S4F Sprint Champs 2017

Navigating Early Season Races

There’s been some great racing from my Tri Squad over the last few weeks. Here’s a few thoughts to help them (and you) to navigate their(your) way through races and the early part of the race season.

 1.       Most important of all: take the time and opportunity to be proud and pleased with having done something that is beyond “normal”. As endurance racers what we do is way beyond what the  overwhelming majority of people would even contemplate. However you feel a race went you’re a winner in the most important race of all – the Human Race.

 2.       If your race isn’t a high priority race in your season then expect performance to be less than desired. Experience tells us that we can only truly achieve a peak performance 2 or 3 times in a season; that means we can’t expect to be at our best at lower priority races. In reality if we achieve a peak performance at a low priority race then the likelihood is that we got something wrong in our training plan. Similarly the higher the peak we achieve in a high priority race the bigger will be the dip after that until our next high priority race.  So it’s really important not to judge the time or performance in those low priority races but just do our best to enjoy them and learn from them for the important races coming up.

 3.       After any race, whatever the outcome and for any competitor (beginner to Pro) the single most important component of future success is to go back to doing good work on the training field. We must always focus on doing the fundamentals as well as we can. After a race there is a danger that we can start overanalysing what we need to do to get to a better performance. Lots of “Marginals” can become attractive at that point and magazines and inexperienced athletes and coaches can turn to those as quick fixes and neglect the fundamentals. We always need to be focusing on the fundamentals of doing good work. To quote Stuart Macmillan who quotes Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

 “perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing left to take away”.

 Instead of letting your mind go into overdrive about what you need to add to get better first look at what you can take away to get better, for example:

 o   Take away doing sessions that aren’t in your training plan or are radically different,

 o   Take away judging a session as successful based on how tired you feel at the end of it rather than by how closely you met its objectives,

 o   Take away a night of compromised sleep each week,

 o   Take away any grey zone sessions,

 o   Take away chasing that dude/gal on the road that drags you into a grey zone session,

 o   Take away one unhealthy food/drink choice,

 o   Take away going through the motions in a training session rather than razor sharp focus on technique improvement,

 o   Take away judgement of a low priority race,

 o   Take away listening to advice from the inexperienced and/or the non-invested,

 The more we can strip away to just leave the fundamentals as our focus and the more we practice improving the fundamentals the greater will be our performance gains.

 4.       Learn from every race. There’s a great saying that “the only bad race is one we don’t learn from”. It’s important to try and extract key learning points from every race and that should cover things that went well as well as things that could have gone better. For the things that went well make sure you embed those in your routine so they become second nature. For the things that could have gone better create an action plan of things to do to make them go better the next time.

 5.       Take time to thank your crew. Every endurance athlete knows that it takes a team to get an athlete on to the start line and successfully through the finish line. Family, friends, training partners and even the race organisers all played a part in your race and your season so take the time to thank them.

 I hope the points above are helpful and offer a fresh perspective to help you on your way to great race performances in the future.

 Train Smart and see you at the races.

Coach Musty.

Cat Results

Cat Thomas – Race Report for Chemin des Dames Olympic Tri – 21 May 2017

‘I raced at the Chemin des Dames triathlon in Chamouille (approx. 2 hours from Paris) last weekend. This was my first triathlon of the season so I was interested to see how I would measure up to the competition. The triathlon attracts a quality field of triathletes from around the region and seems to get bigger each year with nearly 450 (including me) participating in the Olympic distance race and another 350 doing the sprint.

The swim was a two-lap course in a lake with an Australian exit. Whilst the water was clear and warm-ish, the downside of the recent good weather was that there was a huge amount of plant life to swim through which at times made the going tough. I am not a strong swimmer and did not position myself very well at the start so got dunked several times but I didn’t let that put me off. I was two thirds of the way down the field coming out of the lake so set about playing catch up. The bike course was packed full of hills and at times I wondered if my legs were going to carry me up them but incredibly they did! Fortunately, much of the course was through woodland which helped to protect us from the hot sun. I managed to pass quite a few people on the bike and was 12th fastest in my category. The run is usually my strong point but with a foot injury, it was always going to be a bit of a challenge. I followed Coach’s advice and started out slower than I would normally have done and then accelerated after the first 20 minutes or so. The strategy worked! Not only did I manage to cross the finish but I also made up further places in the process. I finished in a time of 2h53, an improvement of 12 minutes on my previous time and 15th (out of 36) in my category so I was pretty happy. Whilst there were definitely some good points to come out of the race, there were also things that can be improved upon and I will work on those in the coming weeks.’

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Racing Tough – 2 Forgotten Principles

With race season now upon us and my athletes racing almost every weekend over the coming months I’ve been thinking about some of the principles that define the phrase “Racing Tough”. The picture above captures a few of the important principles but I think there are a couple of equally important principles of “racing tough” that are often forgotten. The following are two very important principles to me and I like all my athletes to follow them at all times:

 

1. Always follow race rules to the letter: that includes respecting your fellow competitors and respecting all race officials. Triathlon is a fantastic sport on the whole practised by fantastic individuals but occasionally I have seen competitors in the heat of the moment confront race officials angrily and even abusively. All race crew are on the whole volunteers as are race marshals so without their self-sacrifice none of us would even be able to race. Race officials can make mistakes, so whatever the merits of your case you should raise them professionally and calmly and at the end of the day if need be just accept their judgement. Furthermore, it’s always good to give the race crew and officials a smile and a “thanks” even in the midst of your race.

Similarly “bending” the rules by, for example, cutting corners, deliberately drafting, swimming the wrong side of the bouy, doping (that’s a whole blog for another day!) etc aren’t pushing the envelope of the rules they are just plain and simple cheating – so don’t do it!

 

2. Adopt a ZERO excuses approach to any race outcome: whatever the reasons whether its a training race for you and you are entering it fatigued or you had a mechanical or any myriad of things that can go wrong don’t use them as excuses for your performance. It’s disrespectful to your competitors (and yourself!) to lay out a list of excuses as to why they were faster than you in that race. At the end of the day if you raced to the best of your ability then you got the right outcome and the one you deserved. Smile, accept and start planning for an even better performance at the next race.