So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Thing Too Many

My dental hygienist read me the riot act last autumn after a lack of recovery, poor diet choices and disregard for sound advice had reinforced one another to wreak havoc on my mouth. After that visit, I started taking a low-dose antibiotic regimen and using an ultrasound-enabled toothbrush.

Months later, I could tell the difference in my dental health; not only were my teeth clean, but I wasn't beating the daylights out of my gumline with a regular brush.

Like all other good things electronic which I use, something decided to go horribly wrong with this piece of equipment. It occurred right about the time I changed brush heads a week ago. I screwed in the new head and hit the switch to start brushing. Instead of the pleasant buzz and vibration of brush against my jaw there was NOTHING. I pulled the brush out of my mouth and stared in disbelief. It was troubleshooting time.

I slowly unscrewed the brush head, which began the buzz and vibration. However, the cap was too loose and would not stay in position. I shut the brush off and grabbed the "old-fashioned" brush to take care of business, thinking a new set of brush heads might solve the problem. Naturally I was disappointed at the thought of spending twice to replace something I thought I got right the first time.

Later that afternoon I took a closer look at the new brush head. When I unscrewed the head from the handle to look at the inner workings...EUREKA! Somehow the (magnetic) contact at the base of the brush head had attracted a small metal washer - how, I will never know - which not only affected the contact between the power source and the brush head, but also kept the brush head from vibrating when the cap was secured.

Quite simply, a little extra something was the cause of my problem.

My wife often plays with new devices and software as part of her job. I usually get to apply the "savant factor," testing whether a guy can learn to use an application by trial-and-error. What always seems to drive me up the wall is how manufacturers add one too many capabilities to a device. It's like adding a mustache on the Mona Lisa, or an extra quatrain to Rudyard Kipling's "If."

Just like there are Swiss Army Knife models which go "one toke over the line," too many good things can quickly transform a gadget from something that does two or three things in an outstanding manner into something which does a whole lot of stuff "half-fast," or something which sounds like "half-fast." Smart phones are a great example of this tipping point. Search and rescue professionals were recently asked about rescuing stranded and unprepared hikers; several of them mentioned the fact hikers tried without success to use smart phone-based GPS(-like) and compass(-like) applications to maintain their bearings.

Does this relate to training plans? You bet, and on many fronts.

Coaches often write plans in isolation. If the individual athlete understands the role of the coach as guide and teacher, they can talk about the potential barriers and obstacles to accomplishing the plan. As John L. Parker, Jr. wrote (about interval workouts) in his classic novel, "Once A Runner:"

"It was one thing to write '20 x 400 meters in 70 seconds with 400

meters recovery jog,' and another thing altogether to run them."

Intensity - too much, usually - can derail the best of training cycles. So can duration/distance workouts, the "need" to run a particular (usually favored!) workout or a race when the body or the calendar (and sometimes even the coach!) advises otherwise.

More often than not, it's one thing too many, rather than one thing too few, which screws up training.

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