Itâ€™s always a little anticlimactic the end of another year or season of racing, whether this be sportives (not officially racing but you catch my drift here) or local racing, long, short or downright bloody awful affairs. But buoyed by articles galore on winter preparation and improving everything bar the bank balance, I always think its best running through a report of sorts on your year of endeavour where and whatever that has entailed. So here is my slightly frivolous yet satirical take on the end of year report.
â€œLittle Jamie has attended far and beyond the parameters set by this institution, He has had us opening up at all hours and staying behind even after the cats been kicked out. If we didnâ€™t know him better we would have thought he had no family life at all, in fact are you even his parents? He seems to have a remarkable affinity with our school nurse, seemingly aware of all sorts of ailments even she has never heard of. His stamina has on times been brought into question as has his focus on the big tests he has not performed to his potential in this year, though one canâ€™t question his commitment, there must certainly be questions asked about his ability to switch off when not in attendanceâ€.
Perhaps little Jamie needed to prioritise his events a little better, it seems whilst his commitment and dedication were never questioned, the lack of stamina to complete all in front of him was perhaps beyond the realms of the normal person. The â€˜participate at all costsâ€™ mentality left him too much work to do keeping his form at a level to really compete at these bigger events. It is often said that many an avid racer will do far too much during the season in terms of training and leaving their best efforts on the training roads and not the races. Over training or training too intense during a schedule that has enough racing already usually amounts to the bodyâ€™s immune system breaking down, lack of energy, loss or unexplained dip in form and motivation, or all of these. The body needs rest to soak up all the training adaptations (if we are applying them in training), however if you are not allowing this you will find niggles turn to distress sure enough. Joint and intramuscular problems occur through many factors, but forego good rest and adapting time and you will exacerbate any existing niggle or muscle issue very quickly.
This then leads into the more psychological aspects of mid-season blues that question our efforts, approach and intensities. The mistake usually is one of catch up or even worse train harder through fear of failure at the pointy end, the culmination being of course racing and worse training with injuries, and even more to the point, self-inflicted too. It is better all round to forget about the race rather than risk injuries far worse off after competing it, whilst there are many ways to mask the issue when competing and training, they donâ€™t fix it. The all too familiar year long list of niggles and injuries are most likely down to poor or less adequate rest when it is needed, and a lack of recovery after intense efforts or races. The amount of times this is evident after long sportives, block of racing, half or a full marathon is astonishing and never the same racer you will be again, listen to the body.
â€œJulie has been remarkable this year in her ability to keep on track of her simple arithmetic her grasp of the numbers is made to look simple by the ease of her working out the problems at home. However this seems to be lost in translation when Julie is in front of class or at her big tests, perhaps itâ€™s the lack of confidence she has in her skills with the numbers. It could be that she needs to reinforce her answers without the calculator and trust in her knowledge of the sums when equated, she would know no equal. Sometimes her common sense lacks conviction to make that jump into the unknown. Maths is about asking the questions of the numbers and moulding the answers to them, itâ€™s puzzling therefore that with such a grasp of their possible outcomes she transpires to more wrong answers than right in her executionâ€.
Julie trains to heart rate; she is very good at this and relies on this to complete her training schedule, her attitude to this part of executing her training is exemplary. However there seems to be some mental blocks in place at times when she needs that trust in her ability to race to the numbers potential. There are many factors come race day that will affect your performance but the one constant will be how your engine is responding, the engine I refer to is your heart. The attributors may be the course, the length, the competition or the grandeur of the occasion (prize on offer therefore added pressure) but one of the main reasons apart from the obvious scientific benefits to training to numbers is that it SHOULD give Julie the confidence to race without fear to the numbers she can produce in training. You up the ante come race day, assured you have the ability in the tank, the legs are primed and so as long as the variables are controlled by you and without external influences marring that outcome there is no equal.
Pacing is of great benefit, power delivers the numbers being produced at the present moment, but your engine delivers the verdict on whether you are going to react to that surge, break, sprint or tempo. The ground or the course is a factor we have to traverse, common sense then kicks in, how long do I leave that gap? Have I trained over this terrain? Can I open up here knowing I can commit a little extra and recover well elsewhere not over doing it but feeling my engine working well and trusting my signals shall I go here and take control of this race, can I feel my competition losing their grip, remember my control in training and how I now feel with these sensations. Heart rate is reactive but where common sense needs you to be proactive there must be a defining line, but the confidence you gain through structure and training within it will heighten the progression towards natural instincts kicking in.
