‘Twas the Night Before…

You know what they say about sleep before a big race?  It’s not the night before that matters.  (For surely that sleep will be fitful and interrupted and stunted by nerves just tingling at the surface waiting to mar your precious rest.)  They say it’s the night before, the night before the big race that matters.  You still have a little buffer before the big event and sweet sweet sleep bestows her graces upon you one more time before releasing you to pre-race jitters.  A few nights ago I experienced the uncomfortable uneasy feeling that I usually only get the night before a big race.  The problem?  I was more than two weeks away from race day.  (TWO weeks!). Why so antsy you say?  Instead of giving into the rest and recovery that lie ahead, I was focusing on “what if”s.  What if Leanda Cave, Mirinda Carfrae, Kelly Wlliamson, Jodie Swallow, and Caitlin Snow all show up at San Juan 70.3 (as they are scheduled to)? What if I have a bad swim?  What if I get lost on the bike course?  What if? What if? What if?  I was so worried about how I was going to perform, I could not fall asleep.

I recently read a great article by QT2 Systems head coach, Jesse Kropelnicki.  In it he describes where athletes typically put their focus and where athletes should put their focus.  According to Jesse in the focus hierarchy, goals should come first, targets second, and outcomes should come third (and last).  Oftentimes we reverse the order of things and become obsessed with the outcome or end result without mastering the first two items on the list.  The problem with that? Outcomes can be largely out of our control, especially if you haven’t worked on achieving your goals (like learning how to pace or developing mental toughness) or worked on hitting your targets (like achieving a certain swim or run pace).  If you work on your goals and targets first your desired outcome is more likely to fall into place.  Obsessing over how we are going to place or if we are going to podium is just wasting energy that could be channelled elsewhere.  If you focus on the process, not the end result, everything changes.  EVERYTHING.  I am so happy that I was reminded of this going into the 2013 season.  Bring on the journey!

Shorter is better.

Coaches

Last weekend Fredericksburg played host to the Endurance Sports Expo.  Vendors like Zipp, SRAM, Skratch Labs, and Newton were all present as were an unbelievable field of speakers and presenters. Brian Walton (an Olympic silver medalist in track cycling), Hunter Allen (a former pro cyclist and power training guru), and Allen Lim (nutritionist and physiologist to a number of Tour de France athletes) were all on hand to share their expertise.  In addition to presenting their own talks, many of these individuals gathered together for an “Ask the Coaches” session that I was lucky to be a part of. It was amazing to hear what all of the coaches had to say.  They gave great advice on everything from key workouts to common mistakes most athletes make.  My favorite response of the weekend came from Hunter Allen when the panel was asked, “Why hire a coach?”  I get this question a lot and I hear all kinds of answers from different coaches.  Hunter’s response was beautiful in its simplicity and succinctness.  “You should hire a coach to shorten your learning curve.” In triathlon where tons of time can be spent on swimming, cycling, running, and learning how to race is there really any time to waste?  Oh and Mrs. Debi Bernardes, coach, mentor, elite athlete, and friend – you rock!  Thank you for continuing to shorten my learning curve.