Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DOIN'S A TRANSPIRIN'

I'm not sure who will get the title on this one....maybe the 30-something crowd. According to Dorelle, anything over 22 is old, so the title is geared to the 'old folks'.

Back on track: I may have been taking a few days easy, but athletes from Ontario and across Canada certainly haven't. We'll start with the Ontario crowd:


I received 4 e-mails yesterday from athletes and coaches across the country, asking if I knew Matt Druken. Matt is a 13 year-old triathlete from Oro Station (between Barrie and Orillia) who swims with the Barrie Dolphins, runs with the South Simcoe Dufferin Track and Field Club, and attends our monthly Training Days at the PTC. Recently, Matt competed in the CN Tower Stair Climb. Not only did he raise money for the World Wildlife Fund, he won the entire race! You can read more about Matt's race here. Thanks to Daily Triathlon for picking up on the story, and congrats to Matt and his coaches on a great performance.

Sticking with the running theme, there were at least two other Ontario triathletes posting some great performances recently. 2007 Junior Duathlon Champion Nick McGraw (Kingston, ON) ran the 10k Vancouver Sun Run on April 20th, finishing 27th overall and 1st in the M16-18 category, with a time of 31:44. Nick's coach and uber-runner Steve Boyd ran 31:03 at the Sun Run, and backed it up with a 30:46 at the Times Colonist 10k in Victoria, BC, one week later. Closer to home, 14 year-old Kaitlyn Oliver posted a 17:39 at the Hartwell Runner's Challenge 5k last weekend. Congrats to Nick, Kaitlyn, and their coaches.

On the international triathlon scene, the C3 squad was represented by Dave Sharrat and Sean Bechtel at the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dave Sharrat finished 21st against a talented pro field, and Sean Bechtel was in the mix off the bike before withdrawing from the race.

Finally, Canada was well represented at the ITU World Cup in Tongyeong last weekend. In the womens' race, Kirsten Sweetland started her season with a solid 5th place finish, with Lauren Groves in 13th. In the mens' race, Paul Tichelaar continued his great season with a 6th place finish, with Brent McMahon crossing the line in 16th, and Kyle Jones finishing 20th. Full results here.

Congrats to all athletes on their accomplishments.

Updates are always welcome from coaches, parents and athletes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

OAT TRAINING DAY & DRAFTING CLINIC: MAY 4th

We've added one more training day to the schedule, Sunday May 4th. We will also offer a drafting clinic too - athletes can do one or the other, but not both (they will run at the same time). I've posted the Training Day info, followed by the draft clinic info. Please note that we're starting an hour later than normal, and we're starting with cycling; the pool is booked in the morning, so we're swimming from 1-3pm.

May 4th TRAINING DAY DETAILS

FORMAT: Bike, Run, Core, Swim

START: Check in 8:45am, UofG Athletic Centre (note start time)

COACHES: TBA

REGISTER: E-mail Craig Taylor to confirm spot. Please type "TRAINING DAY" in the header.

FEE: $20, or free for targeted athletes who are Canada Games eligible

NOTES:

Parents are encouraged to work out too! E-mail Craig Taylor if you are interested. Parents will swim at the same time as the youth/junior athletes in their own lane with an assigned coach, and will bike and run separate from the youth/junior athletes.

Athletes who have attended previous Training Days or Swim Camps do not need to complete additional registration forms.

New athletes are welcome at the Training Day (age 12-19), and can obtain the registration material from me via e-mail.

Expect to ride outside! Remember to bring your helmet, and clothing appropriate for the weather.

If you have running shoes with elastic laces, please bring them - we will be working on transition skills.

Directions to the University of Guelph are available on the right hand side of the blog under "DIRECTIONS TO UofG".


May 4th DRAFT CLINIC DETAILS

Athletes who intend to compete in Junior draft legal races this summer must be certified for draft legal racing. If you have been certified in a previous year, you do not need to re-certify. Athletes as young as 14 years (as of Dec. 31, 2008) can attend the drafting clinic, but only athletes who are 16 years (as of Dec. 31, 2008) or older will receive their draft certification card. We will work on a variety of bike handling skills and tactics.

FORMAT: Bike, and possibly swim (time permitting)

START: Check in 8:45am, UofG Athletic Centre (note start time)

COACHES: TBA

REGISTER: E-mail Craig Taylor to confirm spot. Please type "DRAFT CLINIC" in the header.

