Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Benchmarks and Forecasting

there are parallels between weather forecasting and performance forecasting in the world of athletics. Similarly, there are those who are understanding and embracing these new technological tools to better forecast their athletes’ performances and there are those who still see this new science as ‘hit and miss’ at best.

Do work, Son!

I had an interesting question from one of the athletes that I work with that went along the lines of,

“Coach, I just had a look at Joe Blow’s performance manager chart from last year (Joe Blow is a top AG athlete). I almost put in the same amount of work as him. Our CTL #’s were almost identical but our performances were a world apart. What gives?”

Start Up Lessons

I am back at my desk after a two-day trip in the Rockies. If you click the photo above then it blows up to have a look in more detail.

This was my second hut trip and, as you can see, it was a sunny day. Sun plus warm temperatures meant that I had snow balling under my climbing skins. If you have ever had mud stick to your hiking boots then imagine what it would be like if your boots were 181 cm long and you were hiking above 10,000 feet. I arrived at the hut at 2pm and was asleep (very) shortly thereafter!

This week we are talking business and the lessons I have learned so far with Endurance Corner. If you ask a finance guy to create a business then, generally, he will draw up a list of functions then head out and hire a person to fill each position. A classic mistake of cost base leading revenue -- that approach probably killed more than a few tech start-ups over the years. Well, it didn't kill us but it did cost "Gordo Incorporated" some bucks.

Raise your standards

Gordo has spoken frequently about the importance of out-performing the expectations that you set for yourself. And yet, so many of us keep falling into the same habits and making one of the 3, what I consider, critical errors that hold us back from expressing our potential:

1. Failing to set standards
2. Setting unachieveable standards
3. Setting overly complex standards

Upcoming Webinars

March 16th -- Noon Denver -- Long Course First Timers -- we'll chat about approaching your first long course event. Hopefully, I'll save you from some of the mistakes I've made over the years!

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

Free to all and available for download after the fact.

Controlling For Reality

Careful readers will have noticed that I write quite a bit about "reality" these days. I believe that the events of the last eighteen months will cause fundamental changes in the way we live our lives. I have also made substantial changes within my own approach to living.

When Monica starts repeating gordo-isms back to me, I know that I have been hitting a topic particularly hard. Part of the purpose of this blog is to reinforce the life that I want to lead for myself. Also, if my views get too crazy then, I hope, a few of you will let me know!

The gordo-ism of the last six months is "it was nice while it lasted". There are two components of that statement.

The first is the classic view of the self-absorbed guy (me). In the Story of G, I was fortunate that circumstance offered me the ability to be completely self-centered in my pursuit of academics, finance and athletics -- each for about a decade. Seeing Lex snuggled into her mother, the two of them star-fished on what was formerly know as "my bed"... drove home the reality that I'm not running things any more. Further, to impose my will (and retake my self-centered existence) implies breaking my personal ethics. That said, I am holding out pockets of resistance...

Timing Recovery for Optimal Performance

I think back to a comment on one of my older blogs from a reader making the observation that my posts tend to focus on that 4 letter word – work. Make no mistake, I still see total workload as a central, almost determinant factor in endurance sports. However, I am now much more tuned into the intelligent distribution of work (and my athletes are seeing faster progress because of it!)

New Realities

Our photo this week is your author sitting on the top of Africa. Before I was ever a competitive athlete, I used to collect mountains. Fortunately, my hobby didn't kill me!

Applying Blink & Deep Survival, Feb 16th

Bobby McGee will be joining me for this webinar next Monday, Feb 16th, Noon, Denver Time.

Two great books that have practical applications to endurance athletics:

Blink by Gladwell -- Page 8 of Recommended Reading
Deep Survival by Gonzales -- Page 5 of
Recommended Reading

While you don't need to read the books to participate in the webinar, the discussion will make more sense if you had a chance to review in advance.

We have slots open for the general public -- Contact Me for an invite.

Webinar is free and will be available for download at a later date.


PS - Podcasts are back // Justin and I met with Kyle Fredin, 70.3 Worlds AG Champ -- LINK HERE

The winning wisdom of Johan Bruyneel

1.We might as well win.

The title of the book, we might as well win, is also the first lesson. Bruyneel explains it as follows:

Wellness, Fitness and Performance

Mark Allen was in town this past week for a book signing with Brant Secunda – you can check out their new website here.

