Monday, November 30, 2015

Where You Will Find Me

My close friends will know that it can take several attempts to communicate a point to me before I actually "hear" what is being said.

No one is closer to me than Monica so I have a rule that whenever I notice that she has said something three times to me... I pay close attention! In 2006, she got through to me with the hour-per-day 'rule' for exercise. Since IMC, she's probably asked me about my race schedule a couple times per month - I remember about four mentions. Suppose I could ask her what the real # of mentions was - she was getting through unconsciously because I wrote about my 2009 schedule earlier in the year.

Anyhow my plans have firmed further! Before I get into that, a series of announcements that should interest.

My good friends Kevin Purcell and Scott Molina are hosting camps geared towards athletes over 50. They have camps scheduled for Arizona and Tuscany -- you'll find more info here. I know that you will get a lot out of the experience of spending time with them. Both guys have have both saved me from some very poor decisions. If you go then let me know what you think... I'm too young to attend!

Our friends at Coffees of Hawaii are selling high end Patagonia shirts at cost -- details are on their blog which you access here. Incidentally , the discount page for EC readers is here and that is Albert Boyce, Owner, laying it down in the photo.

Gordo London Clinic -- June 13th -- sponsored by INfinit Nutrition, I'll be in London to do a clinic and you will find more details here.

Energy Pacing your Ironman

One of the most difficult aspects, when it comes to pacing a triathlon is the fact that it is a multi-modal activity. It is very easy for an elite 10,000m track runner or 1500m swimmer to ascertain how ‘evenly’ he paced his event. He and his coach simply sit down and look at lap splits.

In the world of triathlon racing, however, it is a little more difficult. What’s the running equivalent of a 200W bike? For the pointy end of the field, is the all-too common 5:30 bike/4hr run an optimal way to race an Ironman? What if I’m a strong biker and a crappy runner? Does that give me carte blanche to take advantage of my ‘strengths’ on the bike, or vice versa for that matter, if I’m a 2:30 marathoner, how much will I slow down for my Ironman run split?

The guy pictured above, James Prescott Joule has some answers.

The Protein Bonk

“After competing in the Hawaii Ironman in 1980, I was intent on racing the Ultraman (3.1mi swim, 156mi Bike, 32mi Run). I was one of the first athletes to compete in an Ironman back then and there were no specific guildelines to follow so my training was largely trial and error. To get in shape for this race, I trained 3 times it’s distance every week – 15mi swim, 450mi bike and 150mi running each week. Plus, since I was on the SEAL team, I was required to do SEAL training 5-7 days/wk. I went from a strong 175lbs to a sickly 138lbs…..

One night I went to take a bath but I had trouble standing and walking, so I crawled to the tub and eventually passed out. My wife took me to the emergency room, where all kinds of troubles were revealed. When asked to lift my head for a spinal X-Ray, I couldn’t do it. My vertebrae in my neck and back were compressed causing a restrictive range of motion. The blood tests revealed that my liver and kidneys were on the verge of shutting down. My left rotator cuff was torn and my left quadriceps was torn. There was severe plantar fasciitis in both feet. My body was literally eating itself for energy.”

- Don Mann (Adventure racing legend) from the book ‘The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing”

The Great Escape

This week's letter is going to focus on finance and the economy. As Bernakne says, we don't have the sensation that the economy is falling off the table anymore but I doubt we are close to being out of the woods. I'll explain why after I bring you up to speed on a few items that I wrote about previously.

Green Beret Challenge Update: Captain Weathersby (it's official, he's back in) and I did our APFT for the second time. I scored 276/300, which was much better than my first attempt but FIVE points short of my ranger buddy! I was dominated in the sit-ups and, despite a solid two-mile run, couldn't bridge the gap. Suppose that real Rangers do lead the way. I'm looking for a rematch around Memorial Day. You can follow my progress on my twitter page.

Not sure where my Ranger buddy will end up but if you, or a friend, might end up in Afghanistan then I highly recommend two books, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and The Places In Between. Coming from a Western society, it is impossible for us to understand the baseline standard of living of our adversaries. My definition of suffering is above the Taliban's standard of living. Lawrence's book provides particularly good insights into a tribal society fighting a fluid war.

