I have the awesome pleasure of working with lots of different athletes; different personalities, different goals, different life circumstance, different training environments….
This makes that part of my job exciting – I have to adapt to each situation, and that keeps me on my toes and makes me work harder.
As a coach I have standards that I set myself to ensure I am being the best coach I can possibly be for our athletes.
Successful people set standards.
And triathletes in general seem to be pretty diligent in certain areas; they tend to keep a certain level of expectations of themselves.
Not hitting snooze for the 5:30am swim session. Or making sure that you hit that interval on exactly the right time, maybe even giving it a few seconds extra – just to be sure. Being precise with rest intervals. Or just finishing a session you didn’t want to start.
I remember running with a good friend in Perth once and we finished up 30 metres short of 25km. So he ran around the carpark until he made up the distance.
These are great standards – which is really just an attitude:
I will get it done.
But, sometimes we get our standards wrong, or they become confused with other standards that we think are more important.
I am talking about the other stuff – not the sexy stuff.
For me, my standards (for our athletes, as well as myself) are things like:
How frequently they are working on their Range of Motion – what mobility patterns are they executing?
Are they really going easy when the session says “easy” (and there are ways to tell!).
Do they routinely hit their prescribed sleep hours each night?
Are they taking immediate action when they feel the onset of fatigue (of any kind)?
Do they know when to switch off and take some down time? (Quite possibly one of the hardest standards for many people)
Are they asking themselves questions about what they are doing and looking for strategies to improve?
I could go on, and each set of standards might be slightly different for each individual.
Sometimes you let a standard slip so you have to get it back into line.
Of course this only works with self-awareness and the maintaining the Golden Standard:
Be the best person I can be.
So, what are you standards? Are they easy ones? Or thye ones that require a bit more work? How are you holding yourself accountable for your daily decisions?
If you are having trouble thinking about where to focus, think about the things that you avoid doing the most.
Make a list. These are now your standards.
There is nothing wrong with having the standards I mentioned earlier (the training focused ones). They serve a purpose. But I haven’t met too many athletes who aren’t competent with those, and love to apply them with militant diligence. That’s a great attitude.
Like I said, that stuff is easy.
But there’s more to your athletic picture than just training and being awesome at it. You have to do the other work.
Going out and hitting your ‘numbers’ seems way more appealing than reducing that session to spend 15′ mobilising your body so you can realistically hit those targets.
The hard standards are the ones most often overlooked.
Standards become sort of like a checklist; once you have set them you systematically tick through each one until complete. If one needs more attention, then you know where to apply focus.
Anytime you lose clarity or hit a roadblock, you refer to those standards first.
That ‘no excuses’ rule that we apply to the easy standards, should be applied to ALL standards.
Be careful how you frame your standards. They need reenforce your expectations in the right way. That language you choose is significant to your adherence.
Each year I set myself a list of standards – things that I expect from myself to be the best person I can be. This is self-accountability at it’s finest.
I’m human, so sometimes I drop a standard (or ignore to pursue instant gratification), but because those standards are always present, always in the back of my mind, it is much easier to get them back on track.
Especially when I get caught up in the bright lights of something like a big race or event.
Standards keep you grounded. Standards make you work harder with greater efficiency. Standards create focus.