The focus of many coaches and athletes is training to complete distances at specific speeds: (e.g.) athletes will train to swim 1:40/100m, practicing riding @ 35kph or at a power level that matches a desired speed, and run holding a predetermined pace of 4:30/km. When it comes to racing, athletes and their coaches measure success by how closely pace times or speeds were sustained. Afterwards, athletes return to repeat identical training, hoping that maybe next time they will hit and/or hold their target pace times or speeds just a little longer.
The internet definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
If you examine the training patterns of consistent peak performers, of those who are consistently on the podium at the Olympics and at World Champs, you will find – as I have – that these athletes do not train in the manner described above. Peak performance doesn’t arise from repeatedly forcing oneself to spike to a specific speed, it arises from training to sustain specific speeds endlessly. Top performers are top performers not because they have trained to hit a peak power output or pace, instead they consistently deliver top performances because they have trained to recover at higher and higher average speeds.
Anyone can spike their effort level, hit 10/10 on an RPE scale, can give 100%, but that is irrelevant to being a consistent champion.
To improve consistently in your athletic development depends on how much you have to slow down to recover after a spike in speed, in power, in effort. The best of the best slow down the least, they sustain a higher average speed when everyone else is stopping to rest, to recover, to puke up their gels. No, they do not tolerate more pain. No, they have not trained to suffer more. Consistent peak performers train differently, that is why they perform differently.
Who do you want to be? An average athlete, or do you want to improve consistently exploring your fullest potential?
The kids – Mark & Serena – chose to swim the 2km event at the Caledon I Quarry Open Water Swim as a training session: they appreciate that to excel at competing at 500m to 750m open water events – typical of Super Sprint and Sprint distance triathlons – they need to swim in open water and swim longer distances with ease. Imagine the confidence they gained from completing swims 3 to 4x the distance they need to swim in a triathlon, and from swimming alongside pro triathletes.
An average coach would have set out specific pace times and a finish time and the athlete’s effort would have been measured against these metrics.
As coach, I encouraged the kids to set out a specific strategy, execute that strategy, evaluate performance against that strategy, but foremost make the entire experience enjoyable, start to finish. The outcome: confidence… a currency of far greater value in sport and in life than knowing that you held a specific speed in an one off effort.
What is your coach training you to develop? Is your coach training you/your kids to produce power output & split times, or to gain skills that will allow y’all to excel in sport, succeed in life?