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Your body knows best

Updated: Jan 9

Trisutto Brett Sutton triathlon train by feel

In these difficult times we have seen one thing that stands out. Everybody has individual reactions to a virus. Some may have it and have no symptoms, some very mild symptoms, while for others it can be very dangerous and even deadly. Why does this have any bearing on our triathlon training? The reason is simple. My personal preference for lack of numbers is to encourage athletes to listen to their bodies, and more importantly to not allow their mind to over command the body's feelings. As I've told many federations for elite athletes, look only at performance in real race situations, not in tests. Judge athletes by racing results. So many of us are controlled by specific sessions done at specific speeds or on the bike by watts. 70% of people that get mesmerized by these often false figures, will also judge the success of their individual training sessions by these. Worse, in race case situations, athletes get lost or discouraged when they don't see the numbers they have set for themselves. In some cases their race is over in their minds, and they haven't even reached half way in the race. I've known athletes who have hurt their race by choosing to slow down when their numbers went higher than those that they had pre-determined for themselves; only to make a mistake with other protocols in the race, such as feeding and only be able to jog and walk to the finish line.

If you define yourself by numbers, you lose the ability to have instinctive feel of where you are at. When other groups come to our training venue in St Moritz they are often amused that this old coach is standing at the fence or on the bike hill watching some of the best athletes in the sport doing their fast work, no stop watch, no recording of the reps, no recovery times, and more startling to them, not running in groups while they are doing similar sets. Very few will be inquisitive enough to come over and ask, what are the athletes doing? Most walk away after a little talk thinking my explanations were bland as to hide, the 'real reasons'. No shouting of encouragement, just the casual walk over and whisper something about technique, and to the 'right' people a little word of encouragement. No histrionics, no rah rah rah! Often during those discussions there will be a visiting running team carrying out their program in the most structured scientific way, sometimes even lactates being taken. I point out that the triathletes are beating these people in their own specific sport at the races! The bottom line is we train for developing a race performance. 'No pain, no gain' is for me within aerobic sport the worst saying in the motivators play book. Remember even an Olympic distance race is 2 hours duration, thus it is aerobic. The best performance for you is how fast you are while operating at B A P - Best Aerobic Pace! Thus pushing oneself to the maximum for mental satisfaction of 'I gave it everything' usually means you are not training within the framework that will make you faster at your race distance. In fact it is actually detrimental to your 1 hour to 17 hour duration event. Here is an example that we have all been guilty of - Let's say you run 15km, you are feeling good and hammer out the first 3km only to blow up, then continue to torture yourself for the next 12km. Then you go home, have a shower and feel quite up beat that you 'give it everything' as you prepare for a half ironman. But what you just did is to practice for a 3k race, or at best a 5k. There was no training at all for what you are going to race. You just waisted a good hour to train. Let's take another example. An interval training set of 400s. The first 4 you burst out and hammer away. The last 10 get slower and slower. You have just trained for a 1500m race! I write these blogs to try to help athletes and coaches to understand real training protocols. So if you don't have a coach it can help you understand how improvement really works. To develop the instinctive feel for 'how your body is feeling' then act on it, without that massive restrictor of E G O! Getting pure joy out of a training day when you are tired, and just cruising through is not taken as a failure! It is a positive day of work, for when you do feel good, to then take it with both hands. The most preached message for the Trisutto squad is 'Train as you feel, have courage to say no to the ego. Your consistency will have your back'. We have an acronym that I will close out with B R T BELIEF - in your program and yourself REPETITION - repeat what is needed on all three disciplines TIME - give yourself time to make training adaptions. It is not days, weeks or months that count, it is years! Follow this advice and it will take care of you on the only day that measurement really does count, RACE DAY. Just the way I see it.

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