Prepare for Success

By Aaron Mabry | Feb 02, 2012

Wel, it’s about time. In the next few weeks, high school teams all over the country will be gearing up for the outdoor track and field season. Likewise, coaches will be assigning workout schedules while student-athletes culminate their winter sport seasons.
But before you set one foot on the track, realize that an integral part of every training regimen is the preparation for which you commit to. That’s why it’s important to go into this new season with a plan. Given the right attitude and work ethic, the sum of those plans will likely breed the kind of success you’re looking for.

Make a Decision
I don’t care who you are. If you’re taking the time to step foot on that track, then realize that you’re committing to something that’s greater than yourself. That’s what any coach worth his salt will tell you. So don’t waste his/her time and yours because you want to go for a jog with your friends.

Have a Goal
In my experience as both an athlete and a coach, a talented runner with an attitude will always be outshined by a moderate runner with a goal. That’s why it’s important to set your goals early, regardless of how large or small they may be.
If you’re new to the sport, then maybe your first goal should be figuring out which event you should train for. More experienced track athletes may want to pursue a specific PR, or even train for championships.
Whatever it may be, don’t lose sight of it and make a point to discuss your goals with your coach. Trust me when I say that there’s nothing more motivating for a coach than an athlete that wants to vocalize their aspirations.

Eat Consciously
I always admired wrestlers for this aspect of training. Just as their sport demands a constant focus on proper diet and exercise, track athletes should behave in a similar fashion. Keep in mind that what you put into your body is the fuel for which you use to exercise. That said, do you honestly believe that the cafeteria pizza or chicken rings are going to sustain your body for the punishment you’ll be delivering daily?
Now, far be it from me to make assumptions on the dietary quality of standard school fair, though keep in mind that this type of food is approved by the same people who qualified the tomato paste on your pizza as a vegetable. That said, I urge you to make your own decision. Though might I suggest a healthy breakfast (oatmeal, toast and honey with a banana), salad and lean protein (chicken breast, tuna) for lunch, capped off by a healthy portion of pasta and lean protein in the evening.  Also, be sure to have a snack handy between meals. Some great options are seeds, nuts and fruits.  
And don’t forget to carry with you a water bottle. Sipping on it throughout the day (refilling it at least once) will ensure that your body is getting the hydration it needs to make it through workouts.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Finally, say you choose to commit to all of the above. You’re on point with your goals, training hard, eating right and making sure your body is well prepared for practice each day. Sounds great right? But then you choose to go on an all night texting binge with that certain someone you just can’t stop thinking about.
In any case, regardless of your work ethic, training regimen and healthy eating, denying your body a sufficient night’s sleep will negate everything.
Don’t trust me? According to Roger Smith, M.D., a specialist in sleep disorders and athletic performance, as well as a consultant with the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic, “There’s a clear relationship between sleep and human performance. Anytime you disrupt sleep, there seems to be an effect on performance.” So runners who fail to get sufficient shut-eye may compromise both their training and their race outcomes.”
So there you have it. Turn off the phone, lose the TV remote and just go to sleep. And trust me when I say that when you’re 17, chances are that nothing happening after 11 p.m. is healthy for you anyway.