A Season For All Things

A Season For All Things

Triathlon is a draining sport and too often I see professional and age group athletes racing and training at a high level year-round, day in and day out, year after year. This is not healthy or sustainable.

Humans have since the dawn of time advocated a Sabbath or time of rest. Religion has always seen a benefit in integrating mindful rest into our lives. In addition, our earliest industry, agriculture, saw the benefit of taking a break to allow for rebalancing and rejuvenation. Allowing the land to go fallow lowered yield in the short term in exchange for keeping the land vital for years to come.

In today’s fast paced world, whether in triathlon or in our outside life, we are unwilling to rest and only do so as a last resort once we are sick, injured, or burnt-out. Instead of preserving our long-term health, we chase the short-term performance.

Stuck in a vicious cycle, the modern athlete refuses to take the time to recover that both our body and mind require. Constantly in a state of exhaustion, it is not possible to rebuild without taking time away. The toughest challenge in the world may be to take the step back and rest taking a Sabbatical from the constant stress of the chase.

I would advocate every seventh year a break from high-level long course triathlon racing or at the very least an offseason every year. The professional athletes with highest career longevity take the time each year to rest their mind and body. Likewise, as you see the current crop of women triathletes taking a sabbatical to expand or start a family, I would venture to guess you will see many of these top performers come back stronger in the next five years as the time of unstructured training has allowed both their mind and body to rebalance.

Trying something different over the off-season, means you stay fit and continue to have fun.

We can all learn from our ancestors that rest is a vital part of long term development. Rest doesn’t need to mean sitting on the couch, it can mean enjoying some shorter races or doing an xterra or trying a new sport rather than chasing a Kona qualifier that year. But do give your mind and body a break from the constant struggle of long course racing. Taking a step away to restore your body and your passion for the sport whether for a month or a year will allow you to return in a healthier happier state ready to attack the next season.

 

Mary Beth Ellis is one of the USA’s most decorated long distance triathletes. A member of the US National Team for 4 years, during her career she was an elite ITU racer as well as Top 5 Ironman World Championship finisher. Mary Beth Ellis runs her Trisutto.com coaching program in Andover Massachusetts in the USA and speaks English.

Join Mary-Beth at her triathlon training camps on the Ironman Mont Tremblant course in July http://trisutto.com/camps/#tremblant

Paging the MIA Athlete

Paging the MIA Athlete

Hello? Hello? Are you out there?

Now that I’ve had some time to fully transition to my coaching role, I see so many of the mistakes I made as an athlete. First and foremost is the: Missing In Action (MIA) Athlete syndrome.

I was impossible to coach because of my lack of communication. I think this is one of the key reasons I was able to train and race infinitely better while in a camp situation where coach could watch me in the workout and get at least a few words of feedback out of me after a session. While away from camp, I would go quiet and when I did sent feedback it was data, as I was reticent to report back how I truly felt.

As an athlete, I thought my job was to do the training and shut up. I didn’t realize that giving detailed feedback, not just the data but also qualitative analysis of how I honestly felt, would help not only me but my coach. I think many athletes fall into this trap. They either only provide their coach with factual data on the workout or even worse give zero feedback at all. As a coach, it is hard to know exactly what your athlete is doing and how they are progressing with no feedback to review. The best tool your coach has is the athlete’s response to training and this is what truly will make the relationship successful. The best training plan in the world can fail if the communication is lacking.

 
My message to athletes is this. Please do not worry that you are weak or soft if you give an honest statement about how the session unfolded. The data is great, but your perceived effort is better. As a coach, I want to know if your legs felt heavy or you struggled on the hills, if you’re exhausted or you felt amazing. Please tell your coach everything, as this qualitative analysis doesn’t need to be long or overly detailed it just needs to be honest. This information is essential in completing the feedback loop and allows your coach and you to be even better together.

My old motto as an athlete was “shut up and do your job.”

My new motto as a coach is “do your job and let me know how it went.”

 
Mary Beth Ellis is one of the USA’s most decorated long distance triathletes with 11 Ironman Distance victories and a World ITU Long Course Title. Mary Beth has been a full time Trisutto coach since 2016 after she retired from Professional racing.

Join Mary Beth at one of her upcoming Mont Tremblant Camps in July.

 

Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.