It's crazy how little time I have, and I have to make priority choices with my time. My wife is up before 6 and gone by 7 am and doesn't get home from teaching and the after-school program for elementary kids until 5:30 or 6:00 pm. I get my son up, feed him, clothe him, brush his teeth, walk him to school (about 1km), walk back, respond to my client's needs, maybe get in a half-hour of stationary cycling, if I am lucky, walk back to the school, walk back with my son, feed him (over and over and over, he's age 6 and he's hungry every 20 to 30 minutes, just incredible!, clean the house, respond to more client needs, interact (play, teach, spend time) with my son, who has no siblings so I am like an older playmate/brother, and then give my wife the attention she also deserves.
Last week my wife was home for spring break, I had time to actually exercise for 1 hour per day, which I did. I am amazed at how much difference there is between exercising 1 hour per day versus 30 minutes per day. I get so fit with 60 minutes per day of serious training. Honestly, if I had a situation where I could train, I'd be a top 5 masters cyclist in America, I believe. I'm overweight, don't train much, and I can push 410 plus watts for an hour and 437 watts for 20 minutes. My watts per kg ratio is 5.02 to one at VO2 max and 4.23 at my one-hour power. According to Dr. Andy Coggan, a former elite cyclist and researcher, my current numbers put me at the "Very Good" / category 2 level, and that's not accounting for being a 47 year old master. I think I missed my opportunity to be an elite cyclist in my 20s and 30s. I didn't know how good I could be. I should have taken it as a sign, at age 20, when I tested at 68.8 for a Vo2 max and I had only stationary cycled for about 4 weeks, while both of my lower legs were in casts. I remember the lab director telling me I had the ability to be really good, if I trained seriously.
A few years later, while working on my Masters degree in Exercise Science, I tested a guy named Mark Frise, who competed on Pro teams in Europe for many years (he was 3rd in the USA Junior Nationals behind Greg Lemond, who was first place), and he had an incredible VO2 max for a cyclist (84). He pushed an equivalent to 485 watts at Vo2 max. I can push 487 right now, but I am overweight. Most people would say, "You should push a lot more because you have a lot more muscle." I say bogus because I am carrying adipose (fat) weight and only a small amount more muscle than Mark...probably an extra 10 lbs of muscle. I'm not sure where I am going with this. I think I'm trying to answer my own questions about who I am, what I can do, where I will go in the future.
By the way, several of the runners that I coach have performed really well in races lately. Ron Kochanowicz, a masters runner, has run in the 4:30s for the mile, and he ran 2:06 in the 800m last week as his first outdoor 800m in a long time. He's preparing for the Portland Masters track meet, which is held in early June in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. He's getting very strong!
Michael Merwath placed 3rd overall in a 10 mile race in Austin, Texas, despite being a masters runner.
Others have done very well too. I tend to forget all the accomplishments of my runners because they, to be frank, occur to often that I celebrate their success the weekend that it happens, but by the time the next week rolls around I'm thinking about the next races they will run. Maybe that's my personality - I tend to look forward, tend to set goals and move ahead and not think a lot about the past since, to me, it seems like once it's gone it's gone and I can only do something about the future. That's the goal orientation in me - working today, planning for tomorrow, and expecting breakthroughs with enough concentration, effort, and consistency. I've noticed my own achievements over the years, and I've noticed the athletes and students that I've guided, and in all cases the key factor was doing the right work (or training) consistently and systematically, and not stopping too soon.
I can't tell you how many people have contacted me over the years and said they had fallen short of their goals, of their potential, and they almost quit the sport, but they thought maybe they might take just one more try and work with me. Often, as I analyzed their results, I noticed that the training was not well planned - haphazard it was, more or less - or the training was just too hard for too many weeks in a row and eventually something fell apart. As soon as I take over and create a training schedule that balances training, covers all the key areas, systematically moves the runner in cycles forward toward their goals, the results change. They improve and find that their body's had more in them, more room for improvement, than once thought possible. It's so very hard as a serious runner to reach one's potential because injuries, setbacks, illnesses, chronic fatigue, result from improper training. Runners doubt themselves after a while. "Do I have what it takes to run fast? Do I have any room left for improvement? Am I just not mentally tough enough? I think the problem is the method and system they use to train, not whether they have room left for improvement. Even elite runners, who theoretically should be closer to their limits of potential due to the immense about of training they have done over the years, have room for improvement in most cases.
For example, I've been thinking about Leo Manzano, the talented 800-1500m runner from Texas. He's won a medal at the world level, but he's not been consistent in his performance. He's been struggling the last two years, and I know he's doubting himself. I think he's just not training right; that's the reason he's struggling, not for a lack of toughness or resolve. He's committed; he's focused; he sacrifices, and he surrounds himself with other elite runners with whom he can train, yet he's still not where he could be. I am a big fan of Leo, and I cheer fro him when I see him race, but it makes me sad that he's not getting what he needs to succeed at a higher level. I see no reason that he couldn't be top 3 in the world every year. Same goes for other runners out there.
I guess this is my BlogSpot post for today. I don't get many opportunities to share my thoughts, but today I just want to reach out to our community of runners and coaches tell you to keep plugging away; keep fighting the good fight; believe in yourself; find your niche; and train smarter than ever before; you'll reach that next higher level, just don't give in or give up!