Serious Recovery for Serious Athletes

"Ignoring regeneration techniques can have an adverse influence on supercompensation. In fact, without adequate regeneration, it will be non-existent"
- Tudor Bompa

It’s been a little while since my last blog post. I’ve been jet-setting across the U.S. from a training camp in Tucson to a vacation trip in San Francisco. Somewhere along the way the calendar ticked over one more click to initiate the start of my 33rd year on this Earth. As my own age advances, one aspect of my training is beginning to become more important – Recovery.

Make Your Fate

Gordon Livingston writes, "only bad things happen quickly". Even with "bad" things, such as a rising uneployment, it takes many months to see the true impact of shocks to the system. The best analogy for large, complex systems is of a gigantic supertanker... it takes a long time to change course but, when it does, expect it to keep moving in that direction for a while.

This week I am going to write about "good" things that have been happening in my life. As I write this, there are a few bright spots in the economy but, unfortunately, I expect the economy to continue to deteriorate. Even when good policy decisions are made, the huge amount of leverage is going to take a long time to work through the system. Having lived through a few economic shocks, I'll share some ideas on the adjustment process in an future article.

An economic depression need not imply disaster on a personal level -- many good things have happened in my life during 2009.


On Monday, Noon Denver Time, Monica is joining me for a free webinar on Nutrition and Fit Pregnancy. contact me for a slot. We have spaces available.

Family Nutrition & Fit Pregnancy with Monica Byrn

Free Webinar

April 20th -- Noon Denver Time

Monica and I will offer a husband and wife perspective on family nutrition and pregnancy.

Contact Me for a slot or to send in your questions in advance.

Free to all and available for download after the fact.

Desert Lessons - Part Two

At our recent camp in Tucson, I didn't assign myself any formal topic. I wanted to see how the camp played out and give myself a chance to address questions/topics that came up as we rolled through our training.

Part One of this article is over in our column at XTri. It covered questions raised by the athletes as well as what I learned from our coaches.

This week's article covers the key things that I learned from a decade of triathlon (most of which was spent with an evangelical focus on performance). These lessons are personal to me. They make sense "now" but I don't claim them to be universal truths.

I'll wrap up with some tips that I do believe to be quite universal in application. If I had kept these in my mind for the entire decade then I might have enjoyed a deeper level of success.

I float them out there because it would be great to see one of my close friends take the lessons of my success a little further than I was able to pull off. You know who you are and you know what I mean -- I'll keep the specifics to myself because I know what it's like to lay it on the line publicly!

Training Big Units

I am back in Tucson this week participating in Spring Training.

It's been a solid opening three days -- I think most of the camp is asleep as I type this out (Wednesday afternoon). Myself, I had plenty of lunchtime Coffees of Hawaii to make sure that I get through to dinner. I'm worried that if I go to sleep then I might nap too long and be awake all night!

In the past, I have written about my athletic advantage, which was "capacity to train". This week's article is about another advantage that some athletes share -- being large.

Triathlon is a weird sport in that it often seems that everyone wants to be "small". If you are a "big" athlete -- in terms of strength, or height, then it is worth considering how this might impact your approach.

From The Outside Looking In

This past weekend, Team MonGo did our quarterly review of the family's finances. In the current environment, it has been tempting to keep track of things on a more frequent basis but... given the economic volatility, that would impair my enjoyment of life!

The trend that I want to create is a closing of the gap between my expenses and income. Right now, we are deficit spending - not quite at the rate of our national governments (!) but I'd like to stop eating into savings as soon as possible.

I'm conscious of the fact that we are fortunate to have savings to back us up. This most recent review provided empathy for folks that are struggling to cover their expenses. Watching your bank account tick down when you have a mortgage, young kids and are unsure about your job... that would be extremely tough.

Five years ago, I was living off a mortgage on my house in New Zealand. It's a weird situation to go into a bank, explain you work for a loss-making start up and would like to borrow money so you can get through the next year. I was able to sort myself out relatively quickly. I suspect it would be a very different conversation today.

Removing all personal guarantees and paying down my personal debts was the single best investment I made in the last five years - quite possibly my career. In the current market, I continue to believe that the best investment you can make is removal of personal debts, and reduction of net income deficits.

Upcoming Webinars

Specific Training for Half Ironman Racing

March 27th -- Noon Denver Time

Alan and I will be sharing specific workouts -- all sports -- to get you ready for your up coming Half Ironman races.

Contact Me for a slot or to send in your questions in advance.

Free to all and available for download after the fact.

Degrees of Freedom

I was watching the Last Lecture on YouTube this morning. In the talk, Randy Pausch talks about inspiration from achieving our own dreams as well as a shift that can occur when we achieve satisfaction by facilitating the dreams of others.

