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Towel




Joined: 12 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok guys, sorry for the delay. Back at work today and no TT access an logged on to find 35 pms...just wanted the first few reviews before i stick my neck on the line but here it is....free, critical, and less than 80 pages. Hopefully it will offer some real though provoking.

A frequent question I ask when trying to improve some area of my training is: If I were to rate this areaís current performance on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst imaginable and 10 being the best imaginable, where am I right now?

Very often I find that areas get stuck somewhere in the 6-8 range, usually at a 7. A 7 seems very close to a 9 or 10, but often a 7 is a local maximum ó you canít get any higher by continuing to follow the same path that got you to that 7 in the first place. Youíre already at a peak. The only way to reach a true 9 or 10 is to take a new path.

A 7 is pretty good. At this level you feel generally content. Itís OK, fine, acceptable, satisfactory. A 7 is above average. Compared to most people, youíd say your 7 isnít bad at all. You feel like youíre ahead of the game and that everything is going well. But its not the best. If it was it would be a 10.

If you were a 2 or 3, you know something is very wrong, and youíre probably driven to action, you do something about it, you start training or you go to a gym or you seek some expert advice. But a 7 is like a warm bath. Itís cozy and non-threatening. You feel fairly safe at a 7. Getting past a 7 is hard. It can take more effort to get past a 7 than it takes to reach a 7 in the first place. But your 7 is not good enough as you know you can be better but as its currently above a 5, you are not really doing much about it.

Whenever I feel Iíve gotten stuck at a 7, I stop and ask myself: What would a 10 look like?
Itís a simple question, but forcing myself to list the specific factors that would be part of a 10 and which differentiate a 10 from an 8 or 9 helps me get clear about my definition of the best. Then I can start setting some clear goals that are the driving force to moving in that direction. So to swim the distance required for a double ironman, how many times do I need to do it? Does a 10k swim seem enough or do I just think that a 5k swim is easy so thatís enough too. How you define what a 10 is will tell you exactly why your currently worth your 6,7 or 8.

What does a cycling 10 look like? Is it a national title or a pb or just knowing itís the best you can be. Again the 10 has to be defined in order to know what the 7 or 8 is now.

You might be able to go from a 6 to a 7 in a week or a month, perhaps even a day with conscious effort. A few tweaks here and there, and youíve got it. Its feeling good about a training session or a race. But to go from a 7 to an 8 might take a year or two.

Sometimes getting to an 8+ requires a change of approach totally, maybe a new coach, a training camp or a different method of training.

Escape the trap of 7
Donít let yourself get stuck in the trap of 7. Define your 10 in writing, and ask yourself if you can transition smoothly from your 7 to that 10. Maybe youíre already on the right path and can see the trail ahead of you with great clarity. Youíre still better off trying any other path than the one that dead-ends at 7.

However, some people become overly attached to their 7s. You may be afraid you wonít be able to get to an 8 or 9 or 10 even if you try. What if you go for it, and the best you ever see again is a 5? Wouldnít that be foolish?

Guess what? You could be right. I donít know your situation, so I have to imagine that itís entirely possible that if you leave behind your 7, you may never reach that level again. You could drop down to 3 or 4 and get stuck there and never rebound. Itís a risk.

What I can tell you though is what lies on the other side once youíve left behind a 7. Iíve done it enough times to feel pretty comfortable describing what youíre likely to find.

There is no 7
What youíll find when you leave the comfort of your 7 and go chasing after that 10 is that your 7 was never a 7. It was only a 3.
If you think youíre at a 7, youíre really at a 3 maximum. The 10 is way, way out there. You think you can see it, but your definition of a 10 is based on your experience of a 7, and you canít even see a real 10 when youíre standing at 7.

If you were to go out and find someone whoís actually at a 10 in your area and asked them how you were doing on a scale of 1 to 10, theyíd be able to label your 7 accurately as a 3. How would an elite sub 8.30 ironman rate your current diet and exercise habits? Are you really at 70% of their level? Is your 7 really a 7? Or is it a 3?

Changing a pathway to moving from a 7 onwards is a risk. What you do as a risk may be to completely change a training method, a radical change of technique or nutrition. Making the decision is a difficult process. It may be something as radical as changing your coach, it may just be training at a different time. Sometimes youíll just have to take it one day at a time and guess at the best direction. You might even hit a wall now and then and backtrack and change to a different path. The most important thing is that you start moving in a certain direction, different to the previous one.

Getting moving is far better than remaining stuck. The risks may backfire and you end up with self doubt or psychological hits, but wounds will heal, and you will always find an exciting new path to explore. This was something that I experienced when trying to switch to forefoot running, I tried it, it resulted in injuries and although I was running faster, I learned a lot from it. As a result, my running style changed slightly in the recovery and I ran a sub 3 hour marathon at IMUK. The result now is that I know how to deal with running injuries and hopefully how to prevent them through a series of stretching and strengthening exercises.

