Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I was running with Ken recently. The weather has been incredible for training with the exception of some mild allergies I and many others are dealing with. He asked how another friend of ours was doing and I mentioned that this friend is having a difficult time fitting training in to the daily schedule. Ken mentioned that it certainly can be difficult fitting training into a hectic schedule and that if they could bottle up the benefits and sell them in a pill, plenty of people out there including himself would jump at it, to which I responded "not me."

I explained that my training time is my time to sort my head out and to organize myself. It's my therapy. Plus, when I get to the starting line of a race, I find tremendous satisfaction in the process taken to get there. One of the main reasons I sign up for races is because it makes me that much more diligent in planning and preparing, and because I enjoy the process. I'm fortunate that I can always find ways to stay motivated with training, or exercise. I realize that 90% of the population hate to exercise - thankfully or I wouldn't have a nice personal training business and may have to put on a suit and tie each day (the horror!). I get to see both ends of the spectrum daily - the general population who loathe exercising, and then the endurance athletes I coach who can be obsessed with it.

One thing for sure is that we can easily try to justify anything. Fitting in your training doesn't mean that you have to totally sacrifice something else. It's all about prioritizing and establishing habits, which doesn't have to be so difficult. I witness extremely busy people fit in their daily training and people who aren't so busy yet come up with many excuses to miss. The bottom line is that one day or week of exercise or training isn't what pays off. It's the consistency of a plan, and that's what we need to focus on when establishing the habit. When race day comes along, your outcome won't be determined by the one amazing workout you did back in April. It'll be determined by the consistency that you achieved in the three months leading up to that race.

Good luck to those racing in St. Croix this coming weekend. I swore off that race the last time I was there, yet, I think about getting back there often. I can't be done with it knowing that course got the best of me. I thought about it for this year but I will be attending a good friends wedding this coming weekend. Maybe next year.



Sunday, April 20, 2008

MyAthlete at Boston

Be sure to log onto www.myathlete.biz on Monday to follow 40 athletes in the Boston marathon. You may know a few of the names on there. Rick and Dick Hoyt will be wearing a device which is very cool!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Mornings

Today was the perfect morning! I rolled out of my house at 6am on my road bike in the cool air of dawn. It was maybe just 50 degrees and I felt chilled as I left, not so much that I was shivering, which meant that as soon as I warmed up and the sun was up, I'd be comfortable, if not hot. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and hardly any cars out yet. This brought me back to when I first began training to race. I'd leave my house at 6am and warm up for an hour, arriving at the Amity Time Trial just in time, race the TT until I tasted blood, then spun home. I loved the fact that I would roll back into my driveway just as most were awakening to begin their Saturday. This is my time. It's peaceful out when the busy Saturday morning drivers aren't yet rolling, even if my heart rate is through the roof as I'm busting my ass. It's still peaceful to me.

I rode for 90 minutes on my own at an easier clip before arriving at Bethel Bike to join the group ride. They had a nice size group that split into smaller A, B, and C groups. We had seven riders in the A group who started the ride easy for oh, all of 5 minutes, and then began ramping up the effort. We rode at a great clip - one that was fast, yet doable and kept us together. Occasionally we'd break up a bit and we'd hold up to regroup, but for the most part, the group was very compatible. There were a ton of riders out today! I saw a big group from Target Training and from Team Mossman on the roads. Since I train mainly alone, it was nice having company and the effort was excellent - better than I would have done alone in the sense that roadies attack in spurts and hammer up hills but go easy at times. When they go hard, they go hard, and when they ride easy, they ride easy. As a triathlete, I get locked into TT mode in training and mostly jam along at a steady effort and cadence. However I believe that the different paces that roadies constantly do work all your systems and that doing a ride like this once a week can be extremely beneficial for a triathlete. In fact, as I road home alone, I vowed to begin doing more of these, aiming to join a group ride weekly.

I turned down my street at 9:30am, feeling great, and ready to tackle the day. And it's going to be a busy one between yard work and firing up the chainsaw to take down some trees, Ryan's soccer game, I promised I'd ride with him and Kate later in the day, ...

Hope everyone else seized the morning as well.



Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring, music, and other various things

I met a coaching client of mine yesterday afternoon at Waveny Park in New Canaan to do some heart rate testing on him. It was quite obvious that us northerners have been itching for Spring, based on the amount of runners and triathletes hitting the trails. I saw a bunch of familiar faces which is always nice. This is the time of year where I have to yell at the triathletes I coach to get off their trainers and get outside to ride. The trainer is a great tool and if I have one hour to ride, I would benefit far more physically by spending indoors on the trainer than outside. However, you don't develop bike handling skills on a trainer, something that most triathletes are in dire need of, plus, being outside is just good for the head and soul.

