Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Feed

Just to let you know. We are now publishing daily and you can reset your feed to:

Library Feed

That will pick up all our articles.

g

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Step Change

Quick piece of admin -- starting next Monday, the site will run off the front page, rather than the blog/library pages. If I "go quiet" then you simply need to update your bookmarks.


Two months ago, via Rich Strauss’ twitter feed, I came to Tim Ferriss’ blog. I was skimming the blog and came across this question:

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

I’ve been asking myself that question, frequently, for the last three months. I came up with three items for my life:

  • Cash Flow Positive
  • Increased Email Efficiency
  • More Discretionary Time

Real change rarely happens without a crisis. Given that my life is very stable, I needed to manufacture my own crisis! It’s a useful technique for you to consider.

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What does it take to qualify?: A physiologist's perspective

OK, so back to my normal milieu this week …..

Questions and emails on my ‘what does it take to finish an Ironman’ post seemed to indicate that you all liked the format but, for you, finishing isn’t going to cut it. You want to qualify! :-)

Today’s pic is of one of the top Age Groupers I coach, Shawn Burke, busting out a 9:23 qualifying time in Ironman Florida. Being able to work with Shawn and a number of other top age group athletes ‘up close and personal’ over multiple seasons, I’ve been able to witness first hand ‘what it takes’.

I’ve written a previous post on what it takes from a general work/commitment perspective to reach the very top of your age group. Despite the heat received, I stand by the message:

- Multiple years of physical training, amounting to several thousand hours of work.

Perhaps the message would be a little more moderate than what I outlined for a Kona slot, but the way things are going at the pointy end of the field, Kona qualifier and top AG are rapidly becoming one and the same. In fact, based on last year, most flat course qualifying males under 50 were in the 9:30’s!

But is work enough?

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The Path to Excellence

I shared my Tucson Presentation on Athletic Excellence the other day via my Twitter Feed.

This afternoon, I was talking to Sue and she pointed out that the prez was written in gordo-speak. Good point - here are some notes to go with the prez.

By the way, if you'd like to attend our Boulder Camp (three slots left) and create a DVD of the talks then I'd happily do a trade. Please get in touch with me.


SLIDE ONE

Who Am I?
I'm a former fat-guy that discovered I had a fast ultradistance motor lurking under my skin. What I achieved is outlined elsewhere on this site. The key aspects that I'd like you to know is that it was from scratch; required a lot of work; and I enjoyed doing the work.

I was very strategic in my approach to learning / training and travelled to the best teachers in our sport. I've worked under fellow coach-athletes that have a total of 20 World Championship victories between them. My initial, and primary, motivation was to achieve (not to teach), so I learned from others that did it.

I'm not unique - I have friends (such as Clas Bjorling, Chris McDonald and Justin Daerr) that have come from similar backgrounds. None of us were endurance prodigies as kids.

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Couples Retreat

A tool that Monica and I use to strengthen our marriage is a monthly couples retreat.

We head off, just the two of us, and spend 48 hours together. I (try to) pull the plug on the internet and she gets to choose all our workouts. We get a heck of a lot done and it's a highly effective tool for our marriage.

M flew down to Tucson on Monday - which gave me 24 hours to clear my inbox before pulling the plug on the net for the next 48 hours.

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Five Ideas To Save You Fifty Grand

April 1st will mark the third birthday of Endurance Corner LLC. This week I’m going to outline the decisions that cost us the most money in our start up phase. These themes pop up in many areas of my life so, I hope, you can learn from our experience.

The original concept for starting EC was to help people. I'm not sure if I've ever told you but a personal goal is, over my lifetime, to reach one million people with a message about using personal athletics to change the direction of their life (one article at a time).

In wanting to help people, I need constant reminders that making things "easy" isn't a help! Most of the money that I have wasted so far (I'm sure that more mistakes are to come) is due to a misunderstanding of human nature.

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What Does it Take to Finish an Ironman?

A bit of a departure this week from my regular focus on high performance athletics to discuss the level of fitness required to complete an Ironman race in under 17hours.

