17 March 2007

Just One Thing

A roadtrip shot to kick off this installment. That's my brother, Chuck, looking at the camera and we're rolling in California.

A book recommendation for you, Just One Thing, John Mauldin (Editor). I finished the chapter on Psychology Matters. That chapter, alone, is worth the cost of the book. It is an excellent essay on how thousands of years of neural programming make it quite tough for us to execute a strategy that runs counter to our collective biases/instincts.

The chapter authors are writing about investment strategy but the psych chapter is broadly applicable. For example, it's why I'm always encouraging athletes to establish a simple, basic week which they repeat.

Success starts from being able to keep a single promise to ourselves. We make that a habit and grow outwards from there.

I'm working on four "one things" that will sustain my preparations to win Canada in August. Don't Drink; Wake Up Early; Train Consistently; Travel Less. There isn't a single mention about main sets or any physiological matters in my strategy -- the training is a given. What matters is creating the ability to maximize my ability to absorb the training and my "one things" enable that to occur.


Given that I posted my tougher sessions last time, I expect that a number of you will be bound to try them. Be warned, most athletes get the intensity phases of their seasons wrong and blow themselves to bits. I've ended my year a few times with inappropriate intensity. You'll also be tempted to open the trottle on every single session and go crazy with stacking the intensity. Remember that you only need a little bit.

For every (very) tough main set that I add to my week, I tend to remove 2-3 hours of aerobic training. Most athletes cannot afford to lose that amount of aerobic volume from their weeks.

Put more plainly -- optimizing most adult athlete's VO2 Max performance is normally sub-optimal for their race performance.

As well, if you are preparing for a 4-17 hour event in April or May then seeking to optimize your fitness in March/April will be counterproductive for your overall athletic development. There will be a lot of athletes doing end-of-season training for the Boston Marathon, the Wildflower triathlon and/or Ironman Arizona that, while (possibly) scientifically optimal, will prove to be sub-optimal.

By training smart, we can do very well by avoiding the training (then pacing) mistakes that our competition will make. I always remind my crew that we should let the other athletes make the mistakes. It's tough enough to train properly -- no need to stack things against ourselves.

Be honest with yourself on your likely limiters as well as where you've made mistakes in the past. Most adult athletes are limited in terms of their steady-state endurance, not their central cardiovascular systems.

These tips fit hand-in-glove with the psych chapter. See if any of this makes sense in your athletics, family life, investment strategy or work place attitude:

1 -- Under emotional duress. people shift to high risk, high return choices -- even if they are objectively poor choices.

2 -- When self-esteem is threatened, people become upset and lose their capacity to regulate themselves.

3 -- Self-regulation is required for many forms of self-interest behaviour... ...self-regulation appears to rely on limited resources that operate like strength or energy, and so people can only regulate themselves to a limited extent.

4 -- Making choices and decisions depletes this same resource... once this resources is depleted... the self becomes tired and depleted, and its subsequent decisions may well be costly or foolish.

5 -- Irrational and self-defeating acts become more common in the wake of rejection.

I see (and exhibit) a lot of the above at an Epic Camp. Nothing like extreme stress to bring out the best (or the limiters) in a person.

Anyhow, there is a lot more in the chapter and I'd encourage you to get yourself a copy. The "Psychology Matters" chapter was written by James Montier -- great stuff.

Keeping it simple and trying to be true to my word,



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