It seems to be all the rage for athletes and coaches to post-training sessions on social media and many seem to feel that these one-off sessions will be their key to success.
Over the years, as I have coached some of triathlons top performers, I regularly get people curious to know every detail about training sessions – time done, number of reps, distance of reps, heart rates, power output or some of the more ambitious emailers flat out asking ‘could you show me the program for the whole period please?’
And it’s not because we’re overly protective or selfish with our training philosophy.
It’s because such questions underly a complete misunderstanding of our training philosophy to begin with.
If you asked me for Daniela’s or Nicola’s (Spirig) program tomorrow morning I couldn’t tell you. I can’t even tell them. Tomorrow’s training depends on how today’s training is performed.
We of course have training systems that we work off and people have been putting in huge PBs off the back of our training plans. That is no surprise.
Like in all things we do, we structure things in a way that emphasises consistency and flexibility.
This sport is aerobic in nature and like marathoning or any event that goes over is 1 hour, statistical data tends to be more a novelty than the indicator of great performance.
On race day the ability to understand numbers is far less important than consistency and self-perceived effort.
How many reps and at what speed?
I don’t know and I don’t care.
I am a coaching disciple of Percy Cerutty and the great Arthur Lydiard. Both prickly human beings to deal with on their better days. However, both taught me that it is the individual who must learn what is enough and at what speed if they are to truly reach their potential.
Thus, we base our programs around the teaching of individuals to recognise their own limits, independent of the gadgets, as this is and always will be the more important thing in aerobic sport.
It is not an unsophisticated approach. Steve Jobs was correct when he said simple is harder than complex.
Sharing information and the importance of consistency.
I am also a great admirer of two other athletic greats who were self-coached for most of their careers.
Ron Clarke and the Emil Zatopek. Both were extremely open and would talk and share information with anybody who wanted help. They would also do it with a smile instead of a smirk, and it is the approach we try and take with our information on this blog.
What did they teach me in their training?
Repetition, repetition and repetition. Both trained completely differently. Ron had no stopwatch and would do very little track work. Emil on the other hand hardly ever left the track and trained himself nearly exclusively on interval-based work.
Yet they used unbelievable consistency and repetition of training they believed into work for them.
Day in day out. Week in week out. Month in month out. Year in year out. Then repeat.
With the four people I’ve mentioned above the stopwatch was used for race days, and even then, it was not something they worshipped.
Instead, they all concentrated on the same principle. No, not winning. Though they all did plenty of that. Instead, they focused on ‘knowing one’s limits, and using honour, determination and perseverance every day to make those limits yesterday’s goals!’
Old-time values, yes. But training principles that continue to produce results superior to anything else we’ve seen in triathlon. There is no secret about that.