24 Lessons From: Faster As A Master, Part One

24 Lessons From: Faster As A Master, Part One

In my upcoming book “Faster As A Master” each chapter has a summarization of what I learned in the form of “Lessons:”

Here are the first twelve. Next week I will publish the next twelve.

Each chapter has one or more stories, philosophies, and principles to illustrate my points. The statement of “Lessons:” is a summarization of what I have learned and apply to my journey of breaking down barriers and journeying toward wholeness.

1.  Keep moving, be mindful, and you will put yourself into positions that will be right for you.

2.  Core self esteem is built from within and is not based on performance but the effect of the     results on how we feel about ourselves.

3.  By taking small steps everyday we exercise courage to heal old wounds from within to become whole.

4.  We are not alone and have the benefit of many resources seen and unseen to help us past our barriers, internal and external.

5.  Ask for what you need to the universe, keep moving, and trust whatever comes your way is in your best interest.

6.  By breaking down barriers you can show yourself and the world that we are all more capable that we give ourselves credit.

7.  Keep moving in the direction of your goals, adjust as necessary to meet the present circumstances, accept what you cannot control, and trust you are on the right path.

8.  Define blocks to progress, figure out a way around them, set your goals, act, trust the path ahead.

9.  Getting better and going faster is more about intention and choices than age.

10.  Parental and Grandparent support comes in many forms and can be used throughout our lives.

11.  Our networks are wider than we know and can work in better ways than we can predict.

12.  Spousal support is extremely helpful and other support can come from almost anywhere I have spread good will.

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

Chinese Symbol for Courage

The Chinese Symbol for Courage

Thoughts on Sochi 2014

Thoughts on Sochi:

The results from these 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics for U.S. Skaters hadn’t dipped so low since Sarajevo 1984, when no medals were won. Typically the US Team has been winning, in a single Olympics, some more some less, in the area of 4 long track and 4 short track medals. To be shut out in long track and win only the relay in short track, is not only unusual, but is indicative of a deeper problem. Expectations were high and rightly so, because of World Cup results and US Championship results leading up to the games. The team had won 28 medals in 4 World Cups (19 at altitude, 9 at sea level), set 1 world record (altitude), 2 track records (lowland), many altitude personal bests, but a few lowland personal records also by comparison.

We all have support networks that we rely upon, but if there are limited resources, we are then forced to work within such limitations. In the US, the governing body is US Speedskating (USS). If you are selected to be on the National Team and choose to use the support, you must live and train in Salt Lake City (SLC) at altitude. You must also use the coaches provided to you by the organization.

The Sochi Olympics were contested at sea level. About a third of the Olympic team trains in Milwaukee (sea level) with independent coaching and virtually no support from USS. The fall World Cup trials as well as the Olympic trials were held in SLC 5/6 weeks prior to the opening of the Olympics in Sochi. This favored the SLC skaters to make the team and forced training in SLC which proved counterproductive for adjustment to Sochi type ice. There is a significant difference in effective skating technique in altitude versus sea level. There is also a physiological benefit to training at altitude and racing at sea level, but the physiological advantage declines in 1-3 weeks dependent on the altitude receptiveness of the athlete. The technical advantages that can be gained from pushing heavier lowland ice (arguably) are a greater advantage than that of the physiological advantage gained from altitude training that gradually loses its effectiveness once down from altitude.

Then there was the skin suit controversy. The clothing manufacturer Under Armor developed a new skin suit, but the US High Performance Team did not want to race test it for fear of losing an advantage of what they assumed to be a jump in technology over the competing teams. Because of testing blunders, there were features of this skin suit (still to be determined) that made it slower. It was erroneously tested on a mannequin as opposed to different sized athletes moving in their unique technique and styles. By having had race tested these suits earlier, such discrepancies would have been discovered and corrected. Unfortunately the negative effect of the suit (arguably adding drag) could have added a fatigue factor to the skaters legs during the first races in Sochi. Switching to their fall World Cup suits may have helped but there was no “control” factor for comparative analysis.

Another factor in the results was the requirement for the entire team, including independently coached skaters, to train at altitude on an outdoor rink in Italy 3 weeks before the games opened. The combination of outdoor ice and cold temperatures potentially drained skaters energy levels, initiating a fatigue that was followed by an inappropriate travel schedule that again was added upon by having to walk too much once in the Olympic village and venues. The Collabo conditions also potentially threw them off their game technically because of having to deal with the wind, cold, and ice of a different feel. For the Milwaukee skaters transitioning to altitude, there was that additional stress to challenged the body. All these factors can cause similar effects to over-training. Piggybacked on these stressors, several poorly planned travel times in the early morning, team processing, and a late sponsor dinner immediately following Italy added to the brewing perfect storm.