Home Economics (cookery to me and you)
â€œBilly knows no equal in the kitchen, his meringues are to die for, and the consistency is truly remarkable. He does have a sweet tooth though searching through his portfolio there is never a lack of sweet snack or bite on the menu, whilst he is careful in front of his peers to follow the latest trends there is often a case of poor performance when the main dish arrives. As is often the case with us all at times he does lose focus in class, though he swears blind he does eat breakfasts every day, his mum tells me his is up and out the door last minute every day clutching a slice of white toast and Jam, hardly the example to his fellow students youâ€™d expect of Billy. His attention to detail on most of his dishes is profound yet portion sizes differ alarmingly, one week they are sound the next I swear he makes for his guinea pigs. Itâ€™s quite unique a skill trying to serve the dish that is both tasty and full of good nutrition, and while Billy certainly does not lack for invention on big occasions his menu variation can be limited from time to time, perhaps limiting the final gradesâ€.
Billy can cook and cook well, we are all usually able, with the odd signature dish thrown in, yet time usually dictates the amount of effort we choose to expend on these talents. So if time is tight we go for simple, perhaps processed, perhaps microwavable and therefore fewer nutrients blessed. However we are training regularly and using up precious energies for this, so the least we need to be aware of is, good balanced nutrition and fuel to allow us to train to the intensities we require. What processed foods allow us in time; they donâ€™t forgive us in sugars or salts, usually to preserve or to make the food taste at least appetising when nuked. The other main point about time is actually making sure you do eat and drink. Instead of not bothering to eat you have to look at how the metabolism fires, and thatâ€™s food and activity, food to fuel activity and let the bodies metabolic processes kick in, fire up and go to work. Neglecting food not only slows this process up but depletes the energy stores to allow us to sustain the efforts required to execute the work whether in race or training.
If you train at low intensities (as we should try and do regularly!) then fat is, if the body is learned to properly utilise it, the fuel to go to, however the higher up the intensity chain we go the more the body needs the glucose to fuel us, the carbs in other words, yes that stuff that we all need to cut out apparently as its making us fat!! Bizarrely Protein is the new fuel if you look at many of the lifestyle or diet coach gurus out there, yet studies clearly show that the body cannot sustain the efforts required at higher intensities, yet we ignore carbs?? Simple carbs (sugars, processed) really are rocket fuel, absorbed quickly and then either stored (canâ€™t be utilised) or processed for fuel, they raise the blood sugars quickly and as with any spike the drop off the cliff on the other side is as sharp, excellent, following me so far?. Complex carbs (good, healthy and slow release energy) absorb slower but importantly are processed better by the little fuel worker in the body. They raise the blood sugars onto a more level and sustained plain and therefore help in maintaining much of our bodies functions from craving or overloading for instance. So carbs are needed and they are great for you if they are eaten in accordance to your bodyâ€™s energy requirements.
P.E. (edit cold winter days in white PE kit out if non attending)
â€œIt has been a great year for Lilly after the disappointment she expressed last yearâ€. She made a very quiet and unannounced return to PE after the summer break, keeping her performances edged with spirit and fight but without her usual all guns blazing execution, yet the results improved from month to month. She had more of a spring in her step and was noticeably more sociable and positive even in the depths of winter, when it seems those around her were skipping the training and tests set before them. Her mocks proved to be an excellent stepping stone where she improved upon last yearâ€™s provisional results showing better maturity and calculations where previously they were absent. With renewed enthusiasm and clear intent her yearend exams proved a success. Having cleared the obstacles that had halted her progress both physically and mentally from last year her application to the subject, revision and learned behaviours in her practical tests all showed remarkable linear progression. This lady clearly has her future mapped out ahead of her and I dare say the conviction to get what she wantsâ€.
Despite disappointments there is always a silver lining when you identify what went wrong, only then can you attempt to fix, eradicate or improve upon it. Once this process of learning has been applied itâ€™s all about setting targets to incrementally improve and progress not only physically but mentally as the confidence this breeds in us (one of success and positivity) is worth the entry fee into any race alone. The list of ailments, injuries, and â€˜not my faultâ€™ poor prep before the big events is there at every angle, yet you have trained well, seem improvements and are confident in how your training has delivered that confidence to go and let rip. Satisfied in that there is little to stop you achieving your goals, itâ€™s really up to you and how much you want it, which when properly prepared is sometimes the only difference between achieving them or not.
Olympians are the quintessential target athletes, 4 years to get it right and then only one does, so why do we feel so down? Along the way they set goals to aspire to like you or I, they achieve and they move to the next, or they fail then so begins the process over again, If they are experienced to understand that success doesnâ€™t come for granted. In order to finish first you must be prepared to cross the line last, this is not to expect that you wonâ€™t win and therefore why bother, it is merely stating that in order to succeed you must have tasted defeat or disappointment and be prepared that if you have given your all there is never an eternal right to succeed. Practice they say makes perfect, how do you quantify that? My thoughts slightly differ and believe that practice makes permanent and we learn from our methods to improve our outcomes.