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Training without technology - March 2015

Maxwell Smart needs gadgets. Bring back some feel, heart and honesty.


Technology and gadgets go hand in hand like swim, bike and run do and with the sport of triathlon bursting along with technology I have often wanted to find out “so when do the gadgets, tools and gear become detrimental to an athlete?”

I am a mother of teenagers so I am sensitive to technology overload for good reason. I am also a coach and athlete and I understand the very real importance of keeping up with technology.  As Energy Link Coaches, we pride ourselves on challenging our team of athletes as individuals and feedback from gadgets and various technologies can help provide useful training data. We feel very rewarded watching an athlete develop their watts, pace or efficiency and gadgets and tools can help provide this sometimes-valuable data.

On the other hand as a coach (and a mum) I am witnessing an increasing reliance and dependence on gadgets and training data as well as an apparent need for continuous feedback and recognition. One of the many dangers with this is that gadgets, tools and gear may break down or go wrong. If this happens in training it will set you back for a session or two. If it happens on race day what are you going to do, how are you going to cope? Last weekend at the Canberra Triathlon a few top athletes did an extra lap of the bike course as a result of their gadgets displaying a short bike distance and instead of starting the run they did another bike lap.

Chasing comments and likes from others to build confidence, motivation and self worth in worse cases, is a never ending task that will take away from a mindset of strength, personal satisfaction and reward and will not allow you to stay focused on your performance.

I believe that athletes should train with and without tools and gadgets to find the balance between feel, perceived effort, and honest hard work and scientific, numbers based training.

There is a syndrome in sports called paralysis by analysis. Put simply, it is over-thinking instead of living.

While doing a little research on the subject to see if it was just me fighting the times I found this fantastic article written by Chris McCormack. Macca makes sense of the subject and has made many worthwhile points. He also gives some tips on how you can find the balance between technology and gadgets, feel and perceived effort to improve your not only your performance but your love for the sport.


In summary, my tips for gadget freedom while training:

·      Take a relaxed approach to some of your training blocks every now and then. Off-season training is perfect for this.

·      Include a few sessions each week without any gadgets and learn how to tune into time and effort.

·      Do not lose the ability to “feel” your way through pace and speed. Perceived exertion is needed in training and if you are a long course or Ironman athlete it is an absolute must.

·      Go into a session with intent, nail it, keep it to yourself and store it in your mental toughness bank rather than on the server!

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