Performing at consistently high levels in an aerobics based sport is rather simple if you follow the following procedures. I will use my current favorite sport as an example, which happens to be bicycle time trial competition, however most aerobic sports are similar in the principles that must be followed.
Choose your parents wisely. The ace in the hole for most consistent
winners is great genetics for their sport.
- Train regularly and train properly. Training is not rocket science. It’s the simple process of stressing the body and allowing the body to adapt to the training through the process of adaptation. Too much stressing and you over train, too little and you do not achieve your potential. Insufficient rest and you will not reap the full benefits of your training.
- Plan each year in advance. Know what races you intend to contest, and train appropriately. Any more than two peaks in a year is a bit much for most athletes. Know what you are going to do each day of training. Have a plan. The normal peaking process normally takes between 6 to 8 weeks, and the most you can hope to maintain that peak is about the same amount of time.
- Gear up properly for racing. In my sport that means riding a time trial specific bicycle equipped with aerodynamic wheels, and wearing the appropriate attire. All aerodynamic helmets and all skinsuits are not alike – some are much more aerodynamic than others, and in the case of helmets, the most efficient one for you might not be the best one for the next rider. Have your equipment professionally fitted. An eighth of an inch of position change can make a large difference in a 40K time trial event. Know that when you are fitted, the process is not complete after the first fitting. Adjustments will assuredly need to be made as you continue to train and progress on your bicycle. Your body will also change due to difference in age, flexibility, injuries, etc., and hence fitting is an ongoing process. Use a fitter that buys into and understands that process. The most efficient fitting is in a wind tunnel – it does not lie and is not based on subjective decisions or comparing your position against those of the top pros in the world.
- Learn how to race. The art of racing a time trial is a long learning process based on understanding your own body and its limitations. After years of competitions, I think the big picture is finally beginning to appear in my head and I am really beginning to understand the process. Learning how to race includes not only the specific race, but understanding proper warm-up procedures, knowing the course and your competition in advance and the process of visualization. I am already visualizing racing on the course of my next important race, and it is almost two months away as I write this. Visualize winning, if you visualize the opposite, it will probably become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Have the ability and willingness to experience rather intense pain. My sport, known as the Race of Truth, is a very painful experience. I have learned that when I think I am experiencing more pain than I can handle, I can push deeper into that pain locker. If you are already hurting, why not hurt more if it means the joy of winning at the end? That ability, BTW, is both genetically determined to a certain extent, but can be enhanced through the process of intense interval training which not only trains your cardio-vascular system, but also your nervous system such that it does not go into shock when you force it deep into unexpected, not often experienced pain.
- And finally, if simple participation in sport is your goal, you need not concern yourself with the above. If you want to be a winner and always step to the line with the intention of winning, re-read the above. Remember that the guy who takes the silver medal is the first loser. Be a winner (not a whiner).