The Secret

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For a really long time I’ve wanted to try and capture a lot of my thoughts, feelings, and understandings about training down, but have hesitated too.  Mostly because it seems like a daunting task, and I just don’t have the courage to undertake it.  Part of it too is because my opinion can be so dynamic based on what I read, experience, etc that it shifts from day to day and I end up feeling like I am chasing squirrels.  There is also the fear of putting it out there and having the inevitable internet troll tear me down, as opposed to doing the proper thing and helping me correct my misunderstandings.

I started this process once a while ago, but ran out of steam.  I need to undertake this again, partially because I’m in need of a good outlet, partially because I want to help people, partially because I need to better organize these thoughts in my head, partially because those thoughts previously posted are relatively out of date with my current thoughts, and partially because I have not posted to my blog regularly in far too long and I need to change that.  And maybe someone will come along and tell me that I’m wrong, but also help me understand why I’m wrong.

Before I get into writing specifics down, I want to capture a little background what I have learned over the years and who I learned it from.

I can’t really remember a lot of my swim training while I was in high school, but it was typically focused around pure aerobic work with a blanket amount of rest that basically let the whole team do the same workout.

Once I got into college and started training under Al Boelk- things got a lot more specific.  Lots and lots of sprinting, standup sets and my first real introduction to periodization.

As I turned to triathlon, I didn’t know much, somehow I got turned on to Gordo and picked up his book, as well as Joel Friel’s Training Bible.  This lead me to do lots and lots of just plain training.  I swam as I always had and had good luck with that.  Biking and running I pretty much just rode, and ran – using my HRM and keeping it in Zone 2, rarely going above it except for races.  I got faster, and so Gordo became my hero.  The first edition of his book is lovingly worn.

Then in 2007 I started to incorporate a little bit of speedwork via Spinervals and I feel that that made a big improvement in my cycling.

I pretty much continued on that path until late 2008 when I picked up some of the first Endurance Nation training plans and started chipping away at that.  I gave up because it was too hard.

In early 2011 – I tried the EN plan again and did a lot better, and I think it helped propel me into a very successful 2011.

Also during that time (2008 onward) I was strongly influenced by Andrew Coggan, Paulo Sousa, Brian Stover, etc – about lots of Sweat Spot Training, Threshold Work, more is more, HTF, etc.

Since then I have done a lot of reading, about the training methods of Renato Canova, read Phil Skibba’s books, been coached for about 8 months by Mark Van Akkeren, read some materials by Steve Magness, Matt Dixon, Injio Mujika, Jan Olbrecht and a lot of others.

I’ve also had the good fortune to coach several people since 2011 – starting with my buddy Matt who volunteered to be my first guinea pig.  Since then I’ve worked with about 20 different folks.  Helping them to get faster, and learning a lot about people, how they approach life, and how their bodies react to training.  One fellow in particular – I swear – the less he runs, the faster he gets.  For as un-unique as we are all physiologically speaking – there is still a lot of uniqueness that comes into play.

I have spent some pretty considerable periods confused – mostly about my own training – and searching for the secret to getting faster.  Occasionally I manage to discover the secret, which has resulted in some truly magical experiences, only to forget the secret and get frustrated trying to find it again.  Deep down inside I never truly forget the secret, I simply lose sight of it and question if I really do know the secret (usually this comes after a really bad race or workout).  It’s amazing how easily we can question ourselves and forget what the secret is: there is not secret.  Reaching one’s potential in triathlon – or any sport – is about executing a well thought out training plan – that does nothing more than prepare you in a progressive manner for the goal you want to achieve.

Much like the journey from an intern to CEO is nothing more than a series of steps that require one to progressively more and more responsibilities – training is the same way.  Start where you are – and gradually apply more pressure to your body over time in a well thought out and consistent way.  You cannot expect to be a CEO of a fortunate 100 (or 500) company as an intern, shoot it’s unreasonable to do much beyond learning the ropes as an intern or entry level employee.  So it goes in triathlon and athletics in general.

Over the next several posts I’ll be attempting to do a dd if=/dev/brain of=/dev/blog so that I don’t lose sight of the secret again, and so that others may gain from my experiences and thoughts.

I’ll be adding these to a category so that they are easy to find and read, and update the training page as new thoughts replace old thoughts on the blog.  I’m not sure exactly where I will start, but expect it sooner rather than later, my good wife has been instructed to remind me that writing is good for me if I don’t write enough.