Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Win in Winter

by Gordo Byrn

Our February theme is “winter’s still here.” I’m going to share some ideas on what you can get done to set yourself up for a solid 2011.

As you’d expect from a large team of athletes, the EC crew had a wide range of performances in January. I’m in the fortunate position of watching how successful people deal with the ups and downs of life.


How are you doing?
Take stock of the big picture. What have you managed to get done in the last eight weeks? Have you been sick? Have you been injured? Are you satisfied with your life?

Those questions are a reality check on what’s reasonable to expect for the next eight weeks. I see a lot of cabin fever this time of year -- both with athletes doing really well, and athletes that have experienced setbacks. On our team, most everyone gets the urge to step on the gas in February (as well as all other months, for that matter).

Before considering if more is appropriate, figure out what you’ve actually done!

What limits your performance?
My last three articles have explained my view on the physiological limiters to performance. On our team, which is heavily weighted towards high performers, most athletes are not limited by their physiology.

What limits you?

You’ll need to answer that for yourself but I can tell you what limits me... the ability to put together (then absorb) two blocks of training ending two weeks before Ironman Arizona race day. My target range for those blocks is October 1 to November 6. What can I achieve in February that moves me closer to readiness for October 1?

I’m focused on three things: work, my feet and my calves. There are other factors required for success (strength, stamina, quickness, durability) but my 2011 Key Three are the items that have the greatest probability of limiting my ability to work.

90% of the readers of this blog are in the same boat and it’s going to be tempting NOT to deal with the potential limiters, which require change. If we don’t adapt then we are more likely to repeat past performances and plateau.

Thoughts For You
By definition, right now you are ahead, on target or behind.

Remember to base your self-assessment on reality, rather than how you feel. My emotional assessments are rarely accurate. I’m usually feeling like I’m behind, unless I’m exhausted.

I like to look at myself relative to: last winter; the winter before last; and my next goal race. I usually doing okay relative to at least one of these metrics.

If you are behind then reduce your weekly targets. You will get more done by lowering your targets. Working athletes fall behind because they are not coping. What you need most is to re-establish the ability to meet your commitments to yourself. This is far more important than cranking up load.

If you are on-target then stay-the-course. Things are going well and change isn’t required. Most working triathletes (and coaches) have the tendency to increase stress until something breaks. Far more challenging is to consolidate a great start to the year and persist in the face of success!

If you are ahead then address a long-term weakness. For me, this is work/calves/feet. For you it might be a sport-specific camp, improved body composition or getting re-acquainted with your family. Use your lead to deepen the level of success in your larger life.


Winter is going to constrain what we can do physically. Rather than resisting, accept that reality and position yourself for success when it’s easy to do great training.

Life is a long-term game.


Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.

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