Chris Hauth Articles

T1 and Where We Are Going

Coach Commentary 3.18.2008

AIMP™ – Advanced Ironman Program

T1 and where we are going:

Many of you are retesting these next few weeks. I wanted to clarify a few things for all of you as you get the results from re-tests, whether you are new to my coaching or have been with me for a few years.

Many of you look at the numbers (T1 & T2) and think the only sign of progress is the improvement of these values: i.e. if T1 does not increase, my training has not improved me as an athlete. I will start with my own self as an example.

If improving T1 is the only marker of improvement, I stopped improving years ago. Whether at Endurance or in my blood lactate tests with Craig, my T1 (or VT1) has yet to ever improve. I start the season around 310-315 Watts, and progress to 320-330 Watts. If we look at that in percentage, this is maybe 5%. Many seasons it starts at 312, and ends at 318 Watts. But, for some ODD reason I continue to improve in triathlon, and in my cycling. Without my watts going up…

FOR TRIATHLON WE ARE NOT LOOKING TO GET STRONGER, WE ARE LOOKING TO GET MORE EFFICIENT AND ECONOMICAL IN ORDER TO RUN THE MARATHON OR HALF MARATHON TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY.

What does this mean? It means 4 simple things/goals/outcomes:

1) We are looking to ride the bike in a triathlon at a lower cost – You have heard Craig say it plenty of times; the lower your lactate accumulation below T1 (flatter curve), the better you can hold wattages/efforts for a longer period of time below that T1 marker. If you ride better below T1, you will get to the bike/run transition feeling better, and you will have a much higher likelihood to hold your usual training pace for running vs. the slog many of you go through on the run (or at least run as fast as you can run every time in training either off the bike or just straight up). This is all about lowering the cost at T1, NOT pushing it up.

2) We are looking to hold a higher wattage relative to T1: 4 years ago my T1 was approx. 300 watts, yet I raced Ironman at 255 Watts. I gradually moved that to 275, then 285, last year I held 300 Watts for Ironman – all while my T1 has been at 310-325 Watts. I have been gradually increasing my ability to hold a higher wattage relative to my T1 ceiling. Do you all think Lance Armstrong’s T1 has changed dramatically during his 7 TdF’s? NO! In his books you can read his 450 Watt test at threshold was ALL he was trying to get to for the season – if he hit that he knew he was ready for the Tour (combined with weighing 70 kg) – every year, every season. He did not improve that number, he even raced the Tour 2x at below that number. BUT, his ability to remain steady below that threshold number improved every year. Its called cycling economy: basically watts per pedal stroke. The balance between watts per pedal stroke your muscles can handle at a cadence your cardiovascular system can sustain. Lance’s cycling economy increased every year, and hence he was able to push a higher pace (and with it the peleton!) without fatiguing. Then he had the ability to slingshot up long climbs and nail the TT’s better since IT COST HIM LESS than the other riders.

3) We are looking to improve our ability to ‘tolerate’ surges and rollers within the race better: As we get more comfortable working below T1 wattages/effort, our ability to withstand relatively longer periods at above T1 increases. Why? Because our ability to hold a higher wattage/effort relative to T1. Therefore rollers, surges or short stretches in races do not knock us out when we are above T1 HR/Watts, nor do we feel intimidated by being there for a bit – we know we can recover and return to a longer, go all day effort without blowing up.

4) We are looking to determine an effort/intensity at which we can still maintain our nutrition and hydration: This is a key ingredient to our racing success. If we are riding at a lower cost, if there is less of an accumulation of lactate, if we are in optimal balance of muscular power producing pedaling force and the cardiovascular system delivering oxygen, fueling the muscles and removing waste products such as lactic acid, THEN our stomachs’ ability to process food, calories, electrolytes etc. is greatly improved. Think of that pace where all this remains in balance…wattage, HR, nutrition & hydration….THEN think of gradually increasing that pace…..through training. You have all been there: going a bit too hard to properly process the food. Then get to the run….and ooops: bloated, sick or empty with no energy.

