Four Questions to Help Self-Coached Athletes Achieve Their Best Season Ever

Running to a podium finish at Ironman New Zealand

Each week I post my Training Review on Twitter.

My review is driven by four questions:

  1. What went right?
  2. Did I hit my minimums?
  3. Where can I trade stress?
  4. What can screw things up?

My questions track to actions:

  1. Keep
  2. Add
  3. Trade
  4. Remove and Address

Across the week, I take notes and when I take my back-to-back recovery days, I review the week.

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What Went Right?

You are going to be tempted to “progress the week.”

Unfortunately, in highly motivated populations, this leads to breakdown, and missed gains!

Better to repeat the week & keep what works

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Did I Hit My Minimums?

Last Thursday, I gave you a Training Intensity Allocation.

Let’s see what that implies for my last week: 15 hours total => 900 minutes

  1. Strength => 90 minutes
  2. Stamina => 720 minutes
  3. Intensity => 90 minutes
    1. Tempo => 54 Minutes
    2. Threshold => 27 minutes
    3. VO2 & VO2+ => 9 minutes

Is there a training segment that I’m avoiding?

Think outside the box, there are many interesting sessions that are hybrids of strength/intensity.

Use the small allocations wisely and have fun with them.

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What Trades Make Sense?

First Two Tips:

  1. Repeat don’t progress
  2. Hit the minimums

If I want to ADD then do a TRADE.

Example #1: I like to run in the hills. However, I don’t need to run up a mountain every week! Across a week, a fortnight, a month… I manage my “elevation load” between weeks.

Example #2: I’m relatively strong for my age and category. I trade Strength load to accommodate more Stamina within my week.

Example #3: Max HR test last week? Add more Zone 1 to start the following week. Balance the intensity mixes across more than just the week. Give yourself time to fully absorb your highest intensity sessions. Same thing applies for sessions that cause significant muscle damage (plyometrics, downhill run load).

Example #4: get to the source of your life stress:

  • Sleep
  • Alcohol
  • Energy deficits
  • Spontaneous tempo
  • Over-reaction
  • Excessive load
  • Too many goals

If I want to better absorb training then reduce the stress caused by choices outside my core goals.

Endurance training, done to the best of our ability, offers an incentive to straighten out our lives.

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Avoiding Ruin – What Might Screw Up Next Week?

In the acute sense… Avoid The Injury!

Take time to address the little niggles while they are still little!

Dial the program DOWN before the injury is created.

Trade low quality days for high quality weeks.

In the chronic sense… going down an unsustainable path feels great, ride up to the day before you fall apart!

Consider, then address, areas of instability:

  • Relationships
  • Sponsors
  • Finances
  • Emotions
  • Habits

How to make this happen?

Put it in your calendar!

Make an appointment with yourself, daily.

Example: 10 minutes every day on mobility and one positive action to reduce long term stress.

Little positive steps have big impacts when applied over long time horizons.


The ability to bring these habits into your athletic life gives you a skill set to improve all aspects of your life.

Sunday Summary 14 August 2022

Top Threads

  1. Uncovered my #1 limiter – Zn1 “duration” workouts
  2. Did lactate tests to see where to target “duration” sessions
  3. Going to pull together Twitter FAQs for How to Endurance eBook (outline)
  4. Jim Brown is a great follow for down-to-earth tips & clips
  5. Applying Jason Koop’s book to my own training

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Tips

Coaching Elite Performers

Rolling strong at the swim meet

A coach is someone who can offer correction without causing resentment

– John wooden

When I notice someone has been triggered, I stop.

My life goals do not require me to change other people.

Inverting, being prickly reduces the world’s ability to help us out.


If you struggle to learn from experience then ASK…

  • What is it going to take for me to trust the process?
  • What is it going to take for me to trust the coach?

For me, It was watching Nils & Johan take everything I learned about sport and make it better. I wanted to take my knowledge to the next level.

In February, one small choice by Johan, set off of positive chain that brought us together.



What’s it going to take for you?

