Today’s post is going branch off into a little bit of philosophy. The main focus today is a “method” I picked up from my reading of Taoist stuff that I have found particularly useful in successfully completing a challenging workout.
Imagine a tall study oak tree, it’s roots are deeply embedded in the ground – unmovable right? Sure, until a storm comes whipping through and rips it right out of the ground since it acted as a rigid object that the wind could just slam against and until it is pulled down whole.
Now think about the Grand Canyon and the colorado river. The river winds it’s way through the Grand Canyon, the water going where the Canyon dictates, but ever so slowly and patiently destroying the Canyon.
Nothing in the world, is as yielding as water; Yet in attacking the firm and inflexible, nothing triumphs so well.– Tao Te Ching
What does this have to do with regards to triathlon? I’ll give you an example. One of the work-outs I like the least is 2×20′ @ FTP. It’s hard, uncomfortable and not a lot of fun. This year I’ve tried a new tactic when I approach this (or similar workouts), first I acknowledge that they are hard, will hurt and may not be a lot of fun. Next I acknoweldge that it will make me a better athlete by doing it. Finally, I remind myself that at the end of the day I’m going to be tired from whatever I do as a workout – so I may as well do the right workout.
By yielding to the fact that the workout isn’t going to be fun, but at the end of the day I’m going to be tired regardless – I’ve suddenly found that I actually enjoy the workouts. The fatigue of the intervals sets into my bones, and I find myself able to dig deeper and push harder because rather than thinking about how awful this is, adding that stress to my body – I’m simply focused on what is happening.
Remember this on race day – you’re going to be tired no matter what – if you aren’t you probably did something wrong. When you body starts to send those signals your way – don’t let the alarm bells go off. Realize that getting tired is normal, it’s what you trained for and why you signed up.
Here are some tips I’ve found to help yield:
- Positive self talk
- “In 5 minutes I’m going to be so glad I did this” instead of “Only 5 minutes left, than I’m done”
- Distract yourself
- Count steps, pedal strokes
- Bargain with yourself
- “I’ll give it 5 more minutes, then see what’s going on”
To summarize, by fighting the pain of fatigue we are actually introducing additional signal into the loop which which increases the stress and fatigue of the moment – this just feeds back into itself.
Rather settle into the pain of the fatique, make it your companion, accept it – let it pull up a chair and make itself at home. After a while it will be like your bike saddle, sure it’s uncomfortable – but you learn how to sit on it and wiggle your butt around now and then, and before you know it you’re accustomed to the feeling and just plant your weight on it and peddle down the road.
Things have been going pretty well. Last week had a few non-starts in terms of bike workouts. Between spending Thursday at the bike shop and Friday evening there for Mary’s bike – I ended up missing both bike workouts. The good side is, I had a superb run Friday morning; just a short 30 minute thing, with 3 miles @ HIM run pace. Saturday and Sunday I more than made up for the missed bike workouts. Saturday was 4 hours pretty easy with Mary. I inserted in: 5×5′ (1′) @ FTP. Then a little later, 2×10′ (2′) @ FTP, and finally closing out with 20′ @ HIM. I didn’t have any power – so it was all done by perceived exertion, but it was a good ride. Sunday was good also, (I borrowed a PT from a friend for this one) 2×20′ @ HIM Power (with ~20 minutes IM pace in-between), followed about 50 minutes later by 8×4′ (1′) @ FTP, followed a bit later by 20 minutes @ HIM Power.
I was pretty surprised by Sunday, I’m not sure if it was due to having two days off of cycling, but I didn’t expect to be able to do all the work that I did.