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Monthly Archives: March 2011

The path to triathlon victory is beset on all sides by the iniquities of man, but great is he who perseveres through trials of distractions caused by, convenience, selfishness and idleness. Success awaits the athlete who sees his deceptive heart and takes on the protection of his commitments, hopes and dreams. Overcoming weakness and his own deliberate neglect by setting up boundaries which force his hand to finish the course. Discard your home clothes, shave those legs, clothe yourself with spandex and set up feeding stations in the farthest reaches of your training loop.  Cast aside what you feel like doing, determining what you should do, following what you have done, preparing for what you intend to do. And with the courage that says, “I can’t know if I’ll survive this course, I don’t know the struggles that await me”, leave comfort behind to embrace the storms, cold and rain, heat and dust, taking each heartbeat as a gift to enjoy in a fleeting life.

One of the greatest obstacles to your sporting success is comfort. You are bombarded as you walk down the street, at home and in the dentist waiting room with offers to make your life more comfortable. None of these people are marketing the obesity, shortage of breath, failed relationships, and illness that stems from neglecting steadfast commitment to demanding physical exercise. They’ll entice you to expensive gym membership, where you’ll find machinery that claims to give you more for less, they’ll offer yoga as an alternative to working up an honest sweat while obscuring the rewards and benefits that arise from good old fashioned, painful, exhausting but endorphin rich and deeply satisfying hard exercise.

Tearing yourself from time stealers is the toughest stage of any training session. Getting through the door, past the distractions of the phone, the kettle, the post, the email and out on mission is the next. This is why setting the conditions for success is so helpful. Have your clothes ready for the next session, have your bike prepared, get dressed into your kit, even though when you don’t feel like it. Remain watchful for distracters and when they cross your path you’ll be ready to avoid them. However, don’t be fooled for there will be times when things are not in place, your administration has failed you and the reasons not to train are overwhelming.  That’s the time to get out there. Love is an action and a commitment before it’s a feeling.  We have to love ourselves before we can love anybody else, despising yourself will not help, so show yourself some love. So give up comfort in exchange for the rewards of post exercise, deserved, rest, to be enjoyed after each session. Just get out there, and enjoy.  

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So here I am commited to offering coaching idea through March and I’ve stumbled. It’s been three days, I havn’t trained and neither have I gathered my thoughts to record the route to success.

Clearly the route to success includes stumbling. The question is does one sit in the mud feeling sorry for oneself or…? We’ll see tomorrow. In the meantime I want to point you to some useful training websites and invite you, if you have any, to share your favourites:

Fitness Mistakes

Diet Blunders

The Importance of Balance

Does paradise exist? yes. Will you find it here on earth? no. Can you come close? yes. Can you be distant from or close to paradise in the photo yes? Does it entail you having more stuff, less stuff, several hot young wives or one smoking hot wife? Does it entail being super fit or just healthy and content? Does it require hedonism, fidelity, chastity, celibacy, generosity or frugality?

The good news is that it requires none of the above. There is nothing you need do or can do to get close to paradise. The scary news is that for some this will be as close to paradise they’ll come and for others this is as close to hell as you will ever come.  

This is one of the great qualities of long distance triathlon it takes you to dark places where you never want to go. Who wants to be in the depths of physical fatigue where you say, “Oh death where is thy sting?”, I have been, it’s not nice. However, you know that to reach the finish you have to go through the pain because there are no shortcuts. I am wrong, there is one, it is the terribly selfish act of suicide. The ultimate act of vanity that says my needs are greater than anyone else. The act that cuts us off from all hope.

In your journey to paradise or hell you could do worse than pursuing your sporting goals with vigour. Sporting endeavour is great at showing us how deceptive our hearts are. Do you remember the best question to overcome a deceptive heart? Ask, what is the wise thing to do? In the light of past experiences, current circumstances and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?

Perhaps you want to be a better brother or sister, son or daughter. Or maybe learn to be a loving parent able to share wisdom with children. Perhaps you want to lean into the future for the benefit of those who will follow and one day be a grandparent with one wife, who you love deeper than ever, and know that people will come to you because you love to listen. You need no wealth get there, you don’t have to have gold medals, certificates or a brilliant mind; just a good heart overflowing with ‘just’ truth and wisdom.

 

I have met many athletes who are solitary creatures when it comes to training. It tends to be a runner’s proclivity rather than cyclists. However, if you lean too much to singleton rides you’ll miss some valuable opportunities that could make a significant difference to the benefit of your training and your performance on race day. Besides, don’t be so sure about your solitary nature when in fact it may be learned behavior. Most of us have been raised in cultures where we do not have open houses. Just how many of your neighbour’s homes can you comfortably stroll into? The thing is we no longer practice community so have developed a tendency to shy away from it. You have to face it, social skills take practice and you may have to summon up the courage. Joining a running club, cycling club or a swimming group is an essential component of your preparation. Standards really don’t matter. People welcome beginners, or the less talented, it’s great for the confidence for the one who happens to be the slowest in the group to have someone join who is slower still. You will always have  someone to chase and there is no shame in bringing up the rear. Your mixing it, that’s the main thing!

