Do the Work. And Don't Worry...
Sunday, 23 February 2014 06:10
ED. THIS IS PART I OF AN AWESOME TWO-PART ARTICLE!
By Ruth Brennan Morrey
Ten LIght Hearted Lessons I learned in First Pro Year.
During my first year racing as a professional triathlete, lessons were plentiful—a new coach, training with power, racing internationally, were all a part of my growth and increased experience. By no means do I have it all figured out as triathlon, and life, is always a work in progress. Here is a lighthearted glimpse of what I learned last year.
1) Train with power, if you can. Last year was my first year training with power. I didn’t anticipate just how important power based training would be until I started using the tool. You hear this all the time. Of course, power meters are not essential to get to the finish line, but coupled with strategy and common sense “feel”, it ...
will get you to the finish line faster. If you took my power meter away, I would be able to race on feel and heart rate alone, but I’d have no idea if I was pushing too hard, or not pushing enough, for my run to be maximized. My power meter is now like a cool max shirt and I’m never going back to cotton.
2) “That’s not the point.” One of the grand lessons I learned last year was that it is counterproductive to annihilate oneself during cycling and track sessions. I once thought that if I was completely spent after a track workout, I had done my job and will surely reap the benefits right after I have taken my well deserved 4-hour nap. Wrong. Compared to my first two amateur years, I did half the work at the track and was overall much faster and fresher because I did the fewest intervals needed to reap the same benefits. I remember telling my coach that I could tolerate 5-8 more intervals than what was prescribed as I could still do a peppy dance on my run home. “That’s not the point” was the answer. I learned to do what it takes to make the necessary physiological adaptations, and nothing more, which also meant no injuries or burnout.
3) “No training. Period”. Three weeks prior to my first pro race (Mallorca 70.3) in 2013, I got sick. Chest, head, throat, hacking cough…not deadly sick, but sick enough. At this point, I had completed five months of solid training and was excited to test my fitness. Between hacking spells, I tried to the ol’ bargaining strategy, “what about a light jog?” “what about a weight session?”, “just spin the legs?“ what about…”. After my coach (also a physician) brought up literature about cardiac related dangers and prolonged repercussions of training through illness, I gladly stopped bargaining. Five days was five days, not the potential of five months, and I had a great race in Mallorca.
4) Mistakes. Follies. Mishaps. Three sports, two transitions, 4-5 hour event—there is a lot that can go wrong. Be prepared, stay focused, and calm—many curveballs were dealt with in 2013. Although my M.S. degree was in psychology specializing in sports psychology/athletic counseling, I don’t remember academic work prescribing a plan for sporting disasters—only “peak performances”. Apart from emotion regulation, relaxation and prayer, the best mental preparation I now do comes in the form of visualization of failures/mishaps several days prior to a race and how I plan to demonstrate resilience tactically, physically, and emotionally when they happen.
5) Training consistently is not training with consistency. Let’s be honest, ALL triathletes train consistently, but I would guess few train with consistency from week to week with a progression of specific purpose. I used to be one of them. Should I do a fartlek today? Maybe a ladder? Sufferfest? Through my training progression last year, I learned that training consistently will most certainly get you tired, but not necessarily faster. Last year it was really fun to see tangible improvements and successes through methodical training and consistency.
LESSONS 6-10 will post tomorrow...
Photos - Ruth with husband, Mark. Ruth, Mark and their offspring.
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