Everyone is looking for performance hacks. If you want to be the best version of you, there is only one hack: Consistency over a long period.
I’ve just returned from a weekend at the Special Olympics Great Britain National Cycling Championships. My reason for attending was to support one of my clients, who has been working with me for the last seven months. The bottom line is that Daniel performed pretty much as I expected, way above the level expected by those who have known him as a racer in these events over the past few years.
Over the course of the weekend, numerous people approached me with comments along the lines of, “Wow, you’ve done a great job. Daniel is a different rider from the one who raced here a year ago.” However, it wasn’t simply the subjective point-of-view expressed by these people that was instructive and thus got me thinking. Rather, it was his performances: Daniel won 3 silver medals, missing out on winning the sprint in his third race by the width of a tyre!
Of course, as I wrote above, I knew that he could do this and that he was more than capable of winning his races. Really, it’s all in the “numbers"...
- Daniel has increased his functional threshold power output by almost 40% in 7 months. What’s more, this was from a point where he was already a fit, “in-shape” bike rider.
- He has developed a superb awareness of who is around him and what they are doing. He knows how to implement his tactics for the race. In fact, the race he so nearly won was tactically almost perfect.
- We have worked hard to make sure that Dan has the physiological characteristics to be successful in a circuit race, rather than simply allowing him to continue training like a time-trialist.
- Dan has massively improved his technical ability on a bike (riding on a wheel, cornering, positioning etc).
However, none of these is the biggest reason for Daniel’s success this weekend (and the success I fully expect him to have at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles in July). Rather, the biggest reason for his success can be summed up this way:
Daniel does exactly what his plan says to do. He does no more, he does no less.
Many people would consider Daniel to be at a major disadvantage when it comes to training for cycling. For example, because he can’t ride alone on a public road, he does most of his training on a turbo trainer. Yet he never complains about boredom.
He doesn’t get to speak to lots of different cyclists and throw ideas back and forth. He doesn’t have constant access to blogs, magazines and books that aim to pull or push him in their particular direction or present him with the latest “perfect plan”. I’d argue that he actually has a major ADVANTAGE.
There are many things that I could add in to Daniel's plan that are simply impossible or at the very least too difficult for Daniel to implement due to the nature of his disability. So instead of concentrating on those minor things that might or might not bring small improvements, we’ve focused on getting him to do the major important things right every day.
Or to put it even more succinctly. In one simple word, we’ve aimed for...
It's the magic word when it comes to endurance sports performance. In his training, Daniel is consistency personified.
I’ve long told all my clients that if they complete 85% of the plan 85% of the time, they’ll be ahead of the majority of their competitors. Daniel is living proof of this simple truth.
No matter where your plan comes from: Whether you cobble it together yourself from some stuff you read, decide to follow a template plan from a magazine, buy a plan from someone on the internet or you pay someone like me to coach you, you owe it to yourself to commit to the plan you have and to aim to follow it consistently.
Beware jumping on the latest bandwagon or being diverted by the next thing you read. There is a myriad of approaches to achieve the same goal and I’d suggest that none is vastly superior to any other. But every single one will fail to deliver the results you desire unless you stick with it.
An imperfect plan executed with commitment, precision and consistency will outperform a perfect plan done sloppily. Every. Single. Time.
Daniel doesn’t have the perfect plan. Neither does he have the perfect training environment. He does have an amazing gift though. His disability gives him the unique ability to focus single-mindedly for about an hour a day, 6 days a week, on the task at hand and this virtually guarantees his athletic improvement. Whilst you may find it harder to have the same focus, if you commit to consistency, you too will see outstanding progress in your performance no matter what your goals.
You can follow Daniel’s progress by liking his Facebook page.