“Keep calm and carry on.”
So the famous British WWII slogan goes.
But what’s it got to do with us?
Well, most track & field teams and groups are currently in the midst of their general fall training period. It’s an exciting time of rebirth, with fresh promise towards a new season.
It is also the time for installation – technical and physiological – towards the new and refining the old.
With all this excitement in the air, us coaches and athletes can get overly-wrapped up in the immediacy of change, and day-to-day training results. Who can blame us – with access to Prime Delivery, smartphones and on-demand streaming?
Everything seems to happen effortlessly and instantaneously.
But training isn’t that easy, is it?
It’s more layered than simply doing A+B+C = D.
Athletes will adapt differently. Not only between athletes, but also the same athlete between training elements. In fact, the very same athlete will adapt differently to the same stimulus each time it is applied!
So it’s important to trust the plan and be steadfast. There won’t always be discernible improvement from one session to the next (there could even be a drop-off at times 😱).
It is the coach’s job to take a step back (and a deep breath), and be patient with our athletes and ourselves. Sometimes, the ability to merely replicate a similar training result may be considered a victory.
If you’ve been doing this long enough, you’ll know that the key to long-term success lies in consistency and stabilization – not in giant leaps forward from session to session, and from week to week.
Certain training elements require extended time to show up, and affect the primary activity we want them to support.
We call this an incubation period.
The caterpillar doesn’t turn into a butterfly overnight.
Reflection, evaluation and revision of a training program is important – but so is staying the course, and letting things develop. If we are constantly reacting and changing everything, how will we ever figure out what truly works?
It’s easy to underestimate how long something truly takes.
Oftentimes, the things that we are expecting to see right away are simply incubating beneath the surface, and will show up in a few weeks when the time is right.
So trust your training plan, put in the work, and cut yourself some slack.