Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Changes and What We Eat

Had some questions about the changes that happen during extreme training as well as what we eat.

If you check out the team blog then you'll see a summary of what a few of the campers eat. There is a lot of variation between campers due to a few factors:

Size - we have campers ranging in height from 5 feet to 6-8. So there is a big difference in the amount of energy required to move our bodies due to mass. As well, there is a HUGE difference based on how well you can sit in the bunch, as well as which bunch you ride with.

Metabolic Fitness - we have super efficient campers (Steve Lord) and big engine campers (Mark Pietrofesa).

The big engine guys need to eat a lot; and they need to keep the sugar going in ALL day long. Rob Q was spotted drinking 2L of cola out of a pitcher at the end of a ride - I haven't had any cola yet (but I have had a lot of sports drink). The big guys need to eat constantly - small meals across the day as well as food before bed. If a big engine guy bonks then he's totally stuffed.

The efficient athletes, like Steve, can survive with limited calories (and drinks) when they want to. This is a big advantage in racing as well as on the long days. They tolerate depletion really well and can keep themselves ticking over with limited calories, if required. For me, the key lies in consistent nutrition that strictly limits sugar to the minimum required for aerobic function. I favor fats heavily for supplemental calories but... when you are riding big miles, point-to-point then that isn't always possible.



Not a lot of physical changes appear at camp but there are a few...

Healing - some folks will stop healing, get mouth ulcers, and have cold sores appear -- all signs of extreme immune stress.

Epic Camp - Day Five

Epic Camp is hard and Steven Lord is strong!


Got a little British Motorpacing in the middle of today's ride and it certainly left a mark! Scott's named Lord Steven the TGV and he lived up to his billing today!

Ride was ~6 hours with 182K of riding - ~4300 kjs and a heck of a lot of climbing.

Managed a good wetsuit and paddles swim but my running assumed zombie-training-pace. Petro and I ran ~8.5K, pulled into the BK Lounge then I walk-jogged back to the motel. A just get it done run. Steve ran 20K to take back Yellow. The guy deserves it as he's holding up really well and has a great attitude. He's fun to have around.

I'm going to have my hands full with getting through the camp! With this is mind, I'm going to take a tactical recovery day (if you can call 200K of riding with a KOM, recovery). My main concern is our 12-hour rule... you have to finish your training for the day 12 hrs after you start.

With the logistics, headwinds and structure of tomorrow... I was worried that I'd have to TT the final two hours of the ride then run a fast 10K to get my swim/bike/run bonus. I might make that but... there is a 200K ride as well as a rumored aquathon in the following 48 hrs and I don't want to smoke myself.

So it's wide open for Steve - he has a good shot to get a gap in the competition.


Lex is now speaking (Ball and Bird are her first words) and I miss my wife (HI HONEY!).

OK, gotta sleep. I get to sleep in until 7am tomorrow. Luxury.

At Epic Camp, everything is relative!


Epic Camp - Day Five

Epic Camp is hard and Steven Lord is strong!


Got a little British Motorpacing in the middle of today's ride and it certainly left a mark! Scott's named Lord Steven the TGV and he lived up to his billing today!

Ride was ~6 hours with 182K of riding - ~4300 kjs and a heck of a lot of climbing.

Managed a good wetsuit and paddles swim but my running assumed zombie-training-pace. Petro and I ran ~8.5K, pulled into the BK Lounge then I walk-jogged back to the motel. A just get it done run. Steve ran 20K to take back Yellow. The guy deserves it as he's holding up really well and has a great attitude. He's fun to have around.

I'm going to have my hands full with getting through the camp! With this is mind, I'm going to take a tactical recovery day (if you can call 200K of riding with a KOM, recovery). My main concern is our 12-hour rule... you have to finish your training for the day 12 hrs after you start.

With the logistics, headwinds and structure of tomorrow... I was worried that I'd have to TT the final two hours of the ride then run a fast 10K to get my swim/bike/run bonus. I might make that but... there is a 200K ride as well as a rumored aquathon in the following 48 hrs and I don't want to smoke myself.