I caught up to Mark for breakfast and, for a change, didn’t have a shopping list of triathlon questions for him. I actually managed to do some listening!

This week’s letter isn’t about our conversation, per se, but it touches on some topics that are contained in his new book as well as things that struck me after we spent time together. The combination of Mark & Brant really works for me -- it is a mix of being lifted, entertained and relaxed. Shamanism is non-linear, as Mark likes to put it, but it works at some level and that's enough for me.

At the book signing, Mark shared his main goal in terms of current 'athletic performance' – live a long and healthy life. Barry Siff made a joke that Mark was going to be coming back to triathlon at Boulder Peak (not true). While I am sure we'd all like to see what Mark would be capable of, I doubt that we will ever see him race again.

Elite athletics (for me) is about setting our lives up to give completely to the task of athletic performance. For nearly a decade, every aspect of my life flowed through a prism of athletic success -- would this action make me faster... or would it build my team, which is necessary for me to go faster. In this sense, performance is simple (but FAR from easy). It would be exceptionally difficult for me to change my pattern of performance in triathlon -- far easier to replace that aspect of my life with a new sport that didn't come with the haunting knowledge of what-it-takes. Of course, my "athletic patterns" run back 25 years through business, academics and 'social' past times.

Planning your Season

Step 1: Determine cycle volume

Look at last years volume, your non-training life, your fitness level and your recovery profile to determine volume goals in 2009. Some general recommendations on typical volume increases from the previous season:

- Novice: Plus 20-30%
- Intermediate: Plus 10-20%
- Advanced: Plus 0-10%

How to Invest $250 Billion

Obama is constitutionally prohibited from being in power at the time that the TARP chickens are going to come home to roost. Gordon Brown is unlikely to be around when the UK's investments mature. Politicians are focused on winning the next election, not on ensuring a positive return on deficit spending.

Going Long 2nd Edition AVAILABLE

The second edition of Going Long is now available. Click photo above for view of flyer.

By purchasing direct from the author, you support this site!

Cost is $20 plus shipping -- I'll cover packaging/handling and bill you the shipping at cost.

  • Domestic USA - $4.95
  • Canada - $10.95
  • International - $12.95

The above are 'book rate' for single copies via US Postal.

Send me an email and I'll send you to the order form.


Starting Out - Fundamental Skills

If I had to offer you the greatest difference between a Master Coach (say, Dr. John Hellemans) and an Expert Coach, it would be in their approach. An expert will tell you exactly what to do to get your desired result -- experts tend to be quite precise and create confidence through their certainty. The master coach will give you a plan, possibly more simple that you think you require.

Fat Burning Essentials

Alan Couzens, MS (Sports Science), CSCS, PES

One of the key physiological adaptations of endurance training for the Ironman athlete (and for the fitness athlete who wants to ‘lose a few pounds’ is improving their ability to generate energy from fat. I wanted to devote a short article to the ‘whys’ of the importance of improving this ability in athletes along with the practical ‘hows’ of doing so from both a training and a nutritional perspective.

The Mothership Is Calling!

Jung, in developing the theory of the collective unconscious coined the notion of biological destiny. The idea, that somewhere, deep within our genes lies the answer to our destiny both as individuals and as a species. Of course, our greatest inner guidance system with respect to our destiny is our passion. Often there is no rhyme or reason to explain the things we are most passionate about.

Personal & Long Range Planning -- Free Webinar

You can click the top right hand corner of the player to see video.

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Thriving in Recession

Through my athletic journey, I learned lessons that that made me a better man in the "real world".

Being a coach is an incredibly satisfying job because I can help people use athletic goals to break patterns/habits that have been limiting their success in other fields. There is no "magic" from the coach, rather, the desire of the athlete... to get to Kona, to win their agegroup, or to finish their race... provides that little extra motivation to keep going when they might have stopped in the past.

What are these fundamental lessons?

  • We consistently underestimate what is possible across a multiple year time horizon.
  • We rarely exceed the goals that we set for ourselves.
  • We achieve our expectations (both conscious and unconscious) more often than not.

More than getting what we deserve, we get what we expect.

