In the last blog I covered the times of the year that I see as very common and recurring pitfalls for endurance athletes. In this one, I want to identify what I did as an athlete, and what I help, as a coach, athletes do, when these times occur.
While it may seem simple, it takes patience and perseverance to remain progressive during these times. The easiest thing to do is a trap, more often than not. It is waiting for you to walk down the path of negativity. The battle wages within us daily during these periods in our training. That constant back and forth of "am I progressing" and the ever-present comparison to those around us are pitfalls that are easy to slip into. To avoid those or combat them, here are my tips:
1. Circle of Life - No not the song from "The Lion King". This is the group of people (friends, family, training partners, coaches) that we develop relationships with and entrust with the power to help bump (some of us need to be kicked) us back on the path we told them we want to be on. These are very powerful influencers in our life because we have deemed them loyal and important in our journey. Use them.
2. Goal Setting - This is a very important task to take on either at the beginning of the year or between races. I don't mean the goal setting of "I want to PR" or "to get more fit". I am talking about very specific goals that include outcome goals, performance goals and process goals. These are the ways you set yourself up for success and they come in very handy during the tougher times.
3. Accepting Goals - Setting goals is one thing that is important, but the most important piece with goals is to recognize them. Place them in 3 places you will see them. Car speedometer area, locker at the gym, bathroom mirror, pantry door, outside of your dresser drawer, etc. This will ensure when you hit a rough patch, they will be in your face. The trick is, your goals must be high enough that it will take work and consistency to achieve them.
4. Believe and Trust - Seems simple, right? When times are tough these are 2 of the hardest things you will encounter. These will seem nearly impossible, (refer to #1 for people that can get you to the place where these are achievable) but something that you must seek out. Try to tap into the times you had solid workouts, felt strong, and believed. Remember those feelings as if they are real and in the current moment.
5. Patience - This one is by far the hardest to attain on a consistent basis. In a time where everything is available at your fingertips, it is becoming increasingly harder to put in the work consistently and then sit back waiting for the results. Think about the farmer just planting his corn. If he doesn't see it full grown in the first 4 weeks, does he set the field on fire? No, he waits, waters it, and is patient. Grant yourself the gift of patience and watch what happens!
In conclusion you can see that there is no magic bullet for breaking through the tougher times. It is a sequence of events that are set in motion when things are going right. Seeds planted when you are in that good confident place. Seeds like our circle, goals and the trust you have in them.
Sow the right kinds of seeds and the droughts won't seem so long and your goals will remain achievable!
- Coach Jeremy
In the world of endurance sports there are always opportunities for growth and development. As a coach does work with hundreds of athletes over the years my job is to spot trends and patterns. The trends and patterns that seems to be recurring every single year like clockwork are, to me, two of the biggest opportunities to fall into a trap.
In a not so distant past there were several times during the year that I, as an athlete, would struggle. When I would enter these moments I would not have the perspective to understand why these times occurred and what I can do to prevent them. Fast forward to my coaching career and I fully recognize, understand and appreciate the power of these two times a year.
The first opportunity we cross is the late winter/early spring season. The majority of athletes are far enough removed from their last race or accomplishment and yet not close enough to the next race or goal and they get stuck in no man's land. This is a great time for the mind to wander and question if you're putting the pieces together to get to your next goal. This is the time of year where the fruits of our labor aren't always seen because we have no measuring stick that we deem of value. Typically that measuring stick is a race or some type of competition and so we neglect to see or appreciate the gains that we have made to this point.
The next one is what I like to call the Midsummer lull. This, like the winter/early spring, is one that we get caught in between our last event and our next event. The dog days of summer on us and every single mile that we log seems to be in the sweltering heat with no relief in sight. We become tired of hydrating and sweating, creating the piles of laundry that need our attention.
The other thing that seems to compound the problem of these two times a year are the holidays and summer/vacation travel. Often times we get caught up in what we are not doing or not able to do and we do not appreciate the progress we are able to make. In my opinion this is one of the key times that it is very vital for the coach and athlete relationship to be strong. The coach has access to several different data analyzing platforms and pieces of information that can help dissect even the smallest of gains.
In part two I will discuss with you my strategy as an athlete and a coach for overcoming these obstacles and turning them into opportunities that we can win in.
