Getting the Basics Right

When I start working with athletes one of the first things I am assessing is, have they got the basics right?

Are they doing the simple things, the basics well to maximise their performance? Why?

There is no point worrying too much about measurements like functional threshold power, pace, Vo2 max, critical training speed and training stress numbers if they can’t consistently execute the basics.

When I refer to basics it is things like sleep, diet, having good routines, training consistently, working on your mindset and maintaining good health. Unless these are in place then it becomes very difficult to set training sessions that will challenge and improve an athlete.

What is the point in setting a training session for an athlete if they are not eating well or getting enough sleep? Or their routines away from training compromise their performance in training and ultimately racing.

I have seen many an athlete from beginner to elite become disappointed at their numbers in training and racing. Not because they are not fit enough to hold a certain speed or power but because they have not got the basics right away from training.

We have so much information at our fingertips on how to train. And we have numerous technological platforms and devices to help us measure training. These devices and the information can be a great benefit, but they serve no purpose if we are not executing the basics every day.

I get a lot of questions from athletes such as what power should I target, what is my critical swim speed, what is my functional threshold power and how do I improve my Vo2 max. All relevant topics but they are the cherry on top of the cake.

I would rather focus on getting the basics right and ensuring they are doing them well first. Nailing the basics will have the biggest impact on your performance. When that happens then we can start to work on the finer details like improving power targets on the bike or working out your critical swim speed.

Ask yourself when you start a training session have you slept well, fuelled properly, hydrated sufficiently and do you feel healthy?

Can you be present mentally and emotionally during the session?

Can you execute the session as it’s intended and stay present throughout, not worrying about what has happened and what is ahead?

If the answer is no, then there is not a lot to be gained by focusing on the numbers and fancy terms like functional threshold power.

Do the basics every day and watch your performance improve to levels you thought were not possible.

About Mark

Mark is one of Australia's most experienced and knowledgeable triathlon coaches. With over 25 years experience coaching at all levels from kids, youth, adult and elite professional athletes across the World. He loves seeing people change their lives through triathlon.

Leave a Comment