FEE: $25, payable to Provincial Triathlon Centre


NOTES:

Athletes aged 14-15 are more than welcome to register to work on their bike skills.

There are four additional draft clinics available: May 3rd, 10th or 17th in Hamilton, and May 11th in Ottawa. More details available here.

Expect to ride outside! Remember to bring your helmet, and clothing appropriate for the weather.

Directions to the University of Guelph are available on the right hand side of the blog under "DIRECTIONS TO UofG".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

HEALTH - CONSISTENCY - PERFORMANCE

Most of the concepts and ideas I use in coaching are adapted (or just plain stolen) from other coaches, sports experts, athletes, and non-sport sources. Even the things that I've 'discovered' myself are not novel - someone else has figured it out before me, I just didn't read their book/article/website or attend their seminar before I worked it out myself. Most coaches will tell you the same thing, and there's no shame in it - we should be in the business of making people faster, not inventing new gizmos, or protocols, or trademarking common training terms - a pet peeve of mine.

Training can be, and should be, fairly simple - or 'clean' - that's the new word around here lately. If our approach to training is based on clean and simple principles, it's easier to adhere to those principles and stay focused on the task at hand.

One very simple philosophy we follow here was hashed out with NTC coaches Neil Harvey and Patrick Kelly during a swim practice a while back. It's so simple, it's self evident, but that doesn't stop the majority of athletes from ignoring it. Make sure you have a pencil and paper handy, you don't want to miss this one. Here it is:

Health ---> Consistency ---> Performance

(Cue the "How many coaches does it take to screw in a light bulb?" jokes.)

As I wrote earlier, it's self-evident, and it's a very clean and simple concept: Health must precede Consistency, which must precede Performance. Put another way, you can't have achieve Performance without Consistency, and you can't achieve Consistency without being Healthy.

The trick for coaches and athletes is not to simply understand the concept, but to employ it. When I talk to athletes, the conversation centers around health if they are injured or sick, with little emphasis on consistency or performance. If an athlete is healthy, the discussion moves to consistency. Consistent training should be measured in months, not days or weeks. Only when an athlete is training consistently, and maintaining good health (ie. properly managed recovery habits) can we begin to discuss performance.

How many athletes out there are focussed on a specific race performance or a 'breakthrough workout' when they aren't healthy, or haven't been consistent? More than most in my experience, and they're setting themselves up for disappointment. Keep it simple - stay healthy, train consistently, and the performances will follow.

Please note that I've trademarked this concept. Just send your annual licensing fee of $79.99 c/o Provincial Triathlon Centre if you want to use it.

I'm off to find some new coaching ideas to steal.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

RACES and UPDATES

RACES

Grab a coffee and take a seat. If you're going to follow all of these links, it's going to take a while.

The PATCO results still aren't updated - maybe they won't be fixed afterall. In the previous post I forgot to note that Alicia Kaye finished 5th at PATCO, after launching a two-woman breakaway on the bike with eventual winner Jillian Petersen (USA). Nice job Alicia - so much for the bike not mattering in draft-legal events.

Closer to home, there was lots of swimming here in Ontario over the weekend with Team Champs. As a group, the Ontario youth and junior triathletes have made great strides this season with their swimming. A quick, and likely incomplete, list of triathletes who set PBs this weekend (at least, I'm pretty sure they were PBs):

Mark Bechtel
Andrew Elliott
Austen Forbes
Taylor Forbes
David Hopton
Jeremy Leite
David Mackie
Erin MacFadyen
Derek Quick
John E Rasmussen
Sarah Rasmussen

Congrats to all athletes, and to their coaches. If I've missed anyone (I'm sure I have) just let me know.

Karsten Madsen takes 3rd overall and 1st in his age group at the Paris-Ancaster cyclocross race, despite a crash and some wrong turns.

There's more racing coming up this weekend:

The third ITU World Cup of 2008 takes place in the Tonyeong South Korea, and Canada is fielding a strong team with Lauren Groves, Kirsten Sweetland, Paul Tichelaar, Brent McMahon and Kyle Jones. I'm not predicting live video coverage this time, but you can follow the race here.

There is also a big race non-drafting race in the US this weekend. The St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a strong pro field, including Guelph's very own Dave Sharratt from the C3 team.