Would you please stop? I mean seriously, just stop.
File that statement under things you can say to a child and to an endurance athlete. We are living in a very special age, the age of incredibly technological growth! From the recent SpaceX launch to the fact we have computers on our wrists and in our hans more than 80% of our daily lives. This luxury comes with a price however.
Let's pretend to ignore the fact that we struggle to sit in a car at a stoplight or in a waiting room without our tech right in our face. Let's only look at the impact of tech from the endurance athlete perspective.
- Insight to analytics like never before. Vertical Oscillation, VO2 Max predictors, recovery time, training stress score, cycling pedal stroke analysis, just to name a few
- Integration and auto uploading of our data to many platforms, simultaneously. more data, more accuracy right?
- Immediate feedback on our metrics like pace, recovery time on intervals and power output readings
- Di2 and auto shifting features
- Immediate ability to judge an effort (this could go under pros as well)
- Loss of the art of feeling and listening to our body
- Distraction when it isn't pairing/dropouts
- Di2 and auto shifting - The batteries need maintaining and it becomes one more thing that can create a distraction
I have highlighted just a few of the good and bad. I believe that everything is good, in moderation, to include technology. I have seen way too many athletes become irritated or frustrated in the past year when the tech doesn't track, is slow to find gps or just stops in the middle of the set. They seem to become lost and most of the time, unable to continue because, "if it's not on Strava, did it happen" syndrome.
Speaking of Strava. This is another incredible platform that can be dangerous. If it is used to monitor your progress versus others, this is good and bad. Like everything else, moderation is key.
In the end, the data helps a coach to tailor your plan but I can guarantee you that any good coach can progressively build you to and through your next key event without any of this feedback. You need to ask yourself, is all of this connectivity helping or hurting my training. Be honest with yourself and make adjustments to make sure you are not only getting better, but having fun!
- Coach Jeremy
In the world of instant access, quick turnarounds and a dwindling lack of patience, we still chase dreams. Endurance sports teach you that hard work, patience and determination still rule the day.
Many of you are aware that we have 2 professional triathletes in our ranks. Jeremy Stagg and Johnathan LeJeune are entering their first years a professionals for the 2018 year. Why might this matter to you? Well I have noticed a few things in their training that I would like to share.
*disclaimer - This is not to imply that you or someone else is doing something wrong, just simply to state facts obtained through coaching them
Top things that create their success and continued development:
1. Patience - This is a big one. There are days they get stuck working late, family requires their extra attention or they travel. Did you know that Johnathan travels 3-5 days per week, by car, for his job? So many things can come up and go wrong, yet he gets the work in. They do not force things, they look for the opportunities and take advantage of them
2. Dedication - Relentless pursuit of their goals. They are up early, put priority on recovery and do what needs to be done to progress. This includes the "accessory" work like TRX, core, yoga, strengthening, etc. These are not the sets that gets missed like many age groupers. If it is in their path of training, they get it done.
3. Communication - The key to the coach/athlete relationship is communication. Some athletes require only a little while others require a lot. This helps to forge the trust from the coach to the athlete and from the athlete to the coach., Trust is earned and it is only earned through execution and communication.
4. Execution - This is a key to their success. When the set requires them to go hard, they go hard BUT when it requires recovery in the set or an active recovery day, they recover with the same tenacity as they attack the hard pushes. This is big because the general AG athlete struggles with going easy enough. What most this is easy, is more of a high z2/low z3 effort (generally speaking).
5. Listening - They listen to their body. There is a difference in I am tired (sleepy/lazy) and I am tired (training/life fatigue). They have done this sport at a high level and logged the miles long enough to know the difference in tired and "tired". This is where communication comes in.
6. They don't miss - Plain and simple. They do not celebrate "all green" weeks, they expect them so when they complete them they aren't happy, it's what they expect. Not to say that is a bad thing to celebrate, it just isn't something they personally celebrate. They have other things we high five and fist bump on. They do not miss. I want to reiterate that. In a sport where consistency is the true "magic pill", they take that pill every single day. It doesn't matter how, it gets done.
