Thursday, 19 December 2019

Busselton Ironman 2019

It occurs to me that I have really written about how Busso went for my athletes. Given the race was nearly three weeks ago, I thought I should probably get on to that.

In a nutshell, my athletes ranged from happyish to very happy, which as a coach is all you are really going for.

For the athletes who were just happyish, most of the issues were time related, basically hoping that they would go faster. When it comes to discussions about time, there is conversation to be had about whether athletes are adequately prepared. It is a difficult conversation to have with athletes, but sometimes they simply aren't as fit as they could be, or have been. When that happens there can be an unrealistic expectation of performance, which can be difficult to temper as a coach.

While a lack of fitness and form can be a contributing factor to a disappointing performance, I don't think it was the case for my athletes this time around, I think they were sufficiently prepared to achieve their goals. Similarly the races went mostly to plan in terms of nutrition, hydration etc. Rather I think the disappointing times were probably more due to environmental factors. Race day was pretty warm, which can certainly be a factor, particularly on the run. There was a bit of wind, which can be a factor on the bike. And the December Busso course is simply tougher than people give it credit for (I think the bike is a little slower than the May version), which means people sometimes expect to go quicker than is realistic. Given these factors I think these athletes did pretty well, whether they realise it or not. That isn't to say these athletes were disappointed with their days, they were generally happy, but just not quite as happy as they could have been.

Oh course not all the athletes were just happyish, some of them were actually happy. The athletes that came out of the day with big smiles didn't necessarily have amazing days, but their performances were more in line with their expectations, which helps a lot. One athlete in particular was happy which was Dan, who completed his first full Ironman. He was pretty stoked with that, and I have to say I was too.

As a coach I go into a race with one simple goal, get everyone to the finish line in a manner that they are satisfied with. Their goals might be a PB, or a podium or just reaching the finish line. My job is to try and help them reach that goal. We didn't achieve 100% goal attainment at Busso for all my athletes, which is a little disappointing. However, I had a 100% completion rate for the day and generally the athletes were happy with how the day went. I am going to call that a success.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Down time

Well, Busso is all done and dusted. Similarly, my racing season of paddling is mostly done too. For me and most of my athletes there are no races on the immediate horizon, at least not for a few months. So, what to do now?

My answer to that question is simple. Resting.

Often at the end of intense period of racing you are pretty pumped. Other times, all you want to do is put away the equipment and never look at it again. Whichever end of the spectrum you are, I always feel it is important to give yourself a bit of downtime when the season allows it.

The purpose of the downtime is twofold. If you have just done a race like an Ironman or a 70.3, your body is going to need a bit of time to get over it. After a 70.3 it might only be a week (but more likely two) and for an Ironman it could be four to six. However long it takes though, it is important to give yourself that recovery time. Overuse injuries and similar are a risk if you don't give yourself sufficient time to recover from the effects of a tough long course race. In my experience if you try to push your body too far too soon, it wont' respond well and simply force you to take the rest it requires anyway, so you might as well play along and save yourself the pain.

Probably more importantly than the physical recovery though is the mental. It takes an extraordinary amount of self discipline and focus to prepare for racing, whatever type of racing that is. Getting yourself up and out the door, day in, day out. Sometimes depriving yourself of social gatherings, tasty treats, family contact, down time etc. It can be a big ask and after a while it always wears thin. It might take 4 months, it might take 18 months, but eventually you will get sick of the work and the sacrifices if you don't give yourself a chance to let your hair down once and a while.

Once you have had some down time you can come back recharged and ready to attack the next block, focused and keen. Without that break though I find that the motivation starts to wane mid season, which then effects the build to the next A race. In my opinion you are much better giving yourself a break early, then coming into the next block recharged and fully committed, rather than push through race after race until eventually you crack.

Athletes always struggle with the idea of having a short rest, I know I always do. But using this approach I find athletes are able to sustain consistent training for much longer, which will always produce a better outcome in the long term.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Busso Eve

First post in a week. Apologies for that. A month or two ago I realised that I could no longer sustain my daily blog routine, there were just too many other demands on life and something had to give. I am still figuring out what a sustainable blogging routine is. Not sure what the answer is yet, but something I am working on.

Anyway, here I am now and what a time it is, the night before Busso Ironman and Half Ironman. Very exciting.

I have 5 athletes racing tomorrow, it was supposed to be 6, but I had one pull out last minute with a few niggles. In that group I have a few experienced athletes, one first timer, a second timer and a debut Ironman. Pretty eclectic.

For most of my athletes priority one is having a good day. Don't plan a result I tell my athletes, rather plan a race. Put together a race plan, race smart, pace well etc and the result takes care of itself. So with that in mind, tomorrow is all about process.

Having said that, all the athletes have all had pretty good training blocks so I am hopeful of potential PBs, although there is a bit of a question mark over the weather, so we shall see. It could potentially be a warm one tomorrow, which could slow things down. Still, everybody has done the training that they need to and so hopefully though the weather doesn't go above the high 20s and everybody has a good fun day out there. Fingers crossed. I will certainly be watching closely.

Away from my athletes, the pro race in the Ironman should be very interesting. There is a massive pro field this year, with 30 athletes registered in the men (including one Alistair Brownlee) and 19 in the women. That is one of the biggest fields I can remember.

I am not going to make any predictions tonight, but obviously Brownlee is going to be one to watch. Some very talented athletes to give him a push, but he is Alistair Brownlee, so you would never discount him. A good number of local athletes in the pro field too, so hopefully they can put together good races and perhaps even some top results. In particular on my local watch list are Matt Burton and Justin Ghosh in the men and Emily Loughnan in the women. Both fields have some proper international talent though, so really the race could go anywhere. Which I guess is part of the fun.

Should be a great one to watch.