I just got through reading local boy Jason Sumner's latest update on VeloNews about his exploits as a worker-bee and bike racer. He's got a multi-part series dedicated to how getting a coach and working on his personal performance while having a job can all work out. Sound familiar? I'll have to pick his brain when we hook up.
His coach, Neal Henderson is an old friend and former RockyMount'r and in the article says some prolific things regarding obsessing. Trust me, I am the uber-candidate for obsessing. To be frank, I am called 'One Speed' by family and close friends. Not because I ride a single speed, but due to the fact I do everything at one speed: fast and frenetic. It's only as of late when the very first grey hairs started popping out of my head that I suddenly realized that chilling a bit actually allows for a better overall 'experience' on all 3 parts of my precarious teeter totter.
Before being coached properly, I would ride virtually every ride full gas. EVERY ride. More more more!! I wasn't thinking slow may = quality because my identification with training was throwing down with friends until we made our ears bleed and we were shelled. Then, of course, when I'd try and race, i'd get demolished and get psychotic and pissed. I'd be the surly monster in the house and 'that grumpy guy' at work. ALL of which is NOT me! I am still the boy who is the human equivalent of a Labrador Retriever who's fat tail is always wagging. Right? (say: Right, Greg)
So a change of focus on MANY areas of my life has significantly helped me. First getting coached...and by a real coach who appreciates my psyche, my real condition...my world. More specifically, one who isn't obsessing in parallel with my obsessions such as solely focusing on my wattage, heart rate, body weight and and caloric data each week. I love the fact that the first things we discuss when we get together to talk about my training week is to understand how I am sleeping and what my external stress is like. When THAT is discussed first...and often occupies the core of the conversation...it proves that the understanding of my situation when trying to be at the top of my game is clear and deeply factored in. I feared that getting a coach would be paramount to being put on some boiler-plate plan, when the plan was likely modeled after a successful (likely pro) athlete who does NOT have the life condition I have or most 37 year old daddy/husband/worker bees. My plan is constantly tweaked and course-corrected week after week while keeping the goals I have in mind and in focus....and on target.
Second, stepping back and embracing my Type A-ness helped. Again, my WHOLE life from being a 6 year old kid who would go from hockey to soccer to baseball practice in one day (and LOVING it) has seemingly not changed in 30 years. So, realizing I can chill, that my 'racing' side of the teeter totter doesn't mean I need to be at the pointy end of the pro ride here in town (and being n Boulder is ridiculous by the way when the pro ride is essentially Toyota United, Health Next etc...). I needed to get real! Also, realizing that going for a ride...I mean a ride where my heart is not in my throat and am cross eyed is amazing and utterly needed. Seeing the trees on my 29'er or single speed...and by intent not affixing a power meter or wearing a heart rate device on my MTB rides was a saving grace. I preserve my MTB-ing for assurance of grins. I also injected running into the frey. I HATE running. But now I...holy crap...I LIKE running. Yikes. I said it. It changes things up tremendously for me vis-a-vis my workouts and the muscles used to stay fit.
Third, I'd say that communication has played a HUGE part in the over-all chillness. What I specifically mean here is that I never in the past communicated or would think to give advanced notice to my wife about my plans, my goals...even what kinds of rides I would be doing in the upcoming week. Example: the LAST thing a young mother who also wants to work out, have some alone time, etc wants to hear from me on Saturday morning: "Oh, yeah, um honey, I was going to do this 6 hour training ride today. Um, can you like have the kids again all day?" Being a shit head and not being sensitive to anyone outside of ME was a continual recipe for disaster and definitely wrecked what could have been some fun weekends. Bike racing is utterly one dimensional. You have to have total focus and unfortunately it is very selfish. Getting real about who I am is extremely important to my success. So, my wife and I TALK. She knows EXACTLY what I have planned for the week, and I know her desires, and there are NO surprises. We balance out our personal time and create and communicate the need for windows where we do our 'work outs' and ensure we have full on kid/together time. HUGE positive impact for all of us.
Fourth, I'd say that getting some help for my aging body has helped IMMENSELY! Working with Dr. Dave and spending some time on some ailing bones and muscles is helping hugely. I wish I hadn't waited! It has helped immeasurably so replacing a workout session with some chiropractic and massage TLC is so core and key, I can't recommend it enough.
Lastly, life is short. And while I like to play hard, being 'present' for my family and my wife and not a surly obsessive weenie is what is going to ensure the cement at our core is unbreakable and will carry us through until we are crusty blue-hairs in a retirement home together being spoon fed applesauce by a nurse. The winner of the 'race' is who is truly happiest at the end with no regrets.