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Where is the finish line of your interval
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A while ago on ST I said that Ironman racing is about managing death by small cuts and doing each little item as efficiently as possible. Over an entire day, 100's' of times of saving 2-10 seconds in lot of small places where you get free time savings adds up quickly.

Several years ago, I took on an athlete who was around 20-30 min off of qualifying for Kona. I didn't really think that we needed to do anything magical between her self training and any "optimized" training. Sure there were some things she was doing that could be eliminated/revectored/fine tuned, but mainly the difference between her subsequent 3xKona and 3x70.3 Worlds and the athlete from before was just living the life of a Kona qualifier, doing everything small in day to day life with purpose and mainly taking each task to completion.

The fall when I took her on, my group was riding some hill intervals. Right before the top of the hill sign, if there was no one she was chasing, she would let up around 5-10m ahead and coast in.

I watched this happen for a few workouts and then the next time, I rode behind her and seeing it happen said, "I think you just gave up your Kona slot in those last 5 meters". She was unsure what I was getting and said, "I don't get it, I think I even beat the power number target and time up the climb". I said, "there is no doubt, that you have the engine, but you keep giving away time to the imaginary competition. Every interval up when you don't have to push it the line you are not. If the competition is in your face you will, but if they are no where to be seen, then you have to be self driven on every task. You can't see the competition. They may be a faster swimmer or slower swimmer or a faster runner. The only think you can do is get the lowest time our of yourself for each task".

And from there, we began a psychological mindset shift, and she became the master of taking every task to completion, leaving no money on the table if she could grab it. The finish line of every interval became an imaginary point past the finish. I think my ultimate example of this is Phelps beating Cavic at the Beijing Olympics for his 7th gold. Cavic in the lead coasting into the wall....Phelps keeps the pressure on and half strokes and jams his hand hard into the touch pad with more force than Cavic. Look who won!

What's your stories? For me, After 11x failures to get to Kona, when I transformed my mindset to the above at IMLP 2006, then I had a bit more success (OK, my hit rate is still bad, but the days I was on, I left no time on the table). 2010 at Kona + 70.3 Worlds, I was 45-49 combined T1+T2 world transition champion....that was all free speed with fitness needed. 2013 in St. Croix, I got a Kona slot by just moving through the aid station, when everyone kept stopping as it was a true sauna after a torrential rain storm....he would keep passing me until his stops got too long to re pass. I think after the mile 11 aid station, he could not get me back.

Dev
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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The effective resistance of a hill isn't over until you crest and then reach terminal velocity on the other side. Athletes should always pedal the crest of the hill and start of a downhill as if it's still uphill or flat. The sooner you get to 30+ mph then the more time you spend at 30+ mph, which gets you through the course far faster than tooling around the crest and start of the downhill at 0 to 10 mph like a lot of people do. Especially because the start of a downhill is like a free gift of a launch ramp to help you get up to faster speeds anyway. Recover after you're coasting at high speeds, not at the top of the hill where slowing down to recover has a significant negative impact on your time.

And it's important to do it in training, because training is what trains you for racing. That's why they call it that. At least that's what some smart people have said. ;)


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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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I think it actually depends on the athlete and circumstances.

I've always in the past been on of those overachievers that despite my middling genetic potential, was willing to bust tail, so I'd finish every interval, all the way, and usually do more of 'em.

In the past year and a half, I've been training around 70% of my usual regular average, which is a pretty big drop in long-term volume for me. This was due to a combination of life circumstances (growing kid, wife's job), as well as dissatisfaction from the very small gains I was getting for 11-15hrs/wk of regular training.

Instead, I've focused on sleep, rest, and recovery. I'm certainly not slacking off, but I now ALWAYS prioritize sleep over training, and now if I'm at all in doubt about my ability to hammer, I err on the wimp-out side. In addition, I encourage myself to wimp out on my intervals regularly! At first it felt like a wuss-out, but now if I feel like I've got what I need from the set early on, I'll just skip the rest of 'em and rest up for next time!

