Part of me has evolved radically this year. I am not talking about body shapes or spiritual beliefs, but still, radical change has been the order of the year it seems. A huge part of that has been the way I have completely fallen in love with trail running. For the last few years, running has been the final nail in the Ironman puzzle – the success factor for a successful race was the way in which I managed energy at the end of a 3.8km swim & 180km bike ride.
I ran to win after a hopefully successful set-up on the swim and bike.
Then something happened. At Otter last year, I ran to run. For no other reason than to simply run. A monumental shift occurred during those 5 hours. I was so exhausted from the shift in the week afterward that I didn’t even fully realise what had happened.
It wasn’t until my preparation for Ironman 2013 came about that I realised what had changed. I ran heavy trails in prep for Ironman this year. 80% of my preparation was on trails as I just couldn’t bring myself to running on the road. While I still love a good plod along the promenade every once in a while, I now go out of my way to run on the trails.
It coincided with my growing aversion to using technology while training and analysing it afterward. I still keep Strava as a record for what I have done, but that’s it. I prefer to train on routes where I am not looking at numbers. Sure, I like seeing I climbed 5500m on a big bike ride, or ran 12 x sub 4min kilometers out on the road, but they are secondary wins. The primary win is running somewhere new, where its easy one minute and damn hard the next, having nothing to compare it to and relishing the pain and the sweet easy sections each as thoroughly as the other.
And so, in 2013 the mountains came calling. I discovered what I would call true trail running – big vertical gains and drops, hiking sections and really technical trails. I was totally out of my depth most of the time and it was the need to upskill quickly that was another draw card in this transformation.
It’s really as simple as going to Google images and typing “road running” and hitting search and comparing it to typing “trail running” and searching again.
The images speak for themselves. I am the solo guy, running away from society, searching for quiet and calm. I am not the guy in the group with the running number on his chest and back, looking for coke at the next aid station and wearing the bad race t-shirt to my next braai with friends.
I am a loner. I train alone. It’s the way I prefer it. I’m not big on chit chat and I certainly don’t like ‘society’ as a whole. So I run for my own space, my own time and my own expression. I run to improve my ability to move, to conquer mountains and to go places I have never been to.
I run because I can and because I should, because I can. I run for me.
Part of a much more extensive shift, this initial shift led me to entering Cent Cols Challenge, where another huge shift occured. This one we won’t see the full manifestation of until next year, but running was the catalyst for change.
Running is the catalyst for so much, for so many.
While my last post spoke of quite serious things and comments have ranged from “typical post-holiday post” to “life changing information”, I wanted to talk about something I learned in the best way ie through forced acceptance, at CCC this year. I am going to call it Severe Adaptation.
I went from 2 weeks of almost zero riding and the 8 weeks preceding were around 350km per week of riding, to being thrown into 1400km of riding per week. Thats a 400% increase in volume, and even intensity was a little higher due to the nature of the climbs.
Whats the response on something like that?
What are the long term effects?
Firstly, lets take a step back and check the requirements to make that work. Let’s look at the environment it was achieved in and that is pretty much the critical success factor.
1. Do it in a group of like-minded people. Having 20 something others in the same bowl motivates you to swim, per se.
2. Remove external stress factors. Riding your bike 10 hours a day means you eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, sleep repeatedly. Major tasks for the day are washing your clothes and cleaning your bike and even those are optional to most.
3. Food was kept pretty simple. I ate gluten-free alongside Kristian 90% of the time, opting for the occasional bread treat, especially towards the end.
4. Sleep patterns were kept pretty strict. 10:30pm curfew for me and I stuck to it like peanut butter to a mohair carpet. That allowed me almost 8 hours of sleep per night and was one of the major reasons I got stronger as the week went on. I also did some active stretching and loosening before bed, each night.
So what happened?
My shift of normal was incredible. Some will remember me being 100% flat dead toast in my moer after a 7 hour ride here in CT. Dead to the world for 24 hours. After 4 days of riding, 9 hour rides became, dare I say it, trivial, as long as I kept the intensity down to AeT most of the ride.
I found a new level, something I didn’t know existed, in there somewhere and I wondered how to apply it to endurance events like Ironman, Cape Epic and the likes.
The 4 pillars above are the start. Now we start looking at the recovery and how long its going to take me to find my legs. I am running the Otter this weekend with no expectation to be fast, but with a definite readiness to be strong in the back half of the race.
