Sunday, October 26, 2014

Unlimiting Progress

by Sue Aquila

Six years ago I fell in love with triathlon during my first race. I still remember it. The swim was in this murky, scummy pond in the middle of a horse racing track. I remember thinking if I don’t die from a systemic infection (not to mention chemical exposure), I may actually like this sport.

Fast forward to today and my love affair with triathlon continues. I think the key to my progress through the years is acknowledging my strengths (ever so briefly) but focusing on the things holding me back (limiters).

All triathletes progress through the various stages of limiters. My progression:

  1. Endurance - The ability to endure is a lifetime activity easily undone by a few weeks of neglect.

  2. Skills - Once a triathlete has endurance, he or she has the ability to start working on skill progression. Each of our sports has a technical side. Swimming is the most challenging for me technically.

  3. Nutrition - I entered the sport in the high carbs/low fat paradigm. As my body composition changed and improved, my diet needed to change. I now eat a comfortable range of real food that includes protein and fat.

  4. Recovery - People always ask me how many rest days I have per week. Most are shocked when I say none. One rest day per week equals 1.7 months per year of no activity. Not very feasible for long course training. Learning how to recover from training allows me to train better than my competition.

  5. Brain training - There is so much we can quantify in our sport; TSS, TSB, decoupling, heart rate, pace, temperature, etc. What we do a poor job of quantifying is the desire, the ability to overcome pain and the tenacity to break through our central governor and win. I now know that my greatest limiter is in my head, not my legs and arms.

We are all training using the same variables; intensity, duration and frequency. We apply our secret recipe, rinse and repeat. Each of our bodies is a puzzle that we apply the principles of training to achieve our goals.

If you are unsure of your limits, ask those around you. Analyze your race data. Choose one thing in each sport per block to address. Each small step builds a strong foundation for future race success.


Sue Aquila is a USAT Level 1 coach who balances her ironman training with running a successful business that she built from the ground up. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @fewoman.
Click to share on Twitter and Facebook
      Tweet This!