So it's wide open for Steve - he has a good shot to get a gap in the competition.


Lex is now speaking (Ball and Bird are her first words) and I miss my wife (HI HONEY!).

OK, gotta sleep. I get to sleep in until 7am tomorrow. Luxury.

At Epic Camp, everything is relative!


Provisional Points to end Day Four

Yellow - G = Overall

Red - Petro = Vet

KOM - G, but not for long the way Clas was climbing today!

Play of the Day - David Craig for the 6AM 10K bonus run and scraping in under the 12-hour rule for a total of 10K run; 160K bike; and a 1K/5K aquathon

Summary follows...

Day Four Morning

A quick post before we set off this morning - need to keep the heat on Petro for the blog-a-thon.


Feel like I managed to catch up on sleep last night, which is a good thing as I was running low in the early days.

Cold breakfast this morning so I had my first couple Nutella sandwiches of the camp. We will see how that goes down. Bread and sugar isn't my preferred nutritional strategy.

David Craig brought a set of the Normatec recovery boots and has been sharing-the-love. The guys are reporting great results from them and they are receiving rave reviews.

An aquathon and a KOM today so there will be fireworks -- but before that -- a ferry across the harbour.

I've broken out the tea tree oil to keep my undercarriage happy -- two days ago I felt like I was wearing a wet diaper all day (we rode in the rain). Perhaps I'm still drying out!


OK, gotta roll and eat some more.


Characters & Highlights To Auckland

Well, we made it to Auckland -- that was a fair amount of effort to get back to where we started!

Petro says that I'm not writing enough. Well, Big Boy, that's because I'm calculating the points every night and it takes about an hour to sort it out!


Broke a spoke today, and nearly ripped my derailleur off! That could have been my tour right there.

Must be getting tired and need to be more careful with my shifting. Did a lot of work before lunch (nothing crazy though as my CP20 was 268w) then rode it in easy with Petro/Charlesy. Didn't get KJ after lunch but was 114KM to lunch with 4hrs ride time and 3125KJ - 48K from lunch into the hotel was done easy with my pal Petro who got a bit depleted in the early riding. Think we did another 2000m of climbing today.

Swam and run with Steve Lord, who will be in Yellow tomorrow from a bonus 10K tack-on. That's was a good tactical move as we had spare time this afternoon.

Day Two

Running short on time so some highlights!

10K AM run with Petro -- 6:30 down to 4:30 per K pace


178K ride; 5:45 time; 4,365kj

First 50K had an average of 250w - pretty silly!

CP5 was 369w
CP20 was 320w

Had the bridge from hell and Rich Blanco dropped back to provide me some relief. Got back to the front of the ride when Baron had to check his map. Then we rode really friendly for the rest of the ride. Offered Blanco some instruction about riding with IM dudes -- a lot of the strong AG guys have a tendency to surge hills and stop at the top -- drives Clas crazy and he'll attack to shake anyone that does it. I didn't want to ride alone so gave Rich a tip.

I won the KOM but Roger Wacker climbed out of skin to finish second.


Swim 6000 scm trailing Steven Lord included 200 fly and 1000 band and 3000 alt 100IM/150Fr.

Steve's a true gent dragging Petro and me around for the swim.

Back at it tomorrow with ~175K of rollers.


Epic Camp - Standings after Day Two

Sorry about the format.

Full Spreadsheet - Attached Below
These are provisional as athletes need to review

