Written by Coach Michael Harvey
In triathlon, let alone the world, there is so much noise. So much advice, opinions, ‘facts’ that at the end of the day I can only see for most people they become confused. Confused because in this day and age of social media and 24 hour news, somewhere along the way we lost the BS filter. Many lose the ability to sit and think for themselves, to create and form their own opinions and to grow and learn.
From where I sit, we have turned to looking for the most complex answer that we can find as being the truth. Gone is the mindset of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), we are in the KICP (Keep It Complex Please) era. Triathlon has always been seen as an innovative sport and in terms of producing more innovative ways to make things more confusing for those in the sport, we are probably leading the way globally.
If we step back and look at things simply, from my experience there are usually the tried and proven ways which are right. The problem with that is simplicity is pretty damn hard to sell. “Don’t take this supplement as it’s totally unnecessary and by eating a well balanced diet you will get all the nutrients you need” or for the last trend in ‘maximalist shoes’ “it would be far more beneficial for your long term development physiologically if you avoided over padded shoes, were patient and allowed your body to adapt over a number of years and potentially live a happy injury free future”. Instead, someone has cleverly designed a product that preys on impatient people who are willing to spend money on a ‘quick fix'.
Triathlon has quite literally turned into different sports depending on the distances and levels raced. By this I mean that in the Olympic Distance at the elite level you no longer need to be a triathlete, just a great swim/runner. You only need to take a look at Triathlon Australia’s junior development selection protocol. Swim and run times are all that count to get in. I also believe that this is the direction that Kona is headed for the elite men. You miss the front pack in the swim and burn matches to catch the Hawi train while others just sit in to finish off on the run. Look at it simply and you can see exactly how you need to train now to win at the Olympics or Kona in the elite men. Swim front pack, conserve on the bike, fastest runner wins. Those who try to break away are just kidding themselves.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler" said Einstein. See it is not about dumbing things down, but focusing on the key things that are important. As with most good coaches I’ve experimented over the years with many pieces of equipment, techniques, diets and training so that I could come up with my own opinion. This helped me make good choices in training equipment, recovery and racing and ultimately benefited the athletes I coach. It also helped me filter all the noise of the ‘experts’ having has my own personal experiences. That has flowed on to now being able to give sound anecdotal evidence to those I coach. The trouble is triathletes get bombarded with literally 100’s of different articles through social media about what they should be doing.
Now the problem is not in having an opinion. The problem is in why people feel it necessary to write so many varying messages. Is it to genuinely help and inform others and make them better? Or is it ‘click bait’ so people read their articles, sell a particular product or smear another brand to gain more business?
Make sure you choose wisely with what and who you listen too. You actually know in yourself what is right, you just second guess that because of the thousands of other opinions out there that leave you with the ‘what if’ in your mind. Yes it is great to have access to information and different points of view, but having different points of view doesn’t help you improve. Doing the work you need to do is what improves you.