I had my last exam for semester 1 2015 yesterday so I have packed away my law notes and am sitting down to write this week's blog. Thank you to everyone who sent me messages of support this week. You may have seen that my Grandma passed away last week. I actually found out about as I was finishing last week's post. Well it has been an interesting week. With the emotions involved with losing a family member, the stress of exams I have been a bit up and down. I love training and to say that this week has been hard would be an understatement. My training has helped. It has also shown me a bit about myself.
When I wrote the race report about the terrible day I had at Western Sydney last year I wrote about how emotional it made me I kept crying. If you know me you will know that I cry very very rarely. My wife up until that day had probably only seen me cry 3 or 4 times before. After this week that number is much higher. But I fell into my training and was surprised to see how I responded to it both physically and emotionally. For example, last Wednesday, after finding out about my Grandma I wanted to do a hard set. Something to take my mind of everything. I did a 2 hour bike trainer set. The main set is 15x2min low cadence efforts (it means I am using a really hard gear so I can barely spin my legs) with 2 min easy spin in between. I alternate between sitting and standing. I love the pain of this set. It is the the sort of set that if you try and talk to me at about the 13th interval I am likely to tell you to f**k off you f***ing ****. Well last week I went even harder than I normally do. I didn't want to think about anything. I was suffering, really really bad and the weirdest thing happened. I started crying. Really really sobbing. I had not been thinking about my grandma at all. I don't even know what I was thinking about. But I was punched in the balls with emotion. I didn't stop the set. But it made me approach each subsequent set a little differently.
So what I have noticed since is how my mood has been impacting my performance. I have had some poor workouts this week as well as some stronger ones. Some sessions I went into them and feel like I just went through the motions. I didn't really get anything from the session. My mind was elsewhere and because I wasn't paying attention I got nothing out of the sessions. I noticed that the stronger workouts were when I trained with one emotion in particular, anger. I have been a bit angry this week. I think it is a combination of everything. All the stress and emotion that I have been feeling. There was a post I read from a fellow Team MaccaX member a few months ago who wrote about racing Angry and I totally understand it now. I don't like being angry and I don't like that it has started creeping into my workouts. For me when I train it is an escape for me. No phone, no friends, no one to talk to. Just me and myself. But what can you do. So when I was training angry I noticed that my heart rate was higher, I ran and rode faster and harder and instead of enduring the pain I craved it. When the pain came I got angrier and went harder.
I went for a ride with a mate on Saturday and I was only hoping to ride fairly easy to recover a bit from the serious sessions I had done on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Well my mate had different ideas and the pace he was setting was just above what I would call a recovery pace. He was dropping me on a few of the hills which didn't really bother me because I was not feeling the session. I was a bit numb. With about 15kms to go something snapped in me and I noticed the anger creeping back in again. As it had happened earlier in the week, when I was suffering a little I got hit with emotion. I upped the ante and went hard for the last bit of the ride. I let the emotion into my set. I had been doing it for a few days. But this time it was a mistake. It was a mistake because I blew the whole point of the session. I was meant to be recovering. I was meant to be recovering because I had smashed myself for most of the week.
By not following my plan for the day, I was unable to back up and approach my sessions on Sunday and Monday properly. I still did the workouts I was planning on doing but I didn't do them well. The point being that when I let emotion rule my training it impacted on the rest of my training week. I think this is something that a lot of people do by mistake. They may not be dealing with anger or emotion but maybe they deal with ego. They go into a session and instead of completing the session as intended they get a little competitive or decide to go harder because they are feeling good. Training is only part of the equation. Rest and recovery also plays a vital role. I talk about being motivated and consistency a lot. But today the message I want to send to people in whatever way you are training or dieting is to be smart. Remain level headed and stay focused. By letting emotion become a factor I missed the opportunity to put in the usual quality of work that I want and I overdid it which led to a bit of fatigue. Being smart with your training or goals will lead to consistency which I believe will lead to success. So whether you need the assistance of a coach or trainer or even just a friend. Don't get caught up in the emotion, don't be like me, don't train angry.
