Growth and Development

After busy months of racing, moving, coaching I finally have some time. The Ironman season, at least in the UK, draws to a close with Wales and Challenge Henley this weekend, and with that comes the September dip – a change over of athletes as people move on and for many it’s a little too early to be contemplating next year. My initial concern has been short lived, attentions will soon turn to the new season and with that numbers will grow, but also this lull enables me to properly engage in developing some of those projects I’ve occasionally hinted at.

I started yesterday, four hours skim reading the archives, preparing to re-categorise posts and bring some of the – apparently – more useful articles closer to the surface. The past is probably best appreciated by me, the first two years of this blog chronicle my life indulging a hobby, enjoyable, but it was striking how much my writing centred on feeling inadequate, doubting the process I was going through. At times I’ve suspected the mental game hampered me far more than physical potential – something for another occasion. After that sabbatical things become more interesting, I start coaching and branch into training advice, there is content back then that people still refer to – the Simple Training Week remains my most read post. Now I know where it all is, how it relates and in some cases how wrong I was. My viewpoint has evolved, from lambasting minimal Ironman training to offering advice on it, a recognition of the balance between obsession and hobby perhaps.

The review isn’t limited to nostalgia, my collections of workouts are also in need of scrutiny. Showing their age, there are sessions that no longer fully reflect my current viewpoints, or occasionally embarrassingly mismatch training zones ensuring confusion. Not forgetting my need for variety, largely unnecessary as often the simplest approach works best, but some workouts are growing stale. I dream of a perfectly logical and structured collection that will simplify the process of building new plans, although TrainingPeaks seems resistant to this idea and ultimately athletes are awkward – always bringing their own particular needs. I’m hesitant to step into the mire just yet, but accept it will have to be done before the winter is out.

Far more engaging, probably reflecting my former employment in development, is the never-ending race analysis project. Each piece of data that passes through this spreadsheet introduces new ideas and subsequent updates; Paul Deen’s Roth data increased the resolution of the statistic and Rich Whitfield’s Wimbleball data – a race I should blog about – started the process of incorporating terrain and cadence more thoroughly. It could very easily become a real programming job were I inclined, but for now Excel grinds through the process as I layer formula on top of formula. There is more to come, but I am close to creating a completed analysis package ready for next season’s racing.

Perhaps of more interest though is the progress I’ve made towards a training camp next season: one week in February, Lanzarote almost certainly, a venue in mind, but everything else to be decided. It’s an experiment. The intention is to run a relatively small camp allowing for a range of abilities, able to push the fastest and support the slowest. The challenge is delivering a well structured experience at a reasonable price point; of course I have a spreadsheet to help balance those figures. More details will follow shortly.

Despite the lighter coaching schedule I’m looking forward to the off season because it gives me the opportunity to make next year more interesting. I’ve talked about a need to develop my business when explaining my lack of motivation to train, now it finally feels like I’m developing it. Much as I used to blog with plans for a good block of training leading to better results, now a good block of development should lead to better coaching.