The World’s Oldest Training Tool

October 2nd 2017

By Matt Hill
Categories: Triathlon Training

The World’s Oldest Training Tool

How many of you remember to use the world’s oldest training tool – and the only training tool that serves you!

It doesn’t need batteries or charging (in the conventional approach!). It´s external factors won’t deter it from providing you with accurate readings. Also feedback is instantaneous, you won’t need to wait for it to sync with satellites and it won’t let you down if you listen to it…

Starting a new season

Now we are finishing the 2018 season, it is time to start thinking ahead to 2019. Your preparation and planning often involves the use of training tools – Garmin, TrainingPeaks, Sunnto, etc – to track your development.

The problem is, these training tools are second class compared to our unique and personal computers. This tool is the most powerful and most reliable tool to ever exist – our brain. Our brain is unique to us, and if used correctly it is the best guide there is to monitor how your body is coping and adapting to training and racing – use it to monitor perceived effort.

External training tools are great for tracking and even motivating progress, but are not always reliable or flexible enough to account for variables (fatigue, stress, heat, altitude, humidity, sleep deprivation, diet, etc, etc).

Learn to listen to your inner-self

As coaches, we stress the importance of athletes using their perceived effort / common sense when approaching / conducting planned sessions. If life, work and training is in balance and all is good, we are likely to feel good and strong, meaning sessions feel easy and enjoyable.

But, if life and work are stressful – you are working longer hours, travelling, have added stress, less than ideal nutrition, etc – then you are likely to feel completely different in the exact same sessions – heart rates being difficult to achieve, not reaching target power levels, unable to hit or achieve the desired pace, etc. Using training tools at this point is incredibly demoralising and often detrimental to your health (making you push too hard to reach levels that are based on the perfect existence).

Heart rates, power levels, etc may vary, for example; if life is good then training at HARD effort may mean that your stats are likely higher than the tool is advising – what do you do? Ease back and miss out on the opportunity to train HARD?

Likewise, and even worse, if life is hectic and stressful; trying to train HARD but unable to hit the tools advised levels will result in you pushing on and further adding stress to the body – leading to illness and injury!

The danger of following technology

As coaches we often hear athletes saying they had a good early season with race results that reflect their ability and training but that it tails off towards the mid/end season races (and often their priority races) due to illness and (recurring) injury.

A little bit of questioning nearly always provides the same reason – overtraining. Pushing through a hard session to hit FTP, pace times, etc can be done but will stress the hormonal system beyond where they can recover; repeat this and injury or illness occurs – ask yourself afterwards (and especially the day afterwards) how you feel and answer honestly – did the session compromise your ability to recover and perform the next session to your best ability?

Keep it simple – Very Easy, Easy, Medium and Hard

Start to feel when you train, learn what  VERY EASY,  EASY, MEDIUM and HARD effort feels like. Never going MAX, because triathlon is an aerobic sport. Using your perceived effort will be accurate no matter what external factors are impacting on you. EASY is always EASY and HARD is always going to feel HARD. They will be relevant to your current condition and they will always be accurate.

Take the pressure off and get in tune with your body. Train to your current perceived efforts – day by day, week by week. You will progress quicker and safer by using the only training tool that is looking out for you, your brain…

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