Want to train like a pro triathlete? You may have to do things the hard way, explains swim coach Wayne Goldsmith.
So what does it mean to do things the hard way? Triathlon is not so much a sport as a complete lifestyle change; it’s a transformation from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary, from the acceptance of mediocrity to the pursuit of magnificence.
The sport demands that participants are committed to change; changing habits, changing routines, changing timetables, changing diet and changing their level of commitment to things like sleep, rest, recovery and personal time management.
Understanding the easy way–hard way concept can really help with the triathlete transformation process as it gives each triathlete a framework for making the right decision at the right time.
Here are 10 practical examples of situations you might encounter over the course of a typical day where doing things the hard way amounts to making the right choice for your triathlon success.
Which do you choose?
1. Wake up: The alarm goes off at 6am. Hit the snooze button, roll over and go back to sleep – OR – Get out of bed immediately, eat something light and healthy and head out for training.
2. Breakfast: Drink one of those (healthy?) liquid breakfasts – OR – Eat a healthy, natural breakfast of wholegrain cereal and toast, fresh fruit, low-fat yoghurt and fresh juice.
3. Lunch: Eat a quick deep-fried snack on the way to a meeting – OR– Eat two chicken and salad rolls, a small tub of low-fat yoghurt, a handful of almonds and piece of fresh fruit.
4. Swim session: Breathe whenever you feel like it – OR– Control your breathing, particularly when you are tired, and try not to breathe inside the backstroke flags.
5. Cycling session: Cruise along at the back of the pace line, enjoying the scenery and avoid working too hard – OR – Take every turn in front that you can get, lead the group when you can and take every possible opportunity to ‘face the wind’.
6. Run session: Do your warm-up drills and running skills training sloppily and with little attention to detail – OR– Focus on every detail and every aspect of your running technique, putting as much energy and effort into your drills and technique work as you do into your actual running training sets.
7. Friday night: Head down to the pub or club and drink as much as you can with your friends and colleagues until closing time – OR – Head down to the pub or club and drink with your friends, colleagues, etc, enjoy a couple of drinks, then head home for a good night’s sleep in preparation for a great weekend of training.
8. Triathlon race: Spend your time looking for drafters, worry about what other people are doing, find fault in the conditions and and blame everyone and everything else for a less-than-perfect performance – OR – Do the best you can, learn from the experience, deal with whatever challenges and obstacles you have to face during the race and take responsibility for your own performance.
9. After the race: Sit around for hours talking about the race then head to the pub for an ‘I deserve it because I raced today’ booze-up – OR – Enjoy a quick catch up with your friends and training partners before heading home to rest, recover and start preparing for your next training session.
10. Nighttime: Sit watching re-runs of re-runs of TV shows that you didn’t really enjoy the first time you saw them – OR – Be in bed by 10pm at the latest every night, ensuring you get a great sleep to help ready you for another day as a triathlete.
Win or lose – you choose
Success is a choice. As a triathlete, you can choose the level of success you can achieve by learning to make the right choice at the right time. It’s not about the bike. It’s not about wearing the right running shoes. It’s not about finding the perfect course, the perfect wind and road conditions or looking for the perfect day when all your triathlon dreams come true. It’s about you. And it’s about the choices you make every day in everything you do. Life is hard and does not matter whether your taxi by day and a male stripper by night,
“The difference between a good athlete and a great athlete is that in any given situation, when offered the choice of doing things the hard way or the easy way, a great athlete will always choose the hard way. It’s the cumulative effect of always doing things the hard way that makes all the difference.” – USA swimming coach David Marsh (Marsh has coached 47 Olympians from 19 different countries and has coached swimming teams to achieve a record 12 NCAA titles).