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Coach Paul’s tips for bouncing back from disappointing workouts

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As triathletes, we tend to be people that aim high in all aspects of our life. We train for perfection in our races, often expecting the most out of all our workouts. As a coach, I also remind my athletes: it’s just not possible. Even with the most perfectly planned workout and recovery blueprint, it’s eventually going to happen — you are going to have a really disappointing swim, bike, or run! I am talking about the workouts that make you question why you do the sport in the first place. It happens to all of us. Even the best athletes in the world.

Sometimes these workouts leave a bad feeling for days or even weeks to come. In a series of disappointing sessions, it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal. It can be difficult to bounce back and get back into a good swing of things.

Here are the tips I give my athletes for dealing with these “bad” days and moving on.

  • Remember the long term goal. First and foremost, when it comes to triathlon training, it’s always about the big picture. One or two bad workouts are not going to make or break your season. It’s all part of the process. Reflect on the goals you set in the beginning of the year and focus on the feelings you’ll have when you put in all the work and cross the finish line.
  • Remember that it happens to everyone. Even the best athletes in the world have bad days, and they work hard to get over it. I’ve been around some of the top triathletes on the long distance circuit and any one you ask will tell you they’ve had a bad workout or string of workouts that made them doubt their overall training. You aren’t alone.
  •  Focus on your attitude. Attitude is the the conversation that you have with yourself. Focus on being positive. A bad workout is still a workout, even if the outcome wasn’t how you envisioned it. A workout is almost always better than no workout at all. Be grateful that you get to workout on good days and bad.
  • Identify the problem. If disappointing workouts becoming a recurring thing in your training, there’s a reason.  One bad workout once in a while won’t be too problematic for you overall training. Recurring bad workouts can be a major problem. Think about what you are doing outside of your workouts. Life stress, hydration, and nutrition all play a huge roll! Talk to your coach or fellow triathletes to get to the root of the problem.
  • Relax, it’s just triathlon! – We all do triathlon because we love it — even the pros are in the sport primarily because it’s their passion, not for the living. Even if you are a pro, if you aren’t having fun, you are missing the point. The  more “serious” you take yourself, the more chance of bad workouts in the future. It goes back to controlling your attitude. Being grateful for the chance to train and compete will do more for the quality of your workouts than you’d expect.

Paul Duncan is a triathlete, coach and military veteran living in Nevada. USA. He races for Team Every Man Jack. Find out more on his websites: www.paulduncanjr.com and www.outstripendurance.com