One of the benefits of having been a coach for so many years, is recognizing certain trends that are typical for developing triathletes, whether they are the first-timer, or the seasoned weekend warrior, or even the experienced age grouper trying to get onto the podium.
One of the most common trends I see in many developing triathletes (and I think it’s probably human nature to some degree) is the tendency to self-sabotage their ultimate chance for potential massive long term improvements in order to reach some short term gains.
The best example of this is giving up on perfecting stroke technique in the water too early, by logging yards and yards (in the pool or open water) in order to build swimming “fitness.”
One thing I’ve said repeatedly to novices who asked (so many times it has made my head spin): Once you KNOW you can finish a swim (especially with the aid of your wetsuit), why not put all of your energy and focus into setting up your long term gain in swimming ability by working on skills relentlessly.
While many nod their heads in agreement, when push comes to shove, most forsake that advice and that approach and just go swim, mile upon mile, grooving poor skills and trashing their shoulders in the process. When they finally decide in the years to come, that their abilities are subpar and they want to go faster, they’ll be faced with the fact that they’ve now hard-wired that poor form to the point where change is nearly impossible to achieve.
What are some other examples?
- Building running mileage with the primary goal being to make that running log look impressive (from a mileage point of view, because that’s how you get better, right?), without first identifying imbalances and weaknesses in the body and addressing them head-on.
- Signing up for long course races (70.3 or 140.6) without first developing a solid foundation of fundamental skills and experience at the shorter distances.
- Spending $5,000 or more on a state-of-the-art triathlon bike before even owning a road or mountain bike. And getting that “cool bike” without even possessing basic bike handling skills or experience.
There’s a lot of reasons why so many athletes tend to approach things this way. Some feel they need more confidence to just “complete” the distance, and others, fired up by their newfound enthusiasm for the sport, think they can jump on the “fast track” to improvements in durability and speed. I am willing to bet that many folks just plain downplay their own potential for improvement, or sell themselves very short when it comes to how good they can actually be!
Do you REALLY know how good you can be? NO, you don’t.
Truly GREAT performances (YOUR best possible potential, no one elses) are built upon a solid foundation and mastery of the basics and fundamentals.
It takes a long time to truly get good. And that’s one reason why I encourage folks to really embrace the process and enjoy the journey.
Of course, I’m often reminded that I don’t think the way that most people think.
I guess that is true.
The thing is, most people who achieve LONG TERM success and absolutely explode their potential, going much further and getting much better and faster than they ever dreamed was possible, do it because they think like I think.
So who do you want to be?
Do you want easily achieved short term “confidence” building, or true, long term, massive gains in performance potential?
It’s up to you.
Have a great weekend everyone!