Are you a self aware athlete?

I recently wrote an article on Recovery and how it can be the key to your success. I received lots of comments and feedback that it was very well timed, and a good reminder for all endurance athletes (well really any athlete!) to ensure they take a step back and allow the body to actually recover and adapt so it can grow and become stronger.

This lead me thinking to conversations I have had with a few athletes over the past couple of weeks and there seemed to be a common theme that was starting to pop up. A comment or conversation that had the same underlying thought pattern. “I feel like I didn’t quite nail the session“, “I didn’t hit the numbers on that session” some even included the word failed!

And so it got me thinking, what was leading these athletes to think this way? Because they didn’t hit a particular number in a session, that they had failed at that session… That even though the intent was there, and the effort was there, but because they didn’t hit a particular number that they had ‘failed’.

So when I delved deeper into these conversations, almost all of them came back to how flexible, adaptable and self aware an athlete was (or in these cases weren’t).

So what does does that all mean, and how can you become more flexible, adaptable and self aware to ultimately become a better athlete?

Well if you look up these words in the dictionary you will find something along these lines…

Adaptable: “able to adjust to new conditions
So being an adaptable person / athlete means “being capable of being adapted. able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions
Flexible: “able to be easily modified to respond to altered circumstances. ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances.”
Self Aware:knowing and understanding yourself, surroundings, sensations and thoughts“.

How does that relate to you as an athlete? And how do these traits lead to either your success or your potential demise as an athlete?

Firstly I will put it into context to see if you are LACKING in these traits.

Scenario #1 You review your program at the start of the week, plan your week accordingly, down to the day and time you will complete your session. But something comes up, you are running overtime at work, an unforeseen issue comes up and you can’t get out the door when you had planned. You get a little angry, maybe start to take it out on others, or resent the person or situation that caused your plans to be changed.

Scenario #2 You head out for a key run interval session. You know what paces you can hold for this session as you have done it before. So you head out in good spirits. But right from the first step you feel heavy and lethargic. ‘I’ll get through the warm up and see’ but you still don’t feel it. And then you start to feel a little twinge in the hammy. You know your form is off, you know you are feeling tired, and the hammy isn’t happy, but ‘I have to do this session as planned’. So you push through it, unhappy with how you performed, and finished with a sore hammy as a result. You now feel frustrated and annoyed.

Scenario #3 You plug your bike session into zwift, a key session you really want to nail. Your computer tells you the power number you ‘need’ to hit, but you have had a stressful week at work, sleep has been below par and you are feeling tired. ‘But I’m going to nail this session no matter what’ you tell yourself. But you don’t. Your body wasn’t having any of it, but you keep trying. A zone 3 effort feeling like a Zone 4. You are working way harder for the effort you should be doing but you soldier on regardless… But you finish the session feeling worse than when you started AND you feel like you failed the session because you didn’t hit the numbers you planned.

Scenario #4 You just got the kids down for a nap, everything is set up and you are ready to hit a session on the bike. You are excited! But 20min into the session your youngest wakes up – gah noooo. You get angry at him. Why do you have to wake up now you curse to yourself. You try to ignore the cries, but know you have to get off. So you tend to him, get him back to sleep and jump back on the trainer. Only to have 10min later another interruption. Really?! Not again! arghhhh. You have a 1.5hour session planned and only 30min in and already you have been interrupted twice. You are annoyed and frustrated at your child. You get off and let the session go, but you remain angry for the rest of the day.

Scenario #5 You can’t swim due to pool restrictions (sounds familiar?) ūüėČ So you first get annoyed, but then you soon forget about swimming and just think you will worry about it when you can swim again. So you don’t plan anything else into your program that can supplement your swimming, you simply stop.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? You could replace any session or any scenario, or any disruption in the above and I’m sure you will bound to find one that you can relate to. The key message in these was that the athlete in each scenario didn’t allow flexibility or adaptability into their planning and/or sessions and let this carry through into the remainder of their day (maybe even more than one day!) either in life, in their session or in their program as a whole.

It can be hard I get it. Particularly for athletes that love structure, routine, following a program, not missing a session, ‘doing as the coach told me‘. These type of athletes are fantastic, they will always get the work done. They don’t search for excuses, or the easy way out, they grit their teeth and get the work done. BUT at the same time, this COULD be their undoing.

If things don’t go your way, you need enough self awareness to acknowledge this, but not let it get to you. If you are tired, become adaptable enough to change, if your time availability changes, have enough flexibility to work around it and not let it get to you.
THESE are key qualities that can really help an athlete achieve their full potential. Not just an athlete that can hit every session prescribed or every number planned.

So how can you draw from and develop tools for self awareness and self management from unexpected fatigue or unexpected situations?