Gordo Byrn 41 18.00 15.00 33.00
Steven Lord 17.75 15.00 32.75
Mark Pietrofesa 16.25 15.00 31.25
Tara Norton 13.25 14.00 27.25
Russell Cox 17.00 10.00 27.00
David Craig 16.50 10.00 26.50
Peter O'Brien 14.00 9.00 23.00
Richard Blanco 15.50 6.00 21.50
John Newsom 17.25 4.00 21.25
Daniel McDonald 13.75 5.00 18.75
Scott Molina 13.50 4.00 17.50
Douglas Scott 8.50 9.00 17.50
Dave Langley 13.00 4.00 17.00
Rob Hill 12.75 4.00 16.75
Robert Quantrell 12.25 4.00 16.25
Nick Hutton 12.00 4.00 16.00
Clas Bjorling 10.75 5.00 15.75
Jordan Cantwell 10.75 5.00 15.75
Randy Weintraub 11.50 4.00 15.50
Eric Van Moorlehem 11.00 4.00 15.00
Jo Carrit 5.00 9.00 14.00
Roger Wacker 11.75 0.00 11.75
Rip Oldmeadow 7.25 4.00 11.25
Lee Wingate 6.00 4.00 10.00
Andrew Charles 5.00 4.00 9.00


Yellow - G
Red (Vet) - Petro
Play of the Day - Green - Tara

Day One "triathlon" TT results shown in separate tab.


Cape Reinga to Kaitaia - Epic Camp

Big day today. Not for volume but for work rate. About 90 minutes worth of Threshold split between bike/run. We were all cramping in the pool at the end of the day. All of us except Clas -- it helps to be made of steel!

We started at the top of the country at the lighthouse to the left. We ran ~12K easy through Monster Rollers down the main road. I ran easy and chatted with Roger Wacker from Texas. Roger is coming back from a run injury AND had a major mechanical today on his bike. Despite that, he stuck with it, didn't quit and - because of that - won the Green Jersey for play of the day.

Johno took the running race out fast (uphill start; either up/down; net elevation loss) and I stuck with him. Johno NEVER breathes when he races -- what I mean there is that I can never hear him breathing when I am racing him. Well, I was able to hear him today. Clas is a super downhill runner and bridge up, then past, us on a long downhill section. I stuck with Clas and held effort through a nice 1K flatter section. That was enough to get enough of a gap to hold him off for the downhill finish. I ran about 37 minutes but it felt tougher than that time reflects!

Petro, Steve, Johno and I tacked on - gently - to get to 25K of running.

Epic Eve

Writing this on Epic Eve - we drove all day to get to Kaitai from Auckland. We still have over 100KM to get to the top of the North Island - photo left is our start point - I might do a bit of a dip tomorrow!

It is SERIOUSLY rolling between here and Auckland and we'll be riding back through what we saw today for Days 2 & 3. Having seen the terrain, there are going to be some worked campers 72 hours into things. I'll report back on that -- with luck I won't be completely torched. If I go quiet then you'll know that I'm smoked!

The terrain is really beautiful up here -- it's super lush, very green and extremely volcanic. Our bus driver told us that Auckland sits on ~48 volcanoes and all but 2 are extinct. Driving north of Auckland, I'm guessing that the rollers are from thousands of mini-volcanoes. I'm grateful for the tough rides that I was able to do with my pals in Brisbane.

Asking around the Epic Virgins, this is a HUGE increase for most of the athletes. I have to admit that they are very brave to take on the challenge. I know what I'm in for and I am nervous.

Tomorrow will have mini-races built into each of the swim, bike and run portions of the day. The scheduled run is 20KM (with last 10K as a road race); the bike is 90KM with a TT of a length to be determined; and the swim will have a special event as well.

We offer special bonuses if an athlete hits 25K on a run as well as 6K on a swim. Given that tomorrow is a "short" ride, I expect that main of the athletes will opt to go long both running and swimming. Should be fun to see what happens.

Epic Update & Windows of Opportunity

Ran with Petro and the gang this morning. Legs felt fantastic - as they always do for the first couple of runs at Epic.

Mark and I played a game last night - think about who you spent New Year's 1999 with and how many of those people are still in your life.

QOTD from Petro about family: "You're going to need to learn to live with a bit more chaos, or you're not going to make it."

The quote came because he's been skype-ing the US. When using Skype, he just leaves the connection open (on speakerphone) and hangs out with the person on the other line. Drives me a bit nuts because there is garbled noise coming through his computer all the time.

It's the anti-gordo-call method... no plan, no purpose, extended time... I'm more about calling with a mission, achieving the mission, moving along. The only person I hang-out with is Monica (and myself).

