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Friday, August 7, 2009

Consider All

Since the very beginning of my coaching career I have been fascinated by the holistic requirements that determine success or failure in endurance events. I recall being adamant in the early 80s that if I could just discover the well guarded training secrets of the athletes & coaches who coached my athlete’s competition I would be able to better apply these & then my athletes would win. Then one of my mentors Tim Noakes said something that changed all this – if you train just like a past champion you will achieve the same results, all other things being equal! Why would I want that? I wanted national records, winners – I had to forge my own way.
Last week I was working with an Olympic aspirant & world class triathlete on mental skills. Previously I had worked with this athlete on running mechanics. Listening to the coach & watching the athlete race & reading the athlete’s race reports it occurred to me that there might be a run training component missing. This was based on the deterioration in mechanics as the run progressed, listening to what the perceived challenges experienced in the run portion of the race were & seeing how this confluence affected the athlete’s mindset.
What started off as work on bio-mechanics led to observation of races to see if the manipulations helped, which led to realizations of incomplete training perhaps leading to loss of form through fatigue, which in turn led to mental fatigue & lack of confidence in the physical components which ultimately led to loss of overall confidence.
The above is a very good illustration of why no amount of science or only an understanding of the psyche of the individual athlete is ever going to be sufficient. A full understanding of all factors involved in performance, plus an unsurpassed degree of relatedness between athlete & coach, with a willingness on the part of the coach & athlete to keep track of all components & to proactively recognize & act on possible “leaks” in any regard. See the diagram that goes along with this article.
Great coaches & athletes & great teams are the ones who take care of every eventuality possible. The team requires a constantly evolving, highly detailed & systematic master plan which is rigorously kept to in order to achieve consistent predictable timeous results.

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