The net result - I've gotten better results with this abbreviated training load at <10hrs per week (well under that sometimes) than from 11-15hrs/wk, as judged by my USAT score performances.

So, I'll def disagree with you on the 'hammer out every last drop as scheduled'. I actually suspect most athletes would probably even benefit from doing LESS hard and LESS interval volume as I did, and improve even more than if they'd gutted each and every last one out.

The point of the intervals isnt' to prove how manly and beastly you are - they are to provide a training stimulus. It's important to learn to learn physically where that line is (through experience and trial n error), and then not let your ego get in the way of getting to but not past that line.
Last edited by: lightheir: Jan 9, 18 10:42
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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But, I think you are finally taking the task of sleep and recovery to completion. You're apply the same mentality now to the full picture rather than the training only picture, thus making you a better athlete overall....correct?
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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I eat all the food on my plate, ALWAYS!
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
But, I think you are finally taking the task of sleep and recovery to completion. You're apply the same mentality now to the full picture rather than the training only picture, thus making you a better athlete overall....correct?

Yes, but honestly, the far bigger change in my training has been the 30+% decrease in volume as well as significant decrease in overall intensity that I'm now doing.

In the past, I wasn't exactly running on sleep-deprived fumes, but I'd sometimes be a little sleepy during those AM workouts. I'm just less so now, because I don't do quite as many of them!

My wussing out on intervals is really noticeable though. Instead of thinking "gotta bring the HTFU so I can survive the last few killer minutes!", I'm constantly thinking "woah woah - I think that's enough! Any more suffering, and I'm shutting this mofo down!"

I will add that as a result, my quality days go better - I go just as fast and as much as I do on a "HTFU" day, but with a lot less need for that dig-deep HTFU effort. Save it for race day or the few critical speed days prior to race day to kill it.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [Testament TN] [ In reply to ]
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But do you lick the plate when finished? That's going through the finish line!
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [AKCrafty] [ In reply to ]
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AKCrafty wrote:
But do you lick the plate when finished? That's going through the finish line!

Well there is finishing your spouse's plate!
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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Further to your point, exactly once in my collegiate career, did I coast across the finish line in a track meet.. It was a 1000m at an indoor meet, and I was a few seconds behind the person in front, and a few seconds ahead of my closest follower... I think my logic was that I had to turn it back around an smash my leg for the 4x800m relay a few hours later... anyways, my coach pulled me aside after the finish and asked me how long was that race... I answered 1000m, so then asked me why I only raced 990? Then went into how I was disrespecting the sport, disrespecting myself and disrespecting my university by not giving it my all through the line... I never made that mistake again, and numerous times after that I managed to kick by others coasting through the line...

I did run a great leg on that relay... Not sure if it was that 10m of extra recovery or feeling like I needed to prove myself after getting busted with my foot off the gas...
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
In the past, I wasn't exactly running on sleep-deprived fumes, but I'd sometimes be a little sleepy during those AM workouts.

I've been caught yawning while waiting for the stoplight



As for the whole "Body Is A Temple" thing? Well, many ancient deities often enjoyed offerings of Sweets and Intoxicants
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
I err on the wimp-out side. In addition, I encourage myself to wimp out on my intervals regularly! At first it felt like a wuss-out, but now if I feel like I've got what I need from the set early on, I'll just skip the rest of 'em and rest up for next time!

I totally agree, there is no way you really need to finish off an interval for ironman training. Like your body knows any different. Body isn't gonna say: "Oh she only did 1:57 instead of two minutes on that last interval, I'm not gonna improve because of that!" I will agree to the OP's point about minimizing race times by fast transitions, etc.

I've been reading the "How to make sense of train slow, race fast?" thread and it seems easy is the way to go. Our resident experts have been giving tons of advice regarding the benefits of train easy/race hard (H2Ofun) and how walking is very similar to running (Coggan). Sure glad I've been walking up the hills recently. Hate to say it but it seems like easy is the new hard!

Sorry Dev, but is all that butterfly messing with your head?
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [J7] [ In reply to ]
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It isn't about the physiological side of training. It's the mental side, training yourself to grab that extra 5 seconds here, 5 seconds there. Pretty soon that starts adding up to real time in the race.

