Sure, there's a certain amount of toughing it out that's essential in endurance sport—if you don't have a tolerance for discomfort, you're not going to get very far as a rower or cyclist (at least as a competitive one). But it doesn't all have to be a slog! By knowing your tolerances, you'll keep the love alive and motivation levels high. After all, consistency is as essential as toughness.
Training or competition
Do you train to race? Or race to train? Some athletes are fueled by competition, others love the preparation and lead-up.
If you thrive on races and organized events, set your event calendar early to keep motivation and vision through the training months. If you’re all about the preparation and lead up, make sure you take breaks from competition at regular intervals through your event season. Use those breaks to get back out for a big training day (or week).
Staying balanced will reduce emotional drain and keep motivation high.
Solo or group
First question: How do you recharge?
Do you thrive in social settings? Or do you relish the opportunity for a quiet, solo ride? Most likely it’s a mix of both. Set your training weeks up so that at least some of your training time also serves as mental recharge time.
Second question: what does it take for you to push your limits?
If you need people around you to push to the next level, group workouts are a must at least 1x per week.
Morning or night
What is your natural biorhythm? And how does exercise impacts your sleep cycle?
Some athletes feel best training at night and can still sleep like babies; others—particularly those who produce high levels of cortisol and adrenaline—find their quality of sleep deteriorates with evening training. While the occasional disruption of sleep is manageable, over time, inadequate (or low quality) sleep will derail health and performance. Whenever possible, train when your body most wants to move, and make sure you're prioritizing sleep as much as training.
(If you’re convinced you’re someone who can manage on less than 8 hours of sleep—and there are many of you out there—I challenge you to sleep for 8, quality hours, for two straight weeks. See if you perform better physically and cognitively during that second week. What do you have to lose by trying this?)
More on individual tolerances next week...