Friday, November 28, 2008

Limiters from the Back of Pack

I often have my own internal conversations about what easy, low hanging fruit I can pick off with regards to my endurance performance. I am writing this list for myself to read in the future. If anyone else can gain perspective off it, great!

  1. Consistency. How many times do you have 2-5 great weeks followed by the flu, work, family, or other commitments? And do those other commitments (never, sometimes, often) build into multi-(day, week, month) lapses in your workouts? Fix: get in a workout. Figure out your minimum levels. For me, a 3 mile run is still a run. Or more recently 20-30 minutes on the rollers is very doable daily.
  2. Repeatable. Yep, this is the corollary to rule #1. But if you're doing stuff that will leave you sleeping in the next day and missing your workout. You blew it. Once is OK. But if you don't write it down and learn from it you will be here again and again.
  3. Weight. I should put this much farther down the list. Not because it's not important, but it's the known factor. Everyone knows the less you have to haul, the faster you will go given the same amount of power. If you spend $5000 for a 1lb lighter bike, great. But look at that 10, 15, or 20 pounds of cushion covering your six pack and ask what it's costing you first.
  4. Genetics. I'm only listing this to mention you can't do anything about it. Cross it off your list and stop using it as an excuse you're not better. Have you fixed everything else?
  5. Diet. Never mind your weight. Do you notice how you feel after drinking tons of soda and burgers/fries vs. fruits/vegetables/lean protein?
  6. Core. How much difference does this make? After two weeks of fit-ball exercises, I perceive a fairly significant difference in my running stability. One might argue there are much faster folks who don't do these exercises, but we haven't sat down and tested their base against your base core strength.
  7. Flexibility. Much like core. One will hear "I don't stretch." Or even read articles on why stretching is bad. Touch your toes (or try).. How do you think your range of motion compares to mid-pack or faster folks?
  8. Leg turnover / cadence. While it's clear one can look at different cyclist and runners and find that there is no one cadence that works. How much time have you spent pushing your envelopes to see what works? (do you even know what you run/ride at?) If you plod around at 60 cycles per second normally, 110 is going to blow you up but quick. If you toss a few accelerations here and there, you can gradually bring up your cadence. After giving yourself a bit of a range, you can then better determine which is more efficient for you.
  9. Form. Here we're getting to level 2 stuff. Doesn't form come from core, flexibility, and practice? If you think you have all the level one stuff and you're still slow, how's your form?
  10. Focus. How many 1, 3, or 6 hour trainer rides have you done watching Lord of the Rings movies or what not? Are you anywhere near riding a bike, or just turning pedals and keeping your heart rate in a particular zone? I'm combating this on rollers where I have to at least focus enough to stay on them. Ditto with running and i-Pods. I dig the the music too. There is a time for it. Spend time focusing on form, pedal stroke, and just plain being in the moment. On race day (especially endurance ones), you will do much better by staying focused. This doesn't happen by trying it for the first time while racing.
  11. Don't spread it too thin. If you've spent years not improving at skiing, swimming, biking, running and underwater chess, knock it back a bit. I pared back to just cycling recently, only to add in running finally. I'm going to stay away from the pool for a while and focus on improving what I'm doing now.
  12. Sleep. It's shocking how much I perceive sleep/diet/training all hinge on each other. Is your case of the "training Mondays" because you stayed up later Friday and Saturday than the rest of the week?
  13. Work harder. Caveat, this can't be in conflict with rule #1 or #11.
  14. Water? Do you drink enough? OK, I'm out on a limb here. Yes, you need water.
The bigger point is, there are a large number of variables for general health. Many seem to effect endurance performance. Which one could really be keeping you down? Is it obvious? Grab the easiest one or five and knock them out. See what happens. My personal experience is it's hard to keep all the balls in the air at once. Then again, when I work on consistency and core, my diet likes to fall in line.

Feedback welcome.

Disclaimer, I'm not a coach and I just peel this stuff off once in a while to see if it sticks.

See you out there!


Team Brazo said...

Good stuff, but I find that my ability to follow multiple plans is somewhat limited. Meaning, I can definitly stick to the workouts and stay consistant (helps working out of the house and less than full time). I find if I try to "stay on track" with too many things, then they all fall apart. My body/mind keep the rest of the list in at least "close" to what I should be doing just by staying current with my workouts.

Have a nice evening...

jwm said...

Indeed, getting it all in and not thinking about it is more ideal.


SugsCandy said...

This was good for me to read. I just started my training for a 1/2 marathon in May, and I'm afraid I'm worried about way to many things at once. Once I make it through the beginning weeks (consistency and commitment) I'm hoping many of the other things mentioned in your post will fall into place. Trying to keep from burning out,getting enough rest and seeing some results are going to be key components to success.

Triteacher said...

"Do you notice how you feel after drinking tons of soda and burgers/fries vs. fruits/vegetables/lean protein?"


UNLESS you've just had a day like I've had and it feels really good to drown one's sorrows in Dove chocolates, Diet Pepsi, and other triathlete's blogs!

Yeah, yeah, I know... pick my 5 and get back on the wagon.

Grumble. Grumble.