Don’t blunt the knife

For many track and field athletes in the southern hemisphere (except the elites) the domestic season was concluded within the past two weeks. This becomes a period of down-time, transition and more importantly, planning for the next season. Depending on how the athlete performed during the season which just wrapped-up, this will often dictate the direction of the planning process for the upcoming season, by the coach(es), athlete and support staff.

Word of warning; don’t blunt the knife (too much). Let me explain, if you finished the season successfully, presumably you would be in personal best form. Therefore, your knife is sharp. Speed, strength, skill (all event specific), plus body composition are optimal. How much you blunt these qualities during the next GPP comes down to training philosophy and training design from the coach.

The general preparation phase is just that; preparing the body using a general approach to training methods and principles, along with a less specific focus on areas associated with competition. However, don’t lose sight of the objective of the competition task. Why completely dull (or blunt) the specific performance/skill which you just built 12 mths developing? It’s akin to Mercedes completely re-engineering their F1 cars after winning the drivers championship. Refine? For sure! But don’t unnecessarily rebuild.

The planning must include specific elements of the competition task throughout the preparation (especially early preparation). The GPP, is just a name… Doing non-specific workouts, week-in and week-out for three months is silly and just blunting the knife. Integrate the key elements from Week 1, just adjust the variables for the context of the planning.

Plan thoroughly… But just remember, the only thing a blunt knife is useful for is to butter your bread!

Introspection

Introspection is about being critical and self-aware of your conscious thoughts and reflecting on and giving a self-assessment of how you are living your life.

This is key in a training environment. Particularly at the conclusion of a season, athletes MUST take a critical view and self-assessment of their commitment and sacrifices towards their training life and goal. Have all roads been leading towards the goal, without taking short-cuts along the way? History shows, elite performances require elite sacrifices. Magic doesn’t just happen when you walk between the lines into the final. It happens long before this.

Some athletes say they are committed but it is just lip service. Within past years, i worked with one athlete who truly walked the walk in every facet of training. It was effectively complete commitment and sacrifice; and truly impressive. Others, are happy to sail into the sunset of post-season mediocrity, only to repeat the same routine the following season. Don’t be this athlete.

I challenge athletes to have a stronger sense of introspection and reflect on their commitment to their cause. If you can’t do this honestly, ask someone you respect for their honest view; maybe they will identify something you missed.

Commitment is more than just showing up. True commitment requires sacrifice. Be honest with yourself… Are you willing to make the sacrifices to achieve your goals?