Thursday, April 30, 2020

So You're Saying There's a Chance

It's amazing how much can change in a month.

At the beginning of April, I launched this Gold Star Project for TeamBSC. My vision was that maybe each athlete would pick 1-2 specific targets (short ones) and train specifically to hit a personal best (as recorded in Training Peaks) at that target. Training Peaks keeps track of specific distances/durations for bike and run so those were the ones we were going to use. Since races are far away, I figured focusing on short distance peaks (5" up to 10min) made more sense bc long distance peaks would mean you're in race shape (!) and well, we don't really want to be in peak race shape when there are no races right now!

This project taught me so much this month... Both as an athlete and as a coach. Initially I just sort of thought maybe it would be a decent distraction from the wacky world we all find ourselves living in right now, but it morphed into a motivating quest for personal bests! It also ended up being a really great team building thing as we cheered each other on with our attempts.

As a 46yo athlete with 20+ years training for triathlon and 8+ years of pace/power data recorded in my Training Peaks account, some of my All Time Peaks are pretty solid. In all honesty, I looked at my top 3 all time run splits for 400/800/mile and thought there wasn't a snowballs chance in hell that I was going to be able to hit those this month. I mean, no way. I was way too far off. Part of me definitely thought that it was silly to even try.

But here's the thing. My athletes were trying! And many of them were surprising themselves! It seemed like every time I logged into Training Peaks, there was another file from an athlete who had just achieved a new personal best at a short distance. I do believe that leaders should model the behavior they expect from their people, and I decided that the behavior I wanted to really emphasize was the effort... I kept saying, The value is in the attempt. And I totally meant that! Some of my athletes have crazy huge peaks in their past. I definitely didn't want them to be discouraged if they were trying but not hitting them. So I figured that it truly made sense for me to try as well, even if I didn't really believe I'd hit any running peaks.

So 4 weeks ago I headed out and attempted a 'fast' mile. I was almost a full minute off my best mile time! Ha! Kevin attempted a mile as well. His initial report was that he wasn't even in the ballpark. Casey had a similar story the first time he tried. I kept preaching that it was fiiiiine... the value is in the attempt! So we all tried again the next week, and we got a little closer.

After one of my key runs, I studied the file and thought, I'm in the ballpark here... Like, not that far off... Maybe there's a chance? At the same time, some of my athletes were posting files that showed giant gains in their fast running paces. If they could do it, maybe I could too? Heidi knocked out a run where she just nailed it- fastest splits ever from 400 up to the mile! She's turning 50 next week and she also has a long history of training recorded in Training Peaks... She was making my excuses invalid. Hmmm.

So then a few days ago Casey posted a run file that showed he'd hit All Time PRs at the 400 all the way up to the mile. Wow! Solid Gold! Casey is also my age, with a long history in Training Peaks. What was my excuse again?

Momentum is a powerful force, you guys.

Today was officially the last day of the Gold Star Project. Last night, as a team, we had 185 total stars (counting 1st, 2nd, or 3rd all time bests as recorded in Training Peaks). I mused that it would be fun if we hit 200! Could we hit 15 more today?? That seemed like kind of a big ask. Several of us had planned attempts on our schedules but I wasn't sure if those would be successful attempts or not? Maybe? I threw it out to the team thought that if anyone had any more that they thought were possible to get today, take one for the team and go get it! Monika and Michelle both did that (!) so we ended up with 7 bonus stars that hadn't even been planned attempts... That put us right in the ballpark to hit 200. So you're saying there's a chance?

I was so inspired. I got all dressed up in my Coeur team running kit and I planned my route and I ripped my own legs off (panting wheezing breathing hands on knees afterward kinds of efforts) but I managed to get Top 3 All Time stars in all 4 distances today. What?!! I wasn't actually planning on going for all 4 distances but I was motivated to help the team get over 200 and I thought maybe I could... Its amazing what happens when you start to truly BELIEVE. Then I got home and checked Training Peaks again and saw that Kevin went out and did it tooooooo. In all we had our biggest day in star collection today, with 25 more stars collected. 210 in total!

I am incredibly impressed and inspired by this team. I feel like this project was a success beyond my wildest dreams and that's a credit to the tenacity of the athletes I have the honor of being able to work with. On Saturday we're going to have a team Zoom Party to celebrate everyone's accomplishments (there are so many individual stories of success!) and to share some 'war stories', because isn't that the best part of racing? Sharing your stories afterward?

I'll keep processing the valuable lessons learned this past month. But off the top of my head right now, I'd say that success seems to come from an idea/goal that you find motivating... believing that it might be possible to achieve... watching other people do it... and being motivated to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself.

Congratulations to everyone on TeamBSC! I'm super proud of you all. ⭐

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