Whenever you are preparing yourself for an event, you expect to feel good all the time. Every training session goes smoothly, you hit all your goals and targets, your tests come out perfect and you are just cruising towards your race.
Except, this is not what it will look like. You will hit some bumps on the road and have some rough days, but you will also encounter moments where you even surprise yourself. All of this will be perfectly fine.
Ian, a former Olympian and now the coach of several elite long-distance runners, explained to one of his athletes, that her bad workout was not a problem at all after she got frustrated because she could not hit the target pace during one of her sessions, despite giving it everything she had.
He then went on to explain to her The Rule of Thirds and she later acknowledged that this was the most transformative advice she ever received.
“When you're chasing a big goal, you're supposed to feel good a third of the time, okay a third of the time, and crappy a third of the time...and if the ratio is roughly in that range, then you're doing fine.”
Whenever you are preparing for a big moment, remember that you should feel good about one-third of the time, OK a third of the time, and bad another third of the time. If you feel bad all the time, you are fatiguing, and action needs to be taken. Even worse if you feel good all the time. This means you are not working hard enough.
As long as these three feelings average each other out, you are doing just fine, and as long as you give it your best effort and try hard, you are on the right track.
Bad days will happen but don't fret too much over them. Good days will happen too but don't get too excited.
All of this is a reminder that progress isn't linear. Often there will be prolonged periods where you don't feel you make any progress and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you take a huge leap forward.
Working with a coach will help you to balance the good and the bad, and will worry less about not hitting your goals as your coach is there to explain what is going on and to reassure you you are still heading in the right direction