I am planning a big weekend of training. I have been really under the pump this week trying to study for my exams so have only managed to do one session a day. I am looking forward to rectifying that today with some of the sets that I missed. Don't worry, I won't be overdoing it. Other than that I am looking forward to making the most of my uni break to put in a really good and consistent block of work before Bintan 70.3. I can't wait to get over into the heat. Other than that I may head to Melbourne for a few days next week so let me know if you are keen for a run or something.
Thats it for this week. Don't piss me off or I may do something silly. Train smart, stay level headed and remember to TRI!
Motivate a Mate
I have just come off an awesome weekend of training with one of my Team MaccaX members Craig who came down from the Gold Coast. Craig is about to race Challenge Roth in Germany and has had a less than ideal build up. He came down to do some decent volume and I am happy to report that I managed to deliver. I noticed that over the 4 days he was with me I was much more motivated to not only train but to train well. Wether you are training for a race or a fun run or even just trying to lose some weight I realised it is easier to do it with someone else.
Something many people who seem to struggle with is maintaining motivation. The day-to-day motivation to keep training and dieting can be hard, especially when flying solo. I know that when I was going through my weight-loss I would not have been able to maintain my change of diet if my wife didn't eat the same food as well. Even now, I rely on Dez to help me remember what I should eat and how much of it. Having a partner in crime can be an incredibly effective way to ensure you reach your goals.
Triathlon is a sport where you need to train solo sometimes, it is an individual sport, you can't draft on the bike. That doesn't mean though that there aren't advantages to training with someone else. On Friday I went out for a ride with Craig and another friend, Brett Murray. I am a stronger cyclist than both of them so we were able to do some above threshold work where I would ride at a decent pace which I could maintain while they would sit in behind me and ride at a pace they would normally struggle with. While the pace was ok for me, there were some hills or turns where I had to dig deep a little to maintain the pace. Having them behind me forced me to go hard. I got a decent workout from it and so did they.
It isn't just about performance though. I was pretty cooked on Monday morning and not too keen on doing too much. But having Craig here and knowing he had Roth coming up meant that I was motivated to not only train, but to complete three sessions. A swim, bike and a run. By having someone to train with or commit to a goal with you become accountable to that person like I was with Craig. It can also be fun. By training with someone else the time can go faster and you are able to complete your sessions without the mental drain you experience sometimes on a long, lonely session.
The accountability is important. One of my friends, Andy has signed up for his first triathlon in October. I am going to help him get to the finish line. I gave him my word that he will finish the race and I intend to come good on my promise. I am sure that if he signed up and tried to tackle the race himself he would get to the finish line (he is a tough, stubborn guy) but by having me there with him I will be able to make sure he gets there in a better position than if he was solo. I think he would have even more success if another friend of ours agreed to compete too. The motivation can come from friendly competition.
By committing to something with friends, or others we are making ourselves vulnerable. This isn't always easy for some people. No one likes to show weakness. But by placing faith in another, by asking someone for help, by having someone beside you, you will have a better time. If you manage to have more success or enjoy yourself while you are doing it you will probably be more successful in the long run too. So if you are someone who struggles for motivation or enjoys a cheat meal a little too often. Find a partner in crime.
I stand by my belief that success ultimately comes down to the individual, it is their journey and they are the one who has to do the work. However, why not do the work with someone crazy enough to join you?
So find a friend, join a team and remember to TRI!
**I want to dedicate this week's post to my Grandma who passed away this week at the age of 90
Consistency Pays Off
Free at last!
Semester is over for the start of the year with only exams left. Which means I am finally able to breath for a minute and get back to my blog. My apologies about last week but I hope some of you had a listen to the podcast. I have gotten some really great feedback on it so thank you. I have been managing to get in some solid training over the last few weeks and months and have been seeing some really significant improvements. The most significant improvements I have seen in recent times are in the pool. In February last year the thing that finally made me decide to invest in a coach was my 41 minute swim split at Challenge Melbourne. I had trained the house down for the race and really wanted to go out strong. I delivered on the bike and the run wasn't too bad. But the swim was well below what I needed it to be.
