• Suzie

The Curiosity of Faster

What is the dream?

What is your ultimate ambition as a triathlete?

The big question I have been asking the athletes I am coaching, as we sat down to plan the up coming season.

As a naive fresh faced Geography Teacher in South London, several years ago, I asked the same question at the start of the year to a class of 14 year old pupils.

"My dream is to not die of boredom in your class Miss"

"My dream is become a master of bunking your lessons Miss"

Thankfully I got more favourable responses from the triathletes I have started working with.

For some it is Kona qualification, for some the aim is to race Pro, for others GB age group teams and for some it is to complete their an Olympic distance triathlon. For all there is a desire is to be faster.

"Faster: The Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World's Fastest" by Michael Hutchinson takes a deep dive into his own obsession with the process of becoming a faster cyclist. I listened to the audio book version as I travelled home from Scotland. A good way to while away a few hours.

The 3 big picture lessons from the book were:

* The obsession with the process. For Michael, the joy was in trying to solve the puzzle, a puzzle in how to become faster on the bike, it was an experiment in training, nutrient, recovery, aerodynamics and more.

* Learning from mistakes. Michael showed his skill for reflection and refinement, explaining his training and learning what had and hadn't worked and using that information to move forward

* Collaboration. During the book Michael interviews numerous cyclists and coaches and refers back to his time on the GB track team. It really bought home the idea of team and how getting faster is not an individual pursuit that can be done alone.

Hutchinson provides a lot of food for thought in his book. Alongside the above three points, he goes into detail in terms of training, nutrition and psychology. I won't re-write all my notes from listening to the book, I recommend reading/listening to the book if you are interested. But I will highlight one other key point:

There is no magic method to going faster.

Hutchinson, explains how high volume training suits some people, while not others. Some athletes thrive off high intensity training, while it leaves others in pieces for days.

Now I realise, this is not new news. The need for training and training plans to be individual is well known. I am currently enjoying the book "Bowerman and the men of Oregon: The story of Oregon's legendary Coach and Nike's Cofounder" by Kenny Moore.

An extract from "Bowerman and the men of Oregon: The story of Oregon's legendary Coach and Nike's Cofounder by Kenny Moore. Highlighting the individual appraoch Bowerman took to coaching.

One of the ways to becoming faster, is to do what is right for you, instead of following the training other people maybe doing.

Is success achieving the dream?

I asked myself this question as I looked over my notes, that I had made while sitting down with each athlete. I now knew the season goals for each athlete, their perceived strengths and weaknesses, the races they wanted to target in 2018 and their big picture ambitions and dreams within triathlon. If we achieved those ambitions, would that mean we had been successful?

"What does success look like to you?" Dr Micheal Gervais asks each guest on the Finding Mastery podcast.

Jan Singer, CEO of Victoria Secrets (Finding Mastery podcast #090 20th Sept 2017) answered

"Am I learning and growing. Am I helping others to learn and grow. If the answer is yes, then I am being successful"

Jan Singer's concept of success stuck with me, it goes beyond achieving the goals and dreams, but looks deeper at the learning and growth that is happening along the way.

As an athlete and a coach I know it is easy to lose sight of this. I do, often. But for the 2018 season my personal goal is to be obsessed with the learning process.

With that, I bought a white board, it allows me to write down my ideas, allows me to plan, rub it out, plan again, rub it out...you get the picture.

Let's start BIG, I thought. Step 1: Creating the big picture plan for my athletes to become faster

Step 2: Zooming in on different sections

In the next blog I will explain how I zoomed in on the "2018 season plan" section of the above mind map. One of the athletes I coach, is doing his triathlon coaching qualification and showed me his annual training plan, based on Joel Friel's book. I've seen many versions of this, it appears to be the standard model, but what does it mean I asked? the terms 'base phase' 'build phase' they mean nothing to me. Am I alone here? I knew I needed to create something more tangible, something with meaning, that I and the athletes I work with could look at and immediately understand what we would be working on in different times of the year. Most importantly, it would lead us to becoming faster and learning something along the way.

This is the perfect time to plan your 2018 triathlon season, to set your goals and to create a training plan to help you get faster. If you want someone to listen to your ideas, then drop me an email on suzierichards1@googlemail.com and I am happy to listen and ask some questions that may help. If you think, you would like to work with a coach to achieve your 2018 goals, then I have a few spaces left, so again, send me an email.

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