By Head Coach Phil Murphy
It is 4.30am and I am on a plane back from South Africa and the Ironman 70.3 World Champs, the child behind me has just kicked my seat for the six hundredth time so I give up trying to sleep and start to reflect on what was nearly the Big performance I am seeking in this sport. With 7km to go I was still on the podium in the most competitive event of the year but I couldn’t hang on. I don’t wallow in self-pity, my brain simply starts to work out how to finish it off better next time. What went right, what went wrong and most importantly how am I going to come back stronger. All I know for now is that I won’t be doing this alone but it will be me that has to take the lead on it……….so, how can you go about setting yourself up for success in this way?
The journey to being the best you can be is different for everyone in all walks of life and none more so than when seeking our ultimate sporting accomplishment. Some people have it easier than others, less set backs, less complications and more natural talent. Others can find the path strewn with hurdles to overcome but plenty have defeated all kinds of adversity in their quest to succeed. But, those that truly succeed in sport, and in this case, Triathlon, will all have one thing in common. They took control off their own destiny.
I see a lot of athletes, or even non-sporting individuals going about their daily professional lives, allowing others to make decisions for them, steering them on their path through their chosen pursuit and those who do this will ultimately come up short. Real success happens when you grab your journey by the reins and take control….. Do it your way but take great advice along your chosen path.
Think of your own journey like setting up a new company, have a vision, be your own boss, decide what you are wanting to achieve, and then work backwards from that goal to determine what steps need to be taken. You are very unlikely to do this alone so the first thing you need to establish is a great team around you. In Triathlon the first person you might look for is someone like me, a Triathlon coach, and you would of course be right to do so, however this is nearly always where athletes fail. They get a coach and great…..they no longer need to think about anything themselves, because this is now the job of the coach…..WRONG!
A coach is your chief advisor. Yes, they may tell you what sessions to do each day, and plan out the season long road map to improve your performances, but they are really there as an added source of knowledge. Someone to answer questions you are unsure of the answer to, a sounding board, sometimes even emotional support through the most challenging of journeys that this sport is.
As an athlete who has also had several coaches over the years, I am always exploring new ways of improving my performances and I don’t wait for my coach to tell me how to do this. From growing my own team to support my journey including finding the best Masseuse, Chiropractuer and Physio for supporting the demands of training, developing a small training group of similar level athletes, another integral part of my team, to push me on in training when required, entering races on courses that may or may not suit me to challenge myself and explore new limits, Trying new bike positions and not always ones that work but over the course of time my knowledge in this area has become so in depth I now have my own bike fitting business, different wetsuits, different nutrition plans and new products, the list goes on. I have even had times where to explore the next thing on my list I have had to cut back financially in other parts of life or even take on extra work to finance something that I feel needs to be explored.
So as a coach myself I would actually embrace those athletes of mine who go off my script on a journey of self discovery from time to time, only to return with their own knowledge to add to the party. As a coach I know I do not have all the answers , those that think they do are sorely mistaken, but by getting athletes to add more of their experiences, positive and negative to the knowledge bank, “WE”, the collective team around your journey will get you to the place you want to go.
Phil Murphy is one of the Head Coaches at Total Tri Training. You can contact Phil on firstname.lastname@example.org or through our contact us page
Read more about Phil here