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Consistency versus adaptability

Updated: May 26, 2022

Trisutto Brett Sutton triathlon training age group coaching adaptability consistency

Since we launched the platform one of the aspects of our program has been to offer coaching places once held for pros to age group athletes. The deal was that while we’d modify their training to fit their lifestyle, they would be treated the same as any of my professional athletes – no pampering, no fudging and no holding hands. What I have found has been very enlightening to me personally. Rather than find people needing to be pushed or who were soft when it came to challenging themselves, it’s the complete opposite. These ‘agers’ are no different in mentality to the best athletes I have coached. Driven self starters, who would do or get up at any time to fit whatever painful session Coach decided to give them. Meanwhile, most are working high stress jobs while juggling their family commitments also. Despite this, many are so determined to meet their triathlon goals that they have at times, at least to me, made their lives worse. Now I know they will disagree with me on this, but the anxiety I’ve seen from age group athletes when they have had to miss a session because of a work commitment is a real cause for concern. It’s as if they have lost something of true importance. This can affect their mentality in a negative way, destabilise their week and undermine their future training.

Now what is important to understand here is that while consistency is important, the ability to adapt is also critical. If I was analysing a pro athlete and thought they were mentally tired or physically stressed on a particular day, I would have no problem completely changing the session. So the frustration shown by age group athletes about something that regularly changes for pros is simply mind blowing. This attitude not only hurts their search for performance, but also curtails the time they will spend in our sport.

Having now been back coaching age group athletes for the past 8 years, I have come to the conclusion that for high achievers, this is endemic in triathlon. I attempt to re-educate our athletes that missing a session or two has no physical negative to a long term plan and that pushing through doesn’t enhance performance, it hinders it. Same goes for the seemingly preferred solution – cramming the missed session in somewhere down the line. Just doesn’t work. The negatives of such behaviour far outweigh the positives, and it is my coaching opinion that a broader life view must be taken.

Many age group athletes are no different in mentality to the best athletes I have trained. Therefore, it begs the question, are you one of these poor souls who have now become slaves to your program? Does missing a session because of work, what you are actually paid to do, throw you into a mini depression? Do we find you on a turbo at 3:30am catching up on the session missed as you were closing a business deal? If so, here is some advice that I’ve handed out to my own hyper crew: Go to the bathroom and have a good look in the mirror. Next, ask yourself this:- Do I consider myself a person of above or below average intelligence? If the answer is ‘Above’ give yourself a good slap in the face and wake up to yourself. If the answer is ‘Below’ then you can also give your face a good slap. Why? For underestimating your own ability. The reality is you can’t be a triathlete unless you’re already succeeding in something else in your life. At we believe there is no fundamental difference in gaining performance between age group athletes and pros. Only circumstances and the speed at which one does certain tasks. We encourage no-one to be slaves to anything. Enjoy your chosen sport. It’s a great one. But to be successful you need to work with your circumstances, not fight them. Because if you’re fighting them they’ll eventually win and one day you’ll be with a group of people and the subject of triathlon will come up and you will say, ‘yeah, I used to do that!’ instead of still enjoying your hobby.

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