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.


Anonymous said...

we know when we need rest, like all of our needs, we feel it. we ingore it for instant gratification. as in life with all of our "hungers" we must listen to the signs. remember listening and knowledge strengthen us!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you describe your joy of riding! I share the same feeling about riding.....and about propelling myself on foot while running. Another great thing is that we and the numerous athletes out there have such DESIRE to train and race. It is something intrinsic that, yes, must be very carefully planned, harnessed, and channeled in order to be the best one can be.....but this MOTIVATION is a gift that most of the population sadly lacks; Many do not understand the joy of being in motion! :-)

Anonymous said...

Your quote:
"(especially lately with the addition of some of the fastest, some would say most 'successful' athletes I have ever coached)"

You had to be referring to me coming back on board...

Great blog!

John R.