Understand what successful training is: Being consistent is first and foremost. So to be consistent is not going too hard on easy sessions / days. It’s not taking on too much in terms of your training load in the context of your life as a whole. Sometimes training needs to take a little backseat and that is OK. We can plan around that. That isn’t failure. That is life! Sessions are designed to challenge you, but they aren’t designed to break you – physically OR mentally. Fatigue is ok. Yes. Some sessions should be really hard. Yes. But you should still feel accomplished overall.

Give a little: Don’t always go chasing a set power, pace or speed in your sessions without having the ability to shift these on a particular given day. If you don’t have that flexibility you WILL see it as a failure, even when it’s not. So don’t lose the ability to be intuitive, to know what it ‘feels’ like. What does zone 3 ‘feel’ like. What does Ironman pace ‘feel’ like. Data, watches and programs tend to take away the feel if you rely too heavily on them ‚Äď listen and learn from your body. THAT is your greatest measurement.

Use your program as a guide: Your program is a guide. I program with intention, with purpose and with your goals in mind, but it is up to you as the athlete to listen to your body, train with intent, ask questions, adapt and be flexible within the realms of the program.
Not every day will be a great training day. Some days you head out for a hard interval session and your body just does not want to respond. This is the time you need to listen to your body and understand whether it is best to continue with the session, or change it. Athletes who tap into their intuition and understand their bodies will ultimately become better athletes as they manage a more consistent training base. Successful athlete‚Äôs don‚Äôt just train for the sake of training, every session has a purpose ‚Äď even when that purpose may change for the greater good of the overall training plan.

Don’t feel like you have to hit EVERY session: I include a mixture of key sessions and supporting sessions into athletes programs so they know which sessions to focus on, and which session support those key sessions. If an athlete can complete them all AWESOME. But if in a given week they can’t, that is ok. Remember, we train and compete in our sport because we enjoy it. Our training shouldn’t control our lives. Our training should mould around and integrate into it, not the other way around. We are aiming for consistency over the long term, not short term.

Have scalability: I used to coach with really detailed metrics in training peaks, but I have now moved the other direction. Providing scalability within sessions based on how an athlete may be feeling. So without guessing, if an athlete had a key session planned, but they ended up running short on time, or they are feeling super fatigued due to late work nights, or a harder than planned session the day before, then they have prescribed scalability within their sessions. So if they can’t obtain X, then then can do Y, or even Z. So regardless if they completed the session as X or Z, they still completed the session with it’s purpose in tact and with adaptability around their life. Hows that hey!
So don’t feel like you have to hang on to a particular number or metric EVERY single session. Give a little when it’s needed.

Have the courage to recover: If you are feeling the accumulation of fatigue. GREAT that is from your hard work. Job well done! So in saying that, without any guilt or hesitation, step back and allow the recovery. Growth comes from when the body is allowed to recover and adapt. So don’t be afraid (or feel guilty) if you are feeling fatigued, to take it easier for a day, or two, or three! Really give your body a chance to absorb the training, trust me, you will come back fresher AND stronger.

Change your mindset: Learning to be adaptable really comes down to your mindset. The simpliest way to build adaptability is to practice in life as well as training. Become self-aware of your thoughts, and shifting them. For example. You miss an exit driving down the freeway and you feel angry at the situation. Instead, how can you look at this an opportunity? Maybe you can learn a new route to where you were getting to….
If you look at your program and you have a 1.5hour long run plan, but work / family only allows for 1 hour today, instead of being annoyed at your work / family situation think of it as you will be fresher for your session tomorrow! Literally anything you do on a daily is an opportunity to practice your adaptability. Give it a go! ūüôā


So there’s a challenge for you. How can you become more adaptable, flexible and more self aware? When things don’t go your way, what can you do with the new situation? Does it create new possibilities? Can it potentially be an opportunity? Can it actually lead you to be a more sustainable, robust, successful and ultimately happier athlete…. I’ll let you decide. ūüôā

Fire up your training

You‚Äôve been training for a few years now,¬†results¬†happened¬†quickly,¬†improvements kept coming,¬†you felt¬†unstoppable, riding the high of your triathlon successes.¬†But¬†as quickly as the results came, you suddenly¬†feel like your improvements are slowly withering away and your shot at another PB seems like¬†a distant memory. You¬†keep training¬†but¬†your body¬†just doesn’t¬†seem to¬†respond like it used to. Paces seem to be faltering, or even slowing down, energy and motivation¬†wavering, race results¬†diminishing.¬†Does¬†this¬†sound¬†like you? Good news is ‚Ästyou¬†are¬†not¬†alone.¬†Most¬†athletes hit¬†a¬†plateau at some point in their training. We often see it in athletes after 2-3 years in the sport, but it can happen at any time.¬†So¬†with¬†some understanding, practical tips and know how ‚Äď you can smash¬†through¬†the plateau and be back on your way to your next PB in no time.¬†¬†

What is a training plateau? 
Firstly, to understand why you have hit a training plateau, we must understand what it is.  When you put your body under physical exertion or physical stress (training), it creates a multitude of physiological responses at a cellular level in your body. Once the body is stimulated by the stress (training) it then goes through a process of adaption to meet the demands of the stress. As adaption occurs, the body is then better equipped (adapted) to handle the training load and it therefore becomes easier (ie you become faster / stronger / more efficient).  

