Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Creating Your Day Job

The advice, "don't quit your day job" is a common refrain, this week I share ideas about creating the life you want to live.

The photos this week are from our most recent training camp. I'd like to get a few more sign ups for our St George Ironman Weekend in November.

If you know an athlete that might benefit then please have them contact me.

Three days of training, including hotel/breakfast/dinner for $475. That price includes hotel/meals.

A bit of advice on making-it-happen.

Know what you want, specifically.
I have heard many athletes say, I would like to have a job working at training camps.

First... Which camp? With whom? Be specific.

Second... Observe the people that are living the life you (think you) want to lead. What have they done over the last TEN years and are you will to make the changes required in your own life to replicate their long term work. Understand the long term habits of successful people.

The second point is one that Marilyn made at the camp. She was asked what the difference was between success and failure in athletes - I'll paraphrase - Successful people are the ones that are willing to change their approach to achieve their goals.

Greg Bennett made a similar point - When I realized that I was competing against athletes with superior genetics, I realized that I had to be willing to do the work that others find too hard.

These themes return to me in all areas of my life.

Revisting The Game

You will be able to find Part Four of my Understanding Intensity series over on the Training Peaks Blog from Tuesday.

This week saw a big event in the Byrn Household. I lifted my self-imposed travel ban. I had eliminated all travel that had a net negative cash impact on the family.

Banning my own travel didn't change the quality of my life but it did impair my cycling fitness! So... to get ready for Epic Camp New Zealand (sold out), Team MonGo will head down to Australia this winter.

Three camps that I'll be doing to prepare for Epic:

The first two camps are open to experienced athletes at all ability levels. The final camp (in Oz) will be pretty peppy in nature.

Contact me for more info.

WKO+: Speaking the Lingo

- Jeannie from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Understanding Intensity - Part Three

No compression socks in this week's photo! Makes a change, eh?

Part One discussed different ways to look at appropriate training zones -- heart rate, power, metabolic function, lactate profile. Hopefully, it also gave you a practical example about how you should be wary of using another athlete's tolerance to decide your own.

Part Two stripped out all the technical stuff and made the point that, ultimately, you should judge your training by what you can repeat.

This week I will offer some ideas to consider when assessing why, what, when and how... to ramp your training load. Remember that load is a function of frequency, duration and relative intensity.

Understanding Intensity - Part One

This week's article will require you to put on your thinking caps. It looks long but that's because of all the charts.

This series is going to touch on an aspect of my performance philosophy that is best summed up by a recent Kona Qualifier... why train fast if you are racing slow.

The best coaches/athletes in our sport have an inherent understanding of these issues - they might not use fancy charts but their programs/approach take into account what follows.

Part Two will be my article for next week -- it is going to be a LOT more straightforward than what follows. If you are able to wrap your head around Part One, I think, you'll get more from Part Two.

Let's go!

Something that I noticed early in my athletic career was a huge difference in my tolerance for different types of workload.

The biggest example that I can remember with my own training was the effect that high intensity and flat steady-state riding had on my fatigue. I would become absolutely whipped.

Athletes have large variability in their tolerance for both workload and relative intensity. Over the years I have had this explained to me as:

Constitution - some athletes have superior constitutions... they can just handle it.

Experience - athletes have been racing fast, or training strong, since they were young kids... they can just handle it.

Mental Strength - the athletes that can't handle it are mentally weak. They could do it if they would harden up. You need to buckle down, toughen up and just handle it.

Part of the reason why I dislike HTFU is the philosophy points many athletes in COMPLETELY the wrong direction. STFD is more appropriate for the majority of people that I coach (slow ... ... down), perhaps Steady ... ... Up (STFU).

Talking the Torque: Strength-Endurance Training for Cyclists

When it comes down to ‘nuts and bolts’ in order for a cyclist to produce more power he must either increase his cadence (revolutions per minute) or increase the force that he is imparting on the pedals (his torque).

Understanding Athletic Performance

We were very fortunate to have Dave Scott as our special guest to close out our July Boulder Camp this week. Dave made the observation that, more than protocol, what defines a Master Coach is the ability to get an athlete to do work.

Like all great athletes I have met, Dave is passionate about protocol. In fact, the strongest similarity between top athletes lies not in their programs, but in the powerful belief they have in their program.

Across the week of our Boulder camp we had presentations from Marilyn & Chris McDonald; Laura & Greg Bennett; Bobby McGee; Dave Scott and Justin Daerr.

One of the challenges facing a passionate athlete is the fact that every speaker will talk about a different approach -- some speakers will also share multiple approaches that they have used across a 10-30 year athletic career. This can be confusing!

Let's start with the basics:

What work-rate is required for YOU to achieve your goals?
Most athletes, and coaches, are unable to answer this question. That's a shame because this is a fundamental aspect of performance and will greatly impact the appropriate strategy to employ with your training.