If you have no idea then that’s OK!

Think back, who gets through to me, without resentment?

Combine with goals & VALUES alignment, and you have the ingredients for a valuable long-term relationship.

  • My marriage
  • My investment committee
  • My close friends
  • My board

All contain people who are able to get through to me. I am surrounded by elite coaches.

In our lives, we will come across people who have the capacity to make us want to improve, and the vision to make incremental suggestions that we can implement.

Pay attention when you feel their positive influence.


Johan’s 2022 Scorecard

Each adjustment, I had been unable to implement previously.

Inside, I feel like I volunteered for all of them.

And I did.

But someone was the catalyst.

Share your story => someone needs to hear it.

Keep Small Promises

July in Boulder

I did the Rich Roll Podcast this past week (not out yet, I’ll let you know).

We started the podcast with…

My story is proof we all have hidden skills, paths we never see, never take.

I wasn’t setting Summer Swim League records as a kid, I didn’t walk-on to the Stanford Swim Team. I thought I was an average athlete. Turned out, I was an Ultraman Champion.

Every single one of us has a skill, a path, that can dramatically improve our lives.

But we have to start.

That was followed by two-and-a-half hours of chatting!

To wrap up, Rich asked me to give him one last tip. I thought a bit and came up with…

Keep small promises to yourself.

Everything I’ve achieved comes from the credibility I’ve established with myself.

When I started my journey, I had no idea where it would take me.


My elite athletic career dates back to a single choice in 1993 (24 yo).

I was living in London and decided to go for a walk.

One walk led to two.

Soon I was bike commuting to work.

Eventually, I was hiking longer on the weekends.

Years later, I made the decision to do “something everyday.”

Many choices, many years.


Roll forward, ~30 years, I have two promises I’m working on:

  1. Try to help someone online via Twitter
  2. Give it my best shot to get back in outstanding aerobic shape

Both done daily, on a 1,000-day time horizon.

I have no destination in mind.

I’m going to do the work, pace myself, and see what happens.


#1 came from calling my bluff with some feelings of envy I had.

#2 came because my life is more enjoyable with superior aerobic fitness.


Where do you need to face your fears and go for it?

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

Start small, give it 1,000 days.

Sunday Summary 5 June 2022

Top 5 Threads

  1. Howard’s new book on Longevity/Healthspan
  2. Even Super Humans have a lot of time as regular folks
  3. COVID return to play for adults & kids
  4. Don’t adopt a baseline of beatdown!
  5. A simple reminder of consistency as protocol, connected

Workouts & Working Out

High Performance

A Vision Quest of Fatigue

Hilton Head, end of the trip

Archive Saturday is an extract from my diary when I rode across the USA (March to May 2004).

This entry was written after the end of a big block. That morning, I had briefly fallen asleep swimming. Woke up when my head hit the bulkhead!


Barry was a favorite guest. At the time, we were eating out of buckets.

My buddy, Barry, had saddle sores so bad, he used his menthol lip balm for relief.

Never borrow lip balm from a vegan called Barry!

As an elite endurance athlete, there will be days when the best thing that happens is rolling a stick of lip balm onto your balls…

…and those will be some of the greatest days of your life!


There’s tired and there’s “lie down on a tarp, covered in mosquitoes and immediately fall asleep tired”

Here’s the thing about fatigue, at first we panic a little, eventually we accept it, then we find a way to relax and dance with it.


A BIG motivator with my Project (to get back in shape) is being able to do adventures with my son.
This is the morning we decided to swim to North Carolina and run up to road to meet our support vehicle.
Clas “the Baron” Bjorling in the middle & Ben on the right.

From back when the magazine business was a business…

They’d be out of business if we just put JFT on the cover and ran the adverts…

Social media wasn’t a thing in 2004 but the “attention economy” endures.

Be wary of sacrificing the quality of your work to offer novelty to the masses, most of whom will never follow your advice and gain The Knowledge.

The Knowledge doesn’t reside in textbooks, blog posts or podcasts.