Somehow, I managed to achieve far more than I ever thought possible. In the times where I failed, or didn't achieve my objective, I learned a lot about myself and the nature of failure.

Whether you read his book, or watch his lecture, it is time well spent. Armed with the knowledge that you have lived well, you can cope with tremendous adversity.

Ultimately, we are all going to deal with our share of challenges (no one gets out alive). The only question is when, and in what form.

I am seeking feedback for a Boulder-based camp this summer. The camp will provide CME, USAT Coaching CEU and an opportunity to learn from coaches/experts in the medical and sports performance fields.

We are also going to do some training and I'll be sharing several of my favorite local sessions.

Drop me a line and I'll send you a short questionnaire so we tailor the camp to your needs. We are looking at July/August and I am aiming for a structure that will keep the price down.

Wko+ for simpletons

After my last blog entry, my buddy Jaakko advised me to use my skills in translating the complex math of wko+ into terms that the layman can understand, to write a book on wko+ for Dummies. In fear of copyright infringement, I elected to go with today’s title :-)

There is also a little hidden meaning to today’s title. Truth is, there is no negative intent to my use of the word simpleton (or Mr Gump). Au contraire, I deeply admire simplicity in all senses of the word.

As much as I love to deal with numbers and complex theories, the truth is, I abhor complexity. Whenever looking at a data set or a new theory, my driving motivation is to reconcile it with my current view of the simple truth, i.e. to break down complexity into simplicity.

We are all familiar with the term ‘paralysis through analysis’. The corollary to this would be ‘action through simplicity’. In other words, those who most embody action (and who, consequently, generate results) do so through a simple approach – a focus on spending their time DOING the essentials rather than analyzing the inessentials. So, this brings us to today’s blog.

Change Your World

When one listens to the news these days you can get the impression that there is nothing we can do the stem the decline of our collective position.

I wonder how far back we’re going to get knocked in terms of the size of our economies and asset values – ten, fifteen, twenty years? This week's article is not about fear, it is about living.

While it makes sense to be realistic, and work with a sense of purpose, unrelenting negativity can cloud our thinking and, more importantly, greatly reduce our quality of life.

To balance the negativity in the media, I recommend periods of silence and retreats to nature.

The reason the blog is a little late this week is because I was on a training retreat in Southern Arizona. The break did wonders for my perspective, as well as my motivation to keep moving forward.

A quick announcement, we are considering a number of different options for Summer Camp. All will be based in Colorado.

If you'd like to find out more details about what we are considering then drop me a line. I will send out a letter to everyone that expresses an interest in the coming days. Timeframe is July/August 2009. The event will be open to ALL experience levels as well as short/long course athletes.

Benchmarks and Forecasting

I woke up this morning and looked out the window to find a good accumulation of snow on the ground. I was a little surprised. I didn’t remember my local Fox meteorologist, Crystal Egger (pictured) saying anything about an upcoming snow storm. Usually, she gets it pretty right. In fact, if I think back a couple of decades to my childhood, it sure seems that weather forecasting has improved a whole lot. It seems that back in the day, it was a running joke that the weather that we would wind up with was basically the opposite of what the meteorologist would predict.

Of course, like most things, I am sure technology has played a part in the improved accuracy of weather forecasting. Scientists are now able to sample, minute by minute, a myriad of benchmark #’s, from barometric pressure to humidity to minor fluctuations in temperature and furthermore, they are able to summarize this data to create accurate computer models to predict future weather behavior.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re seeing where I’m gonna go with this..

The Green Beret Challenge

I am often asked about my 2009 race schedule, this week's letter is a detailed answer to that question as well as an insight into my definition of "fun".

For good measure, I will also share some ideas for heavy folks that think that learning to run will be a cure-all. Recently, I have been reminded of lessons that I lived in the mid-90s.

One quick announcement, if you are interested in Epic Camp France this summer then please drop me a line. We need to confirm the camp in the next 14-days so want to get a handle on numbers.

Do work, Son!

I had to include a pic from one of my favorite shows from last year, Rob and Big, when I decided to write a post on that 4 letter word – work. Big Black had a recurrent catch phrase on the show – “Do work, Son!” that I thought was particularly relevant to this post. So there you go. This one’s for Rob and Big.

It can be tempting in this world of relative measures to lose sight of the absolutes. This is just as true in triathlon training as in any other field. Doing your best is great but in the world of competition, being the best is better.