SO, the training does NOT revolve around IMPROVING T1, it revolves around getting more efficient and economical at it. Each and EVERY one of you will have a GREAT race if you were to ride efficiently and effectively just below T1. It means a solid bike split (faster than you think!) and a solid run (one that you’ve always felt you are capable of but have not yet had)…

IF T1 increases: Sure, this is an added benefit, but it does NOT mean you will be racing at a higher wattage/effort. Because we will still want to be in that efficient and economical ‘zone’ where all the above takes place. An increased T1 means we have plenty more work to do in the months and years to come….:-)

As always, let me know of any questions.

e: chris@aimpcoaching.com * p: 415.888.3712 * m: 415.465.0443 * Mill Valley, Ca

Going Camping – The value of training camps and what to look for

Going Camping – The value of training camps and what to look for
By Chris Hauth
3/11/2008

This is the time of year many of us consider a training camp to break up the monotony of training. After many sweaty winter hours on the trainer due to weather or work, spending some time riding outdoors in great locations sounds appealing. But training camps are not limited to training in warmer, more desirable climates in the winter or spring – there are good training camps all year. Some great locations include Boulder, San Diego, Tucson, Lake Tahoe, North Carolina etc.: the only thing you need is some beautiful cycling terrain with good roads, some running trails and a lake or pool. But what makes training camps so beneficial besides the change of scenery or warmer climates? And what should we look for when choosing a training camp?

Why go Camping?

(I will not include cycling trips and athletic travel in this discussion. In my opinion these are vacations and while they can help maintain fitness, you want the flexibility and freedom during these trips to venture beyond our triathlon obsession).

One of my athletes asked me the other day why she can’t just replicate the training camp volume and miles at home vs. going off to some exotic location. It prompted me to clarify a few ingredients that make a training camp successful and extremely beneficial to your training. These include the proper training load given the time of year, the ability to rest & sleep, the value of massage & stretching, good nutrition and limited distractions.

A training camp should not ‘shell’ you. It should be a small, manageable spike in volume that you can absorb injury free and maintaining your health. Especially at this time of year a sudden jump in volume to summer fitness levels might spell trouble: injuries might flare up (hamstring, calves, hip flexors) or sickness due to the tax on the immune system from the increased training load – just consider that return home to colder climates from a warm one! All the volume at a camp is thrown out the window if you are sick for days after. A well-coached camp will ask you for your current training loads and modify/apply the training at this camp for you. Also, that slight increase in volume can be a slingshot to a new fitness level, or be a new plateau from which you begin your next phase of training. I look for my training camps to spike about 15-20% from the athletes’ biggest week so far this season: this also requires a balanced swim, bike and run approach.

Taking this healthy volume into account, add daily massage and rest for optimal recovery, combine it with good nutrition during & post training, and you are setting yourself up for maximum preparation for the next training day, and the next, and the next. The key to a good camp is the ability to absorb the daily training load effectively and feel good the next day. Being too tired to train effectively during a camp is not what you should feel. Of course there will be some fatigue in getting the day started, but overall you should ‘warm up’ into another solid day of training.

Lastly, subtract the daily stress of work and other distractions add in some down time to focus on training, racing and other triathlon improvements (seminars or talks?), we now start to notice our ability to withstand the load of a training camp much better. Remember, this training camp might only be a 15% increase in volume, but across all three disciplines this might be a significant jump in your weekly average.

After one of my recent camps, some of the feedback included asking for more volume as well as the satisfaction that the training ‘felt’ really good despite thinking the fitness was not there yet. This is exactly the outcome I look for from a camp: clearly the athlete had absorbed the volume spike well and by feeling good, the benefits of massage, sleep, nutrition and a stress-free environment all had the desired result. Imagine the feedback had we attempted more volume and taking less care of ourselves during that 7-day camp? As I mentioned, we don’t want to return home ‘shelled’.