 

It’s alright me firing out all these questions posing as someone looking to help but what about ‘me’, how am I doing? Making progress thank you for asking. I’ve lost half a stone, down to 74 kg, getting out most days and increased the number of pull ups I can do with ease to seven. I’ve had Creatine recommended to me as effective so giving that consideration. They say that over 40 we lose muscle easily and developing it is more difficult so I’ll think I’ll give it a go. Power to weight ratio will be important to go sub ten in July 12.

In military doctrine we have a term called force posture. It’s the disposition and status of your forces that sends messages to potential enemies. From the section patrolling in Helmand that looks alert and professional to the naval carrier fleet poised off the coast of a troubled region, there are clear messages. Our posture effects our performance. Grip a sleepy audience asking them to pay attention and you will see them shift their posture, sit up straight in order to help their bodies comply with your instruction. Your preparation for success in the sporting arena continues from when you wake each day until when you wake the next. Your diligence will have correlation to your perseverance. Proper running form is a body held tall, high hips, head held up with eyes looking above the horizon. The forearm is held at right angles to the upper arm, and above the hips. Your thighs are lifted parallel to the ground, driven forward while the elbow is forced to the rear. You are using all your core muscles to keep the body erect. Think elegance! You are looking for a graceful force posture. This posture form can be practiced seated at your desk in the office, as you brush your teeth, walk the dog or drive the car. The long term benefits of a healthy back should not be forgotten but in the short term it’s the dividends when covering long training distances that will be most obvious. You will be using your skeleton and muscular frame as it was designed. Now this will take adaption the accumulation of new habits over a period. Be gentle, make your alterations gradual to avoid injury. It will hurt as your body adapts to its natural form and you will have to adjust rest periods, intense exercise and recovery session accordingly. You’d be wise to support this approach with sensible dietary habits, plenty of anti-oxidants found in leafy green vegetables, iron and healthy carbs in rolled porridge oats. I take Omega 3,5 and 9, as recommended by physician Rhys Thomas, who says it helps improve your alertness and serves to help joints and muscle recover from strenuous exercise.

So why am I sitting crumpled in my chair with awful posture? Because like you I am work in progress and besides, sometimes it’s good to just let everything flop. So to launch this ‘improved performance through posture’ attitude the next exercise will be to go to bed! Happy Days. An extra hours sleep a night is far more value to you than an extra hour in the gym where all you are doing is increasing your chances of injury. Review your time stealers, give them up, recognize your deceptive heart will be looking to exploit your weakness and get into that bed. Enjoy.

So how’s it going? Can you tell? Let me help. Ever said something that you have regretted? Have you ever claimed not to have really meant it, that you are sorry? Do you feel some people have the wrong perception ofyou? Perhaps you have experienced, ‘a personality clash’ with a boss or felt you have been unfairly represented by a colleague.

You may have claimed that you don’t care what people say about you, you can’t help being who you are.  Alternatively, you welcome people giving you advice, it helps. However, in the quiet times with your heart, you have a sack of reasons why you are how you are, and you hatch schemes to fix peoples’ ill-conceived perceptions of you. Their treatment of you is unfair, especially when you are, in truth, more honest, and transparent, than those two-faced work mates.

Have you heard the expression, “when you kick the bucket what spills out is what its full of”? Fill it with filth, kick it and guess what? Someone cuts you up in traffic, a child carelessly spills milk on clean clothes, drop the shower gel; that tension you feel, that’s what your bucket is full of. And that reputation you have at work? you’ve earned that. The point is when we’ve said embarrassing things that make us look an idiot, that’s because we’re idiots. If you are satisfied being the court jester, the fool, that’s because you are a fool. Get it? By the way that resentment you feel right now, the desire to dismiss my candid appraisal, that’s your conscience telling you that I am speaking truth. That’s the combat indicator that says, my heart needs a download of love!

For our next exercise I want you to practice being honest with yourself and, here’s the tough but critical part, being honest with others. Try telling someone today that you are an arrogant prig and watch their eyes for the sparkle of agreement because it’s unlikely they’ll admit they violently agree; they know you too well. When you don’t feel like training that’s fine, when there’s a distraction that delays your training session, that’s okay. Embrace your weakness, see it for what it is, a deceptive heart. We all have one we are just at different stages of perception, all work in progress.

