Written by Simon Bennett
Coach Simon Bennett began his athletic career as an elite level swimmer in his home country of Australia. In 2008 Simon came to the U.S. as a professional cyclist and in 2009 was a member of an 8 man team that broke the World Record for the fastest RAAM finish. In 2011 Simon set another World Record for the fastest ascent up Mt. Kilimanjaro by a person with Type 1 Diabetes. Simon has been coaching full time since 2010 with a focus on endurance sports at every level.
Turning Uncertainty into Your Season’s Secret Weapon
In the past couple of weeks, we have all entered uncharted territory and a barren landscape that was once dotted with focus points on our racing calendars. Personally, I have spent hours rewriting my athlete’s schedules and training content, switching out swim workouts for Vasa and stretch cords routines, and with the closure of gyms, creating new strength programs. It is inherent in our nature as athletes to not be idle, to keep moving and pushing forward and now here you are, with no Spring race dates or goals for the foreseeable future. The only goal most of us have this week has been to find the elusive roll of toilet paper. Each day we are met with new closures, restrictions and increased distance from the outside world we knew, but did you know that this time can be seized as a tremendous secret weapon and gift to your future training and racing? How often as athletes do you get to have a free calendar and extra unexpected time to train and focus on weaknesses that need shoring up? That time is now and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
Each day as we are encompassed with the swirling monsoon of information, press conferences and endless opinions on social media it is up to us to make the choice of when enough is enough and limit the exposure and depth of saturation. I know this time has brought unforeseen circumstances, stress, schedule changes and even financial uncertainty into our lives. It is our choice, how we will sift through and handle these stressors.
The ability to handle adversity and stress while remaining adaptable is a huge asset to the competitive athlete. Mental focus and strength are what will take you farther than your competitors. This season gives you an opportunity to practice positive self-talk, will-power and true determination. It also gives you the opportunity to help others or teach these attributes to loved ones. Limit the saturation, replace every negative thought with 2 positive thoughts and embrace the stress and anxiety as a growth and opportunity to stretch to new limits.
I know this sounds cliché and oversimplified, but these simple ideas can completely change your mindset on race day and the outcome of your race. Let the unexpected ignite your creativity and adaptability. We have all been at a race where something totally unexpected happens, and our reaction actually predicted the outcome. Outcomes are a large percentage of the time not based on externals, but on our internal response. Remember you’re in control of those responses; focus on the things you can control and let the rest go.
With many of us working from home and having more flexibility with our schedules and the additional weekends to train, make the most of it. That said, this doesn’t mean that you switch out your coaches 1-hour recovery spin for a 5-hour ride due to the increased time you have in your schedule. The tendency to over train and overreach with the additional time will be tempting but won’t serve a positive outcome. Smart training, purposed training, not duration, will see this season become your secret weapon. Chat with your coach about how to make the most of your additional time and the flexibility of your schedule.
This is a great time to spend more time getting comfortable in those aero bars, focus on technique, such as dry land swim techniques, pedaling efficiency and cadence drills, yoga and additional stretching for flexibility on the bike, and forward lean in your run stride. No day or workout is a filler, or wasted during the next month. With planning and focus, the next month can be the personal training camp that makes all the difference in your season. Let’s set up to come out of all of this a rested and stronger athlete mentally and physically.