What the F**K are you doing?!?!
A somewhat unfiltered post about some of my athletic career, the mistakes I’ve made and what you can learn from it!
For those of you who know me, know that I was at a high level in a small sport; Naval Pentathlon (see video here). I have put in the 15 – 20 hours training weeks over several years trying to become the best. I was lucky enough to be part of three world championships, but I never reached my goal of becoming the very best; world champ.
Looking back, knowing what I know now; I think I have a pretty good idea of the mistakes I made along the way. Hopefully you will not make them!
First off I will tell a small story from my greatest achievement in naval pentathlon:
In the picture to the right I won third place in a big international competition in the last event. The first big competition of the 2012 season. I think I was 5 – 10 seconds behind first place. That meant beating most of the best athletes in the world and being 5-10 seconds behind the current world champion. How did I manage that?
In the four months leading up to the competition I made a new plan because I knew I tried to put way to much high intensive training into my weekly plan (see mistakes and tips below). So I took my 7 day plan and spread it out to complete in 10 days. I still remember the results I got during training and it felt great. And when I felt great, recovered great and did my training as I should, not how I “wanted” I could see that I was up there and could compete with the best.
But there’s a twist though…
If there is one thing I would like to scream (ok.. maybe not scream, but tell.. Tell in a voice so I knew I meant business) at my 24 year old me going forward after the competition mentioned above, into the season of 2012: WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU DOING!?!?! ARE YOU PLANNING ON DOING THAT?! HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE PREVIOUS YEARS?!!?
The pain and agony of the face to the left is not only from the pain of pushing through the race. It’s also from my mental state knowing full well I had done my worst world championship ever. My last one, which should have been my best, was my worst.
I have made a bunch of mistakes in my training. Luckily I have learned from them and do enjoy being “old and wise” now a days.
Below is three of my biggest mistakes and what I learned from them.
I trained to hard every day and every session. Lesson learned: Volume and consistency beats intensity
I’m not saying that you should not train at high intensity, but do it when you your body is recovered and ready for it; AKA when you should! I was really good at training hard because I thought that was what I needed to get better. Still, when you are training hard every session, you get what’s coming for you: injuries and overtraining. I was overtrained four or five times; the last time I could not train for 6 months. That sucked bigtime! So be patient, be serious about your recovery and train hard when you should! Not when you feel like it. Two-three (on each muscle group if your focus is strength), maybe four for some, hard sessions per week is more than enough.
I did not train as much as I should on the things I was bad at. Lesson learned: You need to practice every aspect of your sport performance.
Make a prioritized list of what you need to get better at to reach you goals, and how much you have to prioritize this. Make sure that the time spent training reflect that list. My mistake was that I was really good at running, but I was not “on par” in my rowing (yeah, we row in Naval Pentathlon) and my swimming. I don’t have the exact numbers but I will guess that rowing accounted for less than 10% of my training and swimming about 10 – 20%. And I wanted to become the world champ: WHAT THE F**K, MAN?!
After the OCR WC 2019 I am left with that same feeling for alot of the athletes participating (based of instagram though); who can raise their hand and say: I was as ready as I could be when it comes to my grip strength and grip endurance?!
I was not as serious as I should when it comes to nutrition. Lesson learned: Be prepared and serious about your nutrition and fluids, especially for the hard sessions!
I remember not knowing, not seeking out the sources I needed and accordingly I did not come prepared to my sessions when it comes to nutrition and fluids. I am certaing that it hindered my athletics development. Depending on how much you train every week, this might not be as important as long as you get the energy requirements right each day (enough energy, enough carbs and enough protein; fat will sort out itself for endurance athletes when getting enough of the other two). But one thing you should do to perfection is: eat right the hours before, during and after the hard sessions when performance means a lot for the results you get from it!
So these are my three biggest mistakes and lessons learned I made for myself in my day to day practice of my sport. Of course everything is individual, but the principals behind these mistakes is really, really important.
To sum it up: Be consistent and patient, train on the things that you should work on even though it a hassle sometimes and take your nutrition seriously for your hard sessions and especially if you have a lot of volume.
Got some goals? Get some guidance, then!!
With the previous paragraphs in mind I would recommend that you seek out someone who can guide you to where you want to be, someone who has the knowledge and experience you need, someone who has been at your crossroad before and know which route to take.
That could be me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or it might be someone else. But if you got some goals: get some guidance, a PT-session, a sit-down, your own coach. Something from someone which will make your process and progress a bit better. If not, you might end up like me in a couple years from now saying to yourself: WHAT THE F**K HAVE YOU DONE?!?! It is allways nice to have some new eyes on your own things!