This weekend of racing was special, with massive individual performances all over the globe, from Squaddies crossing the finish line of a 70.3 for the first time to other Purple Patch athletes securing a coveted Kona spot after many times trying, and all capped with a stunning series of performances at the spikey end of the race. For me personally, this was a special weekend of feeling like we emerged out of the fog of the first part of the season.
2019 began with many of the pro squad, and myself, shaking our collective heads in disbelief at the hurricane of misfortune that seemed to be hitting us at every turn. Following a highly encouraging few months of post-season and build phase of work, we managed to uncork the most bizarre sequence of events. Any excitement of changes to our approach was replaced by frustration:
- 3 broken clavicles
- Nuisance of a knee injury
- Random and unexplained infection
- Couple of unfortunate life events
- Early season races with nonsense and unfound penalties
- Explosion of a carbon wheel when placed great for a podium of win
At every turn, I found myself gritting my teeth in frustration. We had our backs against the wall, and a landscape that looked more like an aftermath of war than a high performing unit of dedicated world-class athletes. As a coach, while perspective allowed me to quickly realize that the vast majority of the situations were not training related, it is the human condition to take it just a little personally and begin to wonder where to turn.
Through this adversity arrived opportunity. At the end of April, I went for a long walk by myself with a pen and paper. My mission was to highlight the path forward and recommit to myself, each athlete and the team as a whole. I expected a long list of things to focus on and a strategic plan to emerge. After 2 hours, I had only written one sentence down on the paper: The struggle provides an opportunity for a comeback.
While we had not failed, we had not secured the standard or results we set for ourselves. Yes, it was misfortune more than poor execution, but the results are the final word. I had to eat my own dog food. I committed to nailing the basics, and the commitments were:
- Get the team healthy
- Double down on my beliefs (I am the recovery coach)
- Control what you can control
- Remember that this should be fun
Out of this, I came home with a smile. Let’s go get the second half of the season.
Alongside me were the athletes, and it seemed like many of them had the same emotions. I began to prescribe a radical test of programming that I had tinkered with but never truly jumped in with two feet.
- When we go hard, we go really hard.
- When we go endurance, we make it really easy.
When I say easy, I mean really easy. Sam Appleton averaged 300-320W in this weekend’s Santa Rosa 70.3. His endurance rides have been at 150 to 175W, hills 180-200W. Really easy.
We began to see really good numbers when it counted. I noticed lots of smiles. I felt a brewing of belief and confidence. Just eight weeks later, we sit enjoying some of the greatest personal results we have ever had, we are in control and marching to the back end of the year. Healthy, primed, and thriving. As a team, we are on the path.
The message? You may struggle, you might be met with adversity, but the sun will come up and provide you with the sunlight you need to go and make your magic. It is never over, it is up to you.
Let’s collectively drive forward for the end of the season.