Start Up Lessons

I am back at my desk after a two-day trip in the Rockies. If you click the photo above then it blows up to have a look in more detail.

This was my second hut trip and, as you can see, it was a sunny day. Sun plus warm temperatures meant that I had snow balling under my climbing skins. If you have ever had mud stick to your hiking boots then imagine what it would be like if your boots were 181 cm long and you were hiking above 10,000 feet. I arrived at the hut at 2pm and was asleep (very) shortly thereafter!

This week we are talking business and the lessons I have learned so far with Endurance Corner. If you ask a finance guy to create a business then, generally, he will draw up a list of functions then head out and hire a person to fill each position. A classic mistake of cost base leading revenue -- that approach probably killed more than a few tech start-ups over the years. Well, it didn't kill us but it did cost "Gordo Incorporated" some bucks.

Raise your standards

I was re-reading Tony Robbins “Awaken the Giant Within” book earlier this week. I am a big fan of his. I like the whole concept of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and it strikes me that there is great benefit to being an active programmer vs doing what most of us do and let society type the code for our lives. But I digress….

In the first chapter of the book, Robbins makes the following statement:

“If you don’t set baseline standards for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it easy to slip into behaviours and attitudes and a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve”

This past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this applies to athletics. The concept of setting minimal standards, expectations that you resolve to hold yourself to seems like a very common trait among winners.

Upcoming Webinars

March 16th -- Noon Denver -- Long Course First Timers -- we'll chat about approaching your first long course event. Hopefully, I'll save you from some of the mistakes I've made over the years!

Contact Me for a slot and/or send in your questions in advance.

Free to all and available for download after the fact.

Controlling For Reality

Careful readers will have noticed that I write quite a bit about "reality" these days. I believe that the events of the last eighteen months will cause fundamental changes in the way we live our lives. I have also made substantial changes within my own approach to living.

When Monica starts repeating gordo-isms back to me, I know that I have been hitting a topic particularly hard. Part of the purpose of this blog is to reinforce the life that I want to lead for myself. Also, if my views get too crazy then, I hope, a few of you will let me know!

The gordo-ism of the last six months is "it was nice while it lasted". There are two components of that statement.

The first is the classic view of the self-absorbed guy (me). In the Story of G, I was fortunate that circumstance offered me the ability to be completely self-centered in my pursuit of academics, finance and athletics -- each for about a decade. Seeing Lex snuggled into her mother, the two of them star-fished on what was formerly know as "my bed"... drove home the reality that I'm not running things any more. Further, to impose my will (and retake my self-centered existence) implies breaking my personal ethics. That said, I am holding out pockets of resistance...

Timing Recovery for Optimal Performance

“The hardest thing for an athlete to do is not train. You can’t sit still. You feel like you should be out there working”
- Graeme Obree (former 1hr cycling world record holder-pictured above)

“The bottom line is that the body does not get fitter through exercise. It gets fitter through recovery”
- Peter Keen (coach of Chris Boardman)

“Recovery. That’s the name of the game in cycling. Whoever recovers the fastest wins”
- Lance Armstrong

“I have had many outstanding races after a forced rest. This illustrates the crucial role rest and recovery play in getting the most from training”
- Emil Zatopek (18x World Record Holder)

“There is a time to train and a time to rest. It is the true test of the runner to get them both right.”
- Noel Carrol (Irish Olympian and running coach)

“I take a nap almost every day. I couldn’t do without my nap”
- Scott Molina

Among the core training principles, perhaps the least understood is the principle of recovery. I know that, personally, it has only been relatively recently that I have come to fully understand the importance of getting work:recovery cycles right.

New Realities

Our photo this week is your author sitting on the top of Africa. Before I was ever a competitive athlete, I used to collect mountains. Fortunately, my hobby didn't kill me!

Applying Blink & Deep Survival, Feb 16th

Bobby McGee will be joining me for this webinar next Monday, Feb 16th, Noon, Denver Time.

Two great books that have practical applications to endurance athletics:

Blink by Gladwell -- Page 8 of Recommended Reading
Deep Survival by Gonzales -- Page 5 of
Recommended Reading

While you don't need to read the books to participate in the webinar, the discussion will make more sense if you had a chance to review in advance.

We have slots open for the general public -- Contact Me for an invite.

Webinar is free and will be available for download at a later date.