Training increases must then be applied to elicit further physiological responses in the body and to continue improvement. This can be done in a number or combination of ways including increases in frequency, duration and/or intensity. If not, or if you don’t allow the adaption process to occur (through over training or under recovering) then your body will undoubtably hit the dreaded training wall plateau.  

Hitting a training wall or plateau is a frustrating part of training¬†that most athletes will¬†unfortunately¬†experience at some point. The key is¬†recognising¬†it¬†and making changes so¬†you¬†don’t¬†find yourself¬†stuck there and¬†treading water¬†for too long.¬†So¬†if you are consistent with your training, but have stopped seeing the¬†results,¬†try¬†these¬†practical¬†and effective tips and training methods¬†to smash your way through that training wall plateau¬†and reap some serious results (and PB‚Äôs!) as a result.¬†¬†

1.¬†Don’t just train more
I put this first, as it’s often the ‘go to’ for athletes if they find themselves in a plateau. This can¬†often¬†be the worst thing you can do,¬†especially¬†if you have hit that wall due¬†to over training or¬†under recovering in the first place.¬†Overtraining generally leads to fatigue, injury and/or¬†underperforming, all that¬†go hand in¬†hand¬†with hitting a plateau.¬†So¬†if you find yourself in this situation, don’t immediately just train more.¬†Yes¬†it’s important to be disciplined and consistent with your training, but it’s also crucial that you pay attention and listen to your body.¬†If you have been training¬†consistently, then look at other signs and reasons as to why you have found yourself in a¬†plateau (read on).¬†More training doesn’t necessarily equate to better results.¬†¬†

2. Get the balance right
How much you train, and the type of training you do over time, along with the amount of recovery and/or the recovery methods¬†you¬†employ will all help ensure¬†your training¬†keeps¬†progressing. A¬†well-developed¬†training plan/program will incorporate frequency, intensity and duration to elicit a specific physiological response¬†at specific times in your training.¬†Training increases are needed¬†for a¬†progressive overload¬†but it is¬†the amount of overload applied to the body¬†that¬†is the key. Too much and you risk injury, illness and over training, not enough and you won’t get the physical response to improve.¬†To¬†continue to¬†see improvements, your training plan must stimulate the body at the¬†new fitness level. Adaption then takes place again¬†(the plateau)¬†and¬†so¬†the¬†process¬†then¬†continues. If you get to a point where you aren’t coming out of your plateau, then review the frequency, intensity and duration of your sessions to ensure a continued improvement.¬†Sometimes it¬†can mean¬†not¬†quite having the balance right or at the right times that sees you landing in a plateau for longer than planned.

3. Mix it up
One of the reasons¬†you¬†may have hit a plateau is¬†because¬†you are stuck in the same training routine.¬†That training routine may have worked well in the past, but it doesn’t¬†mean it is right for you now. Our bodies are very smart and extremely good at adapting to outside stress, so if you don’t mix things up, it can not¬†only¬†affect¬†your results, but it can also affect your motivation¬†too.¬†So¬†make sure you mix¬†things¬†up every now and then. It doesn’t¬†have to be¬†drastic, but¬†just by¬†changing up a block or period in our training such as¬†backing off your running and bumping up your riding can freshen up your run and boost your ride at the same time.¬†Or¬†if you are always prescribed an aerobic, high volume training¬†program, try adding some more intensity into your training. You may even want¬†to¬†try and¬†flip things around, start your build with some intensity, and then move back to aerobic and strength. Remember there is always more than one way to¬†achieve results.¬†So¬†don’t get stuck in your ways. Change it up and¬†then¬†monitor your results¬†to¬†ensure you are getting back on track.

4. Embrace recovery
If you are one of those athletes that fears taking a day off training, you are actually more susceptible to hitting the dreaded training wall plateau.
A body¬†grows and becomes stronger¬†and¬†faster AFTER it has adapted to¬†a training¬†stimuli.¬†So¬†the amount of rest and recovery you give your body is just as important as the training itself. Without sufficient recovery, over time your body won’t be able to¬†absorb the training load and make the¬†adaptations¬†to increase performance.
Think of this¬†process¬†like climbing¬†a¬†staircase. You can’t keep climbing¬†at the same rate and the same intensity forever. At some point you will need to stop and rest so you can¬†recharge and¬†keep going.¬†That’s what recovery days / sessions allow.¬†A chance¬†for your body¬†to recharge so you can then hit¬†your next sessions¬†stronger.¬†¬†So¬†if you are constantly fatigued, sore, or not hitting¬†your¬†target times or efforts in training,¬†there’s a good chance that you are simply not giving¬†your¬†body sufficient rest and recovery.¬†So¬†listen to your body and back it off a little if you need.¬†Try taking a day or two off to regain both your physical and mental strength.¬†You may just¬†be surprised with how taking¬†just¬†a few days off can actually help not hinder your training and performance.¬†So¬†don’t¬†fear recovery sessions or days. Embrace them.

