The 2018 season is underway! As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently made a coaching switch, which has brought with it a great deal of changes (all of which have been exciting, but changes nonetheless). In a weird way, my first three races provided a bit of consistency, as they were in locations I’ve raced or lived in before—Barbados, Clermont, FL, and Sarasota, FL. The Florida races in particular felt a little bit like coming home!
The common theme in all three races has been bittersweet: I’ve been able to swim at the front and bike well, but then lose places on the run. Seeing the last few years of double swim days begin to bear fruit has been very satisfying, but that feeling of being “almost there”—nipping at the podium in Barbados and then coming off the bike first in both Florida races but not having the run legs to hold that position—brought a familiar takeaway of “it’s not enough.” Like most athletes, I’m already thinking of the next step.
In reviewing this first race block with Jarrod, we agree that my performances were fair reflections of my training up until this point, for better or worse. The truth can be harsh but it is the only language Jarrod knows—which I love and very much appreciate!
Reflecting on each of the races—all the way from the tiniest details to the events as a whole—I’ve continued to come back to the concept of marginal gains. This theory is not very glamorous to report on, and of course we’d all love our progress in anything we do to skyrocket or at the very least move in a step function! But the aggregation of marginal gains can be so powerful, as long as you have the patience and faith to commit through that slow and steady phase.
The phrases “process” and “incremental gains” get thrown around a lot in the sport, particularly when the numerical result is less than desired, but that doesn’t make them useless. You can call it marginal gains, process, pebble in a jar, brick in the wall, etc. etc. but the premise remains. And I continue to find a lot of value in breaking a big goal down into pieces that I can control. Looking up the “mountain” that is the ITU rankings can often be intimidating and discouraging. But I continue to believe that if it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth pursuing. When you break the journey down into stepping stones, leaping from one to the next, things seem less menacing, and even energizing!
I’m excited to have 6 weeks of training coming up before my next ITU race: Chengdu World Cup. There will be a couple of training races between now and then, including Surf City Escape, but I’m excited to be able to put my head down and accumulate those incremental gains. Having had a look at Coach Jarrod’s training plan, I see many one percents in my future!