"The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets by it but what he becomes by it."
- John Ruskin
USA Triathlon Certified Coach
I approach coaching from a holistic perspective. Adult age-group triathletes typically have substantial demands in their lives outside of training and racing. Looking at any individual component of an athlete’s training (or life) is a data point, but it rarely tells the full story. I make it a priority to understand what’s going on in an athlete’s life beyond triathlon in order to build a plan that is smart, fits their lifestyle, and builds toward appropriate goals.
For some, the goal is a specific time or perhaps a podium spot. For others, it’s completing a first triathlon, stepping up to a longer distance or simply exploring their maximum athletic potential. A lot of people closely define maximum potential as finite, something that is genetic or age related. I see it differently. Certainly we all have limiting factors, but with expert guidance, focused training and experience – our minds as well as our bodies adapt and we develop new capabilities. As our fitness increases and we expand our knowledge, the bar of maximum potential is raised!
My experience has shown me that athletes get the best results when they are both physically fit and technically excellent – yet it can be challenging to slow down enough to work on form. An impatient person can learn anything in a hurry, but they will learn incorrectly. As a swim coach the most common question I hear after a workout is “How many yards was that?”. My favorite answer is “Why does it matter?” Yes, volume certainly has it’s place in training, and so does intensity. But ultimately there is a point in all three disciplines where to get faster you need to improve your technique. Incorporating technique-specific drills within your workouts pays big dividends in efficiency: as your form improves you’ll cover more ground (or water) with less effort!
Overall, I believe that becoming “triathlon literate” is key to meeting your goals. Triathlon is indeed a lifestyle and like the other important areas of your life, knowledge is power. I encourage you to explore the nuances of the sport, be open to new ideas and ask questions – of yourself, of fellow swimmers, cyclists and runners, and of your coach. Whether you’re training to win or new to the sport, the most accomplished athletes are those who are open to coaching, eager to take on new challenges, and are committed to continuous improvement!