by Dave Latourette
When attempting a breakthrough, whether it a race performance, mental barrier or physical barrier, it’s often best not to put an exact time limit on it. The reality is we need to set up our training and our programs so that we are doing things to improve on a daily basis. If we do that, and assuming the plan is guiding us in the proper direction, breakthroughs will happen. Quite often you’ll feel the change and sense something is coming and other times it may surprise the heck out of you. What follows are few ways and items to consider on your path to breakthrough training and performances:
- First, you need to believe in what you, or you and your coach, have established as the process to continued improvement. If you don’t believe in it you won’t follow it, and therefore set yourself up for continued disappointment.
- Use breakthrough training sessions (or a series of sessions) to prepare for breakthrough performances. The training sessions themselves don’t need to break through performance barriers but just the mental strength gained from doing these type of sessions will add confidence to your preparation.
- Have distinct markers in training that let you know you are progressing. Use any combination of pace, power, HR, perceived exertion and testing it takes to confirm progress. As well, be 100% sure that the markers you are using are specific to the key race distance you are prepping for.
- Learn from lead-in races or smaller races and make adjustments. It may be that you actually make some breakthroughs in the less important races. Remember, breakthroughs don’t have to be massive and they can even come in the form of a mistake. So, take what you get and learn from it.
- When defining personal breakthroughs make sure they are personal to you and they are performance based. The biggest mistake I see is athletes making a breakthrough goal relative to placement in a particular race. We can’t control other athletes or what other athletes show up to compete. In this case it’s possible to have the performance of a lifetime but fall short of your misplaced goal.
- As you come in to your biggest race (or races), don’t leave that best performance out on the training grounds. Leave a bullet or two in the chamber for use in that special moment. It’s horrible when you go to pull the trigger and all you hear is “click” …BOOM is a much better sound!
- Finally, when you have bad patches on race day don’t give in, your big day can still happen. I’ve seen athletes have personal best and breakthrough performances when all wasn’t going so well early in the race. By remaining calm and falling back on how they got through those bad moments in the big training sessions, they were able to turn their days around.
Be patient, be strong and enjoy the process!
Dave Latourette is a full time triathlon coach living in Santa Rosa, California, who works with athletes from newcomer to elite. His top athletes have won USAT Age Group National Championships and raced in World Championship events that include the ITU World Championship and the Ironman World Championship. You can learn more about Dave and follow him at: TrainToEndure.com, his blog, or on twitter @dklatourette