As I work towards my second ever triathlon (first was in 2013) I’m still learning a lot of the basics. My last longer bike workout revealed how bad I am at hills. I made a comment to Matt, our fitness director, and his suggestion was to shift once. We talked about the mentality plus the execution: right after the hill begins you need to determine what final gear you need/want to get to, shift there and be done with it. Riders in lower gears may pass you at first but as they start shifting you’ll pass them eventually. I’m not so sure about that last part and frankly passing people isn’t even my objective (more on that tomorrow). What I’m after is learning the best strategy to finish as fast as I can finish, climb those hills with experience and skill.
Today’s training ride consisted of two laps around Lake Monona plus a 3.45-mile run around the State Capitol (starting from my parking spot on John Nolan). What a great brick! My first loop on the bike was rather conservative so I’m glad I was able to increase the pace on the second, finishing almost eight minutes faster than the first. On the run as I made my way around the Capitol Square I had fatigue start to sink in. I thought to myself that I am falling in love with the process of training. That’s the name of the game: process, progress. As a trainer I see this holding so many people back. So I put it on myself to help coach this mentality that the process is the name of the game.
Within that process we are constantly changing. We get better, challenge goes up, we get proficient, we get our butt kicked, we respond but we always keep going. Today’s learning to “shift once” was good on two levels. First tactically it’s an experienced technique that I worked on and felt challenged but also felt myself getting better right away. Second, the bigger picture of “assess the situation and plan accordingly and execute” is also very valuable. I think of this in terms of letting injuries heal and I think of this in terms of choosing the appropriate intensity for a given workout as example of “shift once and make it work.”