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Showing posts from 2016

Race Ready

The final race of the 24 hour season is fast approaching - 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, held over the end of Daylight saving every year. This year, it also marks the finale of the N24 - the National 24 Hour Mountain Bike Solo series. It's a new series this year, with three races joining forces to host solo riders and award the championship to the most consistant soloists. With Frog Hollow only days away, now comes the time for all races to make sure they are ready - double checking all gear and the plan. Most of these tasks should have been completed before leaving home, but it's always a good reminder. 
Lights - at this point, you have done a few night rides, ensuring that you know how to use your lights and that the position on both helmet and bars is correct. You should also know long the batteries last - nothing worse then getting halfway on a lap and having lights fail. Note on your master plan how long each light lasts and how many laps you'll be ably to get out of it. Yo…

Hunting season

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No, I don't mean KOM/QOM hunting season. I mean real hunting - heading out into the woods with a deadly weapon in the hopes of filling the freezer with meat for the winter. In Colorado, archery season kicks off at the end of August and goes through September, depending on the type of animal. Muzzleloader hunting is in the middle of September. And finally, rifle season for big game such as deer and elk started October 1 and depending on where you are, runs through November 20. Why are those dates so important? Because the middle of September through the middle of October is also prime leaf season and fall riding season. Riders from all over are converging on the mountain trails for the final alpine loops and golden singletrack. And most of them aren't thinking about the hunting season or the precautions they should follow to stay safe. That fact became quite clear last year during a late season trip to Salida and Fairplay. We met several groups of hunters, all decked out in the…

Failure Redefined

In racing, the goals are usually black and white - finish or bust; finish in such a time; finish in such a place. The success of racing - and the emotions that are tied to that success are measured against these concrete goals. So what happens if you come up short? So much time and energy invested in that one day, that one race and the ability to go faster or further. It's easy to view the entire event and the build up leading to the race as a failure based on the final outcome. I didn't reach my goal, therefore I failed. It's the most common reaction.

And most of the time, the wrong one. Yes, the goals weren't met or the race wasn't finished. You fell short of the objective and did not succeed. But not succeeding is different from failure. Any time a race doesn't go as planned, it's important to review the training and preparation for the race as well as performance in the  race. A race becomes a failure if you don't learn from the process building up …

On Crew

One underestimated area of importance in endurance racing - from 24 hour mountain biking to ultra distance gravel grinding to ultra running - is the crew support. The amount and quality of crew support can make or break a race. If the pit crew is efficient and smooth, the athlete is in and out with minimal time spent not making forward progress. If there is a lack of communication or the crew doesn't know what is going on, then time will be lost. Watching a well practiced pit crew is just like watching NASCAR - it doesn't matter how many people are helping, each person has a task and knows the most efficient way to achieve the goal without getting in the way. But those well oiled, efficient pit crews don't just happen. It takes a lot of work - preparation, communication and practice from both the athlete and the crew.

Preparation - one of the tenants of Thelen Coaching. It goes beyond simply training for an event, but into gear, nutrition and course knowledge. The athlete …

Dirty Kanza

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The Dirty Kanza 200 Gravel Race -  one of the hardest and most challenging gravel races around. It's one of those races where no matter how hard you train, there is always something that is unexpected - from the unrelenting mud of last year to this year's heat and wind, in addition to mud from an early morning thunder storm. The course changes slightly every year, but riders know they will face river crossing, unrelenting wash-boarded roads, tire-slicing flint and the ever changing Kansas wind. The race starts at 6:00AM Saturday - with the ultimate goal for the fastest riders to beat the sunset. Most just want to finish. Most will not - 1500 started this year and only 559 made it back to Emporia before 3:00AM Sunday. And it is all self-supported, outside of a few checkpoints. Carry what you need for the next five to eight hours - because once you leave the check point, you are on your own. Preparation for this race involves more then just riding - gear selection and knowledge …

Convenince or Success

As the summer racing season approaches, there are some things that all athletes need to remember while training. The biggest is to train for your course - not for convenience. Sure, it's easy to go out and put in the hours on the local big ride loops. In Colorado Springs, the favored ride is the Fountain loop, a nice 40 mile loop on gently rolling terrain. The chance of head winds are higher then of any significant, sustained climbing and the farm dogs are usually more of a hazard then other vehicles. But are those loops an accurate simulation of the terrain faced on race day? The bike paths around town are nice and flat - perfect for speed and turnover work. How many marathons are actually as flat as the Santa Fe Trail here in Colorado Springs? Not many. Yet every day, hundreds of runners turn to the greenway as the go-to workout and long run training grounds. It's close, convenient and safe. For triathletes, finding open water that is truly open for swimming is a major chall…

The Other Side of Racing

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It is a different experience observing a race from this side of the screen. I've done many 24 hour races and consider the ultra endurance mountain biking as my favorite style of race. The mental and physical challenges of testing myself against the distance, the terrain and the chances of failure - as well as the opportunity to explore the unknown. Outside of occasional blue dot stalking on Track Leaders, I never paid much attention to events that I was not at. All that has changed the past year as my athletes have taken on races around the country. I've found myself obsessively checking results and following blue dots to make sure that everything is going according to plan. Not that I'd be able to change the outcome sitting at my computer, but I wanted to know.

At Arrowhead 135, it was just watching the dot moving along. I knew Judd was moving slower then he wanted, but also was reading reports from the trail - about how soft the snow was and how hard the riding was. Ever…

Too many minds

Is your mind helping or hurting?The mind is a powerful advantage - but also the weakest link when it comes to endurance sports. Too many things to think about, outcomes to consider and possibilities to ponder. Instead of turning off the brain, the outcomes overwhelm and you begin to second guess the training, the preparation and the goals. Planning for a variety of outcomes is one thing, but allowing them to overwhelm is a completely different story. Not contemplating the potential pitfalls is one way to handle the influx of information, but not that may lead to less then satisfactory results. So what to do? Build on the knowledge and base you have gained through training to confidently be ready for whatever happens. It calls for being willing to head out in all conditions, knowing that clothing choices are appropriate. It also calls for understanding the course and the the history of the event so you have a baseline for the possible conditions you could face. Instead of becoming over…