Just Keep Training


Sam, me, Barry the Vegan // 8 weeks (and most of the USA) between this photo at the one above.
Fuel the work and don’t be a weight nut!
Always remember, NEVER borrow lip balm from Barry

Monday’s blog will be about A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence – it’s about creating a life that puts you in the position to do The Block.

The Block – a period of 4 months where you take yourself to the top.

The first half of my “Block” was swim/bike/run across America – 9 weeks.

The second half was a summer inside Dave Scott’s Team World in Boulder.

Barbarian Days!



gRAAM – Trans USA Day Forty-Eight
camden, tennessee

In the end, we were a bit tired to be much entertainment for Andy, but we left him a couple of souvenirs to show our appreciation of his hospitality.

We didn’t exactly rip out of bed. I managed a weak jog to the pool. The swim was even more lackluster. After 2,000 yards, I nearly fell asleep in the water (not a good sign at all). I managed to squeeze out 3,000 yards, but the last 500 was done in broken 25s at easy pace. Not pretty. I got out of the water and sat in the hot tub for a bit (memories of cracking post-Epic NZ #2).

I shuffled back to Andy’s place, where Baron and I conferenced and agreed that the overall run distance was 5.5K.

We had 180K on the ride agenda and I was starting the day highly whipped. Fortunately, we had tailwinds forecast, but there were a heck of a lot of rollers heading my way. I drank a half litre of gordo-brew, straight-up – nothing happened, not even a ripple in my system.

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So what does one think about when riding, totally wasted? Here’s a selection – as you can tell, I wasn’t feelin’ the love the whole way…

Jimi and me – hey, there’s a lot going on in the background of those songs. He’s laughing and joking the whole way through. Kinda like a my training days.

Dolan – Tom “Mr. Swimming” Dolan trained 100+KM per week in the water for an event that lasted four minutes. How could anybody reasonably expect to perform a 8-9 hour TT on a low-volume program?

Track Sessions – Who’s %^&*$#@ idea was that anyhow? I’m blown to bits and for what? …and the guy tells me to eat light at dinner. Man-o-man, isn’t he reading my reports? Eat light?! Bet he’s drinking a beer right now.

Training Regime – OK, you come and sit on my wheel for two weeks and then we’ll talk training protocols. Far easier to talk than to do what it takes. Two weeks in my big ring and counting.

Mr. Andersson – The guy chose the large jersey. I had the medium with me and he waived it off. Then he diss’d my gift on my site? Sponsor management? Dude, you can just mail that jersey back to me and I’ll find another home for it.

Lance – People diss the guy on the pride he has in his preparation. I’m shelled to s&*# and I’m a wee minnow compared to those guys. Everyone trains hard at the top? No way, only a few people truly apply themselves in ANY endeavour. The ability to persist beats ability. But they wish it was the other way. They wish that there was an excuse, any excuse, to avoid personal responsibility.

Scientists & Experts – I bet I couldn’t find one expert to agree with my training today but, I bet I could find a dozen world champions.

Coach – Don’t fool yourself. Coaches don’t make athletes. Athletes make athletes. Structure, motivation, objectivity, belief. The nature of a session? Doesn’t matter. JFT.

Fatigue – We’re looking for a new kind of fatigue out here. Something deeper, a pure fatigue. Not one of those bush league fatigues. A whole new kind of fatigue.

Balm – You know, that balm I put on my nads is probably going to be the highlight of this day. The menthol aspect lasted for at least forty minutes. That was nice. My only action is medication for my bag – all part of the elite triathlete lifestyle. Funny old life I lead. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rights – What am I doing out here? I am exercising my right of self-determination. Perhaps just self-termination.

Tri Mags – It would be pretty thin if you simply put JFT on the cover then ran the adverts. So much time, so much energy, so much money spent on items that have nothing to do with true performance.

I can’t really remember if those were before or after lunch. I do remember that we had 105K on the clock at lunch and my hands were shaking badly on arrival in Bells, TN.

