Feb 21 – A major revelation!!

Hi again, and thanks for all the comments from the last
blog. Here’s my next instalment, with a major revelation at the end…!

Training & Racing Update
Uncertainty prevails for all of us. I think of it as the ‘when will’ question that we can apply to so many things – “When will…… restrictions lift; schools return; vaccinations hit critical mass; normal life return” and so on. Specifically for me, it’s ‘when will’ there be any races, and if so, which ones and where? Normally I’d be taking part in my first event of the year during February, but events are being cancelled, and firms that organise them are struggling to stay afloat or are folding. It’s a stark reminder of the challenging world we live in.

I sat down with my coach to agree an approach to 2021, sticking to the principle of managing what’s in our control. We see 3 possible outcomes:

  1. Most races take place, and I get to travel to Canada for the World Championships
  2. No International Races, but key UK races, including 2022 GB team qualifiers
  3. Few races take place, and my GB qualification carries over to 2022

Outcome 3 seems the most likely, and we’re sticking to the original training plan. Whatever happens in 2021 we’ll be ready. Training has been progressing mostly to plan, other than for the odd constraint such as the closure of swimming pools ☹.A lot of my training is on the bike, and yet I haven’t ridden outside since November. Let’s face it – it’s been too cold, wet and muddy. Instead, I use a device called a Turbo Trainer. It simulates riding on the road, and you simply pop your bike onto it to create resistance. My coach loves it as its harder than riding on the road, he can set me specific workouts, and there’s less chance of crashing and injuring yourself.

Most of us indoor cyclists have our ‘Pain Caves’. A dedicated place given over to suffering, sweat and pain. It’s typically the garage or a garden shed. In a typical week I might spend 5 to 6 hrs on the bike, inside, and so to stop the boredom and ease the pain I watch streamed TV and movies.

My pain cave

Triathlon Insights
Triathlon consists of swimming, cycling and running, in that order. To be a good triathlete you need to be reasonably good at all three. Take Alastair Brownlee, a two time Olympic Gold Medallist. At the London 2012 Olympics his time for the 10km run was 29mins and 7secs, which was faster than some of those in the men’s 10,000m athletics final. He could have done both events, considering that he managed to do that after a 1500m swim and a 40km bike race.

To race triathlon, it’s not about being the fastest swimmer, cyclist or runner; and yet many triathletes are former swimmers, cyclists or runners. Nor is it about training for each of the three disciplines individually. I’m learning that Triathlon needs to be trained for and raced as a single event. How you swim and cycle is critical to how well you will run. The first thing my coach has done is to stop me training as if I were a swimmer, a cyclist or a runner, and instead train with the whole race in mind. I’m only an average runner, but the aim is to get me to the run stage as fresh as possible through the training I do. My swimming and cycling technique is being adapted to support this.
In a race situation you constantly repeat the following assessment in your mind – “What’s my current effort level, and how is this going to impact my run? Do I maintain, increase or decrease effort?”

Links to the world of Change
Just as Triathlon requires the ability to perform proficiently across different disciplines, so in the world of change we have to have a reasonable knowledge across many
business functions. I often say that I’m a ‘Jack of all trades, and master of none’. I’m not the expert in any one area – that’s what our SME’s are there for. I need to have a reasonable
knowledge of all aspects of a project, avoiding focusing all my effort into one area.

In both the worlds; work and triathlon, I need to keep building and utilising my strengths, and I’ll keep trying to understand and work on my weaknesses. However, effort and focus has to remain balanced across the piece. This is what makes the worlds of change and triathlon so
interesting – both are complex and require constant focus across many different areas.

Ours is a unique skillset that we learn and develop over time, and is improved through
experience and practice. We might start off with a background in IT, or a business area, but we have to develop the skills of oversight, control, and the experience to know when to dive into an area requiring help. We have to constantly run the assessment of “Are we on track, are there any areas of concern, and what action should we take to address this?”.

Getting Active
This month’s suggestion follows a similar theme to last months – small and often. Do you often start the day with good intentions of exercising, only to find things get in the way?
Why not try ‘Exercise Snacks’. It’s very simple. Rather than trying to find a clear 30 or 40 minutes, instead do lots of small exercises at regular intervals. It might be 30 to 60 seconds of press ups, a plank, some squats or a few sit ups.

Here’s a few examples. A professor reported how he always did a ‘few’ press-ups after every visit to the toilet. Podcast host Dr Chatterjee has a dumbbell next to the kettle so that he can do a few bicep curls whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. For those of us spending more time working from home on endless video calls, perhaps we squeeze in 30 seconds of exercise between the last one and the next. It’s very simple, can be very effective, and
is really ‘safe’ to do in a work from home environment.

My Revelation
I mentioned earlier that I’m watching TV and Movies whilst training. There’s two categories:
Category 1 – Easy sessions. Where effort levels are low; I watch content that I can focus on – Documentaries, films, comedy etc.
Category 2 – Hard sessions. Content that is easy to watch, and I can tune in and out of dependent upon effort level. Sports programmes are perfect, such as Amazon’s “All or Nothing” series.
Here’s the revelation…until last week I’d never watched a Rocky film. Whether it was coincidence, or a bit of clever Amazon ‘AI’, following the last blog where I
mentioned ‘Eye of the Tiger’, Rocky suddenly appeared in the suggestions feed. With nothing to lose, and expectations low, I thought I’d watch the first
one. Here’s the second revelation – I
was engrossed. I’ve now watched all 5 in 10 days,
and I loved them.

So that leaves me with another request. What Series or Film would you
recommend to me, and why? I’m looking for suggestions for
either ‘Easy Sessions’ or ‘Hard sessions’, although the latter is looking a bit sparse now that I’ve binge watched Rocky. Looking forward to your recommendations!

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