I have no problem working hard, but patience has always been in limited supply. My coach Andrew Yoder and I have spent two years trying to control my training so that I am able to absorb the work and then demonstrate that fitness come race day. Seems like an obvious concept now but the temptation to validate myself through daily training is tempting and in many ways kind of fun. Fortunately, I have come to see the benefits of training with long-term goals and strategies in mind. I think it is no coincidence that last season was the first year where I was essentially injury free the entire year. This new found patience has certainly been put to the test during the first month of full-time training. It has been difficult to resist the temptation to do all the training at once and achieve all my goals within the first few weeks. For me, it has always been hard to balance where I know I need to be fitness wise with what I am currently capable of or realistically able to maintain. My full time job as a swim coach over the past 6 years has in many ways served as a governor to limit my training, which was perhaps a good thing in the end, although on the flipside it did not provide the opportunities for recovery, simply limiting my potential to train. Now that training is my main priority and other things are being scheduled around it, the temptation to overtrain is back in the spotlight. I am smarter than I used to be when it comes to training, but every once in awhile it takes pushing an endurance ride a little too hard and struggling on quality work the following three days to remind me how much I need to control my training. I think in many ways I am just excited to see where I can get my fitness given the ideal training and recovery environment. Patience will always be a work in progress for me.
Aside from training my other focus during this transitional time is on growing my triathlon coaching business, The Endurance Drive. My training partner and friend Jim Anderson and I started this business about a year ago and I have certainly enjoyed getting to know and coaching my group of athletes. I was fortunate that all of my athletes chose to stay with me through the move and I have enjoyed the new task of doing all of my coaching remotely. My work for The Endurance Drive has been largely a side project over the past year, while continuing to work as a collegiate swim coach so it has been enjoyable to make that one of my main priorities and find ways to translate what I have learned as a swim coach and as a triathlete myself into development of my athletes. I am fortunate to have five very different athletes at the moment so it has helped me develop a wide array of workouts as well as strategies for extracting the most out of each of my athletes. The experiences I have had with these athletes over the past month has shown me I am capable of making this a serious business and has made me eager to attract new clients here on the West Coast. Perhaps this is the case for most small businesses, but attracting new clients has certainly proved to be the most challenging aspect of the entire online triathlon coaching business. If I am honest about my personality, promoting a new company and seeking new clients is far from natural so it has and continues to be a good personal challenged to put myself out there in situations I may otherwise avoid. I am looking forward to the start of the racing season in just a couple weeks, from not only an athletic point of view but also as a means of starting to get to know the community and get the Endurance Drive name out there in the Southern California Triathlon scene.
Speaking of being excited to race, the nerves are back. Nerves have always been part of the pre-race routine for me but this has been an especially long off season so it seems they are starting a bit early. I have learned to manage this anxiety/anticipation, but for the most part, starting the swim is really the only thing that will calm me down. I always feel a great deal of anticipation and excitement to see what kind of fitness I have brought to each race and how hard I am going to be able to push myself. Despite coming from a swimming background in college and then spending the last six years of my life on a pool deck there are still pre-swim nerves. Not so much the fear of getting punched in the face or not be able to make it, more will I be able to get clear of the pack, will someone swim with me, where will I settle effort wise to maximize my potential in the swim without compromising my bike and run splits. To be honest, I do not enjoy the hour or two before a race, despite my persistent training and mental preparation. I would be lying if I said nerves don’t get the best of me from time to time. Unfortunately, for me this usually manifests itself in my stomach but I have worked on many ways of controlling this over the years. Fortunately, the most effective cure for my nerves and pre-race angst is to start the race. When I start swimming and I get through the first few breathing and sighting cycles I can finally relax and let my fitness take over. Over the past six years this is where I have felt most comfortable, in the water, on the bike or on the run but in a race focusing on my effort and executing a perfect plan. It certainly does not always go as planned,but win or lose mid-race is where I feel my best.
I am looking forward to the Olympic I will be racing next weekend in Ventura, CA. Course is flat, fast and I think it should be a good test of my early season form. A lot has changed since I last raced in September; an entire swim season has passed, I am no longer a swim coach, I am training/running triathlon coaching business full-time and I moved to California with my girlfriend Nyssa. After a less than ideal off-season training wise, I have worked as hard as I know how to over the last three months to get myself ready for this block of racing. There have certainly been many encouraging signs over the past few week and I cannot wait to see how that translates to my racing.