B – I think that we should ride an extra 30K if we feel good.
G – More than 200K?
B – Yes, a good idea?
G – Why not.

So we headed out at 4:30 pm for a second leg of 125K, or so. Somewhere out there I got tired enough to simply relax and resign myself to my fate. Just like the winter storm day. Only this time it was different.

Baron was so shelled that he was pouring water on his head to keep himself from swerving too much. I think we were both beyond caring and feeling – we were simply going to ride until we got to the end or cracked. Neither of us expected to crack, but you can never really be sure.

…perhaps that’s why I did this trip. Because I wanted the knowledge. Yeah, that’s good to know. This could be as close as I’ll be able to come. My personal sixty quarters. Shared with the Baron. The same knowledge but different. I wonder if he understands? He certainly understands but he’d be no more able to explain it then I can. When you have the knowledge you don’t really need to explain it. You just lean back and smile while everyone else hangs at the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Molina has it, sure, but why is he telling me to eat light as well. Is he playing some kind of joke on me? I’m way past simple bean dip fatigue – isn’t he reading these reports. Maybe he’s taking me on the next step. Just keep riding…

…Guess it’s like the quiet power only deeper. If only a few have the knowledge then I wonder why so many of them don’t have the quiet power as well. Perhaps it’s difficult to transfer it across an entire spectrum. Flashes of enlightenment. Wonder how long this will stick with me. Probably be gone tomorrow. But it was nice while it lasted. Keep on riding…

…it’s not the insanity of cities, or the silliness of debate – it’s the total futility of everything. To fight every battle as if it was our last, all the while knowing that it’s really one big joke. A lot of warriors get the first bit but miss the second. Keep on riding…

We rolled into our campsite as darkness fell. Wy asked me a question and I said something along the lines of “I’m OK”. She noted that my reply wasn’t convincing but how to explain without sounding offensive or strange. My own vision-quest exploring the depths of fatigue.

I think we are going to make it, but who’s idea was that track session?

g-man

How To Build An Online Community

I’ll send this out a little differently on Twitter here’s my profile over there.

I’ve built online communities 4x and it gets easier each time. Probably, because some of you have been reading me for 20+ years.

Thank you!


KNOW YOUR WHY – most the advice I see is about ramping up follows and seeking to convert attention to cash.

Pay attention and you might find that cash-for-attention isn’t what you seek.

Know your goal and write it down – if you’re successful then the crowd will nudge you in unexpected ways.

My reasons:

Establish Expert Credentials – doing 100s of case studies in public will let you “get your story straight” and build a network of successful students who’ve applied your best advice.

Where this gets really exciting is when you see someone take your lessons and improve upon them. My current project of getting-back-in-shape is using techniques taught to me by coaches who studied my approach. Cool!

Connect/Engage – I live in a narrow niche and have a set of values outside the norm. Toss me on Twitter and there are a million like-minded folks. I get a kick out of engaging from Finland to Switzerland to Brazil.

Take time to unsubscribe from vibes you don’t want.

My feed is positive and WAY better than reading the news.


MUTE AND MOVE ON

A fact of the internet => Yahoo-encounters scale faster than reach

I recommend a one strike and you’re out policy.

It’s never been easier to mute and move on.

My “why” does not require helping everyone, being universally liked or getting wrapped up in drama.


PICK A TOPIC YOU KNOW WELL

Lots of people know more than me, nobody knows my story better than me

…and it’s an interesting story because I…


DO INTERESTING STUFF THEN WRITE ABOUT IT

  • Taking a leave of absence, qualifying for World Champs and winning Ultraman Hawaii…
  • Being absolutely miserable then figuring out a way to get better…
  • Handing back a Private Equity partnership because I wanted to live an outdoor life…
  • Changing myself so I could attract a wonderful woman…
  • Learning to be an expert skier, late in life…
  • Write a book, then another…
  • Going from the couch to running a 35-minute 10K…
  • Giving comfort to the dying…

Be willing to fail – failure makes for great copy.

…and if you don’t fail… even better copy!


