Monday, April 29, 2013

Euclid, pizza toppings and Sabina

What do a greek mathematician, a Spanish songwriter and a lot of veggies and cheese have to do with anything?

But they occupied my ‘eadspace over the last workouts. Not in sequence, more like three recurring themes over and over during a long run or a long ride. Thankfully it doesn’t happen in the swim. We’ve got a beeping machine put in our heads for our swim workouts (true, annoying little beepers).

Reading a book about Euclid’s “Elements…” got me back into filling my day with abstract thought of the purest quality: Points, lines and polygons. So much that I found myself revisiting theorems and formulae learnt 15 years ago.

The Spanish songs are always there, this was a good classic that I haven’t listened for a while and filtered into my head via some random electric pulse.

And every Saturday is pizza day @ my place, so there is always the worry to keep innovating on the toppings front. This weekend was prosciutto and rocket for pizza 1 and potato and teriyaki infused red onion for pizza 2. Both were outstanding successes.

I purposely put the pizza last because the reason of this post was to raise awareness of the importance of mind drifting, it helps dealing with the chaos of everyday life and training. It also helps to think of scenarios for a given race, or training goal or the day ahead.

Some people call it visualizing, I call it mind drifting, it’s that process of having a movie played in your head, and, on certain great occasions, getting that movie to play in real life. Exactly the same movie. Some people call that success. I call it bliss.

I value mind drifting as one of my best allies to succeed in a race. Playing up falls, dehydration, food stops, flat tyres, rain, heat, GI distress and all sort of scenarios in my head helps me find a way out of them. Sometimes it even works in real life too!, The latest example was during the Tarawera ultra, when I had to switch to fruits and coke diet. I’ve done in my head a few times. Doing it in real life was not the end of the world?!, was it?

The pizza scenario and the fruit and coke scenario are not too distant.

Keep dreaming everyone

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To "see the point"

A very good friend of mine has been pestering me for years to get into mountain biking. For some reason or other I can’t seem to find the time for a new hobby and I’ve kept passing from the invites. Last weekend I said yes, as I thought it was good to have the chance and, as I said, he’s a good mate and the MTB is just an opportunity to catch-up and have a good time.

The experience was fun, great views, nice scenery and good climbs. It all came down pronto when I had to go into a singletrack grade 2 hill and lost any ability to coordinate the descend. I overshoot one corner, slipped and hit my privates with the bike’s seat. Then I got too tense to even try and keep a good balance. Hated it for some time.
I went a bit more comfortable on round 2, but still not OK.

Then it was time for me to park the bike, and follow my make while he went for a couple of more shots. I could run the same speed up and down the technical descents, so overall it was still very good training.
But not my thing.

What’s different?
I just couldn’t see the point on purposely putting myself in danger of falling over trees or roots to go down a hill and not even going fast or going point to point. I’m unsure about the fitness or bike-specific gains for me.

It felt a bit of a pointless exercise.

But hang on a minute?
What about bike or running hill reps?
Or swimming up and down a 25m pool 150 times three times a week?
Or running like a madman for 5km down a hill to a point where stopping is not guaranteed?
Or waking up and going to work every day to have money to pay the bills to continue to live to go to work everyday to have money to pay the bills

It is another case of “a matter of perspective”.
This is how I felt

This is what I wouldn't mind

Moral of the story for me?
Always try something new, but don’t stick to it if you don’t like it.
And moral number 2:
Close the ‘new hobbies’ account for a few months and get great marks at Uni.

A few days on the mountain should come handy. Stay dry out there

Monday, April 15, 2013

One year un-coached

It was about 1 year ago that I moved from being a coached triathlete. I realized that the old “crap in/crap out” saying was catching up on me. I wasn’t able to get all the bang I wanted from my buck, basically because I didnt have the time to fit in the workouts. The result was that I still had a swim squad which I go and a run squad that I aim to go as much as I can. I play around in the middle filling spaces here and there according to what events are up and coming.

After a year, there’s a few pro’s and cons that I’d like to share:

The half empty version:

There’s a perception of loss. May be top-end run speed, or race ability or something. I guess this is caused by the big void of not having a programme that comes to you. You are the programme and have to keep on your toes otherwise there’s plenty of room for distraction.

There’s the less social-more business side of training too. But that’s easily overcome.

The half full view:

There’s a bit of extra money for doing other stuff. Like buying kit, or going to the gym or doing more events or coffee.

There’s a lot of learning to be done. Finding out what and how and when different stages of a periodised training should be fitting in my world.

There’s the satisfaction of a good outcome. Each race finish takes a new meaning. I am as proud as an athlete as I am as a coach. Double brownie points!.
Results so far have been good. two PBs and a smooth switch to ultra running, all injury free.


The bummer of it all is that this is soooooooooo particular to each individual that I would not advise anyone to do it or not to do it because I know for sure that it would come and haunt me. But if you’re out thinking you might give it a try, all I can say is go for it. There’s plenty of pride to be had by being your own master.


Happy training for the wet week coming!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I like to think myself as an endurance beast, although the reality is that I am more of an endurance puppy. This came out of the realization that I’ve been ‘in the sport’ for 5 years. 5 fun years of pounding the asphalt, threading the water and rolling over all sort of terrain in all sorts of weather. From the time when I swam in the sea-year round, to the wettest cycle tour in history with my mate Gordon, there’s so many stories to tell. I will sound like an old man, but there’s so many snapshots of different training rides, or races that provide plenty of motivation to get out there an do it all again.

A common treat of these endurance mutations is the moments of solitude and isolation (even when around a lot of people) and the moments of lots of laughs in good company. I don’t remember feeling more alone than when racing against 3000 others in Budapest, a day to remember for the wrong reasons. Both extremes (solitude and great company) are the backdrop of some learnings I took from these 5 years. On the one side, I’ve learnt a lot about self reliance and resilience, backing myself to achieve a given goal. On the other side, I’ve enjoyed many winters with great people with common goals and great races with lots of camaraderie.

Someone said that the only thing constant is change. And while I continue to enjoy change, I’ll enjoy these endurance mutations.

This is comeback 3.0

I guess comebacks are another constant too : )

Stay safe out there.