Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Training Is Like A Tube Of Toothpaste

One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is concrete proof of progress we make while training. In the past I've relied a lot on perceived exertion to mark my progress. Did I feel good or not? And I would compare that to the total time it would take me to complete a specific run route or bike route or swim set... sometimes I would feel great but maybe the times didn't reflect progress, or vice versa... sometimes it would all come together and I would feel great AND go faster than before... and then sometimes notsomuch. But I don't think I've ever really experienced a very linear progression of progress. At least not like the one I feel like I'm experiencing now. Right now I feel like I'm experiencing concrete proof of progress nearly every time I train. It's really freakin' cool.

I read this analogy somewhere- I should be giving credit to someone for this but I can't remember who so forgive me and just know that I am not trying to take credit for this analogy... But he compared endurance athletes to a tube of toothpaste. You know, when you have a brand new tube of toothpaste, you can pretty much squeeze it anywhere and toothpaste will come out. Likewise, with a new athlete, pretty much any type of training this athlete does is going to result in progress. As long as said new athlete doesn't get injured, there are lots of different types of training that will produce good results.

Now let's think about that tube of toothpaste after its been used for a while... having been squeezed, say, randomly or from the middle. After you've gotten all the toothpaste out of the top half of the tube, you can squeeze and squeeze and squeeze from the middle but no more toothpaste will come out. But there's still more in there. So what do you have to do at this point? Well, you go back to the bottom of the tube and start carefully rolling a little bit at a time... and you roll and roll and roll and for a while maybe nothing even comes out... but in fact what you are doing is positioning that tube to be able to release all of the toothpaste without leaving any leftover and stuck in the bottom.

I feel like this is what I'm doing with my training right now... like I went back to the bottom of the toothpaste tube and am carefully rolling and rolling... and every time I take a running step or pedal a stroke on my bike right now I picture myself carefully rolling up my toothpaste tube right from the bottom. Right now there's not a lot of toothpaste coming out. But that's just because I've been squeezing from the middle for so long...

Back to this idea of concrete proof of progress. My definition of progress right not doesn't actually have much to do with speed. For me right now, it is about building fitness. Remember how last week I was all excited about the fact that I could finally run up the 1/2 mile hill to my house at HR<155 without walking? That was concrete progress when you look at it in terms of fitness. Yesterday I ran up that same hill, HR<155 while pushing Moana in the baby jogger. Seems to me that's pretty concrete... No matter what speed I was doing it at... Because let's face it, last week I could not have done that at all.

Where are you squeezing your tube of toothpaste?

17 comments:

Molly said...

That's awesome progress!

I'm squeezing my toothpaste on the bike, where I'm working my butt off for a few watts gain :-)

cherelli said...

Hmm, good analogy. i suspect I'm squeezing a little too much from the middle when I'm not doing easy workouts...ooops. Love that after so many years in the sport you can be seeing such huge signs of progress!

Beth said...

Love the analogy!! Great work Michelle - love the progress!

Mary IronMatron said...

That is actually a really great analogy. I think it is for that reason that we feel the need (at certain intervals) to seek new counsel... our guts says there is more toothpaste in there, but we can longer quite figure out how to get it out.

Rebecca DeWire said...

Well, my tube is a bit broken and I am trying to fix it :) Fun analogy and I am glad to hear that you are able to measure your progress. I think that an objective way to measure progress on a regular basis is such an important part of a training plan.

Betsy said...

That analogy makes so much sense! Thanks for sharing!

Trisaratops said...

Love that analogy! :)

Clare said...

love it. right now though i think i'm letting myself get to the point where any training will yield results...not good! i want to be rolling! (well, obviously i don't want it enough to work for it, but...)

Elizabeth A. Rich said...

I love this!! And glad you are rolling up your toothpaste tube.

Kim said...

i love the analogy michelle. and the hill progress is just awesome. congrats!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Ohhhhh, squeezing from the middle of a toothpaste tube (i understand the anaology) is a sore subject under my roof, someone doesnt like when I squeeze from the middle, can you beleive this, it actually was an arguement, the type that made it seem like it was the end of the world (someone I know isnt good at picking their battles), so now we have 2 tubes, mine and hers, anyways, good post

Running and living said...

I think my tube of toothpaste is pretty full (at least the swim/bike kind) so I am good for now. Love, love, love how you believe in your training, and I can't wait for you to get that slot at HONU!

mmmonyka said...

Love love love the analogy!

Jennifer said...

NICE! I'm a huge analogy fan and this one's great. So good to hear about your progress!

Charisa said...

Great analogy!

Jennifer Harrison said...

That is a great analogy is right! I enjoyed that one!! AND progress is the drug!

Angela said...

very nice to see that your training is going so well. Ill have to keep that in mind for this summer when getting back into things. Right now my tube of toothpaste feels like it's been soaking in the tub and taking on water....getting bigger, not smaller.