After that, I need to pick some races, work on some light speed and then see how long I take to feel supremely bouncy again. So far this week my running has been slow, steady and I have felt great, but we wont know till Saturdays prologue how much real oomph is in there.
Keep you posted…
It’s been an interesting time, the last few weeks with the world of cycling on the verge of potential implosion as one 7 time winner of the TDF plays out his game of chess to gain public favour and build his newest empire. Hard on the mind as I can feel my enthusiasm drop and I can see that the world is tired of one of the most beautiful, difficult sports on the planet. As Privateer grows and we take on new projects that centre around the simplicity of riding a bike, or running wildly and freely, I find myself doubting the seemingly “not normal” efforts out there and have to remind myself that a cleaner, wiser, more ethical group of professionals now partake in these sports.
Whilst I am not convinced that all sports are cleaning up their act, I believe that some are trying harder than others. When the culture changes at a school level, then we will see the change all the way to the top. When the fathers of high school rugby players step in and demand to see what coaches are giving their “boytjies” that they are 18 years old and 100kg of muscle, we will see a better game being played all the way to Super 15, but likely it’ll be the Super 22 by that stage.
I am reading about society at the moment, as well as moderated societies, flow, tempo and the worth / value of money. Big steaks to chew on but I am fascinated by mankind and its ability to totally dominate at present. The beautiful roads I love to ride are an absolute domination on the natural landscape. I marvel at it, but at the same time aware that it’s not natural. Like skycrapers with a zero carbon footprint, they tweak our imagination that something so unnatural can have no effect on the environment.
I found this passage today, and it’s worth the share:
Reasonable citizens want to live in a society in which they can cooperate with their fellow citizens on terms that are acceptable to all. They are willing to propose and abide by mutually acceptable rules, given the assurance that others will also do so; and they will honour these rules even when this means some sacrifice to their own interests. Reasonable citizens want, in short, to belong to a society where political power is legitimately used.
Each reasonable citizen has his own view about God and life, right and wrong, good and bad. Each has, that is, what Rawls calls his own comprehensive doctrine. Yet because reasonable citizens are reasonable, they are unwilling to impose their own comprehensive doctrines on others who are also willing to search for mutually agreeable rules. Though each may believe that he knows the truth, none is willing to force other reasonable citizens to live by that truth, even should he belong to a majority that has the power to enforce it.
One ground for reasonable citizens to be so tolerant, Rawls says, is that they accept a particular explanation for the diversity of world-views in their society. Reasonable citizens accept the burdens of judgement. The deepest questions of religion, philosophy, and morality are very difficult even for conscientious people to think through, and people will answer these questions in different ways because of their own particular life experiences (their upbringing, class, occupation, and so on). Reasonable citizens understand that these deep issues are ones on which people of good will can disagree, and so will be unwilling to impose their own worldviews on those who have reached different conclusions.
Read more here…
It goes into justice, fairness and basic liberties. It’s a good read and I had to bring it back to a few of the articles I read in the last week that inspired me to believe in the performances set out by elite-level athletes in every sport. Sport is a beautiful thing. It’s about honour, about pride and about fairness. It’s been marketed as “win-at-all-costs” and lately, that it’s impossible to win fairly, with honour. It hurts me to think about it that way. Sport gives me so much and I don’t want to become that guy who questions every performance, who scrutinises every win and immediately shoots towards “he/she is to the eyeballs” without considering the work the athlete has put in.
As we close our eyes and imagine the best sporting performances we have ever seen, we are inspired that an athlete overcame on a level playing field with honour, pride and that it was justice for hard work, consistency and just a little panache thrown in for measure.
This happens in a reasonable society.
But is our society reasonable?
Are children being brought up with reasonable messages? Are the marketing departments of the world giving them a fair chance to play with honour?
I am not so sure any longer that this is the world that the leaders of our fathers fathers wanted to create. That their dream was to have a world where shows like Little Miss Perfect are watched by millions, sitting squarely in front of their flat-screens, eating over-processed, plastic, genetically-modified foods that give them no hope of being perfect, only a high chance of diabetes and leaky guts syndrome.
Where is our reasonable society? I’ll give you some clues:
- It starts in your house.
- It starts with the way you treat competitors at races and out training.
- It starts with how you pick what you eat.
