Where You Want To Be
Our photo this time is my buddy, Greg, on top of Everest.
You know, I never really thought about why a guy would carry an Epic Camp sign to the top of the world. However, with a couple of years to think about it... I've developed a theory.
Greg and I worked together for a few years. Looking back, I think that Greg hired me as more of a life and general endurance advisor than a triathlon coach. Greg's got a knack out of getting the most out of his "team" and he very carefully put together the pieces required to give himself a shot at climbing Everest.
Managing a team of people for an individual goal is an interesting concept -- you can apply those skills to Everest; the Olympics or a race like Ironman Canada. It takes many, many people to put together an individual performance. Many don't even realize the role that they play.
So a little story, after IM-New Zealand in 2005, Greg comes up to me at the Awards Dinner, thanked me for my support and said, "g-man, I'm RIGHT where I want to be". Monica was there with me and there was a lot said by our TOTAL silence to that statement.
Greg had just completed the race in 12:30. Knowing a little bit about mountaineering, Monica asked me my opinion about the likely outcome of his expedition. I said that it was most likely that this would be the last time we would ever see Greg. We spent the next few months reading Greg's Everest Website waiting to see what would happen.
What I didn't know what that Greg's "taper" is best summed up by this picture. Not exactly, keeping the feet up. He'd deliberately shagged himself and used an Ironman as a practice summit day.
Turns out that he was right where he needed to be -- he got the photo (via the North Ridge) and his team left the mountain in one piece.
As for his tri-coach... I didn't start proper training again until NINE months after that race. Greg should have been worried for me!
An interesting lesson -- I delivered exactly what he wanted without even knowing what was required of me. Further, I thought that he was heading to disaster, while I was actually sliding deep into the valley of fatigue (from a 2nd place overall placing).
My students teach me a lot -- it does take me a few years to learn their lessons...
Are you where you want to be?
It's worth considering that question from time to time for many reasons. I'll lay out that athletic case this time. Perhaps, I'll write about life philosophy some other time. That's more about being the person that we want to be.
The longer days of April combined with increasing fitness are exactly what many of us will need to tip ourselves over the edge in terms of training.
Before full blown overtraining sets in we have to ignore many repeated warning signals. Here are a few:
***Muscles that are persistently sore to the touch
***Chronic inflamation of tendons or muscle insertions
***Chronic GI distress
***Staleness in training
***Increase/Decrease in sleep pattern
***Increase/Decrease in weight or appetite
***Low/High heart rate relative to effort
***Injury -- true accidents are few and far between
I know a number of very fit people that have lived with the above for multiple years. They are so fit that no one would ever consider that they were shelled.
If you have a couple of these then you can rest now and pull yourself back from the brink. Or... you can keep the same pattern going and end up with the same result. I did for five years and my results were good, very good, better than I ever thought possible! So pushing through things can work quite well... then I was forced to decide if I truly wanted to move to a higher level of performance.
April is when we start to see more frequent "nuked please help" posts on the internet. When they pop-up remind the person to: (a) rest; and (b) learn from what toasted them. I wouldn't spend much more time than that -- most of us (myself included) have too much invested in our existing patterns to change them until we are REALLY ready. It took a six-month nuking for me to realize that, perhaps, there could be another way to play things.
Which brings me to...
Where I happen to be.
I did a race this past weekend and, in a few days, I'll type up a report for posting over on the Planet-X website. I'll also send along my ergomo data file -- if it downloads OK -- I broke my download cable and am standing by for a new one.
So my build-up and the race went really well. Best case scenario for me -- my one hour bike power and my running vVO2 Max are both at lifetime bests. This off a "stagnated" aerobic run test -- Mark writes about plateaus here...
What would you do if the most versatile male triathlete of all time took the time to write a series of articles explaining how best to train? What if his protocol appeared too simple to be true? What would you do?
I started by reading them -- scroll down on that link to get the articles.
When you read them -- watch how you tend to want to argue with him. How you think you are different. How it might not apply to you. Then ask yourself, "Who is arguing?"
There is deep power in the consistent application of simplicity -- however, our minds find it near impossible to fathom. As I remind my athletes, our greatest challenge lies in learning to over-ride our instinctive desire to screw things up for ourselves.
As I was powering along at life best watts -- the main things on my mind were circles, joy and breathing. There isn't much better than racing through the desert when we are fit.
So what to do next? Well, I'm going to do the most difficult thing possible.
I'm going to stop "trying" to get faster and return to an endurance focus for the next four weeks. It's super tempting to get leaner, train harder and go even faster. My base is deep so there is a pretty good chance that I could be ripping by May.
However... I'm looking for something really special on August 26th and that's going to require some patience. So, just like after Epic Camp in January, I'll ease off, hit the gym and be smart.
I'm telling you exactly what I am doing, there are no secrets and, yet, it is very tough (for all of us) to follow a simple protocol. One of life's little ironies.