I am taking full advantage of the fact that I live 300m from a very clean, very quiet 25m pool.
Sure it has restricted opening hours, but it is heated and super convenient to get to. It’s an easy win to optimise my time – instead of the 15′ or so it takes to get to my normal pool, I spend that time on the floor at home, mobilising joints and freeing up bound tissue.
The pool is attached to a school but privately operated and naturally they run swimming instruction for kids, usually one on one.
And yesterday I could feel myself getting angrier and angrier as I listened to a young instructor barrage an eager swimmer with a multitude of confusing instructions. All I could think is:
You are doing it wrong.
I say confusing, not because she was giving incorrect instruction, but she was giving so many instructions at such a great speed that you could literally see the kids face contort as he tried to grapple the information.
What’s worse, is she covered 3 swims strokes in 15 minutes so not only did the poor swimmer get confused on how to apply method to one stroke, he had 2 more strokes to understand, almost at the same time.
Now, kids learn fast. In fact as humans, we learn at our best during our younger years. Our brain is more receptive to information, and we have the neural plasticity to lay down solid pathways quickly and effectively.
But the understanding of that information still takes time.
And the reason I was getting angry about this was simply that if the instructor had focused on 1 or 2 technical points, and delivered them concisely, then that kid would have been able to quickly forge the correct neural pathway and begin understanding the interaction better.
He would have layered strong connections to the movements and made progress.
Too much information, delivered too quickly. Like I said, the information itself wasn’t incorrect, but the delivery was all wrong.
The connectivity of the world, and the ease at which we can access ‘knowledge’ leaves us with not only the ability to cram lots of information from a multitude of sources, but also the inability to properly filter and process that information preventing the development of strong neural pathways; i.e. truly understanding what we are learning.
When I played Baseball for Queensland, we spent hours and hours and hours on fundamental drills. There are plenty of aspects to learn in that sport, but you cannot advance until you master the basics.
Sure I just wanted to learn how to throw down a gnarly 2nd base steal from the plate, but before you do that you need to learn how to catch. It’s as simple as that.
So our coaches spent hours and hours and hours drilling in constant learning of the fundamentals. But not all at once. Everything was broken down into sections so that we could deliver true focus and work on the intricacies involved before moving on.
Any players who didn’t grasp the concepts and show application, were made to repeat until they did. And if that remediation failed, then they were dropped from the squad. Simple as that (thankfully, I missed the ‘participation’ era of kids sport).
This is a big mistake I see AG endurance athletes make.
All that information out there on endurance performance. All that knowledge. But do we see every single athlete at a race smashing down a PB?
Yes many do and that should be noted. But many, many athletes don’t.
But all that readily available training and racing information! Surely if we just listen to as much of it as we can, we can piece together a format that will work?
No. Our brains – our adult brains – do not work that way.
Yeah we can take on a few things, but triathlon isn’ t the only thought-engaging process we are involved in – there’s the rest of your life to think about. Dropping the ball there gets you into trouble.
The most successful athletes – whether from TS, or elsewhere – have been the ones who closed their focus into one source of information, one method, one approach, one belief.
It doesn’t even matter if that approach was the right one. It worked because they streamlined the information, sifting out everything else and then applied with consistency.
I get emails every week (we both do) from athletes that have just read about this latest and greatest session, or supplement, or piece of equipment. Personally, I loathe those emails. Not because I don’t want athletes thinking for themselves (the opposite actually) but because it shows that they aren’t focusing on the right things.
If you are already improving, then you don’t need that extra information (or item). You are already getting better without it. You have a successful formula.
The athletes that I see not succeeding in this sport are the ones gleaming information from as may sources as possible. Well congratulations, all you have done is make your life harder than it needs to be, and your performance sucks because of it.
Now I know what some of you are thinking….”Yeah well you guys at TS have changed your tune on plenty of methods over the years”. And we have.
But each time we have done so, it is based on the one underpinning comprehension: you cannot have performance without health. There is no case for argument on that.
Not all of the accessible information out there is right for you, the individual. And even if it was, the learning process and understanding of how to apply, takes time and specificity.
Just like that poor kid swimming in the lane next to me won’t “get it” until the delivery of the message changes, neither will you, until you decide to focus you attention on the right things.
I have a friend who, isn’t overweight (but not at his correct weight) , but had a very unhealthy diet; a fit unhealthy person. I hadn’t seen him for a few months and was blown away by how lean and healthy he now looks. Of course, I demanded answers.
And it doesn’t get any simpler than this: he found someone online (yes, this is a true story) that he resonated with, got onboard and followed the plan.
I checked out the plan he was on and it isn’t perfect. So what? It doesn’t always have to be.
It’s about seeking out something that you connect with and following that.
No overcomplicating the process with outside sources (of which there are plenty in the neutron space), he simply chose ONE thing.
It’s about finding what works for you and focusing only on that. This is why we get success with the Ironman Blueprints (as well as the 70.3 Blueprint), and one-on-one coaching. Both platforms allow for streamlined information to be delivered concisely and they work best when the athletes follows the plan provided.
Success leaves clues, and one the biggest, most obvious clues is the success gained from sticking to a strategy that has been proven to work.