Before I whip out the scalpel and start dissecting, a couple of quick observations on the psychology of the Ironman finish…

Having the chance to coach some first time IMers has been an interesting experience. Not so much from the physical side of things, as I point out below, the physical equation for an Ironman finish is quite simple – get the athlete fit, strong, and teach appropriate pacing. But the psychology of an athlete’s first attack on the Ironman distance is a thing of pure beauty.

In my experience, a first time Ironman has a perspective that often fades as the athlete morphs into a ‘mid-packer’. The magnitude of an Ironman finish is not lost on the first timer and the accompanying fear offers real, pure, motivation.

The athlete pictured above, Louie Bonpua exemplified ‘pure motivation’ better than anyone I can think of. For more on Louie, click here…

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Torque Yourself!: 'On-the-bike' Strength Training for Triathletes

In a previous blog, I wrote about the theory of strength-endurance training. Specifically, about how to look at torque numbers to set some goals for on-the-bike strength training.

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Life Golf: Working on my short game

I had a wake-up call last week while engaging in self-congratulatory backslapping!

I was talking to Monica and observing how well I handled a recent (but pre-inbox-zero) day of work, email and errands.

    G - You know, I really handled that day of work well.
    M - You sure, you seemed pretty miserable and stressed.

    G - Hmmmm.

    G - Maybe I should have said that looking back it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time...

If I am internally calm but projecting outward stress then am I calm, or stressed?

I'm not sure of the answer but I know which person I would prefer to hang out with.

This week, I write about three steps I am taking to improve my life "right now".

  1. Declutter
  2. No to non-core
  3. Love something
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You're Wrong

In my clearer moments, I see the hazards of having a job that is focused on providing answers.

Every answer I give can reinforce my thought patterns and biases. In one sense, having a wide range of clients provides me with an opportunity to work through a coherent picture. However, without caution and effort, I can dig deeper and deeper into creating my personal athletic dogma.

I have a few tactics that I use to balance consistency bias. This week I'll share them - you can apply them to sport, specifically, or life, generally.

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Satisfaction

My personal outlook is influenced by two lessons that I have learned.

#1 - I'm responsible for my life, and my feelings, right now.

#2 - If something bothers me then consider if I am willing to change. If I am not willing to change then get over it.

I'm still working through my endurance "hangover" from the 100-odd hours of training I did over in New Zealand. One of the effects of endorphin withdrawal is that I can feel dissatisfied with things. It is a common post-camp, or post-race, experience to feel dissatisfaction with some aspect of our lives.

I didn't do myself any favors as I picked of a few bad habits both at the camp, and after. It all stems from getting "too tired" and "too stressed". I can fall into the trap of tell myself "it's OK" and giving myself "treats" that are the EXACT recipe for screwing myself up further.

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Are you a 'skilled' swimmer?

I can’t think of a squad that I’ve been involved with in which attendance of at least 5x per week was not mandatory. When I think back, it also strikes me how, once committed to the squad routine ‘drop outs’ were few and far between.

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Winning and Healing

The first part of this letter will share some ideas on setting up a high performance mind-set. The techniques can also be used as a coping strategy when dealing with challenging people/situations.

The second part will be an update on how I'm settling back into the real world following my big trip across New Zealand. With a little over a week to regroup, I've had some insights that should be interesting for you.

We're going to start taking deposits for our Moab Camp shortly - (May 3rd to 9th) - if you are interested in signing up then drop me a line.

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Tour of NZ Epic-logue

We were blessed with great weather and tailwinds for our final stage into Bluff at the bottom of the South Island.

A few of us decided to tack-on a very steep climb up Bluff Hill at the end. How steep? We had three Kona-qualifiers walk sections and a fourth flipped his bike over backwards and landed on his head. Thankfully, no injuries. The scariest part for me was riding back down!

We then rolled to Land’s End for photos and backslapping! I was surprisingly emotional down there. Likely from a mixture of: fatigue; exhaustion; endorphins and the removal of stress.

I have a feeling that this trip will mark a closing of a chapter of my life – I wanted to give Molina a big hug but thought that I might start crying so just sat there working on my breathing! Everything that I achieved as a triathlete is due to Scott taking an interest in me.

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Observations From The Road

Phew! Big day out there and most of the camp is still crushing it on the bike. Wish I could say the same about my ride performance... I'm pooped!

