Over the last 5 years working within various high performance sports I have learnt a lot. No matter what the sport, World Cup, Olympic and Paralympic athletes all do certain things that get them to their high level of performance.
I have had some questions about what it is like working with elite athletes and the training 'secrets' that go on behind closed doors. So here are the top 3 things that elite athletes are doing that you probably aren't.
1) Do the basics right
When I first started working in high-performance sport in 2011 with New Zealand track cycling program I was fresh from my undergraduate degree and getting stuck into my masters degree. I was brimming with the latest sport science research and was super excited about getting into the 'cutting edge' training methods and 'secrets' of high-performance cycling.
What I quickly found was that there was not really anything that 'special' or 'secret' happening. What was happening was the basics, and they were being done really really well. The basics of good quality training, recovery and nutrition. When these things are done well 95% of performance is taken care off. There is, of course, a lot of time and effort placed on refining that extra 5% but before all of those little 1% gains are chased the basics need to be done well.
2) Consistency is key
I know that I go on a lot about training consistency in my articles and videos, but I keep going on about it because it is so important. The very best athletes in the world are consistent in everything that they do. Not only are they consistent in turning up to their training sessions and putting in the effort, but also in terms of their nutrition, sleep, preparation, sponsorship commitments and prehab/ rehab. Every day they consistently do all of the little (often basic and tedious things) that add up over time. I am always impressed by the elite endurance athletes that I work with and how consistent they are week after week ticking off their training sessions through all sorts of weather conditions, nailing their daily nutrition and uploading their training data. Come race day it is no secret why these girls and guys are the ones off the front.
3) Embrace the grind
Whatever your sport is, it is hard at the top level. The daily process of training, setbacks from injury, the long often frustrating rehab process and the sacrifices that are made in pursuit of your goal grind away to sharpen an athlete. Without this grind it is not possible to achieve your goals and continue to improve. Those who embrace this process and the grind of it reap the rewards while those that do not, make excuses and find a way out.
I have been really impressed with the elite Snowsport Paralympic athletes I have recently started working with. Months of rehabbing from serious injuries, endless hours in the gym smashing out strength sessions all in the aim of squeezing another split second out of their runs. Not just grinding for a week, month or even a year. But year after year through year long winters.
So are you doing these things?
Like I say, they are nothing special or now a secret. If anything they are simple. Simple but not easy! So get out there and get to work.