Being fueled and focused are two things every athlete needs for success.
Fuel: what our bodies need to power ourselves through workouts and races. Think of your body as a machine or a car. You need to fuel it with gas in order for it to go. And when it gets low on fuel/gas, or empty, it will slow down and eventually stop. Our bodies are the same way. We need to give ourselves fuel (mainly carbohydrates & fats) in order for our bodies to continue to run and run well.
Fuel for your body is both your everyday nutrition, and your sports nutrition. If you eat a terrible diet during the day, you aren’t providing your body with optimum fuel. You might start a workout feeling sluggish, or feel like you’re dragging throughout the day. If you focus on what you are consuming during the day, then you will start your workouts and races primed for success.
I’m going to have a lot of suggestions for you on good nutrition, but my first one will be to clean up the “junk” in your everyday diet. Look in your cupboards and fridge. How many things are highly processed? If you can swap one thing during the day for a whole food/vegetable, you are on the right track. Let’s say you grab a bag of chips, pretzels or cookies during the work day, instead, put those down and grab an apple, pear or carrots with hummus. Instead of the higher calories, saturated fat, added sugar and low vitamins, you are getting lower calories, lower saturated fat, natural sugar, higher fiber and more vitamins. The popular Whole 30 diet is a good example of how to clean up your diet. Mary Eggers is blogging about her Whole 30 journey if you need some encouragement and recipes. Click here to follow her. If you aren’t ready to take that big of a leap, just start with one thing at a time.
Focus: having a clear, defined path to achieve success.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”- Saint-Exupery.
There is a athletic curve that goes something like this. A beginner athlete often lacks focus. They just need to get out and do their desired sport and they will get better. This is like a runner or triathlete that is just starting off. They don’t have a focused plan, they just go out and swim, bike and run. At first, they will get better. Then, once they have mastered some success, they plateau. In order for them to get better, they need a structured plan, often given by a coach or following an online program. Then, they will continue to achieve, until they plateau, then the plan with need to change again.
So, how do you go about creating a focused plan of attack and setting the goals to get there. In my opinion, a goal needs to be three things. Realistic, Measureable and Personal. I would love to be an Olympic triathlete, but is this realistic. Unfortunately no. Or, I want to be a fast runner. That might be realistic, but is it measurable. What’s fast? I want to beat my husband in our next tri. Is that about me or more about beating him?
So, how about some goals like this.
I would like to better my PR at the half iron distance from a 5:45, to a 5:30. This is realistic, measurable and about me.
Once you have come up with several goals for the season (3-4 is a good start) and you have made sure they qualify based on the three rules, you are ready to plan your attack. But that is another topic.