Pre-season is an interminable purée of training fatigue, a fugue of sameness and difficulty that is only comprehensible when examined as a whole. No one workout is overwhelmingly tiring, the challenge lies in maintaining the patience required to build the indefatigable foundation on which the rest of the season will stand.
As my base training closes, I’d rank my preparation for 2016 as: prettyyyyyyy, prettyyyyyyyyyyyy, pretttttttyyyyyyyy, pretty good.
Here’s the low-down on a preparatory phase based on the mantra: “Variety is for the weak minded.”
These base months were about not getting excited, not getting hurt, not going insane. While many sessions were hard, I’ve found that one very basic key for a healthy offseason is to always feel that I could train much harder. A whole workout can be difficult, but from November through February I’ll never go to the well for an extra watt on the bike or second on a tempo. I might get close to the well, talk to the watermongers surrounding the well, maybe take a real close look at the water in the well, but remove no buckets from said well and absolutely no falling in and calling Lassie for help.
Workouts essentially built on each other and blatant patterns emerged – 14 x 100 became 10 x 150 became 8 x 200 became 6 x 300. When I could beat down the desire to rend the sameness asunder, the training oriented me to my development and whether or not I was paying enough attention to my recovery/nutrition/latent schizophrenia.
One thing that was slightly different was that instead of finding out our workouts, say, 45 seconds before we started, now we discover our workouts while we’re actually doing them. I think Paulo read Once a Runner and took those infinite 400s to heart. After attempting to discuss this with him, I’ve come to the conclusion that he just doesn’t want us freaking out over what precisely he’s penciled into his devilish black book of training:
That’s not to say that this block hasn’t had its interruptions. There have been a couple brief interludes where I took a spill on my bike or thought that I had a season ending injury only to have it disappear the next day. Olympic year can bring some nerves. But if there’s one thing that Paulo prods/pokes/cajoles/makes my life hell in order to get me to learn, it’s that when a workout/race/mind becomes excrement hitting the air conditioning, the only thing to do is stay calm, drink an extra cup of coffee, and execute.
So yeah, I’m fine.
One great change was the arrival of Swiss extraordinaire Maximillian Studer, a junior champ making the move to U23s. It’s always nice to have some fresh blood in the squad, especially when that blood can probably drop a 49 second 400 and is always down for a leg splitting final 4 minute cycling effort. And when he pulls out a boombox 30 minutes into a 4:30hr ride that starts blaring Rocky Tunes, it’s a pretty nice bonus. Looking forward to seeing his results but planning to never be within 400 yards of him as the finish line nears, or else he could comfortably dab and point at my pride disintegrating.
Sadly we had to bid adieu to the Swiss speedster, but it was memorable as his last night here we took over the open seating at Ballast Point and Red Team proceeded to dominate the Lazer Tag Arena. Chocolatiers know how to organize a last meal.
After a long search for alternatives to the pavement of Miramar Loop, Paulo developed a 500m grass track to save our legs from the pounding. Not only that, but we get a pace clock at track sessions, too! I’m pretty sure that’s just there to make it easier for Paulo to wait until 1 rep in to say things like “Oh wait, these 1500s will be on a 5:30 interval, not 6:30. My bad hehe”
US Olympic Media Summit
The highlight of the past few months was attending the US Olympic Media Summit. The Sunday I arrived I met with a news crew that shot some training footage, listened to me botch a Churchill quote, and give advice on ‘3 key exercises to become an Olympian!” Monday morning was a circuit through hotel rooms that had been transformed into television studios for interviews. The afternoon consisted of amongst other activities, photo shoots, gif creation, and a print news panel.
Lyndsay Wyskowski was my ‘handler’ for the day, leading me from interview to interview. Actual legitimate stars were shipped out for this event (like Lochte, Meb, Gabby Douglas), which was evident from the full size complimentary packets of beef jerky! Along with the Hershey’s bars and Brookside dark chocolate goji berries they were just GIVING away, that was reason enough to travel up there.
Probably more pictures and interviews in a 24 hour period than in the cumulative 25 years prior. So many questions about training, the trials process, triathlons, my hobbies – most of which, if I’d answered honestly, would have amounted to no more than how much I like being in bed.
Who knows how many of these will actually broadcast, but if they do it will be a crap shoot on whether I’m spouting off about what the Olympics means to me or why triathletes are best equipped to handle a zombie apocalypse. One is pretty much a 3 minute advertisement for Oreos, so there’s that.
Here’s a gallery from the day:
Tritonman World Championships
These happened. I finished 4th. I wore a moustache. I wanted to check out my transitions and the race sensation, but this was mainly an opportunity to ‘play triathlon’ for a day. It’s not often, and especially not this year, that I’m able to race just for fun. More than anything, I wanted to relax and put in an effort that would enhance the training block. It was a nice break from the monotony, but I’m craving the pressure that comes from representing America on the biggest stages. I like thinking that the big USA on my butt means something and that every race is not just an opportunity for success but also failure. That I show up ready to represent my country and not just put down another performance for a solo career.
The season begins!
And then, finally, after Tritonman our block changed, the intensity ramped up, tempos morphed into grass intervals with short rest, hills changed to fast track work. Pretty quickly I started feeling faster, hungrier to race. It was almost like Paulo had laid out a plan, a cunning, cunning plan:
We’re all looking forward to how this plays out next weekend at the New Plymouth World Cup. Stay tuned.
I’m very grateful to have an awesome team behind me for 2016. I’ll be riding Kestrel again, the most comfortable, fastest carbon bikes around, running in some sweet Brooks Hyperions, and swimming in the ultrafast ROKA. NYAC is generous once more, as is Four Winds Student Travel. All in all, very excited to race in the best combination of equipment for 2016.
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