For me to go sub-4 in a Half Ironman, 275 watts of average output is likely to be required (at least!). The word "average" is important there because, to optimize my race, I will need to be able to recover below that effort and sustain extended periods above that effort.

One school of thought is to build the capacity to hold that exact level of output.

Looking at my lactate profile, you will see that level of output is a Threshold effort for me.

Click to blow these charts up in a lightbox

Mental Conditioning Webinar

Noon, Wednesday, July 15th, Denver

Email Me for an invite.

Invites will be sent out the day before. Works best on a high speed internet connection on a secure network.


The Ghost of Christmas Future

This past week I was re-visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future. I thought that I had shaken him years ago but he returned during a three-day visit to Aspen, Colorado.

By the way... if you get to Aspen then two things to check out... Independence Pass and Maroon Bells. You can drive, or bike, to both locations are they are really neat! Our photo this week is "Ultra G" after a long run spent chasing Mrs. Byrn uphill at 10,000 feet. I'll tell you more about the socks in a future article.

Ten years ago, I had a major change in my life. Over the course of 18 months, I resigned my job, ended my marriage, sold as many of my possessions as possible and left the country where I had lived for seven years. Thirty is a bit young to have a mid-life crisis but, I suppose, that's the best description of what happened.

The changes I made were triggered from an evening spent alone, in a beautiful house, surrounded by all the comforts available to a self-assured finance guy. When Monica reads that sentence she might never leave me alone again...

That night, I realized that I'd be sitting on that EXACT couch ten years later and the only thing that would have changed would be the size of my bank account.

When I left Hong Kong in 2000, nobody would buy the couch (!) so I've carted it around the world with me. Since my decision to leave ten years ago... I have: remarried, become a Dad, lived in five countries, started nine businesses, exited most my deals successfully, and watched a couple deals die.

If you'd asked me in my late 20s what I was working towards, I probably would have said residences in Phuket, London and San Francisco. I was very asset focused and liked the concept of being able to travel the world with a toothbrush. It wasn't until I travelled the world that I discovered that the reality of travel is quite different.

Personal Review, June 2009

Over the last couple of weeks, I made my way through my half-yearly review. Not quite as detailed as my full-blown annual review but useful none-the-less.

This week I will hit on a few topics that might prove useful.

Personal Review
From my point of view, the improvement in the quality of my sleep (from consistent wake-up); combined with moderately challenging training (rather than massive overload, rest, repeat) has done wonders for my productivity and outlook. I'm getting a ton done on all fronts. It's nice to have the extra energy to "step up" and help manage the house.

Similar to the markets, some times all it takes to feel better is for the situation to stop getting worse. There was a lot of negative shocks in 2008, these have stopped coming through as often so even if things merely stay the same... they appear to be improving.

Two quotes I'll share with you:

    "Somewhere in my life something is always @#$%^&" - Brad Feld
    "Life is dealing with problems"

When I can hold these thoughts in my head as acceptance, rather than resistance, they help me maintain perspective. My goal being to deal with things, rather than arrive at a place where everything is "fixed".

Not that there is much screwed up in my life. However, if you look for it then there's pretty much always something you can find to get yourself worked up. If we can't get to relentless positivity then striving for consistent acceptance is reasonable alternative.

Two questions remain outstanding right now:

  • What new subject do I want to study and learn about over the next year?
  • Where, and how, will I fit in my personal retreat? Here I am thinking about making Epic Camp out-bound only for technology. Blogging daily (so I remember a special trip) but not pulling in any media/email/IT over the duration.

Energy Pacing your Ironman III

This is a more complex question than it appears at face value and is a function of things like:
• Training
• Nutrition
• ‘Freshness’
• Muscle Mass
• Duration of your event.

Let’s take a look at a couple of these factors individually.

Muscle Mass/Training

Putting It Together

Our photo this week is my daughter watching me set a personal best for push-ups (she prefers to check me out in the mirror).

I need to score 300 on my APFT so I can back off the upper body work. Greg Bennett says that my freestyle looks like I am wrestling down the lane!

Typically my fly is my only stroke that looks like it came out of the Rocky Balboa school of swim excellence...

So I've been rolling for two weeks and have a good idea on my baseline data. Before I get into my story I wanted to offer you some tips on your own training.

The EC Team have been writing a weekly column for XTri for six months now. I think you'll find a lot of good content there from each of us. We have a range of philosophies that are consistent at the core and different at the edges. Worth checking out if you get the chance.

