26 March 2006

Springtime in Britain

I am back on “the world’s favourite airline” returning to Hong Kong for the second week of my business trip. Week One went well for me and I managed to combine work, travel, recovery and exercise. My 2006 strategy of training camps combined with structured (and forced) rest is working very well for me.

Scotland in March is beautiful – the papers were talking about spring being late (I’m still on my media-lite program but little bits leak through my self-imposed filters. I find myself enjoying Edinburgh more and more as my routine gets established.

The overnight stop somewhere when crossing a stack of time zones… I am going to try to work that into the game plan more often. It gives me the chance to have a decent night’s sleep along the way. I’ll be stopping in Hong Kong for four nights on the way back. My formal meeting schedule is light so that should allow plenty of time for informal interaction with friends. Perhaps that would be another tip – under schedule yourself especially the start & finish of each week and day.

Recently, someone asked me how I keep my training and nutrition rolling on the road. Nothing fancy, I simply “do my best”. My training volume more than halves and I tend to eat a more traditional lunch (soup & sandwich). The things I try to watch: (a) low sugar diet; (b) some form of exercise every day; and (c) sleep lots. The sugar is a fundamental one for me – if I eat processed, sugary foods then I gain weight on the road. If I don’t then I am fine so long as get my exercise.

When I worked in Hong Kong, I would haul my bike any place where I thought that I could get a ride in. Sydney, Melbourne, Phuket, Los Angeles, New York and Singapore all spring to mind as places where I managed to ride while on business. Sometimes I would structure my trips so that I would stay an extra day to squeeze a long ride in before heading home. It took a lot of organization to pull that off – before triathlon, I would try to squeeze in mountain summits.

Now… I’m on a schedule where I have tremendous time flexibility when I am with Monica and away from Scotland/Bermuda/Hong Kong. So I do a “bike heavy” program when I am not on business travel – if you’ve followed my training over the years then it is a very basic routine that I’ve learned from Molina. When I feel good, I insert simple main sets. When I am tired, just I log the time. When I am _really_ tired – I sleep a ton and try to get a single workout completed each day (anything to avoid taking a zero in the log).

When I am on the road, the training remains simple and my flexibility has to increase. Ideally, I like to swim and run each day. In Scotland, I’ve joined a health club with a pool. When I am up to it, I wake up and jog to/from the pool (15 minutes of running each way). At the pool, I tend to swim between three to four thousand meters. The whole session takes me less than two hours door-to-door. So long as I don’t schedule early (or late) meetings I can sleep ten hours and train before returning to the office.

When I get home from the club, I cook myself a meal (the only time that I consistently cook) then head into the office or my first meeting of the day. That’s pretty much it. I have all my training done first thing and find that relaxes me if things come up at the office and I can’t get out early.

One morning this past week, I couldn’t face the pool for some reason. So I did a longer run – I enjoying checking out property sites as well as residential developments on my runs. My partner takes the lead with all “property” & “site” related aspects of the business but I like to see what’s happening in the city.

Last Tuesday, I had the time and energy to do a double run so I fit a lap of Arthur’s Seat into my day pre-dinner. That’s as big as it gets in Scotland. My last trip, I tried a lot harder to get volume in and forced a couple of workouts. As a result, I was RUINED when I returned from my trip – result… three zeros and an average of 11 hours per week in the fortnight _after_ the trip.

M would probably point out that killing myself with a few buddies in London might have been a contributory factor to the fatigue. My London training today was a lot more sane. Russ (the uber-vet) took me on the Christmas Common ride and it was a very civilized affair (at least from the vantage point of his wheel). After sitting in for three hours, Russ suggested that I might want to do a little bit of work at the end. After fifty miles of drafting, one can’t really decline so I pitched in (a little) to get us back to the car. 3:45 of riding and I didn’t have any bike issues this time.

Back at Michael’s place (my first time in a detached house in London – very nice), I grabbed a snack and we headed out for a swim. I was expecting an easy float in the water but it ended up fairly steady. The pool seemed cold at the beginning but after a 1500 build, it was just right. I threw my paddles on for my second 1500. 12K are left for me to hit my overall swim distance target for the month.

Someone on my board made the observation that traveling is not rest – it is draining in itself, especially when traveling overnight and across time zones. Hopefully, my more moderate approach will pay dividends. I will be kicking off my Hawaiian training camp with an Olympic distance race the day after I land in Kona. The race is in a week and I have more than forty hours of air travel ahead of me. Better start resting now.


Plateau People

A frequent training error that I observe in highly motivated athletes is…
a desire to train with fast athletes rather than…
a desire to train like the athletes that consistently improve.

Athletes that consistently improve will do a lot of training either alone or with like-minded training partners. You can get very fit by training with a dedicated guy that is slower than you (a point that I continue to remind Clas when I am sitting on his wheel).

With this in mind, I happily received the news that Albert Boyce smoked his age-group at Ralph’s this past weekend. The only other person that I have seen show equal training maturity (and desire) was Clas when we did the North Island camp and he finished 2nd to Cameron with a 2:42 marathon of the bike. Only Albert knows what his Epic Camp was like. To me, it was truly impressive. I certainly couldn’t have done what he did.

So few people are willing to do work that is required to improve their entire portfolio, preferring to fool themselves that they are doing what it takes because their program is difficult and they are whipped.

Long steady-state efforts.
Going past the emotional challenge of fatigue.
Working on our whole game, especially the unexciting parts.

All of the above are choices, often challenging to make when tempted with aspects of our training that might be more “fun”. Successful athletes are able to take satisfaction from doing what it takes.

It’s no different with nutrition – carrot cake tastes good to me whether I am lean or puffy.

Before I left Christchurch, I was listening to John Newsom give advice to a fellow coach. Something that he said rang particularly true…

“I’ve been watching it for years. There is a rapid improvement curve for the first few season. There’s nothing special about that if they are training full time. Then they plateau and wonder why they aren’t as fast and Bevan or Gemmell. Do they have _any_ idea how long those guys have been going? The amount of training and hours they have put into it?
You don’t just rock up and become Top Ten in the world.”

Most people do what they want.
Champions do what it takes.



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