PS - Podcasts are back // Justin and I met with Kyle Fredin, 70.3 Worlds AG Champ -- LINK HERE

The winning wisdom of Johan Bruyneel

The book, ‘We might as well win’, authored by the mastermind behind Lance’s 8 (and possibly more :-) TdF victories, Mr Johan Bruyneel, made it to my reading list this week. The book is a (necessary) departure from my regular reading list of ex phys journals and texts that can sometimes leave me forgetting the cold hard truth that knowledge is nothing without action and, that the most important knowledge is the one which inspires action. On this front, Bruyneel’s book has so many gems that, as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s, I felt the need to summarize some of them for the sake of posterity.

Wellness, Fitness and Performance

Mark Allen was in town this past week for a book signing with Brant Secunda – you can check out their new website here.

I caught up to Mark for breakfast and, for a change, didn’t have a shopping list of triathlon questions for him. I actually managed to do some listening!

This week’s letter isn’t about our conversation, per se, but it touches on some topics that are contained in his new book as well as things that struck me after we spent time together. The combination of Mark & Brant really works for me -- it is a mix of being lifted, entertained and relaxed. Shamanism is non-linear, as Mark likes to put it, but it works at some level and that's enough for me.

At the book signing, Mark shared his main goal in terms of current 'athletic performance' – live a long and healthy life. Barry Siff made a joke that Mark was going to be coming back to triathlon at Boulder Peak (not true). While I am sure we'd all like to see what Mark would be capable of, I doubt that we will ever see him race again.

Elite athletics (for me) is about setting our lives up to give completely to the task of athletic performance. For nearly a decade, every aspect of my life flowed through a prism of athletic success -- would this action make me faster... or would it build my team, which is necessary for me to go faster. In this sense, performance is simple (but FAR from easy). It would be exceptionally difficult for me to change my pattern of performance in triathlon -- far easier to replace that aspect of my life with a new sport that didn't come with the haunting knowledge of what-it-takes. Of course, my "athletic patterns" run back 25 years through business, academics and 'social' past times.

Planning your Season

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans”
- Peter Drucker

The pic above is of one of the foremost experts in the field of seasonal planning, Professor Tudor Bompa.

I spend a lot of time writing about the ‘whys’ of my particular training philosophy, the scientific rationale behind some of the decisions that I make in my day to day dealings as a coach to a wide range of athletes. I presented a summary of these ‘why’ considerations in regards to planning a season, a month and a week in previous blogs.

I thought it might be timely in this blog to talk a little more about the ‘how’. How I apply the research and training theory into a step-by-step approach to formulating the athlete’s Annual Training Plan.

So let's roll up the sleeves, leave the theory behind and dive into the practicalities of constructing your 2009 training plan....

How to Invest $250 Billion

It is important to remember the difference between spending and investment. We are in our current financial mess because we have confused spending with investment.

An investment is a capital allocation where you expect to earn a positive return and preserve the value of your original investment. For example, the global housing crunch was inevitable once buyers were willing to accept net yields lower than their cost of finance.

Politicians are an essential part of our society. However, politicians are best at getting elected, then re-elected. They are not experts at effective capital allocation and they bear limited penalties for misallocating our capital.

One of the main criticisms of the banking system is that profits were privatized, while losses are (potentially) being nationalized. How is political oversight going to be an improvement? Thain and O'Neal made some poor calls, but at least they had an incentive to make the right ones and were publicly humiliated by their errors.

Going Long 2nd Edition AVAILABLE

The second edition of Going Long is now available. Click photo above for view of flyer.

By purchasing direct from the author, you support this site!

Cost is $20 plus shipping -- I'll cover packaging/handling and bill you the shipping at cost.

  • Domestic USA - $4.95
  • Canada - $10.95
  • International - $12.95

The above are 'book rate' for single copies via US Postal.

Send me an email and I'll send you to the order form.


Starting Out - Fundamental Skills

This week, Endurance Corner signed its first short course athlete to the team (Welcome Lisa!). Lisa is working towards an Olympic distance race at the end of the summer.

Last week's article actually started as a piece on Fundamental Skills for Financial Health. There are many traps that can catch 'experts' on their journey through life -- the two that I fear most are: becoming too busy to learn; and becoming too invested in current knowledge to change my mind.

Our culture has a quiet prejudice against rookies, novices, beginners, newbies... nobody wants to be a novice. That's a shame, for when we can hold onto our Beginner's Mind, we remain open to learning as well as adjusting our outlook as circumstances change.