5. Go hard on hard days, easy on easy days
Far too many athletes spend time in the ‘grey’ zone. Sitting in that middle ground of training. I understand it, it feels like you’ve had a good work out, but still got some left in the tank, it’s not¬†super¬†hard, but not easy¬†either.¬†But there lies¬†the problem.¬†Each type of session has a purpose¬†at specific times in¬†your training build. If you are always training in that ‘grey’ zone, you will miss the benefits of building a sounds aerobic base and therefore stunt your maximum aerobic¬†function¬†(your engine!),¬†and at the other end, you will never hit hard sessions hard enough to¬†effectively¬†improve your¬†VO2Max¬†‚Äď which is what every athlete should be¬†aiming for.¬†Plus¬†another down-side ‚Äď you are at an increased risk of¬†over training and/or under recovering.¬†¬†So¬†know and have a purpose for every session you¬†do. If the purpose is aerobic base development, train in that zone, if it’s technique, go slow and focus, if it’s VO2max¬†or speed, go hard¬†and fast.¬†Save the tempo and¬†threshold¬†training for race specific sessions when they are needed, and they certainly aren’t needed¬†in¬†every¬†session.

6. Include specific training blocks
Many athletes get stuck into the ‘3 swims, 3 rides, 3 runs’¬†routine and then find themselves stagnating in one or more of the 3 disciplines. To give your training¬†a little¬†boost,¬†while still balancing your time and recovery,¬†look at including a¬†block¬†of training which focuses on one or two¬†disciplines¬†for a specific period of time, not all three. As an example:
Plan a 6 week ‘swim’ block if you have found you aren’t making progress in your swim. You might still train 9 times a week, but the ratio may be 5 swims, 2 runs, 2 rides. Similar plans can be done for¬†the¬†bike and run.

7. Add a training spike 
If you feel like you train specifically,¬†you tried the recovery,¬†have¬†a good balance but still feel like you are in a rut, the next step might be a training spike. A training spike can often come in the form of a training camp. Training camps provide a training spike through a condensed training overload over a specific period of time ‚Äď generally from 3-5days. Your aim is to¬†overload your¬†training during that specific period, then allow¬†sufficient recovery¬†and you¬†should see the benefits a few weeks¬†later.¬†You can¬†choose to attend a specific training camp, or you can¬†simulate¬†your own at home. As an example, you might normally swim 3km on a Friday morning,¬†ride 3hours in the hills on a¬†Saturday and¬†run 1hour on¬†Sunday. A training spike over the same¬†3 day¬†period may look like the following*:

Friday AM: 3km aerobic strength based pool swim
Friday PM: 45-60min easy technique focused aerobic run
Saturday AM: 4hour aerobic strength based hills ride
Saturday LUNCH: 2km easy recovery pool swim
Saturday PM: 60-90min aerobic strength based run
SUNDAY AM: 3hour flat aerobic ride
Sunday LUNCH: 45min easy technique focused run

*Keep in mind that¬†everyone’s¬†training load and demand¬†is¬†different. Depending on the time of the year and phase in your training program, your training spike might focus on increased¬†frequency,¬†duration, intensity or a combination¬†of all three. It should also have a particular focus based on where you are at in your training¬†such as aerobic strength¬†base¬†or¬†race specific phase.

8. Plan a bi-annual /annual recovery phase
A sound training plan will build you up over time, aiming to peak you for your specific¬†key¬†race/s, then include a recovery or transition period where¬†you¬†enjoy some recovery and down time.¬†Too many athletes are frightened of having time off after a key race for fear of¬†loosing¬†the fitness they worked so hard¬†for.¬†Yes ‚Äď you will¬†see some decline in¬†fitness after a week or so, but it is necessary. If you don’t,¬†you actually run the risk of¬†under recovering.¬†The key though¬†is not stopping fully. In general, aim to move your body for fun, enjoyment and exercise ‚Äď rather than viewing it as training. Try something new, jump on a mountain bike, sign up to a yoga class, go on a¬†hike… the list is endless.¬†The movement and exercise¬†will help maintain some fitness while fast tracking your recovery.¬†Our bodies can’t be at their peak¬†year round, so take some time off after a key race to refresh physically and just as importantly mentally, and you will come back even stronger for your next race¬†or season.¬†¬†

