I read a fair bit - it is one of the ways of learning - I also find it helps me relax. Currently I am reading a book called, "The Inside Track" by Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. As winners of 10 Olympic medals between them it is an inspiring tale. Its struck a chord with me as a coach in several ways but one that stands out is their attitude to the importance of their training.
This is a short extract from that book.
Laura: If the programme says we're doing an effort at 9:10, we girls are on the track by eight minutes past, rolling round getting ready for it. When we share the track with the lads in the morning, lunch is at 11am. If we are not done by then we won't eat lunch on time, and if we don't eat lunch on time we won't be ready for our next session at 1pm. And if I am eating at 11:30 and racing an hour and a half later, I'm going to be throwing up that lunch long before the exhaustion turns my guts inside out. Schedules matter. When they go wrong, so does everything else.
Jason: On the Olympic Development Programme - the first step on the pathway from promising junior to senior success - there was a ten-minute rule: be ready to start your session ten minutes before it is actually scheduled to begin. Then if you have a puncture, you have time to fix it. If there is a mechanical issue with your bike, you can sort it out. That was the ODP culture, and those who have grown up with it still arrive with that window of leeway in place. Those who have come on the squad quite late think 9am means 9am. The old ODP gang will be there at 8:50.
As a sprint squad now we will just begin without riders. We will start doing team warm ups, and we will almost take pleasure in watching the clock count down. Who is going to be late? Will anyone be caught out? A minute to go; anyone pushing it? It is an attitude I love; in some ways a small detail but really an indicator of wider attitudes.
Being on time shows respect for the team.
Being the last one there is as good as being late for me; I hate being the last one so much that if I am ever that rider then I'll be the first the next day. When the hour starts, you have to be ready to start too. Not walking out, or fiddling with your gears, or chatting with the mechanics. Because typically when you are kept waiting it's always by the same people. You're stood outside on a wet Manchester morning getting cold, or you're in the gym itching to go but unable to push on. We have days when we train both morning and afternoon. When you start late, you finish late. Your eating is cocked up, your day is cocked up, your ability to perform when it really matters, on those few days every four years, is incrementally weakened .
The point is this extract emphasises the need to develop good habits and practice. If you continually turn up late to training, unorganised, not ready, what are you likely to do come race day?
I know I have said in the past that, "The race will go without you!"
It is the same in training - warm ups start without you. So, I hope athletes take a little inspiration from Laura and Jason, they only have 10 Olympic Gold medals between them!
Be on the pool deck early. Start your warm ups, do your land based exercises before getting in, have your equipment ready. For bike sessions, make sure your equipment is ready, pack your shoes the day before. Arrive ready to go. For run sessions, do your activations, be ready. Have food ready for post-session nutrition. All little things but they can make a big difference at your goal race when it counts.
It all matters.
References: Trott & Kenny, LT & JK, 2016. The Inside Track. 1st ed. London: Michael O'Mara Books Limited.