Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Death Pool 100

100 is a magic number. If you live to 99, no big deal. 100, however, kind of a big deal.

Run 99 miles in a week, you're a lazy bitch. But 100, whoa - baller.

$100 million is the magic number for box office gross to determine how good of a movie you were. 100 points by a single player in basketball game: it's only happened once, and that was a super-pro against basically a high school team. TV shows get psyched for their 100th episode, not 83rd (in fact, Death Pool 100 is the name of CSI: Miami's 100th episode).

And for el Presidente, it's all about the first 100 days in office.

What is our fixation on this number? It's just a number.

It's got a good aura I suppose, and we use it as a milestone for many of our most important achievements.

So when I realized last night that I had just passed 100 days since my "new training cycle" (started Dec 1 and haven't taken a day off since) I figured I should note the passing of the milestone and offer a report.

I've rambled about a lot lately, calling people out and making fun of others. This goes against my own reasons for training, and I've got to stop. I don't let what others do influence what I do. I have always found it interesting that people care so much about other people's training. I saw this a lot more when I used to train with Tri Guy Tommy. This, of course, was before the days of the interweb as a source of information to stalk others and know what they were doing at all times. Paper logs ruled the world, and the only way you knew about others' training was to talk to them directly, or indirectly through mutual friends.

OJ is a fan of stealth training. I am too, because I don't care for everybody to know everything I'm doing - it takes the fun out of competition. As a competitor, you have to assume that your rivals are at least as prepared as you, if not more, for any race. Trying to predict outcomes of events before they happen becomes plain tiresome.

The benefit I can see from following others' training is seeing what works for others and what doesn't. Again, as competitors, we all stand to learn from one another. What works for me won't necessarily work for you, and vice versa. I am a big fan of volume, not a big fan of super hard workouts or recovery. If I could point out my deficiencies, it would be that my workouts occasionally lack focus, and there are others who make more efficient use of their workout time.

You find what works for you and stick to it. For instance, I rarely ride hard. Ever. I put in little hard efforts, or ride in Frederick, which is hard even when it's easy. But I don't do long, sustained efforts, or any drills. Still, in triathlon, I'm one of the faster people on the bike. I rely on long rides and aerobic fitness, and think I also benefit from good cycling physiology (the only sport my body seems to have been "built" for).

My speed certainly isn't fixed, but I also realize that in running, there's only so much faster I can get. I still run close to my short distance PRs, on much less mileage and fewer workouts, but I know that I'll never break 16 in a 5k unless I take a different approach and focus on that for a while. When you're seeing stagnant results in triathlon, a single-sport focus can help bust the slump.

What have I learned in the last 100 days?

Slow and steady wins the race. Last year I raced early and often. In 2007 I think I had 3 or 4 events leading up to Columbia, and they were short. I then did about my usual at Columbia, which was not good. In 2008 I switched it up, raced more (I think Columbia was my 10th race) and did longer races, but also a few very short races. I used them as workouts, and had a great day at Columbia. But then I got complacent. I thought that because of my great race there, easier OLY distance races would be a piece of cake. They weren't. I was placing well, but not performing as well as I would have expected. I didn't feel tired, but I know I was not recovering. I raced way too much, way too frequently and clearly did not recover well. This led to another injury in August, and ultimately in a poor showing at NYC Marathon, which was supposed to have been my big 2008 event.

For 2009, the goals are even more ambitious. Longer races. Harder races. If I do too much now, I'll be done before the summer, and will not see the starting line on November 22nd. So while I've been doing more volume, it's been easier. I've only done one hard non-race effort and plan on keeping it that way for a little bit longer. The aerobic base period is a fine line. You can always race on aerobic fitness, and for some this time can last as little as a few weeks to as much as a few months. At some point, though, without more focused efforts and recovery, you'll just get stale. I'll start some workouts soon.

I've also learned that, for me, giving yourself an out is the beginning of the end. I don't think taking days off is a bad thing. I don't even think walking in a race is a bad thing (well, at least not anymore). But I know that once you've done those things, it is 100 times (100) easier to do it again. And then you think it's okay to drop out of races, and your world comes crumbling down. So until I really need a day off, I'm not taking one.

I've improved quite a bit over the last 100 days. I built up running 25 miles the first week of December to over 50 by the end of that month, and January was a great month for me of running. With the weather getting marginally better, or so we hope, I've also found my riding legs again. In the pool, I've made 4000m my standard of excellence for a workout, but still find myself being a little slow. I'm going to make a few adjustments and work on my speed for a little.

Where will the next 100 days take me?

The next 100 days are BUSY. I've still got a few weeks in March to work out some bigger volume, but I also need to slyly work in some efforts. Boston is less than 6 weeks away, and then tri season starts. Coming off a marathon, I'll have to pay close attention to recovery for the following two weeks. Then the trifecta of Kinetic, Columbia and Eagleman take top billing. Goals for each will be: remember how to race (Kinetic), improve/fine tune (Columbia) and not die (Eagleman).

Seriously though, with slots to Kona on the line at Eagleman (and now at Providence, which I plan on doing), I'll always get after it. It's too important to me not to, and if I didn't believe wholly that I could achieve it, I wouldn't even try. That's been the only goal for me since I learned about the event in 8th grade, and because life is unpredictable, I want to get there before something shifts.

Ultimately you just do what you do, and don't worry about what others say.

Let's have an adventure.

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