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?