Well done folks! You have collectively done a super job over the last months. The carpet is well-trodden when it comes to the corridor of confusion, with such a destabilizing time for us all.
The initial call to action was to stabilize. Aim to create structure in the anarchy. You did it.
The next call was to innovate with the new ‘normal’ and adapt training and mindset to the circumstances. You did it.
We then transitioned the mission to leverage the adversity and look to emerge out of the fog of Covid-19 stronger. The question posed was how we could evolve and improve, despite the situation. You were asked to drive forward in training without clarity of racing. You did it.
We now begin to find ourselves in the next chapter of this book. There is still fogginess, we don’t have clarity of racing schedules, we straddle lockdowns and reintegration, and we realize that none of us are going to simply return to ‘how it was.' As I have mentioned many times in recent weeks, there is an opportunity for each of you in the months ahead, but we begin to face a stark truth:
You need to act on the opportunity. Just because it exists, doesn’t mean the positive potential will emerge. You are the one that needs to unlock it.
It is through this lens that we must begin to evolve again and shift our mindset and the demands on ourselves. It is time to step up. Individually and collectively. Here are three pieces that make up your Sunday Special cold shower of reality:
- There is still a whole bunch of unknowns. We can plan, but we are going to need to remain flexible with that planning in order to succeed.
- We may emerge from this and have to retreat again. This might not be over, and we have to become OK with that reality.
- If you retreat now then I believe the last months will be a massive waste. Don’t give up now!
Tough times, no? These are the blunt truths, but we can control our own performance within these truths. It is about action now. We don’t know what is going to happen with the virus, and we are unsure of racing, but we can continue to evolve. If we transition mindset and training approach in the coming weeks, then we will carve out two alternate outcomes:
Races Happen: If races do pop up in the fall, we will be ready and I will predict here that those who have been diligent with their training will be amazingly well placed to put together some terrific performances, perhaps life-best breakout performances. This would be an ideal end of the challenging year.
Races don’t happen in 2020: If this is the outcome, our hard work will not be wasted. We will put together some fun challenges for the group and collectively celebrate doing the best job we could do to evolve and improve this season. The vast majority will finish the year as better athletes! From this platform, everyone who remains engaged will head into 2021 like coiled springs ready to evolve again, but this time with racing to showcase the evolution.
Neither outcomes are bad, and both are immensely better than falling to random training and regressing. Who the heck wants to despair and give up on improvements when they stand out in front of us for the taking.
So what’s the mission?
In the coming weeks we will transition from the very basic elements we have targeted in the last couple of months:
- Low stress, Soul-Filling Training
- Improved efficiency
- Building the size of the engine with high intensity
- Strength and mobility training
You can expect a bridge of work that begins to get us race ready. We don’t want to turn our back on the good work done, but we shift the emphasis and style of training to begin to drive us toward events (that may even happen -- or not!):
- Extended Tempo Intervals at below and just above threshold.
- Increase Strength-Endurance and Hill Work for resilience
- More hours/miles outside: We aim to build resilience
- Maintain strength but with a completely reimagined and brand new program.
We will retain very high intensity periodically, and also ensure we don’t forget the lessons of the high polarization of training, leaving plenty of room for recuperation and performance in the sessions that count. These sessions will force adaptations from the work over the prior months, but also prime us to become race-ready -- for any distance -- at the drop of a hat. If and when the races do become a reality, it can be just a few weeks to sharpen and get ready for your specific events.
Stay on baseline: I would like to keep the vast majority -- almost everyone -- aligned as much as possible. I have a little personal point to prove, that individuals can and will thrive in a consistent squad-like environment, but beyond my own passion, realize that this is the best thing for YOU. Squad Athletes: You do not need to apply a race build in June or July (or likely August).
Instead of an obsession with a misdirected belief that you really need some ultra-specialized cocktail of handpicked and crafted sessions for your exact situation, retain the great progress we've collectively made so far. The only athletes who may need to adjust will be those under extreme pressure (front line workers), or who are returning from illness or a layoff. We are creating programming for that population -- stay tuned. For the vibrant -- stay with us on the journey -- we are in a super place.
More to come.