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Wed 29th Jun 2022
The laws of Trew
Posted by: Steve Trew
Posted on: Thursday 12th July 2007

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One: This may not be the truth

There are tried and tested principles of training which have been applied to triathlon. However, everyone is an individual and any single particular method of training may not apply to you as an individual. Some people thrive on long, slow distance training; some cannot live without their daily fix of intervals or high quality work; some triathletes rarely need rest while others may find that every other day is sufficient for massive improvement. You are an individual and will have an unique way of training which is best for you alone. What have been set out are general principles; for you, they may not be the truth.

Two: Suck it and see

The law of suck it and see means exactly that. Be prepared to try out new methods of training and see if they work for you. Perhaps the way that you have been training - for all the principles that say that they should be correct - don't work for you. Be adventurous, don't get stuck in that rut of every week, every month, every year being the same. Try something new, suck it and see, you never know... might just like it.

Three: The KISS principle

KISS stands for, "Keep It Simple, Stupid"! Sometimes we can get so bound up in any new-fanged theories of training that we lose sight of the basics; the harder you train, the better you get, (and that, of course, is an oversimplification). We read about this new method or that, we hear that the latest superstar swears by a certain regime or that so and so only trains at low intensity or the new kid on the block won't walk down the street without a heart rate monitor. Well, that's fine; we all want to be the best that we can be, but don't get so bound up in new developments that we lose sight of where we're going.

Four: The CASE principle

There are few secrets of training any more. CASE stands for, "Compare, Adapt, Specify, Examine", or, if you're just a little cynical, "Copy and Steal Everything"! Look at other athletes' methods or training and try them for yourselves; play around with the times, distances, rest intervals and targets. Adapt others' schedules for they're as sure as anything going to do the same to you!

Five: Know yourself

This one might sound obvious, but it's all too easy to fool ourselves into believing that we're something that we're not. Know what you're good at, what you're bad at, what you like and dislike doing. Know your strengths and weaknesses. You don't want to look back at the end of a season or a the end of a career and think, "if only..."

Six: Train to your weaknesses, race to you strengths

This one's obvious as well, isn't it? But we all like doing what we're good at and dislike trying a discipline where the likely outcome is shouts of hilarity from those watching. To make a significant improvement in triathlon, it is necessary to work on the weak aspects which may prove to be hard going at first, and cut back on that superstrong discipline which was your background sport before you even knew that triathlon existed.

But then, when it comes to a race situation, the reverse scenario applies; work on your strengths and minimise your losses. If you can swim like Michael Phelps and take a three minute lead into the bike section, then you'd be a mug not to do so...

Seven: Make haste slowly

Everyone wants to be good, and the improvements that we make when we start a new sport are often quite dramatic, improvements are usually measured in minutes or tens of minutes in an endurance sport rather than seconds. But then the rate of improvement slows down and the natural reaction is to train harder and longer to maintain that improvement rate. That way lies injury, don't be tempted. An increase in training, whether it be in time or intensity must be gradual and measured in months and years rather than days, look for gradual increases in training and commitment and you will improve and remain injury free.

Eight: Choose your parents wisely

The genetic inheritance that we have will govern our limits of attainment and improvement. It's not fair, but it's unfortunately true. If your mother was a World ten thousand metre record holder on the track and your father represented Russia in the Olympic Games 1500 metres freestyle swimming event, then you are quite likely to be presented with a rather special set of genes. Nature will have given you a head start, so don't waste it. And if you haven't been presented with that advantage? Then welcome to the club! You're like the rest of us and will have to make the very best out of what Nature has presented you with and train sensibly and systematically to maximise your potential.

Nine: Don't set limits

Don't underestimate your potential to improve. It's all too easy to look at the established star in the next swimming lane to yours and think, "I'll never be as good as them". Why not? It's difficult to envisage massive improvements, but it's easy to visualise an improvement of one second on a hundred metre swim or ten seconds on a 10 kilometre run... and then you make another ten second improvement and then another, and another. Before too long, that one second swim improvement has become five seconds, and that ten second run has become a minute. Look to the next level of attainment and in time you will progress to your dreams.

Ten: Don't believe everything you read

I think that whenever the sports magazines print an interview with the current superstar and they usually include that little boxed section which is headed up, "A typical day's/week's training", that they should print a health warning by the side of it. They should also print another boxed section which starts, "And this is what I was doing five years ago". You don't have to train like your hero to emulate your hero, train for yourself, not for anybody else.

Perhaps you should also remember that human nature plays a large part in the training schedules that go into magazines. When somebody is interviewed about their training, I'm sure that the mindset goes something like this, "They'll never believe that I train as little as I do; I know, I'll put down my best ever week of swimming, and of cycling, and of running". Think about it.

Eleven: Treat every minor injury as if it could become a major one

By its very nature triathlon attracts people who like to train long and hard, the natural inclination when a small niggle appears is to swim/cycle/run through it. Don't be tempted. Untreated niggles can so easily progress to major niggles and then onto major injuries. By treating those minor inconveniences as if they have the potential to become a significant inhibiting factor, they are unlikely to progress too far along that downward path. Be cautious, be aware, don't ruin a season's hard work because you refused to back off.

Twelve: Enjoy

If you don't enjoy triathlon, don't do it. There's no world rule that says you have to like it or to do it. Triathlon is demanding in terms of time and commitment, some people simply do not have the time to do it. If you stop enjoying triathlon, stop doing triathlon.

Thirteen: Don't play the 'if' game

You know the way this one goes? If only I could swim faster.... if only I didn't have to work so many hours... ...if only I could afford better equipment..... if only I could get invites to classier races..... if only I didn't get injured so much... ...if only I was lighter... ...or taller, or heavier, or smaller, or... Playing the ‘if' game leads to frustration and bitterness, it's also a good excuse for losers. If you don't like something, then do something about it. And if it's not in your power to do something about it, then get on and do something else rather than moaning.

Fourteen: There is life outside

Triathlon is a part of life, not life itself (although there are times when it might appear so!) The number of people who are full time professionals or who make a substantial income from triathlon are so few as to be minuscule when compared to the huge numbers who take part as age-groupers and hold down full time jobs, have families and take part in the whole realm of life enhancing activities that exist in everyday life. Never let triathlon become so important that you lose sight of reality. There is life outside triathlon, there is life after triathlon.

Steve Trew About the Author

Steve Trew has decided that it is OK to play the “IF” game in one particular area; that of age. However, everyone knows that triathletes are like good wine; the older the better. Steve can be reached for coaching and for training camps on [email protected] He is still taking his chances, still coaching, still writing and still commentating. We think it’s about time he got a real job.

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