We have a very challenging ~190K to finish off the camp tomorrow. When we arrive in Bluff there will be an optional ride up Bluff Hill (very steep) as well as the chance to run ~7K around the bottom of the country. My lower leg issue has not cleared up and it tends to be worst when I come off the bike... could be a hike around the bottom of the country for me!

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Standings To End Day 13

A few changes in the overall today as folks stepped up for the swim/bike/run bonus.

PROVISIONAL

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Enjoy Your Life & True Strength

Those of you on my blog feed will have seen that I quoted Clas' advice yesterday. In Swenglish, "better to enjoy your life".

Yesterday had it all at Epic Camp - sun, rain, hot, cold...

We started the day with a classic Christchurch run around Godley Head - Clas and I took a route that had a few extra hills - if you ever get out there then we took the High Trail that goes over the mtn tops along the crater rim. The faster way (still tough) takes the road from Evan's Pass down to Godley Head/Boulder Bay.

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The importance of strength to endurance

"When the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts" - Rollins

When it comes to athletic training, a central thesis that I have developed over my years as a coach is that all athletes, from ultra-distance Ironman athletes to 100m sprint runners are, well, for lack of a better word, athletic.

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Tired with Four Days to Go

Think that I’m back under -100 TSB. Feeling about as smoked as when I arrived at Turangi on the North Island.

More things that happen with the big training:

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Day Ten Report

Didn't contest the KOM and felt great on the bike today. I think those maximal efforts _really_ take it out of the body. The guys that smashed the climb were pretty smoked by the end of the ride.

Very strong headwinds today that you can see in my bike file at TrainingPeaks. 3794kj, plenty of drafting and it still took 4.5 hrs to go 129KMs - that's a challenging ride.

With the rest day (yesterday) and the completion of the North Island (the day before that), a lot of the guys had themselves jazzed up to take-it-out fast. I'd been feeling a slight illness coming on so made an advance decision no to contest the KOM. Turned out to be a VERY good call as the pace was ON from the edge of town and that would have left a big mark (my CP120 was 246w, incl 0s) for my ride as it was so that might still overload my system. Time will tell!

Did a Greg Bennett main set on the bike -- alternate songs on the iPod -- 1 song threshold, 1 song steady. You can see that from 2.5 to 4.0 hrs in the file.

Morning was a favorite swim of mine from Monica...
500, 5x100
400, 4x100
300, 3x100
200, 2x100
100, 100

Third person rest interval and for the 100s we did odds IM. Felt really good in the water (always do when I swim often) and Lordy let me lead.

Snuck in a nap on arrival and have an easy run scheduled for just before dinner. Some of the lads are out doing mega runs - my jog to the Seal Colony, and back, will be plenty.

HUGE day scheduled for tomorrow - 180K to Christchurch with some tough rollers.

I want to share some thoughts on Weenie Training at some stage. I've had them in my head for a few months. Perhaps tomorrow -- need to get my legs up for a bit.

One last observation -- we saw SNOW today down to about 400meters on the mountains outside Kaikoura -- pretty cold today with weather coming direct from Antarctica. I was bundled up all day!

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Newsom, More Changes & Addictive Progressions

Putting my Day 10 blog in the bag as I sense that tomorrow could be a bigger training day than scheduled. Plenty of folks talking about doing double swims and runs!


I wanted to put on record my thanks to Johno for organizing this trip.

There is a TON that goes on behind the scenes here at Epic and John's been putting the camp before his own training and enjoyment. A true professional. I just read in his blog that he's planning on opening it up a bit more on the bike so that might be interesting over the next few days. He crushed me on the KOM yesterday!

The route that we did down the North Island was excellent! I had no idea that there were roads/routes that great. I've been riding the main highways for years and missing out!

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Provisional Points to End Day Eight

Day 9 is neutralized so there won't be any changes from this.

OVERALL

TOTAL
Steven Lord 100.50
Mark Pietrofesa 96.25
Gordo Byrn 94.00

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Reflections at Day Nine

My main writing goal for today is to write my wife a love letter. So this entry will be a bit shorter.

Petro and I joke that it would sure be nice to right a "real blog" to make a change from spinning the I'm-doing-great-tale that we've been telling you!

Monica will get my "real blog".

