A word we hear a lot about – maybe even too much ! But what is it really and how can we use it to our advantage?
I was looking at this not long ago and decided that rather than just go on gut feel, I should actually get some data behind what I’m about to spit out at you. The results surprised me actually and actually pointed to something we can use to develop this part of our game.
What I did was check in on sessions prescribed for the day and how many of those sessions were completed. I also broke the data up into three levels of athlete ….. Advanced, Intermediate and Base. I did this because from experience I knew we would get more useful data this way.
Advanced athletes were those that are competing towards the top of their game, be that podium age group, wanting to gain a pro licence or competing professionally. Intermediate athletes were those that have been in the game a good number of years and have really good experience at a range of races and can manage a decent training load. Base athletes have only been in the sport a shorter time and are still developing their skills and ability to manage a training load over a longer period of time.
The results were as follows. I have averaged out the numbers so it shows trends. Weather was pretty good through the weeks I checked so that didn’t become a factor. Training period was specific preparation rather than base so consistency importance level was a touch higher with races looming.
Advanced athletes averaged 94% for the week
Intermediate athletes averaged 80% for the week
Base athletes athletes averaged 65% for the week
The best days were Tuesday to Thursday with Monday being the most sessions missed day.
Advanced athletes had a very small range from Monday to Sunday.
Intermediate had a little more range. Base a little more range again.
Base athletes best days were Tuesday and Thursday.
Intermediate best days were Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and Sunday.
What does this tell me? A huge amount actually.
Consistency definitely isn’t a failing !! It’s a clear skill and trainable practice relevant to the level of the sport you are at. It has a lot to do with context.
I need to be careful with Mondays and don’t put key sets on that day. Monday should be easy and spent “sharpening the axe” for the week ahead.
Tuesday to Thursday is our sweet spot across the board.
Advanced athletes can tend to be a bit younger and have less life demands. As athletes get older they have work / family demands that can pop up out of nowhere – thus affecting training. Being at the pointy end of the field and up against a very competitive opposition they realise they can’t afford to miss much training so will go out even at times they possibly should have rested.
Intermediate athletes tend to have been in the sport over 5 years. They usually have quite demanding lives. This makes them high achievers and very driven. Time spent training is very important to them, not just from a competitive aspect but from a balance aspect. Getting outside training (sometimes with mates) keeps them sane and happy. This athlete actually is the athlete that bashes themselves up the most when they miss a set and is the athlete most at risk from overtraining due to adding in unprescribed sessions. They can be our “more is better athletes” at times.
Base level athletes are only new or relatively new (0-5 years) to the sport and as such are transitioning their lifestyles as much as their fitness if anything. They are also affected by the high physical demands triathlon training has on us. As such their recovery impacts their ability to back up session after session. My goal is to develop these athletes by coaching their time management skills, recovery practices (sleep and nutrition most important) and work on them getting to a point where they can manage a decent load as they move towards the next level.
All of these contexts help me prescribe training load and mix. They also help me assist with goal setting and when providing feedback. For instance, a pro / developing pro athlete missing a set needs reminding that the world won’t wait for them and their goals are high. The intermediate athlete that misses a session doesn’t need me in their ear for missing a set due to a work meeting or a kid’s school commitment.
I hope all this helps you understand consistency a bit more. If it’s something you are striving to improve try a few ideas such as ….
Set up your week ahead with a time management tool like a whiteboard or a fridge calendar
Touch base with me if you see a clash looming so we can avoid the issue with a swap
Be realistic with your time commitments. Overwhelm leads to us retreating the other way. Having the right amount of training leads to motivation remaining high and well executed training
Be prepared the night before with all your gear laid out ready to go