I have taken some planned, and some unplanned, time off since completing (read: finishing) Ironman Florida. In that time, I have had time to reflect on what I want to explore in this blog. My focus isn’t going to change so much as it is going to narrow. Heretofore, my focus has been on Warriorship, and in the past 12-18 months or so, specifically on the training aspect of Warriorship. However, it has occurred to me that all of that really begs the question.
The question seems to be more accurately–How do we actually make things happen? or What is the mechanism of Manifestation? These seem to be the questions that go the heart of Warriorship. The Warrior’s key role is to act. The question then is, What does it mean to Act? How does one actually Act? What is it to transform a Thought, Concept, Idea to an Action? and What is involved in Action impacting the larger Reality?
Training and Warriorship remain ideal forums for exploring these questions.
Join me on this new leg of exploration.
To start, it was a great race. The weather was virtually ideal (for the race portion, at least). Had some great camaraderie on the run, and after the race. The hotel stay was decent, though sort of far. And, most importantly, I met my goals in relation to prepping for Ironman Florida.
- The weather was ideal, partly sunny to overcast for most of the race, with moderate temps. Whereas last year the temps were hot, and then it rained off and on for the run. It did rain this year, but only after the race (for most of us).
- I stayed in the Comfort Inn on the west side of town–somewhat far from the venue, and not the hotel I had hoped to get initially. But they did a good job, and it worked out well. As it turns out, the hotel I wanted, that did such a great job last year, didn’t do quite as well this year (some friends ended up in that one)
- Evidently Augusta is becoming a popular race, and all the cheap rooms were gone early.
- On the run I linked up with a football coach from the Atlanta area and we helped pace each other through the second half. In the final three miles or so, we linked up with another fellow from Florida, whose legs were still fresh, and he helped us with the final push for the finish.
- I finally linked up with my training partners, who it would seem, had put me on ignore going into the race. Ran into them on the shuttle back to get our stuff from transition. Was certainly a boon over last year, where I flew solo the entire event.
- Goals: My main goals were to practice pacing for Florida–primarily to not let the bike hurt.
- I also was able to confirm my nutrition strategy for Florida. Nutritionally, with “Special Needs” bags, I should be good to go.
- My cardio was bullet proof this race. At no point was I sucking wind.
- The area of weakness was muscular endurance. On the bike and the run, it was my muscular endurance that was a limiter, not my cardio.
- This is a good thing (I think) as it would seem that muscular endurance is an easier fix in the weeks before Florida.
- Another piece in the nutrition/endurance aspect was my emphasis on muscular hydration. I had zero cramping issues–Success!
- Flexibility and too much plasma hydration remain limiters, especially on the bike.
Some quick thoughts on the race. I’ll sit down and pound out a more thorough race report in a few days.
There is no purpose to my training. There is no real end-goal to all of this. People ask why I train. Last night the question came up with one of our surrogate daughters (as I call them). This time it was in the form of “Why do you triathlons?” We were discussing Ironman. The answer was “Because it was the next step”–Which doesn’t really answer her question.
The question of Purpose implies in part a practical purpose. My training and competing does have some practical side benefits. There are several very real real-world reasons I train. However, these are not compelling enough in themselves to justify what I do. Therefore, in honesty they are not Why I Train.
I have asked this question before.
Training has many practical benefits. I have actually needed it in the real world. Survival is a huge one. General health. Improved mental functioning. Ability to keep up with my kids. Respect amongst my peers. Social outlet. Fun. Improvement in my other purposeless activities (rock climbing, camping, hiking, fishing). It is a tool on my spiritual path. But none of these, even surviving the coming apocolypse, is really compelling enough.
I’ve been reading the “E-Myth” Series of books, by Michael E. Gerber. In E-Myth Mastery he tackles this question of Purpose, Passion, and Vision (his distinctions). Gerber concludes that once something is reduced to purpose, practicality is attached, and the original vision is killed. This is something experienced in business all the time. Artists talk of how earning a living from their art, killed their art. I am going through this in my business right now. My artistic vision has been compromised by the practical needs of operating a business. Consequently, I find my passion waning.
Walking back to the soccer fields last night, approaching from above, I was able to look out over the whole complex spread out under the lights. I was struck by the sheer numbers of kids working hard at something, which, for most of them, will yield no practical results. There will be no soccer scholarships for most. Most will not play on the top state and national teams. Even for those who play on top teams, or make their competitive high school squads, the real practicality of it all is hard to define. There are much better ways to finance a college education than pouring all the time and money we do into sports. We put a massive amount of effort and resources as a society into sports. All of which only yields “practical” results for an improbably narrow slice.
