C.H.A.M.P. Consistency, the secret ingredient.
A few months back someone asked me what my coaching philosophy was. I don’t remember the answer I gave but I remember thinking it wasn’t as thorough of an answer as I would have liked. This caused me to do some deeper thinking on the subject. I spent some time doing some brain-storming and journaling. Eventually I condensed my philosophy into five key factors: Motivation, Health, Consistency, Accountability, and a (Training) Plan. The Scrabble player in me began to rearrange the letters when I noticed they spelled CHAMP. Seemed rather fitting!
Consistency is critical. The number one concern I hear athletes express is worrying about having the perfect plan tailored just for them. As I wrote in my first book, “Six-Word Lessons for Successful Triathletes: 100 Lessons for Essential Training and Racing” Lesson 9:
It’s the work, not the plan
Having a training plan is important for sure. However, it’s the work, the actual training, which leads to results. Too many people spend too much time searching for the perfect plan before they begin any actual training. The magic is in the work, not the plan. The best training plan is the one you do.
When I was writing my book, and doing research on the importance of consistency in training I came across a blog post from Jim Vance, and despite my efforts I could not seem to capture the importance of consistency any more succinctly than Jim, so used his quote for Lesson 10:
Consistency, the key ingredient to improvement
“The number one most important rule of training, which is often forgotten, is consistency. There is no training program or workout any coach can devise that can make up for a lack of consistency in training. The higher your goals are as an athlete, the more important consistency is.” – Jim Vance
In my experience of coaching triathletes and runners for over 22 years, consistency has always been the difference maker. I see it every season with the Team In Training athletes I coach, there is nearly always someone who either does not finish the race or struggles mightily. Every single time when we drill down to their training consistency, or more accurately, lack of consistency is the culprit. I also see it with the athletes who have fantastic race performances. As I ask them questions about their training, they always comment on how they followed the schedule and will often comment on how they were afraid to miss a workout. I write my training schedules so that if an athlete completes at least 80% of the schedule they will have a solid race performance and in many cases set a new personal best time.
The above paragraph is not meant to be a criticism of those who do not train with consistency. The same sentiments have applied to my own training and racing. I can without fail reflect back on my training post-race and see very clearly why my performance was as it was, great or miserable. I had only one Ironman race where my performance did not match my training. I was very consistent in my training and as I looked back on my training I could see that I had over-trained. Which leads to another great topic, more is not always better. I would estimate that while excellence in consistency can lead to over-training and a less than optimal race performance, this happens less than 10% of the time. AND I would add that the race performance is far superior to the race performance when consistency in training is lacking. I have another lesson in my book that states, “You cannot cram for an endurance event.” Your body needs time to adapt to the training and that takes time and it takes consistency.
Here is an article from Ironman.com that talks about the importance of consistency; as well as the blog post from Jim Vance.