Monday, February 1, 2016

Looking Forward By Gordo Byrn

Looking Forward
By Gordo Byrn

The shot above was taken in my CactusManSuit (courtesy of Jonas Colting). I was enjoying a triple soy latte in Tuba City, Arizona before heading out for a VERY crisp ride across the Navajo Nation. As you may tell from my half-smile, my motivation wasn't at an all-time high. It was two days after my canyon run and we learned that you don't need to be able to walk to ride well.

I'm going to write about two topics this week: some quick thoughts on success; and ideas on "my demographic".


I'm fond of asking myself (and my clients) questions. When I hit a road block, plateau or suffer a set-back, I ask myself "can I increase my effort to overcome this roadblock". For most of my life, the answer had been "yes" and I cut out other interests to be able to increase my personal effort on the task.

Alan has some guidelines that he uses in his coaching -- they run something like... never reduce... never trade... never compromise... // I'll let him write the whole story. They work quite well for people that are operating below their maximum capacity.

However, the majority of my clients are seeking to operate beyond their maximum capacity. I know that most my personal trouble come from over-estimating what I can handle.

Some examples that we bump into a lot in our sport:

***Excessive training load
***Persistent nutritional deficits (quality, quantity, timing)
***Lack of consistent sleep

Those are the three most common that I've experienced in my own training. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I find it useful to ask myself the opposite to see if I am missing something:

***Could my body sustain more training load?
***Would I be more successful by eating less?
***Should I reduce my sleep?

Of course, when we are trapped in self-sabotaging patterns, it often takes a crisis (or seriously crappy race) to get us to look fresh at our approach. When we reach the point that more is clearly insane... then we might be ready to try less.

One final thought on success -- a friend noted to me the other day... "I did everything that I was asked". I smiled at the time.

Not everyone understands the difference between success and compliance. Success isn't about doing the minimum.


Below is a snap of me cradling a mixing bowl of oatmeal and scrambled eggs [see thumbnail above]. Here's a stat that you probably didn't know -- I tend to eat 28-35 whole eggs per week when training big. I also eat a lot of olive oil, nuts, avocados, fish, chicken and beef. My main nutritional "weakness" is mayonnaise! Interestingly my hdl/ldl ratio is about 1:1 (96/100 to be exact).

Alan thinks that I should try to eat "even more gordo" -- so I may place myself on the Colting Plan, eat even more good fats and maximize my real food intake. It can be challenging to do that when daily calorie demands go sky high.

I don't count calories, grams of macro nutrients or seek to optimize any ratios. What I do is eat for fuel and seek to limit ANY loss of lean body mass (EVER).

This brings me to...

My Demographic
I was looking at the agegroup breakdown at Ironman Arizona and realized that I appear to have found a sport where my demographic represents the "average client". By far, the largest grouping of athletes was men 35 to 50 years old. When I read the popular (triathlon) press, this demographic doesn't seem to be all that represented -- unless they are buying the swimsuit issues...

I thought that I'd lay out some key concepts for the 35+ guys to remember // things are going to change from what you remember in your 20s. Take it from me, or Scott Molina... or Dave Scott... or Mark Allen... ...the needs of the speedy veteran athlete are very different than what you may read in the magazines.

#1 priority is Training Consistency // you gotta be training to hold on to what you got and "holding on" has to be a key motivator of men in my demographic. Those eyeball searing workouts that you think you ought to do... if they result in an injury then you are likely to lose fitness, and lean body mass, that will be very tough to regain.

Once you are over 50, the cost of injuries is even greater.

#2 priority is Keepin' What You Got // whether you use hills, big gears, paddles or Gold's Gym -- covet your strength. It insulates you from injury, keeps you healthy and improves your mood. I also suspect that heavy weights buoy naturally declining hormonal levels (as does a limited amount of high intensity cardio).

Jeff Cuddeback is a name that you might have heard -- if you are in "My Demographic" then you should do some research on Jeff. He's been speedy for a long while and just finished 15th overall at IM Arizona (nipping Molina's record in the 45-49). Jeff's is 49, going to Kona and I suspect that he has a birthday between now and October... go get 'em Jeff!

As I start to feel the impact of multiple 1,200 hour training years (mainly on my feet), I have begun to consider how best to use my remaining lifetime mileage.

There is a school of thought that says "keep the hammer down and hope medical science stays in front of me". However, like most of "My Demographic", I started triathlon to lose a bit of weight and challenge myself. The whole "being fast" thing happened as an accident. Back in 1999, I was merely looking for a daylight finish.

With my pals I talk about the divergence between elite athletic performance and personal health. As I age, I start to wonder about the divergence between optimizing speed at 40 years old and maximizing athletic enjoyment across the next thirty years.

I like my feet, my knees and my hips -- it would sure be nice to hang on to the Original Equipment for as long as possible!

Whether it is at the bottom, or the top, of the range... "My Demographic" is where we will each see our maximum athletic potential decline.

...and that could be why we are all out there trying to prove something to ourselves!

Just trying to figure out what.