Coaches will tell you that consistency is the most important aspect of improving. That's because they want your business. I think Coaching is THE most important thing you can do for yourself when you start triathlon, but you need to find the right Coach. Every single person is different. I wrote a lengthy post awhile ago about how to find the right Coach. As soon as I have time, I'll add the link to this post.
Consistency is not the most important aspect. Take it from me. I've been there. It's really frustrating.
Consistency with the right training is the most important aspect.
I started doing triathlon 8 or 9 years ago. I've done just about every type of training available from free plans, to paid plans to forums to semi-coaching plans to 1-1 coaching. I'm now on my 2nd Coach, so I understand how important it is to find the right fit.
If improvement was only about consistency, I'd be running 7:00 miles by now.
Something happened over the weekend.....this is where I am going to struggle to describe what happened. Some of you will see yourself in this post. Some of you won't have any idea what I'm talking about.
For years, I did the training. On the long days, I always felt the same. I was tired and just getting through the workouts was enough for me. I always waited for taper. I mean....that's what taper is for, right? Shed your exhaustion and have your best race.
It never happened that way for me. In races, I felt exactly the same as I did in training. I'd start the day feeling tired and thinking "ok. let's just get through this....but THIS time there will be MAGIC that happens that will give me my best race."
For triathletes, being tired is like a badge of honor. "Yeah, I'm so tired....I trained for 22 hours this week."
I didn't know that was the wrong way to view training. You/we should never be so tired that we cannot give the effort needed on hard days.
Over the weekend, I swam over 3 miles. I biked over 6:15. At the end of that, I ran 45 minutes. Twenty of those minutes were supposed to be at HIM pace.
The loud voice in my head went off, "NO F*CKING WAY. I'm not going to be able to run at HIM pace."
But somewhere inside me there was another voice that said, "Liz has been right every step of the way. Take the warm up slow. She is ALWAYS right. And right now, she knows something you don't."
That first 15 minutes was a suckfest.....but I wasn't "tired". My legs were uncomfortable after doing the HIM bike pacing for 3:30. But the more I ran, the better I felt. My pace started as 12:30. Then it quickly started dropping as I started to shake off the ride.
By the time I got to my HIM pacing part of the run, I was exactly where I wanted to be. That's not entirely true. I thought I was going to run an 11:30. Then, I realized that my pace kept dropping and dropping, but I wasn't struggling anymore. Ideally, I want my HIM pace to be 10:45. That's exactly what I ran.
But it wasn't the fact that I nailed the pacing, it was how I felt. It wasn't a struggle in the way it used to be. Yes, my legs were feeling it, but they should after over 6 hours of riding.
The only way I can describe it is to say that I felt strong.
(Of course, fueling is a big part of this too, but I've already beat THAT dead horse).
Feeling strong. Feeling like for the first time since I started triathlon, that I can DO this. I can accomplish what I have always believed that I could. It was so frustrating for me to believe in my heart that I was a better athlete than my times showed. Even more frustrating was feeling like I was being blamed for my lackluster performances. I knew that wasn't true, but I didn't know what was wrong.....for years and years.
All those years that I wasn't ready, it was because I never had this feeling. I couldn't mentally go through a 70.3 again feeling the way I felt with my previous ones.
For the first time ever, I realized that I could have a huge PR....not "hoping" to have a huge pr....not "waiting for the magic to happen".....I could have a huge PR because I am strong, and my training paces show that I am capable of pulling it off.
If you are new to triathlon, please don't make the mistake I made. Hire a coach. It's worth the investment. I thought I couldn't afford it. Now I realize that with the amount that I spend on equipment, fuel & races, the extra money for a coach would have saved me years of frustration.
If you're a runner, my Coach Liz just coached an athlete to a 1:16 half marathon....and that was just this weekend. Contact her. (And please tell her I sent you, so she knows how much I rave about her).
If you're a triathlete, Coach Liz is not just a World Champ herself, but she coaches World Champion triathletes and many of her athletes podium, qualify for nationals/worlds. She also coaches people who are very new to the sport.
For those of you who are still sitting on the couch, she coaches people just like you too. If you're following the adventures of Mr. Tea, you'll know that when he started with her, he had trouble walking 15 minutes. Now, he's running and walking and strength training for over an hour.
View her athlete's results here. She just had a baby in August, so the results haven't been updated since then.
Follow her on twitter here. She constantly posts excellent research articles, motivational images & cute baby pictures.
Coaches are not created equal. Hire the right one.