Epic Update & Sports/Kids/Marriage

Because I arrived a day early (and we have the world's best support team), I have the afternoon off to sort my gear and write this update.

Kids, Marriage and Sport thoughts are at the bottom.

We are running a run game for January (open to all - that is our tracking sheet) so I started my day with two 30 minute runs that had a 3K swim inside them. The swim was simple:

  • 1000 continuous every 4th 50 back
  • 10x150 odds as 50 long strokes, 50 fast, 50 steady // evens easy
  • 4x50 odds 20 back / 25 breast / evens easy
  • 200 IM
  • 100 easy

Jordan Cantwell and Richard Blanco joined me for this session. Mark "Petro" Pietrofesa decided to sleep load -- he's my roommate and a good buddy.

There were no takers for my easy spin from Central Auckland to the airport hotel so I did an hour easy on my own (640 kj; 25km). At the start of that ride, I said g'day to Charlesy and Dave from Brisbane -- my buddies from the Coyote Cycling crew in Brisbane.

As I get tired, type-os will start to appear - please bear with me on that!

Influence Curves

“All animals are created equal but some are more equal than others” – The Pigs (Animal Farm).

As the pigs suggest in one of my favorite reads, there are situations where while things may appear equal, in reality they are not. One of these situations is in the realm of training load.

Let me explain….

While 3000kj of riding is always 3000kj of riding, the direct impact that this amount of work has on your race performance varies greatly throughout the training year. One of the most practically applicable discoveries that has come from studies that have sought to mathematically model the load-performance relationship (e.g. Banister, 1986, Morton, 1991) is that the contribution that load makes to performance varies with the timing of the load with respect to the key event, i.e. there is a critical period where it is optimal to really ‘lay down’ the big load blocks and there is a quantifiable difference to be had by placing a training camp 4 mths vs 4 weeks before your goal event.

Below you’ll find an example of a ‘typical’ influence curve that speaks to some of those issues.

The chart shows weeks from goal event along the x axis, with relative performance benefit of a given training load along the y axis.

As you can see from the curve, there are certain times of the training cycle that work is very beneficial. At other times it is quite detrimental (e.g. during the taper) period while at other times of the cycle it is neither here nor there.

Be Excellent, Dude

One thing that amazes me about the holidays is how we choose to get run down by over-scheduling, weak nutrition and alcohol consumption.

We spend most of the year building the life that serves our needs then "treat" ourselves with anywhere from two days to three months of sugar, booze and fatigue. At some point, many of our souls will start to rebel.

This week's article is about what I did when I heard that calling.

Epic Camp Prologue: Foolin'

I'm looking forward to the Tour of New Zealand and I hope that I have the energy (and connectivity) to share frequent updates.

Monica repaired my Terminator sunglasses for Christmas. I'm rocking them in this week's photo.

At camp, I am not going to check email - FYI.

We flew down to Sydney yesterday and I had a chance to brainstorm blog topics. Here's the list of items that I want to share with you:

  • Work Before Work Rate
  • Kids and your Athletic Performance
  • Your Marriage and your Athletic Performance
  • Simplify to Succeed
  • The Anaerobic Athlete
  • Be Excellent, Dude - Focus On What You Know
  • Talent At The Line - Maximal Training
  • Weenie Training
  • Windows of Opportunity (Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em)
  • Self-Sabotage, hardness vs flow
  • The Time You Have
  • The Person Not The Protocol
  • My Best Clients
  • Hoax Algorithms
  • Live Like A Pro
  • Learning To Say "No"
  • Catching Up
  • No Easy Way

That's 18 mini-topics. I'd better hit them early in the camp before I get too shelled!

The benefits of going 'easy'

I received an interesting question via email this week that left me a little ponderous. Since pondering is always better shared, I thought I’d write a small piece on it for my blog this week.

The question was in reference to a recent literature review by Stephen Seiler on the polarization of training into definitive ‘hard’ and ‘easy’ training….

“It seems that you place a lot of emphasis on ‘steady’ training. I was wondering if you see a place for ‘easy’ training in the athlete’s basic week and if so, what benefits do you feel such training promotes?”

