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Hard work can over ride talent levels

25 September 2014 No Comment

Talent is not all that important.

I’ve heard a lot of lazy people excuse themselves for not setting serious goals, not training conscientiously, because they have decided that they don’t have enough talent to be worthy of setting big goals.

Then on the other hand I’ve seen athletes work hard at all aspects of their sport, and overcome all sorts of obstacles along the way, and then amaze themselves and all those around them, with how much talent they have uncovered.

My observation is that the greatest talent an endurance athlete can have is tenacity and attention to the little things.

Flexibility Anyone who spends a bit of time each day working on their flexibility can improve. And the amazing coincidence is that the best swimmers in my squad are more flexible that the poorer swimmers. The same applies to the best runners in the squad. Stretching is important for freedom of movement, and most of all lack of muscular tension while performing.

Strength A friend of mine did his Phd on the strength gains with weight training, possible in men over sixty. At the time I was a lot younger and was impressed by the gains made by these old guys. In a group of runners he increased their muscle mass, and overall strength by a significant percentage over a 8-10 week period. If you are strong, you not only perform better but you can avoid so many of the injuries that your competitors will suffer.

Body weight There have been studies made on the possible performance gains per kg of weight loss. There is so much to gain by keeping yourself at close to race weight through your preparation. You don’t have to be skinny, but on the other hand you don’t want to be carrying the weight of a small child on your belly. Losing weight is easy, you just have to want to.

Everyone I have asked to drop, dairy, wheat and sugar from their diets, now have a trim, healthy looking athlete’s body. With this simple eating plan you never need to be hungry, you can eat as much as you like. As long as none of it is wheat, dairy or sugar. This simple plan asks you to have 50-60% of your diet as vegetables. No-one needs to be fat.

Training intensity Most of the athletes who I have seen become discouraged and drop out of the sport, are the ones who race their training sessions. Regularly turning aerobic rides and runs into time trials or races with their training partners. Aerobic work needs to be much easier than race pace. Intervals and run speed work need to be much harder than race pace. Time trials need to be done regularly, and these are at race pace. Know the difference between training and racing.

Training volume A beginner cannot step straight up to the workload that a seasoned athlete can handle. Early years should be spent laying the foundations for future training blocks. It’s no secret that there is a relationship between the volume of training and performance.

The more you do, usually the faster you become. It’s not as simple as that but as an athlete develops he/she can handle more and this allows for greater aerobic development.  But it’s also a trap. Doing more will not make you faster, if you don’t recover from it. So for every increase in volume, there needs to be an equal increase in the attention to recovery procedures.

Recovery feeding I usually advise my athletes on how I want them feeding immediately after training sessions. By conscientiously sticking to a recovery drink like Endura Opti, after every session, the new athlete gradually becomes leaner and more muscular over six months to a year. It’s amazing how much muscle development occurs doing mainly aerobic, endurance type training.

Endurance athletes need more protein than body builders. The ratio of one part protein to four parts carbohydrate is just right to replenish muscle glycogen levels and rebuild muscle tissue. This is an area where you have the chance to “lock away” the gains from each workout.

Have faith in the plan I’ve known a lot of athletes who are always researching the latest thing. Whether it’s the latest nutritional supplement, or the latest training idea someone on a triathlon forum has offered. The secret is not out there waiting to be discovered. Have a look around you at the most successful athletes in your squad, or club. They have usually already discovered the secret.

It’s turning up every session. It’s doing the session just the way the coach has set it. It’s going easy when you’re asked to. It’s giving everything when it’s time to go hard. It’s training when the weather is bad. It’s feeding immediately after each session, replenishing everything the body has used.

It’s not Searching outside the squad for the secret. It’s not buying all the latest gadgets to measure your performance. It’s not downloading everything on strava. It’s not giving yourself discounts in training sessions. It’s not racing your mates in training. It’s not doing speedwork, before you have a base built.

If you train smart, do more things right than your mates, you will never get injured, and you’ll continue to improve over many years.

One of the big mistakes I see athletes outside my squad making is, not doing enough low intensity development work, and doing intense speedwork sessions way before they have a base built. All distance triathlons are endurance events.  The greatest requirement is aerobic capacity, this has to be built, along with conditioning of the body before speedwork is started.

The right blend of technique work, and aerobic development work will cause the athlete to actually race faster than speedwork done prematurely. Giving speedwork to unconditioned athletes is like playing Russian Roulette.

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