What to look for when going Camping:

There are plenty of training camps out there, and the offering seems to be growing every year. I think it is great that as an athlete we can choose from fun domestic locations as well as some pretty sweet international ones. But how to distinguish between them? What is the athlete supposed to look for when choosing from the vastly different offering of training camps? I have my athletes look at the following:

1) Volume – most think a training camp requires huge volume. There are tales of crazy miles and shoulder busting sets in the pool. Well, besides Epic Camps, that is not the ideal camp volume for most: see above for the ‘shelled’ reasoning. But also, what time of year is it? When is your A race? No reason to go big miles in February for a July race. That fitness will not carry over. When choosing a camp, look for the volume that is slightly above your biggest current week and matches where you are in your season.

2) Coaching – This sounds simple, but coaching can make or break a camp experience for you. Does the coaching staff have experience with training camps? What is the ability of the coaches? You don’t want to go riding with coaches that are not familiar with your athletic ability and therefore can’t provide input or tips for improvement. How well can they ‘coach’ swimming technique? Do they have the ability to help you in all three disciplines? I have gotten feedback at past camps that I train too much during the camp – not giving the athletes enough of my time. These days I no longer train; I ride along and spend more time with the athletes. Look for a coaching staff with an 8~10 to 1 coach ratio, a coaching staff that not only has camp experience but is able to provide serious coaching value to you during your time with them – in all three disciplines.

3) Location – Sure a warmer climate sounds great, but is it all hills? Is it just one or two roads? Many athletes have mentioned some great locations for camps to me but I have often turned them down due to impossible training camp logistics: Kona – boring riding and running the same Queen K for days, and its dangerous! Jackson Hole – do you want to do a big training week at 7000 ft? You can quickly see what can happen in some great locations. Once again, look for what your A race is and maybe mimic that terrain? Or, what is it that you want to work on? Hilly or flat runs? Open water swims or pool time? The main thing is to understand where you are going and why. I had many of my athletes do Tucson with me because its great preseason terrain – flat, open, steady spinning miles. Come August, we will go to Lake Tahoe for some big miles at my summer training camp – hilly, hard, hot, difficult miles since we are at a different fitness level then.

4) Ability – Epic Camp does it well; they take resumes and really try to keep the ability level close. MultiSport on the other hand takes anybody and makes it work. Know who is attending the training camp and feel comfortable knowing you’ll have plenty of people to ride and run and swim with. It is no fun being off the back at an elite camp with only top-notch age groupers and pros. Sure it is fun to ‘train with the Pros’ at times, but that is interesting until they drop you on the first climb.

5) Desired outcome – Here is the big closer: are you looking to have fun or train very seriously? Is it a social week or an opportunity to train to the best of your ability? Are you looking for a slingshot to the next level of fitness or just to get away from a few feet of snow? Are you previewing a race location or doing race simulation? Are you pulling a Jan Ullrich and training yourself into shape (fat camp) or are you looking to train against some faster athletes and test yourself? All these are just some of the outcomes people attend camp for. Whichever it is, know where you want to be (or what you want to look like) when you return home. It makes those new few weeks feel much better knowing that it had the desired effect (and feel less guilty for the $ spent!).

Training Camps are one of the perks in our sport. It allows us to combine training with travel. It’s a change of scenery with an added benefit of feeling great about how we spend our vacation days. And, if done right, it can help you reach a new level of fitness that sets up a great racing season. On the other hand you can make new friends, learn about nutrition & race strategy or just get massaged twice a day for 7 days! You’ll still return home feeling great!

Original article can be found on xtri.com

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes

Patriot Perfection: What the New England Patriots can teach Triathletes
By Chris Hauth
12/13/2007

I watch a lot of sports. Many would be of the opinion too much sports. I love college football; enjoy the NFL, baseball and anything that ESPN seems to get excited about. I listen to sports talk radio and check the websites for the latest information. I am actually watching football as I write this. Anyways, you might have heard about this incredible season the New England Patriots are putting together. Tonight they are looking to go to 13-0, all while completely destroying their opposition. They have been favored in the past weeks by the 2nd biggest margin of victory ever according to the Vegas ‘line’. How are these guys so good? How does this relate in ANY way to triathlon?

Flawless execution and experience.

