Saturday, July 6, 2013

Disaster Racing; Mentalities of the wrong training

This is not really a conventional ‘what I’ve been up to’ post, it is more about just what a disaster race did to me mentally. It has only been in the last few months that I’ve been able to see the light and start to rebuild that damage. I have basically had to wipe the slate clean and rebuild. The post also somewhat follows up on a blog post my coach has posted on his training beliefs/methods. If you have not seen it you can check it out here, trust me it’s worth the read.

I’ll take you back to 6 weeks before Powerman Zofingen (PMZ) last year. I was on a high, I’d just run my first ever 1/2 marathon and managed to pull of a 1:24:29 on the back of 8 months running. This race was a big factor in me not going to race PMZ in the form I would have liked to. My run training was generally light on volume, around 40km a week absolute MAX!!, with ‘easy’ runs done off HR, then tempo and higher end stuff done off a mix of both HR and pace. Now this is where the issues with my training start to really show. Coming from a high level single discipline sport, cycling, I was already very aerobically fit. But through the years of training, my muscles become very efficient at doing one thing. What this pretty much meant is that I could run faster than my body could handle, or to put it in car terms: the engine was to powerful for the chassis. Neglecting this caused one big issue, that 1/2 marathon took me 2 weeks to recover from, and took so much out of me that my running never got back to that level before PMZ.    

One big factor to falling into this training trap was the training methodology in cycling at the higher levels, and just how much it differs to triathlon. Well over 50% of cyclist these days use power meters for training, for good reasons. They make your road bike a rolling lab and you can train exactly at the levels that you need to be. For example, it takes X watts to ride in the peloton, or it takes Y watts/kg to make it over the climb in contact with the contenders. If you can’t produce those numbers then you may as well not turn up to race, it’s that simple. Now in Triathlon/Duathlon, it doesn't really matter as an age grouper if you can stay with the pack or not. You’re still potentially in the race, as long as you play your cards right. It’s dangerous getting caught up in these power numbers. Now with the time I’ve been training with and thinking about them, probably the best way most age groupers can use on is either when doing wind trainer sessions, or where the athlete doesn't see the numbers while riding, and the coach is the only one paying attention to them.

Now skip forward to race day. It was a complete F up on my part. You name a thing an age grouper does wrong on race day and I could most likely put a tick next to it. One of the biggest hits to me mentally, was that these were mistakes that I had enough experience not to make. I can sum up race day pretty simple:
  • ate wrong breakfast
  • went out to hard in the first run
  • tried to take on a gel at an intensity that was untried
  • spew
  • spend the next 4hrs not being able to eat
  • still go out at goal pace on the bike even through I couldn’t eat.
  • bonk
  • walk a large part of the final run mentally shattered
Now below are my files from race day, open for everyone to see my total melt down and just how bad I was on that second run compared to my first.

First run
Second run

Then came another 2 disappointing races at Geelong and Melbourne for one reason or another. I was lucky I saw the light so to speak, about 4-5 weeks out from Melbourne and kinda got my shit together in those last few weeks, mainly through having the opportunity to train with Xavier and his athletes. That’s when I made the choice that he would be the man able to rebuild me, and help me get closer to my potential. Since then, we have been able to start undoing all the wrongs of the past, get rid of the bad habits and replace them with the right ones for me. And when I say me, I mean me. Just because they are the right ones for me doesn’t mean there exactly the right ones for you. Theres still a few little, and one big habit that we are just trying to bash out of me, but the changes are night and day for me.

Until next time


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