Take joy in getting your gear on and going out to show that you can be teachable, you can pursue humility and you will overcome that ugly arrogance that has gifted you a deserved reputation. When you go to see your doctor you demand honesty. You want to know if you have only weeks to live, there are things to do. You want to know that you have cancer, you want to decide the treatment. How would you feel if your doctor hesitated ib telling you the truth? Then why expect a coach to be any different?

Love and truth go together like, cold lakes and wetsuits, cyclists and shaved legs or triathlon and lycra; love and truth were made for one another. And I love you, so I speak truth to you. If you are new to this blog and you want to back track to the beginning of the month visit http://www.whatwearebecoming.blogspot.com

Have you ever wondered why people expect a certificate of qualification to coach but don’t expect one to parent? I remember when we needed a license for a dog and people pointed out that you didn’t need one for a child.

The reason of course centres on Love. You can’t establish a set of rules in order to get people to love and you cannot provide the commitment, provision, protection and care that can reasonably be expected from a parent without love. If I said to you I have this extensive rule book which I expect you to follow so that you will love me, do you suppose you will ever reach a stage of sacrificial, generous and overflowing love for me?

 The same goes for a coach. He or she can have all the coaching techniques memorized, have passed tests to show they can construct a comprehensive program and have an impressive portfolio of qualifications but without love he or she is impotent to serve you better. The link will take you to a guide to hiring a coach. It’s useful. It covers the range of areas you can reasonably expect a coach to have. It rightfully warns that a successful racing record isn’t the hallmark of coaching talent. Pointing out the 12 years at school doesn’t qualify us to become teachers. What’s missing from this highly objective assessment is consideration of the coach’s heart. Take a look:http://www.active.com/triathlon/Articles/Things-to-Consider-Before-Hiring-an-Endurance-Coach.htm?cmp=306&memberid=%5Bmemberid%5D&lyrisid=%5Boutmail.messageid%5D

Now I am not so daft as to suggest that conventional coaching techniques don’t deliver results. There are many Olympic performances to testify that they do. I am saying the most effective coach is one who empathizes and starts working on the heart with truth and love not tricks and techniques. I am proposing to you that you need to know that heart of your coach to appreciate his strengths and limitations. There is no qualification that will show this, you simply need to see the fruits ofhis or her life. Those fruits have to be cultivated with diligence, forbearance, and patience.

Your endeavours to improve performance as you pursue success are accumulative. I am not staking a claim here for a coaching plan that will deliver victory, that’s your business. What we all need is our hearts in the right condition to prepare the fertile soil in which you will you sow techniques, methods and ideas. These will grow plans that you will nurture with work that will stretch sinews, overload muscles and cause your heart and lungs to cry out for mercy. However, you will have the heart to face the torture of a high tempo interval session on the track, or an interminable training run or yet another 4hour bike ride in the rain.

The internet has a wealth of helpful guidance. There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. Here’s a great example that you can use right away. So for you next exercise, to compliment fasting from life’s timestealers, give some thought to early morning training sets:

5 Reasons to Work Out in the Morning By Marty Munson For Active.com “I hate mornings,” said Lisa, a friend of mine who’s a bike racer and busy NYC professional, when she found out that I work out first thing in the day. Yet she’s routinely up before the sun to fit in a workout. Confession: I don’t love getting out of bed, either. See, we’re not morning people. We’re morning exercisers. It’s a misconception that you have to be one in order to be the other. The bonus of the morning plan:

Our workouts rarely get bumped.  Also, people who work out in the mornings are more likely to make exercise a habit. Not convinced? Here are five more reasons to work out in the a.m.

One Shower Work out before you get all fancy for the day and you don’t have to go through the whole shower/dry hair/moisturize routine on your lunch hour or later. It saves time, water and energy.

The Best Parties Aren’t Breakfast Parties. You’re less likely to scrap your workout for the can’t-miss-get-together with friends if you work out at daybreak. Run, walk, lift weights or whatever you do before the boss gets up and his or her “urgent”deadlines won’t pulverize your workout plans either.

Accomplishment is a Beautiful Thing.  As everyone else stumbles to the bus stop or the office, you’re flying. Not only did your workout get your energy up in a way coffee just can’t, but you are d-o-n-e! It’s a great feeling to have one “to-do” completely nixed when most people are still figuring out what’s on their lists. Less Hassle, more joy.

Mornings have less traffic, as well as less heat and humidity in the summer. Enjoy the fresh morning sounds and smells. There Is Nothing Like Morning Sunshine.  One winter morning, my running buddy broke our usual routine and led us over the Queensboro Bridge, right into the sunrise, just as the days were getting longer.

What a way to start the day! Marty Munson is a USAT Level 1 triathlon coach. Her writing has appeared in Health, Prevention, Marie Claire, Shape.com and RealAge.com. Find more triathlon tips and strategies from her and other experts in the field at trieverything.wordpress.com