As an avid triathlete and naturally competitive person, I have been busy over the last few seasons trying to make myself faster and faster. Not by buying the latest gadgets or by getting the best bikes, but by simply working on my fitness.
A couple of years ago, I read Lance Armstrong’s book “Its not about the bike” and it really made me think. The guys who were racing 10-15 years ago weren’t using carbon fibre bikes worth as much as an entry level car….and they were doing just fine! I kept this in the back of my head and spent my energy and focus on getting more fit….on a side note my Aluminum 2007 Cervelo Dual has over 23000km on it now and is still riding beautifully!
Initially I assumed that putting down more miles, more time and more effort into training, would get me in the best possible shape. This theory worked at first as my fitness was definitely improving. Then I started to plateau and my results stopped getting better. Each race was no longer a personal best. So I added structure to my training. I had a periodized training plan which would help me peak for a particular race. I would train with 1 race in mind as a goal and everything else would be of lower priority. This also helped me make improvements for a couple seasons…until I hit another plateau. Then I was really left scratching my head. I thought I was doing everything right. So I then started working on improving the details such as race nutrition, race day strategy and improving post workout recovery. Again I started to see some improvements but nothing worth writing home about. Finally I decided to take a break for a few months to relax and enjoy more social time with family and friends which tends to get some neglect when training a lot.
After a couple of months of unstructured training, I started wanting to get back at it more regularly. It was nice eating anything and everything in site and watching a movie with my loved ones rather than spending hours on my bike after a day at the office…but alas I could resist no longer and found myself back in the saddle again! The results that I have been seeing this year are outstanding when compared to previous ones. Whats the difference then? I have been working on form, technique, efficiency and economy of motion. I am relaxed while exercising and focus on doing every movement properly and efficiently. There are 2 ways to get faster as an athlete. Get fit or get efficient. Getting fit is actually fun and is relatively easy…working on form and perfecting your catch & pull for hours on end in the pool, or biking on a computrainer staring at your spin scan for what seems like an eternity to achieve a more powerful pedal stroke is not nearly as much fun! But the results do not lie.
So next time you are swimming, biking or running your way to improving your fitness, I challenge you to slow down a little bit, spend some time focusing on your technique and gain that “free speed” that every one of us has access to. With patience, determination and discipline you will find yourself making the necessary improvements towards achieving your next level of performance.