I ran in the trails near my house yesterday with my ipod shuffle. I did a nice 1 hour 5 minute hilly run at a steady pace and attacked the hills. I put some new music on my shuffle - it's always cool when the new tune shows up in the middle of a session. More and more athletes are training with music now, due to great technology. At some of my camps, I perform an LT test on the computrainer on each camper. I have quite a variety of music on my ipod and I hook it up to a speaker system during the testing and have the participant request a few songs for them to ride to. An inside joke between Baker and I is that 9 out of 10 people will choose U2 - either Vertigo or Beautiful Day. A great band and both great songs and very safe. Ask people about their music preferences and most are afraid of being judged so they'll answer very safe and mainstream. At the recent AZ camp, I asked those participating a few weeks before the camp to email me three or four of their favorite songs to train to. Then, I took everyones music selections and made a cd for each camper. I was hoping to get some very cool variety and for people to share with others some songs that we may not be familiar with but I think most played it safe. Lot's of good songs, but most that people would already have on their ipod. I can understand how people are insecure about displaying their music preferences. Sure enough at every camp, there's always one or two that will comment something along the lines of "who's playing this shit?!" if somebody requests a rap, dance or techno song. Personally, I listen to just about everything except country. I mostly like alternative music, but I also like classic rock, rap, and even pop music. But country music - who would play that shit?!

I have a big contingent racing Lake placid once again this year. Not to make those racing there nervous, but it's definitely go time! Do the math on weeks left and you'll see what I mean. That is a spectacular race, one that I will do again some time. For this year, I will be there but on the sidelines, harassing those racing. I am going to set up a couple of longer group brick sessions - one in late May and one in mid June, for my athletes racing there. Anyone else that would like to join us regardless of whether they are racing there or not, or work with me or not, is more than welcome. I'll post something on my message board soon about these sessions. The bigger the turnout, the more fun.



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I'm back, baby!

I feel rejuvenated, remotivated and reconciliated! But let's step back first to where the next path began before discussing how it ended.

I left one passion, anxious to get started on my next one - becoming an elite Wii Sports athlete! It didn't take long to realize that this may be more of a dream than a goal. My 4 year old daughter has a higher bowling average than me and I threw my arm out pitching a splitter to my son. So where do I go from here? I'm a passionate guy and I need some hobbies and reality TV shows can't really be considered a hobby (you hear that Baker?). I contemplated golf but the game is to frustrating, the clothes are actually uglier than tight lycra, and anyone that's done a tri and played a great round of golf knows firsthand that the satisfaction isn't close to being comparable. Softball? Talk about another sport where the recreational enthusiasts take it way too serious! I mean, come on, these guys live, eat, sleep and dream softball. I don't know if my wife is ready for me doing a very consuming habit like softball after participating in the relaxed atmosphere of triathlon training and racing for 20 years. Those guys are in some serious shape as well which is a bit intimidating. Movie club? After waking up at 4am for the past 15 years, I'd end up falling asleep before the opening credits finished.

So I guess by default, I'm back in triathlon. Time to dust off the bike (I wonder if it's antiquated already?) and maybe even bust out the swim goggles. I didn't say I was going swimming, I'm just going to bust out the swim goggles.

I'm a lifer in this sport. I actually find it amusing when people ask me "are you still doing that triathlon thingy?". I stated long ago that there are two types of triathletes that fall out of this sport; those who will sooner or later get back involved, and those who are haunted by the fact that they aren't participating anymore but feel overwhelmed about getting back involved so they rationalize and justify and do everything possible to stay away from anything or anyone tied to the sport. Triathletes are made through hard work and determination, but it goes deeper than that. There is common personality traits obviously but there is also something inherited that makes this endurance drive or quest part of us. Because of this, you can't just bow out. Why would you want to give up something that's provided so much personal growth in the first place?

Personally, I need my daily adrenalin fix of exercise. It makes me feel good and allows me to be a better me. Racing tris feeds my competitive nature and also keeps me honest. It prevents me from falling into a rut and getting too comfortable with routines. It allows me to distinguish the years, remembering specific trips, goals, accomplishments.

One of the ways I keep the enthusiasm and passion going is that I don't over race. In the 90's, I raced quite a bit and loved it, but would always feel a bit burnt by the end of summer. I realized that if I wanted longevity, I needed to race less often each year and focus on a key race instead of many key races throughout the season. This alone has kept me hungry in the sport and hopefully will 5, 10, 30 years from now. It would be cool to be duking it out in the 65-69 age group with Rob Straz at the Griskus Sprint in 2033. Hear that Straz???I'll be there and I'm calling you out my man!

Another way I stay motivated is that I vary the training stimuli. I switch up the routine, the courses I train on, the daily schedule. I actually am quite bored with long, steady rides, but truth be told, I have been for over 5 years now. Besides at my camps or the Vermont ride, I don't ride over 4 hours even when building for an IM. I feel I can get a lot more out of a quality 4 hour ride when training for an IM than an easy/steady 6 to 7 hour ride.

One more thing is that I have the opportunity to work with new triathletes each year and their new born passion and drive can be infectious.

So I'm back in, and looking forward to a great 2008 season. Thanks to everyone who sent me encouraging and concerned notes. I actually received quite a few, so thank you.

Have a great April 2nd!



Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's been fun...

I mentioned in a post earlier this year that I began racing triathlons in the late 80's top early 90's. I've had quite a good run, accomplishing more than I imagined, while growing a a great family and a business. The lessons and memories gained are irreplaceable and will feed me throughout my life.

Coming off of a camp usually leaves me fired up and anxious to race. Yet, the fire wasn't there after Tucson this year. I find myself more distracted and annoyed with the longer training lately and it does seem much easier to blow off a session for something irrelevant that I would have never used as an excuse before. So I think it's time I move on to something else.

I'll stay involved through coaching, but personally, it's time to devote my energy into another passion. The people that I have met through this great sport will continue to inspire me.