Flawless Execution

The common theme that most ‘experts’, former coaches, radio hosts and Monday morning quarterbacks seem to agree upon is that football is a game of execution and nobody is currently executing their offense better than the New England Patriots. I argue that all sports are about execution. We practice for only one reason: to execute better on game or race day. Of course fitness ties into this equation. You cannot execute a great race in triathlon (or any sport) without having the fitness to execute your plans late in the bike or run. But I have observed that most triathletes are ‘fit’ enough to have the result they desire on race day. So, therefore we are back to how we execute on ‘game day’.

Flawless execution begins in training & practice. We all know that in order to be fit enough on race day we need to swim, bike and run plenty of miles. We do this by combining a number of base miles with tempo & speed miles and the outcome should be the fitness needed on race day. Once again, all football teams practice, and I doubt they vary too much in what they practice. But I have a feeling they vary greatly in how they practice. Sure, you can go out and bike 100 miles and run 15 after. But how are you doing these miles? Are you focused on race day nutrition and hydration or just stopping at the local bakery and shops for a pastry or Snickers? Are you simulating long sections in the aero position or sitting up? Are you transitioning quickly from the bike to the run or hanging around socializing with friends? Are there numerous stops on your ride or are you focused on staying steady on the bike?

On average we train about 16-20 weeks in prep for an Ironman or 70.3. This gives us 12-16 weekends where we can truly simulate all our race day needs. Whether it is the race day breakfast, the dinner prior to a long training day, bike & run nutrition or what we plan to drink. Plenty of weekends to make changes, adjust and fine-tune our strategy on race day in order to execute flawlessly. Plenty of practice opportunities for transitions, wetsuit removal or even eating from a Gel holder while running. Practice, practice, practice until we execute our ‘game day’ flawlessly.

The latest research and studies conclude that what I describe above is called “deliberate practice”. The best people in almost any field are those who devote the most hours to this kind of training. It is activity that’s sole purpose is to improve performance, that reaches just beyond one’s current level of competence and – very important – involves high levels of repetition all while understanding the feedback the results are giving you.

Simply riding a 100 miles and running a few miles after is not deliberate practice. Simply hitting a bucket of balls is not deliberate, nor is quarterback Tom Brady just throwing 50 footballs down field. Riding 80 miles within your prescribed HR zone or wattage, in the aero position, holding a preset cadence, while monitoring hydration and nutrition, as well as how this affects your run after, is deliberate practice. Coming back a week or two later and making adjustments based on your observations and riding that 80 miles again with the goal of improved performance – ever so slightly – is deliberate practice. It’s like hitting an eight-iron 300 times with a goal of leaving the ball within 20 feet of the pin 80% of the time, continually observing results and making adjustments.

The more of this deliberate practice, the more flawless execution becomes.

I hound many of my athletes continuously during the season to practice everything from race day in order to ‘control the things they can control’, because on race day there are always plenty of things out of our control. Flawless execution can only be achieved by having practiced it deliberately numerous times, leaving race day to be very similar to race simulation: just catered!

Experience

The New England Patriots are a team of veterans: free agents bought for their experience, skill and understanding of the game. This skill and understanding of the game allows for even more focus in preparation for the games. Having experience allows for an extra level of calmness on the field when events can cause confusion. It’s the classic ‘don’t panic’ approach that the veterans apply differently and therefore remain focused on their assignments, execution and then, the outcome of the game. Experienced athletes like the Patriots actually become more focused and deliberate when they are challenged or their backs are against the wall. This is evidenced by the past few weekends, the Eagles, the Ravens and the Steelers were all out to ‘dethrone’ the perfect Patriots. This changed their mindset going into the game and, despite being challenged, still prevailed.

In triathlon this experience is also crucial to successful race day results. It would be easy to point out that we need to know how Ironman works before being able to deliberately train for it. But experience means so much more. There is a reason why Tim DeBoom and Chris McCormack have had their best Hawaii results after 5-6 attempts: experience and with it the ability to understand what the day brings: don’t panic. For these guys it means staying focused on your own race despite others riding off the front or the swim having not been as good as planned. It means allowing for 26.2 miles to reach the finish line first, not by mile 10 and then fold (DNF). It means remaining calm but focused and concentrating at the task at hand even more.