Site Update - Jan 15

In this clip, I run through:

  • Up Coming Webinars - ALL Times Noon Denver
    • Monday, January 19th - Building Your Performance Team & Time Saving Tips For Working Athletes - FULL
    • Monday, February 2nd - Training and Racing With Power
    • Monday, February 16th - Applying Blink (page 8) and Deep Survival (page 5) in your athletic life
  • Personal Consulting
    • Self Coached Athetes
    • Short Course Athletes
    • New Athletes (that might not even realize they are athletes, yet!)

Genetics, determinism and other unpleasantries

“Top results are available to anyone who builds up to my training and dedication levels (not an easy thing, I accept, but that’s the limiter, not genetics, not training protocol, not athletic background)”
- Gordo Byrn

We had an interesting discussion going on on the EC web site this past week on the tail of some 2009 training volume totals that I posted from some of my guys (with some additions from other EC members). I’ve reposted these below:

EC Site Update

Gordo provides an update on:

  • Blog feeds
  • Webinars
  • Video Office Hours
  • Half Ironman Training Programs
  • Logging
  • Training Peaks Integration

Intervals and Base Training

From the time of Zatopek on, interval training has been a staple of world class runners from all events. Zatopek himself won the 5,000m, 10,000m and Marathon (all at one Olympic Games) by performing regular interval training in excess of his 5K pace.

Goals, Aspirations and Hubris

Over the last few years, I have prepared my annual "to do" list of goals and tactics. Being achievement oriented, I have found that stating my game plan helps me stick to getting it done.

Of course, one does need to be aware that publicly falling short can be painful... but nowhere near as painful as regret, or the haunting feeling when we know we let ourselves down.


Our photo this week is Team MonGo 2008 -- you'll see that Monica bought the family matching pajamas. Check out the sleeves on Lex!
Today is my 40th birthday and I managed to hold my hair this far... that seemed so important to me when I was in my teens and twenties... while my priorities 20 years ago were normal, they weren't exactly ideal.
Lesson #1: having a high capacity to work overcomes a lot of personal shortcomings.

Structural Considerations in Planning the Microcycle (Basic Week)

However, before I get started on today’s post, first a quick summary for those who missed the last couple of entries on the real world application of periodization principles to the macro and mesocycle:

Structural Considerations in Planning the Macrocycle (Season)

In my last blog, I gave some perspective to the relative merits of adopting a periodized structure when planning a mesocycle. I concluded that while there is benefit to using a ‘staircase’ structure in planning the weeks within a given training month, in general, the practical limitations of a fixed work schedule and life schedule outweigh the potential 3-5% that can come from using this structure.

So, what about the training season (macrocycle)? Should we adopt a flat loading pattern, where all weeks are the same or are there key points within the season that should have a higher or lower volume than the athlete’s basic week?

Facing Winter & Travel Thoughts

This week I am going to share some ideas on how my winter has been going.

Travel -- is the largest item in my business budget as well as a major expenditure in my personal budget. More than the financial cost, travel has a large hidden cost in terms of use of time and fatigue. If you choose a life where you move around a lot then it makes it much more challenging to achieve in areas that benefit from stability (relationships; athletic training... for example). In seeing the risk to relationships/training, I set my travel up in blocks and brought my girlfriend (now wife) with me as much as possible. While effective, this greatly increased the overall cost to the family.
Travel isn't all bad. A ten-day business trip removes a lot of distractions and long flights are excellent for extended periods of uninterrupted time. Both editions of Going Long had their final proofs reviewed on a long haul flight.

Periodization vs. The Basic Week

“There’s more to being a model than just being really, really good looking”
- Derek Zoolander

Wise, wise words from Derek Zoolander. As many of you know, I have been really into models lately – training models that is. I have received some great feedback from you all, including a number of elite athletes that validates some of the theoretical constructs I presented in my last piece on the off-season. My buddy, Mat wrote a great ‘real world’ piece on his experiences with the off-season on his blog.

Paternal Psychology

This week I thought that I would share some ideas about how fatherhood is going as well as how I have been managing my expectations over the last seven weeks. As you can see above, my daughter wears her trousers just like daddy -- she's a High Rider.

I was a little concerned through the pregnancy about how I was going to cope with having a baby in the house. My track record of tolerance with little people is pretty limited. Even as a camp counsellor, I was never given kids under 10 years old to manage.