UPDATES

Tyler Bredschneider has had a bit of a setback due to complications related to his recent heart surgery. He's going to be fine, but his recovery might take longer than originally thought. Visit his blog, and send him a "get well soon" message to speed his recovery. Remember that a positive environment may speed recovery, and stressful environments definitely slow recovery.

OAT hosted a "Long Course 101" camp at the University of Guelph last weekend. Coaches Kevin Mackinnon and Greg Pace put on a great camp for the 6 athletes in attendance. I was on hand to evaluate both coaches for their NCCP Competition Coach Certification (they passed with flying colours), and learned a lot from these experienced and successful coaches. Aside from the great coach:athlete ratio, the highlight of the weekend might have been the visit by Ironman Legend Lisa Bentley who spent an hour with the group talking about her training and racing. (I bet there's a few people out there kicking themselves for missing that opportunity)

Finally, the most important news of all, Scotty Dagnall has updated his blog. I know you were all waiting for that one. Maybe Dorelle can lend him a dictionary.

Here endeth the post; my fingers are tired. Train smart, and enjoy the great weather.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WE INTERRUPT REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING...


Most of the content here relates to training, coaching, or race results. This is sort of related, because it came up in conversation this morning at the swim. But even if it's not triathlon related, it's our blog, so we can post what we like.....and we like Craig Cardiff. I know there's at least two or three other Cardiff fans who read this blog, and I'm sure there will be more after they visit his site. Craig is a singer/songwriter who lives in Ottawa (originally from Waterloo, I think), and tours all over North America. He's a great guy to boot; really down to earth and personable. He puts on a great live show, and if he happens to be playing in your area, I highly recommend it. Even better, he will play in your house if you can get a bunch of people together (he used to call them 'living room shows', but now he calls them 'house concerts') - it's a fantastic experience. He's probably played for half of the National Team athletes and coaches over the last few years, so we'll consider him an honourary triathlete in addition to being a top notch performer. Visit his site, buy his music, book him for a show - you'll be happy you did.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

PATCO PICS

6 Medals for Canada at PATCO

Lauren Groves, BC: Silver, Elite Women
Kerry Spearing, BC: Silver, U23 Women
Jeff Symonds, BC: Gold, U23 Men
Jordan Bryden, AB: Bronze, U23 Men
Sarah-Anne Brault, MB: Gold, Junior Women
Marianne Hogan, QC: Bronze, Junior Women

Congrats to all athletes and coaches. We'll see some Ontario athletes on that list in the next few years.

Start

Junior Women Bike: Marrianne Hogan (CAN) leading

U23 Women Podium: 2nd Place Kerry Spearing (CAN)


L-R: Jr Women Podium: Marianne Hogan (CAN), Sarah-Anne Brault (CAN), Ruth Gris (MEX)

U23 Men Podium: 1st Place Jeff Symonds (CAN), 3rd Place, Jordan Bryden (CAN)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

EARLY PATCO RESULTS

The Junior Races at the Pan American Triathlon Championships (PATCO) are finished. I'll probably have to edit/revise this post as I get more info, but here are the basics:

- swim start delayed 45mins due to rough surf
- swim seed based on alphabetical order (last name)
- bike crash out of T1 in the Jr Mens race took down approx half of the pack of 20, creating a front pack of ~10

JUNIOR WOMENS' TOP 10

1. Sarah-Anne Brault CAN
2. Ruth Gris* MEX
3. Kyla Coates CAN
4. Christine Ridenour CAN
5. Marina Saucedo MEX
6. Alexandra Coates CAN
7. Rachael Edwards CAN
8. Lauren Goldstein-K USA
9. Stacy Hague USA
10. Anahi Amado GUA

(EDIT: Marianne Hogan CAN did race, and may have finished 3rd in the Junior Womens' race - waiting for confirmation - moving Kyla Coates et al. down one spot. That would mean 6 Canadian athletes in the top 8.)

*if you attended the 2007 OAT Junior Camp in Collingwood, you trained with Ruth

JUNIOR MENS' TOP 10

1. Rodrigo Gonzalez MEX
2. Willy Pickhardt USA
3. Carlos Fischer VEN
4. Andres Cabascango ECU
5. Abraham Castellanos MEX
6. Francois Hogan CAN
7. Isai Garcia VEN
8. Villalta Darwin VEN
9. Cuahutemoc Martinez MEX
10. Jason Wilson* BAR

Strong racing by the MEX and VEN teams

* Jason Wilson trained last summer with the C3 club

More Canadian results:

12. Connor Hammond CAN
13. Matt Vierula CAN
14. Marc-Antoine Christin CAN
22. Ryan Ditchfield CAN
24. Yanik Leduc CAN
25. Cole Stewart CAN
30. Jean-Sebastien D. CAN
31. Jeff Phillips CAN

Full results here.