For those of us that have not won Ironman Hawaii, it means remaining within our day. Experience allows us to understand the highs and lows we all experience during the event – even expecting these highs and lows and shrugging them off. It is knowing that we will reach a point on the bike we no longer want to turn the pedals or eat another morsel, no matter how fit we are or how many times we did this in training! Experience is knowing we hit a lull on the run and need to move to coke as of this point. All of us have our own observations from race day, and despite the best planning & preparation, we also need to display the experience of having been here before and knowing what we will do to get through it and finish!

Once again, control the aspects of race day we can control via deliberate practice and outstanding fitness. But experience allows us to embrace the aspects we can’t control by focusing & concentrating even more on improvingthis performance and its desired outcome.

The conclusions currently being published throughout sports psychology show that we all have a chance to be great. Mainly because we can be great with work, and high-level performances can be achieved with practice and experience.

Now tell that to the other 13 NFL teams that have lost to the New England Patriots….

Original article can be found on xtri.com

Having it all – A good 2008 starts with a smart Preseason

Having it all – A good 2008 starts with a smart Preseason
By Chris Hauth
10/18/2007

This is usually the time of year we start thinking of the next racing season in earnest. Of course most of us have already ‘thought’ about 2008 since we had to sign up for most of the popular races the day after they ended! But usually as we get into October we start planning the next season. With that planning usually comes the off-season. What will we do differently to set up that great ‘A’ race in 2008?

I like to call the off-season the Preseason. This does not mean I don’t believe in taking some serious time off, but I am a firm believer in maintaining a healthy foundation for what will be required come the spring. I say to all of my athletes that a well-executed Preseason allows you to have it all. What does ‘having it all’ mean?

Having it all means balancing life, with all the avenues that need attention, while maintaining your triathlon sanity. The Preseason sets all this up for you. I can list all the benefits here of a solid strength training plan, of how core & stability work will benefit you in the long term etc. But I want to instead explain the ‘hidden’ benefits of the Preseason:

Less stress – A healthy Preseason gives you flexibility. Your lighter training now allows for a healthy balance of other activities you neglect when things get serious again. If you want to go skiing for a few days this winter, have a family vacation planned or know that the Holidays will not allows any training, no need to stress – you have been consistent with your training through the Preseason and taking a week or two off will not derail your 2008 ambitions. Less stress also if the common winter cold catches up with you or even an injury that creeps up, your consistent approach allows some leeway on all these possible roadblocks to your training.

Undecided racing schedule – A smart Preseason provides you with a platform to race any distance that you might still sign up for. Think it might be fun to do that Half Ironman you have been eyeing? A steady dose of consistent training in the Preseason lets you either ‘add on’ volume or increase the intensity for shorter distance races. But this flexibility starts with a platform that you created in the Preseason. For example, if you are maintaining a healthy 8-12 hrs of training per week in the Preseason, then the jump to 15-17 hours per week will not be a shock to your body. This avoids injury as well as keeps the head on straight – meaning that when it’s time to turn the mental focus back on, your mind & spirit are fresh.

Goodwill – Triathlon is extremely time consuming. ‘Having it all’ means strategically lining up your season with the family and your career. Steady Preseason training keeps you from getting too out of shape for your big plans in 2008, but also creates a visible difference in hours training per week vs. when the season is in full swing. I write ‘visible’ difference since it needs to be obvious to your family and people at work that you are flexible and open to extra hours at this time of year. This goodwill goes a long way in the spring & summer when you book it out of the office at 4pm to get in a ride or you get home at 2pm from a 6 hour bike + 1 hour run on a Saturday. Many of my athletes want to do more at this time of year – but I always urge them to spend that time now with their other priorities, because the time will come where I look for big sacrifices. And we all know, it gets challenging at home on some of those Saturdays…