- It starts with a basic respect for your body and your mind.
- It starts with you.
Reasonable society is a concept that we can create. That transgresses this belief that a good society is impossible, that victory without assistance is a pipe-dream. It’s a long way off, but so is the first step towards the Ironman finish line when you first commit to getting there.
Perhaps I am a total dreamer for putting these words down here. But possibly, I can convince a few of you to join me on this path…
We all know the freak that exists inside us.
It’s that part of you that jumps before checking over the ledge, the part of you that says I`m in before you`ve heard the end of the sentence and it’s the core of your journey towards a better you.
Society tells us to stay within the box, yet we champion the few heroes who defy convention. It lifts those who come back stronger, even though advertising tells us that the same shade of lipstick or same smell of cologne will make us a success. It’s a mixed message for sure.
It’s the freak that knows we need to destroy the box that we are in, the freak knows we need to break loose, bonk horribly on a long ride to know where the true limits lie and its the freak that has you delirious, lost on a trail somewhere with the biggest smile on your face.
The freak knows.
Feed it the things that make you happy and it will reward you with adventure, energy and creativity. Let loose, the freak will help you discover things, places and people you thought you would never know. It`ll take you to worlds you never comprehended and limits you created for yourself will be smashed on a regular basis. Noise will become silence as the freak gives you purpose.
Feed the freak this weekend. I know my fridge is loaded with food for it.
South Africa has a long history of being brilliant at all things sports orientated. We have the largest mass participation swim (open water – Midmar), bike (Le Argus) and run’s (Ultra Marathon – Comrades) in the world here. We have the terrain, the genetics and the facilities.
In triathlon, we have world beaters like Conrad Stoltz, Raynard Tissink, Dan Hugo and James Cunnama. We have one or two up and coming guys like Richard Murray as well, but where is the real depth. I read this article yesterday and when I look at the depth of Australian triathlon, I must wonder where we are missing the boat here in South Africa, where the talent exists, surely?
Then I came across the fastest amateur splits in Kona, and my jaw dropped, properly. Sure, the conditions were great, but for an AG without a pack to help him, how is the 39 year guy who went 6 minutes slower than race winner Crowie?
1st 4:30:13 1226 Damien Favre-Felix FRA
2nd 4:35:17 1025 Andrea Zamboni SWI
3rd 4:35:26 1197 Markus Ganser GER
4th 4:38:13 1754 Kai Lueddecke GER
5th 4:38:27 1337 Sam Gyde BEL
That blows my mind.
But then I look at the guys run splits. Check this out:
1 2:43:29 1797 Thorne, Joe 27 Austin TX USA
2 2:56:48 1337 Gyde, Sam 36 Destelberg O-V BEL
3 2:57:28 1499 Sloan, Chuck 34 Tulsa OK USA
4 2:58:09 1901 Duffy, Brian 23 West Chest PA USA
5 2:58:21 1755 Haak, Steffen 29 Karlsruhe BW GER
Mad when the fastest age grouper outruns the guy who broke the overall record, but hey, I hope we see Joe Thorne as a pro in the future.
Top 3 guys in my age group – all under 9 hours. Same for 35-39. Crazy.
Where are these up and coming guys in South Africa? Our fastest guy was a 35-39 year old, Shaun Winkler, who had an amazing race for 9:26:24 – an amazing achievement. But where are our future stars, the 25-29 year olds going 9 hours, like so many other countries have?
Are they not supported enough to be able to make the life of a pro? I know we have an ITU program through Lotto Funding (which is showing results and would hopefully lead to future development of athletes beyond ITU), but where is the support for the guys who COULD be great. I know from chatting with the professionals that they fought long, tough years to pay for their first years as professional athletes and continue to struggle not only for financial support but also support from government, etc.
But athletes are also to blame. Bad mentalities towards what sponsorship entails continues to frustrate me and the sponsors who want to help the sport grow. Simple things like maintaining blog, twitter accounts and believe it or not, the most simple things like good grammar, not swearing or using vulgar language are often forgotten by athletes.
Surely someone should be watching them, coaching them, helping them forge a career, not just a few results so that when they get injured, they have a presence, an audience to fall back on?
I believe we have the talent here. Our gene pool is ridiculously deep. There are athletes with the right attitude, the right work ethic who just need a little bit of help, but may be too scared to ask for help.