Why do we do this?
I believe it is a primordial longing that compels us. Our obsession for sports embodies a longing for a Human state lost thousands of years ago. I’ve talked about how the Warrior class developed as human society became more organized. How the Warrior class is an embodiment of some of our most powerful Human evolutions. The Warrior is a link between Civilized man and Natural man. We long for this connection.
There is no Purpose to my training. I am compelled by a calling from time before Reason, a root deeper than Purpose.
Scott Herrick, talks about the necessity of keeping your supply train running smoothly during training, especially for Ironman. Here, he is referring to all the myriad activities which are necessary just so you can show up each day, ready to train. Washing training gear, washing water bottles, buying food, preparing homemade concoctions, resupplying worn gear, shopping, scheduling training, bike maintenance–the list is long–and then, doing all these things well in advance.
There is a training effect from wrestling these decidedly non-training tasks into place. Whereas, being in the best shape of my life is definitely a boon for my general health, well being, and balanced mind-state, the supporting activities are also a boon for the pure organization of my life and my mind.
Simply being forced to think about fitting all the pieces together, and the ensuing effort to fit them together, has made my life in general more organized and simplified.
This has been a progressive adaptation. Much like muscular development: I started out small, adapted, increased intensity, adapted, and progressed. Beginning years ago with a gym program, then getting increasingly back into running, then layering on triathlon, then longer distances of triathlon and more races, now Ironman, which I consider a separate category due to the unique pressures of its training.
I am more thoughtful about my commitments. I am more organized. My day-to-day activities are streamlined and simplified. I have been forced to actually abide by my MIT task-management philosophy. My mental state is clearer. Not to mention, my laundry not only gets washed, but even folded.
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First the low down: Just came in at 9.8% body fat, at about three pounds over my fighting weight.
I have been ostensibly following the slow-carb diet–of which I have had some success, first going under 10% briefly a few months ago. I say ostensibly because in Ironman training, my calorie burn, delivery and demands are fairly high–not so easy to fulfill on Tim Ferris’s guidelines. My monthly training calorie burn had been around 15,000 for the past six months, and just spiked to 25,000 in July. I expect it to stay in the 25,000-35,000 range until I race. I have not dropped weight, but I’ve been hovering around 11% the last few months.
The main diet rules I’ve been actually adhering to are:
- Food selections very similar to my old simple diet rules
- High protein breakfast, and no fast carbs–generally 4 eggs, and often 1/2 can of black beans. Coffee is a must.
- High protein meals throughout the day.
- No fast carbs in the morning.
- I’ll increase starch consumption, if necessary, later in the day.
- Virtually no sugar throughout the week.
- Religiously observe my cheat day on Saturday–often including two dozen chocolate chip, or peanut butter cookies.
- Drink virtually nothing but water and coffee through the week. I don’t even really hit sodas on my cheat days.
- Consume massive amounts of yogurt (home made, organic)
- Make my own sports bars.
- Make my own sports drinks.
- Drink mucho agua, especially during workouts.
- Maintain my weightlifting regimen, especially olympic and heavy lifts.
- Not to mention the 6-10 additional training sessions each week.
Well there are some more, especially surrounding food selection, but these are the gist. Many of the points above could be technically grouped together, but I’ve separated details for clarity.
For those who’ve paid attention, there are many rules I am breaking. However, adhering to these above is working.
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Wow. I’ve been on this road for 250 days. Today my hams, glutes, right knee and left achilles are bugging me. The hams and glutes are from a return to heavy deadlifts this week. The knee is from my ride last Sunday which revealed some mechanical adjustments I need to make to my set up. The achilles is a flexibility issue, radiating down into my ankle. I ran 6.8 miles yesterday at 11+ pace. Not very impressive.
Taking all this into account, it doesn’t feel like I’m making great progress. However, when I look at my training charts, I can see that I’m posting bigger everything than I ever have, even the month of 70.3 Augusta last year–particularly when I look at overall effort, which I tracked very simply as calories burned. There are a couple of outlier weeks–like the actual week of Augusta, and the week of Warner Robbins 13.1. On the other hand, weeks of other races, which used to be outliers, Olympic distances, for example, now look like normal training volumes.
The great insight in all this? I couldn’t tell you, really. I do know that according to my volumes, I’m ready for Augusta right now–8 weeks out. My prep for Augusta, is really my full Ironman plan, pushed up by 6 weeks. Thus, though it does not feel like it–I’m on track to be good for Florida.
Maybe the insight is trust the training. What do you think?