By Chris Pilone.
A couple of days after the one two finish of Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty in the 2004 Olympic Triathlon in Athens I went on a casual bike ride with Mark Elliot. Mark at the time was Tri NZ High Performance Manager and also Bevan Docherty’s personal coach. I was Hamish Carter’s coach and Mark and I had both been appointed as coaches for triathlon to the 2004 New Zealand Olympic team. Both Hamish and Bevan shared the same swim coach, former NZ national swim coach Mark Bone.
On this particular day Mark and I cycled into the hills high above Athens. Once at the top of all the hills we were able reflect on what had been a quite remarkable few months. I was still relatively inexperienced as a coach but had always been a good planner when it came to athletes training and timing of training so they performed well in key events.
As Mark and I looked out from our vantage point in the hills above Athens Mark remarked “Well, Pilone, we were the kings of the world for a day.” I casually remarked back “Well, it was only for one day Mark.” Mark’s response was quick and to the point. “It was the right bloody day though!”
Mark’s to the point remark has stuck with me ever since. What would have happened if the men’s Olympic Triathlon of 2004 been 4 weeks earlier or 4 weeks later? Would the result have been the same? Most likely not. Having said that, if it had been 4 weeks earlier or 4 weeks later Mark and I were both good enough coaches to change the planning and periodization process for both athletes.
Planning and periodization of training is the key for success in any endurance sport. It is no good if you are flying in training but it is still 6 weeks to go before a target half ironman or ironman race. I bet all of us have either done this at some stage or seen others do it.
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