I chatted to professional BMX and mountain bike racer Nathan Parsons on the podcast a few weeks ago (you can listen here). I asked him what triathletes could learn from BMX riding and for his top training tips for triathletes. He said “commit”. Commit to the race, commit to the ride!

A BMX race last minutes and if you don’t commit it’ll be lost within seconds or a tiny mistake could cause a serious injury. Holding yourself back or questioning yourself is the last thing you need in a BMX race.

It was a great thought provoking tip which got me thinking about how it is relevant to triathlon training and what it actually means.

The first thing that’s important is to actually commit to a race! That means paying the entry fee and putting it in your diary, not just saying you’re going to do it. It’s a small thing, but I think it really impacts on how much you fully commit to training. Without this it can be quite easy to be a bit too laid back, miss a few sessions and eventually duck out of the race.

The next thing is to fully commit to doing a training session! I’ve lost count of the number of times I say I’m going to do a session tomorrow! And then it doesn’t happen. Because I didn’t fully commit by saying what time I’d do it or by getting my kit sorted out.  And then the day gets away with me and it doesn’t happen.

Something I hear often from my clients is I’ll do a training session tomorrow as long as it’s not raining or not too cold. Fully committing would involve making a plan for what would happen if it was raining or was cold.

Next, are you committed to doing the session properly or do you start off by saying I’m a bit tired, my legs hurt so I’ll see what happens. Starting off with this headset can give you permission to back off from the session and not work as hard as you could.

Other ways I find myself not committing fully is in each individual rep. I end up giving myself permission to wind up to a particular speed or wattage and often end up not committing all the way to the end. Fully committing would be finding the gear 15sec before the rep starts, attacking it at the first second and all the way through the final second.

You might also have some limiting beliefs and lack of confidence that are holding you back from fully committing to a race or training session. Until I rode with some faster people in a group I never thought I could work that hard and survive – so I was constantly holding myself back. Learning to commit has helped me to discover what I can actually do and how much suffering I can cope with.

In a running race (of any length) I’m often worried I’ll blow up and run out of steam, so I’m often holding myself back and then after I’ve finished I think I could have run faster. For endurance events it’s getting a balance between putting the effort in and pacing correctly. But sometimes it’s worth going to an event and committing from the start to see what happens.

Whatever the length of your race having a plan and committing to it is key. Common mistakes are to arrive at a race and think you’re in sub 11hr Ironman shape when you’ve spent 12months training for a 15hr Ironman. Or starting the marathon with your friends and getting so carried away you run a 5km pb at the beginning but blow up at 20miles. Have a plan and commit to it.

Finally training is hard! And if you want to perform to you best you have to commit to some suffering. When I commit and embrace the suffering I always work harder and have a more quality workout!