After I signed up with my coach, Ben Hammond, he started me out with a number of different sets of 50's, 100's and TT's to gauge where my swim was at. Based on these numbers he started to develop programs for me based on time or as swimmers will know it, a cycle. This is basically the time it takes you to complete the distance and recover before starting on your next interval. When I first started with Ben my my pace for 100m was over 2 minutes. This meant it was taking me over one minute to complete each lap. Looking back to my data from last year I was managing to swim 3kms in about 1 hour 10 minutes and 2kms in about 40 minutes. Now I swim 3kms in less than 45 minutes and 2 kms in under 30 minutes. So I get asked lots of questions about how I swim so fast or how did you get so fast. The answer is simple. Consistency.
I would not have seen the significant improvements in the water that I have unless I trained consistently. This idea is not only applicable to swimming or triathlon or sport for that matter. Consistency is critical to success in just about anything we attempt in life. If you are trying to lose weight through diet change and exercise you need to be consistent. The person who eats well every day, maybe not perfectly will ultimately have more success than the person who starves themselves for a few days then destroys burgers, pizzas and chips on other days. The person who practices the piano everyday for 1 hour will ultimately become a better pianist than the person who trains once a week for 7 hours. There are lots of reasons for this. I assume that when you do something for too long whether exercise or mentally demanding you get fatigued. Physically tired from the effort required or mentally exhausted. If I was trying to practice the piano for 7 hours I imagine I would be going crazy by the end. I mean for me doing more than 2 hours on the bike trainer can be hard enough.
By consistently working at things your body adapts to the demands and things begin to become easier. When they become easier you are able to move onto more complex tasks and this continues until you see significant improvement. At the same time this is something that people need to be aware of too. Just because something doesn't feel easier doesn't mean you aren't improving. When I do a hard 2 hours on the bike trainer I guarantee you it hurts just as much as it did 4 years ago. The difference is that my performance has increased and so has my effort. So by tracking your consistency you are able to overcome the psychological barriers your mind creates when it perceives a lack of improvement. You have the data there to show you that while it doesn't feel easier, you are improving. Many of you who follow me via this blog or online probably know that I am a member of Team MaccaX, a global triathlon team created by Chris McCormack, a 4 time world champion. Throughout June they are running a 'consistency' challenge. They want to encourage members to consistently train for the 30 days of June. The winner will then be drawn from those athletes who have been the most consistent. I find it funny when you see the different ways people are approaching it. some people are uploading lots of sets. I noticed there was someone who has already managed to complete 6 sets in one day? While others are going for the longer sets, trying to have the most volume. For me I am going to continue to do the same sets I do every week. I love how motivated everyone is by it. I am. But I also think some athletes miss the point. The secret to success isn't about having one month where you kill yourself. to be honest you will probably end up sick or injured. The secret is to keep working and subtly increase your volume or effort as your body adapts.
Once you are able to realise that the path to success is a marathon not a sprint, you will see longer improvements or gains which will last for longer. You will lose the weight and guess what, you will keep it off. You will lift heavier because you have built up slowly, you will swim faster because you have mastered your technique and you will be able to maintain it because you have not gotten injured.
So whatever you are aiming for I urge you to really consider how you are doing it. If you are unsure maybe you need to seek out some professional help. But I really hope you start to understand that the journey to success is long and you need to be patient. While my swim has improved I know there is a long way to go. I will keep working towards it.
I mean it this week when I say, stay safe, train smart and remember to TRI!
Busy Week - Sorry
Sorry that there has been a delay with the blog this week. I am super busy with uni work so I just haven't had the time to sit down and write this blog. However, the timing has worked out well that a podcast which I was interviewed for has just been realised. So I thought I would include a link to the podcast for you to listen to. It is good for those of you who are first time readers (and now listeners) and I also answer some more in-depth questions for my regular readers. Either way I hope you have a listen and enjoy!
Find it in ITunes here
Find it in Podbay here
And on the Triathlon Lifestyle site here
So maybe download it and listen while you are going for a run or something. Let me know what you think! Again my apologies about this but I will be back into it soon.
Stay safe, listen to the podcast and remember to TRI!
I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.