I have always been fascinated by the human body. More specifically, what the human body is capable of doing. As I have been watching the Olympic Trials, Tour de France, and Wimbledon, it has been so inspiring to see how hard athletes train for one event. For many of these athletes, they have one opportunity, every four years, to peak and perform at their very best.
As an age group athlete, how often can you peak at your highest level in one year? Many athletes get addicted to the vibe and energy of races and sign up for more races than they should. As a coach, it is hard for me to tell an athlete not to race competitively, but there are limits to when and how often an athlete can truly peak. If you are the type of athlete that likes to race and race often, here are a couple of things for you to keep in mind.
First, have a plan. Sit down with a calendar and be realistic with your schedule, vacations and family when deciding on races. Sometimes it is easy to jump on board with what others are doing, but make sure the schedule and race work for you. Racing is a big commitment.
Second, decide which races you will be doing for fun or doing as a destination race (a race where the location is more important than the race); some of your events could be good as training races for a bigger race. Finally decide which event are going to be your “A” races and plan your training and schedule around these races.
In theory, your body can only really peak once or twice a year. When doing multiple races, you have to set different goals so you are not expecting more from your body than it can handle. Not only is it physically taxing, but also mentally exhausting. I see so many people get burned out half way through the year. Signing up for multiple races seemed like a good idea in January when your body was fresh, but by July when it is hot, or vacation time, training for races is less desirable.
What matters is that you keep your goals in sight regardless of all the unexpected life moments. Whether you are trying to perform your very best in a specific race, or you are just participating for the challenge of the event, know your long-term goals and keep them in focus.