It's been a very solid week! I'm tired and need to be careful in regards to making sure I get the proper sleep, but it's definitely a good tired at the moment. Through March, I was trying to get out once per week on my 29'er mountain bike, riding mostly the rail trail here in Monroe and through Trumbull, a bit of singletrack, and some road. The "cross training" on this bike has been a blast, and it's also been solid training. I went out this Thursday for a bit over two hours and found that it's easy for me to keep my heart rate steady and at a specific effort, and I have to be cautious because I find myself really working it the majority of the ride. I feel that this form of training is great early season strength specific bike training, however, I think I will keep this MTB session in the schedule throughout the year. One of the best things about this session is that there are no cars, except for the maybe 20 minutes I'm on the roads - only on the roads because there are three steady long climbs I want to attack each ride. As much fun as singletrack is, the rail trail simulates the steady grind of a tt effort better. When I was out there Thursday, I was enjoying the ride so much that I kept pushing harder - I still feel I need to feel some pain to signify a quality session. However, I was spent afterwards and my legs were sore the next day - the fun and enjoyment of this ride masks the pain and hard work while in action.
Speaking of pain, Straz has a new article up on my homepage ( www.hodska.com ) that you'll definitely want to check out. He touches upon pain and how there are basically two camps; those that focus on the pain and accept it, using it as a sign that they are really cranking, and those who distract their mind through singing, counting, whatever. Straz is approaching his first race of the season tomorrow and he's preparing to feel the pain of an Olympic distance effort. He feels as though he falls into the category of accepting and trying to embrace the pain. In regards to pain, I feel that not all pain is equal by any means, and you can handle certain pain extremely well and yet have a difficult time dealing with other types of pain. Personally, I feel that I handle the pain of extreme exertion very well, and I have had my fair share of accidents including having an ear reattached with no anaesthesia and a tooth drilled without Novocaine. I'm certainly not a marter, these things just happened by luck:) However, I wonder how quick I'd cave if Jack Bauer was using a lamp wire from an outlet on me and gauging my eye out with a ball point pen? That type of pain is the real deal! Back to Straz's argument that there are two camps though - I feel that you can fall into both. In short races, I like to focus on dealing with the extreme "burn" and pain associated with short course racing head on. However, in long races, I definitely like to distract. I like to blank out my mind by counting. I have had the stupid commercial jingle and bad song stuck in my head throughout a race though. One year in Hawaii, I had the never ending audio of a Spice Girls song endlessly and painfully looping through my brain. That will make you want to ride your bike into the next oncoming minivan quickly.
Straz also discusses genetics, and how he and his friend have an ongoing debate over whether genetics play a role in achieving great things in triathlon, Straz's friend arguing that they don't - that purely hard work is the key. Most that feel that your genetic makeup doesn't help out are the ones who have achieved quite a bit because of their own work ethic and feel they don't have any athletic genes. They tend to lump Gordo into this category saying because he went from a 12:30 IM guy to an 8:30 IM guy by training his ass off. Straz gives some great examples of exactly why genetics can play a huge role in a triathletes success. Personally, I side with Straz for the most part. I have been coaching for a very long time and have witnessed newbies starting with the same "base", some train extremely hard and do well, and others train not nearly as hard and do better. Don't for a second think that genetically gifted triathletes who have achieved huge things didn't also train their asses off to achieve their results. You think Craig Alexander isn't genetically gifted? Think he also doesn't train incredibly hard, and instead just sits around eating doughnuts because he's so genetically gifted?
Pain, genetics, and life in general - things aren't so black and white.