If your coach does nothing but email you spreadsheets of how far to swim, how far to bike, how far to run, and the entire focus is how long and how hard (as in RPE, wattage or HR) the effort should be… then I am sorry to say but your coach is unfortunately too ignorant to be coaching. The fact that the consensus amongst coaches is that long & hard training is the process doesn’t turn wrong into right, or change stupid into smart.
If your training – be it swimming, cycling, running, or all three for triathlons – is not heavily weighted with drills, drills and more drills… then you are not training to achieve your potential, to achieve your goals, to FLOW. If your training of drills is not being constantly corrected, adjusted, modified, so that you execute each drill with quality, with finesse, with refinement… then you are not training to FLOW. Actually, I would ask you/your coach… if you aren’t developing your brain to execute more and more complex levels of sport specific technique, if you aren’t acquiring, improving and refining the skills of your sport… then what are you doing?
If none of the best trained to become ‘the best’ by mindlessly grinding out long & hard efforts but by training drills, drills and more drills, how exactly are you going to achieve your best as an athlete with training plans devoid of drills?
Think about it. The max potential of human physiology varies little… (e.g.) maximums for heart rate, lactate threshold, VO2 are all within a couple points of another amongst the pros, and within the same age group for amateurs. Physiological change is possible in a relatively short period of time bringing everyone in close proximity of everyone else’s potential. Plus, the maximum effort possible for anyone is always 100%… there is no such thing as giving 110% or 120% (unless giving yourself a heart attack or stroke is what you/your coach have in mind). So where does the value even exist in focusing on physiological training?
In the words of Forrest Gump, “stupid is as stupid does.” And stupid trains you to “take the pain”, “learn to suffer”, “enjoy the hurt”… and other mindless, juvenile concepts founded in the adage of “no pain, no gain” and more recently that of entering “beast-mode”.
The issue with ignorant coaches is that they will have you as convinced as they are that the limiting factor for all athletes achievement is physiology and pain tolerance. Clueless to the fact that the real metric of peak performance is effective and efficient execution of sport specific technique on demand (which is a function of the brain, not muscle). These coaches cannot comprehend that smart training – as in the repetition of drills to train the brain to execute sport specific technique with higher degrees of precision – is the pivotal aspect of performance.
The best are simply better than the rest because they have trained themselves to be smarter in and at sport by training smarter: they have trained themselves to have a level of skill and an ability to execute sport specific technique unlike anyone else in their sport. The physiological differences between the best of the best is infinitesimal. What separates 1st place from everyone else is the 6 inches between their ears and more importantly what they have trained those 6 inches to do over and over, over and over, so that when it comes down to crunch time… there is no caving, there is no choking or panicking, the best of the best… can be put on the pitch, sent onto the court, put on the start line… and everyone knows its for them to lose, not for anyone else to win.
Why were athletes like Michael Jordan literally feared by opposing teams, sometimes even by athletes on their own teams? Why were legendary triathletes like Dave Scott called “The Man”, Mark Allen known as “The Grip”, Paula Newby Fraser as “The Queen”… because their competitors knew that when these athletes showed up… the race was no longer for 1st place, 1st was a given, all that remained was to find out who would finish 2nd.
If you want to experience FLOW as an athlete – no matter whether as an age group, as a masters athlete, as a novice, sport level or even as a pro – if you are not training drills, drills and then more drills… then there is no way you will ever experience your potential, let alone the bliss and joy of FLOW.
I therefore encourage anyone in pursuit of their potential, in pursuit of bliss, of joy, of experiencing what it means to FLOW…
Find a coach who trains skill acquisition, development, and refinement.
Find a coach who focuses on training athletes to develop sport specific technique.
Find a coach who seeks to understand you as an athlete, as an individual.
And the result will be that you will achieve unlike you have ever achieved before… in sport, and across life.
My hope for you is that you stop fighting and forcing your way to your potential, and that you start to enjoy the process so that you can learn to FLOW!
NOTE: you cannot be coached remotely in drills, because what matters most with drills is the quality of execution (i.e. “garbage in = garbage out”). True coaching cannot be done via Skype, weekly email or phone communication with your coach, via app, or online coaching platform… true coaching is always, always one on one. Anyone telling you different is selling something (and it ain’t your potential).