9. Seek out a coach
When you started out in the sport, you may have¬†been training yourself,¬†joining¬†in¬†on¬†group sessions¬†or even following a template training plan. But as you progress, your training needs to progress¬†too.¬†So¬†if you are serious about¬†improving,¬†it may¬†be¬†time¬†to seek¬†additional guidance through a¬†Coach. A Coach¬†can provide¬†a¬†training program¬†that¬†is¬†periodised, with¬†specific training blocks¬†and cycles to help you get¬†the most out of your training, and also¬†leap you¬†out of¬†that¬†plateau.¬†Do¬†some¬†research¬†on Coaches¬†that¬†provide¬†individualised¬†training programs¬†designed¬†for you. It will cost you a little¬†more, but¬†don’t¬†underestimate the value a¬†personalised¬†coach¬†who¬†can add to your training and progression as an athlete.¬†

Although there can be a number of reasons for a training plateau, most of the time you can come out the other side with just a few small changes to your training, recovery or lifestyle to get you are back on your way. So instead of getting stuck behind the training plateau wall, listen to your body and make some changes to ensure you are back on your way to your next PB in no time!  


Written by Coach Sarah, as previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine

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Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.



How to make the most of your winter season training

Don‚Äôt you just love this time of the year?‚ÄĮKey races are complete and you are all set for some time off structured training. Did someone say social life? Yes please!¬†

It’s the perfect time to reflect, review and reset. To look at what went right, what went wrong and what can be improved and what you would do differently.

It’s also the best time to start building a solid winter base. Base endurance is the key to having a strong racing season, no matter the distance you are training for.‚ÄĮ Short Course athletes require a solid base so their bodies can adapt and grow and handle the intensities that will come later in their training program. Long Course athletes require a strong aerobic base to build the engine that will carry them through their training volume and more importantly, race day. A solid base also helps you become a more robust athlete, which in return helps prevent injuries, illness, inconsistency and athlete burn out.

Build your best winter base yet! 

I’ve put together my 7 TOP TIPS to building your best winter base yet, ensuring you‚ÄĮmake‚ÄĮthe most of your winter season this year. Enabling you‚ÄĮto start next season stronger, hungrier and more robust than ever and propel you into your next triathlon season!¬†


A strong and robust base starts with solid rest. Every athlete needs a break from the racing season and structured training so they can repair and recharge. Ensure you have taken the time to have a few weeks off from structured training after your season/last event to rest and reset. When you feel like you have had a good mental and physical rest from structured training (this time frame can differ for each athlete), then start building structure back in a few days a week until you are ready for a fully structured program. The key is backing off enough to recover, but not so much that you completely lose fitness. So keep the body moving while it still rests.



Build back into training gradually

Sounds simple right? Yet it is often hard for athletes to grasp this concept. Building gradually into your training allows for your body to adapt to the stressors training (of any level/duration/intensity) places on the body. Base building provides a platform for building up training at a slow and safe rate, which helps decrease the likelihood of injury and burnout. Building up gradually following a carefully structured plan will ensure your body adapts, while also focusing on key fundamentals including general strength, technique and form which are essential during the base training phase. 

Low intensity / Aerobic Training

‚ÄúWant speed? Slow down.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Dr Phil¬†Maffetone.¬†

And I couldn‚Äôt agree more! The building block of base training is low intensity aerobic training. Far too many athletes still train in the ‚Äėgrey‚Äô zone,‚ÄĮtraining with their heart rate too high to develop their aerobic system (crucial for endurance) but then on the flip side, not hard enough to illicit improvement in their Vo2Max or speed. Essentially you want to develop your aerobic capacity through low intensity / aerobic training so over time you will be able to train faster for longer.

To train your maximum aerobic function, I often ‚ÄĮuse the MAF Method‚ÄĮas‚ÄĮdeveloped by Dr Phil¬†Maffetone.‚ÄĮIn the winter/off season.¬†The easier the better.¬†The hard training will come. So keep reminding yourself that. Those athletes who have taken the time to build their base consistently over winter will be the athletes that will get the most consistent results for the season and are generally less prone to injury and burnout also.


If you have a coach, you would have definitely have heard this one before. Consistency is¬†key. The ability to string together multiple weeks and months of consistent training brings about far better (and more consistent) results at races during a season. If we compare an athlete who goes extremely hard for one or two weeks/months, but then has to have days or weeks of easier training as they recover from the hard training, then they are not building a consistently strong base.‚ÄĮAthletes who go too hard too early are¬†also more susceptible to illness and injury over winter, which again in turn results in inconsistent training.¬†

Remember to rest

Just because base training doesn’t include large amounts of intensity, keep in mind that rest is still an important aspect of training during this phase. It is during the rest and recovery portion of your training that the body repairs itself, adapts and becomes stronger. So ensure your base aerobic training still factors in easier days or rest days to allow your body to adapt and come back from each session/week stronger than before. This is where a well-structured training program comes into play to gain the best results from your hard work during training. 

