As an endurance performance coach, I talk about the power of consistency in training with my athletes every chance I get. And I am not alone. Most coaches do. But for the busy age group athlete, finding consistency in training can sometimes be a challenge. Missing one or two workouts a month usually is not an issue. But missing one or two a week… well, that can create real setbacks in our training and goals.
“Missing one or two workouts a month usually is not an issue. But missing one or two a week… well, that can create real setbacks in our training and goals.”
Consistency in training is essential for several reasons. First, the foundation of base endurance comes through consistency in training. And having a solid endurance base gives us the platform to become faster, stronger, and less likely to become injured. So, building good habits around your training is likely the number one factor that endurance coaches see in their most successful athletes.
What can we do about it? Well, here are a few suggestions to better your chances of keeping your training on track.
Do Your Workouts in the Morning
As much as possible, try to get your workouts out of the way in the morning before you begin your workday. It can be challenging to do a hard workout after a long day at work. Not only will you have a higher quality training session in the morning, but you will often feel better throughout the day. And getting that workout out of the way first thing will give you the first big win of the day!
Make use of available tools to track and improve your performance. There is no shortage of “smart” devices athletes and their coaches use to measure improvement. Feature-rich wearables like those made by Garmin are useful for triathletes. These watches can check how accurate heart rate and GPS performance are under specific training circumstances.
Power meters are also helpful when tracking progress when training on a bike. For instance, high-quality pedal power meters can help provide a focus to each training ride. They are useful for polarizing your training. This means doing hard sessions where you go really hard and easy sessions that are really easy.
Schedule Your Workout
This seems like a no-brainer, right? What we mean here is to treat your workout just like a meeting or other important event on your calendar. This can be more difficult in some professions, but, if possible, try to schedule your workout on your calendar. This makes it more of a priority for your day.
At the beginning of each month, I look at my workout calendar and my work/personal calendar and begin planning. I put detailed notes in my Training Peaks calendar for my coach about any training preferences or limitations to my training for the month.
This helps my coach build my training schedule around things that I know will happen during the month, such as travel or family events. If you are a self-coached athlete, you can do the same thing. Of course, life happens, and things come up without any notice! When that happens, it’s your coach’s job to help you move things around.
Sometimes, even with the best of planning, you might have to miss a workout. If that is ever the case, it is often best to skip the workout and move forward with the next planned exercise for that week. “Doubling up” workouts, just to get it in, is almost always the wrong approach.
Identify Triggers or Red Flags
Often it is helpful to identify triggers or red flags in your schedule that might get in the way of being consistent in your training. Simply put, why are we missing workouts or having to move things around?
If there are themes that arise in your work and life schedule that constantly get in the way of your training, are there changes you can make that might prevent issues in the future? For example, if Mondays are always a hard day at work, begin to plan around it instead of repeatedly missing the workout or pushing it forward in the week.
The point is, when consistency doesn’t happen, we need to ask why? And be honest. Is it a lack of planning? Is a lack of making the workout a priority or motivation? What can we change, whether it be life issues, lack of motivation, or tiredness?
While many things influence an athlete’s overall success in meeting their endurance goals, consistency in training is likely the most important. So, anything we can do to create space throughout the week to get in training as scheduled, the better our chances of becoming fit, getting faster, and remaining injury-free. And all of this leads to being a happier and healthier athlete.
About the Author
Jeff Lukich is the owner and head coach of Drive Multisport, LLC and is a USA Triathlon (USAT) Level 1, USA Cycling (USAC) Level 2, and USA Track & Field (USATF) certified coach. A 10x Ironman finisher and Boston Marathon Qualifier, Jeff specializes in coaching long-course triathletes, ultra-runners, marathoners, cyclists, and athletes with unique events, such as double Ironman, staged races, SwimRun events, etc.