Steve Trew reveals why you shouldn’t believe the hype and how you can tackle your goals effectively.
Whenever I read a super athlete profile, my heart sinks when I my eyes fall on the section entitled “A typical week’s training”. I just can’t believe they really do all that in one single week.
Perhaps the swimming content is accurate or maybe the cycle content or the run content. But all three written as a typical week?
Well, call me an old cynic, but I know what I’d do if I was being interviewed by a magazine – I’d pick the best bits ever and write them down. It’s a natural thing to do, because they’re probably thinking: “If I write what I really do, no one will believe I do so little.”
So what tends to happen is that the athlete is a little selective. Most of us are age-groupers, and while it’s fantastic to try to emulate the stars or to aspire to be them, it can be unrealistic if we don’t take into account every-day living such as going to work, spending time with the family, relaxing, in fact all the thing that go in to having a well-rounded life.
Perhaps there should be another “typical week’s training” box, but this one subtitled, “What I did when I first started”.
Then athletes of whatever age and ability can take into account the progression over the weeks and months and years and perhaps look at their own training with a fresh pair of eyes.
The generally accepted speed of progression in training is to add no more than 10 per cent of total training over a period of six weeks. That amount of time allows the body to adjust, to get used to the extra trauma and most importantly to avoid injury.
If we follow that plan of 10 percent every six weeks, then in less than a year (10 months actually) we have doubled our training load. Carry on doing that and in 19 months we can go from six hours to 24 hours per week. And with that, we are approaching professional athlete training volume.
Of course, it’s not just training time that we are looking to progress in; we want to drop times in interval sessions, run tempo sessions faster, improve technique on all disciplines. No problem! No pressure!
If we’re truly serious, it goes like this: Decide what it is you want; write it down; make a plan and work on it every single day.
You can break this down into what I refer to as three steps to heaven (as my good friend Eddie Cochran used to sing).
Step one is deciding what you want to achieve. You can’t just say, “Oh, I’d like to do an Olympic distance”. It has to be more precise than that. What overall time do you want? You can’t control finishing position, but you can plan on a time.
What splits for swimming, cycling and running? You need to plan exactly what you want to achieve, if you don’t you can’t move on to step two.
This is working out what you have to do to achieve that aim. This is, of course, largely the training element.
How many hours? How many sessions? What’s the break down between speed and endurance? What time do you need to set in those 20 x 100 metres swim sessions if you’re aiming for a 24 minute, 1,500m race time? What pace for those 8 x 800m run intervals if you want a 40 minute 10k?
What’s the recovery in those pace sessions? Too much and improvement is nullified, too little and you don’t get the quality. It’s a big equation, but one that you have to work out.
Then step three. To achieve those times, to undergo all that training, what do you have to give up? Make no mistake, this is the BIG step. We all know that superbly talented athlete in our club, so much talent that we’re jealous… and yet they never seem to achieve what we all believe they’re capable of.
Maybe it’s that one missed swim session every week, not cycling when it’s bucketing down, avoiding the early morning run because of another late night.
This is the crunch step.
It’s what makes the difference between the winners – and by that I mean those who achieve what they set out to achieve – and the also-rans, those who never quite made it.
The old cliché? “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. Don’t let that desperation be yours, start now on the three steps to heaven.
Steve Trew: At his extensive years, Steve is rapidly approaching the final step to heaven! Steve is an advisory coach for Speedo. He can be contacted for all things triathlon on firstname.lastname@example.org