Monday, March 31, 2008

neoprene nightmare

Lynn, Hayley, and me sporting our wetties at the Stevens Creek Reservoir practice triathlon.

still got it

Wow--I had a tiring weekend! That, by the way, is a not-so-great shot from the top of Sierra Road.

Saturday was the team's Ride-n-Tie workout. A great brick for them, and fun for the coaches to watch, as partners come and do the event in costume. People always end up pushing themselves more than they previously thought possible, and they have fun doing it! Always a breakthrough day for lots of people on the team.

Anyway, instead of doing the Ride-n-Tie workout with the rest of the team, Lynn and Hayley (clad hilariously as Fook Yu and Fook Mi) and I decided to run the Lexington Dam later in the day. We met outside Blendz at 4 and struck out on the flats first, so we had a mile or so to warm up before grinding up the steep hills to the top of the dam. We tacked on a bit extra at the top by heading out toward the boathouse before finishing the loop up another steep, curse-worthy hill and then heading down the switchbacks back into Los Gatos. Not sure how far we ran--probably around 5 miles or so.

As if that weren't enough...Sunday, Lynn had a buddy ride planned. The route was to be the Sierra Loop backwards, heading up Old Calaveras and Felter Road, and then descending Sierra back into San Jose. Holy HILLS. I don't think I have ever gone up a hill that big. It was 2000+ feet of climbing and it just went on and on! On the other hand, it was a beautiful ride. Heading along the crest of the hills on Sierra was amazing--I've never climbed so high on my bike. At the top, we celebrated. The last four or five of us to round the corner (we were plagued with some mechanical issues) were treated to the sight of five bare butts in the middle of the road. The participants really got to know their mentors and captains, I tell ya. After getting a quick group shot from a passing cyclist, we headed for the descent. Descending Sierra was just about the steepest 4 miles I've ever rolled down--I happily rode my brakes all the way in. My hands and wrists sure are feeling it today!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Building a pyramid

It's week 5 of the season, and everyone is looking absolutely amazing.

Last night at track, we did a pyramid workout. This is a great component to add the build phase of a running program, and very valuable for beginners just learning the pacing associated with different rates of exertion.

This week I was paired up with Barney and we were responsible for coaching the Age group. A little background: our team has about 100 people on it, of very different fitness levels. For each sport, we encourage them to seed themselves into different groups based on their ability--beginner, intermediate, advanced and/or slow, medium, and fast. There are three racing divisions in the sport of triathlon: Age (where the masses are sorted by their age), Elite (super-fast amateurs with day jobs AND sponsors), and Pro (triathlon IS their day job). Hence, our three groupings are Age, Elite, and Pro.

Anyway, our Agers did a 200/400/600/400/200 pyramid, with the expectation that they would be running harder (read: more out of breath) as the pyramid progressed.

I have not worked much with the Agers on the track. It takes patience, because coaching Age groupers means spending a lot of time explaining, encouraging, reassuring, and reiterating. In short, it takes more, well, coaching. This is a challenge for me at times, because I work with individual clients all day long who require a lot of teaching and cueing, because it's what they pay me for. I love coaching the Pros because they know what they're doing; I can rattle off the workout, recoveries, and intensity--and they get it the first time. They know the terminology. They keep track of their own splits; I just have to call them out. Once they're off on a set I can just sit back and watch what the human body can do, which I love.

Coaching Agers, though, is rewarding in so many different ways. Often Agers didn't even know that they could run around the track once, much less that they could make a mile without stopping. Agers ask me the best, most probing questions about my training knowledge. Agers make me a better coach, and by trying my patience, a better person.

Becoming a better athlete is like building a pyramid. You have to have all the basic elements, a base, in place--tissue and joint integrity, and aerobic foundation, decent strength, and decisiveness before you can see steady improvement.

Becoming a better coach is the same. I need to be reminded occasionally of what it was like just starting out. I have to prove myself, TO myself, over and over again.