• Time for a look in the mirror: Are you this athlete?

    I’m no triathlon coach. However, I have been involved in the sport of triathlon for over 20 years. In those years I’ve had single discipline coaches, been self coached, had triathlon coaches, belonged to various clubs, been a junior, been an age grouper, been an elite and met some weird and wonderful people along the way. Triathlon attracts a special breed. We are an odd lot, some a bit odder and more obsessive than others. Wherever you go however, you will always encounter a Mr/Ms Grey Area Athlete, a truly special breed indeed.

    I’m sure you would all have, at some stage, come across this breed….maybe you are Mr/Ms Grey Area Athlete?

    This animal is no zebra, they are unleashed. They race the swim warmup because they think it’s a competition and that a medal might be waiting for them poolside before main set. They come for an easy ride with you, their heart rate monitor and power meter become invisible and they smash it so hard you’re breathing out you’re a** to keep up. They are told by the coach to run a certain pace and that’s a cue to ‘bugger that’ and go as hard ‘til they die. And, when crunch time comes and it is time to work hard, where do we find Mr/Ms Grey Area now? Well, they can only go one pace of course - you’ll find them galloping up the rear!

    Now I write this article because, time and time again I’ve seen these athletes make no improvement whatsoever and it’s very sad to watch. I can understand that age group athletes in particular only have a certain amount of time to fit in sessions and the mentality can be to smash everything because of this. This doesn’t work, you are simply not giving your body a chance to recover properly and this begins a vicious downward cycle to non improvement/ non performance. Trust your coach and don’t be scared to go easy when it’s meant to be easy, more often than not the purpose of an easy session is recovery from a hard session and you will find that you never recover properly to do the hard stuff hard. If you don’t have a coach, seek out a properly qualified one who doesn’t just give you sessions on a piece of paper (that’s not coaching!) and be disciplined, it will pay off.

    In particular, at this time of the year you need to make sure you have had a proper end of season break. Mr/Ms Grey Area will be panicking that they are getting unfit and flabby during this time and head out to smash some sessions. They will then wonder why they get injured/don’t have the enthusiasm/ energy for winter training. Your body needs a total break, physically and psychologically and you’ll be chomping at the bit ready and raring to go again after a proper break.

    So, before you embark on your 2014 training, take a good look in the mirror at yourself and if you see Mr/Ms Grey Area, get rid of them. You will be so thankful when it comes to attaining your dreams and goals in 2014!

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