It’s easy to get frustrated when we can’t do something at the same level we once could. If you don’t manage your expectations this could develop into a chronic problem. Some of the reasons I’ve seen impacting current vs. prior performance include:
- Injury – may sideline you causing loss of fitness
- Taking some down time – seizing time between seasons to recover mentally & physically
- Age – at some point age will impact performance from what we once were able to do
- Physical and/or mental health (weight, nutrition, stress, internal biomarkers, etc.) – if we are not in our best capable health our performance will suffer
Whatever the reason the first thing you need to do is identify your current fitness in respect to what you are trying to accomplish. I will illustrate through an example I’m dealing with recently. Of the four factors I listed above, injury and physical health are ones I am addressing.
I have lost a lot of fitness over the last two months dealing with a knee injury. I explained this in a previous blog, Dealing with Injury – I am Lucky. Previous to the injury I was in fantastic shape. I was running as well as I had in the last five years and I had never been as strong on the bike in my life. I was on top of my game. Then an injury snuck in. Listening to my body and then validating with doctors, I shut my training down completely to address the issue.
We got on top of issue with several tactics and then it was time to test things out. I was to ease running back in first followed by the bike if I passed my run progression plan. I know my running paces inside and out based on several years of running and where I was prior to injury. I also know based on having this down time due to injury the paces I was once was able to run would not be in my capability. Collaborating with the doctor, we agreed on a three week run progression plan. My pacing, effort, and duration was thoughtfully planned out to bring me along gradually.
When dealing with an injury or significant health or other issue, consult with professionals to ensure you are considering the most appropriate approach. If you are simply restarting due to some time away, consult with a coach or friend. Use your network. It you have had significant time away it may be a duration and/or distance progression plan while not even considering pace or effort to start. If you have some fitness and want to identify your current base line there are tests you can take to assess.
I encourage tests/assessments for a few reasons:
- Eliminates guesswork of your current fitness level
- Helps with mental state; failing to meet paces/efforts you once did simply because it’s what you once did is flawed…identify where you are now and work at it. Also be realistic…I can’t run a 15 minute 5k, but age x I can run x…..
- Provides a benchmark to gauge progress
Ask a coach for an assessment you can try. These assessments are not only good for the reasons listed above, but they are also useful when the climate changes and when you are simply having breakthroughs in training. An effort in the Florida summer heat and humidity is much different than February. When you are getting stronger or faster you will also want to assess and reset your key metrics or you could plateau.
Personally as I’m dealing with my knee injury, just knowing I am on a progression plan has helped my mental state. I am not frustrated at all in the current moment that my 5k pace is I don’t even know what or my cycling endurance is maybe 60% of what it was just two months ago. I am thinking big picture. In November I want to be on top of my game for my final big race of the year.
Between now and then I will be doing several assessments for my bike and run to gauge progress but for today I am training at my current fitness level and the plan I have put in place with several inputs. Progress may not go as planned and most likely it won’t go as planned but that is ok. Make adjustments along the way, consult with coaches, visit doctors if needed, and most importantly, listen to your body. You probably have a good idea when something is going on….good or bad. Be in the Moment…
– Add Health to Your Life
So timely, Alan! Thank you for your insight and the reminder to start where we are right now and keeping working our way up.