The reader is correct that I see very little direct benefit to training conducted below the aerobic threshold and A LOT of direct benefit to training conducted just above the aerobic threshold. However, this is not to say that there are no benefits to including easy training within your week. I’ll outline a couple of those here.

First a quick caveat that relates to the Seiler paper, and indeed to any comparison that a recreational athlete may make with an elite athlete’s physiological data:

Because elite athletes have greater central fitness, they have a diminished heart rate response for a given VO2max. Take for example, an ‘in-shape’ test for Gordo vs yours truly:

Gordo (60% VO2max) = 72% HR max
AC (60% VO2max) = 80% HR max

So, when looking at time within a given % HR range, for example when Seiler references that a large elite training volume is performed at 60-70% of HR max, keep in mind that a large chunk (probably half of this training) is likely at or above the aerobic threshold for folks with these sorts of engines (VO2maxes in the range of 5.0L+)

Preparing to Race New Zealand

It's Thursday morning in Oz and I am managing a light cold. This coming weekend will show that I played my training cards perfectly, or blew it.

Training to race a country is a lot different than training to get through a one-day event!

Let me talk you through it.

Starting on January 3rd, I will be playing a fifteen day "game" where we swim, bike and run the length of New Zealand. The game has a BIG bonus for swimming 29,000 meters; cycling 2,400 km; and running 105 km. We also have various events scattered across the camp - TTs, aquathons, races and other things we dream up along the way!

I have been swapping emails with Scott Molina about the nature of the game and he sums it up well by saying that it should be really, really difficult to win the game.

Who Are You

I suppose that a more appropriate title for this piece is "Who Am I" but there's such a good connotation with "Who Are You" that I couldn't resist.

This week's photo is Lex seeking comfort after Daddy used her for a bit of (gentle) air guitar. Not popular in case you were wondering.

In following our athletic journey, we are often seeking a transformation from what we "are". More specifically, we are using athletics to change the view we have of ourselves.

OR... we use our results to resist the view that others appear to place against us.

Seeking transformation can freak people out. With good reason! Major personal transformations (or obsessions) are often triggers for relationships ending.

Is it any wonder that we tend to gravitate towards folks that share our addictions, in all forms.

The Lucky Country

Monica and I are back in Noosa for the winter and this time we have a little surfer girl with us. How the heck did I manage to end up back here? This week I'll chat you through it.


A little over a year ago, I was a director of a company (highly leveraged) that found itself in a position where the board invited the bank to appoint an insolvency practitioner. It was a British company and that is how the Brits describe "going bust". For those of you familiar with the technical aspects, the company is in administration so it lives on.

At the time that we made that decision, I knew that I was (likely) firing myself from my role with the company as well as putting the jobs of the entire local team at risk. However, the law in the UK is pretty clear and the directors face unlimited personal liability if they fail to take action. So, despite the large downside for everyone involved, the decision seemed pretty straightforward to protect the creditors.

Something I had been told when I moved out to Asia was "always be willing to make a little less money, to preserve your values". I think about that advice often and have adjusted it in my head to... "be willing to trade a little success today, for an enviable life tomorrow". It doesn't come naturally for me but it does come easier with practice.

About seven weeks after that board meeting, on my 40th birthday no less, I was reviewing a huge stack of Statements of Affairs. These are legal documents that have to be prepared/reviewed/commented... by the directors when a company goes into administration. That was probably the lowest of the low (December 26th, 2008). My new business (this site) came on line two weeks later and things started perking back up.


What does that story have to do with Australia?

