Category: High Performance

Hitting the Target

Just wanted to speak a little today about focus. For some people it just seems to come naturally, but for others it doesn’t. Believe me, it’s not just something you have or you don’t. it is definitely a skill that can be learnt.
My story is the same as many others. I came across the sport of triathlon and got thrown into a world where I firstly didn’t feel good enough but secondly didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had read about goal setting but didn’t know what was possible. So I just let the path wind underneath me and as I peeked around each corner I found a new challenge. If I saw a road to the left I sometimes took it, if I saw a path to the right I sometimes took it. What I didn’t know at the time was there was a better way. At the time I just brushed it off as wanting “balance”. But really I was getting pushed around by any wind that seemed to crop up.
It wasn’t until well into my time in the sport that I realised how much better it was to focus on what I wanted and then to go after it. It was a chance occurrence that led me to this realisation. My daughter Ellen was training for triathlon with a small group in Sutherland and we went down to Wollongong for a training clinic with the NSW Head Coach Jamie Turner. A day that was not only great for the athletes, but for me also. I got to watch a guy coaching group of kids in a carpark in Wollongong that eventually, some 14 years later become the coach of an Olympic Gold Medallist. I saw the value of focus. When you spoke to Jamie it was clear what he wanted. To be the best coach in the World.
So that’s where the target comes in. I wanted to be a coach and be the best I could be. I literally had my target. To one day coach the winner of the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships.
The value of the target can’t be underestimated. It gives you clear vision of what you want and how to go after it …. and that is exactly what I want you to do.
So a few tips on working with targets.
1. Be very clear about what you want. Describe it in detail and feel yourself in that position. Write it down and continue to check in on it.
2. Don’t be realistic. Is a massive plane flying through the air realistic ? Nope. Those people who have achieved greatness started from ground zero also.
3. Write it down. Once you have the goal, get a book and write it down. Don’t put it in your phone. It gets lost in there. Make sure the book is lying around so it can remind you about where you want to get to.
4. Get good people around you. I used to make up questions just so I could have an excuse to call my mentor. The more you stay in contact with your mentor the more accountable you are making yourself to them. It says you are serious about what you want and once the mentor sees you at that level you can move mountains. They will make it a personal mission to help you make it happen.
5. Don’t get pushed sideways by the latest fad promising a short cut. The old school values of work ethic, drive, dedication and discipline are still there for a reason. There are no “hacks”. There’s no “easy way”.
So I want you to reflect on your goals based on this, set big targets for yourself, and then work hard with laser-like focus towards achieving them. It will make a great story to tell your grandkids. There is nothing like committing to a lifetime of seeking mastery and achieving big goals.

It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it

It’s quite a normal thing where i will see or hear a comment from an athlete saying they want to be ‘stronger’ on the bike. Or even also in the swim and run. People throw the word stronger around as its a physical ‘thing’ that can be measured. Lets face it we all want to be stronger. In every area we want to be the strongest even.
My approach is this….We as coaches can prescribe more strength work, and indeed we do. 4 x 5mins at 60 cadence, or 5 x 5min seated hill reps are tools to help us deal with getting stronger. But this is contributing in one way to the cause. Another way to getting stronger is actually taking a holistic strength approach across to your riding.
When you are doing your solo aerobic rides during the week or the long ones on the weekend you should be looking for opportunities to improve your strength the whole time. (be smart if you’re with a group). If you come up to a rise, resist switching it back a gear and hold the one you are in the whole way up. When you come to a set off lights, take off in a hard gear. Put a good effort in out of the saddle for 100m. When you turn the corner, punch a few good hard strokes out of it before settling back in. When you are riding home from the next ride take the undulating way and “work the hills”.
The best riders in the world didn’t just get strong by doing strength intervals. They did the strength intervals …. PLUS they worked on being stronger the whole time they were on the bike. The best swimmers do pull and paddles PLUS they take to the open water. The best runners do hill reps PLUS they take the stairs and get in the gym.

Pain

Recently we have been upping the game with T5 in more of the quality sessions. The intensity being prescribed to make sure you are able to tolerate the demands of endurance competition. When things are getting tough at the back end its good to know you have dealt with that in training and are able to endure just that little bit longer. In the back end of the race it’s key to understand your body is doing one thing and your mind is doing another. The mind wants you to stop but the body is more than likely ok to keep going. Your RPE shoots up to 9/10 or 10/10 when the body is working at 7/10. The key with hard training is that it gives you an opportunity to deal with that before the race and set your plan tolerance level higher.