Over the last two weeks, I completed a How-To-Manual for triathlon training. Here's how you apply what I have written:

Date Focus
Monday Swim using tips from Benchmarking Your Swimming
Tuesday Long Run using tips from Runing Well
Wednesday Unload with day off or easy aerobic training
Thursday Brick using tips from World Class Endurance

The Cure

Our lead off photo this week is Jan Hugo Svendsen - my latest viking buddy.

Jonas "Big J" Colting crowned him King-for-a-Day when he held off the entire camp to take line honors at a stage of the Tour of Sweden.

When the chase bunch contains Clas Bjorling and Bjorn Andersson... it's a huge achievement for an agegrouper to finish first!

Some of my athletes think that I am a mind reader because I have an uncanny knack of knowing what they are thinking. Truth is, I have a limited capacity to read people (just ask my wife)... however, I have built a decent capacity to see, then express what's going on inside my head.

To the extent that I have any wisdom, it is due to slowing my mind down enough to have brief periods of insight into my own patterns and though habits.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

A short wiki search revealed that the origin of the term – 2 steps forward, one step back, is found in a very apropos metaphor of a frog trapped in a well. For every 2 jumps forward, he slides down the slippery wall and loses some ground, but even so, with determination, net progress is made and there is a happy ending to the tale as Kermit makes the final leap out of the well.

Getting To Nowhere

I had planned on my Boulder to Vail expedition this past week but careful review of the topo maps between Winter Park and Silverthorne had me thinking that a recon trip might be in order. Turns out that was a wise, wise move.

Checking the Box

“Although Seb was quite nimble, due to his slim physique, his running showed a significant lack of endurance. To remedy this, some distance training and participation in cross-country was indicated…… As Seb progressed, a positive effort was made to improve the balance between his speed and endurance but neither one at the expense of the other”

Long Term Greedy

This week I thought that I'd share some ideas about maximizing expected value in the fields of athletics and personal finances.

When doing expected value calculations I like to remind myself of a few key points:

Steve Larsen

If I happen to die young then know that I managed to pack a heck of a lot into my life. For me, the secret was being fortunate to listen to my heart. For others it might have been the ability to live childhood dreams or, more simply, to have known that they lived by their personal ethical truth.

The tragedy of death is borne by those that are left behind, especially the kids. I don't know Steve Larsen's kids but I feel for them. I have been feeling very fortunate these days.

When we look at that photo we might feel our loss with Steve's passing. When his kids look at that photo I hope they see his love for them and the joy he felt being surrounded by their presence. As a fellow competitor, I have to say that I never saw Steve that happy when racing (and he beat me EVERY time we raced).

I only managed to share the stage with Steve once. That was down in Ironman New Zealand. Clas had run him down late in the marathon with a 2:42 marathon. Steve knew that Clas was my training buddy and the conversation went like this:

Steve - Do you guys really do all that training you write about?
G - Yep

Steve - Do you think it works?
G - Well, we're up here with you, aren't we?

There was nothing easy about Steve's public persona -- I suspect that he saved his soft side for his wife and kids.

In seeking to bring out the best in himself, he brought out the best in all of us.


Why Wait

This week's title is short for "Why wait to be great" - a mantra from my elite racing days. For athletics, the mantra was a reminder to maintain my adventuresome spirit. While it is true that all we really need is a reasonable weekly structure, it takes so long to get decent (to achieve our own 'greatness') that compliance is increased if we maintain the adventure in our training.

In reality, athletics is no different than our wider lives. If you pursue sport for long enough then your approach (and often your successes) will bring out self-limiting patterns and habits. As adult athletes, it is far easier for us to maintain an open mind athletically than in the other areas of our lives (where we've been repeating patterns for years). Perhaps this is a good reason to change careers, or cultures, every decade, or so.

The photos mixed through this week's letter are from "Rich Camp 2009". I spent the last week training with a British triathlete - we checked out some classic routes in Colorado and Utah. It was a blast for me and I really appreciated the chance to share my ideas with Rich. Our trip, and Rich's story, reminded me of a few things that might interest.

Why Race?
Received some interesting feedback from last week's article.

Where You Will Find Me

My close friends will know that it can take several attempts to communicate a point to me before I actually "hear" what is being said.

No one is closer to me than Monica so I have a rule that whenever I notice that she has said something three times to me... I pay close attention! In 2006, she got through to me with the hour-per-day 'rule' for exercise. Since IMC, she's probably asked me about my race schedule a couple times per month - I remember about four mentions. Suppose I could ask her what the real # of mentions was - she was getting through unconsciously because I wrote about my 2009 schedule earlier in the year.

Anyhow my plans have firmed further! Before I get into that, a series of announcements that should interest.

My good friends Kevin Purcell and Scott Molina are hosting camps geared towards athletes over 50. They have camps scheduled for Arizona and Tuscany -- you'll find more info here. I know that you will get a lot out of the experience of spending time with them. Both guys have have both saved me from some very poor decisions. If you go then let me know what you think... I'm too young to attend!

