Anyone that follows me on FB or Instagram probably has seen the numerous photos or mini videos of my 3 year old son Mack ripping it up on his little Specialized HotRock bike.

We ride to and from daycare a couple of times per week which is as much fun for me as it is for him. We also hit the skate park down at Peregian Beach on Saturday and even Sunday mornings. It’s crazy to see his development in such a short space of time … or is it such a short space when he has been on two wheels for more then half of his life?

There is a lesson there.

Hang with me for a bit as I’m going to relate both Mack’s riding lessons and my starting back skateboarding at 37 (after a 12+ year hiatus) on how we can can use the lessons to help us get the results we desire in our Iron distance races. 

For me, I used to skate pretty good and I snowboarded professionally. So jumping back on a skateboard, my mind wanted me to be pretty much as good as when I last hopped off the skateboard deck and I know I’ll ‘suffer’ the same thing when we head to the snow next month (also a 12 year hiatus … ) but I know within a few runs I’ll be able to ride at a pretty ok standard.

There is a deep belief there and that is of course another important lesson.

However there is a difference between a pretty ok standard and what I used to ride like … would I be able to jump back on and send it over a 70 odd foot kicker (jump) while spinning upside down like I used too? Probably not …. unless I wanted to get hurt. Maybe after some solid time back on the snow re-igniting all those old skill sets and rebuilding confidence but definitely not immediately.

K Snow

So back to skateboarding. Within a few minutes I was re-trying tricks of old that I had no right trying at this point in time. Sure they are there, locked deep within my brain and muscle memory but I was trying to rush the process.

And rushing the process ends up hurting you. Figuratively and literally.

I am better spent relearning the basics. In skateboarding this is being loose and working with (not against) the transitions in the park. It’s having a good ollie on you and being able to ride fakie (backwards) pretty decently too. Once you have those fundamentals down should you then try your hand at some harder tricks. The problem is – it’s always a fight not to rush the process.

If I look at what Mack can do on his pedal bike in the 7 short months his had it and being a couple of months shy of 3 and a half it seems kinda crazy. However getting the full picture by looking at a timeline we can see that he was on a basic balance bike just before he was one and when he started walking. Then he got his Specialized Hot Walker at 18 months and further developed important skills like balance, co-ordination and making the bike go where he wanted it too. After 15 months on that he got his first pedal bike and thanks to the balance bike (and especially how the Hot Walk is set up) the transition to the pedal bike sans training wheels (as I thoroughly believe they teach the wrong skills) was pretty quick. 30 minutes of me holding his feet to the pedals in fact. He already had the balance and the cornering sorted.

Mack

So that means his been on two wheels just shy of 2 and a half years.

Unknowingly he has spent a hell of a lot of time on the fundamentals and it’s quite a long bike ‘training age’ and that is important.

What about you?

In your sport of long course triathlon – what’s your training age? How much time have you spent on the fundaments?

Do you even know what the fundamentals are?

Most will erroneously think that the fundamental to long course success is endurance training. It’s a part of the puzzle but your long bike or long run is not the be all and end all. In fact it’s only one of the five important systems you need to train. Most of it’s training should actually come about as a by product of training the other systems and only pushing the volume envelope as your race gets closers.

I wrote about one of the major fundamentals a couple of weeks ago

But the others are developing neuromuscular efficiency which I’ll write more about in a coming post and the other is plain old long term consistency.

If you focus purely on aerobic endurance development and say for a short build period that many athletes do – then you’ll always limit your potential. Like cash… consistency is king and the more you have of it the better your successes will be.

It takes time and effort to lay down effective motorskills. It takes time to recruit as many dormant muscle fibres as possible to help propel you forward quickly and be able to hold that pace as ever increasing levels of fatigue set in.

The key is not to rush the process, focus on the most important things and get bloody consistent.

It’s a long term view!