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What is winning?

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

As 2020 rolls on, I've already had the pleasure of working with a variety of age group athletes attending Trisutto training camps. I find it truly a blessing to be able to work with diverse groups of interesting athletes from varying backgrounds, all with a wide variety of reasons for attending our camps. Some are new to the sport, while some are looking for the magic or secret ingredient in their training to achieve their race goals.

At Trisutto camps there is an emphasis on thinking, observing and training for the individual athlete. A period of learning about what techniques best suit each individual. What becomes apparent in lectures during camp is that many 'just want to train!' I don't shy away from emphasising the key to improved performance, which is the need to train for your own goals, within your own boundaries. Not to be driven by the group mentality.

Why? Because as many of you will have experienced, a phenomenon among age group camps is that a competitiveness between campers is often observed, each measuring themselves against other individuals, rather than assessing their own circumstances and measuring against those.

At camps when our pros have been present, it has been a wonderful learning experience for age group athletes and visiting coaches alike to observe maybe 7 athletes training, with 5 different workouts happening all at the same time - and ongoing throughout the week. We do not have our professional athletes in head to head showdowns during each session. Those are saved for race day.

In recent Total Body Force (TBF) swimming blogs, we also emphasised that there is no one size fits all swimming technique for every individual. The same also applies to training the bike and the run parts of our triathlon.

I am frequently asked what is our secret? If we have one, then it is this:

We treat triathlon as triathlon. It is not 3 sports, it is not swim, not bike, not run; but is the one sport of triathlon and is therefore trained as one sport.

We produce training for the individual athlete, not for the group.

At a recent camp, I was talking with a dedicated age group athlete, who asked if I knew of a particular phenomenal age group racer, and the comment,

'I don't know how any of us can compete with his numbers'.

I asked, 'if he is so good, why doesn't he race against the pros?' The reply, 'He is too old...'

Well, I can think of maybe 5 boxers who fought for world titles in boxing at over 45 years of age. There are no age group competitions there. I asked, 'Does he work full time, or part-time? Is he retired with financial security? Does he have family? Or can he train like a pro without any other responsibilities?'

Sometimes being 'competitive' in triathlon isn't an even playing field. By very nature, some are at a huge disadvantage. But only if being on the podium is one's interpretation of winning. In age group sport it is my belief that being successful has nothing to do with being on the podium. Winning is something we can all achieve. I believe winning is being able to take our own personal circumstance, and working towards making it better than it was previously.

  • If triathlon helps you work towards a healthy weight goal, then that is winning, and winning big!

  • If triathlon helps alleviate stress in your life that is affecting you, your family and loved ones, that is winning, and winning big!

  • If triathlon helps to set an example to your kids, who see you persevering and empowers them to do likewise, that is winning, and winning big!

  • Improving one's life through triathlon, and taking pride in the discipline required is winning and winning big!

I'll leave you with a parable.

Herb Elliot, one of the greatest 1500m runners of all time was coached by arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time and mavericks of his era, Percy Cerutty. During an argument, Percy, who was nearly 80 years old, challenged Herb to a race and whoever wins the race is declared the winner of the argument!

So off they went. The great champion running along a few yards in front of his mentor, who was busting a gut, eyes bulging, spit coming from every hole as he pressed as hard as he could. It had an audience of fellow runners who chuckled as the old man hammered himself. They crossed the line and Percy fell to the ground completely spent, chest heaving, while Herb was pronounced the winner to all his mates. But rising off all fours, the coach boomed as he stood up like a colossus.

'You won nothing, I am the winner! I gave everything, you did not. You disgraced yourself!'

Success people is in the eye of the individual, it always has been and always will be!

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