The end of the year is a good time to look back and consider the lessons you’ve learned over the past 12 months. And while I learned plenty of lessons outside of training and sport, here’s what 2010 taught me as an athlete:
- Intervals trump experience: I’ve been racing bicycles since I was 9 years old, and after all these years it’s easy to be lulled into the assumption that my cumulative fitness is great enough to see me through just about anything. But at 50 years old, the truth is that it was only through a renewed commitment to interval training that I gained the power necessary to race the La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
- Endurance events are more fun with teammates: I had great teammates when I raced for 7-Eleven and other teams in the 70s and 80s. But in recent years I’d gotten accustomed to competing or participating in road and mountain bike events as a solo rider. Putting together a group of 10 athletes and 4 coaches – plus half a dozen support staff – to tackle La Ruta got me back into a team environment. The camaraderie, encouragement, ribbing, and even intra-team competition was refreshing; and I think it improved our individual performances as well.
- Never leave home without your crew: When I originally hatched this crazy plan to race La Ruta for my 50th birthday, support was one of my first concerns. I can fix some things on my bike, but I’m not a master mechanic. I also knew from experience competing in and taking athletes to international competitions that local knowledge is often the difference between a great trip and the trip from hell. The CTS support crew and the folks from Lava Tours in Costa Rica were tremendous. I’m planning on taking a team to the Trans Andes race next (January 2012), and you better believe we’re taking a top-notch support crew!
- Age isn’t everything: There are some inescapable consequences to growing older, but I don’t believe athletes should resign themselves to declining performance just because they’re getting older. From what I’ve seen – both personally as well as with CTS Athletes – is that the impact of age on athletic performance is not nearly as consistent as we once believed it to be. In fact, I’ve noticed that as athletes mature – not chronologically, but in terms of their lifestyles – their improved habits (sleeping more, eating better food, settling into stable careers and family relationships, etc.) often counter-balance any performance detriment their age might have. In other words, older athletes are often “better” at being athletes.
As we head into 2011, I hope everyone can look back on 2010 and find lessons that can help you be a more successful and happier athlete in the next 12 months. I also wish everyone a healthy and prosperous New Year. And if you’re looking for a big goal for 2011, I encourage you to check out the next big thing from CTS: The CTS Epic Endurance Bucket List. So far I’m on the hook for the Amgen Tour of California Camp, the Leadville 100 Mtn Bike Race (info on CTS Leadville 100 Mtn Bike camps), and the Trans Andes. What are you going to do?
Carmichael Training Systems