Canada earns 3 spots for the Junior Mens' and Womens' Teams at Worlds (for every athlete who finishes in the top 15, we earn a spot, to a maximum of 3).

Choosing the Worlds Teams will be interesting. Congrats to all athletes on their performances at PATCO.

Friday, April 18, 2008

PATCO, DRAFT CLINIC and TRAINING DAY

The race season heats up with the Pan-American Triathlon Championships (PATCO) this weekend in Mazatlan, Mexico. Canada is fielding a strong team, including three Juniors from Ontario: Connor Hammond, Ryan Ditchfiel and Matt Vierula. The PATCO race will serve as the selection event for Canada's Junior teams competing at the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Vancouver in early June. Best of luck to all Canadian athletes.

In other news, we've (finally) confirmed that we'll be hosting one more training day and a drafting clinic on Sunday May 4th at the PTC (University of Guelph). Athletes can register for either the draft clinic, or the training day. I'll post more details here on the blog soon. Junior athletes intending to race in draft legal races this summer must be draft legal certified. If you already have your drafting certification, you're good to go. If you don't have your drafting card yet, you need to attend a drafting clinic. We'll also accept 14 & 15 year olds for the drafting clinic - we will not certify these athletes for drafting, but we're more than happy to have them attend and work on their skills.

Odds & Ends:

Flotrack interviews Kirsten Sweetland

Colin Jenkins is interviewed by the ITU's Barrie Shepley, and writes an article for Slowtwitch.com.

Simon posts a great interview with New Zealand triathlete Kris Gemmel.

Dano Wells finally gets back to updating his blog.

Reid Coolsaet posted a great video a while ago. Thanks to this video, I've decided to adopt a new coaching strategy - just this morning I told James "you have to go faster, or give up." When he only swam 17:49 for 1500, I told him "it's ok, you cannot always be a machine."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

THE MOST IMPORTANT ARTICLE

I forgot to include the most important article in the previous post, at least when it comes to youth development.

This is the only full version I can find online of an article entitled Fun and Games? Myths surrounding the role of youth sports in developing Olympic champions. I have a pdf version for anyone who wants a copy of the original article, just e-mail me.

From the article, regarding the role of parents and family in the development of 10 Olympic Champions (emphasis added):

"Not surprisingly, parents and families were perceived to play a critical role in the talent development process. Specifically, parents were very committed to their child and did such things as modelled an active lifestyle, exposed their child to different sports, transported their child, paid for lessons and equipment, attended games and practices, and provided considerable encouragement and unconditional support. While families clearly supported and encouraged participation, in most cases they exerted little pressure to win. Families also emphasised an optimistic belief in the young athletes' ability to succeed or a "can do" attitude.

Families also modelled hard work and discipline, a finding consistent with research by Bloom (1985), who showed that parents of highly successful individuals espoused or modelled values related to achievement such as hard work, success, being active and persistence. At the same time, parents emphasised the notion, "if you are going to do it, do it right". They also held high yet realistic expectations and standards for their children, and "stick to it" and "follow-through on commitments" attitudes.

Finally, in the early phase of these athletes' careers, the majority of the parents did not have winning or the Olympic Games as an objective of participation. Instead, they focused on their children's overall happiness, a balance of fun and development, and the general developmental benefits of sport involvement. While there was some emphasis on winning and success, these were not the predominant objectives of participation. At the same time, parents emphasised working hard, having a positive attitude and discipline. Throughout the middle and elite phases of the athletes' careers, many parents also played an important role in helping keep winning and success in perspective. Parents' roles also changed over time (from leader to follower over three phases), which supports the research of Cote (1999). "

Read the whole thing, it's worth the effort.

COACHING RESOURCES

One of the discussions we had last Saturday at the coaching seminar centered on the topic of coaching resources. Specifically, with all of the noise and marketing out there, which resources are genuinely valuable to coaches and athletes? A short list:

Triathlon New Zealand has a lot of info on a variety of topics related to coaching and youth development, including this manual for establishing a youth program.

