12 December 2008

Facing Winter - Thoughts on Travel

This week I am going to share some ideas on how my winter has been going.  

Travel -- is the largest item in my business budget as well as a major expenditure in my personal budget.  More than the financial cost, travel has a large hidden cost in terms of use of time and fatigue.  If you choose a life where you move around a lot then it makes it much more challenging to achieve in areas that benefit from stability (relationships; athletic training... for example).  In seeing the risk to relationships/training, I set my travel up in blocks and brought my girlfriend (now wife) with me as much as possible.  While effective, this greatly increased the overall cost to the family.

Travel isn't all bad.  A ten-day business trip removes a lot of distractions and long flights are excellent for extended periods of uninterrupted time.  Both editions of Going Long had their final proofs reviewed on a long haul flight.

By the way, like you, I am waiting for the 2nd edition.  My best guess is early 2009 -- I will let you know when the book is available.  As an aside, if you subscribe to our new web coaching platform (details to be released in my first blog of 2009) then I'll send you a signed copy of the 2nd Edition. 

Given that we had nine months notice of Lex's arrival, we made a decision not to travel this winter.  At the time, we made the call on relationship grounds (big changes requiring extra stability).  As events turned out, it proved to be a smart financial decision.

The consumer-driven aspect of triathlon tells us that we need to race, and travel, a lot.  That is an expensive way to live and most of that travel expenditure does little to improve our fitness, or quality of life.  Does anyone really enjoy shlepping a bike through several airports, cramming it into rental car and sleeping in a strange bed?  Wears me out.  It's amazing that the ITU crew can go so fast!

I challenge this belief system with my athletes and recommend that they mix: long endurance day trips with local racing.  For their travel: we aim to split 50% to training vacations and 50% towards their families.  

If you find that you need a vacation to "rest", rather than "achieve", then consider your daily schedule.  While being over-scheduled, I have been productive.  However, I struggle to be effective when over-scheduled.  As well, I lose any ability to guide a strategic long term vision for my life.  Even when I am relaxed and thinking clearly, there are a lot of biases, filters, influencers and general media noise that I need to counter to head in a meaningful direction. 

The solution?

Once I pulled the plug on my seasonal migration, a lot of new options opened up for me.  The options were there all along, I simply couldn't see them.

In order to create a change in our lives, the first step is to stop doing what we want to change.  Fear of change can prevent us from taking the actions required to improve our lives.

In my case, my fear of winter, fear of loss of race fitness, fear of shoveling snow... whatever the cause... because I refused to experience winter, I never learned what winter might have to offer me.  

If you want to rapidly improve your fitness then the double-summer athletic season is a proven tool.  However, one needs to consider the costs of that choice (or any frequent choice for that matter).  Maximizing fitness, doesn't necessarily maximize my life experience.

When I spent a couple of months in LA.  Many locals told me that they couldn't leave SoCal because they would not be able to handle the weather anywhere else.  Weather=benefit.  Traffic/Air Quality/Crowds=cost.  It works for them, it didn't work for me.

When I look at my triathlon history, I see that I am more of an adventurer, than a racer.  The highlights of my TriJourney have been a few truly crazy trips that we dreamed up.  Exploring seems to bring me a lot more satisfaction than winning.  With that in mind, I have started exploring a few of the local areas.  

You might need to click on the photo to blow it up -- left is June (thanks to MvA); right is last Tuesday.  I even saw a mountain lion when I snowshoed another couple of miles towards the Divide.  Seeing as my ski poles where my only means of self-defense, I turned around at that stage; Lex missed that trip...

Next up is a series of recon trips probing the Divide.  I want to figure out a relatively safe way to get over to Winter Park/Fraser from this side.  So far, I think that staging from the Guinn Mountain Hut appears to offer the best route.  I'm going to check out Guinn Mountain for my "long day" next week.




At 3:00 PM, Blogger Fleck said...

"In my case, my fear of winter, fear of loss of race fitness, fear of shoveling snow... whatever the cause... because I refused to experience winter, I never learned what winter might have to offer me"

G - Never fear the winter. There is lot's of creative ways of getting around it. You'll figure it out. You are a resourceful guy. You may not be able to race at peak fitness in April, but that's just abnormal! The city of Ottawa sent more people to Ironman Hawaii two years ago than any other city in the world( 18 folks - all qualifiers)and they have a pretty harsh winter than lasts until near the end of March!


At 8:25 PM, Blogger Jaakko Hiekkaranta said...

Good words as always G!

It was good to hear in your EC-radio interview with Colting talk about the benefits that a harsh winter can have in an athletes longevity!

Enjoy the winter G!


