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It’s all about FOCUS

Posted by on September 10th, 2011 with 0 Comments

You can’t always get what you want, but you will usually get what you deserve.

This statement sounds contrived and terse, but please give me a few moments.

We all want to set PR’s, win and otherwise have great days when we race. We show up at race day with thoughts of victory and dominance, only to be humbled and have our own dreams crushed by OUR performance.

There are times that there is a legitimate reason for things not going as planned. You could have a race ending mechanical, wreck, get hit by a car, come down with the flu in the middle of the race or get eaten by a shark.

If you aren’t in the belly of a shark, in the ER, playing hood ornament on the hood of a F-150 or collecting the pieces of your carbon bike on the side of the road. (Incomplete sentence) The reason that you didn’t do as well as you wanted will always be looking you in the mirror. The reason is YOU.

When I say “YOU”, I am referring to choices that YOU make. There is a common denominator when people write or talk about great athletes. You will invariably hear the word, “Focus”.

The best athletes have focus. They train when it is too hot, too cold, too windy, when they are tired, when they don’t “want” to and when they would rather be asleep or somewhere else. These athletes do not find it acceptable to miss a scheduled workout because of some silly excuse. They get their work done consistently. They show up on the podium consistently. They don’t make excuses.

What can the average athlete do to increase their focus?

Let’s look at a few things that may be distracting you in your training. You may be very surprised at what is hurting and what (could be ) may be helping.

1. Training partners. They have their place and they provide company. That is all fine and dandy and makes me want to hug puppies. Ask yourself this: “How many times have I gone way too hard and done things that I shouldn’t have done right before a race?”

2. Training Plan. Do you have a clear and concise training plan that you follow? Do you map out your training with a clear direction with where you are going and how you are going to get there, or do you make it up as you go? Doing only 80% of your training is only good enough for a B- in school and a B- doesn’t get you into Harvard or on the Podium.

3. Relationships. Do you make your significant other, kids, and other family members a part of your training?

4. Work. Do you show up late or have performance issues?

5. Social Life. Do you have as many hours planned for social time as you do for training?

Let’s look at how these things affect your focus.

1. Training partners can easily distract you from your primary goals. If you aren’t disciplined enough to do your key workouts and not deviate from your training, then training partners are toxic to you at times. (Try this re-write: You must be disciplined enough to do your key workouts without deviating from your training; otherwise, training partners are toxic to you at times.) Training to win can be a lonely pursuit and unless your training partners have the same goals, you may need to go solo a bit more often. Too often I see one of two situations when you train with a mis-matched “partner”: A. You don’t train hard enough just so you will have that person with you, or B. You train too hard all the time trying to keep up with the partner. Sometimes, you may have to decide that the partner isn’t helping unless you can reach an understanding of having to “do your own workout” simultaneously.

2. Training plans can bring out the ADD in athletes. You have to have a goal and you have to have direction. Constantly changing your direction and methods may get you to the finish line, but chances are you got have got there easier by sticking to a plan. Plans are just like prescriptions: “Take as directed. Results can vary if not taken as prescribed.” Plans are crafted with a purpose for each workout. Make it easy on yourself and your brain. Don’t over-think it or think you know a better way.

3. Your relationships cannot be neglected. Do you want to have your athletic career cut short quickly? Pay attention to the needs of the people in your life and be considerate when making plans. This will mean that you may need to do a workout at an odd hour or may have to take a day off to go to Aunt Betty’s 6th wedding. If your family is on board with your training, they will give you plenty of encouragement and support.

4. Let’s make this one easy. Work is where you make your money so that you can do other things in your leisure time. Show up, do your job and keep your training out of the work place. You cannot train while at work. Work is active recovery time. Your training time is not work. You have to focus on training when you are training.

5. Social Life. You have to make a choice. If you want to be your absolute best, your social life is going to suffer a bit. There are only 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. You have to make a choice as to what is most important. I am not saying you can’t have a social life. I am saying is that you can’t do everything that you want. Find ways to combine social time and sport, but be very careful about the thin line between training and socializing. Is that group ride pace and length part of your training plan? If so – perfect! If not, you may have to forego that “social” time. If you do the social ride, letting your ego get in the way, plus your regular workout, then you risk being over-trained. Find a balance of riding easy with the group but still getting in your real workout.

Next time you are disappointed with your results ask yourself:

  • Did I do what was necessary to get the results that I wanted?
  • Did I focus on “my” training?
  • Did I stick to a plan?
  • Did I train consistently or did I miss workouts consistently?

You already know the answer, don’t you?

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