Experience the Difference

What was your sporting pathway to becoming an endurance multi-sport athlete?

Until now, very few athletes that now train and compete in endurance multi-sport, started out their sporting career and/or life with the goal of becoming a multi-sport athlete.

I am basing this statement on in excess of 40 years of observation and full-time coaching at various levels of many sports.

Mostly, I feel this is because none of the various multi-sport options are offered in primary schools and also that they are not ‘mainstream’ sports such as what we see on television every weekend to whet your appetite for and aspire to be like many other sporting ‘heroes’ and idols.

My definition of ‘multi-sport’ is any length of triathlon, off-road triathlon and all the differing types and lengths of adventure racing, or any sport that consists of 2 or more stages involving vastly different disciplines including duathlon, aquathon, aquabike etc

The avenue to endurance multi-sport for each athlete was likely paved by your school sport, coaches and/or your own family by engaging in completely different types of sports when you were a junior athlete or participant.

I have assisted many, many athletes and people (and continue to do so) right from the start of their endurance sporting life that are now training and competing in multi-sport that didn’t even start out as an endurance athlete, let alone a multi-sport athlete.

The path to becoming an endurance athlete was from many and varied sports.

The following here are just from my experience. I am sure there are many out there that had different sporting interests in their childhood every single one with varying degrees of success.

Team sports such as football of all differing kinds AFL, soccer, rugby league and union, from netball, softball, cricket, volleyball, hockey, basketball and water polo

From individual sports such as swimming, track running (don’t see many field athletes), cycling, mountain bike, cross country running, gymnastics, surf lifesaving.

Interestingly, there is no one previous sport that lends itself to almost guaranteeing that you may well become a good endurance athlete.

I have been surprised that even many sprint athletes (both running and cycling) went on to become exceptional endurance athletes.

Yes, there is always some degree of transfer-ability as you move from one sport to another but much more overall impact will be just how you were coached and treated in your previous sport or sports which goes a long way to what your personal belief factors are.

Your coach-ability and receptiveness to new strategies, disciplines and ideas along with a well-developed work ethic are key.

As a coach, and very frustratingly, some people have developed such ingrained ideas and beliefs that are so ‘rusted on’ that it makes it nigh on impossible for them to be coached into another sport, especially endurance sport with any degree of ongoing success.

When deciding on a ‘sport change’ and moving away from what you have been accustomed to for so long and becoming an endurance athlete is not always as easy as it may well seem.

The first thing to consider is what you want to achieve in your new sport.

Set realistic goals.

These goals should be both, a bit scary but exciting as well, but are key to keeping you focused and continually motivated to continually do what is required!

Next to consider is the mental approach to this new sport and everything that goes with it.

It is likely that in the past that you only needed to train a handful of times per week (or even less) and for a short time each session. This allows for much more of an opportunity for almost complete recovery between sessions.

Endurance multi-sport requires much more attention to detail on time management with regards to the very real possibility of the requirement to training more than once per day on some days and the recovery and nutritional requirements that are needed by the body to ensure ongoing progress in your new sport.

Then next consideration, how all of this will affect your home, social and work life.

This is all needs to be considered and discussed with your loved ones and work colleagues and your work superiors, even BEFORE you complete your first training session for your new sport.

So once you have chosen to try your hand at being an endurance athlete, then comes the all-important, you the athlete, requiring lots and lots of patience bit.

This is because one thing is a certainty, and that is that it will not be a perfectly smooth transition from one sport into another.

Any new movement pattern to the human body takes a long time to:

 1) Learn and

2) Be proficient at.

Consider being guided through this sport transition period by an experienced coach as they will be able to manage and control your workload, most likely better and using proven sports science principals than attempting this process on your own.

Not all coaches will have the skill-set to guide you into your new sport.

The most important skills that are required are to have a very clear understanding of both the bio-mechanics and energy systems that your previous sport counted on. Then, only with this intricate understanding will the transformation to endurance multi-sport be possible with the best possible outcome for you, the athlete.

People differ greatly at acquiring, grasping and executing new skills. What one person learns in 1 month may take 12 months or more for another and vice versa.

Learning and implementing the new skills well and with good technique from day one will go a long way to the level of performance that you eventually will compete at into the future.

So, take your time and learn the new techniques and skills really well early and you will likely go a lot further when you eventually start to test yourself against others that have been in the sport for a long time.

How much time will it take?

That is an ‘all day question’ as there is just so many variables, not least of which is who your parents are and what your natural physical attributes and the natural ability that you were born with.

What I do know is that if you are thinking that you want to be a good endurance athlete, coming from another sport in 6 or 8 months, then you are mistaken!

Note here that I have seen many more quite obviously talented athletes NOT make it in their chosen sport than actually DO make it.

Why is this? Most often it has been because they want ‘it’ all now and lack the patience to become an endurance athlete. Physical ability, yes, mental ability, no!

Talent does not ever, guarantee success! Nothing ‘guarantees’ success.

Being patient and implementing an ongoing commitment to the proven training processes will give you the best opportunity of achieving a degree of success that will always mirror your input.

What that is, is up to you! It is entirely your choice!

Now this conversion to another sport doesn’t always go to plan and you may well realise it is not for you and you decide to go back to your original sport which often can go really well following a bit of time away and doing something different. Time away is often good for the mind and the body.

The other thing that I have often seen to happen, is that many develop an affinity and love for one of the individual disciplines from their time in multi-sport (usually road cycling, MTB or running) and pursue that as an individual sport for the long term with great success.


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