At 11:07 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Another great read G- Thankyou. I want to share part of a newspaper article that saddens me yet inspires me at the same time. 2 x Commonwealth games marathon champion, Australian Kerryn McCann passed away on 7/12/08 aged 41 years. Following is an extract from The athletics NSW website:

"Dual Commonwealth Games marathon Gold medallist, Kerryn McCann, has passed away overnight from breast cancer at her home near Wollongong.

That Kerryn McCann was not an outstanding junior athlete yet became a dual Commonwealth Games champion in her thirties, is but one of the many inspiring qualities she displayed during her fine athletics career.

That she did not give up in her fight for life, even in the face of an impossible struggle with breast cancer, was characteristic of her determination and courage within and beyond the sporting field in which she excelled.

Her second Commonwealth marathon gold medal, most remembered by her epic battle with Kenyan Hellen Cherono over the final 400 metres inside the Melbourne Cricket Ground, was the inspirational moment of those Games for very many Australians.

For those who had known her previously her gritty fight to the line to win by that tiny margin of two seconds was no surprise. And for those for whom that day in March 2006 was their first acquaintance with the then mother of two, it was instant respect and admiration.

Of Australia’s 84 gold medals in Melbourne in 2006, Kerryn’s is unquestionably amongst the most often recalled. Her unassuming victory lap with son, Benton (then 9) won the hearts of a nation.

So much so that amongst all Australian success in all sports that year, it was Kerryn who was the recipient of “The Don” Award presented by The Sport Australia Hall of Fame to an athlete who by achievement and example over the previous twelve months is considered to have had the capacity to most inspire the nation.

That citation says everything about Kerryn McCann and her performance in Melbourne. But in so many ways it was simply reflective of the person and her approach to life in general – one who genuinely earned the respect and admiration of team mates, rivals, officials and fans alike.

The young Kerryn Hindmarsh loved athletics. She won a local community fun run at 11 years of age, defeating all the adult women in the field of 900. She made the front page of the local paper. A career had begun.

But it did not immediately blossom in the way that typifies so much other female teenage talent. There was success at state level but no national medals, until at 19 Kerryn bobbed up for third in the Australian marathon championship held on the streets of Sydney.

The celebration of 100 years of athletics in Australia, delivered a first national gold medal in the centenary one mile championship held in Sydney in January 1988, and was followed soon thereafter by Kerryn’s first major national team appearance in the World Cross Country Championships in Auckland.

The result, a 104th placing, was nothing special but a fierce determination to keep trying ensured that a top 20 placing was eventually forthcoming – some 11 years later in Belfast, where Kerryn led the Australian women’s team to fourth, its then best ever team performance.

In between it was a hard, but always determined, battle. Opportunities for international representation came reasonably often, as did national medals but it was not until Kerryn was amongst the leaders when the group went passed the 5km point in the 2005 World Championships marathon in a record split time, that real progress was made.

As it happened the record split was misleading, the result of officials failing to ensure athletes ran an additional lap of the stadium before running out onto the streets of Goteborg, Sweden. But the coming of age of Kerryn McCann as a world-class distance runner was not.

She finished fifteenth - enough to signal the emergence of an athlete not only of great willpower but also of talent. The successful partnership with coach, Chris Wardlaw, with whom she had linked up after her first Commonwealth Games appearance in Canada the year before, was developing well. Soon after they were joined in their small “team” by Nic Bideau, who provided guidance and race support.

A dream to run in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, delayed plans with husband Greg, to start their family but Benton’s arrival meant there was no second Commonwealth Games in 1998.

Like many other athletes who have returned to competition after maternity duties, Kerryn’s re-appearance on the running scene in 1999 was a successful one, winning the Zatopek 10000 metres and then setting a national half marathon best on record in Tokyo of 1:07.48, which to date no Australian woman has been able to better.

A tenacious eleventh in the Sydney Olympic marathon heralded a series of fine performances in international races, which included third in Chicago in 2001 when Catherine Ndereba set a world record for the marathon.

Just under a year later, the first of her two Commonwealth successes came in Manchester, at the head of an all-Australian victory dais. After the birth of daughter Josie in 2003, it was back to training for a tilt at a third Olympics in Athens.

The 2006 Commonwealth Games was Kerryn’s fourteenth major team appearance for her country and came after ten Australian championship victories. What is perhaps little known is that she almost did not make it to the line. A disappointing run in the Tokyo Marathon in November 2005, almost prompted Kerryn to withdraw her availability. But she and the selectors held faith, and the rest is now Australian sporting folklore.

Kerryn’s passing late on Sunday night (7 December) came after a courageous fight with breast cancer, first diagnosed shortly before the birth of second son, Cooper. She is survived by Greg McCann, children Benton (now 11), Josie (5) and Cooper (15 months), parents Judy and John Hindmarsh, and sister (and fellow Australian marathon champion), Jenny Gillard. Their only brother, Darren was killed in a motor vehicle accident in 1988".


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