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Characteristics of Success

September 18, 2018

 

This past weekend at the Lifetime Tempe Triathlon, fellow Peak Endurance Solutions & Moxie Racing athlete, Taylor Newgaard, put on an amazing performance and crossed the finish line as the first overall female in the Olympic-distance race. On an unusually hot day in mid-September, even by Phoenix’s standards, she ran away with the win posting some impressively speedy splits along the way:

 

Swim: 22:19

 

T1: 2:00

 

Bike: 1:12:18

 

T2: 1:15

 

Run: 45:57

 

Overall: 2:23:47

 

These splits are PRs for her all-around, particularly the bike and run splits. She definitely broke through and established herself as one of the top local female triathletes. There is certainly no such thing as the “overnight success” and Taylor is no exception to this. Her steadily improving results are a product of consistency and very hard work. Here are a few of the characteristics of Taylor’s training plan that I strongly believe has led to her emerging success:

 

Consistency

 

Taylor is consistent day-in and day-out. It isn’t about posting massive single-day workout sessions, but rather about being very consistent and showing up day after day, week after week, and month after month healthy and ready to give an honest effort. Adaptation to training takes place after consistent overload on the body, not from a single training session in isolation.

 

Polarized Training Intensities

 

Taylor doesn’t succumb to the trap of training in this awkward zone 3/moderate-intensity “grey zone” that many newcomers to the sport fall into. She is very diligent in keeping her long slow distance and easy recovery workouts “easy” and turning up the intensity full force when she does her hard interval and tempo efforts (based on a combination of pace, power, and perceived effort). She also doesn’t give into doing too much high-intensity work. She has the right balance of low-intensity endurance-based and recover-based work that allows her to develop her overall cardiovascular and muscular endurance while sprinkling in the right amount of high-intensity work to continually improve her top-end fitness and her threshold capacity.

 

Training by Feel

 

Modern-day training computers and GPS watches are an incredible tool, but they are often over-relied upon. Taylor has begun to master the art and science of knowing when to train off of objective numbers, such as nailing certain wattages on an intense bike workout, and knowing when to base her efforts on feel, such as in an easy recovery run. It’s important to know how to gauge effort and pace on rating of perceived exertion and not have heart rate, pace, or power be the end-all be-all of endurance performance. These metrics are incredibly valuable, but in the right doses.

 

Emphasis on Recovery

 

This one ties in with the “consistency” piece earlier, but Taylor does an excellent job at a) regularly incorporating recovery/easy days each week and recovery weeks into her training plan as well as b) listening to her body and knowing when to push on through anticipated fatigue and when to pull back because of unanticipated and potentially negative fatigue. Mastering this has allowed her to stay injury-free, illness-free, and on a steady positive trajectory in terms of her performance.

 

Purpose

 

Every single one of Taylor’s training sessions has a very specific purpose dependent on the training block and the time of year. Whether it is a recovery session, an endurance-building session, or a high-intensity interval/tempo session, each workout serves a specific purpose. There are no wasted yards or miles as every session has a specific reason for being performed. There are times for highly structured sessions and times for unstructured sessions. The key is that all sessions are in her plan for a reason. She has developed the ability to pay attention to the small details of her training plan that many people gloss over, such as keeping recovery sessions, well, truly a recovery effort, as well as understanding why and when she performs her high-intensity work.

 

These are just a few of the key characteristics of her training that have led to Taylor’s success, and the good news is that all of these things are FREE! There is no magic supplement or ingenious piece of technology that has made such a significant difference as sound training and proper recovery have. I truly believe that these characteristics are part of a well-rounded foundation that every endurance athlete should build their training upon. Some of these characteristics develop over time with maturity in the sport, and others require simple tweaks to weekly or monthly training volume and intensity.

 

Congrats again Taylor on an amazing performance. Taylor and I are definitely looking forward to what she is capable of in Ironman Arizona in just a few months’ time.

 

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