This week: Activation energy and why speed matters.
Image: Owen Wright and Travis Wood.
Here is your weekly Tri Town Times newsletter:
Weekend race report:
Paula Findlay and Sam Long won 70.3 Indian Wells. Local professional Danielle Lewis took 3rd overall. The late season race has become popular for local athletes looking to extend their season. In the amateur fields, Owen Wright (who just moved out of Boise) took 2nd overall, while Denis Pyryev took 12th overall.
- After a challenging two day format at the 2022 Ironman World Championships, Ironman announced that future events will be split across two days and two venues. Spreading the race out over two days improves the quality of racing and allows more athletes to compete at the World Championships, but the strain and disruption to the local economy was too much. In 2023 the women will race the classic course on the Big Island of Hawaii, and the men will race at a separate location (rumor is Nice, France) on a different weekend. Many details for the mens race are still unknown.
- Speaking of challenging logistics, the 2024 Tour De France will not finish on the Champs-Élysées as it has since 1975 due to conflicts with the Paris Olympics. The race will instead finish in Nice with a time trial.
- A recent study looked at the influence of goal setting on performance. Performance goals had almost no effect, while process goals had a large positive influence on results. I've written before about goal setting and the issues with time focused goals in racing. The key to goal setting is to focus on the process that lead to success, especially the process you have control over. You can exert a lot of influence over your habits and preparation that get you to the starting line, but once the race starts many factors are out of your control.
Speaking of variables within your control: you cannot prevent a flat, but you can learn to fix one. We have two spots remaining in tomorrow's (Tuesday) Flat Tire Repair Class.
Quote that struck a chord:
"Part of the activation energy required to start any task comes from the picture you get in your head when you imagine doing it. It may not be that going for a run is actually costly; but if it feels costly, if the picture in your head looks like a slog, then you will need a bigger expenditure of will to lace up.
Slowness seems to make a special contribution to this picture in our heads. Time is especially valuable. So as we learn that a task is slow, an especial cost accrues to it. Whenever we think of doing the task again, we see how expensive it is, and bail.
That’s why speed matters."
- James Somers in Speed matters: Why working quickly is more important than it seems.
Somers makes the argument that if you want to become better at something, make an effort to try and do it faster. He does not mean literally run faster (though there are obviously times when that's the goal). He is talking about lowering the barriers and cost of effort to get the training in. In essence, increase your frequency of practice.
What are simple things that lower the "activation energy" cost and increase the speed and frequency of practice?
- Prep your run clothes, bike, and/or gym bag the night before.
- Workout in the morning. If frequency is important, a morning workout not only guarantees the work gets done, but it opens the opportunity for an evening workout if the desire is there (double frequency).
- Coordinate with a friend a workout meeting time and place.
What are things that increase the activation energy needed to begin practice?
- Complex workout plans. If you cannot explain the workout in one sentence, it's too complex.
- Long commute to begin a workout. If the commute time is longer than the workout itself, we have a problem.
- Complex/unreliable technology used during exercise. Have you ever messed with your watch for 15 minutes before starting a workout?
- Evening workouts. You're more tired and have less control over the evenings than the mornings. It takes a larger percentage of your remaining willpower to get started.
- Over committing oneself.
Remember, there are two ways a to go faster: you can try harder (exert more energy), or you can reduce the resistance acting upon you. Lowering the activation energy needed to get started is about reducing resistance.
Train smart, and have a great week!
Tri Town Bicycles
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