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THE 6 C's OF ENDURANCE SUCCESS

I often feel that athletes over complicate the sport of triathlon. There are so many gimmicks and marketing gibberish out there it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that there are short cuts to success. One thing I have learned from many years in the sport is that there is no easy way to reach your maximum potential. There is however, a "smart" way. Below is a list of fundamentals that I believe all athletes should address when training and racing. Whether you are a Duathlete, Triathlete, Multi-sporter or Ironman these themes are constant across all endurance sports.
Consistency of training (includes recovery)
Consistency is the most fundamental aspect of improving your performance in the most efficient way. When setting a training plan you must ensure you are setting a plan that is achievable given your personal time constraints and it is periodised to allow for recovery. For example, take two athletes who manage 40 hours of training over a four week period. Athlete A trains: week 1 – 20hrs, week 2 – 4hrs, week 3 – 5 hours, week 4 - 11hrs. Athlete B trains week 1 – 9hrs, week 2 -11hrs, week 3 -13hrs and week 4 – 7hrs (recovery week). Athlete ‘B’ is far more likely to remain injury free by only making small increases in their training load and will also improve fitness more efficiently by taking adequate recovery.
 

Correct fuelling

There are a number of aspects to nutrition: day to day, training and race fuelling. All these need to be addressed on a personal basis. There is a huge amount of information available on nutrition but I am a strong advocate of everything in moderation. One point I will make is the longer the race the more important a sound nutrition plan becomes. If you are competing in long distance events (ie longer than 3hrs) you should always have a written plan for your nutritional requirement pre, during and post race. ALWAYS practice your proposed race day nutrition several times in training. DO NOT try anything new on race day.
 

Control of pace

Unless you are an elite athlete or racing in draft legal events most endurance events are individual time trials. Your efforts should be based on your personal level of fitness. Again this should be practised regularly in training and be based on a combination of perceived effort, lap times or heart rate.
 

Commitment to alignment/flexibility

There are a number of schools of thought on flexibility. In my opinion flexibility and core conditioning is as important as the other disciplines. If you can find a yoga teacher with an interest in endurance sports you are very lucky. A regular yoga/stretching routine can help aid recovery and reduce the risk of injury. Likewise two half hour sessions of core conditioning can have a very positive effect on your racing especially when you get tired and you develop poor, inefficient ‘form’.
 

Composure in tough situations

There is no two ways about it; endurance racing is hard both physically and mentally. When you enter the final stages of a race it’s not always the strongest or fittest athlete who wins. Do not underestimate the power of your mind. As with nutrition it’s wise to write down a mental strategy for racing. Think of key words or phrases to help you through tough times. I also recommend dealing with issues you are concerned about before the race so you have a mental strategy to counter them if they arise. This is especially important for longer distance racing. For example how are you mentally going to deal with a puncture? Most athletes panic and get back on their bikes trying to make up "lost time". You are far better off writing off the time spent on the side of the road; call it a rest or whatever you want but stick to your original plan. There is usually plenty of time to make up lost ground later in the race.
 

Common Sense

Endurance racing is not brain surgery. You need to train and race "smart". Keep things simple. Racing should just be an extension of training. Simulate "racing" regularly in training, stick to the simple points above and you are sure to do well. 

 

Happy training

John Newsom