As you do more and more of this kind of path switching, youíll develop a higher tolerance for it. The pain wonít sting so much. The pain level is still the same, but youíll be stronger and more capable of handling it.
If you never do this path wandering though, youíll grow weaker with each passing year. Youíll be too afraid to venture far off the path.

If you want to get onto a new path, you have to be the one to initiate it. Not me. Not your coach or your partner. It has to come from you. If youíve stalled at a 7, itís because youíve slowed down and you have noticed it.

If you know your path is wrong, then you know you need to get off it. Take some time to figure out the best direction to go next, and then get moving. Take baby steps if you need to. But just get moving. If youíre stuck then almost any path is better than remaining stagnant. Think of one small action you can take to get yourself moving in a new direction, and take it today. You may not find that 9 or 10 position, but you can find that 9 or 10 path.
The true 10 is doing your best. And that can never be attained by standing still. HTFU and get out there!!
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MoJon




Joined: 24 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

one word H,


AWESOME
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e-j




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

very very good post.

Thank you Towel, I've got a bit stagnant these past few weeks for a variety of reasons. Reading that has made me realise what I need to do to get back on track.

Cool
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recoil




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice post T....

thats got me thinking... I have no idea what a 10 would be for me, tbh it would be nice to get to a 5 or 6 in order to think about hitting a 7!

This is one to ponder on the turbo tomorrow ...
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wiganer




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do it slightly differently as I dont think that 9/10 is realistic for most of us......sure you can aspire to it and I get the thinking behind it but....

I can chart my progress and mojo by firstly aiming to reach the 7 - having started from nothing since Oct 2006 this has been a good benchmark - take the steps to get to the 7 and then take stock - 7 is an above average number.....

For me the 7 was finishing an IM last year.......when I got there I dropped my levels so that my finish became a 4/5 and then I set a new 7 of getting under 11.30 this year.

Using the Towel approach, you probably need to have the ATTITUDE of a 10 to get you to the 7.....

I hope you get what I mean........

if you do, please PM me and explain Very Happy
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Luke




Joined: 22 Apr 2005
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Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke wrote:

Swim Speed--------2
Swim Endurance---3
Swim Distance-----4
Bike Speed---------3
Bike Endurance----3
Bike Distance------4
Run Speed---------4
Run Endurance----4
Run Distance------6


Great post Hywel.

Do I want to reach 10 (or 9 or 8 or...)? My answer at the moment is no.

I only have so much energy. I distribute this towards my wife and children, my job and triathlon. And a little towards socialising with friends and drinking alcohol.

I could weight the balance much more towards triathlon, but it would have negative consequences to the other areas of my life.

I want to do the best at triathlon given the self-imposed constraints that I'm working within.

Yes, I'd like to be moving towards a 7,8,9 or 10, but I don't have the hunger that would make me jeopardise the other areas of my life that are important to me.

I still love hearing about those who do have that hunger (anyone contemplating Double Ironman UK must be famished), so go for it Mr Towel, I can't wait to hear more Smile
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AndyS.




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought about it today and wondered if you could ever reach a 10? I mean, your current fitness level is where you're at now and you always strive to improve. So even if you perceived you were at 10, you'd go out training again and try to improve so in fact you weren't 10 but probably an 8 or 9. I can't see how you'd get to a 10 unless you'd scored gold at the Olympic, World Champs or Kona (or some such equivalent huge achievement). So does 10 even exist? Today's world record will be broken tomorrow and it'll recalibrate the 10 to a new level. Right now I'd settle for 7 thank you very much.
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MoJon




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndyS. wrote:
I thought about it today and wondered if you could ever reach a 10? I mean, your current fitness level is where you're at now and you always strive to improve. So even if you perceived you were at 10, you'd go out training again and try to improve so in fact you weren't 10 but probably an 8 or 9. I can't see how you'd get to a 10 unless you'd scored gold at the Olympic, World Champs or Kona (or some such equivalent huge achievement). So does 10 even exist? Today's world record will be broken tomorrow and it'll recalibrate the 10 to a new level. Right now I'd settle for 7 thank you very much.


And i think thats one of the keys. Naturally people will settle to what they think is achievable to them. But then may only get 70% of the way to that.

Remember the old saying ' shoot for the moon and you will reach the stars?'
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Towel




Joined: 12 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndyS. wrote:
I thought about it today and wondered if you could ever reach a 10? I mean, your current fitness level is where you're at now and you always strive to improve. So even if you perceived you were at 10, you'd go out training again and try to improve so in fact you weren't 10 but probably an 8 or 9. I can't see how you'd get to a 10 unless you'd scored gold at the Olympic, World Champs or Kona (or some such equivalent huge achievement). So does 10 even exist? Today's world record will be broken tomorrow and it'll recalibrate the 10 to a new level. Right now I'd settle for 7 thank you very much.