Our friends at Coffees of Hawaii are selling high end Patagonia shirts at cost -- details are on their blog which you access here. Incidentally , the discount page for EC readers is here and that is Albert Boyce, Owner, laying it down in the photo.

Gordo London Clinic -- June 13th -- sponsored by INfinit Nutrition, I'll be in London to do a clinic and you will find more details here.

Energy Pacing your Ironman

The first thing to realize is that, by and large, for both bike and run, the body is pulling energy from a single, finite energy pool. A fixed amount of calories or kilojoules, stored as fat, glycogen and protein.

The Protein Bonk

If you’ve been involved in this endurance training game for some time now, chances are that you have, at one time or another, gone a little too far, on too little carbohydrate and experienced the sensations of the dreaded bonk - when you call down to the power-house in the legs and Scotty replies back “I’m givin’ her all she’s got Cap’n”.

Serious Recovery for Serious Athletes

My hunch is that this attention is going to need to become ever more vigilant as I approach my 40’s. Gordo has certainly seemed to pay more mind to recovery over recent years and he is not alone. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to chat a little with Greg Bennett at Gordo’s 40th birthday party.

Make Your Fate

Gordon Livingston writes, "only bad things happen quickly". Even with "bad" things, such as a rising uneployment, it takes many months to see the true impact of shocks to the system. The best analogy for large, complex systems is of a gigantic supertanker... it takes a long time to change course but, when it does, expect it to keep moving in that direction for a while.

This week I am going to write about "good" things that have been happening in my life. As I write this, there are a few bright spots in the economy but, unfortunately, I expect the economy to continue to deteriorate. Even when good policy decisions are made, the huge amount of leverage is going to take a long time to work through the system. Having lived through a few economic shocks, I'll share some ideas on the adjustment process in an future article.

An economic depression need not imply disaster on a personal level -- many good things have happened in my life during 2009.


On Monday, Noon Denver Time, Monica is joining me for a free webinar on Nutrition and Fit Pregnancy. contact me for a slot. We have spaces available.

Family Nutrition & Fit Pregnancy with Monica Byrn

Free Webinar

April 20th -- Noon Denver Time

Monica and I will offer a husband and wife perspective on family nutrition and pregnancy.

Contact Me for a slot or to send in your questions in advance.

Free to all and available for download after the fact.

Desert Lessons - Part Two

At our recent camp in Tucson, I didn't assign myself any formal topic. I wanted to see how the camp played out and give myself a chance to address questions/topics that came up as we rolled through our training.

Part One of this article is over in our column at XTri. It covered questions raised by the athletes as well as what I learned from our coaches.

This week's article covers the key things that I learned from a decade of triathlon (most of which was spent with an evangelical focus on performance). These lessons are personal to me. They make sense "now" but I don't claim them to be universal truths.

I'll wrap up with some tips that I do believe to be quite universal in application. If I had kept these in my mind for the entire decade then I might have enjoyed a deeper level of success.

I float them out there because it would be great to see one of my close friends take the lessons of my success a little further than I was able to pull off. You know who you are and you know what I mean -- I'll keep the specifics to myself because I know what it's like to lay it on the line publicly!

Upcoming Webinars

Specific Training for Half Ironman Racing

March 27th -- Noon Denver Time

Alan and I will be sharing specific workouts -- all sports -- to get you ready for your up coming Half Ironman races.

Contact Me for a slot or to send in your questions in advance.

Free to all and available for download after the fact.

Wko+ for simpletons

Somebody whose approach I deeply respect is athlete, Tim Luchinske. It seems that the bulk of Tim’s actions are put in place with the aim to bring the essentials more into focus and I’m not talking along the lines of what logbook he selects. Check out his blog to get a feel for what I mean.

Change Your World

When one listens to the news these days you can get the impression that there is nothing we can do the stem the decline of our collective position.

I wonder how far back we’re going to get knocked in terms of the size of our economies and asset values – ten, fifteen, twenty years? This week's article is not about fear, it is about living.

While it makes sense to be realistic, and work with a sense of purpose, unrelenting negativity can cloud our thinking and, more importantly, greatly reduce our quality of life.

To balance the negativity in the media, I recommend periods of silence and retreats to nature.

The reason the blog is a little late this week is because I was on a training retreat in Southern Arizona. The break did wonders for my perspective, as well as my motivation to keep moving forward.

A quick announcement, we are considering a number of different options for Summer Camp. All will be based in Colorado.

If you'd like to find out more details about what we are considering then drop me a line. I will send out a letter to everyone that expresses an interest in the coming days. Timeframe is July/August 2009. The event will be open to ALL experience levels as well as short/long course athletes.