Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thank You For The Lessons

And just like that, it's almost 2014!

I am not immune to the New Years way of thinking... sometimes I even make resolutions. Well, not really resolutions, but goals, and I guess those are pretty much the same thing, no? Anyway, like many others out there I am reflecting on the last year and thinking and planning for how I am going to move forward. And I have some very clear ideas!

Since this is a triathlon blog I'll stick mostly to my triathlon-related thoughts and plans, with just a quick mention that one of my biggest goals for 2014 is to learn how to grow fruits and vegetables in my yard! I've spent a lot of time this month digging and planting and watering and I hope to be able to soon feed myself and my family some good fresh food that grew right here. I'm super inspired to make it happen and can see myself getting pretty into the gardening thing! Anyway.

So 2013 was an interesting year. I think I mentioned before that while I'd consider it without a doubt the year I did my very best training, it is also, interestingly, the year I showed up feeling flat and unable to perform to all my big races. I took most of the month of December to reflect on this and of course the two are related. Kind of a bummer really b/c while I'd love to repeat the training that I did, I have no desire to repeat those race experiences, which means that really, I need to change my training.

I read this article a few weeks ago when it was floating around and it really hit home. I'm going to write about that article assuming you've read it... In it he talks about the ingredients to success... Talent, Work, and the Touch. I'm not sure I have the talent, but I sure have done the work, and over the years, like the author of the article, I think I've lost the Touch. He writes:

In my swimming career, as I went on, my workouts kept getting faster and faster, and over a few years I became much more focused on training. I always trained well, but it became more of an obsession and an end in itself over the years. This resulted in the achievement of some pretty high levels of conditioning and some outstanding workout sets which stand on their own, but my performances in meets became more of an academic exercise. It was as though through training I wanted to “prove” my ability to perform, much like Middle Age philosophers tried to prove the existence of God. I had to prove it to myself by training faster and faster every year and over time I relied less and less on faith or “the Touch.” I knew what the results would be because I had already been there. I lost that sense of wonder and anticipation, and I lost the belief that I had another level to reach on race day. Now, don’t get the wrong idea—I’m not talking about loafing through practice. I’m talking about maintaining an attitude–through whatever works for you—that you’ve got something more, and when the time comes you’re ready to unleash one. Training and practice are feasibility studies—you need to do enough to know you’ll be ready on race day, and better prepared than just about anyone. What if someone out there is better prepared than you? They might be—that is quite possible—it’s even probable—but if you’ve paid attention to what I am telling you–Does it matter?

Not that I've ever really had a super magic touch, but I do remember in the past surprising myself during races- performing better than I did in training or maybe even better than I thought possible based on my training! THAT is what makes racing fun! Unfortunately, I did not experience any of that this past year. I did have some training sessions that were so awesome I sent my coach text messages directly from my car at the track... so stoked at how well I'd nailed a session that I just had to share right now... but then pretty much universally on race day I felt the desire to go hide in a hole for a few days after crossing the finish line, wondering what had just happened??

So. What to do about that? How does one go about getting that magic feeling back on race day? I think it's about making sure you are as best prepared as possible for the race, yet without showing up at the start line having left your best performance on the road or track the prior week. Managing your training in a way that allows you to believe in your ability without having to prove it to yourself every Tuesday... Keeping in mind that the goal of each training session is to prepare you for a good performance on race day... Training sessions are not races in and of themselves... "Training and practice are feasibility studies". I love that!

I feel really strongly that I know what kind of fitness I need to have in order to perform to my potential in a race. I've toyed with the idea of finding a new coach for 2014, but every time I think about it, I picture myself questioning any new training process that is not the process that I want to put myself through. We all know how important it is to believe in your training, and I know exactly the type of training I believe in! It worked brilliantly for the majority of the athletes I guided this past year, so going forward, I am going to be guiding myself. When I ask myself the question, Who would I trust to coach me this year? The answer now is ME! And how cool is that?!?

So, for the next few months, I am focusing on three things: 1) Getting strong in the gym; 2) Reclaiming my aerobic efficiency by strictly adhering to HR on bike/run; 3) Obtaining a body weight that allows me to run to my potential (ahem, not the weight I am at right now!! Yikes put down the chocolate rum balls, Michelle.). That is the foundation I believe I need in order to put together the key training sessions I will want to complete in the spring when I am getting ready to race.

And there you go! Boom! I feel good about 2014! AND there are some other new things that are developing that are renewing my excitement for triathlon... more on those soon. :)


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of our talk about wearing a Garmin on 'easy' runs. Loved the article and loved what you pulled from it -- have fun coaching yourself in 2014!!

Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...