It’s about giv­ing your best in train­ing and on race day, ex­plains Steve Trew

Triathlon Plus - - Contents - Steve Trew Coach & com­men­ta­tor Steve is feel­ing pretty pleased with him­self, he put ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing into writ­ing this ar­ti­cle so he’s a win­ner! Steve is an ad­vi­sory coach for Speedo. He can be reached for all things triathlon on trew@per­son­

Steve Trew ques­tions whether your race is all about fin­ish­ing or rac­ing.

That great Aus­tralian run­ning coach, Percy Cerutty, once laid out what he con­sid­ered to be the essen­tial points of run­ning a marathon; run a hun­dred miles in a week, be able to run 10 miles in 50 min­utes, com­fort­ably do a train­ing ses­sion of three by five miles at speed. Okay, hands up at the back all you triath­letes and dis­tance run­ners out there who reg­u­larly do that in train­ing?

How­ever there are thou­sands upon thou­sands of run­ners who will go out per­haps three or four times a week and run maybe be­tween five to 10 miles each time, putting in a longer run as marathon des­tiny ap­proaches and they will fin­ish the marathon and be rightly proud that they have done so.

What Cerutty had de­scribed was how to win a marathon, but fin­ish­ing and win­ning are very dif­fer­ent things. These words were writ­ten back in the Six­ties, way be­fore the ad­vent of the “big city” marathon. But are those words still true? Most cer­tainly. Those 10 miles run at five minute mile pace would bring you in around two hours and eleven min­utes if you con­tin­ued them for full marathon dis­tance, so ac­tu­ally more in­tense train­ing is re­quired.

But how does this ap­ply to triathlon? Very specif­i­cally, I think. There are a lot of ath­letes out there whose in­ten­tion is to fin­ish, par­tic­u­larly when rac­ing an Ironman. And there is noth­ing wrong with that. Fin­ish­ing a long dis­tance triathlon puts you in less than one per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion. There are sig­nif­i­cantly fewer who train to win. Cer­tainly, get­ting out there and putting the miles in day af­ter day should do the trick. But maybe tak­ing a long hard look at how you put the miles in, and how you make up the mix­ture of en­durance, speed and tech­nique will serve you bet­ter. How many triath­letes eas­ily ac­cept they’ll “just get through the swim”? Why not fo­cus on stroke and tech­nique in train­ing and look for con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment. Maybe it’s just chang­ing the mind­set. And that’s with­out even tak­ing into ac­count the over­all most im­por­tant as­pect, men­tal at­ti­tude.

There is ab­so­lutely no doubt that triathlon is an en­durance sport, but as the level rises from be­gin­ner to com­pe­tent ath­lete to ex­pe­ri­enced per­former to po­ten­tial win­ner, the way we set out our train­ing be­comes in­creas­ingly im­por­tant. We will per­haps see a rise in speed­work, a fo­cus on more in­ter­val and rep­e­ti­tion train­ing and a se­ri­ous look at tech­nique, es­pe­cially crit­i­cal tech­nique un­der pres­sure.

Now there is ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong with want­ing to fin­ish a triathlon, while pro­gress­ing up the dis­tances from sprint to Olympic dis­tance to 70.3 to full Ironman is a great source of fit­ness, pride and men­tal strength. But im­prov­ing on per­for­mance and time? We need to look at our own par­tic­u­lar train­ing for­mula. If the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is repeating the same process and ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent out­come, then we have all be­come our own worst en­e­mies at some time in our triathlon ad­ven­ture.

Multi World Triathlon Cham­pion and all-round nice guy Greg Welch talks about one of his favourite train­ing days; there are just two parts to it. Part one: ride be­tween 100 and 120 miles, fin­ish at run­ning track. Part two: put on run­ning shoes and do a ses­sion of 10 by one mile at five minute mile pace with one minute re­cov­ery only. “Yeah, but it’s Greg Welch, he’s World Cham­pion,” I hear you say. Well, yes… but he wasn’t al­ways World Cham­pion; he be­came that be­cause of the ses­sion, not the other way round. Greg also talks about the guys who would turn up at the track and do the ses­sion along­side him: “They’d maybe do the first rep in 4.50, maybe the sec­ond and fin­ish in front of me. By the time we got to the sev­enth or eighth rep I was back on tar­get, no­body ever fin­ished the whole set in front of me.”

That’s not him boast­ing, that’s re­al­ity. The re­al­ity of hav­ing done year upon year upon year of hard, con­sis­tent, struc­tured train­ing; in­creas­ing the amount and the in­ten­sity again and again and again.

Win­ning isn’t nec­es­sar­ily com­ing first in your age group, first in that par­tic­u­lar race. Win­ning is get­ting the ab­so­lute best out of your­self by putting in ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing con­sis­tently. Rac­ing or fin­ish­ing, your choice, ev­ery time.

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