What a week I tell you. Catch a cool summary of the images HERE. I went out for a ride this morning and the legs are still sore from the running with the pack. I totalled about 100km of running in the week, so looking back it was a mini running camp which was unplanned, but well worth it.
More interestingly, I was trying to find the elixir out there in the chaos. There are big secrets on display out on the route and in the tents afterwards. Because I am not big on secrets, I wanted to share them with you as they apply not only to mountain biking stage racing, but Ironman, and, well, life in general.
I bang on about this, but from what I could see, economy was the prevalent factor for success out there. This means specificity in the economy on the trails as I saw many a roadie who struggled to keep up in the trails out there. They can absolutely hammer the flat sections, but the ability to move economically at a certain power up a long, loose climb is an absolute success factor. I ran behind Christoph Sauser up a very steep climb and his rear wheel never slipped, his body was perfectly focused at going forwards, smoothly. There is no waste in the pedal stroke.
Extend it then to the approach to the environment. Do you ride through every rocky section or do you guide the bike through with as little chance for damage as possible. Those with the least technical problems were fastes to the finish.
Extend this to economy off the bike. Athletes who lie down when they could be sitting win come day 5-8. Athletes who are good at delegating to get stuff done for them win even more. Economy of movement wins, wins, wins.
Secondly, I saw that the mental attitude towards the moment was crucial. Yes, the suck factor is high at times, but immerse yourself and embrace the suck. There is gold to be had there. The guys and girls who could absorb the suck had more success towards the end of stages when the natural fade starts to occur. Also, you may suck today and be great tomorrow, but don’t wait for tomorrow to be great. Be as good as you can be in the moment.
Lastly, I have to stress the ability to have fun. On day 1, when there was a lot of unplanned sand, teams who made it their mission to get through it with a positive attitude won on the day and expended the least energy to get to the finish. This is huge for me. If you trained for 6 months for an event and expect to go there without any hassles and get all huffy about it when they happen, it’s never going to be fun. Unless you have a serious body ailment going on or a horrible injury, have some fun out there. Getting to the finish line in tatters and having hated the whole experience seems like a whole waste of time, energy and money to me.
As I approach Ironman in just three short weeks I want to make sure I focus on these elements in my final preparations and think about these three things out there during the day as well:
- Move economically
- Embrace the suck
- Have some fun