Thursday, 13 August 2009

Don't let the Tri love go stale...

Vince Kamp is both a triathlete and an awesome mountain bike racer, a great friend, advisor and confidante. We've spent many hours chewing the cud about racing, improving and smashing our opposition. He has completed four Ironman races and four 70.3 races with a 3rd place finish at IMUK and 3rd place at World Champs 70.3 Clearwater Florida.

The training plan is taped up on the fridge. It hangs there taunting you. Follow me or lose the edge, hit every session to the letter or lose everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. I’m the plan, you need me, I am your master, you must execute these instructions or you will FAIL.
Is this you? The training plan is often the dictator we feel we must obey to the last threatening detail, or come race day we will be mentally beating ourselves up for missing that key session or not hitting the prescribed number of intervals at the right intensity. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, if you continue along this path, you may find that one day, tri Love has gone stale and you’ve forgotten why you got into this awesome sport in the first place.
The very nature of those that get into Triathlon, I mean really get into triathlon, is that of your stereotypical type A personality. They are highly motivated, extremely competitive and raise the bar on the definition of organized. We are goal orientated and executing a plan follows that mindset, there is reward and satisfaction at the end of a week of hitting the numbers, but this way of training can soon result in hitting a plateau, getting stuck in a rut, boredom or even depression.
So what the solution? Mix it up. I’m sure many of you already hit the trails on foot or on your mountain bike. If you don’t, you really should, off road running builds excellent strength in both joints and muscles and off road biking teaches you awesome bike handling and smooth cadence to maintain traction.
For me, there is nothing like racing offroad to really open up the engine and find out how quick single sport specialists really go. I compete in these events all through the year, there are so many amazing races out there to try your hand at.

I recently raced the Bontrager 24/12 mtb race in the 12hr pairs category as part of the Torq racing team and I don’t think I have ever been more exhausted in my life. This format of racing involves smashing a 14km offroad circuit and then handing over to your partner who then does the same. You get around 35 mins to get an energy bar and a gel into you, warm the legs up on a turbo and then get ready togo again. This goes on for either 12 or 24 hours and I can tell you by the time you hit those night laps you are thriving on a strange combo of adrenaline and any kind of sugar you can cram into your body. The feeling of hitting that finish line after 12hours of red line racing was euphoric. I was smashed for a couple of days after but the training effect over the next couple of weeks was significant. Although physiologically it was too early for any improvement, psychologically, I found I was clicking down the gears and hitting hills feeling much stronger and the watts confirmed it.
Mixing it up can make you a stronger athlete and faster triathlete, I’m convinced of it. Let us know how you mix it up.

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