Patience

The biggest skill in endurance sport is the endurance itself. It is said that training for this sport is like watching your hair grow. On a daily basis you see no growth, but all of a sudden after 2 months you notice you need a haircut.

Just keep at it.

Planning and Preparation

Monday morning and the start of another 7 day “block” of training. Another chance to get a good crack at what is important for you at the moment. That might be re-establishing discipline and routine post big race or it might mean higher levels of accountability with a big race coming up. For those hitting Western Sydney it’s the key period now. Take it a day at a time and give yourself a chance to reflect at the end of the week. Remember to not look for perfection. Dont jump off the wagon and “start next Monday”.
 
A key skill that the best in all sports do really well is organisation and planning. Take it a step up in attention to detail and it not only takes the pressure off you but improves your ability to perform. Thinking ahead will help you. A lot.
 
Yesterday’s High Performance sporting environment of the Bathurst 1000 showed that the team’s that came out on top were the one’s that were best able to manage in turmoil. It wasn’t the ones that had no turmoil. Endurance is a game that demands planning and preparation. If you are ready for the unexpected then you will not only perform bette, but enjoy it more as well.
 
Do what the best in the world do. Plan your week to a level of detail that probably even blows your own mind. Then watch the results come.

Backs to the Wall

Backs to the wall :  

This has been a common theme of late. One I’ll expand more upon in the next podcast, but have a think about how you do your best work. When you have heaps of time ? Or when you are under the pump? 

I know the answer for me is I am way more efficient and do better work when I’m busy.

Don’t wait for the perfect phase in time to have a crack. Do it when you have your backs to the wall.

Perfection

Easily the biggest enemy of the athlete. Why ? Well I really want to keep this short – so the biggest reason as I see it is very simple. If we aren’t ready to do a perfect race or perfect session then we are building the case against ourselves. We confirm our “suspicions” that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t talented enough, our lives are too busy, or our bosses are arseholes.

Nobody asks for perfection other than ourselves. Drop the idea of it and watch the story you are building disintegrate.

Get yourself on the path to performance “enlightenment”. The path where we understand that the journey is the way. Similar to a Buddhist Monk. They never arrive, they just practice their craft and seek peace and enlightenment. The never ending journey to happiness and satisfaction.

Excellence and Expectation

I had a very wise man, with a lot of experience at elite rugby union, tell me once that as athletes and humans we should move towards anxiety. If you are feeling anxious it probably means you are doing something right. It means you are living on the edge and fearing loss.

The thing you are fearing is the thing that obviously means a lot to you ! …. or you wouldn’t be anxious about it.

In the sporting context you can equate it to Grand Final nerves. You aren’t going to be calm prior to the event. You have self doubt and have little to no control over the outcome. You only have control over how well you play and how well you execute your game plan.

One of the interesting aspects of this feeling we get is that the better we perform, the more pressure seems to mount. What if we can’t live up to this new expectation we have formed for ourselves by our very own excellence? You have trained for months for this race – what if it doesn’t bring the rewards of an equally great outcome ? Was it all in vain?

The photo’s below are of two surfers on two very different waves. One is probably very anxious and one probably isnt. The big wave surfer, due to her high level of skill, is placing herself in a dangerous situation. If she gets it right she has the opportunity to be at the top of her game. If she gets it wrong she could die. The surfer on the small wave has next to no anxiety. If she falls off the consequences are less dire.

This isn’t really a story about execution of your skills. Its a story about excellence and expectation. The higher the level of anxiety you are feeling is probably a sign that you are levelling up. You are achieving greatness. You are becoming successful.

Try not to take it as a sign that you aren’t up to it. It’s in fact the opposite.

Change

We all work with change. As a coach I am a change agent. That’s what I do. But that’s where the difficulty starts. Humans really don’t like change! We want different, better, variety …. but that must all be done without change! You can see the problems already.

I am trying to adapt and coerce and cajole you through growth but it’s important that we do that in a meaningful manner and not just for the sake of it.

The key to all this is to remember that we are changing processes and behaviours. We aren’t wanting to change you, your values, or your character.

For instance, if one of your important values is family time we have to get some strategies in place that don’t compromise that value but enhance or work within it. We set sessions at times that don’t overlap family time !

Again – we change process and behaviours – not Character or values !

Training Mindset

When you are training you aren’t just training your body. You are training your body, mind, skills, technique, tactics etc. Don’t just reflect on your output. Reflect on how well you approached the session.
 
Things like focus, skills developed, pre-session nutrition, sleep, etc are all worth reviewing and developing over time.
 
Review using the 4 Pillars of Performance >>
Mental : Physical : Tactical : Technical