Sunday, April 19, 2009

Training plans and Life

It occurred to me last night that the things I love the most about Triathlon are the same things that can get me into trouble: I love the training, I love the adventure, I most of all love the friends I have made through the sport. There is such a sense of bonding because you go through something that is very different from the everyday life of home, and work. You meet people who are dealing with the same stresses, and so you find yourself drawn to these people.

I love that.

You can go to a race alone and yet know that when you get to a race, every single person there sees you as one of them despite the fact you are competing against one another. Maybe thats why the time I forgot all my water bottles at home for a race, I had all of these other folks I did not know offer me their spares and extra nutrition they had, so much so I had to turn away stuff. Triathletes are just plain awesome.

But Like all things good, it is possible to have too much of it. Life should be balanced and that includes triathlon. Which leads me to this post, I am following a plan that was created for me last year by fabulous coach and Pro triathlete John Hirsch. It was originally developed for IM Wisconsin. However when I broke my collarbone last year all of this was put aside. So naturally when I was able to sign up for IM Lake Placid of this year, I just dusted it off and started all over.

Last year I wanted a plan that would lead me to kick some serious booty, in the race. Its aggressive. It will no doubt lead me to crush the competition. The problem is that my life situation from last year has changed. Those things that gave me time last year to do this, have changed.

So now that I am reaching the real Meat of the training plan which has me doing back to back Huge rides on Saturday and Sunday, I am starting to feel the cracks widen in my life. My current situation cannot support me being away from my family for 6-8 hrs a day on both Saturday and Sunday.

This plan was specifically designed to turn my weakness, cycling, into my strength. So that I could annihilate all my competition. Yesterday when I was out on my ride I saw all of these people out raking and doing plantings and such. I got home and looked at my front lawn and realized that there is still tons of fall leaves all over the place. Spring is not springing in my house because I am spending two days each weekend doing long hard rides. When I get home its already late, and I am too exhausted to do anything. Retno cant do all of these things by herself, nor should she have to.

This plan no longer works for me

The perfectly good plan from a year ago is no longer perfectly good. Why? Because our lives change, our needs and goals change and maintaining a balance is critical to success in keeping a triathlon lifestyle. I had last week a plan to go on a 4 hour ride on Saturday and a 6 hour ride on Sunday ( today). I had made plans with a really fun group to take on a very hilly 100 miler. But yesterday I realized I have let my plan and triathlon life take an overwhelming priority in my life.

Truth is that annihilating the competition is just not THAT important (GASP!), I would be satisfied with just crushing them a little. So I am just changing the focus of my plan I will still have one long ride on the weekends, but I will make the other day a long run instead. That takes up 2 hours instead of 8. It also does not wipe me out. I can actually have energy to pay attention to other parts of my life.

I used to ask myself, why would would anyone in this day and age, pay me to coach them when they have access to all of these resources online? Why hire a coach?

Answer: You hire a coach when you truly want to achieve something in triathlon but realize that there will be challenges along the way. A coach will help you navigate those challenges by adapting your training to address those challenges. Case in above :)

If you find that you are missing 30% of the training sessions scheduled on your plan, on a regular basis, I have news for you. That plan is not working for you. Nor are you getting the benefit of a plan that fits your life. When I say missing I do not mean that you can move things around from one day to the next, we all do that. What I mean is that you are just outright skipping workouts because you have no time to do them, and you find you are doing this on a regular basis.

This is why you get a coach. To help you evaluate if a training plan works for your current life situation, and help customize that for your goals. If you already have a coach, and you find yourself regularly missing 3-4 workouts a week, Call him/her or email and tell them you need to change your plan. You truly are not getting the benefit of that plan in my opinion.

If you have a coach that says no-can-do because there is a limit to changes made or a limit on communication, then drop that coach because you are paying too much money. A Tri coach should be your partner in getting you to that race feeling confident and prepared. You should feel like you are part of a team simply because you have a coach that is watching what you do and giving you feedback. That coach should be vested in your success. That includes dealing with life. If you are counting the time you have contacted them because there is a limit per month, drop that coach. Life happens and no training plan is perfect year round.

When I push out a plan to my athletes its generally no more than a month of training at a time. Most of the time its even less. Why? because in one month things can change. I develop a long term strategy, but the daily stuff is done a month at a time. I try to make sure the plans fit my athletes lives, and that if they have an injury we modify the training ASAP, and not wait until it becomes a bigger problem. I am ALWAYS in contact either through monitoring their workouts or email or simple interaction in Twitter. No communication limits. Thats my approach.

There are so many good coaches out there that do the same. Do not ever settle for paying someone a monthly or annual fee for a standard plan that cannot be changed. If you want that you can get a great plan by buying one of the thousands of good books with training plans.

So.. do you need a coach to achieve your goals? Nope. You can do it yourself. It just depends on who you are and how you approach things? If you are a DIY type then just take my advise and re-look at your plan if you are in fact missing that many workouts.

Cheers, I now have to go do some raking lol


ramster said...

great post, coach! we all need to be constantly checkign and retesting all our priorities, and be flexible enough to make adjustments as needed, either to the plan, the goal(s), or both.

Jamie said...

Awesome post. I'm definitely going to have to make some life adjustments once I start the new gig this week, so this post is a good reminder that I'll have to look at my priorities all over again.

The Tri Runner said...

Thanks for sharing. The hardest part of the triathlon is not the race but balancing the training with family time.

Chadwick said...

Great post - thanks for the insight & reminding me what, with triathlon, seems to be easy to lose track of.

Just did my first one yesterday - excited about doing another - but also have to balance wife & 2 daughters. Ultimately they are my priority & I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Kel said...

Just simply put...fantastic post. Balance keeps sanity. As many of my friends say, "We are not pros." Keep the balance, keep the smile and enjoy life. You can do all that and achieve your goals in your sport all at the same time, cool :)