Think backwards to go forwards

So its the second week of the new year. Did your 19 New Year’s resolutions you had planned make it through week #1? This time of year, we all get caught in a trap: “Im going to do more base training, more speed work, more intervals, more weights, sleep more, eat healthier….the list goes on and on. While it would be great to have the luxury of time to make us all into training animals, we have this thing called life that gets in the way sometimes. And then a lot of us become discouraged when things don’t work out the way we planned, and we don’t achieve “more” of everything we set out to. Instead of doing “more” in 2013, let’s ask a simple question to help you do “better” in 2013.

Hard questions = best answers

When I work with a patient or athlete, I always discuss THEIR goals for the upcoming season. There really isn’t any right answer here – it may be to make the Olympic Trials, simply to PR at your half marathon, or just be able to get to the point where you can train consistently – your goals are your goals. My job is just to help you achieve them. After you tell me your goals, I ask one simple, but humbling question:  “what’s the biggest thing that stood in the way of your goals the past season?”

Ouch. This is typically the point where eyes roll back in your head. Every day you hit snooze and didn’t get up to train is flashing before your eyes. Why you didn’t dig deep for a finishing kick in your last race becomes more painful now than it did when you got passed with 50 feet to go. However, this question is not meant to punish you, its to get the the root of the problem. You don’t drive to grandma’s house aimlessly, you have directions and a plan to get to your destination. Training is the same thing.

Think backwards form your previous season. What went well? What were the defining workouts for you? Were you rested properly going into big races? How was your pacing? Did you do a good job of timing your weight sessions in relation to the rest of your workweek? Was your total volume of training time realistic with everything else you have going on in life? Did you pick the right races? Did you start oyur intinse training at the right time of the season? Wish you would have done more basework in the off season? Wish you would have taken more time off in the off-season to avoid burnout? What things stand out that didn’t go well? Were your goals too ambitious given your current life situation? If so, can other things be altered to allow you to train appropriately? Did you have fun?


Note: this image is for figurative purposes only. If you see a lion in the mirror, you should probably run away.

This simple question can help you identify important things that often get lost in the shuffle. If you want to improve as an athlete, you need to train. Period. But your training should be focused for you, and “more” training is rarely the answer. Everyone wants to have some voice come along and say “just do this and you’ll achieve what you desire” Well, if you are honest with yourself, you’ll find that voice is you. With your limiters in front of you, you can now focus on specific ways to attack it. Looking backwards helps define where we need to move forward in 2013.


2 thoughts on “Think backwards to go forwards

  1. Barry Wright, III

    Great thoughts, it’s also great if you can find a trusted friend to evaluate what’s holding you back (and you do the same for them). Getting specific about goals and barriers is a necessary first step!


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