Hit the ground running – A successful Preseason also allows you to prepare for the 2008 Season by squaring away your plans and goals early. Looking for a coach? Don’t wait until January. Why? Because it will take a few weeks minimum to get one the same page with the coaching plan – what the workouts means, how the coach wants you to complete them, what you expect from your coaching, and the biggest component: your understanding of base & foundation training might be completely different than your coach’s – this alone might delay a few weeks of training. Despite physiological testing, numerous conversations and all kinds of training data, it takes me about 4 weeks to get on the same page with my athletes: Their work schedule, hours available, how they are adapting to the training, scheduling they prefer on the weekend etc. All this takes time and starting in January or February cuts it real close. Also, if you are doing your own planning, have your season written out, with phases, goals and key performance markers before the main season begins. This allows you to start 2008 prepared and with a clear mind to focus on training and balancing the rest of your responsibilities. That is hard enough! Come the main training phases you want to hit the ground running knowing what you are doing, why you are doing it, how you are going to complete it and what the desired outcome should be.

Integrate – Preseason is a great time to catch up with training partners you usually don’t train with, run trails you stay away from in the main part of the season, ride to that bakery you always pass. Stop, have a coffee & pastry, and then ride home. Or, even better, head there with your family or significant other. I like to take my wife out on the roads I ride during my training days so that she can see where I ride, enjoy some of the route that I always talk about when I come home from some of those long days. How often are we on long rides or runs and think how fun it would be to come here NOT while training? Now is the time. It makes passing those spots so much easier come 2008. You actually have fond memories! Hike the trails you run, take some of your training buddies to the routes you have discovered. Some may not be able to ride that far, so drive out there a bit. The key is to combine the sacrifices you make during the season with the people that are important to you. It sure goes a long way when you disappear again.

Health – Here is where having it all is most obvious but we cannot overlook this important aspect of solid Preseason. Of course we know maintaining a healthy base allows for the body to actively recover from the rigors of a long season while maintaining a strong muscular structure with all its ligaments and support network. We also know it is never healthy to go to extremes, whether not training at all to going full speed into the big training miles. But this also includes metabolism and our diet – sure, allow yourself to eat those things you deprive yourself at times during the season and also allows your weight to fluctuate a bit, but extreme changes will just make returning to ‘par’ harder. Preseason is the time to try different routines also – what if I move my swims to Saturday and now do a long run on Wednesdays? Trying different training or routines (yoga or some strength training) can often be beneficial to the overall plan but know how it affects you & your training before integrating into the main season. Does strength work leave you too tired for a good quality session the next day? Does swimming on a different day make it easier to do a Bike/Run on another day? This is the time of year to test that reshuffle.

While much of this might not be new to you, using the Preseason to your advantage can really impact your 2008 season. Many of us will not think of these things until January but preparing a good Preseason really does allow us to ‘have it all’ – work/life balance, results, health and sanity. A wise friend in triathlon always taught me to control the things I can control, whether on race day or in my training – a well planned Preseason does just that – it allows me to get control of my ‘world’ and be prepared for when things really get going.

Now I need to go train since my 2007 season hasn’t ended…yet.

Original article can be found on xtri.com

Throwing up a Brick – learning to understand ‘bad’ workouts

Throwing up a Brick – learning to understand ‘bad’ workouts
By Chris Hauth
8/15/2007

Lake Tahoe, California- August 9th, 2007

I have the opportunity to share my thoughts and input occasionally on Xtri.com and this is the first of a monthly article I hope to provide. These contributions will revolve around anything endurance sports related but usually tie back to a coaching related lesson that all of us can apply in our daily routines. This is also for a coaching related page on Xtri.com and I hope to add some value in my own way.

We all train a lot. Whether being a professional or amateur athlete, we have all committed to an event and now look to training to ensure we have the best possible day out there. I write the “commitment to an event” since if we are just in a daily routine of training we tend to not gauge our workouts as seriously or might not have as much complexity in the workout itself.

