On 13 January 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground and overturned after striking an underwater rock off Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, resulting in 32 deaths. The eight-year-old Costa Cruises vessel was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea when she deviated from her planned route at the Isola del Giglio, sailed closer to the island, and struck a rock formation on the seafloor.
You will likely remember this story, due to the now-infamous captain, Francesco Schettino, who left the ship prematurely in a state of panic. As the ship turned to it’s side and many aspects of his normal roles of captaincy turned worthless, Francesco panicked and (literally) jumped ship.
This terrible story is my analogy of the athletes and coaches who have failed to adapt and reset the lens over the last few months of 2020. While our sporting journey is not a matter of life and death, and by falling into despair and quitting isn’t going to result in athletes being lined up in an Italian court, they are doing themselves no favors by falling into random approaches. From March until now, so many aspects of being an athlete have been thrown against rocks. So many of the targets and races have sunk to the bottom of the sea. We find ourselves with a new set of needs, important calls to action that will help us be successful, and an opportunity to develop a whole new host of skills. The difference between the Concordia and our athletic journey is that, despite the negatives of the world situation being stark, we can actually still have fun. It might just be a little different. Here are the aspects of change that every single Purple Patch athlete should lean into -- within the scope of this situation -- that will likely continue for the rest of 2020 and beyond. I organize under categories:
The Why: while most of us are rightfully race and event-driven in our sports, with events gone, we must reframe our lens of the why. Here are some example ‘why’ for you:
- Following a structured program is the best way to optimize health and resilience
- The framework of training creates the all-important structure to optimize life-schedule and performance across other aspects.
- The training progression establishes an important escape and stress reduction from the rigors of life stress we collectively face.
- By staying in the game now, you are laying the path for the future performance goals that will return and will be important to you.
- With no official racing, you can actually truly improve as an athlete.
Mindset: So many athletes fall into the trap of creating second careers for themselves with their hobby. Endurance sports, and all the associated supporting habits, become obsessive and all-consuming. The internal pressure can be great, and so many athletes spend so much energy obsessed with FTP that they forget to look up and realize they are riding in places of amazing beauty. They forget the fun. 2020 is a change to shift the lens:
- You have more leeway in training and can positively lean into a host of soul-filling fun training.
- The reduction of training pressure, stemming from a lack of racing, can be replaced with truly establishing an integrated program that fits within life.
- Creating consistency without injury provides a massive training benefit -- so you cannot approach the sessions with a long-term lens.
- You can be open to try new things, with new people. When the normal is removed, the creativity can flow.
- You have the chance to realize that this sporting journey is the critical backbone of what you need to thrive across life. While sporting goals are fun, realizing that the journey is the catalyst for being a better ‘you’ is way more powerful. Future sporting goals can and will fit into this when the races return.
Creative targets. Ok, no races. If you asked me six months ago about my desire to enter and train for a ‘virtual event’, I would have laughed at you. You might be like me, with limited desire to lean into team challenges, virtual racing or many other factors that we are setting up over the coming months. Guess what? It isn’t six months ago now! It is a new normal with a completely recast reality. I -- and you -- should adapt and lean into the path ahead. Here is why:
- Your body benefits from training for, peaking for, and hitting the stressors of racing. We need to keep the knife sharp, and these peaks and simulated races are the best for your performance progression.
- The challenges and races provide the framework to get hang training progression around. Wilderness training is never as effective as targeted training, so if natural race targets are not there, then we must create our own.
- You might even enjoy it! Look, there is nothing that beats the challenge and thrill of racing, but we don’t have that option. If we all jump in with both feet, with best spirits, we might just be able to create something as close as possible for everyone. I don’t know if I am going to love it, but I am going to jump in and see, as this is not 2019, it’s 2020.
- You will be helping others. We all face stress, and shared experience and community are really, really important for many people. If we all step up, all lean in, and give this thing a crack, then we all win. This journey is about us, not you! You have a role to play to make the magic, and I would love to see every Purple Patch athlete step up to the challenge.
We are going to chart the challenges and virtual races to extend into the fall, and ‘extend the season’ a little bit. This is as there hasn’t been a season! With this said, to keep spirits up, as well as mind and body fresh, this is a good time to take a week or two of a low, low-stress break. If you need a holiday, take it now. Ten days to two weeks of low structure and recuperation. We will then all get cracking and driving toward our fall goals.
Don’t be the captain of the Concordia. Jumping ship on your own performance journey is a sinking proposition.
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