Right Effort

A young boy traveled across Japan to the school of a famous Martial artist. When he arrived at the Dojo he was given an audience by the Master.
"What do you wish from me?" the Master asked.
"I wish to be your student and become the finest Karate-ka in the land," the boy replied "How long must I study?"
"Ten years at least" answered the Master
"Ten years is a long time," said the boy. "What if I studied twice as hard as all your other students?"
"Twenty years" replied the Master
"Twenty years!" "What if I practice day and night with all my effort?" the boy said
"Thirty years," was the Masters reply
"How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?" the boy asked.
"The answer is clear. When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way."
~ Text from: Zen and the Martial Arts (1979 edition)
by Joe Hyams

I was re-reading Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do the other day and I came across his interpretation of Buddhism’s eight fold path:

- Right Views
- Right Purpose
- Right Speed
- Right Conduct
- Right Vocation
- Right Effort
- Right awareness
- Right concentration

His interpretation of Right Effort as;

“the therapy must go forward at the ‘staying speed’, the critical velocity that can be sustained”

struck me as both profound and incredibly applicable to athletics.

As a coach, I find a large part of my job is continually bringing the athlete’s focus back from ‘the goal’ to ‘the way’. As the proverb above suggests, the fundamental limiter to an athlete achieving their goal in the shortest possible time is, paradoxically, a focus on achieving the goal in the shortest possible time.


November is drafting month in American amateur triathlon.

With Ironman Florida, Clearwater 70.3 Champs and Ironman Arizona on the calendar for successive weekends, the online world is alight with drafting discussions. I thought that I'd share some thoughts on drafting, cheating and drug use this week.

Over the last 20 years, I have worked, traveled and lived around the world. Along the way, I have seen a wide range of cultures, ethics and approaches to business, sports and academics.

The first thing that I'd caution against is putting too much energy into seeking to solve the "problems" of others. Not everyone sees a problem and, more importantly, not everyone wants to hear an outsider's idea of a solution.

I rarely have a friend thank me for pointing out their lapses. Much more common is people thanking me for sticking to my own standards. Part of the reason that I rarely write about cheating is that I prefer to stay on message with a positive outlook.

We'll see how this goes... if you like to draft and use drugs then you might not want to keep reading...

Fear, Anger and Flow

One of the interesting psychological effects of the end of the race season is the first wave of "cabin fever" that sweeps through my head (as well as my team). Between our peak periods, race weeks and recovery needs... many of us are starved for endorphins!

This neurological craving tends to show itself in a number of ways. Most common is that we start looking back on the season and wish we could have been "tougher" in our races.

I receive a lot of questions about how to deal with pain; and how to push harder.
In life we most often get what we expect - more than focusing on how much a task is going to hurt, or how difficult it may be. I prefer to figure out what's required to perform. Ultimately, our goal is performance, not pain tolerance.

This week I will share some ideas about true performance -- concepts and techniques that have enabled me to succeed in a range of fields. I will use athletics in my examples but sport is a metaphor for life. The tendencies that we show under athletic stress are the exact same ones that occur in our family and work environments.

Destructing your Annual Training Plan - Part II

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”
- Bruce Lee

In my last post I outlined a light framework for creating a response-focused Annual Training Plan. The focus of the plan being simply to simplify - to cut planning down to its essentials to maximize the potential for individual responsiveness. For review, the points that I considered key prior to ‘getting out the door’ were:

1. Determine competition dates and phases
2. Determine number of peaks
3. Take a conservative guess at your starting load
4. Come up with a balanced weekly schedule of mixed methods at an appropriate load.
5. Get out the door and train! Repeat! Repeat!

In this follow-up article I will take a look at some of those factors that I look at to ‘get to know’ an athlete individually and to determine the response to (& future direction of) the program.

Once I start an athlete on a new ATP, the first question I am looking to answer in the early weeks is how long is it going to take this guy to get tired? This brings us to Step 6….

Step 6: Train until you get (a little) tired.

You’ll remember that in the last post we took a guess as to appropriate starting load for the coming season. How do we know if this was ‘right’?

Simply, the right training load will make you a little tired within 2-3 weeks (generally for a novice athlete, 2 weeks, for an advanced, 3 weeks), leading to a slight reduction in performance (5-10%)

If the load that we estimated was too light, the following will happen (click to expand):

Destructing your Annual Training Plan - Part I

“The best laid plans of mice and men go often askew”
- Robert Burns

It’s that time of year again. The end of the old season and the beginning of the new means that coaches and self coached athletes throughout the country are buying their notebooks, double clicking their excel spreadsheets and picking up the training manual du jour for the 2010 season.

