7 Traits Of Elite Triathletes Pt 2

It doesn’t matter what level you compete at, watching successful competitors shows there are several common personality traits they hold.  Read about them in part 2 of this article series…

4) Thy max out on the coach

What’s this maxing out on the coach?  If you’ve gone to the trouble of finding a coach then you really should make sure you get your money’s worth. If you run up against a problem, big or small, you need to get to the bottom of it before it becomes a major issue so this is where you max out on your coach.

These days, staying in touch is such an easy thing to do and distance is no issue at all. Phone, Facebook, Twitter, email, they all put your coach within easy reach.  Don’t be doing the “I didn’t want to disturb….”, they’re there to be disturbed and should they want some downtime of their own they’ll let you know.

If you’re paying for coaching rather than a training schedule, then make sure you get value for money. It’s so easy to avoid contacting people when there’s a problem.  If something’s going wrong then use the help that’s available to put it right before it becomes more serious.

At the end of the day, if training goes awry, perhaps you’ve been ill, maybe work or family circumstances change then don’t think of your coach as the enemy.  They need to know so that they can work on what needs to doing to get things back on track.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can rewrite the schedule yourself – just ask yourself why you got a coach in the first place.

Dealing with it – open all communication channels

Communication is a really personal thing – me I hate using the phone, mobiles are fine but landlines are a different matter.  How about you, how do you communicate?  What style do you use?  Would email suit you best?  A weekly run down?  How about a Skype call to run through the contents of your email once you’ve sent it?

Then there’s Facebook and Twitter – I wonder if they’re any help for a meaningful analysis but i guess i felt obliged to put them in.  Finally of course, there’s always the face to face but these days long distance coaching is becoming more popular.

5) Food is no longer just a pleasure

Understanding the role that nutrition plans in becoming an elite athlete is crucial.  Elite athletes separate themselves from the more recreational in several ways but nutrition is the most important.  It’s about understanding what nutrition your body needs at particular stages during your training schedule and making sure your body gets it.

For most athletes the two main problem areas are eating enough of the good stuff and then eating and refuelling after training correctly.  By now good hydration is probably second nature (if it’s not – get onto it – now!) and carrying water has become second nature, and carbs vs protein vs fat is a mantra we can chant in our sleep but do you give as much focus to how you best refuel after training.

After that group run, the social vibe takes over and what do you do?  Grab a coffee and maybe a muffin just for the craic but you’re not getting the proper balance of carbs and protein to get the best recovery and therefore the best benefit from your training.

Dealing with it – refuelling that really counts

Its a simple matter of habit and planning.  You know you need the right balance of carbs and protein and you know what things from your diet will give you that so the planning bit is organising yourself in advance.  Don’t expect to find a Triathlete Take Away just as you finish your run.  Make sure you’ve brought the right foods with you and then make sure you kick start the right habit by eating within 60 minutes of your workout ending.

You need to plan eating during the day as well.  Gone are the regular three meals, you need to be thinking 5 – 6 small meals a day, again with the correct balance of carbs and proteins, this should all be worked out as part of your training schedule.  Grazing has been shown to just not work.  It’s really hard to maintain the carb/protein balance so just do it.

6) Dib Dib Dob – Be Prepared

Like a good boy scout being prepared is key to success as an elite athlete.  I guess being prepared and then blessed with a share of good luck is the most important thing you can achieve.  Preparation is not just about following your training schedule straight; without passing go and without collecting £200.

It’s about looking at your schedule, thinking about your family life  and considering your work so that you can spot any problems or issues way in advance.  The better you know your schedule the more things you’ll spot in advance and the smoother your training will be.

If your attending an event away from home, how are you preparing your accommodation.  If you’re using a different wetsuit what are going to do about the sticky zipper.  It’s the 6 Ps, Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (well go with 5 if that’s a bit near the mark).

It’s a whole new skill set that you have to learn as part of your training schedule and it’s one of the new non athletic skills you’ll acquire on your journey towards being an elite triathlete.

Dealing with it – Find the right strategy

As you stick with your schedule and you review how things go with your coach, make sure you keep your mind open to all the non sports fitness stuff you’ll be receiving FOC as that’s about strategies for being prepared.  When it’s suggested that you book your next completion event earlier don’t have a hissy.

It’s just pointing out that if you book early you’ll be able to book accommodation before it sells out. There’ll be lots of practical tips about organising home to minimise the disruption your training schedule causes.

7) Every day presents a new learning experience

To successfully complete your training schedule, all ten years of it and to have achieved your goal you will need to develop a healthy relationship with learning.

As you go through experience after experience there’s learning there for the taking.  You need to develop a questioning mind, analyse what worked and what didn’t so that you can do the good stuff again and avoid the not so good.

Some people find it difficult to go through this process but you should have a coach that knows you well enough to recognise this and will take you through all the learnings that are there.

Of course there’s also reading, reading and reading to keep up with latest developments so with a combination of old wisdom and new research you’ll never stop learning.

Dealing with it – Keep your focus

It’s hard to stay on top of the learning thing – remember how school felt?  If you’re finding it a bit of a grind then maybe you’re in a rote rut.  Know what I mean?   Look to your routine and see if there’s something that can be done to inject some life.

Don’t do this on your own (you were reading earlier weren’t you?) review with your coach and if you can’t seem to break that monotony then don’t avoid the obvious – maybe you need a new coach? If you want to learn then develop and maintain the questioning habit.

Why, when, how much, are the starting point as it’s answers that will put you on the path to lifelong learning about your training schedule.

Good luck!


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