7/5/17

Lessons learned - 35 athletic qualities to get to that next level


After 2.5 tough days of training, we just wrapped up our private training camp with Trimarni athlete Lisa Comer.  Lisa timed her private training camp perfectly with her key race (IMMT) as this camp was the perfect opportunity to intentionally overstress her body with training but to also remind her of the important skills that are needed to put together a great Ironman performance. Seeing Lisa in action allowed us, as her coaches, to fine-tune her skills and to break a few bad habits so that the next 6 weeks of training will be as effective as possible. 

Lisa is an extremely resilient athlete. She has great bike handling skills, she is a fast swimmer and a strong runner. Over the past 2.5+ years as a Trimarni athlete, she has worked very hard to get to where she is right now in her athletic journey as she has been able to train consistently for the past few years all while managing a job, while being a wife and mother. She is positive, hard working and brings a smile to every workout. She gives 100% no matter the workout, knows how to stay present but also has a good off switch so that triathlon does not take over her life.

Here's a little recap of the private training camp stats over the past 2.5 days:

Sunday afternoon:
3800 yard swim

Monday morning:
3:45 bike (with ~5500 feet of elevation gain) - endurance ride + skill/terrain management
43 minute brick run (~400 feet of elevate gain) - steady endurance with a strong build at the end
In the afternoon, she had a RETUL re-fit with Karel to dial in her position.

Tuesday morning:
4:35 bike (with ~6400 feet of elevation gain) - endurance ride with a 11-mile Ironman effort climb in the middle
20 min brick run (~230 feet of elevation gain) - form focused
In the afternoon, we did another run for frequency training on tired legs. 41 minutes - conversational pace. After a 1 mile warm-up, we did 5 min run, 30 sec walk throughout the rest of the run to reduce excessive tissue damage.

Wednesday morning:
3700 yard swim
90 minute run with a MS of 4 x 10 minute build to strong efforts w/ 30 sec walk, 1 min EZ jog between)

Although this was a lot of training packed into 2.5 days, it was all doable for Lisa. Just like on race day in an Ironman, we needed to show Lisa that she is capable of squeezing out a bit more from her body, even when she feels tired/exhausted. Lisa went through a lot of highs and lows throughout 2.5 days but maintained a positive, can-do attitude. With this camp, she learned that even when she thinks can can't push any harder, go the extra distance or go up another hill, we proved to her that it's all about mind over body.

Throughout this private camp, I thought a lot about what athletic qualities are needed to get to that next level. Whether it's qualifying for the Ironman World Championship (full or half distance), landing on the podium, achieving a personal best performance or accomplishing something that you have never done before, we have learned that there are a few important qualities that an athlete needs in order to achieve a new peak of fitness. 
  1. Be open to change or a new way of thinking.
  2. Be a great eater and have a great relationship with food.
  3. Appreciate and don't bash/pick on your body. 
  4. Focus on being resilient and strong, not fast and lean. 
  5. Use lower stress racers as an opportunity to learn about yourself as a racer.
  6. Build a team (ex. sport psychologist, PT, massage therapist, sport dietitian, coach) to help you in your journey. 
  7. Don't be afraid to ask for help. 
  8. Don't skip steps or rush your journey. 
  9. Understand that there are no short cuts or quick fixes. 
  10. Stay committed to your journey, even in the face of setbacks and obstacles. 
  11. Be patient - always. 
  12. Put in the work. 
  13. Stay consistent. 
  14. Fall in love with the journey of self-improvement. 
  15. Make room in your life for your sport. 
  16. You must have support from friends/family. 
  17. Surround yourself with people who give you energy and don't take it away from you. 
  18. Understand the demands of your sport and have a smart plan to help you achieve them. 
  19. Don't compare your journey to the journey of another athlete or a past version of yourself. 
  20. Never stop working on your skills. 
  21. Select key races that suit your strengths and will help you excel on race day.
  22. Don't rush to improve by adding too much volume/intensity too close to a race or after a period of inactivity/injury. 
  23. See your development as one that occurs over many seasons and not just within a single year. 
  24. Be willing to stretch your comfort zone so that what was once uncomfortable can become familiar and tolerable. 
  25. Never ever compromise sleep. 
  26. Focus on the little things (good sleep, stress management, mobility, diet). 
  27. Don't neglect strength training. 
  28. Make your easy sessions easy. 
  29. Make it a non-negotiable that you always fuel/hydrate before, during and after workouts. 
  30. Don't get too emotional with your performance (training and on race day). Reflect and then move on. 
  31. Stay processed driven, not outcome focused. 
  32. Make your training work for you so that you can adapt to training and perform well on race day. 
  33. Have fun. 
  34. Always maintain a strong mindset and work on your mental skills. 
  35. Integrate training into your life so that it has an important role in your life that helps you be a better person in this world. 
Rushing a journey may result in some temporary good results but ultimately, it will almost always result in physical, technical/skill, mental and nutritional/health shortcomings.

To get to that next level, you need to be more focused on the doing than on the outcome. Don't fear failure or overthink the process. 

The ultimate goal for an athlete is to be able to train, recover and compete at a level that ensures optimal development throughout an athletic career. As an age-group athlete, there is not time-line on your athletic journey. Therefore, be mindful that success (or getting to that next level) comes from performing well over long-term than trying to win (or achieve a lot) in the short term.