HELP STRANGERS

Ten years ago, I didn’t know my kids. So glad I made a choice towards family. We only get one chance to know a kid then they’re grown up.

  • Before I had my kids, I had my team.
  • Before my team, my readers.
  • Before my readers, fellow athletes trying to figure out sport.

While you are doing work… leverage yourself. Create systems to capture your best ideas – it might be as simple as a bedside notebook and a Notes App.

Pay attention to everyone who responds positively to your message.

Dial down those with a negative bias – this is very tough with the rich & famous – you do not want to “catch” a negative bias.


DO IT EVERY DAY

Pick one format/platform: blog, Twitter, forum, FB/IG, video… set yourself a schedule and do it every day.

13 cycles of my Content Week was enough to add 1,000 people to my network.

Further, by staying positive, I like ALL these people!

Make sure you like the world you create


ANALYTICS ON

Why?

Most simply, because the author doesn’t get to choose what interests the reader.

  • Capture what interests people (One Page PDFs)
  • Reinforce your best ideas (Copy & Paste Links)
  • Spend time improving your best stuff

Finally, there is no goal

The reward is in the work, improve the world one interaction at a time.

Setting Up A Lifetime of Winning

May in Boulder

Last Monday, I gave you three things to consider:

  • Face your fear of recovery
  • Consider if you have the muscle mass to achieve your goals
  • Build your capacity for One Big Slow Day

Another way to think about recovery is to invert – give yourself a protocol that you will enjoy regardless of outcome – lack of enjoyment is a sign your approach is unsustainable.

Injury and illness are socially-acceptable ways to manifest a lack of enjoyment.

Work, school, sport… bad luck is less random than it appears.


The best thing I learned about protocol was taught to me by a doctor friend:

Gordo, we don’t heal people. People heal themselves.

The magic isn’t in the protocol, supplement or dogma…

The magic ingredient is YOU!


Step back from all the noise about protocols.

How might we create a lifetime of winning?

  • Consistency
  • Enjoyment

Focus there.


What do we see in every successful person?

  1. Practice often
  2. Devote time
  3. Learn skills

Focus there.


I’ve been reading the literature around SuperElite performance. It gets me fired-up to “practice often, devote time & learn skills” 🙂

However… it strikes me as a lot of narrative wrapped around the complex system of human performance.

The literature lacks self-awareness… despite what you see in the media, you probably do not want to be a Super Elite. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Not our situation to solve.


For the rest of us!

The mental side is what’s going limit.

While we are consistently enjoying the journey…

  • do work
  • take correction

Parents, allocating TIME to have fun while you MODEL these skills is one of the best gifts you can give your kids.

I doesn’t need to be you (but your kids really want you involved).

Teach your kids to be the best version of themselves.


Not better than the rest,
I hope you are the best YOU can be

Live Like A Billionaire – From The Inside

A question I raised on Brad’s podcast, who’s your reference set?
Who am I trying to impress?

Last week, I wrote about my introduction to the well-adjusted rich.


Roll forward, I’m on the “special projects” team.

I have a look around.

  • World-class skier
  • World-class ultramarathoner
  • World-class mountaineer
  • Younger version of, said, WC Mountaineer
  • Biz partner: former D1 athlete

Every person a mix of kind and competitive.

A limited number of close relationships, the collective sum being who the boss wanted to become.

This insight does not require assets.

It requires:

  • enough space in your life to think strategically (control your schedule)
  • the knowledge of where you want to go (choose wisely)
  • access to the people you want to become (last week)

What wasn’t there.

I saw: spouse, kids, PA, pilot and the rest of the team.

No Posse.

The world has an incentive to tell us what we want to hear, if you’re rich then even more so.

Close relationships, who share truth.


How was the team used?

Short trips, shared experiences, having fun together.

Doing fun things with world class people.


Assets are no barrier to this life.

Go get it.

Sunday Summary 17 April 2022

The Body You Want

Fit Kids & Parenting

Wealth

High Performance Habits

Strength & Conditioning