Monday, February 1, 2016

Consistency Through Simplicity

by Justin Daerr

Over the years, I have found that the most effective teachers and coaches avoid making too many changes with their students/athletes at once. They value the execution of one simple change at a time as opposed to changing everything in one quick go. One of the best examples of this is watching a swim coach make one suggestion about an athlete’s stroke instead of pointing out every flaw. If the coach can get the athlete to habituate one change, they can move on to the next. If they think about too many things at once, nothing changes.

When I started to take my progression in this sport more seriously, I tried to institute similar changes to my training. By consistently executing simple guidelines, I could make them a permanent part of my overall plan. The details were never overly complicated; the challenge came from the consistency. As my buddy Gordo says, “Simple, but not easy.

When I think back on my days in college, there are a couple examples that I can recall. I cannot remember when this came about, but the first plan I came up with was:

  1. Ride three times per week outside of class commuting. One ride has to be a minimum of four hours.

    Repeat every week.

  2. Run six times per week. One run is long. All others can be as easy/slow as needed, but must be a minimum of 30 minutes.

    Repeat every week.

I never gave myself intensity guidelines, mileage guidelines or anything else that I felt would put too much pressure on me. Honestly, I did not need them. The challenge of doing this over and over again was enough; in fact, it was likely more mentally challenging than anything else.

People are often attracted to short, over-the-top avenues to success, but the reality is that constant application of a plan every day, every week, every month, every season is what leads to success. Coach Sue Aquila (@fewoman) recently made a retirement plan analogy on Twitter: Like retirement savings, the payoff from training is not in the single workout but rather the hundreds of workouts over time.

Develop a plan.

Repeat every week.


Justin Daerr is a professional triathlete and co-owner of Endurance Corner. You can follow him on Twitter @justindaerr.
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