Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cosmic Meatball

In the last week the sports world seems to not be able to talk about anything other than Jeremy Lin - the Knicks point guard who scored more points in his first three starts than anybody in the NBA since the merger with the ABA in the 70's.  I watched his highlights on youtube and some of the Lakers game where he scored 38 points.  He really is fun to watch - almost everything about his game seems to be in rhythm. 

It's also great to see the reaction of his teammates.  It's like in the last minute of the game when a scrub gets to go in and makes a couple of 3-point shots.  Then they pan to the bench and everybody is going crazy.  Except that Lin's last minute has lasted four games - and he's leading the Knicks to victories. 

I listened to a recent podcast by Bill Simmons, writer from and Grantland, where he discussed sports and music with Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I've never really listened to Flea talk much before - he's actually a pretty interesting guy - and much more normal than I had imagined.  Here is what he had to say about success in music:

"I’m a surfer – I often equate things to surfing. As a musician you always have to be doing your exercises . . . stay technically on top of your instrument . . . be working at becoming a better song writer . . . do all this stuff to be the best musician that you can be.   . . . Like as a surfer, when there are no waves you got to be out paddling.  You know, you gotta be keeping yourself strong so when a swell comes – if you’re not the guy who was paddling his ass off when there were no waves you’re not ready to ride the swell.  Like with anything, you have to stay on top of your craft and keep yourself sharp so when the cosmic meatball hits you’re ready to party."

Obviously this is exactly what Lin has been doing.  His "swell" was a compressed NBA season where the players didn't get in shape during the lockout so there are a bunch of injuries - and a Knicks coach who is trying anything so he doesn't get fired.  Many people when given that type of opportunity freeze up - but Lin has somehow taken whatever nervous energy he has and focused it into maintaining great play and inspiring his teammates.

Swells happen in endurance sports too.  As much as I want to believe that I know what's happening in my body when I train (see boring post on mitochondria) - or think that I can control my training enough so that I can peak on exactly the right day - it's mostly wishful thinking.  The days when I've put together a fast time or competed well against a rival, have usually come by surprise.  Not that I didn't know I was in good shape - but that I hadn't planned on running that well on that day - it just happened. 

That's one thing that is difficult with triathlons - you have to sign up so far in advance that there is no riding the swell.  You have to just deal with whatever that day gives you, because there are a limited number of times you can do that to your body in a year.  I have only two races on my schedule so far in 2012 - Kansas 70.3 and Wisconsin IM.  I know when I want the swell to come, in early September, but if racing for over 20 years has taught me anything is that I won't be surprised if there is no swell on that day - but I got to keep paddling.

Last Week
Monday: 1 hour bike
Tuesday: 1 hour swim
Wednesday: 45 min run
Thursday: 1 hour swim
Friday: 1.5 hour bike morning & 45 min run evening
Saturday: 1 hour swim
Sunday: 1.5 hour bike & 30 min run after bike
Total: 9 hours
This Week
Monday: 1 hour bike
Tuesday: 1 hour swim morning - 45 min run evening
Wednesday: 1 hour bike
Thursday: 1 hour swim
Friday: 2 hour bike
Saturday: 1 hour swim & 45 min run
Sunday: 30 min swim & 1 hour run
Total: 10 hours



RM said...

In that other post/thread you said you were afraid of burning out too early - I realize it's tough when you were there for the first marathon, because you know what it's like, but 1) you're not going to burn out 2) september actually isn't that far away and 3) if you DON'T burn out at some point while doing IM training, you didn't do it right.

I have a friend who probably did very little training, did IMFL a few YEARS ago, and to this day STILL complains that she is burned out. She did something like 14 or 15 hours. She claims that it drained her so bad mentally that she has never gotten back into it really.

I don't think that's going to happen to you, you're an athlete, and a competitor. When you were preparing for Boston that year, you were meticulous (hence the creation of this blog). You need to do that again. 1 hour a day even in February does not make champions.

Now, I'm sure you're going to have a great race regardless, probably go low 10 hours, and I'll be sitting with an IM PR of 10:40 still, but I know you - you want to be as prepared as possible. If you can get yourself to do something twice a day, you have to do it. Swim twice. Swim in the morning, ride in the evening. Hit your trainer. Time, time, time.

Do it now, it'll be easier later. Overload yourself now, so when you have to start hitting 20 hour weeks later in the spring/summer, it doesn't shut you down.

brennan said...

This post will be irrelevant in 2 weeks when Lin is back in the D-League and eating meatballs for dinner.