Lionel Sanders shared in a recent video interview pre-Tremblant 70.3 that he has raced on the course so many times that he feels an advantage as a result. With Triathlon Provincials to be held in Welland, this weekend of Multisport triathlon events in the Rose City offered athletes the opportunity to gain their own advantage:
- Minimizing the number of “new” experiences on race day is important to reducing the number of variables that an athlete has to manage when race day comes around. These experiences can range from sighting challenges in the swim, to obstacles (e.g. train tracks) or road conditions on the bike course, to knowing the run course for proper pacing and the final kick.
- A trial run is like a dress rehearsal: the opportunity to run through all aspects of performance to ensure that when required they can produce on demand. If Broadway productions have dress rehearsal after dress rehearsal to ensure that opening night is a smash success, there is no reason why athletes should not approach racing at specific venues in a similar manner. A prepared athlete has to exert less energy to execute their race day strategy, thus leaving capacity within themselves to compete at a higher level.
- There are always “new” variables on race day that no one plans on. By creating ‘slack’ in your system by minimizing new experiences on race day the athlete is freer – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to deal with race day surprises. Pre-race surprises of weather delays or mechanical issues or those that occur during the race (e.g. drafting or dismount penalty) can be more easily dealt with when there is a overall sense of confidence as a result of already running through specific scenarios and problem solving them ahead of time.
- A trial run – well ahead of an ‘A’ race – provides the athlete, and their coach sufficient time to identify and train out weaknesses. As a result of capturing video of both performances, we were able to identify key issues both kids can work on to improve. For example, Serena identified that she sighted far too often in the initial leg of the swim realizing that it fatigued her; Mark learned a valuable lesson as to where you need to dismount your bike so as not to be serve a time penalty (you can see his lesson in his video). Learning these lesson ahead of time sets athletes to win when performance is desired.
- A trial run also provides an opportunity to identify strengths to build the athletes confidence. Reviewing split times, execution of sport specific technique, and transition technique can reveal aspects of an athletes performance which have improved, ingraining further into the athlete that consistent training does indeed produce results.
If you seek to deliver your potential, then your training needs to focus on your ability to execute sport specific skills on demand. Swimming, biking, and running at specific speeds is great, but these are byproducts of athletes having trained the fundamental skills of each sport over and over and over, for years. Start right in your training and you will end up right where you want to be. Starting at the end with speed work, power sessions, and HiiT, and then trying to work backwards in your training to the basics… that doesn’t lead to any sort of consistent progress, it only yields injury, illness, frustration and disappointment.
Think about it… kids do not have the hormones, the muscle mass, the aggression that adults have, yet they can outperform adults. How? Kids focus on moving easily, quickly, with agility, with balance, with well coordinated movement (i.e. the ABCs), and as a result of simply repeating basic biomechanical principles, they out-swim, out-bike, and out-run adults who are decked out in full aero-carbon fiber TT gear.
Just ask Serena: after the race, Serena shared that out on the bike course an adult with all the aerodynamic paraphernalia possible (i.e. aero bars & bike frame, rims, and helmet) got angry that he was unable to overtake her… a little girl without aero bars, no aero rims, no aero helmet! Way to go Serena.. school those adults!
Best of all, Serena came out of T2 to start on the run exclaiming: “I can’t stop smiling!”
What higher level of self expression could you ask for, from an athlete, especially from a child? Smiling, having fun in the midst of competing, not feeling any pressure to be anything other than herself! What a demonstration of joy and peace! Serena had fun because she competed only against herself, respected the work she put in, respected that there is more work to be put in, and respected the work everyone else has done. Let a kid be a kid and they will amaze you with what they achieve.
Adults can take a lesson from kids: be a bit more kid-like, a little less serious and stuck up like an adult and life eases up to the point that it becomes fun.