The 2011 race season is in the books and I like to look back over the year and evaluate just how it went. What went right? What went wrong? Where do I go from here? I had a solid season with a bunch of top ten finishes and a bit of prize money to my name, but looking back I have plenty of room for improvement for 2012. Here are five points I came up with:
1. No more excuses. I've been racing 'professionally' since 2007, but really I've been working a 'real job' in order to pay the bills. That changed this year with my move to Richmond. I no longer have the excuse of limited time or limited energy to fall back on when training or racing isn't going well. I've had a modicum of success in the past few years, but it's always been tempered with "It's the best I can do under the circumstances".... For next year I'll get to say "It's the best I can do." The 2nd half of the season was work-free for me, but the real test will be to take advantage of my new freedom over the winter and see what happens. I've got no more excuses if I don't perform.
2. Stick to the plan. With a ton of races and series popping up for pro triathletes, I definitely have a tough time picking a path and sticking to it. The 5150 series and Hy-Vee or the 70.3 series and Vegas or the Lifetime Fitness Series and the Toyota Cup? I did a few of each of these races over the course of the season and managed to be mediocre in all of them. I wasn't at the starting line in Hy-Vee, Vegas, or the US Open! Why not? I didn't set out a plan and stick with it. I did finally put the pieces together the last three races to try to make a run at Vegas in 2012, but the bike crash in the Poconos and the still-healing performance in Miami didn't help. For next year, Matt and I have set a plan and I'm going to stick with it. More to come on that shortly, but here's a hint:
3. Embrace my body. I may sound like a pre-teen gymnast, but I have developed a bit of complex about being 'too big' to race at the top level. Instead of embracing my normal weight and developing the strength/power to move it fast, I tried to be the ideal 'skinny' triathlete. Years of swimming means that my shoulders aren't going anywhere and I'm not going to get shorter! Guys like Big Matty Reed and Starky have no problem pushing the pace with 180+ body weights. My goal this year is to eat well, recover well, and train hard. If I do that, the scale will say whatever it does and I'll do my best to have the muscle to move it!
4. Train Smart. I've been studying exercise over a decade now and have been an athlete for two. I still have a lot to learn. I made the first step by hiring a coach in Matt Russ at the Sport Factory. Having an outside source of planning and evaluation has made a huge difference. I follow workouts to a 'T', but still have to fight the swimmer's urge to go too hard all of the time. There have been key workouts when I'm not as fresh as I should be because I pushed the pace on the ez run the day before just to make myself feel better. Just because I have the time to train unlimited amounts doesn't mean I should. My goal for 2012 is to hit all of the targets in my big workouts and let the recovery workouts happen. I've been telling my athletes this for a while now, so perhaps I should start listening!
5. Toe the line ready to race. I love to train. I enjoy the process. I don't function well without a workout. However, Triathlon is about RACING. I'm learning to push my limits at the races, but still have a ways to go. Part of it is allowing myself to rest before big events but part of it is getting the right mindset. When I was swimming, I had the same pre-race warm up and always had the same music coming out of the headphones. It wasn't superstition, it was preparation for battle. With every triathlon slightly different, I haven't been able to find my groove regularly and at times haven't been sharp when the gun goes off. That will change in 2012.
More to come on 2012 sponsors, training, and races shortly!