How can you achieve a performance breakthrough in triathlon? Can you go from a back or mid pack triathlete to winning races? Can you qualify for Worlds? Make the podium? Get a PR? Make “All American” or “All World”? Finish a milestone distance? Go pro? How do you get on to the next level, hurdle or step in your performance progression? Yes, performance breakthroughs can be your reality!
You might be a genetically gifted natural where this can happen really fast, you lucky freak, you! If not dream big. There is hope that almost anything is possible if you are passionate about making progress in triathlon.
I’ll use myself as an example. This is opening me up to some scrutiny but it is worth it to help like minded athletes. Those who know my story know that I am an “adult onset” triathlete who progressed over the years with a few of (what I would call) breakthrough seasons along the way.
I’ve raced from the “Back of the Pack” (BOP), up to the Middle (MOP) and closer to the Front (FOP) of age group racing. This has been the result of consistent, hard work which is the foundation of success in any area of life but I’ve also had a few “performance breakthrough seasons” and learned a lot along the way.
I have finished dead last in my age group in a long course race while pouring in everything I had physically and mentally on the day after a tough training block and been very satisfied with the result. I have had nerves regarding making the cut off times. I’ve been unsure if there would only browned bananas hot from the sun and pretzel crumbs in the food tent by the time I finished. I’ve run with a glow stick in the dark on a good Ironman day. I have been there fighting for a 7 hour 70.3 and a 7+ hour bike split. I loved every second of it and felt proud generally of each accomplishment.
On the flip side I’ve also progressed to a point of having qualified for 70.3 Worlds 3 times, won a few triathlons, qualified for Boston and even won a couple hundred dollars in race prize money. I’ve led others to their worlds finishes and first time overall wins too. No, I’m not the best by any means but I continue to work towards my potential in a manner that works for me.
Leveraging my Story to Help
I used to shy away from talking about my “BOP” roots particularly in my coaching. So many coaches are powerhouse athletes and have always been that way. However, it dawned on me that this variation of perspective really helps me as a coach to have experienced the sport from so many angles and levels. I’m embracing it. I choose to use this part of my history to help others reach their potential too and have the belief, knowledge and confidence to crush limiting expectations and go after what they want! I can help people more by attaching myself to my story and sharing my experiences openly.
Extreme progress in performance is so very possible if you find a recipe that works with you as an individual and if it is true to what you really want.
Personally, I have a strong passion for progress, performance breakthroughs and gains achieved while facing challenges! The incredible feeling of working towards and achieving something personal feels the same at all levels. Getting to new levels in sport hasn’t come easy for me but in hindsight I do believe there were many things I could have done that would have certainly accelerated progress and led to more rapid performance breakthroughs.
The Progress Data
To back up my commentary with numbers just so you know I’m not exaggerating about my own journey here, I’ll back it up with some numbers which are publicly available. There was consistent progress through work over time, but also some really strong individual years with races that I consider to be breakthroughs setting up the stage for more progress.
USA Triathlon has a ranking system which is widely used to measure progress over time. It is uses a scoring system based off race times to members who complete at least 3 sanctioned races. Every single year my score is higher than the last and my % in AG rankings has climbed from bottom half to top 10%…(6% so far).
It doesn’t show my results prior to 2009 which were even lower for certain. I only use this as a measure because it is widely available not because “rankings” is the best measure of progress. Personal benchmark data is a better measure in my opinion. Nevertheless, on the years made available by USAT, I moved from 879th in my age group in 2009 to the 120’s in my age group rank. A score of 71.6 to 91.8! Before that my scores were undoubtably lower.
No Limited Thinking
Armed with first hand knowledge and experience of what that takes to have breakthroughs and work a long term plan and make mega progress, I readily believe in potential and possibility! I believe in bold vision and pursue it.
Many have trouble making giant “leaps” of belief because they haven’t seen progress to an extreme! They haven’t seen or experienced a performance breakthrough of significance firsthand.
Limited thinking messages and well meaning “expectation management” advice has always been frustrating for me to deal with as an athlete. However, it is empowering as a coach or a mentor to be able help others see past their perceived limitations. I still love this sport and think the next breakthrough is just around the corner for myself and for the athletes I coach and help.
Recipe for Breakthrough!
I’m all about giving back to others in the sport and sharing knowledge as others have done for me so I’m going to reflect about the Performance Breakthrough and Progress openly. It will also help me as an athlete and as a coach to write about this topic regularly. That is why I am starting blog series on this topic. I want others to learn from my journey and know what is possible! For me that is part of the joy of sport. I like sharing experiences with others.
When it comes to breakthroughs there are parts that are rooted in mindset, physiology and in your environment too. It is an individual recipe but with common core ingredients. This is what I intend to continue to explore in the blog. There is a mix of ingredients that can lead to performances beyond any previous achievement.
So, watch this space and the ideas and reflections will be pouring into the blog at least weekly!
An Opportunity for YOU!
We also have a really bold and impactful Mindset Power component to the Bike Power Challenge that Aaron and I have in store for March.
This 6 week program can jump start the breakthrough performance and mega progress you might be looking for! All are welcome, so please contact us if you want to enter race season your most powerful athlete-self and be primed for your best season ever and maybe even a performance breakthrough year!