In Part 1, we got to know India Lee as an athlete and took an in-depth look at her training volume. Professional athletes don't clock big hours just for the sake of it, there's method behind the madness. We continue to explore the context surrounding Indie's impressive training here by looking at consistency, specificity and the mindset and environment that lie behind the numbers.
CONSISTENCY AND SPECIFICITY
Consistency is a key point for Indie, in fact, she believes prioritising consistency above all else is the most valuable lesson she has learned since becoming professional and training under her coach, Rhys Davey. Those who have been following training and coaching in endurance sport for the past few years will have come across the phrase "consistency is key" on more than one occasion. Indie believes this wholeheartedly.
She seeks confidence in long, uninterrupted blocks of training, not in that one fantastic session a few weeks out from race day. It not only prepares her for race day, it is what has helped her grow as an athlete over many years. This is where specificity comes into the equation. In order to achieve consistency, it is important to remember that each session has a precise purpose. Training hard for the sake of training hard is neither effective nor sustainable in the long term. She says: "I’ve done a lot of research into why we train how we train, why it matters that I do my easy runs easy and that my threshold sessions are actually at threshold, not just as hard as I can go. That’s what allows me to maintain the high mileage over many weeks." It is crucial to understand what each session is trying to achieve and the role it plays in the overall structure of the training plan.
In Indie's case, this means several things and spans three sports. We have already covered the long, easy rides and runs to create mitochondria, but it goes further than that. "This year, I’ve gone back to doing some more speed work, and by that I mean 1km reps rather than 10min reps - it’s all relative," she reveals. "My workouts on the bike and running are mainly around pushing up my threshold with a little speed thrown in for mechanics."
In triathlon, the technical aspect of the sport is just as important as aerobic capacity. For example, no matter how strong a runner Indie may be, she still has to be able to transition smoothly. Indie identified a few weak points during her race in Daytona that she has been trying to address: "I have taken the time in the pool to revamp my swim stroke. In the past I have been quite kick-dominant, which is a waste of energy for when I need my legs later in the race. I spent many a frustrated session swimming slower than I would have liked, but the last month or so I feel like it’s coming together. I’m definitely stronger in the pool now, so that’s quite exciting."
The importance of proper technique and mechanics also became abundantly clear to her on the bike where she cramped up and, as a consequence, suffered on the run. She knows "spending more time on the time trial bike is important. I have to condition my body to hold my aero position but still be able to run off it without issue." Indie is actually a big DIY fan and has spent a huge amount of time in lockdown giving herself a bike fit in her shed to correct some errors in her TT position. After a lot of trial and error with aerobars, pads, reach, stack height, angles and the help of a camera, she feels the new front end of her bike now offers a better aerobic position.
ENVIRONMENT AND MINDSET
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole crew to create good athletes. Indie is backed by a fantastic training group, a coach and many other key members of her support network.
"I love being part of KOTWF, the support I get from the whole team is brilliant and I couldn’t do what I am doing without them. Sam is great at making sure I’m always pushing to be better, whether that’s in performance or lifestyle set ups he makes sure I’m thinking about what I’m doing and holds me accountable," she explains. "Most importantly, KOTWF puts an emphasis on performance but also on enjoying what you do. I really buy into that. A tough training session doesn’t have to be all serious to be effective. You can do your long run in the hills of the peak district without worrying about average pace and enjoying the environment. It’s okay to loose track of time sometimes."
This approach to training stems from her life philosophy and, invariably, bleeds into her group's day-to-day atmosphere. She admits: "I’m usually the one in the group trying to make everyone laugh or being the clown. We play a lot of 'would you rather', so I’m good at coming up with a lot of obscure questions. In the pool, we play stupid challenges at the end of a session. Who can get the furthest off one breath, who can run the furthest along the bottom, silly stuff like that which doesn’t sound that great until you realise everyone is hyper competitive!"
One crucial member of Team Indie who should not be overlooked is her dog, Ruby. Not just a regular star in Indie's social media content, Ruby does her best to keep the world-class
athlete grounded. "Dogs are the absolute best! Ruby is the kindest soul, all she wants to do is hang out or chase a ball or go for a walk. The best this is probably that she is always happy to see me, whether I’ve been gone for 2 minutes or 2 months," she giggles.
Of course, not every day is amazing, but enjoying the process is the quintessential part of Indie's training. "Being a professional athlete is a fantastic job, but 10% of the time it's really hard. You’re physically and mentally exhausted or you’ve reached the end of your willpower to get yourself out the door. But more often then not, you're fine once you get going and it was just a blip. If every day is a struggle to get out the door or you are suffering in every session then you’re probably doing something wrong. It’s okay to be training super hard and
really, really enjoying it too - it's much better, even!"