatigue and injury. The solution isn't always "more," but rather "better" or even "different." If you aren't sure how to go about improving your weakness, go to the experts who can offer guidance, collaboration, structure and accountability.
Don't Be Afraid to Mix It UpYou've likely heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. In the same way, you can't expect to improve if you train the same way day after day, season after season.
During this training phase dedicated to improving your weakness, improvements are made by varying intensity, frequency and duration. Further, as a lifestyle athlete or fitness enthusiast, don't be afraid to mix it up and try new things. Becoming a stronger cyclist isn't done by riding the same distance and speed all the time. Hill training, speedwork, tempo efforts and endurance training are all part of the magic formula to transform your weakness into a strength. If your weakness is cycling, hop on a mountain bike or gravel bike to expand your proficiency. If your weakness is running, seek trails for strength building and a technique boost. Utilizing different muscles, energy systems and activities creates more work and subsequent adaptations. Positive adaptation equals confidence and growth.
Don't Go It AloneChoosing to dedicate weeks to something you dread or lack confidence in is hard. If you're used to swimming once per week, suddenly executing a training block that calls for three to four swims per week is daunting both mentally and physically. Don't go it alone. Invite a friend or training partner to join you. Log your workouts or training progress in your favorite fitness app. Hold yourself accountable to a team or group that also shares your goals. Alleviate the stress and apprehension by turning your goal into an adventure and continuously seek ways to make it fun.
Remember, you're not punishing yourself by working on a weakness. You're employing a growth mindset and taking ownership of your athletic journey. What you do during this training block just may be the most important thing you do for yourself all season.
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