Fuel smart

So many athletes say they train so they can eat what they like. Well I’m afraid you can’t if you want to be healthy on the inside and out, recover quicker and perform at your optimum. The base building phase is one of the less intensive phases of a training program, so it’s the perfect time to develop sound, nutritional habits and you will find you might actually lose a few kg’s (not put them on which is what most athletes tend to do over winter!). During lower-intensity training, try some of these sessions fasted. This helps condition the body to draw energy from fat stores rather than rely on constant fuelling with carbohydrates. Base training can be the perfect time to become leaner and a more efficient fat burner. So ditch the packaged foods and gels over winter and fuel with real wholesome food.  

Add a ‚Äėspike‚Äô in your base training

There is no magic number for how long a base-building phase should last. This is very individual for each athlete and can depend on training history, lead in time to the season/key race/s etc, but generally you will see this phase last from 6-12 weeks. If you have a heart-rate monitor and/or power meter you can measure more closely on when you have built up a strong base and ready to move into the next training phase. Working with a Coach will‚ÄĮhelp you achieve this optimal phase in your program.‚ÄĮA great way to then‚ÄĮkick your base training to the next level is through a ‚Äėspike‚Äô in your training. This can be through a weekly challenge or blocks such as a swim/ride/run block (ie¬†increase mileage of one particular‚ÄĮdiscipline over a given period of time to add a ‚Äėspike‚Äô). Another great way is through training camps. Training camps are fantastic as they add a large spike in your training over a short period of time (generally 2-5 days).‚ÄĮTraining camps‚ÄĮoffer a short specific stressor to your body to propel it to the next level, provided you then follow with a specific recovery protocol post camp to recover and adapt.‚ÄĮThese spikes‚ÄĮhelps¬†to avoid a plateau and also provides some great motivation ‚Äď particularly over winter.¬†


So no matter what distance you plan to race this coming season, make sure you are starting off with a strong base before you build into the next phase/s‚ÄĮof your training. This approach will safeguard you against injury, keep you healthy, help your race times come down and be a more consistent athlete in the process!

Happy Base Training!
Coach Sarah 

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Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.


Who says you have to be ready?

With the Christmas New Year break pretty much all but forgotten for another year, the racing season is now back in full swing. At this time of the year there is an abundance¬†of races you can choose from. Pick a weekend and somewhere close by there will be a race being held. It’s such a great time of the year to be a part of the sport of triathlon and cycling!

Yet chatting to a number of athletes, and I’m finding that many are deciding not to race at the moment. And after chatting further, it all came back to the same reason…

So if you are not racing at the moment, ask yourself – why ?

Are you coming off the back of a long course race at the end of last year and building back that strength, endurance and speed again? Or maybe you are recovering from an injury? Has the time off over the holiday period and that little extra Christmas pudding left you feeling slower and heavier, so you are waiting until you get the fitness and weight back in check?¬† Do you not feel quite at your peak yet? Or not quite ready to test your training out in a race? Maybe you are waiting for the ‘right’ time. The right race. The right circumstances for you to be ready?

The common theme I’m finding as to why athletes don’t race is centred around believing they are not ready to race yet.

But who says you have to be ‘ready’ to race? And what does being ready even look like? Why can’t you just go out and race because you feel like it? To learn from it? To gain physical and mental strength from it?

If you have been in your base training but haven’t done your race specific prep yet, does it matter? You will finish and you will be fine AND you may just surprise yourself!¬†Racing isn’t always about being ‘ready’. It’s about putting yourself out there. It’s about learning and discovering how to push yourself.

Every race doesn’t have to be raced for a PB. (as nice as a PB is!)¬†

I’ll be racing a short course race this weekend – my first triathlon since having my little man 5 months ago. But I certainly haven’t trained specifically for it. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been in the pool in the last 12 months.¬†My running (aka jogging) is with a pram and¬†on average once a week (if that), and my cycling is sporadic – and mostly on the trainer, but I’ve been strength training and walking. Loads. I’m definitely not ‘ready’ to race, but in my mind, I don’t know when I will be. And what does it matter anyway? I’m fit, and I’m healthy and I love training and I love racing. So why not race?

My old athlete self would never have toed a start line without being ‘ready’. I would not have even considered it. I remember conversations I’ve have with athletes a few years ago and they would ask if I was racing. If I wasn’t I’ll tell them – ‘no I’m not ready to race yet‘, ‘can’t you just race to enjoy it?’ I remember one athlete ask back. And I remember at the time that I quipped back ‘I’d rather not race at all….‘¬† Back then, I was all or nothing. If I hadn’t put everything into training, then I felt I wouldn’t be able to put everything into a race. And there was no way I was going into a race without being race ready.

How wrong my old self was!