To conclude, this isn't about anyone reading. This isn't to point out what people do wrong. It is to highlight the wins and paths to success that people forge. We all are on our own journeys and every path is a little different. Some have many curves, logs in the road and random attack kangaroos. Do not think that anyone's path is easy, they are just different. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
No matter your genetic disposition, skills and athletic history, we all have a little "pro" in us in terms of the way we approach the days, training and life. Take advantage of life's tailwinds but don't shy away from the headwinds!
- Coach Jeremy
The journey into endurance sports is one that captivates, commands your attention and fuels a fire that burns deep within you. We all enter into the sport from a place of curiosity. Some people enter to push themselves, some people enter for more of a challenge and some people enter to explore. Let's take a look at these 3 types of athletes.
The "Pusher" - These athletes typically enter the sport at a point in their life where they need something to help them discover what is buried deep inside. Often, they have an athletic history where they enjoyed the performance but have lacked that same feeling from the adult life. This can help to jumpstart a person who is in an unhealthy state in their life, mentally looking for a new start or wondering if they still "have it". These are the athletes that tend to remain in the sport for many years and make many great memories along the way
The "Challenger" - This athlete comes in looking for the next thing. The next item in life that will require their time, discipline and dedication. This is generally an athlete who has done something in the adult fitness world and is looking for the next bar to climb. While I love to rant about crossfit, this won't be the place for that. They are one of the many that get into it from this avenue. Runners, cyclists, former collegiate (and HS swimmers), spin class peeps and many other adult fitness types enter here. Generally speaking, this group has the lowest retention rate in the sport. They are generally the ones who will push themselves to oblivion, and sadly, become injured and fall away from the sport. The flip side to this is they will do an Ironman (globally accepted as the pinnacle of the sport) and then move on. This is not a hard and fast rule but one that my experience has shown to be true
The "Explorer" - This is the trickiest of the 3. This athlete is the one who comes in searching. Sometimes it is for their next goal, a new "start" to life, new communities or something much deeper, within them. The "Explorer" is the athlete that continually grows mentally, physically and emotionally. The slippery slope with this athlete can sometimes lie in their ability to utilize all of the data we have out there, to encourage or discourage them. This athlete can be emotional (both good and bad) and possess the ability to get locked into both the good and the bad. In my experience, this is the athlete that can go through a life changing journey while an endurance athlete. Weight loss, relationship issues/solutions, soul searching and many other things that can really change the trajectory of one's life. This athlete also is is the one who tends to ride the highest and lowest waves and will need to really figure out who they are so that they can restore some sense of homeostasis to their training and life.
I have just shared with you my perspective on endurance athletes, or those drawn to the sports. Now you have to figure out which you are and what path suits you best! Good luck and have fun!
- Coach Jeremy
Leadership is something that requires acceptance of ones self, trust in your tribe and execution of a plan of attack from the front.
Coach Brandon knows what it means when it comes to leading people in high stress situations and he has brought the experience he earned from the Marine Corps into the endurance world.
When there is an opportunity to help an athlete or to find the right words for the moment to motivate, he never falls short of the task.
He exhibits the skills, values and passion that are required to help people chase their goals day in and day out. This is one of the many reason he has been promoted to Senior Coach for the Mind Right family.
On a more personal thought process, Coach Brandon and I like to jab each other about our time in the service but I never doubt that in the heat of a battle, he has my back. There is a reason that he has climbed the ladder of the coaching world in short order. He gets it and that is a great gift that he shares with many others!
In the continual search for passionate people who are willing to go above and beyond for their fellow man/woman, some people rise above in every category.
Coach Ray exemplifies the traits that are found in great leaders. Dynamic communication skills, patience and a deep understanding of their craft.
He is always quick to step up and answer the call of the Mind Right tribe. From the incredible video work, to hosting data analysis parties at his own home to help athletes understand the why and how of what they are doing.
These are just a few of the reason Coach Ray is a cornerstone in the Mind Right tribe and one of our newest Senior Coaches!
On a more personal note, a big thank you to Coach Ray for his years of trust and support in me, my vision and the need to ask him the same thing 4 times because I forgot. Love you bro!
Mind Right Endurance coaches are here to address the many question, issues and topics that endurance athletes encounter all the time! Check them out and share them with your friends!