Just to let you know. We are now publishing daily and you can reset your feed to:
That will pick up all our articles.
Quick piece of admin -- starting next Monday, the site will run off the front page, rather than the blog/library pages. If I "go quiet" then you simply need to update your bookmarks.
What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?
I’ve been asking myself that question, frequently, for the last three months. I came up with three items for my life:
Real change rarely happens without a crisis. Given that my life is very stable, I needed to manufacture my own crisis! It’s a useful technique for you to consider.
In April, Endurance Corner is going to start publishing daily! Monday to Friday - I've assembled a group of interesting writers to share their experiences and help you achieve your goals.
The "trouble" with most race reports is that they are all the same, we talk about the challenges and work in plugs for our sponsors. I'll try to offer something of value here!
OK, so back to my normal milieu this week …..
Questions and emails on my ‘what does it take to finish an Ironman’ post seemed to indicate that you all liked the format but, for you, finishing isn’t going to cut it. You want to qualify! :-)
Today’s pic is of one of the top Age Groupers I coach, Shawn Burke, busting out a 9:23 qualifying time in Ironman Florida. Being able to work with Shawn and a number of other top age group athletes ‘up close and personal’ over multiple seasons, I’ve been able to witness first hand ‘what it takes’.
I’ve written a previous post on what it takes from a general work/commitment perspective to reach the very top of your age group. Despite the heat received, I stand by the message:
- Multiple years of physical training, amounting to several thousand hours of work.
Perhaps the message would be a little more moderate than what I outlined for a Kona slot, but the way things are going at the pointy end of the field, Kona qualifier and top AG are rapidly becoming one and the same. In fact, based on last year, most flat course qualifying males under 50 were in the 9:30’s!
But is work enough?
This afternoon, I was talking to Sue and she pointed out that the prez was written in gordo-speak. Good point - here are some notes to go with the prez.
By the way, if you'd like to attend our Boulder Camp (three slots left) and create a DVD of the talks then I'd happily do a trade. Please get in touch with me.
Who Am I?
I was very strategic in my approach to learning / training and travelled to the best teachers in our sport. I've worked under fellow coach-athletes that have a total of 20 World Championship victories between them. My initial, and primary, motivation was to achieve (not to teach), so I learned from others that did it.
I'm not unique - I have friends (such as Clas Bjorling, Chris McDonald and Justin Daerr) that have come from similar backgrounds. None of us were endurance prodigies as kids.
A tool that Monica and I use to strengthen our marriage is a monthly couples retreat.
We head off, just the two of us, and spend 48 hours together. I (try to) pull the plug on the internet and she gets to choose all our workouts. We get a heck of a lot done and it's a highly effective tool for our marriage.
M flew down to Tucson on Monday - which gave me 24 hours to clear my inbox before pulling the plug on the net for the next 48 hours.
April 1st will mark the third birthday of Endurance Corner LLC. This week I’m going to outline the decisions that cost us the most money in our start up phase. These themes pop up in many areas of my life so, I hope, you can learn from our experience.
The original concept for starting EC was to help people. I'm not sure if I've ever told you but a personal goal is, over my lifetime, to reach one million people with a message about using personal athletics to change the direction of their life (one article at a time).
In wanting to help people, I need constant reminders that making things "easy" isn't a help! Most of the money that I have wasted so far (I'm sure that more mistakes are to come) is due to a misunderstanding of human nature.
A bit of a departure this week from my regular focus on high performance athletics to discuss the level of fitness required to complete an Ironman race in under 17hours.
Before I whip out the scalpel and start dissecting, a couple of quick observations on the psychology of the Ironman finish…
Having the chance to coach some first time IMers has been an interesting experience. Not so much from the physical side of things, as I point out below, the physical equation for an Ironman finish is quite simple – get the athlete fit, strong, and teach appropriate pacing. But the psychology of an athlete’s first attack on the Ironman distance is a thing of pure beauty.
In my experience, a first time Ironman has a perspective that often fades as the athlete morphs into a ‘mid-packer’. The magnitude of an Ironman finish is not lost on the first timer and the accompanying fear offers real, pure, motivation.