Alan Couzens has a good blog which primarily considers long course training and racing. It's based on sound science, and presented in a way that's easy to understand.

The Science of Sport is a good active blog, written by two exercise physiologists from South Africa. It covers a wide range of topics - look for the series on hydration.

Athletics Canada has a good site with lots of resources and links on a variety of topics. In addition to articles, they also have a series of interviews with top coaches and experts. The interviews are free to download, and well worth a visit.

The British Milers Club is one of the premier athletics organizations in the UK, and they publish a quarterly magazine packed with solid articles. You need to buy an international membership to see the most recent editions, but you can read all editions up to 2005 for free.

If you have resources you want to add to the list, leave a comment.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

SIMON WINS, TREMBLAY 5th


A great day for Canada! Simon kicks off the 2008 campaign right where he left off in 2007, on top of the podium. Kathy Tremblay finished 5th (her best World Cup finish since a bronze in Mazatlan in 2006), and Colin Jenkins had a strong race, finishing 23rd. Aside from the strong Canadian team, one of the best performers had to be Hollie Avil, the 2007 Junior World Champion from Great Britain finished 3rd in her World Cup debut. The brits continue to prove they've got deep talent across the board. ITU Race Report here.

In the World Cup rankings, Tich drops to 4th, Simon moves into a tie for 5th, and Tremblay moves to 14th. Congrats to the athletes and their coaches Joel Filliol (Simon & Colin) and Philippe Bertrand (head coach of the Tri-o-Lacs Triathlon Club and Kathy Tremblay).

Friday, April 11, 2008

AQ

Underwater footage of AQ from a while back. Ian and Johnny Raz wouldn't make a post like this with an editing error, but I don't have the original iMovie file with me right now - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

If you're not attending one of the coaching seminars this weekend (see previous post), check out the Ishigaki World Cup. Three Canadians will be on the start line for this one (Simon Whitfield, Colin Jenkins and Kathy Tremblay) against a talented field. Best of luck to all three.


video


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

COACHING CLINICS THIS WEEKEND

Quick reminder of two seminars this weekend. OAT is hosting a coaching seminar on Saturday, open to all coaches and athletes.


The Ontario Modern Pentathlon Association is hosting a run and swim clinic (for coaches) in Waterloo, on Saturday and Sunday. Registration is free, details below, from an e-mail from OMPA:


The Ontario Modern Pentathlon Association is hosting a running clinic for running and swimming coaches. I have just had 4 spots open up and would like to extend the invite to yourselves or someone you think could take this information into their coaching program (for example, one of your athletes who is coaching in their community).

This is a free clinic thanks to a funding grant.

Beacuse of the short notice, the invite is for either day or both.

You are our target audience because running and swimming are the core sports of Modern Pentathlon (running, swimming, air pistol shooting, epee fencing and equestrian riding)

The clinic will cover the training techniques, running styles and injury prevention of the developing athlete. An agenda is attached and speaker bios are below.

April 12-13 in Waterloo, 9am-5pm
Please contact Clare Illingworth, OMPA President for more information at cillingw@gmail.com
We will have a group of 15 or less for this exciting and hands-on workshop. Don't pass up the opportunity to bring more to your coaching routine.


Speaker Bios:

Dr. Robert Taylor - Dr Robert Taylor is one of the world's leaders in bio mechanics and injury assessment doctors, based in London and lecturing at clinics, universities and conferences across North America. His run clinics are guaranteed to improve your times and more importantly reduce your injury.

Bob Knuckey – National Duathlon Champion Bob Knuckey has been a high performance runner and coach to athletes of all ages and levels. He has also worked with developing pentathletes and triathletes on running techniques and training plans.

Robin McGlip - Past National Triathlon Team member Robin McGlip is a highly respected core strength and high performance coach who works with Olympic Coach Barrie Shepley on developing athlete performances through core exercises to enhance athletic performance. His session will include both a seminar, and practical exercises to enhance explosive power (for swim, run, lunging during fencing) as well as core strength for injury prevention.


NINJA TRAINING


A good segueway from the last post; what could compete with TV and video games? Ninja Training! Actually, Parkour is an even better option - all the acrobatics without the fighting. I can't think of a better way to introduce fundamental movement skills to kids. It started as an underground urban pursuit, but kids and adults can now take classes, at least in the UK. A few videos for your viewing pleasure:




A 4 minute segment of a documentary.