I am going to end this post on the positive note that I believe we have the talent, that the infrastructure could be there for these guys and girls and that future world champions are among us today. I urge them to talk to other athletes about WHAT IT TAKES. Speak to James, to Ray, Conrad and Dan about the times they had to rough it to get to races, prizes, etc. Send them an email – they always respond. I urge their sponsors to nurture them with caring hands, help them to create the right content for their presences. Get your PR agency to work with them and build an audience for your brand with them.
On that note, a massive thank you to all the partners who make this Urban Ninja what it is. It’s a big journey. We have only just begun.
Recently I discovered there was a term for collecting all sorts of data on devices and measuring your performance gains over time. I mean, I work with one Paul Cartmel, possibly the king of gadgets and measurement. When I went through the process of losing 8kg a few years back, I tracked my calories, progress and weight, I wrote down how I felt when I woke each day and tracked my training as well. The project was a success because of this, I am sure.
So now, Quantified Self is a great way to explain all this behavior. The video gives an intro to that and I wanted to drop you some resources if that was your thing, well, because I have a hunch there are more than just a few people who read this blog who would fit into this “box”.
That should keep you busy for a few hours.
In an effort to share more knowledge and due to the fact that I am not coaching one-on-one any longer, I have created a 24 week comprehensive program for Challenge Cape Town on the 6th November. This has no association with the actual race, but this program offers the following:
1. It’s build for those who just want to finish all the way to those wanting to win their age groups.
2. It is course specific to the race and the challenges that the race route presents specific to this race: Cold Water, Hills and more hills (and possibly wind).
3. It explains the basics for success and the various tricks to maximize your aerobic capacity, get to your optimal weight and be able to move with minimum energy for hours on hours at a time.
There is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) area as well as explaining all the terms within the program.
The program starts around 12 hours per week and peaks at 18-19 hours per week throughout the peak weeks. There is no wasted time and no pointless mileage in here, just good clean work with a purpose towards building aerobic capacity and economy for all three legs of the race. It includes core work as well as basic nutrition information and a race day calorie calculator for you to take into your training to make sure you are practicing correctly.
It sets out your training from right now until the actual race for each and every day, taking you through the months including rest weeks, mini training camp weeks and building through the year so that you will peak at the right time for the race in early November.
I am asking R1800.00 for the full program, which works out to R300.00 per month. This does not buy you one-on-one time with me but I will endeavor to answer questions you may have as your training progresses over the months. This is a once-off payment and around half the cost of what I would normally charge per month for coaching.
If you are interested in the program please contact me by clicking the contact page and getting in touch with me that way.
I was able to pair the Garmin Edge to the Powertap pretty seamlessly yesterday. One click. There is still some calibration to happen but for most things, it picked up most of the 20 intervals I did yesterday and you can see that on the image above. Why intervals of 10 sec?
I am doing mostly shorter races in the early part of the year next year with quite a bit of Mountain Biking in there and the short accelerations are where I SUCK, so we are working on improving this for me so that I can be competitive when the little moves go. I generally lasso off the back when the small accelerations go. So from now, on yo-yo-ing off the back of your attacks, foxterriers! I got you covered from now on.
Some people wanted to know just how hectic this Epic Unsupported tour of ours is? Here is the official itinerary (remember: we have no support, carry everything you need for the week on your back and really only know about 70% of the route – the rest is a bit of a guess):
Epic Unsupported Tour Itinerary – 2010
Friday 17th Dec
DAY 1: Saturday 18th Dec
(leave car in George and collect next day)
DAY 2: Sunday 19th Dec
DAY 3: Monday 20th Dec
DAY 4: Tuesday 21st Dec
UNKNOWN FROM HERE!
DAY 5: Wednesday 22nd Dec
DAY 6: Thursday 23rd Dec
DAY 7: Friday 24th Dec – Route 62 unnamed Pass
DAY 8: Sunday 26th Dec – Kleinhoekkloof to Wellington
DAY : Monday 27th Dec – Wellington to Cape Town
Total Distance: 847km & 13,300m climbing
So a bit longer than Cape Epic, but with a bit less climbing, sadly. The email banter has been fun and should be fun to see how we cope with all this thrown at us. I am SO excited I can taste it.
