Last weekend I was asked by Triathlon England to travel to Portugal along with Crawford Whyte from Triathlon Scotland and support athletes on the English, Welsh and Scottish Talent Squads during their first race of the season. For the athletes this was a great opportunity to see how their winter training has been going and to see what might need sharpening up ahead of when the UK season starts properly in May. For coaches it is good to understand the standard of racing and the approaches of other countries at ETU Cup level for both junior and senior races. This is particularly relevant for work in regional academies where we need to prepare athletes to be able to race at the next level against less familiar names and racing dynamics.
The race weekend is not just about the race itself it is also about the experience of travelling overseas to an event, unfamiliar accommodation and food choices as well as preparation and planning before the race and reviewing the race after. With this in mind Crawford and I both sat down with athletes to chat through their pre-race plans, challenge their assumptions and help them be confident in their approach. After we discussed as a group how their races had gone, which of their process goals had been achieved, if so why and if not why not. This is a fundamental part of learning about racing and good practice for any athlete to do to understand what can make a better performance next time around.
The group performed well with three top 10 places (2 female; 1 male) and lots of good discussion around what had been learnt, which for junior athletes at this stage of the year is much more important!