Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Note To My Athletes On Recovery

Below is a note that I sent my athletes today.  I thought you could all benefit.

Recovery - 

As driven individuals, it's easy for us to all focus intensely on getting every single training session done.

"Did I hit the watts? Did I run fast enough? Did I go long enough?

The above are all things that I hear or have thought, more than one time.  While it's important to push hard, focus on the intervals, etc during your "key" training sessions, it's just as important to be as focused on your recovery.

An analogy that works well for people is to view a key workout as Point A and view your next key workout as Point B. The objective for you as an athlete, MOST of the time, it recover as well as you can between those training sessions.  If you arrive at Point B with more stress and fatigue than you are suppose to have, your session will either not go well, or you will see the effects down the road during subsequent key workouts.

I believe that you should view your key workouts as your focus sessions and then make sure that you enjoy the in-between.  A run or rides to/from a coffee shop is a perfect example.  Social runs are another example.  With sessions like these, the focus is on actively recovering. 

This also means that if you have a recovery day with 15 other things to get done and a training session is only going to add stress to your life. You are likely better off skipping it.  This is hard sometimes for type A personalities, but if you can remember that you ONLY get faster if you are recovering and absorbing the sessions, you may just switch your focus.  This also adds value to the quote, "it's better to be 15% undertrained, than 5% overtrained."

Beating Training Sessions - 

I see it a ALL the time.  I give intervals at 7:00 - 7:20 per mile and see the athlete go 6:57 and then 6:45 on the next, when they feel good. 

It's important to remember that faster is not better in the training picture.  Each week and in each training block, we have different focuses.  It might be in zone 2 and zone 3. If you decide that it feels to easy and you do everything in zone 4, you have neglected a key component to your training (especially because I find athletes who do this, do it chronically) and we cause you to underperform on race day.

The point that I am trying to make is that the interval/zone you have within your training is there for a purpose and going harder will mean that you no longer accomplish that purpose.

Lastly, this relates to the first topic of recovery.  Going harder on a consistent basis, will disallow your body to recover. Which means injury, sickness and the dreaded under performance.

So remember that it's about working hard, but it's also about recovering harder.  It's about taking it easy on the days in between your key days and it's about knowing that your training is there for a purpose, to accomplish a specific goal that will contribute to race day success and consistency within your training.

It's going to be a great season for everyone. Have a great day!


Saturday, January 05, 2013

2013 Ahead, Enough Said!

I have thought a lot about what I wanted to say in this year-end recap and there is no way to get it all into one blog, so I am going to grab the highest, lowest and most powerful happenings of the last year. Throughout it all, this year more than any other, I have learned more about myself as a person, as well as what I need to be happy and lead a fulfilling life. 

So let's get into it...

Coaching -

My athletes have become an even bigger passion for me; whether it's creating their training plans, being at practice, listening to or reading about their breakthroughs, it's become something else that gets me out of bed in the morning.

I have found I have a gift and a passion somewhere that I never would have guessed. I have also found that I learn far more from my athletes, than I could ever teach them, to me they are the definition of greatness.  

There are big things coming this next year and I couldn't be more excited; athletes doing it for their first time, athletes breaking through to the next level, athletes breaking into the top level and athletes just doing it because they can!  All I can do is try to hang on for the ride.

Racing - 

The year started out with a new coach (Cliff English), as well as a renewed belief and desire to reach the highest level. I trained very well per usual and then got into racing season and WHAM!!! I had 3 terrible races back-to-back-to-back.  These weren't just local races, these were races that I had trained hard for and showed promise to make the podium. Following these races, I considered retiring from professional racing. I felt as though I had lost that fire and all desire to do what I had always said I wanted to.

Then, following Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June, on a whim, I entered a local race because...I don't know why.  I had done nothing but eat like crap, drink beer and get down on myself during the week prior. However, to my surprise and out of no where, the gun went off and it was fun again. I got it handed to me on the swim, but I put out power on the bike like I had back when I was firing on all cylinders. "It WAS still in there," I thought. I just needed to let it out. That is where it all started...

Two weeks later I showed up at Racine 70.3 and had a TERRIBLE swim once again and did not have legs on the bike, but I battled it anyway.  Once on the run I didn't listen to voice inside my head and just ran... before I knew it, the fire was raging and I was doing what I had tried so hard to and failed to do earlier in the year... compete.  To my surprise, I passed the world champion on a VERY off day and finished 8th... I was over the hump....2 for 2.

I then showed up to the Dairyland Dare, a 200k VERY challenging ride with over 10,000ft of climbing, I PR'd my best 6hr average on the bike and set a course record by over 20minutes. Best part is that I felt great after. 3 for 3.

I showed up to my biggest race of the year, Ironman Wisconsin. Fast forward to the end of the race...I didn't swim great, I had a very poor ride, but the most important part for me, was that I kept pressing and COMPETING out on the run. What resulted was a 5th place, 90sec from the podium and a marathon that was finally under 3hrs (2:58). 4 for 4.

The rest of the season didn't go exactly as I would had liked, but in hindsight, I probably raced a bit too long and had some non-race related happenings that impacted my results.

Family - 

Family and spending more time with them is becoming increasingly important to me.  They are the support, centerpiece and one constant that I have in my life, no matter what else happens.  

My brother graduated with a PhD from Yale and landed his first job out in California.  His drive to work hard, to learn and to be his best, are all things which make me proud to be his brother and I am looking forward to learning a lot from him in the years to come.

Also, my parents. They have each taught me new things this year.  I am very lucky to have such a great support system and set of role models as I go through life.

Wrap-Up -

The highlight of this year was not the results, it was not the success of my team, it was not any one happening... It was what I have learned about how I am motivated, what's important to me, what my mindset needs to be to succeed and how I deal with adversity. It has also been having a new openness to happenings in my life, which has lead to renewed passion for just about everything and the feeling that I am privileged to lead the life that I do, while also impacting so many other's, along the way.

Next stop, 2013... BRING_IT_ON!!!