One of the most common reasons that athletes don’t reach their goals is that they are too motivated immediately after they choose their goal. They get all fired up about meeting the challenge and go “all in” right from the gun. Athletes get sucked in during this “honeymoon phase” of training, when things are new and easy and awesome. They get caught up in the immediacy of the emotion and the success. While it’s great to be excited and motivated, the result is that athletes often end up driving the wheels right off the car. They need to learn to pace themselves in they want to enjoy continued success. Here are some guidelines to help you survive the honeymoon.
- Forest Through the Trees - When you decide to tackle a goal, you need to keep the end goal in mind. Don’t get overly excited about immediate gains and lose sight of what you're shooting for. In other words, don't sabotage long term success for immediate gain. When you get caught up in the moment, you’re not likely to lay the foundation you need. When faced with a decision on what route to take, ask yourself what road leads more directly towards your end goal.
- Sandpaper - I often ask my athletes to look at training like sandpaper. They need to gradually wear themselves down through accumulated fatigue, not thrash and crash. Attacking their training may seem the way to go, but if they overdo it and get sick or injured, a mistake has been made. Taking the sandpaper approach allows your body to adapt to the loads that are placed on it. Callouses also serve as a good analog. Throughout high school and college I worked as a landscaper to earn gas money. The consistent workload caused my hands to develop callouses to help handle the load. If I went out and performed the same work, now, I'd be a blistered mess…which leads to the next guideline.
- Be Honest with Yourself - "I used to be able to" is one of those statements that sets us up for failure. When getting started, be honest with yourself about where you are right now...not what where we you were or where you want to be. As a former fairly quick fella, I battle this one all the time. It's tough to do, but if you are to be successful, you have to take ego out of the equation.
- Seek Guidance - No matter what your goal is, there is someone out there with the expertise to help you climb that mountain. The bigger and tougher the goal, the more likely you'll need that counselor to help guide you. In this age of Google, failure often results because we learn just enough about the subject to hurt ourselves. There's a reason Olympians need coaches. They know their event incredibly well, but they still need a third party to help guide them down the path to success. Finding the guidance you need from a professionally-educated coach is a huge key to meeting your goals.
After getting excited about and motivated to accomplish a new goal, follow these guideline and properly focus that early energy! As for the recommendation to seek guidance, that’s what we do every day at FLEET FEET St. Louis.
Good Luck and Happy Racing!