Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is Your Addiction Slowing You Down?

I know mine does at times. I am completely addicted to the sensations I still feel when I'm riding my bike...even when I am not getting the best output from my body.If it were only a matter of whether I wanted to ride because I love the feeling of speed and of being connected to this machine, flying across the ground propelled only by my legs, I would ride every day.

Forget the physical...while riding, even with others. the entire world is polarized into how hard I am going and the 50 yards hurdling toward me...I forget everything I have to do for my business, for my athletes and even my family...this is the only time that is truly mine. Some may say, 'what about when you sleep'? Even then, when considering a big decision at work or for an athlete's program, I wake up thinking about what was on my mind when I fell asleep. My therapist's couch is a Fi'zi:k Arione saddle.

From the post title, it's clear that this isn't always a good thing. Forget about needing to escape reality and bury my head in the sand instead of facing my responsibilities for those additional couple hours a day...I'm talking about the fact that much of the mileage I and other addicts pile on isn't really adding to our fitness and in many cases (depending on if you look at the definition of fitness as I do) is detrimental to it.

With the addition of a power meter to my cycling training many years ago now, I introduced a tool that would allow me to calibrate what my body was feeling and a little watch dog that would allow me to know how much and how hard for how long I needed to get the best legs on race day and keep me from doing more. I have employed the same strategy for the athletes that I look after, whether it be cyclists, runners or triathletes. There's an expression tossed around the endurance word 'more is more...until it isn't'.

So much of my time as a coach (especially lately with the addition of some of the fastest, some would say most 'successful' athletes I have ever coached) is spent convincing athletes to NOT train! What I try to impart to them and to keep in mind for myself is that an athlete that is under-rested can see fitness go only two ways...they can get a handle on it by recovering, by resisting the addiction to do more, and to grow fitter and faster OR wait too long to accept the signs of long term residual fatigue, of legs that lack any 'snap', and spiral into a state of exhaustion that can only be reversed by an extended period of time off.

In short, if you're training 'a lot' and you feel like you're training 'hard' and you aren't getting faster...or worse, then maybe you need to admit you have a problem. That is, after all, step one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

1000 Miles

We just arrived from our research trip in Tucson, Arizona on the red eye Sunday morning. I seem to remember being able to bounce back from such things better a few (like 15) years ago. As exhausting as the trip was, this two and a half day recon mission was a critical piece of making the March training camp there absolutely perfect for all involved.

Having been introduced by Jimbo to former resident, Virgin Blue Pro Cyclist Phil Zajicek, we had the very best resource possible for everything in Tucson, from the best rides to the best restaurants and even the best bike shop to ship our bikes to to be assembled before our arrival. Armed with our itinerary and 50 hours, T and I stood in Phoenix airport as we set the Garmin for the monster house we would be staying in for the week.

One of the best parts of our camps is the 'big MTV-style' house we stay in. Athletes stay in palatial accomodations with a huge common area and/or media room in which they can chill and pass the non-training time bonding with each other, sharing their own experiences. The whole vibe is pretty amazing, really. Which brings me back to our first stop. When we threw down the dough for our Tucson chateau, we did so based on the realtors website showing stunning views and 7500 sq. ft. of exceedingly opulent living.

The Garmin indicated we we arriving at 5241 yata yata street in 400 ft....200 ft....and 'you have arrived!'. Silence engulfed the SUV as T and I sat adjacent to the driveway of clearly the nicest house on the block. As a matter of fact, it was the only place that didn't have a pile of shit like screen doors, disabled cars or couches on the lawn...this was SO bad. "Ummmm, I had better call the realtor" was how T chose to break the silence. No answer when he called to politely say "we are sitting outside the house and it looks different than the one we saw on the web"...massive understatement. It seemed to me that we could have purchsed the house we sat before for what we paid to rent it. Checking the contact again, we realized that we'd not entered the correct address...we'd input the realtors home address. Of course, T would replay his message in his head to see if he'd been too derogatory regarding her home...I assured him we were cool on the way over to the palace in the hills that truly delivered as promised.

Among the the goals for the trip was to interview pro soigneur and wife of uber rider/retired pro Gord, Caryn Fraser. We set up our bike delivery and assembly/disassembly with Ralph at Fair View Cyclces, home of 'The Shootout' of the fastest, most famous group rides anywhere. We met with Phil's dad for some additional perspective on making the most of our camp there.

We were able to arrange for private swim coaching at an outdoor pool high in the foothills of the Catalina Mtns.. We went to the run loops we'd be using for the camp and either drove or ran them. As T out it after running through one canyon, it was the most beautiful place he had ever run in his life. We checked off the box next to fantastic run destinations. The rides were clearly the most challenging logistically, not only in terms of planning for the trip, but for the recon as well. When we returned the car to Avis, we had driven 1000+ miles seeking out all the fantastic rides in and around Tucson...Saguaro National Monument, Colossal Cave, A mountain, Madera Canyon, Gates Pass and of course, Mt. one other little surprise 'show-stopper' that Phil suggested...let's just say that this 13+ mile climb at 8% is the most unbelievable climb T or I have ever none.

We poured our exhausted carcasses into the red eye back to NY with a sense of having finalized every detail necessary to make our first camp in Tucson as memorably perfect as our Colorado camps. As an aside, we've got Jeff working on the website after having our graphic designer come up with logos and 'treatments' for the content. Game On.