One of the things that separates people who perform to their potential from those who don’t, is knowing the difference between the lazy feeling and the over tired feeling. The difference between lazy and exhausted isn’t so difficult, but slightly over tired is. How do you know? It takes time. You have to learn your body to figure this out. Ah, knowing your body. Remember that scene from Fried Green Tomatoes?
In my generation of athletes, we did a completely unreasonable amount of training to figure out how much we could do. There were no limits, certainly not to our motivation. If you could dream it, you’d try it and have fun doing it. One weekend, Clay and I rode 126 miles to Tehachapi, in just under 6 hours, played a round of golf, camped out, played another round in the morning, then rode 126 miles home, through the 110°F desert heat, rolling around on wet lawns to cool off, in just ender 6 hours again. I certainly know that was too much for me to do regularly, but it was fun while we did it. And a couple of weeks later, I won a half by over 7 minutes. It was what we did. And it’s the sort of thing that took me from being a top 10 local athlete, to a top 10 (or even top 5 for a short period) athlete in the sport. The trick is learning what it takes to get you to your best, then knowing when it’s as far as you can go in this block. It’s tough too, because once you’ve made a performance leap, you want to keep going, when in reality you’re nearing the end of your ability to absorb any more training at that point.
Do you know how many people really hit their training spot on? You’d be surprised how few actually do. When I go to races, I’m always surprised there is such a huge portion who are way out of shape, and a huge portion who are way over trained. There is however a small group who show up at their primary race on target. Let me tell you, when you do it, it’s wonderful.
You’ve heard every athlete say it – Lance Armstrong says it – The world’s strongest man, Rod Shorey says it – I say it (and I’m saying it right here again) – every descent coach says it – you want to go into a race with just slightly under 100% of what you could have done, rather than anything over that 100%. The trick is to get as close to that 100% as you can, knowing that to go over is terrible. Interesting puzzle, no?