Of course the training manual du jour of the 2010 season will likely be the same one used in the past recollectable seasons, Joe Friel’s Triathlete’s Training Bible. Joe is a magnanimous guy and as such is offering additional information in a new blog series on ‘constructing your annual training plan’ for 2010, the part inspiration for the somewhat pithy title of this piece.

No disrespect to Joe or his training philosophies at all are implied by this article. 95% of everything I know and do as a coach is related to concepts either espoused or invented (!) by Joe. However, you may find some interest in the 5% of things that I do a little differently to many of the coaches out there.


The other polar opposite inspiration for this post comes from a comment made by my good buddy Chuckie V in the comment section of one of his recent stellar blog pieces, where he says (in response to a question about Chrissie Wellington):

"Chrissie is a product of Brett (Sutton) and I work pretty closely with him. He doesn't "believe in" periodization or have much to do with planning. He simply finds the right template for the athlete and puts them to work. Over time, I've migrated to this line of thinking more and more.

Winners, Personal Finances and Inflation

Before my recent "change of circumstance", I spent quite a bit of time searching for the perfect combination of weather, 50-meter swimming pools and cycling routes. It was a fun game and I sure covered some ground!

One of the effects of looking for the perfect 'next year' is a distraction from enjoying 'this year'. As an athlete, I would focus on today's training and would spend a lot of time thinking about 'what's next'. This is a trap because constant forward thinking takes away from today's experience. While I still think about the future (more than most), the questions I ask myself have changed:

  • What's important now?
  • What do I want to do today?
  • Where am I spending my time?

When those questions are in harmony, I find my productivity, happiness and personal satisfaction are high.

I was down in Austin this past weekend and, before I arrived, I had written an outline of this piece. Spending a weekend at a HUGE triathlon race (Longhorn 70.3) helped drive home the observations that follow.

My peer group is, for the most part, triathletes and cyclists. While it might not always feel like it, we are a sub-group of the winners in Western Society.

This isn't a value statement. I don't mean that we are better than anyone. Rather I mean that society functions for the benefit of the sorts of people that are able to do LiveStrong rides and Longhorn Triathlons. Long ago, my fraternity brothers noted, "we are the people society is not out to get".

Racking my bike in T1 on Saturday I was intimidated (yes, I was scared) by all the $10,000 machines racked in my row. I saw those bikes as an expression of my own values - if I was going to spend ten grand of my own money then performance would have to REALLY matter to me. 24 hours later, I had a clearer view of what those bikes may have actually been saying.

The Fatigue Curve

A big part of understanding the training process comes down to understanding all there is to know about being tired. After all, in order to ‘supercompensate’ to a level of fitness above the ‘norm’ requires the athlete to take on more work and become more fatigued than they would ordinarily submit themselves to.

However, fatigue in and of itself isn’t enough. If the athlete doesn’t allow sufficient time to supercompensate from a given training session, in other words, if the athlete decides to ‘kick himself while he’s down’, all he or she will do is get more tired rather than more fit.

To complicate matters, there are all kinds of ways of getting both tired and fit and to train effectively, the coach or athlete needs to have some rudimentary understanding of them all. For example, no serious athlete can afford to wait for full structural recovery (repair of muscle fibers and functionally disturbed mitochondria) between sessions. To do so would mean that the athlete would be reduced to performing about a session a month. Even the fast responder must concede that it takes more than 6 miles of running a month to achieve anything in endurance sport!! And so the athlete is left to only allow partial recovery between most sessions. This brings us to the concepts of ‘residual tiredness’ & the ‘fatigue curve’(below - click to expand).

We can ostensibly divide the recovery from fatigue into 4 key periods.

Phase 0: High-Energy Recovery:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Fatigue intoxication is showing through in this week's photo.

Robbie travels with a Sport Kilt so that he can INSTANTLY change out of his bike shorts once his ride is done.

