Fitness and CTL

One of the biggest misleading things on TP in my eyes is the fact that they call CTL “fitness” (the blue line on your performance management chart). The blue line isn’t fitness – it’s how much training load you have done which is an indicator of where you might sit in your fitness levels

The blue line does give you however, an indication of how you have been training. If that blue line is generally trending upwards it’s saying you are developing great consistency and we all know where consistency leads us. It leads us to success.

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.

The Swim

I have had a few questions lately about the swim. Its clear that the swim can be a frustrating discipline to develop. I usually like to coach these things individually as each individual situation demands different needs. A rookie has massively different needs to a pro.
How much a developing young athlete commits to the swim will definitely be different to another athlete that literally hasn’t got that sort of time to invest in big volume / frequency jumps.
There are however, a few common points that I can push :
  • It’s no use practicing more when your technique isn’t being looked after. Technique should be the dominant driver. Give me 2 focussed, attentive hours over 4 mindless hours anyway.
  • Awareness of where you are at and what you need to improve is key. You cant improve what you aren’t aware of
  • The key areas of the swim are : Good body position, balanced breathing with a good deep exhale underwater, early catch, high elbow pull, strong kick.
  • Keep your rating up at least over 32 strokes per minute. Slowing down your rating means you decelerate between strokes and it needs a lot of effort to accelerate again.
  • Be aware of your stroke count for 50m at different intensities. Pulling “harder” through the water usually ends up as wasted effort due to slipping through the water. A good stroke count starts at the high 30’s. This indicates you have a good pull. If it goes much past 50 strokes per 50m it means you need to work on your pull.
  • An early catch and high elbow pull ensures a good grab on the water. Grab that water as best you can with your whole forearm and pull your body past it. Engage your lats in that movement –
  • Don’t drop your elbow underwater … it means you are only using your hand for the pull
  • The hands should enter the water at the shoulder width and pull back under your shoulder line.
When you get the opportunity to watch elite swimmers on television or for that matter on Youtube, watch with these things in mind
  • From the front keep an eye on the line of their pull under the water. Watch their breathing patterns and head position
  • From below the water watch the exhale, body position, early catch & high elbow pull.
  • From above look for hand entry points, shoulder and hip rotation and timing of the arms
  • If you get a chance, count their strokes per 50m.
  • When they get out of the water look at their bodies and how they are developed. This will tell you a lot.

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.

Podcast Episode 1 – What is High Performance?

Welcome to Episode 1 of the Passion for Performance Podcast. In our first week we will discuss exactly how I define High Performance and give you some insights as to how the World’s best prepare to be at the top of the game.

We also have an interview with HPT athlete Paul Humphries. Paul has come from a broad sporting history of motor sport and snow sports, ending up in endurance sports such as triathlon, mountain bikes, running and duathlons. Paul gives us rundown on how he personally has developed into an athlete where his last 12months have seen a personal best performance at every race he has competed in.

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Running Shoes

Just had a great question from an athlete. “When should I replace my running shoes?”

We can complicate this with many different versions of course but the centre of the envelope answer is around 800km. The variances to this rule would be the amount of trail running you do, how heavy you are, what type of shoe they are etc.

When we had our running night with Ryan Quintano at the run shoe shop he said one of the best things you can do for injury prevention is also to have 2 pairs that you rotate.

The 4 Principles of Training

See the graphic I have created below. Overload, Adaptation, Specificity & Reversibility are the keys to training. I have also added in a Performance Management Chart (PMC). It’s important to note that the PMC is displaying all 4 of those principles.

In the PMC you will note the gradual rise of fitness (blue line) as the athlete is in the overload / adaptation phase. You will also see it drop after a major race as the athlete recovers depicting reversibility.

The blue dots are indicating the specificity of training. You can see on the left of the PMC the athlete is in their winter base with lower fitness levels and lower blue dots. As they get into proper training, the fitness rises and the dots become higher showing training is becoming more intense.

The key to it all as your coach is getting the correct balance and timing right for all these factors as we lead into the races.

 

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 Load

I’m quite often asked how much training someone should be doing for certain events. Answer is always “it depends” , but it’s definitely good to have a ball park figure in mind. I have a few rules of thumb when it comes to training loads.

1. Work out the total number of weekly hours based on experience in the sport.

2. Take into account “life” demands. Family needs, work, study, chill out time etc

3. Make sure we have enough hours to train correctly for the goal event. If the athlete doesn’t have enough hours, shorten the goal event.

4. Once I have my rough weekly hours number I use the 25/50/25 rule. 25% swim, 50% bike, 25% run.

5. If you are doing long course I try to match weekend numbers with weekday numbers. So if you are doing a 4 hour ride on the weekend then I try to get you doing 4 hours mid week spread out over 3 rides. Similar to run. If you are doing a 2 hour long run I’ll try to get you to match it mid-week.

6. For short course athletes I like the weekend long sessions to be all about the aerobic foundations for your mid-week intensity. Weekends can also be a chance to sneak a run off the bike in to train for the demands of competition.

7. I like Monday and Friday to be have a recovery focus. That can be passive recovery by means of a day off, or active recovery by means of easier aerobic based sessions.

8. Apply the 4 principles of training to develop the mix of the hours. This is the “art of coaching” part as it deals with the many issues life throws at us.

Intervals

Its sometimes hard to know how hard to go in a set of intervals. My guide is firstly to remember that we work in a training zone. So T4 is a range between 96% and 102% of your Anaerobic Threshold. Depends on how you are feeling but if you have a set of 5x1km on the track its best to work into them. Start the first one a bit easier and get to the last one by incrementally getting quicker each one.

Being aware of your targets helps this of course. If you know your threshold pace on the run is 4min/km then start at 4:05 and work towards 3:55.