Year-To-Year Training Mentality
New year – new you. Right? Although in the track and field international competition calendar typically September is the last month of important competitions, this article will be relevant to athletes and coaches starting the new year regardless.
What is “Year-to-year training mentality?
It means that you accept and apply a long-term strategy that goes beyond one calendar year to your training development whether as an athlete or a coach.
Why is this important?
Imagine you just completed a long and exhausting outdoor competition season. Coach is giving you two weeks off from organized training to rest and regain hunger for hard work. You come back to Fall preparation (or Spring preparation) and expect to receive the same type, volume, and intensity work you did last year about the same time. Instead what you get is something a lot different than the previous year. You start wondering why you are not putting in the same kind of work that you did last year about this time. “Why change something that already works?” you may wonder.
It’s tempting to fall into the mindset that when competition season ends, and a new preparation season starts – you are starting all over again. The end of story. The same goes with injuries. You may recall that you were out for a month due to foot trouble, therefore, now everything must be started from scratch. Here is a truth that is easy to forget.
You have been training hard for the last 5, 7, 10 or even 15 years. That’s NOT nothing. All those quality training sessions do NOT go out the window after a few off weeks at the end of the season or a month-long recovery from an injury. Even though the track calendar does require training variable changes throughout the annual training cycles, it does not mean that training adaptations stay within one-year-compartments and don’t get carried over to the next year.
Objectively speaking, 365 days or one calendar year is nothing more than one cycle of the Earth moving in its orbit around the Sun. Athletes’ physiology doesn’t recognize one calendar year as something that could cause the loss of all the previous years’ training adaptations. Then why do we let our minds create mental boundaries that each year is something new regarding training adaptations? It is all one continuum and we must treat it like one.
One year your coach may give you an insane load of jump training, another year you may get lower jump training but insane speed work, a different year you may get harder lactate sessions. That fine. Trust it. None of it is lost. It all adds up unless you stop everything altogether for a long enough time. Nobody can learn to be an excellent track and field athlete in one year. It takes time. Each year might require different focus to acquire the skills and adaptations necessary for your thorough development as a track athlete.
1) Trust your coach if he is applying different variables to this year’s training compared to the previous years.
2) Trust yourself that the work you have put in the previous years (especially if you’ve been in the sport a long time), is all in you. Even if an injury crosses your way this year, don’t be too discouraged. The years of hard work are still sitting in your blood vessels, lung capacity, muscle/tendon cells, and motor skill database.