Friday, March 14, 2014

On Making Marginal Gains

There comes a time in every endurance athlete's career when he/she realizes that they've over trained.

For me, that was this week.

A hectic schedule, ultimate frisbee tournament, and a few papers meant I had more than enough steam to blow off to pretty much run myself into the ground. Unfortunately, that also means I'll be going stir crazy for a week and a half while I try to take a break.

It's not in our nature to sit on the sidelines and recover (unless it's with a cold brew after a long workout). Which makes it unbelievably frustrating that I pushed myself over the edge and have, in doing so, actually set myself back.

See, in today's gotta-have-this-because-it-will-make-me-faster racing culture, we talk a lot about the one or two percent, the marginal gains. Take a look at the new Rapha skinsuit Chris Froome (Sky Pro Cycling) posted from his Twitter account.

A bit much, eh? But that suit may shave a couple seconds off of an ITT or TTT that could mean the difference between the top step of the podium and third place or worse. And we see this everywhere, water bottles that are aerodynamically shaped, a storage box that actually improves low yaw angle aerodynamics, shoes that will spring you forward, goggles that give you a second in an open water swim.

But when it comes down to it, the real marginal gains are the ones you make every week, the ones that come from miles upon miles on swimming, running, and biking. The ones earned with blood, sweat, and tears, not purchased. Without the engine, the car can have a theoretical speed of 200 mph, but it still won't go anywhere without a driving force. Similarly, you can have a $10,000 bike, $1200 wetsuit, and $200 pair of shoes, but none of that will matter if you don't put in the work.

Work hard, race hard, and reap the rewards.

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