The athlete pictured above, Louie Bonpua exemplified ‘pure motivation’ better than anyone I can think of. For more on Louie, click here…
I'm leaving Australia today and the way my schedule worked out, I'm probably going to take a "zero" in the training log. Not a big fan of zeros as I do best with a dose of exercise every 12 hours, or so.
Earlier this month, my buddy, Tony D, flew half way around the world to train with me and see what he could pick up in terms of training secrets. I did what I could for the guy and I think he learned quite a bit from the experience. Tony doesn't have a blog so this article is a summary of what I hope he picked up!
It's fashionable to say "there are no secrets" and "there is no easy". We should all HTFU and JFT...
That's true but it is also an over-simplification. There is a tremendous amount of experience, and knowledge, that goes into what's required to perform at a high level. This week, I'll highlight four key concepts that have helped me in academics, finance and athletics.
It's been a while since I wrote about personal finances. We completed our quarterly financial review this week so a number of topics are fresh in my mind.
A few weeks back I wrote about a split society. So far, the Great Unwinding has crushed a few over-leveraged companies, banks and persons but it has not fundamentally altered the behavior of my peers. Our balance sheets, took a hit, we trimmed wasteful habits, we all had a collective freak-out... ...then... nothing, really.
It takes about three years for our collective memory about the "past" to shift. Do you remember the date of the sub-prime "shock"? August 2008 -- we are 18 months along our path with the New Normal.
This has been a tough winter. Especially for my UK athletes. It seems that the UK has been hit by a perpetual winter storm that has lasted most of the season. Needless to say, they are ready for this winter to be over and to get out of the gym and back on the roads.
On the upside, the indoor time has allowed us to really hone in on 2 critical abilities to Ironman racing – steady (trainer) cycling and pure strength. Many of my athletes are at or on the verge of life best strength numbers at the moment. As we emerge from the cold, it will be my job to transfer this potential ‘gym strength’ to real ‘rubber meets the road’ strength....
I had a wake-up call last week while engaging in self-congratulatory backslapping!
I was talking to Monica and observing how well I handled a recent (but pre-inbox-zero) day of work, email and errands.
M - You sure, you seemed pretty miserable and stressed.
G - Hmmmm.
G - Maybe I should have said that looking back it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time...
If I am internally calm but projecting outward stress then am I calm, or stressed?
I'm not sure of the answer but I know which person I would prefer to hang out with.
This week, I write about three steps I am taking to improve my life "right now".
In my clearer moments, I see the hazards of having a job that is focused on providing answers.
Every answer I give can reinforce my thought patterns and biases. In one sense, having a wide range of clients provides me with an opportunity to work through a coherent picture. However, without caution and effort, I can dig deeper and deeper into creating my personal athletic dogma.
I have a few tactics that I use to balance consistency bias. This week I'll share them - you can apply them to sport, specifically, or life, generally.
My personal outlook is influenced by two lessons that I have learned.
#1 - I'm responsible for my life, and my feelings, right now.
#2 - If something bothers me then consider if I am willing to change. If I am not willing to change then get over it.
I'm still working through my endurance "hangover" from the 100-odd hours of training I did over in New Zealand. One of the effects of endorphin withdrawal is that I can feel dissatisfied with things. It is a common post-camp, or post-race, experience to feel dissatisfaction with some aspect of our lives.
I didn't do myself any favors as I picked of a few bad habits both at the camp, and after. It all stems from getting "too tired" and "too stressed". I can fall into the trap of tell myself "it's OK" and giving myself "treats" that are the EXACT recipe for screwing myself up further.
As much of the EC team is on the verge of kicking off ‘Swim Game v2.0’, I could not think of a better time for this post.
I received a little bit of heat/disbelief when I posted some comparison tables looking at relative fitness standards for swim, bike and run in a recent blog. To be fair, the upper end ranges in that table were assuming ‘elite’ swimming skill/economy.
Elite swimming skill can be an elusive thing to define, let alone achieve. Certainly, in the triathlon world, it is seen as a ‘holy grail’ of sorts, something that is the exclusive domain of the fortunate few who ‘grew up swimming’. But before we write off the possibility of converting ourselves into ‘skilled swimmers’, let’s consider what it means to ‘grow up swimming’.
