Common Factors For Success From A Coach's Perspective
Within the next few weeks, all of my athletes will have wrapped up their 2022 season and begin their transition (or off-) season. As I look back at their Training Peaks files, notes I have scribbled in my planner on their training, and review their race and key workout reports, I notice that there are a few common factors for my top performing athletes. And “top performing” doesn’t mean just the athletes at the pointy-end of the race. My top performing athletes this year included people such as an Ironman World Championship qualifier, a first time Ironman, a randonneur, a first time triathlete, a marathoner, a first time obstacle course finisher. Not all of them actually completed their race or reached their desired goal, but they made huge improvements as athletes and performed on race day in a way that made me incredibly proud to coach such stellar human beings.
Here are the five factors that were common amongst all of my top performers.
Consistency in Training and Communication. All of my top performing athletes were consistent in their training. Day in and day out, they got the work in. If, for some reason, they weren’t able to complete a workout, they reached out to me to tell me why they couldn’t or ask me to reschedule, adjust or modify the workout. They understood the importance of consistent training for reaching their goals and we worked together within the confines of their other commitments (work, family, volunteering, etc.) to put together a plan that stretched them, challenged them and made them better athletes.
Commitment to nailing the basics. They regularly got at least 7-8 (or more) hours of sleep each night. They ate a mix of carbohydrates and protein within 30-60 minutes after their training (most of the time). They ate 80% for fuel and 20% for fun. They hydrated throughout the day and during their training sessions. And (most of the time) they planned ahead, so that they were able to move fluidly from work or family to training and back again.
Strength Training. They all incorporated regular strength training into their week. Depending on the time of year, that was once or twice a week. And they used different tools: suspension trainers, resistance bands, mini bands, dumbbells, barbells, calisthenics. Some came with their own strength routines, while most asked for guidance, but all of them regularly lifted weights and/or moved their bodies in ways that allowed them to improve as the athletes they wanted to be.
An Appetite and Joy for Learning. These top performing athletes would consistently: ask questions; send me video of their swim, bike, or run form to review; want to understand the why behind a workout or training block; get excited to learn and work on implementing a new skill or way of doing things.
Ability to Compartmentalize. All of my athletes have big lives filled with big commitments such as work in the medical field, stay at home parents, or travel regularly for work. Still when they get to their training, these top performers were able to focus solely on their training. They did their best to not allow other aspects of their lives seep into another.
As a coach it is an absolute pleasure to see athletes achieve their goals, but it is a bigger pleasure to see athletes committed to the process. If you are looking to make some gains this next (coming) year, then think about incorporating these attitudes and practices on a daily basis.
Jim Rowe is a Playtri Level 4 Coach, a USAT LI Certified Coach, and NASM Certified Personal Trainer who works with adult athletes of all abilities from beginners to IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. Learn more about Jim at www.playtri.com/jim-rowe.