The basic principles of periodization, tapering, and complete recovery before an important competition were compromised here. In my training, I only make minor changes if necessary prior to racing. That principle was also violated considering the change of ice conditions in Sochi. It is easier to train at sea level ice which is ” heavier ice” and then transition to altitude ice which has more glide per stroke,  than the other way around. In addition, logistics must also be considered. After arriving at Sochi the unusual, relative to what the skaters are accustomed to, could have and should have been avoided using bikes. The Dutch, by comparison, had planned well ahead with 2 bikes per skater. The second week the US finally offered bikes to be purchased by the athletes, but then it was too late for recovery. The independent coaches had been speaking up, raising questions, and seriously challenging the compromising of these basic principles but to no avail. Unfortunately, both National Team and privately coached skaters paid the price with a once in a lifetime opportunity to shine at the Olympics …….wasted due to poor decisions by the High Performance Team and team management.

Thanks for the contributions to these thoughts on Sochi were made by
Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr.

Sochi 2014 logo



Rest is a very important part of Training!

Rest is a very important part of training.

I have been resting and thus not writing here on my blog recently.

What I have been doing is active and passive physical and mental rest.  I transitioned back to the 747-400.  Maripat and I went to Boulder recently to see our sons and granddaughters.  I have been writing my book and sending it back to my editor and some others for the copy-edit.  That does not sound like rest but shifting gears.  I have not stopped moving but decreased my intensity in everything.

Rest is just what it means, rest from activity. Rest is either passive, or active. There are many parts to rest. I will address them in different contexts. Normal training consists of a few different cycles. The largest context is the four-year Olympic cycle. The shift in focus will change from year to year as the Olympic year approaches. As I change and my goals change, so will my rest requirements change.

Within the Olympic cycle is the yearly cycle that every competitive athlete goes through. The yearly cycle must include periods of rest. I generally finish my competitive season in the middle of March, this year it was late December.  I then take at least six to eight weeks off of training. During this time, it is important to let my body and mind heal from the intense work over the past ten months or so. I take a break in many ways, like catching up on the things I have put off due to my competition and training schedule. I am less active physically, this is my winter. I let the field rest so it can produce again later with more abundance, just like the farmers do for their crops. During this time, I can do a number of things. One thing I like is to continue to do a little very easy biking and stretching.

I do nothing intense, everything is just for fun! When I was growing up, my parents stressed that I should learn my sport as best as possible, but also learn sports I could do for life. For example, I learned to play golf and tennis, and I still enjoy them today. Doing other sports will help me be a better skater because I will have a better, more rounded foundation to draw from. The important principle in active rest is to keep the intensity low. When I am ready to start the training cycle over again, my body and mind will tell me. I cannot force the issue! Starting back too soon or too fast will cause me to burn out again or get injured.

Because I am used to a lot of physical activity, stopping cold turkey will throw me off. It is still important to be active, just not as much, and without any real intensity. My body needs the rest and I must give in to it, or suffer in the long run.

A tool, that I use in gauging whether I am training to an optimum level is ithlete. I heard about ithlete from a fellow speed skater, researched it, and decided that this was something that might help me decide when to go hard or back off on my training. ithlete is an application on my smart phone that uses a receiver, and my polar heart monitor. I take a measurement immediately after waking in the morning to gauge my readiness to train hard that day. Illness and stress in my life will give me low numbers and tell me that I need rest or to train easy that day. It reflects all of my life factors including a very high training load.  In the past I would train right through these times and my racing suffered as a result.  This tool can give me physical feedback and ithlete validates that feeling when I am on track or overtrained.

When I look at my monthly training plan I must plan my rest accordingly. Through trial and error I have found that after working hard for 3 weeks I must reduce my intensity and volume and do an active rest week. I will decrease my intensity and volume for a week so that I may avoid burn out or injury. In the weekly plan I also plan for a rest day, usually Sunday. During the week I will space my intense training out so that there are no two days in a row without a rest or recovery day. For instance, skating is like doing a hard weight workout. I will not do weights one day then skate the next, it would be counterproductive. I will do a cardio bike recovery workout, swimming, or yoga in between skating and weights.

Again, I will take the lead from my dog, kick back, lay down, rebalance, and rest.

Lilly Sleeping

Lilly Sleeping