Rafal Medak and Nicola Spirig riding at Gran Canaria recently.
The world is changing at a very fast pace – the computers get faster, the cars get faster, the flow of information, whether correct or not, is overwhelming. It’s becoming more and more challenging to stay on top of things. At work we are often required to do ‘more with less’.
Summarising in one short sentence: ‘our lives are getting faster’.
Faster doesn’t always mean better, and as much as we all enjoy the new gadgets at home, in sport we are more and more often applying the same approach to training, neglecting the fact that our bodies are not machines. We cannot implant a faster processor to train longer or sleep less. We should remember that we are human and training means we are dealing with the human body and its physiology, which was designed by nature over thousands years of evolution and not affected by the ‘electronic revolution’.
Doing more hours at work in the office normally means we get more work done. The same way as if reading a book for longer we would probably get through more pages. This logic is fine (to a limit) when we use our brain only, and this all may work well in our daily lives, but unfortunately such a mentality and approach doesn’t work in training very well. It may bring a short term improvements, but our mission is to achieve long lasting improvements with our athletes.
It is a common theme across age group triathletes to add training on top of their already very busy and very ‘fast’ lives. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in an interview when asked how he would cope with all his responsibilities he replied: ‘I will sleep faster’. This was exactly what one of my new athletes (a very busy professional) told me when we started our coach athlete relationship— ‘you give me the sessions, I will ensure I will complete them. I’m busy but I will find time, I will sleep faster.’
This is a common theme among highly motivated and successful people, which a number, if not the majority, of age groupers are:
– they want quick results ‘I have a race in 6 weeks time, I want to get fit for it.’
– they want train harder ‘This session didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel exhausted after the training, I want more intensity…’
– they deprive their bodies from rest and right nutrition. (note: lighter does not always mean better or faster)
As a result they may very quickly become overtrained, get sick, become de-motivated and as a result get slower. Then they want train even more, rest less and the spiralling circle leads often to them leaving the sport they once loved.
What a number of athletes need to understand are two key principles:
1) Building an athletic body is a process, it simply takes time for the body to get stronger.
2) The human body needs rest and right nutrition to recover and re-build to get stronger.
Training in an uninterrupted way over a long period of time always brings better results than training very hard for a short period of time – and being injured or sick in between.
Athletes are actually getting stronger not when they train but when they rest and recover. Training sessions almost always, unless a recovery session, result in some damage to the muscles. Training hard breaks muscles, creates micro-tears, causes inflammations… The body needs time, sleep and right nutrition (a mix of carbs, protein and good fat) to ‘heal itself’ and rebuild the muscles stronger than before.
Depriving the body from rest and right food will often lead to sickness, injuries or even the opposite result – weakening the muscles. Missing one or two sessions a week is not the end of the world if it helps reducing risk of injury or sickness. If we have a stressful day at work and finish our training at 10pm, go to bed at midnight, it is OK to skip the session we scheduled for 6am assuming we will be in bed by 10pm. This would help to reduce risk of sickness and allow for prolonged periods of consistent training.
One of the core objectives of Trisutto.com is to educate athletes that a patient, gradual and balanced training approach, although it may seem counter-intuitive, is almost always the fastest way to achieving sustainable and long lasting results.
One of the key coaching principles that we adopt is to respect human body. In designing training programmes for our athletes we take into account how it functions and what it needs to get stronger and fitter. We consider our athletes specific circumstances, their work and family commitments and other aspects. There are no coaching templates and the key to successful coach-athlete relationship is the understanding of an athlete as an individual. This more often than not means giving our athletes less training volume or intensity than they would like to do. I call it ‘protecting the athletes from themselves’.
As Brett (Sutton) keeps telling all of us, ‘Hurry Slowly’ is the fastest way to becoming a stronger, better and a faster athlete.
Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.