Semester is over for the start of the year with only exams left. Which means I am finally able to breath for a minute and get back to my blog. My apologies about last week but I hope some of you had a listen to the podcast. I have gotten some really great feedback on it so thank you. I have been managing to get in some solid training over the last few weeks and months and have been seeing some really significant improvements. The most significant improvements I have seen in recent times are in the pool. In February last year the thing that finally made me decide to invest in a coach was my 41 minute swim split at Challenge Melbourne. I had trained the house down for the race and really wanted to go out strong. I delivered on the bike and the run wasn't too bad. But the swim was well below what I needed it to be.
After I signed up with my coach, Ben Hammond, he started me out with a number of different sets of 50's, 100's and TT's to gauge where my swim was at. Based on these numbers he started to develop programs for me based on time or as swimmers will know it, a cycle. This is basically the time it takes you to complete the distance and recover before starting on your next interval. When I first started with Ben my my pace for 100m was over 2 minutes. This meant it was taking me over one minute to complete each lap. Looking back to my data from last year I was managing to swim 3kms in about 1 hour 10 minutes and 2kms in about 40 minutes. Now I swim 3kms in less than 45 minutes and 2 kms in under 30 minutes. So I get asked lots of questions about how I swim so fast or how did you get so fast. The answer is simple. Consistency.
I would not have seen the significant improvements in the water that I have unless I trained consistently. This idea is not only applicable to swimming or triathlon or sport for that matter. Consistency is critical to success in just about anything we attempt in life. If you are trying to lose weight through diet change and exercise you need to be consistent. The person who eats well every day, maybe not perfectly will ultimately have more success than the person who starves themselves for a few days then destroys burgers, pizzas and chips on other days. The person who practices the piano everyday for 1 hour will ultimately become a better pianist than the person who trains once a week for 7 hours. There are lots of reasons for this. I assume that when you do something for too long whether exercise or mentally demanding you get fatigued. Physically tired from the effort required or mentally exhausted. If I was trying to practice the piano for 7 hours I imagine I would be going crazy by the end. I mean for me doing more than 2 hours on the bike trainer can be hard enough.
By consistently working at things your body adapts to the demands and things begin to become easier. When they become easier you are able to move onto more complex tasks and this continues until you see significant improvement. At the same time this is something that people need to be aware of too. Just because something doesn't feel easier doesn't mean you aren't improving. When I do a hard 2 hours on the bike trainer I guarantee you it hurts just as much as it did 4 years ago. The difference is that my performance has increased and so has my effort. So by tracking your consistency you are able to overcome the psychological barriers your mind creates when it perceives a lack of improvement. You have the data there to show you that while it doesn't feel easier, you are improving. Many of you who follow me via this blog or online probably know that I am a member of Team MaccaX, a global triathlon team created by Chris McCormack, a 4 time world champion. Throughout June they are running a 'consistency' challenge. They want to encourage members to consistently train for the 30 days of June. The winner will then be drawn from those athletes who have been the most consistent. I find it funny when you see the different ways people are approaching it. some people are uploading lots of sets. I noticed there was someone who has already managed to complete 6 sets in one day? While others are going for the longer sets, trying to have the most volume. For me I am going to continue to do the same sets I do every week. I love how motivated everyone is by it. I am. But I also think some athletes miss the point. The secret to success isn't about having one month where you kill yourself. to be honest you will probably end up sick or injured. The secret is to keep working and subtly increase your volume or effort as your body adapts.
Once you are able to realise that the path to success is a marathon not a sprint, you will see longer improvements or gains which will last for longer. You will lose the weight and guess what, you will keep it off. You will lift heavier because you have built up slowly, you will swim faster because you have mastered your technique and you will be able to maintain it because you have not gotten injured.
So whatever you are aiming for I urge you to really consider how you are doing it. If you are unsure maybe you need to seek out some professional help. But I really hope you start to understand that the journey to success is long and you need to be patient. While my swim has improved I know there is a long way to go. I will keep working towards it.
I mean it this week when I say, stay safe, train smart and remember to TRI!