The first part of this letter will share some ideas on setting up a high performance mind-set. The techniques can also be used as a coping strategy when dealing with challenging people/situations.
The second part will be an update on how I'm settling back into the real world following my big trip across New Zealand. With a little over a week to regroup, I've had some insights that should be interesting for you.
We were blessed with great weather and tailwinds for our final stage into Bluff at the bottom of the South Island.
A few of us decided to tack-on a very steep climb up Bluff Hill at the end. How steep? We had three Kona-qualifiers walk sections and a fourth flipped his bike over backwards and landed on his head. Thankfully, no injuries. The scariest part for me was riding back down!
We then rolled to Land’s End for photos and backslapping! I was surprisingly emotional down there. Likely from a mixture of: fatigue; exhaustion; endorphins and the removal of stress.
I have a feeling that this trip will mark a closing of a chapter of my life – I wanted to give Molina a big hug but thought that I might start crying so just sat there working on my breathing! Everything that I achieved as a triathlete is due to Scott taking an interest in me.
Phew! Big day out there and most of the camp is still crushing it on the bike. Wish I could say the same about my ride performance... I'm pooped!
We have a very challenging ~190K to finish off the camp tomorrow. When we arrive in Bluff there will be an optional ride up Bluff Hill (very steep) as well as the chance to run ~7K around the bottom of the country. My lower leg issue has not cleared up and it tends to be worst when I come off the bike... could be a hike around the bottom of the country for me!
A few changes in the overall today as folks stepped up for the swim/bike/run bonus.
Those of you on my blog feed will have seen that I quoted Clas' advice yesterday. In Swenglish, "better to enjoy your life".
Yesterday had it all at Epic Camp - sun, rain, hot, cold...
We started the day with a classic Christchurch run around Godley Head - Clas and I took a route that had a few extra hills - if you ever get out there then we took the High Trail that goes over the mtn tops along the crater rim. The faster way (still tough) takes the road from Evan's Pass down to Godley Head/Boulder Bay.
"When the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts" - Rollins
When it comes to athletic training, a central thesis that I have developed over my years as a coach is that all athletes, from ultra-distance Ironman athletes to 100m sprint runners are, well, for lack of a better word, athletic.
In other words, while there are certainly individual differences that are clearly obvious across the sports, there is also a homogeneity in the fact that, as muscle is the precursor to movement, individuals who specialize in movement are fundamentally more muscular than ‘the norm’.
Sure, there are those athletes with tiny or lithe skleletal frames that get away with less obvious muscle. Tour De France climbing specialists come to mind. However, relative to their frame, (which is fundamentally fixed) athletes, on the whole have a lot of muscle.
Studies that express physique as a 3 digit ‘somatotype’ of ectomorphy (skinniness), endomorphy (fatness) and mesomorphy (muscularity) reinforce this fact that athletic subsamples from distance runners to hammer throwers all have a higher middle number (mesomorphy) than the general population. A visual representation of this from Fox et al. (1988) is shown below:
As you can see, somatotypes among the sample range from ~254 for the meso-ecto distance runners to ~471 for the meso-endo weight throwers to ~271 for the pure mesomorphic weight lifters. However, for all of these athletes, mesomorphy predominates, i.e. the middle number is always the biggest.
Think that I’m back under -100 TSB. Feeling about as smoked as when I arrived at Turangi on the North Island.
More things that happen with the big training:
Didn't contest the KOM and felt great on the bike today. I think those maximal efforts _really_ take it out of the body. The guys that smashed the climb were pretty smoked by the end of the ride.
Very strong headwinds today that you can see in my bike file at TrainingPeaks. 3794kj, plenty of drafting and it still took 4.5 hrs to go 129KMs - that's a challenging ride.
With the rest day (yesterday) and the completion of the North Island (the day before that), a lot of the guys had themselves jazzed up to take-it-out fast. I'd been feeling a slight illness coming on so made an advance decision no to contest the KOM. Turned out to be a VERY good call as the pace was ON from the edge of town and that would have left a big mark (my CP120 was 246w, incl 0s) for my ride as it was so that might still overload my system. Time will tell!