If I could go back and advise my old self, I would tell the younger me that it is ok to race even if you aren’t 100% ready.¬†As long as you give 100% of whatever you have on the day – then you are winning. And you will gain from it. You will learn from it. And you will be motivated from it.¬†You don’t have to be ‘race ready’ to get the benefits from a race. It¬†is often these races that athletes actually gain more from than the ones when they are ready.

Of course when you are fully prepared you get the results and the rewards, but it is the races when you come in without expectations, you learn how to mentally push yourself when your body physically doesn’t want you to. It is these races where you can surprise yourself, and when you will learn more about yourself.

There are plenty of goals you can have for a race. Even if you are underdone. You just have to be prepared to put yourself out there.

So go into a race underdone – but with a different goal. You may have been working tirelessly on your bike leg which has previously been your weakness, but that’s left your run underdone. So go in with the purpose of racing hard on the bike and letting the run be what it will be.

Your training may have fallen off the bandwagon as you search for a new goal, if so, then use the race to get that fire in the belly back.

You may be returning from injury and can’t run – enter as a team.

Every race you do you experience and learn from. So the more racing you do, the more you will learn. About how to race, what the body is capable of, how to read racing conditions, race tactics… the list is endless.

So stop putting off entering a race because you don’t feel ready. Enter and throw yourself into it. You won’t regret it!


Coach Sarah

Complete Per4mance Coaching is triathlon, cycling and running coaching for athletes seeking a performance edge. My coaching is born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Every athlete is individual, therefore I provide programs written and designed specifically based on each athletes goals, time commitment, training level and ‚Äėlife‚Äô in general. Delivered through¬†training peaks,¬†each athlete receives a truly personal coaching service dedicated to improving YOUR results, while providing a¬†pricing structure¬†that helps allow every athlete receive the coaching that they deserve.

Contact me to discuss your training and coaching options. 

Finding the right Coach for you

Searching for a new Coach can be a daunting experience; whether you are new to the sport of triathlon, or a seasoned triathlete. Many triathletes look for a Coach for structure and accountability that will ultimately lead them to performance gains, others are simply looking for guidance and support, to learn more about their chosen sport. No matter your reason, a Coach is an investment, so the decision on a Coach should be well thought out to ensure you find the right Coach for YOU, to ensure your performance, health and ultimately enjoyment of the support all go hand in hand.

The Coach’s Role
The role of a Coach can be varied based on what it is you are looking for and trying to achieve, along with your training history/past experience. When an athlete first starts out in triathlon, the Coachs role may be more focused on guiding, educating and supporting the athlete through the learning and developing phase to help develop the basic training fundamentals, principles and methods for training and developing a strong, robust and healthy body to undertake training load. As an athlete develops, the Coaches role would shift to ensure the athlete is continuing to practice and develop certain skills/technique, along with improving their knowledge, awareness and understanding of the program itself and the key fundamentals. It is important that a Coach continues to educate athletes through this phase to avoid over reaching/over training and burn out. As an athlete then continues to progress, a solid understanding of exercise physiology, the functions of workload, training fundamentals, principles and methods must be applied. And this is where a Coach should have up-to-date education and/or research in the areas of physiology, anatomy, nutrition and even sports psychology.This coupled with real life experience, lays the foundations for a quality Coach and a Coach that can develop an athlete from the ground up to reaching their optimal performance.

Finding the right Coach for you

Now that you have a better understanding of the role of a Coach, its time to establish what you are looking for in a Coach. This is where most athletes don’t know where to begin, I have listed 10 questions you can ask yourself before you go in the search of a new Coach. This will ensure you are clear on what you are looking for.

1. Why do you want a Coach?

Sounds like a simple question, but many don’t actually know WHY. So start by making a list on why you feel you want a Coach. This may change once you go through this process, and may also change as you continue your journey in the sport, but make a start and then come back and revisit i tat the end. Ask yourself the following questions: -Are you someone who needs the support of someone for motivation and goal setting? -Are you someone who needs structure, routine and a periodised program to follow?-Are you someone who is returning from injury or wants to avoid minimise the risk of injury?-Do you want to learn more about the sport from experts in their field? -Do you want to develop technique and skills specific to the sport? -Do you want to maximise your time spent training through purposeful and specific sessions/program? -Do you want help to decipher all the noise that is in the triathlon world? Remember it is an investment and you will be trusting your training to someone else, so its a decision you want to get right.

2. What is your budget?

A Coach is an investment, start your search with a budget in mind. However we often find athletes underestimate the value and cost in coaching, so as you proceed through your search, you may find that you will modify your original budget OR your expectations on the level of coaching service you can afford.The cost a Coach will generally depend on a combination of the coaches history/experience/successes and the type of service they offer. A highly successful proven coach, providing an individualised specific program will often charge more that of a new coach offering the same service, or a highly regarded coach providing less of a coaching service. So this is where it is important to determine what you are looking for in a coach and how that fits in with your budget.

