“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle”
I think of training for endurance sports as a giant puzzle with a thousand little pieces that can fit together just right to have the perfect race. Living in Boulder, Colorado, I have the opportunity to observe and sometimes train alongside some of the best triathletes in the world. True, good genetics are an important piece to performing at the highest levels, but there are so many other pieces and factors that we can control.
One success factor that I’ve observed, which is present across all of these top athletes, is consistency. It is what they do each and every day over and over again that allows them to achieve their results.
Wolff’s Law states that the body conforms and adapts to the intensities and directions it is habitually subjected to. The key word is habitually. It’s not enough to do a single intense workout then expect to be faster, fitter, stronger. It’s the workouts that you habitually do every week for many weeks that make your body faster, fitter, stronger.
The good news is consistency is a piece of the puzzle that we can all solve. Consistency is not a skill or talent, you have direct control over it. Here are four habits that will increase your consistency and ultimately your success on race day.
1. Plan and Schedule Your Workouts
Scheduling workouts on the same day every week will help with consistency. For example, every Monday might be an easy swim, every Tuesday a hard bike and so on. By creating a repeating schedule that you know works for you you minimize the chances to missing a workout. If your goal as a triathlete is to complete three swim, three bike and three run workouts per week, put all the workouts into your calendar as repeating events.
2. Be Purposeful
Each and every workout should have a purpose. Putting in unnecessary volume increases your risk of injury and overtraining. Instead, focus on the workouts you need to do and consider the quality, not quantity, of each session. In doing so, you free up time to do everything else that you need to do rather than create unnecessary conflicts.
3. Follow Your Plan as Best as you Can
For most of us who do not make our living as professional athletes, the reality is that we may not be able get in 100 percent of our workouts each week. A good target is to complete 75 to 85 percent of your planned workouts in a given week. Note the key workouts during the week and focus on getting those workouts in. You’ll receive the desired training effect while allowing more flexibility in your life.
4. If You are Short on Time, Do a Shorter Workout
This may seem obvious, but I’ve been guilty of skipping long workouts altogether rather than doing a quick 30 minute swim, bike or run. Rather than feeling down about not getting the full workout in, be positive about having done some workout rather than nothing.
While these are fairly simple steps to follow, they are also very important. One of the key elements to success in any endurance sport is putting in the work over time. Staying consistent through every week leads to fitness gains and limits injuries so you can reach your full potential. As Jim Rohn once said, ”Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”