I’ve been rolling around the idea of this post in my head for a few days now. I figure if I don’t try to get it down then the moment is going to pass, and I might miss the opportunity to get feedback from you all. So bear with me here because it’s one of those not so fully formed thoughts. Maybe you all can help me through it in the comments. Okay, here goes…
So as you know I’m getting adjusted with a new coach. His name is Dirk, he speaks
German Dirkish, but it might as well be German. I have never felt so lost about training in my life, but what I am coming to realize is that we understand the same things, just in different ways, and different languages. It’s a good thing, it’s all very much a good thing. The learning curve is fairly steep, and as they say, doing things wrong is what makes you know…really know…when you do things right.
So, going through this process of learning about someone new, and having them learn about me, it has made me think more about my own strengths and weaknesses. Go ahead and try to explain who you are to someone who doesn’t know you and is about to tell you how to train day in and day out. It’s hard!!
My first thought….I am tough. That’s what I told him…Dirk…I am tough, I’m a worker, I’m a border collie. And you know, I took pride in that fact. Don’t we all have certain traits that we take pride in? I am one of those hard to break athletes, but it’s funny that I take pride in this fact. It’s really more a matter of genetics than strong will. In my core I honestly think that most all of us are out there going as hard as we can in sport. I think most of our failings are execution and training related more than they are “just not trying hard enough”. I think most of us are ready and willing to go to the well and some of us break ourselves in the process and others don’t. I don’t seem to break or wear down as easily as others.
But I’ve also noticed that I have a propensity to work. I have an ethic that assumes hard work is a necessary part of the process to success in anything, from school, to jobs, to finances, to coaching, to triathlon. Work seems to be just a part of my psyche.
As I talked to Dirk last weekend, after completing 3 weeks of training from him we were discussing how I fared. It was such an interesting experiment because he gave Michelle and I almost the same amount of work and the same workouts. I had a tad more running because I have a 50k on the horizon, but other than that the lions share of the training was identicle. So Michelle and I watched each other through those three weeks and it was exactly as we usually see. As the weeks went on Michelle was surviving well, but a big load was being created. At the end of the 3 weeks it was hard for her to get her heart rate up, and the watts were falling off.
The complete opposite was true for me. The watts were getting stronger and stronger and the third week was my best of the three. Of course I am all proud of myself when talking to Dirk about this. Look at me…I need more work…I am heard to break.
He explains that 90% of athletes are like Michelle, more work, load is created, metrics take a dive, recover…do it all again. Then 10% of athletes are like me, getting stronger as it goes, or not breaking down as much. And he said…it looks like we will have to find a way to create this loaded effect in you. And, I kinda took a deep gulp. Because he kinda said it in his German accent, and that was enough to scare me.
For the first time I realized the flip side of the coin. Because of the way I am built, I may take pride in the fact that I am a work horse, that I am tough. But in reality what it means is that I have to work extra hard, more time, more pain, for every inch of progress I make. Hard to break, also means hard to load, which means hard to force adaptation upon. Which means…sucks to be Sonja…because she’s going to have to do more than the next girl to get the same adaptation.
I don’t know if that makes any sense, but this realization hit me kinda deep. I have never been afraid of work, but maybe it’s because I have known all my life that I’m going to have to work dang hard to see progress that 90% of people see through traditional methods. It’s funny because Troy and I have always shared this feeling. We used to talk about it a lot when we were first married. With school we both had to study harder than our peers to “get it” and we have both felt that we had to work extra hard to make progress in the areas that we seek success. We have always felt united in that.
How’s that for a messed up, back sided, flip flopped way to look at things?
I always say to people: “Our strengths ARE our weaknesses.” I really believe that to be the truth, the thing that sets you apart is usually that thing that sets you ahead, and also the thing that sets you behind.
Are you really committed….you’re probably a little too much Type A too?
Are you really empathetic….you’re probably also over-effected by others moods and by what they think of you??
Are you really good at maintaining distance and perspective in a situation…but do you also lack empathy for others who are in distress?
Are you easy-going…but then do you lack attention to detail?
Have I made sense…or confused you even more?