Experience the Difference

Do What It Takes To Be An Athlete. Please!

by Andrew Ivey

I have just entered my 33rd consecutive year as a head coach of numerous athletes, and as the strength and conditioning coach of just as many more.  For over 32 years now, I have coached or had a major role in the development of in excess of 1100 athletes from a large variety of sports at all different levels, ranging from developmental to elite track and field athletes, surf lifesaving, cyclists, triathletes, full time professional rugby league players, Australian rules footballers, golfers, cricketers, bodybuilders and basketballers.

Amongst all of these athletes it continues to amaze me that, of the requirements to be a successful athlete, very few of those 1100 plus athletes have applied themselves to every single component of their development to the nth degree that I feel their sport requires.

As I sit across the table on the day I meet the aspiring athlete for the first time, I am usually told in great detail of their goals and aspirations in order for me to ascertain what level of competition he or she is hoping to attain. During this initial meeting we determine training times available to them and I always perform some skin fold measurements and record their current body weight. I gain an immediate ‘feel’ for the commitment of the athlete with regards to their training intensity and dietary habits.

Following this initial meeting I take my notes, sit down and prepare a short, medium and long term plan to give the athlete the best possible chance to attain the competitive goals that they have set for themselves.  From this, I prepare training plans for the athlete with a fair degree of precision from planning when they train and also exactly what to do for each session.  This is very time consuming but this way nothing is left to chance.  More often than not I also use the same precision in setting out a nutritional plan that I know will give the athlete the correct nutritional fuel, including the appropriate macronutrient content of protein, carbohydrate and fat to sustain the required energy levels for the output and effort needed to train and recover over and over again.

The training program is usually a combination of conditioning training which is likely to contain various types of running, cycling and or swimming and a strength based training program to improve the athletes’ weaker areas and to build on their strengths.  These programs are very likely to contain running drills that may include sand drills, hill sprints, flat sprints and long sustained high intensity longer efforts. The cycling programs are similar in that there will be short and long hill repeats both seated and standing.  Long efforts and very hard short sprints may also be included.  My swimming programs are usually along the same lines.  The strength programs are likely to have a strength component to them along with a large amount of partial and constant tension sets.

I explain all of the above to a beginning athlete in order to provide an idea of just how hard they need to train and put themselves through in order to attain a new level of performance.  Every single training session needs to challenge the body in a way that it hasn’t been worked before.  The sessions require a new level of mental strength in order to push the adaptive organism, that is the human body, to provide it something new to adapt to.  It hurts, it burns, it sometimes happens in cold, wind, rain, or searing heat, it is done at a time that all your family and or friends are relaxing or socialising or sleeping. You do it because you are prepared to do what it takes to attain the goals that you set.

Or are you?

At the same that I write the training programs that require you to challenge yourself with a new world of hurt, I write a nutritional plan that I feel you, the athlete, needs at this time to give yourself the best chance of attaining your competition goals.  Now this is where it all gets confusing for me and it is something that I have never been able to understand.

Once I get a ‘buy in’ from the athlete, I have never once had to compromise the training program that I set.  The athlete is always prepared to do the things that hurt, day after day because they have a goal and are prepared to do what it takes. This continual pursuit of sporting excellence is the external motivator that pushes and drives the athlete to taking them out of their comfort zones physically without any question.  They always feel that by pushing themselves beyond their comfortable limit is what is required to succeed. They are right.

Why then, will they not apply that same ‘do whatever is required’ to their eating? Whereas I have never had to compromise and discuss what they do physically, it is a total rarity that I have had to not change or compromise and in some cases totally change the initial nutritional plan that I prescribed.  The usual excuse I get is that they don’t like something, or don’t like the taste or don’t like the preparation time or they just don’t like it and more often than not they flat out admit to a lack of will power in thisarea.

What the ????

It needs to be remembered that daily, consistent attention to detail in all aspects of your preparation is what will get you there in the end.  Taste is secondary to what is required. If you can learn to ‘love’ hill repeats and the seemingly endless array of supersets and things that physically hurt, then logic tells me that you will learn to ‘love’ the food that will assist you in attaining your goals.

Think about it!


3 Responses to “Do What It Takes To Be An Athlete. Please!”

  1. Cheryl Callard on September 13th, 2011 3:01 pm

    Yeehah!! glad to hear this…such a positive straight forward article.Do whats required!!! Love it.

    Cheers Cheryl

  2. Rae Cattach on January 6th, 2012 9:08 am

    I’ve just read this article yet again. I don’t think I’ve ever told you that I read this one regularly. Thanks for the continual inspiration coach!

  3. Denise Masterman on August 15th, 2012 8:06 pm

    What a brilliant article makes so much sense … love your work

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