May 24, 2016

Endurance sport can be part social and solitary. Many of us belong to groups and/or have training partners to help us get through the daily grind of training. Come race day, however, you’re on our own and have to rely on you and you alone to get to the finish. Because so much of one's training can be done with others, a lot of athletes are socially influenced into doing events that otherwise do not suit them. Do not suit their physiology, their psychology, nor their schedule. When you're spending 99% of your training time with a group, and only 1% of the time racing, relying on yourself, it's very tempting to be part of the herd. It's very hard to stand your ground, be your own cow, and do events that suit you and not the herd.

Whether you realize it or not, you are familiar with "the herd" mentality:
-it's signing up for the 100 mile Gran Fondo
-it's bumping up to the longer, faster, harder group ride on the weekend
-for triathletes, it's the Ironman

We've see a lot of athletes succumb to the herd mentality and sign up for the 100 mile ride, the Ironman, etc. And their training goes well to a certain extent. But it almost invariably starts to derail. Gets shaky. And the athlete is psyched out and/or injured before they even get to their race. Typically, the event doesn't go very well, if at all. Ultimately (and unfortunately) the athlete is disappointed with themselves and their season.

We don't want to see that anymore, not with our WattsUp athletes. We want to see our athletes stand out from the crowd, literally and figuratively. We want our athletes to have the confidence to stand out and do the events they WANT to do, and not that they feel they SHOULD do. We want our athletes to enjoy both the training AND the racing. We want our athletes having realistic goals, balancing those goals with realistic schedules. Perspective, balance, enjoyment, and achievement.

We want our athletes to "be their own cow". Break away from the herd. How do you do that?

1. Ask yourself what kind of training you enjoy, and what kind you dislike. What kind of sets/intervals can you really sink your teeth into, both physically and mentally?

2. What kind of sets, intervals, routes do you seem to do better on relative to your training mates? Which do you seem to fall behind on?

3. What is a realistic amount of time you have available for training each week? Be real: is it 30 minutes a day? Is it an hour a day? Is it three times a week? Is it three hours a day for six or seven days a week?

4. Lastly, what truly excites you in terms of events? What EXCITES you, not what SCARES you?

A few examples:

-If you're a fast twitch, explosive athlete who suffers on long endurance rides...train for short, explosive events! Don't try to slug through endless events that are not suited to your physiology.

-If you're long and slow, up the distance of your events. Don't keep beating yourself up against the other sprint-type athletes. 

-If your schedule only realistically allows for one workout a day, and an hour or less, don’t do Ironman. Don’t do the Gran Fondo.

-Instead of doing Ironman, there's a new series of triathlons this season called the "SuperSprint" series. 400 m swim, 10 k bike, and 2.5 k run. Imagine how hard you can push, how fast you can go, and how much fun you can have with that!

-Most GranFondos have a mid distance event. A 2 to 3 hour ride is a lot more enjoyable, far more “raceable” than is a 5 to 7 hour event. There’s nothing wrong with doing the shorter of the Gran Fondo options.

-On the other hand, maybe you thoroughly enjoy the 100 mile events. In fact, the longer the better. Bump it up...there are niche events that span several hours, if not days, available to the endurance cyclist, including the Furnace Creek 508 and the Hoo Doo 500.

-Perhaps your run is injured, but you're fit in the swim and bike. There's an entire series of swim-bike events now available. Get in there and mix it up, be competitive and have fun! Don't dwell on what you can't do: focus on what you can do.

-Do you lack the top end speed to stay with the break aways? But you thrive on the long, hard sustained efforts? Move away from criteriums and road racing and instead get into time trialling.

Go with what works for you, and then pursue it. Commit. Enjoy. Achieve.

For those of you who haven't yet signed up for any events this season, we challenge you to listen to your personal physiology, pay attention to what feels fun and free and natural, balance that with a realistic schedule and sign up for appropriate event/s this season.

For those of you who have already planned out your season of events, we challenge you to re-think what you train for and race in 2017. We challenge you to enter events that suit your physiology, psychology, and schedule.

If you’re unsure of what your speciality is, come and ride at WattsUp. We’ll be more than happy to help you learn your strengths and realize opportunities that await you.