Chattanooga is a beautiful city that is tucked between the mountains. It is one of those cities that really makes you appreciate life (if you have never been you should go). It had been a good 9 months since the last time I toed the line against the top competitors in our sports. I had my normal pre-race nerves.
Ok, Ok maybe a little more, I was probably talked off the edge of those mountains twice. See, sometimes I feel like I belong with those guys and sometimes I feel like I am not in the same stadium. My head kept rushing back and forth between the two, and I couldn’t control it, until the pro meeting.
The pro meeting was nothing special it just put all the professionals (man and women) in the same “room”, but after that meeting I came out calmer, more focused and ready to jump. We (the wifey and I) know that I get this way, so instead of sitting around we plan to do some family activity, so in Chatty we spent all day pre-race at the Aquarium.
Race morning went off without a hitch, coffee, breakfast, coffee and Transition set up. Swim Start was .9 miles up the Tn River from transition. So, I decided to walk to mentally get ready for the pain that I was about to put myself through. The swim was 350 meters up stream and then the rest down the river back into transition. I was the most confident I have ever been at this race about the swim. I have put in many yards this year to make this weakness and weapon.
The cannon goes off and we (the male pro’s and I) go from fighting the current to stay in place to a mad dash up stream. I was immediately in a pack of swimmers fighting for some clean water. The good news about swimming upstream is the strong swimmers had all separated from the pack about 100 meters in and by the turn buoy (350 meters) we had well established packs. I was pulling what seemed to be the forth pack (by my estimates) with the third pack literally a body length in front of me. Two guys behind me realized that I was swimming hard to close it but wasn’t closing it fast enough so they surged to pull us on the feet, were I am happy to report, that we stayed the rest of the way down the river.
Coming into T1, I realized that the plan JB and I had written up for the swim, was executed flawlessly because I was in the pack with some of the targets we had set to pull as along on the bike. I mean mugged my way through transition to not lose my targets and boom we were on the bike.
The bike course at Chatty is pretty simple it’s an 11 mile stick out of town a large circle and then a 11 mile stick back into town. There is a really good climb at mile 26 and 44 outside of that it’s a simple course. At roughly mile one I went over some train tracks and one of my bottles popped out. I made the decision to turn around and pick it up. At that moment I lost sight of my targets and never saw them again. Somewhere within the next ten mins I lost that same bottle again. I knew by 5 miles in, that my target bike power wasn’t happening. I was pedaling as hard as I could and the power was just not coming.
Typically, in the situation I give up. Things weren’t going my way, but I shifted my focus onto my run. Knowing I was going to have relatively fresh legs I tried to keep reminding myself that the power number didn’t matter.
Rolling into T2 I was about 8 mins or so off of my targets (according to the wifey). I drilled the first half of the winding course through the north and south shore of Chatty, but by 7 I completely checked out. I wasn’t having fun, the cramps were setting in and I couldn’t settle my heart rate. I finished the race and my head wasn’t in a good place.
Despite not having my legs, we accomplished the majority of what we came out to do. We had a great swim and my targets were right there. My mind stayed positive and alert for a majority of the day. Lastly, we finished our first pro race of the season. All that being said, I still made some bone headed mistakes and I am reminded that even though I have come a long way mentally the mountain top is still way up there.
Overall, I am torn with the performance. There is a lot that went right but also a lot that we can improve. One of these days we will put it all together and when that happens, watch out. Until that day though, we will keep entering the arena.
Stress & Recovery
In my previous post, I wrote about doing the basics at a high level and maybe this post should have been first but it does continue the theme of doing the basics extraordinarily well.
The basic piece I want to focus on today is RECOVERY.
The equation for improving any aspect of our lives is STRESS + REST = Growth.
This is a really simple equation and simple to see that if you remove either of the variables, the product is negated. Also, if one of the variables is weighted too heavily, the product will be compromised.
In terms of athletic performance, the primary stress is training, rest or recovery is time completely off, training at a very low intensity and volume in comparison to your normal load, sleep, and the use of recovery modalities such as massage, ice baths, compression therapy, and contrast plunges. Lastly, growth is your improvement toward your goals.
Here’s the tricky part for most of us though, our stress is not limited to our training and your brain and body do not and cannot differentiate between intervals on the bike and running late for work while stuck in traffic.
Our modern lives run deep with stress on a daily basis, and this over abundance of stress is likely the reason you aren’t getting faster, aren’t loosing those last 5lbs, aren’t building muscle. Besides elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (which causes weight gain or maintenance), the use mental energy to deal with stress reduces our ability to make good choices and perform cognitive functions (put down the Oreos).
So what can you do to help yourself your reach your goals?
Focus on you to truly unlock your potential!
- Coach Mike
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