When I came on board with the University of Colorado Triathlon team coaching staff two years ago, interim head coach and current D3 coach Dave Sheanin had instilled the mindset of ‚Äúchampions adapt‚Äù with the squad. This proved to be a strong rally call for the Buffs en route to their fifth consecutive collegiate club National Championship. It is a phrase we often remind our college athletes of when things do not go quite as planned, (which is more often than you may think)!
Triathlon, as with life, is a journey filled with many ups, downs, twists and turns. We spend an impressive amount of time, energy and resources on one or two big races each season with no guarantees on the outcome. Within each training block there are inevitably going to be hiccups and it‚Äôs important that you and your coach have the creativity and flexibility to make adjustments on the fly.
Reality is, if you stay in this sport for any length of time, that illness (either your own or your child‚Äôs), work/family commitments, mechanical issues, inclement weather, etc. are going to interfere with your training at some point . While the majority of these are unforeseen, our ability to positively adapt to the circumstances should be automatic. Expect the unexpected and have a plan! This proactive approach can reduce stress levels and allow you to execute a key training session, and more importantly, perform your best on race day! There are stories of Michael Phelps‚Äô coach purposely ‚Äúsabotaging‚Äù some of his workouts to create a stressful environment. Phelps claims this helped him deal with his goggles filling with water during the Olympics. There is a certain mindset that is needed to effectively deal with situations when they go south on us!
Every training session and challenge should be viewed as an opportunity. Good health is an amazing gift we can easily take for granted. If you find yourself struggling through a particular training week or block, ask yourself, ‚ÄúDo I view these early morning master swims, trainer rides or track workouts as an obligation or an opportunity?‚Äù The athletes who seem to enjoy the journey and perform their best are often the ones who embrace these challenges as opportunities to better themselves, learn and get out of their comfort zones. Training can be a grind at times, but ultimately the process of training and racing should be an outlet for other life stresses. As race season is underway, here are some simple tips to help you make the most of the opportunities that come your way, and become a champion who adapts!