This week: Season planning; research on cramping.
Image: Descending Bogus Basin above Boise, Idaho.
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Contrary to popular belief, cramping in sports is not always caused by dehydration or an imbalance in electrolyte levels. More common factors include muscular fatigue (were you going hard, bro?) and repetitive movement within the exact same range for extended periods of time (i.e. cycling). Current research is showing one of the best ways to prevent cramps is to integrate strength training into your training regime. The off season is the perfect time of year to focus on addressing any strength limiters. From my experience, the real benefit to strength training is to reduce the overall risk of injury, improve durability, and help maintain a feeling of athleticism. Taken in combination with your endurance training, 1-2 hours per week in the gym is a good use of cross training time.
Read my notes on Strength Training for the Endurance Athlete.
Quote that struck a chord:
"Plans are useless but planning is indispensable." Dwight D. Eisenhower
I'm constantly impressed with the similarities between business and sports planning. I've spent the last few weeks working on Tri Town's longterm strategic plan, and find the exercise incredibly insightful and rewarding. But I can't say I've always felt that way...
In college, I recall professors and business friends telling me to write a business plan for this triathlon store I wanted to open. They asked me fair questions like "How large is the market?" (I don't know) and "What's your operating margin?" (I don't know) and "What percentage of gross revenue can you handle in rent?" (I don't know). In some ways, the confusion and complexity induced by trying to answer these questions caused me to deeply doubt myself. A type of paralysis by analysis. I dropped out of college to focus on opening a triathlon store, feeling lost and unsure of how I could ever be ready to open a business.
A couple years went by, and in 2011 a friend and I opened Tri Town Bicycles. The first lesson I learned was that I could never have known the answer to most of these questions.
This is not to say that planning is bad. It most certainly is not. Planning proves you've thought deeply about how you could execute your vision and dream. Similar to reviewing a topographical map before a big hike, you plan a path while understanding that adjustments will be necessary once your boots are on the ground.
Once you've done the basic planning and prepared for the likely challenges, the most important next step is to simply begin taking action. Just getting started often dictates the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to be successful. Once you've started down the path, it may turn out that your topo map was wrong or misguided. At this point sticking to the map is not a sign of commitment, it's a sign of stupidity.
Six months after opening Tri Town I recall feeling that I was more scared of opening a business than I should have been. I never could have known all the answers beforehand. All I needed was the energy and courage to take action on whatever challenges were sent my way. Flexibility and a willingness to learn/change are stout competitive advantages.
This is the time of year that many athletes begin planning their next season of racing and training. It's a great exercise: review the calendar, roughly plan your personal and work obligations, think through your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete and how you'll develop each. Put some detail into your schedule, but know that it will change, and that changing the schedule is not a sign of failure, but a sign of responding to reality.
Before opening Tri Town, I looked for inspiration in everything and everyone. If you need some inspiration of your own, check out our free guide to Bullet Proof Stamina. Or, reach out to coaching staff and we'll help you decode the map.
Train smart, and have a great week!
Tri Town Bicycles
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