The Big Picture of Training

A couple of days ago I had a call with one of the athletes I coach to discuss her performance at the race on Saturday. We were digging into the details of what happened, what led up to it, and why she wasn’t performing as well as she could be.

Eventually I asked her how much sleep she got on the Thursday before the race and she said 6 hours. 6 hours??? It made me realize that I haven’t been emphasizing the big picture as much as I’ve needed to as a coach.

I know that only a few days ago I wrote a post about there not being a formula for success, and I still don’t think there’s a perfect formula, but there are some things that are absolutely crucial for bike racing. Four of them.

  1. Training
  2. Sleep
  3. Nutrition
  4. Mental Strength

Each of these things can be broken down a thousand times and they’ve been studied in universities across the globe, and there’s thousands of books, websites, blogs, and other resources dedicated to each one. But today I want to focus on the big picture.

One of the biggest mistakes I see riders make is that they think training is the only thing that’s important to perform well. It’s not. Even if you hire the best coach in the world, and follow every workout to a t, if you don’t sleep, and eat well to recover from the training, you’re never going to be able to race fast.

And if you manage to sleep, eat, and train well, but are a mess mentally on race day, you’ll underperform every time. In fact, it’s very possible that you’ll do even worse than underperform, you might just simply not perform at all.

But even if you’re the most mentally strong person alive, if you haven’t trained well, and allowed for good recovery/adaptation with your sleep and nutrition, you’re chances for success in a bike race are the same as my chances that I’ll fly if I jump off my chair. It’s not going to happen.

So if you don’t feel like you’re doing as well as you’d like, do a checkin on each of these things. Chances are, one of them is lacking and needs to be worked on.

The point is that you need to be doing every single one. With these for, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

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