Monday, December 3, 2018

Keep it Simple, Stupid

"Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains."
- Steve Jobs

Media is so widespread and complex that athletes have access to almost any answer to any training related question they can think of, in both writing and video form. We spend hours scouring social media for training trends, flashy new technology, and basically anything the pro's are doing. If there is a quicker, more expensive way to get faster, we're going to find it, and pay for it. The stuff that get's the most "likes" is new and exciting, probably colorful, and definitely not simple.

The most simple guy I know; doesn't even own bike shorts.
The truth of the matter is, if you have chosen endurance sports as your game, you didn't pick anything flashy or complicated. You should have chosen basketball, where you can dribble the ball between your legs and dunk, and where those skills actually translate to the sport itself. But here you are, trying to distract yourself from the monotony that defines endurance. There's a reason why triathlon isn't a popular nationally televised sport. Triathlon, in it's essence, is simple. In my opinion, it is beautifully simple. We swim, we bike, and we run.

Fortunately for coaches, we have an incredible amount of data to utilize in order to coach you better, but most of it just makes up for the fact that we can't be with you in person for all of your workouts. If we were right next to you on that bike ride, we would see you hit those intervals, and we would know what kind of an effort you gave in order to hit them (which is arguably the more important piece). Since we can't be there, we see your power and heart rate files at those intervals, compare them to your threshold, and make a several assumptions about how you must have felt, if those intervals did the job that we thought they were going to do, and cross our fingers that your heart rate was an accurate representation of your effort, and not majorly affected by one of the millions of things that heart rate is affected by (heat, humidity, illness, sleep, stress, medication, glycogen, hydration, etc).

The more tools and forms of data that athletes have, and that coaches can utilize, absolutely gives coaches a better understanding of the athlete and their respective workouts. However, sometimes athletes can get caught up in the overwhelming amounts of resources that are available and lose sight of the simplicity of training. Sometimes results don't come as quickly as we would all like them to come, and the answer is almost never a missing piece of technology or a specific key workout. There's no secret or quick fix for success in triathlon. Success is achieved by consistently showing up, pushing yourself right up to the line of your current ability, recovering, and repeating that process over and over, getting better step-by-step, day-by-day. By the very nature of our sport, you must endure. Sure, you've heard this before. It's boring. You want to be fast now, and right after you're done reading this, you're going to read "6 Running Tricks to Make you Faster TOMORROW!" The problem with triathlon in our fast-paced world is that it requires patience.

Swimming on vacation; Objective: maintenance and fun

Therefore, if you are truly interested in longevity and sustainability in order to achieve your potential, it is important that you develop your connection to your sport, and the connection between your body and mind. When you've officially searched the entire internet for all of the secrets to getting faster tomorrow, and you've purchased all of the gadgets, it's important to have a clear understanding of what sustains you. After a certain amount of seasons chasing your triathlon goals, you'll inevitably gain the understanding that training with consistency and simplicity are the only keys to achievement over time.

If your goals are still worth fighting for, now that you know that there are no quick fixes, you will have to rely on your strengths to continue to persevere.

Rather than aiming for specific numbers, you should know the objective of the workout (hopefully your coach has made that clear) and aim to reach that objective to the best of your ability. For example, if you are working on max effort, instead of trying to hit a certain watts, your goal should be to hit your actual max effort- whatever that looks like on any given day. These pre-determined goal watts are based on constantly changing zones, so you could be either holding yourself back by not reaching higher, or end up feeling bad about yourself because you couldn't hit the target. If your workout objective is about holding a certain race pace, you should be dialed in on how your body feels or should feel at that particular pace. Developing your feel allows you to make better within-race adjustments. In the middle of a race, if your pre-determined race pace feels too hard and unsustainable, you'll be able to recognize the signs that your body is giving you to make an adjustment to a pace you can maintain, rather than trying to force the faster pace and end up blowing up in the end. On the flip side, if your race pace feels too easy, you won't be afraid to pick it up because you'll have confidence in your body's cues telling you that you can sustain a faster pace, even if it's something you've never done before. Without this connection, you won't be able to find new limits.

Tools, technology, and data are important- especially in a sport where most coaches don't get consistent 1-on-1 time with their athletes. But it's important to remember that the goal is to capitalize on your individual strengths as an athlete and maximize your potential. Data recognizes trends; it gives us the best metrics for creating a baseline of work, but doesn't mean anything if we don't contextualize it for each individual athlete. Don't be afraid to strip down to basics. You'll be ahead of the curve if, rather than analyzing data and rigidly focusing on numbers, you spend that time focusing on the goals and objectives of your training, and learning how to recognize what your body is telling you.

New Bio, who dis?

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