Actually, there isn't a whole lot of difference between reality and what you read here. The reason is that the trip is so extreme that we all go through a HUGE range of emotions each day. It is up to each of us to choose what we focus on. In that, attitude (and action) is more habitual than elective.

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My Goals and Day Eight

So, we did it. Rode the entire North Island. Everyone is completely torched and most of us don't even know it. Probably a good thing as there remains a heck of a lot of training to go!

Now that I've been blown out of both jersey competitions (Clas rode GREAT today), I think that it's appropriate to share my goals for the camp:

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North Island Power Files, CSV

Had some battery issues and broke a spoke on Day Three -- however this will give you a flavor of what it has been like for me.

Rider weight 75 kilos
Rider FTP 300w (pre-camp)

Jan 3rd includes initial 30K TT
Jan 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th include KOMs (I think)

=========

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A-Grade At Epic

Here at Epic Camp, after the first day, we let the rider leave early. It gives them a mental break to be off the front for a bit before they are caught (or not!) by the faster riders.

At this camp, I've been riding with the A-Team since the start. Because the way the camp played out, I've had a jersey on most days and, therefore, figured that I might as well ride with my fellow competitors. It's tough mentally, even when you are as mellow as me (right Molina?).

I'm one of the physically weaker "strong" guys so it get dealt a fair amount. Molina claims that he's the official whipping boy for Epic Camp but he skipped the Whakapapa Camp and missed a few runs so I'm taking the title. That said, my suffering is nothing compared to my homeboy, Mark "Petro" Pietrofesa. He's been in the Red Jersey early and has endured a whole hell of a lot of suffering.

As Bill Clinton would say, "I feel your pain".

Anyhow, I'll give you a breakdown with a few anecdotes.

Day One -- we all ride together (25 riders) to start the camp after 25K of running which included a 10K run race. Molina has a few too many beers at lunch and decides to "play". Group explodes, I don't play. Roll into the TT start last, have a decent ride Hinault-style (no bars).

Day Two -- we all start together (25 riders) and Johnny does such a good job pulling that Molina asks me later if he was working for me! Fast descent in the rain has me off the back (because I didn't want to DIE) and I have the bridge-from-hell when Tara decides to TT for a while. Later Tara's legs lock solid - her pull likely not a factor...

Day Three - we start together, I pull for about an hour - Lordy Lordy pulls through quite friendly. I rode pretty well to lunch, Petro explodes, we ride in together DEAD LAST!

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Provisional Points to End Day Six

Lots of movement with this update - file below.

OVERALL

TOTAL
Steven Lord 74.50 YELLOW
Mark Pietrofesa 70.25 RED
Gordo Byrn 68.00
David Craig 67.00
Tara Norton 65.25
Russell Cox 64.75
Richard Blanco 63.75
Peter O'Brien 60.50
John Newsom 56.75
Douglas Scott 54.50
Clas Bjorling 51.50
Dave Langley 50.25
Nick Hutton 49.50
Rob Hill 49.00
Daniel McDonald 47.75
Scott Molina 47.75
Rip Oldmeadow 45.00
Eric Van Moorlehem 42.00
Robert Quantrell 39.25
Roger Wacker 38.75
Jordan Cantwell 37.75
Jo Carrit 34.00
Lee Wingate 27.00
Andrew Charles 25.00

=====

KOM
Gordo Byrn 73.00
Clas Bjorling 71.00
Steven Lord 64.00
Richard Blanco 61.00
Mark Pietrofesa 57.00
David Craig 53.00
Jo Carrit 52.00
John Newsom 46.00
Scott Molina 41.00
Roger Wacker 41.00
Peter O'Brien 33.00
Tara Norton 30.00
Douglas Scott 27.00
Russell Cox 25.00
Dave Langley 22.00
Nick Hutton 19.00
Rob Hill 18.00
Daniel McDonald 17.00
Rip Oldmeadow 17.00
Eric Van Moorlehem 11.00
Jordan Cantwell 9.00
Lee Wingate 9.00
Robert Quantrell 5.00
Andrew Charles 4.00

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Changes and What We Eat

Had some questions about the changes that happen during extreme training as well as what we eat.

