Monday, February 27, 2012

Less Is More

It goes without saying that a lot of us in North American society are brought up with the idea that if you want better results you need to do more to get them. This is true in most cases, if you want to be a better runner- run more, better swimmer- swim more, make more money- work more. I think with the type A triathlete mindset we sometimes get caught in a trap of working too hard, or doing too much to try to attain more of something. One of the great things about competition is that you are able to gauge your performances against those of your peers or previous results. However one of the biggest dangers of doing that is thinking that your bad performance on a certain day or race was the result of not doing enough. There are so many variables that go into a race day result that looking back and critiquing your result harshly does nothing to improve your long term performance.

I'm reminded of some of the best coaches in the world and how they handle a bad performance- the good ones don't yell and scream at their athletes about doing this wrong and that incorrect, they make their athlete feel like it was just a bad day and they are going to come back stronger next time. As athletes we all do enough berating of our own egos after a bad performance, we don't need someone else doing it to us as well. A good coach will make their athlete feel strong and confident going into the event and insure that their mental focus is strong and unwavering. So much of being an athlete comes from the self discipline and focus off the race course as well as on, that's probably what attracts me to athletics in the first place and to see someone pull out an incredible result after all the discipline and sacrifice is really satisfying.

So why am I saying 'less is more' because I know and I see a lot of triathletes try to do more training, more racing to get better results. At a certain point in your life the tide will turn and you will realize that physically you simply cannot do any more, but mentally you can achieve results beyond anything you thought was possible. Being mentally focused and prepared for a race is more important than being physically ready, if you are calm, focused, determined, relaxed and confident you will achieve results beyond anything you even thought you were capable of. Go into training with determination and focus but try not to drive yourself into the ground, leave the workout feeling more confident and stronger than when you went in and you will get results.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Life Without Triathlon

It's interesting to think about what your life would look like if it took a slightly different direction. What would I be doing right now if I had different parents, what if they didn't encourage me to be an active, healthy, sports playing boy? What if I had been addicted to video games like a lot of young people today? I remember being a kid and walking through my neighbourhood and the streets were filled with kids playing street hockey, riding their bikes, and playing with each other. These days I go through the community and the streets are empty, everyone holed up in their homes trying to avoid their neighbours. It seems like paranoia and fear have gripped parents today and they feel like getting your kids to play outside is like throwing them into a pack of wolves. Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert when it comes to parenting but it seems like one of the basic principals of being a parent is not being followed today- to raise a healthy, independent, adventurous child who is prepared to take on the world with confidence and drive.

I had a little peek into how I would look if my parents didn't allow me the freedom I desired as a kid. I just hope that when my turn comes to raise a child I have the foresight and knowledge to let a kid be a kid and maybe they will love being healthy and active as much as I do. Don't laugh too hard but this is what I would look like if I didn't do triathlon (my wife can confirm that yes I am a food addict).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Saturday Hill Climb

This past Saturday was the second race in our Speed Revolution race series and unlike 3 weeks ago this one was absolutely brutal. I told everyone before we started to make sure they pace themselves and don't blow up until they are in the final 2 miles. The race was 1 mile at 2%, 1 mile at 4%, 1 mile at 6%, 1 mile at 4%, and the final mile at 2%. It really felt good when I got to that final mile but that's when I was pushing the pace so I was hurting anyway. I was only a couple minutes slower than the last race (which was a constant 2%) so I called it a victory. I made sure I didn't kill myself in training leading up to it so I think that helped a lot. Far too often I'll go into a tough session like this having done too much during the week and really suffer but I made sure I was pacing myself properly during the first 3 miles and I had some juice to crank it up to 10-11mph during the last mile.

It may seem like it's a little too early to be doing these efforts for some athletes and that may be the case for you. However I can't emphasize enough how sessions like this just take my running to a completely different level. I have to be careful and make sure they are spread out over a few weeks but when you are running that hard for a short amount of time it just seems to push your threshold to an entirely new level. I already feel better during the second race compared to the first. I still need an afternoon nap and a good meal afterwards but that's to be expected when you're running all-out for 5 miles. I'm already looking forward to the third race of the series and to watch how much they are going to benefit everyone who's doing them. The first race we had 12 people and last week we had 10, I'm amazed to see some people hold 190+ heart rates! If you're going to do efforts like this make sure you have a couple easy days leading up to it and take a good few days to recover but they will help jump start anyone's running. Happy training!