3. What experience does the Coach have?

Do some research on the experience of the Coach. How many years have they been involved in the sport? How many years have they been coaching? What type of athletes do they coach? What coaching successes have they
achieved? What is their expertise? A Coach that has vast and proven experience at successfully coaching athletes has a bigger knowledge base to draw upon than someone who has only coached a small handful of people, so take this into consideration. Also remember ‚Äď just because someone achieves a high level of personal success in the sport, doesn‚Äôt mean they automatically make a great coach or could be the right fit for you.

4. What is their Coaching Philosophy?

Research what their Coaching Philosophy is, and understand whether this philosophy sits well with you. Be open and honest, and ask questions. There is no single coaching formula that works for everybody, but you do need to have buy into the coaching philosophy of your Coach.This may also require additional research if you don’t know what different coaching philosophies look like. And if you ask the question, and they cannot answer, then I would rethink whether that Coach is the right coach for you.

5. What Coaching principles/methods do they coach by?

Again, there is no one right way to program and there is certainly more than one way to achieve the same result, but understanding what the Coaching principles, methods and program foundations of your Coach are will allow you to understand how your program will work and gauge whether it will be the right method for you. But ensure the program / coaching has your needs met and work around your life, including a balanced approach to achieving your goals and to ensure your longevity in the sport.

6. The Coaching Relationship A Coach/athlete relationship is extremely important

You want to be able to gel with your Coach so you can put your trust in them, and they can gain the most from you. Think about the relationship you want to have with your Coach and determine what is important to you on their style and qualities. Do you want a Coach that provides tough love/is a hard task master? Someone approachable and open? Do you want constant support? What communication style works for you? What kind of personality do you work well with?Make a list on what is important to you and make sure your Coach ticks these boxes.

7. How much contact do you want with your coach?

This is a big one, as different coaches offer different contact levels. This could be either face to face / group sessions, communication through email/phone/skype. It could be daily, weekly, monthly. The feedback you receive from a coach is just as important as the feedback you provide to your coach. So understand what amount of communication/contact you want with your coach as this will dictate the type of coaching/program you ultimately choose.

8. Do you want to be part of a Club/Squad/ Group Training?

Group sessions are a great way for athletes to receive instruction from coaches, meet new people, learn the fundamentals of triathlon training and push themselves in a group environment. Often athletes will follow the same or similar training program at sessions, with a coach guiding them through the session. Coaches may offer technique advice, modify the plan to meet the athletes individual needs, or at times it is up to the athlete to understand what is right for them and make their own modifications. If you are looking at group training, ensure you ask questions around coach/athlete ratios, what coaching is provided at the sessions, times and locations, what feedback is given and any additional costs involved to ensure you know what to expect. This often is a great way for athletes to start out in the sport, but often as athletes develop they opt to move to a more individualised coaching/program model. Oran athlete on an individualised program may opt into certain sessions (ie swim sessions) for coach/technique feedback in certain areas.

9. Do you want an individualised specific program designed for you?

There is a big difference in the offer of an individualised/personalised specific program versus group training. An individual program is tailored to your personal needs and will therefor include heart rate, duration and pace parameters suitable to your goals and current fitness level. It considers your strengths and weaknesses ‚Äď therefore varying the type and frequency of these sessions (ie You wont find 2-3 x Swim, Bike, Run per week, all year round). It includes constant communication and feedback between coach and athlete and would include discussions about how you feel, your mental state, stress levels, your recovery techniques and current nutrition / sleep habits. You will expect to pay more for this type of coaching service compared to group training sessions. So if you are looking at an individual specific program, ensure your definition is the same as the Coaches. A fully individualised plan will be more expensive than a plan slightly modified template program, or a program given at group training sessions.

10. What are the Coaches expectations of you as an athlete?
It is important to understand what expectations your coach has of you. This can be things like: Type and amount of communication/feedback, protocols around injury/illness, time frames around notifying of events/races, adherence to training program etc. So ask your potential coach ‚Äď what do they expect of you as an athlete, this will ensure that you are on the both page up front.

Here are some further questions to ask your potential Coach:

  • What is their Coaching specialty/expertise What are their qualifications/education?
  • What TYPE of program will be delivered? (ie individualised, template, group sessions)
  • How do they deliver the program? How do they facilitate communication / feedback?
  • What can you expect from them as a Coach?
  • What education do they provide their athletes for continual improvement?
  • What practitioners (if any) do they work closely with their athletes?

Once you have done your homework, get in contact with a few coaches that tick the boxes for you,and remember to keep in mind what commitment you want to make ‚Äď both in time and money, and what you hope to get out of it.

Don‚Äôt be afraid to ask (more!) questions about how they will help you achieve your goals‚Äďno matter what your goals are. They are YOUR goals, so you must be happy with your decision. Happy Coach hunting!

Words by Coach Sarah and previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine