August is a bizarre time of year for a lot of athletes. A season’s worth of training has produced new heights of fitness of performance, but motivation to continue training – and even competing – begins to wane. Just as you have the power to do anything, you decide to do nothing. That’s just weird.
Of course, this behavior is somewhat understandable, too. Eight months or more of consistent training and focus wears on an athlete, physically and mentally. For most amateur athletes, however, the fatigue is more mental than physical. That’s not to say you haven’t been working hard; it’s just that the time-crunched training schedules that many working parents and career professionals thrive on provide a lot of built-in recovery time, so overtraining or under-recovery is something we rarely see in those athletes. Even the routine of training isn’t what’s overly burdensome. The trouble most often comes down to inspiration.
As a coach and mentor to my staff, I always stress the importance of inspiration for athletes. Coaching begins with inspiration. CTS Athletes don’t win races and achieve stunning personal goals merely because of a training plan or well-analyzed power files. Coaching is the process of inspiring an athlete to reach for a level of performance they’re not sure they can attain.
This is the time of year when inspiration matters the most. Everyone’s motivated in January, and it’s easy to find inspiration through the Spring. In the months leading up to big goal events, the events themselves provide a ton of inspiration. But now we’re in the period where people are completing or have completed their biggest goals of the season, and they’re left to wonder, “What now?”
Now is when you go big. You have tremendous fitness and no pressure. This is the time when you have to ask yourself, “What can I do with this fitness I’ve earned?” Look around, find an event or a challenge that you might not normally take on. Go somewhere new and exciting, just because you have the fitness to enjoy it to its fullest! Listen to that little voice in your head that says, “That sounds like fun. Let’s do it!”
Need a suggestion? I have two. If you can’t join me for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Race Experience, go to Strava.com and sign up for the CTS Bucket List Challenge. Commit to riding 574 miles in two weeks between August 19 and September 1. There’s also an ‘extra credit’ challenge to ride the 574 miles – the full distance of the Pro Challenge – in just 7 days. That’s the one I’m going for, since I’ll be riding the course with Team CTS.
My other suggestion is to race the La Ruta de los Conquistadores mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica from October 24-26. I’ve raced it a few times myself, and it makes Leadville look like an afternoon spin on the bike path. It’s very hard, but also extremely beautiful, easy to get to (direct, cheap flights from many US cities), and gloriously fun! We have a great team going this year, including the defending women’s champion Pua Mata and last year’s second place pro male finisher, Alex Grant (both racing for Sho-Air). I’m still trying to figure out if I can squeeze it into my schedule, but the chances are pretty good that I’ll go back to race La Ruta again this year, too.
Whether you take my suggestions or find something on your own, don’t hold back! Small goals are functional. They’re necessary. They get you to the next step in training. But they’re not inspirational. The big goals, the scary ones, the ones that will stretch your physical ability and your mental fortitude – those are the ones that inspire athletes to reach new heights and realize they can do even more.
It’s August. You’re fit, you’re lean, and you’re going faster than ever. That fitness is meant to be used, so now what are you going to do with it?
Carmichael Training Systems