Teaching kids the basics on an obstacle course.




Seeing the world as an obstacle course (don't try this at home).



You can find a longer ~9min video on a parkour academy here. If kids/youth coaches are looking for new ideas to work on strength, balance, co-ordination and agility, I'm sure you'll find a few things you can use.

Monday, April 7, 2008

NO TV FOR YOU

Keep TV from teens' rooms, study suggests

WASHINGTON — Teenagers with a bedroom television tend to have poorer diet and exercise habits and lower grades in school than those without one, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

While many studies have examined TV viewing habits of young people, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health said little had been known about the consequences in particular for older adolescents of having a bedroom television.

They questioned 781 adolescents, ages 15 to 18, in the Minneapolis area in 2003 and 2004. Of them, 62 per cent reported having a television in their bedroom.

Not surprisingly, those with a bedroom TV were more apt to watch it a lot, clocking four to five more hours in front of a television per week, the researchers said. Twice as many of the teens with a bedroom TV were classified as heavy TV watchers – at least five hours a day – compared with those without one.

Full article here.


MONDAY, MONDAY

Another busy weekend, with the second ITU World Cup in New Zealand, and another OAT Training Day at the PTC with a good group of youth and junior athletes. We started with a bit of core and a solid swim, including some open water prep. There were some moves in the open water sim that would have made a football coach proud. After the swim we hit the roads (finally) for some big gear work and/or drills, and finished up with a good run session. I shot some random footage of the swim and bike, but our run training is secret, so I can't post that. The video was edited in under 30mins (29:49 - beat that Ian Donald), a new record, and it shows. Thanks to Alan Fairweather, Dan Mckerral, Lee Hart, Mischelle Stevens and Lorri Zagar for their coaching expertise.









Friday, April 4, 2008

NOTE TO TRAINING DAY ATHLETES

Just in case my e-mail hasn't reached everyone who is planning on attending the training day, please bring indoor AND outdoor riding gear. Depending on the weather, we'll be riding outside. If you are planning on attending the training day, and you haven't let me know, please e-mail me to let me know.

See you Sunday.


GENIUS, POWER and MAGIC

One degree and snow here today - the same weather in Victoria would guarantee people in the streets taking pictures. We have a Training Day on Sunday, hopefully with our first outdoor ride of the year. We ended our adaptation a little early this week, as everyone is looking fresh and ready to go. The main set in the pool this morning was 2x(20x50@0:50" best average, 1st round swim, 2nd round paddles). This afternoon we'll hit the treadmills (UofGuelph has 5 Woodways) for a bit of speed work.

We've been having some conversations around these parts over the last few weeks about truly committing yourself to achieving your goals. It's easier said than done, and for most athletes (and most people), it's easier to hedge your bets and give a good effort rather than giving your best effort. Maybe it hurts less if you fail and you haven't really given everything you've got - but who wants a legacy like that?

Giving your best when things are going well is relatively easy, but to consistently give your best effort is difficult (note: don't confuse 'best effort' with 'hard effort' - being your best also means maximizing recovery, committing to a healthy diet, managing your schedule, etc). For most athletes this means simplifying their life outside of sport, truly committing to sport excellence on a daily basis, and (most importantly) letting go in workouts. When athletes stop worrying about the next set, or the next workout, and just live in the moment, great things happen. When effort is valued over outcome, when athletes aren't afraid to fail in front of each other, and when blowing up in a set is more honourable than saving up and smashing the last interval, everyone benefits. Physically, the training stimulus is greater, socially, the training group is stronger, and mentally, the athletes are more prepared for whatever gets thrown at them in a race. You can't just flick a switch and be tough on race day, you need to train toughness, day in and day out.

Maybe some of you have seen the following quote (generally credited to Goethe):

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

On the surface, it's a good motivational quote, and it gets used a fair bit in sports. But the first, and most important, part of the passage is often omitted:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

The short version talks about having a dream and wasting no time in pursuing it. The intended message however, is that failing to make a firm commitment will doom the dream. Even better, you may find unexpected help along the way. I don't believe in superstition, but I do believe in the saying about good luck: "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." Food for thought as an approach to training and racing.

That's more than enough quotes for one day. Here's a favourite clip that most of you have probably seen before. Only one winner, but both of them know they gave everything they had.