I found the man-skirt pretty funny (it was 100F in the Valley of Fire) and wanted a photo to remember the moment...

Nothing like dehydration, afternoon lighting and a full body shave to make a guy look shredded. I know all the tricks...

It's been about a year since I watched the bottom fall out of my personal P&L and I consider myself very lucky to have gone through that experience.

In 2009, I have seen people fall into bankruptcy, lose their houses, their jobs... I'm blessed to be able to handle my challenges. In the end, I didn't need to implement my total-disaster-survival plan. I do have it on file though...

For what its worth, I expect that we will see a major shock in the next two years that's going to knock us back into recession. Goldman has never been representative of the financial sector (they are different, and smarter, than the rest). Dig a little deeper and you'll see a huge overhang of debts in all levels of our society. More on that in a future piece.

We've achieved a lot in the last year. Enough that I decided to take a vacation two weeks ago. Last winter, I made a deal with myself that I wouldn't take a vacation until this website was up and running. After I made that promise, my financial life continued to fall so quickly that a two month delay turned into a year of sustained effort to rebalance my family's financial health.

My vacations are different than most and (like it or not) provide a clear indication of my values as well as what truly motivates me. Similar to my personal workouts... I have two main types... me-vacations and monsy-vacations.

I'm not on vacation unless I can completely pull the plug on email -- taking a break from the world provides me with some benefits:

The Science of Decoupling

Those of you familiar with the training philosophies of Joe Friel (the guy decoupling big time in the shot above :-) will have no doubt come across the concept of ‘decoupling’, i.e. a shift in the power: heart rate relationship as a workout goes on.

An example of this, from one of the athletes I work with, in the form of a rise in heart rate and a drop in power as the session progresses is shown below(click to enlarge).

Clearly, as time went on the gap between the athlete’s power and heart rate widened, to the point that by the end of the session, the difference in power:HR compared to the start is 26%. Or in other words, it is taking this athlete an extra 30 beats/min to generate the same power!!

Detailed info on the calculation of decoupling can be found here, but the general gist is; we take the power/heart rate for the first half of the session and divide it by the power/heart rate for the second half. E.g. if that athlete did 105 watts at 100bpm in the first half (power/HR = 1.05) and 100 watts at 100bpm in the second, i.e. he lost 5 watts (power/HR = 1.00), then his decoupling would be 5watts/100watts = 5%.

When you think about it, this is a pretty perplexing phenomena. We assume physiologically that a given effort requires a given amount of energy, which requires a given amount of oxygen, which in turn requires a given amount of heart beats, at least for a particular individual! So what are the causes and implications of a need for more heart beats at the same workload?

Tour de Robbie 2009

This week's article covers: (a) thoughts on how to run a camps business; (b) my trip report from our Fall Canyons and Deserts Camp; and (c) tips that I picked up from a master of people skills.

A few months back Robbie Ventura (RV) asked me what we were going to do together this year. I suggested hosting a training camp together - RV was going to be in Vegas for Interbike so we built a route that started/finished from there.

Tip - Be willing to travel to your teachers.

Other than having fun (which is important), I like seeing Robbie each year for two reasons:

  • He is world-class in my weakest area (people skills); and
  • There is large option value in staying within his circle.

Being an extreme read/write learner and communicator, I am at a disadvantage when it comes to improving my people skills. To make improvement I need to get out there and interact! The coaching business has helped because I have a lot more telephone interaction than the past.

RV on the other hand is the opposite - I suspect that he spends most of his time dealing with the person that is right in front of him. So if your success depends on his help then you'll need to figure out how to get face-to-face with him. That leaves you with two choices... travel to Chicago or attend a training camp with him.

Questions & Actions

The last two weeks have looked backwards and FAR forwards. This week, I will outline my thoughts for what I want to get done over the next year.

When deciding priorities in my life, I ask myself... Will this change my life if it happens?

I also ask myself the opposite... Will this change my life if it doesn't happen?

There are very, very few things in life where the answer to both questions is "yes". The only Double-Yes I can think about is my marriage and the birth of my daughter.