Figuring out 2018
The fact that Ironman Chattanooga became a Duathlon and I finished with a disappointing 11th place is a pretty good way to sum up how I feel about this season so far. After 20 years in the sport I have learned how to ride its waves and I know that all athletes have highs and lows in their careers. Even still, I have decided to take this opportunity to look at what's working well for me right now, as well as some of the things I'd like to change. Hopefully some retrospection will shed some light for me on how I can turn this season around.
I am very fortunate to love all of my sponsors and the products they provide me with. It’s reassuring to know that all my equipment gives me a competitive edge when I'm alongside the very best every time the guns goes off.
I do like data! I have been using power (Stages) and heart rate since 2011 and gathering the data it provides through downloading it to Training Peaks. As an athlete and a coach having access to this information is crucial to help achieve peak performance. In 2017, I formed a partnership with Masimo and started using their world-leading product to measure oxygen saturation. This easy-to-use device links to my phone to save the data which can then be automatically sent to Training Peaks. Adding this valuable layer of information to my day to day swim, bike and run data provides greater insight into training effect and optimizing recovery.
I feel very fortunate to have the support of such an amazing and innovative company such as Hoka one one. After a lifetime of running in orthotics and having recurring foot/Achilles issues, their shoes allow me to run free of pain. Hoka one one are growing fast and becoming one of the biggest shoe companies on the planet. That said, they value their athletes and are constantly utilizing feedback to improve their product. I am currently testing some of their new racing shoes and my first impressions are great!
Every year the biking level seems to go up! Athletes are training harder and fine tuning their positions to become more aero. I started out this season with a very aggressive position that maybe was more aero but reduced the amount of power I was able to get to the pedals. In June, I brought my front end up 2cm and back 2cm and my power numbers went back up. Working together with my long time bike fitter Mat Steinmetz I have been able to achieve an aero, comfortable and powerful position that I can sustain for an Ironman bike.
Making the shift from a lifelong vegetarian diet toward plant based this year has been gradual and calculated. Correctly fueling your body is crucial to enable your body to handle the stress of endurance training. Recently, I completed fuel tests on the bike to calculate my race day calorie needs. I was surprised to see how many calories I needed to consume to successfully complete just the bike section of a race. I have increased my calorie intake by nearly 100 calories per hour and am definitely noticing a big improvement in not only my power output but my ability to maintain concentration.
Running well off the bike is a hard thing to do. I believe that you not only have to do the correct training but you need to teach your body to move efficiently when you are undergoing great fatigue. I love the ‘art’ of running and am constantly looking for the ‘flow’ you need to run fast. At 36 years of age, the key for me is unlocking any restrictions in my body to access my body’s ability. I spend more time in the gym mobilizing and strengthening my body so that I can stay healthy and move well.
I am a very lucky guy! We live in a newly renovated house just outside of Boulder. I have a beautiful family which includes my amazing and very supportive wife, an energetic 19 month old son, and an amazing and loving dog called Cooper. I'm not going to lie, having a kid means I don't sleep as much and it takes a toll but he brings so much joy and meaning to my life that it helps me keep a great perspective and he reminds me of what really is important at the end of the day.
What is not working or needs improvement:
The home/work balance is quite different in comparison to being younger when the only thing you care about is triathlon. These days it takes more of my physical and emotional energy because I am sacrificing more of myself for the sport. To be completely honest, I am still adjusting to my new life and finding the balance. But I am getting close….
Coaching myself means training and processing a lot in isolation. Everyone needs a community. I don’t think my wife wants to hear about how many watts I averaged on my bike ride anymore! Coaching myself has caused me to maybe overthink things instead of just switching off and listening to my body. Maybe it's time to get back to training with friends, pushing hard and enjoying the sport I love a little more.
As always, thank you to all my amazing sponsors and to my friends and family for all their support.