You’ve been doing endurance events for years now and have been having a blast, quite frankly. But lately, you feel like you have the time and/or the drive to up your endurance ante. People have been telling you for years now: If you took being an endurance athlete more seriously you’d be killing it! But while this all sounds well and good, you don’t have a clue on how to go from “weekend warrior” to a more competitive endurance athlete. Well, have no fear my running, cycling and triathlon kin, for we will give you some pointers on how to transition from the casual to competitive endurance athlete in no time at all.
Start Reading Running, Cycling and/or Triathlon Magazines and Blogs
You’re already on the right track by reading blog posts like this. There are many good periodicals to go to for endurance advice: Runner’s World, Triathlete Magazine, Competitor Magazine and Bicycling Magazine – to name a few. While there is a lot of information out there, don’t be overwhelmed by it. Your next step is to find a coach or training group.
Find a Coach or Training Group
You’ve read countless articles and you’re still a bit unsure where to begin. No problem, because there are hundreds (if not thousands) of running, tri, swim and cycling coaches out there for you to reach out to. Find the coach that fits your needs. Not everyone is looking to make it to Kona for Ironman or Boston in a marathon, but many us do want to get faster, understand how to train better and more efficiently – a coach will help you here. If you want to take it down a half-step and not have your own personal coach, then there are multitude of training groups for all levels of endurance athletes that will help you navigate how to become a more competitive runner, swimmer or cyclist.
Follow a Training Plan
If the goal of your endurance training now is to have more concrete time or distance goals, then you have to have a plan to follow. You can begin simply by looking at one of those aforementioned endurance periodicals, which nearly every month have some sort of training plan, and see how that goes. A coach, of course, will put together a plan for you as well. And even joining a training group will give you at least, many times, a weekly workout calendar to follow (although, these workouts are not geared for a specific event or distance, usually). The point here, is while it may take some fine-tuning to figure out what works best for your day-to-day life and your endurance goals, it makes much more sense to have a plan then to not have one, if you’re goal is to become more competitive in races.
Think About What You Eat
While we all know that eating healthy is good for us; it’s especially important if we are looking to be more competitive in races by being able to trim our times down by seconds, if not minutes. As with getting a coach for your physical training, it is important to at least start reading about what you should be eating when training more seriously. If you are going to go all in and find a nutritionist, then make sure you find one that deals with endurance athletes on a regular basis.
Get the Proper Equipment
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying go out there tomorrow and purchase the $6000 bicycle, $500 sports sunglasses and $300 running outfit; but, it’s important that you have the right tools, clothing and equipment. As stated in previous posts, running shoes are a crucial part of your running and triathlon gear, as well as having a safe bike, good swimming goggles, etc. Some of these endurance items are fine to buy second-hand on eBay or other endurance marketplaces; while others should be bought new most of the time. Start talking to coaches, people you train with and look at reviews online to find out what gear maybe best for you and your budget. Remember, more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better or right for you.
Start Keeping a Training Log
If you did nothing else on this list, I would implore you to keep a training log and track your racing results. Many people who do endurance races do not do this. And if you are going to get a bit more focused on your performance times and results, then this is an easy and free way to track your progress (or see where you are not progressing). In an upcoming post I will discuss how to set up a training log and what you need to have in it.
This is your starting list on how to go from being a casual athlete to a more competitive one. Good luck and I look forward to hearing how your times start improving.