This, as all of my athletes know, is by far my favourite word. I use it ALL the time, so much so I am sure they probably get sick of it. But bad luck! Developing and maintaining CONSISTENCY is by far one of the most important things an athlete can concentrate on in order to achieve success.
I use the words; developing and maintaining, as it takes time and effort inorder to be consistent. It also takes self control, usually with triathletes not to BE motivated, but self control not to be over motivated, to listen to their bodies or not to race their training partners, which is oh so common.
When we talk about real achievement, which obviously varies for everyone, from finishing a half or full ironman, to qualifying for Vegas or Hawaii or winning a race or racing Pro, CONSISTENCY is king.
This applies in a number of ways:
– The key here is not trying to break any records every day in training. It means following a clear and well thought out plan, which is manageable to the athlete. The idea then is to have a program which is progressive, but able to be repeated over a long period of time without unnecessarily putting the athlete at risk of over training or injury. The plans should always take into account other aspects of the athletes life; family, work, rest, hobbies, as if any of these are out of whack, the plan is not manageable for a long period. It is vital that the plan targets the athletes INDIVIDUAL weaknesses. So often coaches or self coached athletes are pumping out generic programs, without actually targeting the individual athletes weak areas and thus creating plateaus in their performance.
– Daily training therefore should have rest and sleep as high priorities, as when they are not, the athlete may perform well for a few sessions, but then have a really bad one and wonder why….. This is especially important after a key session, which the weekly plan should be based around, so that after those ‘keys’, there is some down time, during which the actual gain in fitness occurs when the body is repairing stronger.
– Just to expel any confusion, Pro athletes do not have ‘magical’ sessions that make them that good. They just consistently and relentlessly target their weaknesses, while steadily building on their strengths. Over a LONG period of time. Yes, it takes a lot of time to get to be great at anything, especially triathlon. But one of the keys you will find is that they try to make each session that much better than the last.
– Stand at the finish line of any tri and you will hear things like; “I had the second fastest bike time” or “If I hadn’t had a poor bike I would’ve been on the podium”. We have to remember that triathlon is exactly that – 3 sports made into one, so people should race like they are doing one sport, not 3 separate ones. The example I often use is that there is a big pie and that represents how much energy you have. If you choose to use all your pie on the bike or swim, you won’t have any for the run, that’s the way it goes. The art to tri racing is to use the energy evenly over the 3 disciplines, so you have no pie left at the finish, but you didn’t run short at any stage! This means racing consistently over the 3 disciplines, which doesn’t mean going easy, but it does mean racing smart.
Day 2 Day Life
– You don’t have to eat perfectly all day, every day, but you do need to do it consistently. You don’t have to stretch or do core work every day, but you do need to do it consistently. It’s often just those little things that make a difference. I encourage my athletes to keep a good balance in their lives, as in the long run it leads to more enjoyment in the sport and therefore more success and longevity!
One of my favorite quotes which sums this up beautifully is:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle