Insert catchy title here

I recently read this article by James Clear. 

So if success is linked to grit then why do we spend all this time wanting to find our passion?

Why not develop our grit? Why not spend time developing our staying power?

Well maybe because we believe the short cuts we are sold.

If only we have enough talent, if only we discover our talent, if only we find the magic pill, if only…

And it starts with small things. Daily rituals that lead to long term gains over short term potential losses. It starts with brushing our teeth. And then flossing! Ah here is already the rub. Who misses out on this part? Then we make our bed. Once we can do that we can try to do square breathing for 32 days continuously. Then maybe we can move onto the important stuff. Oh but hang on is the really important stuff not developing grit. So floss every day. 

And finally for those who want the full research article to back this all up:

“… these findings suggest that the achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent but the consistent application of talent over time” Angela Duckworth

Specificity

cape-epic-sprint-stage-3-treadmtb-1536x1024Most of us have seen the photo.
Kulhavy waiting for Sauser to win the sprint.
They knew what was required and they knew what it would take.
They had a plan that matched the desired outcome. They had planned this scenario.
How many of us have the same insight?
Or do we leave it up to the gods on the day and hope for the best?
But where to start?
I was very aware of where I was fitness wise last year. I knew I could only improve at a certain rate – at my gradient. There was no way I could do the volume of past. I had to constantly assess where I was. Running by myself without my ego and those of others as a distraction. Honesty was number one.  That took a very long time to figure out.
So to my training. 
This year is the first time that I have some understanding of what Dr Phil is on about. To be honest it took months until I could even maintain a HR under 140. Probably longer to be honest. But I knew it was the way forward and I persisted. In fact I got injured and it forced me to keep all running easy. Easy and short. And then often.
Slowly building.
And then it suddenly clicked like magic. My body understood.
And now I think I am back to some form of fitness.
Anyway I digress.
I am heading to the Transrockies in August.
When I accepted the entry I knew we were not going to go full blast. The crux would be to run 6 consecutive days at altitude on pretty well maintained trail by our standards.
I look at images of my heroes and what they write and I always try to understand why they are doing what they are doing.
Why, why, why?
The answer is always there if you just look.
When I want to up my insight on finances I seek the council of my financial adviser not my doctor or best friend. I read up what Buffet and the boys are doing and thinking. Specificity. 
I observe and adapt.
So how to prepare?
First of all my partner and I have a pretty good understanding of our strategy. We are there to have fun and not to win. We will have to keep race day egos in check.
The innevitable game of sandbag is being played. I am not sure who is playing a better hand. We will see.
I have no illusion that we are going to be doing a fair amount of walking. Hope Pass etc etc will not be running terrain for us.
So there has been no track for me.
My weeks have consisted of long runs back to back to back, to back. Teaching my body and mind how to recover.
Learning nutrition on and off the trail. Dialling it in so that there are no questions on race day (sorry week).
Altitude is the factor that is most difficult to prepare for. I don’t have enough time pre event to aclimatise properly but I will do what I can.
Most important will be looking after my partner. We can only go as fast as the slowest of us two. Whoever that is. And that role will swap during the week!
Efficiency is key. Not letting any one issue get to the point of becoming a problem.
That is the theory. I am sure we will hit obstacles and make mistakes along the way but at least I have a plan.
The lessons are the same though. Specificity is key to whatever we do.
I can not say it enough.

Choices

GPSI stop at the cross roads. My GPS tells me right but I am not sure. I think it is left.

I have a choice. In fact I have many choices. Right, left or in fact do I stay among the traffic and hooting and chaos? They are all my choice. Even if I don’t choose.

If we choose to be healthy, eat the right stuff, train correctly we make that choice. And there are consequences like good performances and PB’s, there are other consequences we downplay like not drinking before a big race, taper nerves, exhaustion etc. We know them too well.

Then there are those that we do not talk about. We may not choose them directly (we can debate that) but our choices certainly have these consequences.

We can’t just choose the good and take credit for that and when something does not work out the way it is intended then throw our toys.

I asked the question why we choose injury. An honest question not meant to be anything but.

Maybe it is better to ask why we made the choices that resulted in this outcome. Harsh? Possibly but it is a question worth asking. Why do we choose injury, over training, sickness?

Is it because we are writing cheques that our body can not cash? Are we possibly even writing cheques our being can not cash?

What if this were true?

What if we’re ignoring the message?

Are you going on a path that is not right for you? Even if you are following your mates or advice of those who say they know.

And if it is not right then what is?

Underneath each statement there is ultimately a question.

Go and ask better questions!

A tale of two braais

IMG_3406Two weekends in a row now I have braaied for dinner.

That is pretty unusual for us.

When I get the opportunity I do love it but it does not present itself that often.

The contrast of the two last weekends made me think.

The first we were camping in Porterville at 22 Waterfalls.

I went back to my Boy Scout roots and used a piece of paper (collected from the trash) and one match. Kindling is the crux, you can never have enough. The flame needs to build heat in order for bigger logs to catch. You build the size and volume of wood gradually until you can use the real heavy stuff. Logs that eventually turn into good coals. This takes time, patience and a lot of practice.

The meat was exceptional and we gazed up at the stars as we sipped wine. Life was good.

Only a few days ago I threw meat on the fire made in a Weber in suburbia. [But for the sake of this argument let’s discard the setting for a moment]

Firelighters were arranged, briquettes of identical shapes poured from a bag. A gas lighter provided the flame and the rest is really just a waiting game. Half an hour later dinner was served. But somehow the steak just did not taste the same.

This got me thinking.

Is it possible that in order to get truly great results we need to go through the work. The real work.

We can take short cuts and at some point we all do but we should be honest enough (with ourselves) and look in the mirror. Only then can we see where we are lacking, where we have added petrol to the flame to speed the process. The irony is that most of the time we still end up with a medium rare steak at the end but somehow it does not taste the same. Or put differently a steak done the proper way tastes better. It might take longer and require more attention: that is exactly the point.

Build a good foundation and your fire will never go out.

Shortcut your training and you may have good results for a while but eventually you will be found out. Shortcut your foundation and your house might look pretty but the cracks will eventually show

59 is not 60!

I gasp a couple of breaths trying to slow down my HR before the next rep. The clock poolside counts down. 57, 58, 59 and they are off!

I see them in my periphery only but they take me by surprise. “Is 59 the new 60?” I wonder. Time to put down the pain. New PB’s are recorded by some.

False records inflate the ego for a while but you will be found out. You can lie to yourself for a while but the truth will shine through. Unless you put in the hard yards you will eventually be found out. By others, By yourself.

Go to Pinterest and load your wall with motivation if you have to. But do the hard yards.

A few months earlier I was riding along and suddenly there was a scream. Self inflicted carnage on the road all around. Girls lying in the ditch, team mates stationary while we should be chasing the clock. I wonder where is your commitment? Too late to ask questions. We can just do the best we all can as a group.

I am not a natural

My first cricket practice ended with my coach tying a stick to my arm to try keep it straight while attempting to make me resemble a bowler. Batting practice ended with a black eye on my part a few days later. I never liked wearing white kit and ball boxes anyway. And smashing the hard ball on my bat sent vibrations all the way into my head. Not for me I thought.

Years later compulsory team sport ended in the last hockey team. I was positioned somewhere well out of harm’s way. I can’t recall too many matches that we played let alone won.

I did athletics in summer. After a few seasons Coach encouraged me to do the 3000m walk as there seemed to be some chance of success here (probably due to the lack of any competition what so ever). I still came last and my body hurt for days, like never before.

We chose cross country in winter. Not because we were athletes with any potential but because training was on a Tuesday and Thursday and that would not interfere with our climbing, And I figured that running was the best training we could do for climbing.

I romanticised about mountaineering. Looking back and tracing the route of our ascent on the blank canvas. The first few times I went out I immediately lived my dream. I was no natural though. Fear of imminent death and adrenalin combined to keep me alive. Somehow. I stuck with it not because I was good but because it was a challenge and I hoped to progress. I was committed and could not imagine a life without climbing. Slowly I improved. I devoured literature, watched and learnt. Every level of competence was challenged again and again. I travelled to the Cederberg first, then Namibia, Europe, the big walls. Each step climbing higher, building.

A few years ago I could not swim a length of a pool. I wanted to do a triathlon so I had to learn. There are no shortcuts. At some point you have to put your face in the water and go through the discomfort and either you come out the other side better or you don’t. No shame in either just be honest with what you call it.

Above all else don’t cheat yourself.

Enduroman SA Taper

Yesterday was spent going through my final list of preparations for Saturday. With all the warm weather recently I was expecting to deal with some serious heat on the bike. Not good news after a winter of cold and wet. Well it seems like the Norwegian weather gurus predict otherwise:yr no

Arm warmers, Buff and windproof are going to be the order of the day. And lots budget for hot chocolate for supporters.

Ten days ago I started my taper. More by feel than by program. I was exhausted and needed two days break. Time to notch it back and sleep. So far so good.

My nutrition strategy is different from Ironman last year. I will be having something to eat before the swim. Also I will have more real food on the bike and no gels. Those will be kept for the run.

My bike is clean, spares packed. Trail shoes are ready.

Let’s go!

So time to put it out there:

I am confident of swimming (2,5 km) and getting out of T1 sub 1h. If temps are cold this will be tough.

The bike (80 km) should take 6 – 7 hours – I hope, maybe 8… Who knows as nobody, including Geddan has actually ridden the complete course in one go.

Either way I hope to be able to clock each leg of the run loop (7km) in 45 min. this is my real aim here. I am aiming to complete leg 3 in 2h15.

So if you want to beat me you now know where you need to do it J

See you Saturday!

Castles in the Sand

Every kid knows that you have to get it just right. The sand must be the right consistency, not too dry or too wet. If it is too wet then it flops into a cow paddy, too dry and it does not hold its shape. Just the right combination to bring out the little turrets, towers and walls that elevate this mud cake to something special. Elevate it above mere recreation.

So too with our architecture for an event. Our turrets of Load, Recovery, Nutrition, Sleep, Work etc all need to be in the right balance and position for you to build a higher and higher fortress that holds shape, is supported by each pillar and does not fall over. If you are lucky then you have built above the high water level and your tower survives a few rogue waves. Well maybe not a spring high but race day’s high tide.

M got sick (I don’t blame her one bit) but I do admit that it added to my stress. Trying to stay germ free and getting enough sleep (with a coughing partner) were adding up to dilute my sand sculpture. I was trying to add some harder sessions in order to sharpen up before I taper. The great tired set in pretty fast and hard. What I failed to understand for the last 6 days is that I needed to restore balance. Drastic action was required. I decided to cut my losses and take an extra rest day today instead of the planned long bike ride. Marcel’s Frozen Yoghurt and take away coffee replaced my bike ride. Afternoon snooze replaced bike clean (Bert is still dirty and growling at me). DVD replaced recovery shake.

Tomorrow was a planned rest anyway and I will stick with that. I hope that two days will kick the recharge button.

Some times you have to build a moat rather than extra gun turrets to protect your palace.