Give it a chance to be true

Friday, August 5, 2016 - 16:15

Nobody likes their time, effort or money to be wasted, and yet we do it all the time! Yes, sometimes it's beyond our control. You go to the DMV and there's no getting around it, you're going to have some time wasted, but I'm talking about those instances where you do have control (hint: that's nearly all the time). Here are some scenarios in my own training/life that many of you will relate to:

Physical Therapy - When I first started going to physical therapy to correct muscle imbalances that were causing knee pain after a bike crash in 2012, I didn't commit to the recovery. I did my prescribed PT exercises for the first couple of weeks but didn't see results, so I gradually stopped doing them as reguarly. I was supposed to do them 3x per week but I found myself doing them maybe 1-2x per week. I continued to not see results. Big surprise. At the time, though, I didn't know I was setting myself up for failure. I knew I was not doing quite all the strength sessions, but figured I should still see some sort of results even just doing it once or twice per week. Then I went to a new physical therapist, thinking that maybe if I found the right therapist, I would magically get better even without doing all the work. Wrong. The problems persisted and I stopped going to PT. Fast forward several months, and my orthopedic doctor recommended a physical therapist. Argh...I knew she would say that. I objected because "I already tried that and it hasn't worked for me," but she insisted. I grudgingly began PT again, this time with Josh Grahlman in NYC, and he helped me to realize that I needed to commit to the exercises for it to work. I made the decision that day to commit, to give it a chance to be true. I did my exercises religiously 3x per week and while I didn't notice results for several months, I kept my head down and stuck with it. When I picked my head back up, I discovered that the pain was gone! I was able to run without any pain for the first time in 18 months. Without committing, I may never have healed from the glute imbalance I was facing and would still be experiencing knee pain. It seems there are many things in life that aren't may not see steady progress, but need to be patient and BOOM, all of a sudden there's a jump forward.


Coaching - In 2014, I hired a coach (Earl Walton) for the first time. After my experience with PT, and learning that you need to commit for some things to be true, I decided that I would interview a bunch of coaches, pick one, and then do exactly what that coach told me to do. To the T. Why pay a coach and then argue with them about their philosophies or complain about the training? I hired Earl for a reason. I wanted to get to the next level, and I believed that he knew what it would take to get me there. I decided to give it a chance to be true, and followed the training plan he gave me. I won Ironman Maryland that year with a 51min PR, so I guess it was true .


Metabolic Efficiency Training - I grilled Nicci Schock with questions for two weeks because I was very skeptical of the metabolic efficiency training approach to nutrition. She answered all my questions, I did a bunch of research, and came to the conclusion that there was little downside to giving it a shot, and a lot of upside. I was either going to not give it a shot, or I was going to commit 100% to doing it because I would only do it if I gave it a chance to be true. By only following her guidelines in a half-hearted manner in my experiment of one, I wouldn't have seen the results to know whether what she was preaching was true or baloney.


If you commit only 50% to your experiment, you may see far less than 50% of the results (or even zero results), and deem the experiment a failure. "Decide and Commit. Give it a chance to be true" is one of the principles I live by. To prevent wasting any of your own time, effort or money, make an educated decision to do something, then commit 100%. Give it a chance to be true.



Downtime...Take Some!

Monday, January 4, 2016 - 14:45

Sometimes you just have to let loose!

Whenever there is pressure to do something for an indefinite amount of time without breaks, you're apt to crack at some point. Take this to heart when it comes to your training - I've seen way too many athletes train year-round without something that resembles an offseason where they can recharge their mental batteries, and it leaves them in a constant state of "dull" training. An important aspect of improvement is pushing your limits, and you can't do that if you aren't physically and mentally ready for the beating your body and mind will take. The tricky thing about it is that you often don't know when you're overworked! In 2013, I did Ironman Lake Placid attempting to qualify for Kona but I missed it by one slot. I then spontaneously decided (with my wife's approval!) to race Ironman Louisville (on her birthday!) four weeks later. I won my age group there and qualified for Kona, which I raced 7 weeks after that. On the surface, anyone would look at that, 3 Ironmans in 2.5 months, and say "of COURSE you were tired," but if you were to ask me right before racing Kona, I would have told you that I was in the best shape of my life and mentally ready for racing on the Big Stage. I was dead wrong. I felt motivated, but when push came to shove, and things got tough during the final miles of the marathon in Kona, I didn't have the mental strength to get really uncomfortable, which is an absolute requirement to run a good Ironman marathon. This is just one example of how not having enough downtime can impact performance, but if I had to name more examples, I could rattle off a dozen. It happens more often than you think! So this year, enjoy some physical and mental recovery while A races are still many months away, even if it's just two weeks, and you'll find that you're ready to go at it harder than ever when you start up again.

I also want to note that this doesn't just apply to triathlon. It applies to other aspects of life too. Trying to shed some pounds? Finding it overwhelming to always be focused on eating right? Allow yourself a "miss" here or there where you eat something you love. It'll be more sustainable in the long run and will make you more motivated to "be good" on a daily basis. I have "misses" often in my life, not by accident, but by design. I eat clean 90%+ of the time, but intentionally eat some dessert or have a beer occasionally to ensure that I don't feel deprived all the time. I follow Metabolic Efficiency Training and work with a nutritionist named Nicci Schock, and she was the one who taught me that it's a good thing for long term success to not always be so rigid.

Implement downtime in your life in 2016! Happy New Year!

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