Feeling the combination of volume ramp & this football tournament (that ok Fifa? No Official Fifa 2010 World Cup held in the most amazing South Africa mentioned in there?) and a semi rest week was enforced not by the mind, but by the body, which is feeling quite fatigued. Desperate for a massage or two as well. Missing my Biosport treatments and it’s not until its gone that you realise how important they are.
Saturday: Woke up with a stiff ankle and a hole in my hand. What? Such is the life of parties around the World Cup in South Africa. Chilled with a big breakfast but wanted to make up for it, and managed 3 hours on the bike and a bit of core work as well, maybe 10min after. Very steady and easy. Helped that there was a game on TV to watch.
Sunday: It was a pearler with pockets of cloud and blue skies. I went out towards Simons Town and rode every hill in sight in ME and managed 4h30 in the end. Very stoked, I was strong on the way home into the wind and felt a bit of form coming through.
Monday: Ankle still a bit sore, so no running yet. Would be the case for the entire week. Managed 1h20 on the indoor bike and 40min of gymwork with the core, back, quads, hammies being the focus. 30min of ME work on the bike.
Tuesday: The weather crept in and kept me indoors. 1h30 on in the indoor bike and 30min of core/gym again in the afternoon after a quick 30min swim in the morning. 30min of ME work on the bike.
Wednesday: OFF. Was just over it and moved my rest day forward a little.
Thursday: Brought out the light and went over Chapmans Peak into Noordhoek and back after work. Got home in the dark but was well worth it for the ride was great and I felt great. 4 x 10min of ME work in there as well. 120min.
Friday: Woke up and managed a 30min easy run, ankle finally feeling ok again. Planning a 60min indoor ride a little later based on the fog but if it lifts, 90min it will be.
Weekly total was: 15h00 to 15h30 in total. So much for a rest week actually. Only 4 hours less than planned. Almost all of it on the bike, which I am excited about as the bike is the foundation of everything. Hand is almost healed up and it’s a good space to be in. Over the sinus infection, finally.
This weekend is a bit of a throw-back though with a visit to the farm with my dad so more than likely will have an easier week coming than this one was, which is not the worst thing in the world, as Knysna and its training camp, likely volume being about 30hours, looms only a week ahead.
Have a great weekend everyone.
This Football Tournament has been hell on wheels for my training but I think I scraped through and seem to be over about 80% of this virus as well, so a personal high five is almost in order, but not yet. Here we go:
Saturday: Woke up mildly hungover after a crazy World Cup opening party. There was even pavement scooter riding (with the law chasing on foot) involved. Managed to get 2h30 done on the bike, mildly amusing myself in the process.
Sunday: Still feeling quite average, health wise, I again ventured out for only 2h30 on the bike, but managed a 1h00 run in the late afternoon, which felt much better after an afternoon nap.
Monday: 1h15 on the indoor bike with much focus on ME work. 45min of gym afterward surely hurt. Went to the stadium on Monday night to watch the football and it was superb!
Tuesday: I felt like HELL in the morning and slept in. My sinuses were deadly. Went to get more muti & felt quite a lot better once I was moving in the right direction. I did an interesting brick workout in the afternoon which involved a 60min run / 75min yoga / 20min run in total. I felt like a runner for the first time since starting again and this was a bit of a breakthrough session for me.
Wednesday: 4h30 of riding, 3h20 of it on the MTB and quite hard. I felt like I lost almost all my MTB skills in the 10 weeks I had not ridden the bike. Eventually it came right. Climbing was ok, not nearly stellar. I was pretty poked by the time I had made the 25km back on the road into the headwind. Went out to the Bafana game a little later and again fell off the wagon & had a few too many tequilas. eish.
Thursday: Properly tired and mildly hungover. I totally slept in and just managed the day. Dragged my feet to gym for a random session of 40min swim / 40min indoor bike. It did NOT feel great. My hammies are also SO tight from the mtb ride.
That totals us for the week at: 17 Hours. It was a good week all in all and with some focus next week I should be back at more regular training.
Building up to the Knysna week of “camp” phase is going semi-ok and by all estimations I should get a pretty good week in there of about 30 hours I hope, which should jump-start the engine again.
Have a great weekend y`all. I have 8-9 hours on the cards with a riding focus. Well, really it’s all riding. All I have to do is get through the England game relatively unscathed. Let’s hold thumbs cause we all know I get caught up in the energy and next thing you know…