17 May 2008

Fear, Self Worth and Performance

This week, I am going to stick with the theme of personal performance and share ideas on two human traits that make it very challenging to think clearly when stressed.

Before we move into the letter, a couple of announcements:

Summer Training Camps in Boulder -- the EC Team have carved out three weekends [June 7/8; July 12/13; and August 2/3] for small group training camps. If you would like to come to town for a weekend totally focused on long course racing then read full details in Mat's Blog. I will be in town for the July and August weekends and available for Q&A.

For the coaches out there, the EC Team would be happy to be your support crew. Feel free to talk to us about how we can back you up.

Boulder Performance Testing -- over on Alan's Blog, AC has been running through a series of articles sharing what we have been learning as a result of our fuel efficiency testing. While testing is the only way to get your personal data, the concepts of fuel efficiency and optimal pacing are essential to consider.

Based in Boulder, the team offers testing/consultancy services to help athletes (all sports, all distances) gain a better understanding of personal limiters and optimal pacing strategies. Our role is often to help athletes consider:

***Is my race performance in line with my training performance?

***What is the optimal pacing strategy for this course and distance?

***Have I been able to execute my pacing strategies in the past (in training, in racing)?

***Is my event dominated by AeT, LT, FT or VO2 benchmarks/performance? (see attachment below for explanation of our terms)

***Does my training program, and race schedule, mirror the specific demands of my key competitive event(s)?

Last week I laid out the general components of a successful plan, the role of a coach is to ensure that the specific components of the athlete's strategy are consistent with these points above.

If you want to read more about the Critical Success Factors for endurance athletics then you will find them HERE. The article is about long course triathlon but is directly applicable to 95+% of the field at every running, cycling, swimming or triathlon event.


Two of the greatest fears that we witness (daily) in group training situations are fear of missing out, and fear of being left behind. Two stories...

During an easy recovery ride in Tucson, we came across a female rider stopped at the side of the road. We passed and she jumped on our group. We were spinning very mellow and the rider went around us and headed down the road. Later that night, I asked if anyone got the urge to hammer past the lady for "daring" to ride through us? There were a lot of knowing chuckles.

As a test workout, I often ask my athletes to: (a) get dropped on purpose; (b) ride 20m behind the group for an entire ride; or (c) hold pace as I randomly accelerate around them. It can be VERY tough to mentally handle those situations.

I have found that our capacity to tolerate short term "training humiliations" is tied into self-worth and personal identity. There is a lot of mental noise going on during most group workouts!

When we find something emotionally difficult -- odds are -- the situation is bumping against personal fears and challenging our self-image. True confidence arises from acceptance of our own performance not the capacity to dominate the performances of others.

Hardness has its roots in domination -- softness (or being open) is rooted in acceptance. In what mode would you expect to make the best decisions?

It takes a surprising amount of specific training to become conscious enough to think clearly while acknowledging these fears.

When your race performance is diverting from your training performance -- look outside of your physiology for solutions. Instead of focusing on the last few percent of physical performance -- a large breakthrough could be available by relaxing and softening up (RASU).

Justin's latest piece on XTri talks about coping with his shift from agegroup to elite racer. A very honest look at the mental challenges that we share when racing.

On that fear of missing out... I deal with it every time I decide to rest/recover!

Back Next Week,


EC Training Zone Summary



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