If you check out the team blog then you'll see a summary of what a few of the campers eat. There is a lot of variation between campers due to a few factors:

Size - we have campers ranging in height from 5 feet to 6-8. So there is a big difference in the amount of energy required to move our bodies due to mass. As well, there is a HUGE difference based on how well you can sit in the bunch, as well as which bunch you ride with.

Metabolic Fitness - we have super efficient campers (Steve Lord) and big engine campers (Mark Pietrofesa).

The big engine guys need to eat a lot; and they need to keep the sugar going in ALL day long. Rob Q was spotted drinking 2L of cola out of a pitcher at the end of a ride - I haven't had any cola yet (but I have had a lot of sports drink). The big guys need to eat constantly - small meals across the day as well as food before bed. If a big engine guy bonks then he's totally stuffed.

The efficient athletes, like Steve, can survive with limited calories (and drinks) when they want to. This is a big advantage in racing as well as on the long days. They tolerate depletion really well and can keep themselves ticking over with limited calories, if required. For me, the key lies in consistent nutrition that strictly limits sugar to the minimum required for aerobic function. I favor fats heavily for supplemental calories but... when you are riding big miles, point-to-point then that isn't always possible.

++

Changes

Not a lot of physical changes appear at camp but there are a few...

Healing - some folks will stop healing, get mouth ulcers, and have cold sores appear -- all signs of extreme immune stress.

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Epic Camp - Day Five

Epic Camp is hard and Steven Lord is strong!

++

Got a little British Motorpacing in the middle of today's ride and it certainly left a mark! Scott's named Lord Steven the TGV and he lived up to his billing today!

Ride was ~6 hours with 182K of riding - ~4300 kjs and a heck of a lot of climbing.

Managed a good wetsuit and paddles swim but my running assumed zombie-training-pace. Petro and I ran ~8.5K, pulled into the BK Lounge then I walk-jogged back to the motel. A just get it done run. Steve ran 20K to take back Yellow. The guy deserves it as he's holding up really well and has a great attitude. He's fun to have around.

I'm going to have my hands full with getting through the camp! With this is mind, I'm going to take a tactical recovery day (if you can call 200K of riding with a KOM, recovery). My main concern is our 12-hour rule... you have to finish your training for the day 12 hrs after you start.

With the logistics, headwinds and structure of tomorrow... I was worried that I'd have to TT the final two hours of the ride then run a fast 10K to get my swim/bike/run bonus. I might make that but... there is a 200K ride as well as a rumored aquathon in the following 48 hrs and I don't want to smoke myself.

So it's wide open for Steve - he has a good shot to get a gap in the competition.

++

Lex is now speaking (Ball and Bird are her first words) and I miss my wife (HI HONEY!).

OK, gotta sleep. I get to sleep in until 7am tomorrow. Luxury.

At Epic Camp, everything is relative!

g

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Epic Camp - Day Five

Epic Camp is hard and Steven Lord is strong!

++

Got a little British Motorpacing in the middle of today's ride and it certainly left a mark! Scott's named Lord Steven the TGV and he lived up to his billing today!

Ride was ~6 hours with 182K of riding - ~4300 kjs and a heck of a lot of climbing.

Managed a good wetsuit and paddles swim but my running assumed zombie-training-pace. Petro and I ran ~8.5K, pulled into the BK Lounge then I walk-jogged back to the motel. A just get it done run. Steve ran 20K to take back Yellow. The guy deserves it as he's holding up really well and has a great attitude. He's fun to have around.

I'm going to have my hands full with getting through the camp! With this is mind, I'm going to take a tactical recovery day (if you can call 200K of riding with a KOM, recovery). My main concern is our 12-hour rule... you have to finish your training for the day 12 hrs after you start.

With the logistics, headwinds and structure of tomorrow... I was worried that I'd have to TT the final two hours of the ride then run a fast 10K to get my swim/bike/run bonus. I might make that but... there is a 200K ride as well as a rumored aquathon in the following 48 hrs and I don't want to smoke myself.

So it's wide open for Steve - he has a good shot to get a gap in the competition.

++

Lex is now speaking (Ball and Bird are her first words) and I miss my wife (HI HONEY!).

OK, gotta sleep. I get to sleep in until 7am tomorrow. Luxury.

At Epic Camp, everything is relative!

g

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