Last week someone recommended that I read ‘Dream On’ by John Richardson, the story of how one hopeless golfer tried to become a brilliant golfer in just 12 months.
He set himself a challenge – he would play a perfect round of golf. He’d shoot a level par round – a round of 18 holes where he equalled or bettered the course score without the help of any extra strokes. The only problem he had was that he started the year as a hopeless golfer who needed 20 extra strokes or more to get round.
Did he do it? Normally in these types of books the pleasure of reading it is to find out whether the author was successful… or not…
But, spoiler alert…
The author gives the game away in the first few chapters by randomly including a sentence starting with “After I did it…”
Thanks, John or your sub-editor for that one!
Apart from that, and a minor quibble that it would have been interesting to see some of his training logs so as to see the work required, what did I learn from it and how could it apply to triathlon – it’s not about the glamour
John made the mistake for most of his training of concentrating on his first shot – the drive. He wanted to hit the ball further and faster and with a bigger THWACK than anyone else. The drive is what impresses you’re playing partners and your club mates. It’s the most visible part of being a good golfer. The big shot from the tee.
However, for over six months he didn’t practice at all at putting. The sedate cousin of driving. There’s no big swing. No THWACK. It’s a gentle motion that seemingly requires no skill even though holing a long putt is one of the main things every golf programme focuses on in their daily highlights. It’s the glamour shot no one notices.
Yet, for John, it was only when he started to concentrate on his putting that his score started to improve because isn’t just one skill, it’s multiple skills. You need to be able to drive, you need to be able to hit a long iron for your second shot, you need to pitch short shots around the green and then you need to put. Also you need to keep all your womanising quiet, but that’s just Tiger Woods.
It’s the same for triathlon. The skills bit. Not the womanising bit. Triathlon is a mix of skills. From swimming to cycling to running and the all important getting your wet suit off really quickly in transition without falling over.
Yet, in order to improve, do we spend the same amount of time on all four parts?
If you’re anything like me then you concentrate on the bits that are easy – the running and cycling – and work less on the bits that are hard – swimming faster or further. In order to improve we need to concentrate on all parts.
Which seems obvious but it’s worth repeating because it’s easy to get seduced by the quick fixes that triathlon offers. A new wet suit, a faster bike, when all that matters is concentrating on the basics. Swim technique, pedalling and moving your feet faster for long than you did before.
Oh, and not falling over when trying to pull your wetsuit of your legs.
Anyway, all this came to mind because, in other news, Iain’s bought a time trial bike and he thinks it’ll make him faster and he’ll finally beat me. Well, all I can say to that is “Dream on!”.