One nice thing about taking a vacation, especially in a place much different than where you live, is the opportunity to look critically at things without having to deal with them immediately.
There you go again, Bowen, failing to make sense.
What I mean is that it gives you a chance to put things into (a more proper) perspective. You realize what is important, what needs to stay unchanged, what cannot be changed, and what must be changed. Oh, and you figure out what isn't so important, too.
While looking at what could be tweaked and what needed to be tossed, I started to read a little more from an Endurance Nation coach. Pat McCrann posted on his blog Five Fit Life Commandments (You don't have to be a tri-geek to appreciate his common-sense approach to training. If you're a time-crunched athlete his ten-hours-a-week approach to endurance sport may save you some grief around the house or the workplace.), which I want to touch on in brief. If you want the details, go to the link I posted above.
#1 — Plan From The Ground Up - Right off the bat, McCrann tells me to toss my copy of Triathlete's Training Bible (at least for calculating annual training hours and trying to divide time over mesocycles) off to the side. There are all those things we are (son, husband, grandfather, worker, friend, coach, race director, course measurer, national organization rep, and so on...) and do outside of the 9-to-12 hours a week (for me, that much; for you, perhaps more...or less) we've set aside for running, cycling, swimming, cross-training. Training for my unsuccessful crack at IM FL last year I found the undivided support of my wife, my friends, and not a small amount of understanding from my boss, to be elemental to me making it to the starting line. I got beat up during the swim and melted down, but I learned what it takes to get to the starting line (and I'll be smarter next time!). Take away the five hours in the emergency department, and I can say it was an enjoyable week with my wife...I believe she would say the same.
#2 — Focus on Fun & Challenging Activities - I had 70.3 NOLA already on the 2010 schedule, and hadn't started the 2009 IM assault. Not the wisest idea looking from the forward, but it was probably the tonic I needed after IM FL. For me, a 70.3 is challenging, and fun; definitely an achievable distance within the constraints of my training and abilities. My wife told me she wanted to start running half-marathons again, and asked whether I would help her prepare for a half in New Orleans. Since the half was six weeks out from the 70.3, I figured it was the perfect training run/trip for me too; we have close friends in the area and it's a two hour-ish drive from our home...close enough for comfort, not so far we have to draw a major itinerary. For giggles, we did a 9K about seven weeks out from the half, also in NOLA. The road and climate conditions were great preparation for the half...and it served as a great excuse to get out of town after the holiday season. We're runners; we like these kind of trips...they beat her business travel.
#3 — Create A Basic Training Week - There are certain things etched in stone; work schedule, runs with other groups, swim practices. Oh, then you have real life, too. After a couple of years, and a year of experimenting with some other activities, I finally have a week laid out that I can accomplish, training-wise, consistently across a year regardless of seasonal and external commitments. McCrann mentioned that this is a baseline - something which seemed obvious. However, he mentions the idea of personal/social/professional capital stored since training has not been a constant drain on other areas of life. Deja vu Stephen McCovey's emotional bank account.
#4 — Integrated Nutrition & Recovery - something I've had a difficult time in learning, but getting better as I age...and recovery takes longer and is more necessary. I might love beer, but I also realize the alcohol in it hampers the development of human growth hormone, and makes me feel like I've been beaten about the head, shoulders, and upper torso with a big stick the next morning. Funny, I did not put this calculation together until the other morning; awakening on a Saturday after Friday night's (beer-free!) dinner with the daughter-in-law and grandkids...and feeling good. Changing my training schedule to place the lower impact activities in the morning and the running in the afternoon also lets me balance work with recovery.
#5 — Well-Organized External Commitments - Changing the workout a couple of mornings a week allows me to shower at home, rather than dragging my work clothes and shower items to work, worrying about where to store the wet, smelly shoes, and - worst of all - forgetting the shoes/socks/belt/skivvies/brush and feeling miserable about my appearance the remainder of the work day. Usually, the first 60 minutes of the day is taken up with e-mail and electronic posting of stuff which lands in my personal in-box and is forwarded; I'm already checking e-mail for work so this is giving me a second read. I spend less time punching up stuff on the computer on my time.
Of course, when you leave vacation world and come back to the real world, you have to execute the plan of action you drafted in your mind, or scribbled on a napkin at Cheeseburger Waikiki, or typed up on your laptop during that (seemingly) endless flight from Honolulu to Atlanta. There's where the trial/error/trust thing comes in. Give it a try...make certain to give enough time to see if things are really working...and adapt accordingly.