Did a Greg Bennett main set on the bike -- alternate songs on the iPod -- 1 song threshold, 1 song steady. You can see that from 2.5 to 4.0 hrs in the file.
Morning was a favorite swim of mine from Monica...
Third person rest interval and for the 100s we did odds IM. Felt really good in the water (always do when I swim often) and Lordy let me lead.
Snuck in a nap on arrival and have an easy run scheduled for just before dinner. Some of the lads are out doing mega runs - my jog to the Seal Colony, and back, will be plenty.
HUGE day scheduled for tomorrow - 180K to Christchurch with some tough rollers.
I want to share some thoughts on Weenie Training at some stage. I've had them in my head for a few months. Perhaps tomorrow -- need to get my legs up for a bit.
One last observation -- we saw SNOW today down to about 400meters on the mountains outside Kaikoura -- pretty cold today with weather coming direct from Antarctica. I was bundled up all day!
Putting my Day 10 blog in the bag as I sense that tomorrow could be a bigger training day than scheduled. Plenty of folks talking about doing double swims and runs!
I wanted to put on record my thanks to Johno for organizing this trip.
There is a TON that goes on behind the scenes here at Epic and John's been putting the camp before his own training and enjoyment. A true professional. I just read in his blog that he's planning on opening it up a bit more on the bike so that might be interesting over the next few days. He crushed me on the KOM yesterday!
The route that we did down the North Island was excellent! I had no idea that there were roads/routes that great. I've been riding the main highways for years and missing out!
Day 9 is neutralized so there won't be any changes from this.
My main writing goal for today is to write my wife a love letter. So this entry will be a bit shorter.
Petro and I joke that it would sure be nice to right a "real blog" to make a change from spinning the I'm-doing-great-tale that we've been telling you!
Monica will get my "real blog".
Actually, there isn't a whole lot of difference between reality and what you read here. The reason is that the trip is so extreme that we all go through a HUGE range of emotions each day. It is up to each of us to choose what we focus on. In that, attitude (and action) is more habitual than elective.
So, we did it. Rode the entire North Island. Everyone is completely torched and most of us don't even know it. Probably a good thing as there remains a heck of a lot of training to go!
Now that I've been blown out of both jersey competitions (Clas rode GREAT today), I think that it's appropriate to share my goals for the camp:
Had some battery issues and broke a spoke on Day Three -- however this will give you a flavor of what it has been like for me.
Rider weight 75 kilos
Jan 3rd includes initial 30K TT
Here at Epic Camp, after the first day, we let the rider leave early. It gives them a mental break to be off the front for a bit before they are caught (or not!) by the faster riders.
At this camp, I've been riding with the A-Team since the start. Because the way the camp played out, I've had a jersey on most days and, therefore, figured that I might as well ride with my fellow competitors. It's tough mentally, even when you are as mellow as me (right Molina?).
I'm one of the physically weaker "strong" guys so it get dealt a fair amount. Molina claims that he's the official whipping boy for Epic Camp but he skipped the Whakapapa Camp and missed a few runs so I'm taking the title. That said, my suffering is nothing compared to my homeboy, Mark "Petro" Pietrofesa. He's been in the Red Jersey early and has endured a whole hell of a lot of suffering.
As Bill Clinton would say, "I feel your pain".
Anyhow, I'll give you a breakdown with a few anecdotes.
Day One -- we all ride together (25 riders) to start the camp after 25K of running which included a 10K run race. Molina has a few too many beers at lunch and decides to "play". Group explodes, I don't play. Roll into the TT start last, have a decent ride Hinault-style (no bars).
Day Two -- we all start together (25 riders) and Johnny does such a good job pulling that Molina asks me later if he was working for me! Fast descent in the rain has me off the back (because I didn't want to DIE) and I have the bridge-from-hell when Tara decides to TT for a while. Later Tara's legs lock solid - her pull likely not a factor...
Day Three - we start together, I pull for about an hour - Lordy Lordy pulls through quite friendly. I rode pretty well to lunch, Petro explodes, we ride in together DEAD LAST!
Lots of movement with this update - file below.