I did the Lake Mills Triathlon a few days ago. Despite being 7th overall, it was in my opinion, my best untapered triathlon performance to date. My run time was darn close to being a 5k PR. My GPS measured it a touch short, so it may not be a huge 20 second PR, but it’s definitely close. Beyond that, I had a slightly different distance measure coming back as going out – so…. I raced to my plan of get out of the water towards the front of the race and then bike as hard as I can. I managed to hold my own pretty well against some guys who have traditionally been much faster (10+ minutes @ IM) than me. I exited T2 right on the feet of Cam Knuth, but in the fumble of putting my GPS on, I was gapped a bit – and could never close it down.  In hindsight, I should have raced to try to close the gap rather than run my pace.

Confidence gained, lesson learned. Next up is an Olympic distance race in Rochester, MN. I’m also contemplating doing the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon on the 26th. With Hawaii being in October – I feel like racing is a good opportunity to push myself harder then I would or could do in training – and I won’t burn up motivation by racing a lot close to the big day.

I thought I’d write a bit about honesty today, it’s been a while since I had a thoughtful post. Today, I’m not talking about the honesty you should have with your friends and family, but the honesty you need to have with yourself.

This winter I had a bad bout of dishonesty with myself, which lead to quite a downward spiral of frustration and left me with a very sour taste for triathlon and life. To put my behavior in terms you would apply to a child (since I was acting like one) – I acted out.

To share the story and allow you to draw your own conclusions I’ll start at the beginning:

At Ironman Wisconsin last year, I had a fantastic race: my normal swim, a crazy fast run (4th amateur!), and a good for me, but crummy relative to those I “race” against. I walked away from the race buoyed by the knowledge that if I could gain the ability to ride a bike comparable to my run or swim – my goal of finishing an Ironman as the first age grouper would be mine to screw up.

After some fun racing, and a break in the month of October “ which interestingly enough I ended with a 15k running race where I barely averaged faster than my run time in Madison “ I embarked on a quest to develop a soul crushing bike.  My plan was to give the Endurance Nation Out Season Plan a try.  I figured 16 weeks of brutal bike/run work would do the trick on the bike “ and make my run even faster!

For those who aren’t familiar with the endurance nation plans out season plans “ they are a TON of work “ on the surface it seems like the perfect recipe.  Here is a paraphrased sample week from the plan for your pleasure:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: ~70′ Bike w/ 2×20 @ FTP “ Run after
  • Wednesday: Run: 3×2 miles @ Half marathon Pace
  • Thursday: ~70′ Bike w/2×15 @ FTP
  • Friday: Run: 3×1 mile @ Threshold
  • Saturday: 70′ Bike w/ 2×15 @ FTP
  • Sun: 70′ Bike w/ 2×20 @ FTP “ Run After

I don’t have the plan in front of me (I ought to burn it), but that gives you the idea of the work being done.  For the first two months of the plan I did not swim at all, and over the course of the first 8 weeks “ built into running 6 times weekly, all easy except for the two quality runs.  I don’t think I ran longer than an hour from November 1 until early March “ and didn’t bike much more than 90 minutes during that same time frame.

The first few weeks of the plan, some miraculous things happened, I observed a significant jump from my baseline FTP and T-pace.  I posted multiple Top 10 All-time 20 minute power numbers; I ran a 10k and set a PR of nearly 2 minutes!

In early January my motivation was at an all-time high – I was eager and ready to go for the next 8 weeks “ looking forward to ending this 16 week stretch with some impressive results.

Only that didn’t happen “ in mid-January I started noticing a troubling trend “ my power numbers on the bike began slipping.  Slipping is putting it mildly “ they fell like a rock.  Over the course of a few weeks my sustainable power dropped nearly 40 watts.  I chalked it up to changes I made to my bike fit “ and kept pushing.

Now comes the part of the story where I should have taken an honest look at the situation.  Despite writing a blog post about how to approach training during this time of year – which isn’t perfect advice, but is fairly sound advice “ in that it strongly advocates including enough rest in your regimen, as we get stronger via recovery, along with the need to modify the training stimulus periodically to continue improvement.  I convinced myself I was just being a wimp on the bike and I needed to push through it.  So I started forcing the issue “ only to watch things plummet further and further.  Interestingly my bike suffered much worse than my run.

If I had been honest with myself “ I would have realized that I simply wasn’t resting enough and I was trying to work too hard.  I even went so far as to have a few rational moments “ some of which are evident on my blog.

This whole story culminated in early April after a time trial workout with some friends.  While I won the bet/race “ my power output was pathetic “ I was saved by a superior array of equipment and aeroness.  I immediately fell into an emotional/manic state “ with me being convinced that the only way out of this situation was to hire a coach.

To bring the story to a quick end before I bore you too much “ after working with my coach for approximately 5 weeks “ I was struggling with the process of being coached.  I think it was part me and my beliefs, part coach and his beliefs, combined with a realization that the process of discovery and experimentation was a huge portion of my enjoyment for triathlon.  Fortunately (time will tell) “ I realized that I needed to be honest with myself about what I wanted out of triathlon “ and parted ways with my coach.  I do believe that he would have made me rather fast, but we simply weren’t the right match.

I think had I not leaped into being coached in such an emotional state I would have probably made a more informed decision and selected a better for me.  That said “ I did walk away with the importance of rest reinforced “ and some confidence boosters that resulted from testing metrics that will help me regardless.

So in a few words I’ve pretty much summarized my triathlon life since last November “ you may be asking yourself what’s the point “ how is this relevant to honesty?  Well, if you examine the high points of the story, you’ll see a lot of emotional decision making “ which resulted in impulsive choices “ that lead to a pretty undesirable state of Scott.  When you couple that with the things my intellectual brain was saying on my blog or to my friends when being asked for advice “ you’ll see that I wasn’t being honest with myself “ which made it difficult for me to live the life I wanted to live.

At the more extreme end of self-dishonesty, it starts to become very easy to begin live a dishonesty life in general because if you can lie to yourself, imagine how easy it can be to lie to others.  Fortunately, I didn’t progress that far.

Food for thought.

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