Indoor Training

"It's sad to see anyone inside on the trainer." That was the comment attached to an article about riding outside all winter lo...

Monday, August 7

July Athlete Results

July had some busy weekends for Thelen Coaching Athletes, with some great performances. On the 4th of July, three athletes headed up to Palmer Lake for the Four on the Fourth run for some holiday fun; the real goal for all three was only a few days later at the Summer Trail Round Up - Race #2 in the Triple Crown of Running. So I'd scheduled the Four on the Fourth as a workout race. Run hard, but it's not all out pace for the distance. Even so, Merideth still set a new PR at that even, slashing over 8:30 from her time the year before. Just goes to show what consistent focus and training can do! Both Shana and Kendall also had good races, setting new marks to shoot for next year.

A few days later, it was down to the Norris Penrose Event Center for the Summer Trail Roundup. This was the second leg of the Triple Crown of Running, so was the target race for Shana, Merideth and Kendall. None of them had raced it before, so they were going out hard for a solid time. Shana wanted a stronger run to make up for the time lost in the Garden due to her ankle injury. Merideth's goal was to finish close to Shana and Kendall was running with a friend. All three achieved their goals and had a great time. The pacing strategies we'd talked about worked great and the hints for nutrition and dealing with the heat also helped.

Shana running in her Pikes Peak Sports Marmot Gold
Kendall running with her friend - having a great time
The next weekend brought new challenges. Kelly flew in from RVA to tackle her goal race of the summer. The Barr Trail Mountain Race. It's sometimes called Pikes Peak light since the race goes from the base to Barr Camp and then back down, but that doesn't mean it's an easy. Those six miles of Barr Trail are some of the steeper miles, especially when running down hill. Kelly had been putting in hard training, but the scope was limited by her location. It's hard to train for hills and altitude when there isn't any! But we worked with what we had available, including her work on the set up and tear down crew for a race production team. Carrying barricades and banners makes really good strength training! Kelly persevered and finished strongly, running 3:05:52 - not bad for a sea level ex-mountain biker!
Kelly at Barr Camp!
Finally in July was the Ridgeline Rampage mountain bike race in Castle Rock. That race is normally held in April, but the weather forced two re-schedules. As part of the Women's Mountain Bike Association of Colorado Springs, Shana headed for a slight change of pace from running. Ridgeline is a deceptively hard course, with punchy climbs, off camber corners and lots of traffic. Because of the anticipated heat, the races (marathon, and XC distances) all started together, so there was also a lot of passing involved. Shana rode smart, managed her hydration and finished second in her age class, third overall female in the XC distance. A great result by someone who's been focusing on running this year!
Women's 35-49 podium at Ridgeline Rampage - Shana took second

Wednesday, August 2


At some point with every athlete, the question arises - why? Why am I putting myself through all of this hard work, devoting all my free time to this endeavor? It doesn't matter what sport or level of competition, if you don't have a clearly defined goal for the event or race, it's going to be difficult to see the point of all the training. That's only part of answering the Why. Without understanding the reasons behind your goals - your motivation - it's easy to give up and tell yourself that the goals are meaningless and there's really no point in trying anymore. Questioning the Why can happen after a bad workout, when time limits ability to train or even when friends and family start asking about the events. It can happen after a race when comparing finish times. It doesn't take much bring out the "why I am I doing this?" and it can quickly become a downward spiral as more workouts get missed, esteem drops and so on.

At this point, I ask my athletes to reflect on their goals and the motivation behind those goals. Verbalize the goal and the event, even if its just writing it down in a journal. Having that goal written down makes it real and concrete. But that's not the biggest part of answering the "why" question." That is just the first step. Once the goals are identified, it's time to own the goal. As an athlete, without owning the goal - be it finish a marathon or win the local mountain bike race - the goal is meaningless. Owning the goal makes it yours. It forces you to identify with both the work required to reach that goal and understand the motivation for why you have selected that goal. As a coach, I can help with the goal setting and make sure the goals are SMART. But I cannot identify for the athlete their personal whys and motivation. I can guide the process, but at some point, each athlete has to discover it for themselves. Athletes have to understand the forces driving the goals and the differences between them.

Motivation is the primary force behind achieving most goals. It's the personal inspiration for doing everything leading up to and around the event or race. When it comes to motivation,  there are two different types and understanding which type is driving the goal is the key to owning the goal. Intrinsic, or internally driven motivation, is doing something because you love to do it. For an athlete, its participating in a running event because he/she loves to run. The pleasure and enjoyment of the activity is the inspiration for signing up for a race. I would also count doing something as a personal challenge as intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic, or externally driven motivation is doing an activity for the chance of reward at the end. Signing up for a race just to get the medal is the primary example of extrinsic motivation, but so is doing something to prove a point to someone else or because everyone else is doing it.When you are extrinsically motivated to do something, you aren't concerned with whether or not the action is enjoyable. That makes it harder to keep going when the "why" question comes up.

What does this mean to an athlete? When I'm helping with goal setting, I always encourage my athletes to identify the motivation behind the goals as they are building them. If many of the goals have extrinsic motivation, then it's a sign that those goals might be harder to reach. Setting a goal to finish a race because everyone else you know has done it is externally motivated. Doing a race because someone else said you'd be good at it is also externally driven - participation to meet someone else's expectation.  Approaching the same race with an internally motivated goal of challenging myself to ride every technical section makes the goal more personal. Saying "I might be good at ultras but I really love the speed challenge of the shorter races" and then working on those 10ks and 5ks while everyone else is doing 100ks and 50ks is personally driven. It is the same with every other goal. Make them yours - own the goal, identify the motivation and work towards as many intrinsically motivated goals as possible. I'm fond of say speed is relative - and with intrinsically driven, personal goals, it's easy to understand why. Because it no longer matters what everyone else is doing. Find the personal reasons as to why you train, participate and race and you won't feel as driven to compare yourself with everyone else. And you'll be able to look at a hard workout and smile, knowing that you have your "Why" and it's not a question you need to answer.