I had a horrible workout today. I was tired, unmotivated and just not ‘feeling’ right. I was close to calling it a day and heading home – which at a training camp is never easy. I have felt like this many of times before – either I rushed through my day and was not properly prepared for my training (hydration and nutrition), had a bad night’s sleep, was recovering from a hard workout or a lot of stress at work etc. We all have many reasons for being ‘off’ on any given day. They are all valid since there is a lot that most triathletes try to fit into their daily lives – often this comes at the price of the next workout or training day.

Whenever I feel like it is ‘not my day’, it helps me to go through my checklist of what qualifies as a bad workout from when I was a swimmer. Hopefully you find this helpful too since I personally believe there is no bad training day (unless when getting sick – shut it down!).

*In order from airball to ‘swoosh’:

1) Airball – Despite all your attempts the workout is not coming together. You resign yourself to going easy and just ‘going through the motions’. You wish there was that Tour De France sweeper van around to let you get in while holding your hands up blocking the camera. Value? Absolutely! You are out there doing it. You are clearing your mind, getting the HR up (slightly…:)), having the muscles fire their motions they will need when you are feeling better. As I used to say in the pool: I am still doing more than 95% of the world population and what can I expect? Nail every workout every day all the time? Let go and enjoy the sport for what it is – a healthy, active lifestyle that affords us so much. True, some make a living from this but I know they throw airballs every now and then!

2) Clank off the front of the rim – I took a shot but it was horribly bad. Gave it a go, thought I could ‘will’ myself through this but after a go at it I fizzle out. I try again and do even worse. I go easy for a bit thinking that I can actively recover during the workout – Ha! My next attempt is even worse – no power, no speed, no feel for the activity I am doing. Back to easy and focus on form and sport specific drills that will help me improve….on some other day! I had a workout, I worked on some things I probably usually don’t focus on which is good. Value? I let go of trying to reach for a workout that was not there today and regrouped.

3) Clank off the back of the rim – This one started out bad but had some redeeming qualities towards the end. I thought I was going to go easy the whole way but towards the end I felt much better and actually did some ‘work’ – no intervals or what the desired outcome of the training was supposed to be, BUT I felt good again towards the end, had some kick and power. Feel much better about the next training session. Value? I was patient, didn’t force it and regrouped to have my feeling back late. Finished on a positive note.

4) In & Out (rims out) – ok, it doesn’t feel great but at least I got in a few intervals or drills or the prescription (Rx) of the workout. Did I get it all in? No, but at least I was able to pull something out of this workout. There have been much better days but I gave it a whirl and lasted partially through.

5) Bounce off the rim but still goes in – Phew – that was close. I felt awful to start with but once I got going it was there. I have no idea where that came from but I asked my body to perform and it did! Mind over matter? Nah, I just needed a solid warm up and to not think too much into how I am feeling – Just do it right?

6) Swoosh – You nailed the workout. Warm up felt solid, the intervals or the desired adaptation for the workout was completely achieved and you felt solid doing it. Come home and enter the workout immediately into your log with a beautiful and long description of all details. Let coach know how great you feel – even add “bring it on!” into the conversation.

Of course this checklist is constantly being marked and evaluated during the workout, unless you are ‘in the zone’ right off the start. But I come out of every workout knowing there is always some value within it. We have all had these days within our season – but I would be willing to say that 95% of the time we are happy we did the workout once we are done. We always, always feel good about having done it at all!

We all have ‘bad’ days – we often interpret these workouts as unsuccessful or even as a waste of time. As you have read, I doubt there was not something we squeezed out of the session. I once had a fantastic professional triathlete tell me that any workout that is not hard (a workout with a focused, deliberate adaptation or outcome) is not an effective use of time and I might as well lay on the couch resting for the next ‘good’ workout. Well, for him this might have worked since it was his only recovery I think (!) but for the ‘working athlete’, those with jobs other than full time triathlon, and families, sitting on the couch is just not an option. Go ahead, accept throwing up a brick sometimes but know there is always some value to taking the shot. It won’t stop you from taking another shot right? Just ask Kobe….

We’ll talk about ‘bad’ races some other time.

Original article can be found on xtri.com