Local Ironman competitor, Dr. John Anders writes about his training, marathons and musings.
"If at first you don't succeed; try, try again. Then give up." Apparently Mark Twain said this. It could certainly apply to many of us who set some New Year's Resolutions for ourselves though. How many of us set the same goals each year without really thinking about how we want to achieve those goals? Then we try the same thing we tried the year before and it doesn't work, just like it didn't work before. So we give up.
Einstein is supposed to have said this a different way: "the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over yet expecting different results." I bet a lot of us would be called insane under those terms. I see that in myself, especially when I start planning a training program for an ironman triathlon. I look back at training programs I used for other races and then try to do the same thing. Even if it didn't turn out the way I had hoped it would. Why do I think that if I do the same hundreds of hours of training as I did for the race before that I should expect to go faster the next time when I didn't change anything?
It's like the person who wants to average 7 minutes per mile for their local 5K yet they do all of their training at 8 minutes per mile. That is insanity. If they want to be able to run 7 minutes per mile then they have to train at that pace sometimes. My own example of this is usually in my bicycle training. I'd like to race at 22-23 mph. But I do most of my riding at 20-21 mph, and inevitably race at the same speed as well.
I had recently read a book by one of my favorite triathletes. In the book he said that each year he and his team of advisers meet and analyze what happened throughout the year. They look at races and training sessions, nutrition and periods of rest. If he achieved the results he was hoping for, they looked to see what things led to the favorable outcome. They also look at things that were of no value. What things do you do that serve no useful purpose?
When I look at my training logs, one of the things that jumps out at me is how few "rest" days I have taken the past 2 years. I used to take more. For years and years, I almost always took Mondays off from training. Sometimes I would sleep a little later. Other times I would get up and do some stretching with a yoga DVD. Then at the end of 2010 I posted on Facebook how I had taken 36 days off of training that year. One of my good friends kiddingly said I shouldn't be such a slacker.
But that got me to thinking…. I began to wonder how few days I could take off in the year and still do all of my training and racing. In 2011 I took 4 days off. One was because I was sick (it's no wonder I was sick) and the other 3 were travel days either before or after a race. It was not the smartest decision ever, but I rationalized it by saying that some of the training days were "easy" sessions. For this past year, 2012, I had resolved to take more rest days than in 2011. I had no plan though. I just figured they'd happen. I took plenty of easy days I'm sure but as for days of no working out, there were just 11. That was not exactly the increased amount of rest I was looking for. And by the end of the year I could tell it.
Both of my boys like to remind me of my age, but Eric, who also read the book, said to me, "Didn't you read what it said in the book? He said that as he has gotten older he has had to rest more. He has to remember that he's not 25 any more. Maybe you should pay attention." I will. I resolve to get even more rest days this year, although I'm not quite sure how many more yet. However; goals without a plan are just wishes, so if I don't put a number down, I'm bound to have another year like last year. You heard it first here: I plan to get at least 24 days off from training this year.
So, if at first you don't succeed, get a new plan. Don't give up either. And above all else, stop the insanity! I think I'll go take a nap now. Live Well. Live Wellington.