Its meant to be thought provoking....

Its where you set your 10 though.

For me, 8k swim is a 10, i dont need to go further, doing my local training run in under 36 mins is a 10, i could go faster but at this point, its not needed.

The whole point of the post is that the 7 tricks you into being happy with it, whereas if you thought something was rack bottom, you are more likely to improve. So if you are not happy with current form, be honest and do something about it.
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Phil Wilson




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the key to this is knowing where to set your 10!?! Now Macca shouldn't be too worried about me, but am I good enough to win a small, local triathlon (for local people)? Could I win a 10Km run? It is not impossible even if I am no where near that at present.

Since my goal and motivation is current IM, how about my 10 being to front crawl the whole swim without resting, pedal every bit of the bike without any freewheeling and to "run" every step of the marathon? That is well beyond my current goal of "get round", so is it not akin to a 10 for me?

I agree that people need to aim high, but they also need to keep in mind the meaning of the A in S.M.A.R.T.
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Bainsy




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Luke wrote:

Great post Hywel.

Do I want to reach 10 (or 9 or 8 or...)? My answer at the moment is no.

I only have so much energy. I distribute this towards my wife and children, my job and triathlon. And a little towards socialising with friends and drinking alcohol.

I could weight the balance much more towards triathlon, but it would have negative consequences to the other areas of my life.

I want to do the best at triathlon given the self-imposed constraints that I'm working within.

Yes, I'd like to be moving towards a 7,8,9 or 10, but I don't have the hunger that would make me jeopardise the other areas of my life that are important to me.

I still love hearing about those who do have that hunger (anyone contemplating Double Ironman UK must be famished), so go for it Mr Towel, I can't wait to hear more Smile



The issue you raise is one of balance (much discussed on numerous threads) but you could relate the '10' ambition to all areas of life not just tri in which case you aim at '10' for tri/work/wife/kids (and social/alcohol ! Very Happy ) - May work and is probably a more realistic ambition for most of us..........thoughts ?
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Jorgan




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't going to bother posting on this, but Towel, now you've taken away what I saw as the Subjectiveness of the exercise I now know exactly what you're getting at. Have you thought about teaching?!

Swim Speed--------7
Swim Endurance---8
Swim Distance-----9
Bike Speed---------7
Bike Endurance----7
Bike Distance------7
Run Speed---------8
Run Endurance----8
Run Distance------9

The above is based on IM training and the fact I only got back in to the sport late last summer. I've worked hard over the winter and I've always run anyway. But as you can see, I've hit a swim speed plateau and one on the bike too. I'm hoping the bike will pick-up with the warmer weather. I know now I can cover the distance - but can I do it as quickly as I want to ?????

Like a lot who train for IM, I suspect, I look at my swim times for 3.8km and think, hell, that's very respectable, but if I want to do a 55-56 min swim, then the amount of extra training to gain a handful of minutes (i.e. from a 7 to a 9/10) could be better invested in bike/run training. Does that sound familiar?

It's about directing your time, energy & enthusiasm where it will make the biggest overall impact.
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TimB




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent, well written and nicely to the point.
This could be applied to so many things - e.g. work performance, lifestyle, etc. - and not just sport.

Defining what your "10" is is exactly right - are you a "just get round" or a "top 10 finisher"?
I've set my goals in Triathlon for this year; they're pretty challenging for me; others (FOP) would find them easy but they're way out there for some of the BOP athletes and all-but impossible for the "sofa surfers". Now I just need to work out exactly what training plan will get me there.

Thanks!! Cool
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samwhi




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers Towel. Are you sure you are not Mr Motivator?



Thought provoking is about right. I've really struggled to get consistency with training and diet this year and its peeing me off. I've done nothing this week but prepare for the next 5 months with a programme and goals that work for me.

What I have now realised is that my goals are too low. Almost comfort zone. Why? I'm stepping up the distance from Olympic to Ironman and had the mindset that just finish would be ok. Which could be a 7?

If I aim for just finish and don't hit all my training targets then I could easily become a just couldn't finish.

Never thought of the 1-10 scoring as a means of doing it but for me its back to the drawing board for a while. My scores averaged a 5 so i've got work to do to even achieve my original goals.

Mojo is improving.
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good4age




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is all very excellent stuff and I have read and digested it.

I understand the reasoning behind it etc.BUT....I just don't think it relates to me!...Exactly why I don't know.

Mind you, I don't think HTFU relates to me either...or the hurt box or mojo etc.

So where does that leave me???...with my IM participation?


I know that if I do the training honestly without kidding myself, do what my coach gives me for the week, then there can be no more than I can do and my performance will reflect my efforts.

Perhaps someone would be kind enough to spent some time explaining it in a way that makes sense....no disrespect intended, just genuine bewilderment.

GFA
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