I love telling athletes, “consistency is king”. It’s one of those easy to spout off, straight to the point, memorable, silencers. That said, I have a love/hate relationship with these one-liners. I think they package a great sentiment, and it can be hugely helpful to have a concise idea to fall back on when the going gets tough. That said, it is a sentiment – and what we’re after is action. Sentiment can leave a big gap to action, and I think some of that is on the athlete to choose what they do with it.
I am really thinking of this now as this is an interesting time of year. Race season is going to come up fast, so we’re all switching into the mind set that it’s time to get our asses in gear and go from just being active to actually training. OK, so we’re pumped, we’re going to crush it. But simultaneously it’s colder, it’s darker, and we still want to spend time with our families because once race season starts there are going to be a lot of travel weekends. So we’re trying to be more serious, but it’s also harder to do so.
I always find it a bit ironic, the way we’ve set ourselves up as cyclists – September and October are two of the nicest months all year for riding, but they’re also kind of our “off season”. Then we decide it’s time to work hard in January, when riding kind of sucks. All of that can really combine to crush the morale.
I think a lot of athletes let this become a major obstacle. They want to be doing amazing things on the bike in January to build confidence and enthusiasm for the race that feels like it is just around the corner. But then that translates to not riding at all on Sunday, because weather and time didn’t allow for them to ride for 4 hours. It’s easy to do nothing, rather than to do less, because less feels like it’s not enough. The truth though is that less is a lot, it’s a lot more than nothing. And less can be consistent – so can nothing, but consistent nothing does not progress make.
This is where “consistency is king” comes into play. January isn’t about being fast, it’s not about being cool, it’s not about doing confidence boosting workouts – it’s about being calloused, and being consistent. January is for the grinders. My advice – to myself and my athletes – is don’t focus on the outcome each day, focus on getting out each day. People don’t all realize how far a small amount of time on the bike, done every day can go – compared to nothing.
In action this idea of just prioritizing being consistent over being fast and flash and doing good numbers should translate to being pretty fluid with the planned training. Maybe a buddy comes in to town and wants to go Nordic skiing, but you’ve got a ride – well it’s simple, go Nordic skiing. It’s fun, it’s awesome aerobic load, and you’re getting a strength workout in tow. Most important of all, you got out the door. Just keep getting out the door.
Athletes that are consistent in January, may not have any great workouts in January – the numbers may suck. But if they commit to detaching from the judgement and wondering if they’re getting faster, and focus on just doing the work, I promise (well maybe, promises are dangerous!) that they’ll poke their head up in 6 weeks and be a lot faster. Once they’ve focused on consistency then they can worry about getting fast. So it’s cliché and oft repeated, but don’t put the cart before the horse.
Close it the way you open it – “consistency is king”. Thanks for reading.