Monday, 31 December 2012

12 things I learned in '12

As 2012 comes to a close, here's a quick look back at 12 things I learned about triathlon in the past twelve months:

12. Motivation matters.  2012 was the first year since 2007 where I didn't have clear-cut season plan before the year began.  I had what I think were more 'wishes' than 'goals' for the year, and as a result without the daily reminder of 'why' I'm interested in training long, hard and smart; it was easy to skip workouts here and there and let the diet slip.

11. Swimming matters.  I've mentioned this before in other blog posts, but it's so important it's worth a reminder.  Anyone watching Kona saw it in the pro mens race, where Andreas Raelert probably lost his shot at the win with a sub-par swim (for his abilities), whereas the guy he got out of the water with, Sebastien Kienle, had an amazing swim (for his abilities) that set him up for a shot at the title.  I swam well in January and February, but got a little off-track in the month before my A-race, and ultimately didn't have the speed necessary to get out with the lead pack at either of the two Ironman 70.3 races where I competed in the pro field.  Overall I swam 333K in 2012, which was up just a touch over 2011...and likely half of what I need to do to be competitive.

10. The Brownlees are bloody good.  Not just in terms of their dominance, but also bloody good for the sport.  After a few years where the draft-legal sport had settled into accepting the maxim that you sat in on the bike to rest up for the run, these guys go full-gas from the gun and have made racing super exciting.  And they're just entering their prime.

9. Eagleman is an impressive race.  Beautiful venue, track record of top competition in both the pro and age group races, and a flat/fast course made challenging by heat and wind. 

8. Injuries suck.  OK, I've learned this lesson before, but from early 2009 through February 2012 I'd been virtually injury-free.  Poor planning and poor execution of workout schedules led to a niggle in the winter and some more serious calf and glute injuries through the summer months.  All avoidable by being more patient and prudent when planning workouts.

7. The Olympic races delivered the goods.  Triathlon gets two races every four years in the world's spotlight, the mens and womens races at the Olympic games.  And both delivered exciting, impressive racing in London.  While Canadians were disappointed to see our two stars have sub-par days, Alistair laying down a 29 minute 10K to finish and the photo-finish between Spirig and Norden were both good for our sport's growth and development.

6. Don't forget to train your strengths.  In an attempt to become a first-pack swimmer and build enough bike power to ride with some of the other pro men, I let my running slip in 2012.  Intervals start next week!

5. Nutrition is the fourth discipline.  Transitions are important, but mostly require focus and a plan.  Nutrition (the day-in, day-out stuff, not specifically race-day nutrition) is very important and personally I find I need to plan my meals from recipes to shopping to execution in order to stay properly fueled and recovered.

4. Progressive training load is the path to long-course success.  Even in a year where it 'feels' like I didn't train a lot, I put in 561 hours, or 10.8 hours a week on average, my second-largest training year ever behind 2011 (718 hours, or 13.8 hours a week).  Which has me excited for 2013 as after two consistent months of getting back in the groove in November and December (38 hours for each month), the foundation is primed for a strong, consistent year in 2013.

3. Coaching is fun!  I have the pleasure of working with a few athletes who have shown nice improvements in 2012, and look forward to sharing in their development in the year to come.

2. Racing is fun!  I only finished two triathlons in 2012, my lowest number since 2007 when a broken hand ended my season before it started.  More racing in 2013 while staying away from race gluttony.

1. Strongman Japan rivals Kona as a destination race.  Not in terms of competition, but with a rich race history, a beautiful tropical island setting, impressive local support and an overall experience very different than the North American race feel, I highly recommend it as a destination race that long-course athletes should add to their bucket list.

2012 training totals:
Swimming: 100 hours, 333KM - 1:49/100M (2011 - 101 hours, 331KM - 1:50/100M)
Cycling: 283 hours, 8,375KM - 29.7KM/H (2011 - 362 hours, 10,972KM - 30.3KM/H)
Running: 177 hours, 2,316KM - 4:35/KM (2011 - 250 hours, 3,368KM - 4:28/KM)

Have a happy and healthy 2013!