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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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JasoninHalifax wrote:
It isn't about the physiological side of training. It's the mental side, training yourself to grab that extra 5 seconds here, 5 seconds there. Pretty soon that starts adding up to real time in the race.

I agree. I think Dev was referring to the mental side of training. If the intensity is set correctly, one should finish it to the end.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [AKCrafty] [ In reply to ]
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AKCrafty wrote:
JasoninHalifax wrote:
It isn't about the physiological side of training. It's the mental side, training yourself to grab that extra 5 seconds here, 5 seconds there. Pretty soon that starts adding up to real time in the race.


I agree. I think Dev was referring to the mental side of training. If the intensity is set correctly, one should finish it to the end.


Theoretically yes, but there a myriad reasons why you might not have a perfectly planned workout to execute.

With high-effort intervals as well, since the goal is to be near-max of effort for the final intervals, the reality is that it's very easy to overdo it despite best planning.

Even if its something as subtle as going a bit too long on yesterday's easy effort workout, you may have to dig slightly too deep to finish that interval workout as planned. Sure, it won't kill you, but it's likely better to err on the easy/safe side, and focus on the LONG term picture where you'll be physically AND mentally ready to do more and more intervals for weeks/months at a time.

I've actually found that there's nothing heroic or even beneficial in terms of mental training by forcing myself to 'finish' my planned hammerfest workouts. It's just macho BS. It's almost always much better to pull it back before you blow yourself up, and do it again but better the next time around. I've overtrained enough times now that I've been forced to recognized that my genetic potential doesn't allow me to train like an elite, and that crushingly hard workouts are way overrated compared to a nice, calm but progressive training load over months/years.

THAT SAID - even with this mindset, in the pool, this means I'm usually going all-out on interval day, literally pulling through the final sets even if the time is going to crap. The injury risk is less, and I find i actually benefit a lot when I push into that swim red-zone. I def don't do that for running (not even close) and even biking despite the less impact. (I've overtrained the bike as well.)
Last edited by: lightheir: Jan 9, 18 16:40
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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To me that all centres around mentality and weakness. If you don't have that inner drive to reach like in the hill efforts an imaginary finish line you will carry it through all your training. Is the athlete pushing maximum through hard efforts on the swim or run you will never know but most likely as it gets hard they won't be pushing as hard as they could or should. That drive has to come from within and I think some people have it and some people don't. Maybe you can teach it to some and the penny may drop I don't know.

I am lucky I guess and have always had it and I have to be coached at times to not push myself too hard. I live in Australia and my coach is French so every session I upload to my Garmin account and send him a link after every session. In my head he is watching over my shoulder as he analyses my data and I start racing myself during efforts trying to beat the last split as I say sometimes the session isn't to blow myself to pieces and my coach now knows the key info I need and parameters not to exceed.

I took up the sport from cycling with the goal of doing one Ironman as a bucket list thing and got hooked. It seemed you were measured as an IM by qualifying for Kona so decided that was my goal the next year and every session that was in my head and I suffered always pushing to the line in training and I qualified for my first Kona.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
The point of the intervals isnt' to prove how manly and beastly you are - they are to provide a training stimulus.


This is insanely frustrating. In a perfect world, more work = more stimulus, end of story. Even though I'm well aware that this is not the complete formula, it's perpetually difficult for me to rationalize away that mentality. I feel like such a POS if I cut any corners at all. I just always have to remind myself that training to utter failure really has very little support in the literature, even for activities like strength training for hypertrophy.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [domingjm] [ In reply to ]
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domingjm wrote:
lightheir wrote:
The point of the intervals isnt' to prove how manly and beastly you are - they are to provide a training stimulus.


This is insanely frustrating. In a perfect world, more work = more stimulus, end of story. Even though I'm well aware that this is not the complete formula, it's perpetually difficult for me to rationalize away that mentality. I feel like such a POS if I cut any corners at all. I just always have to remind myself that training to utter failure really has very little support in the literature, even for activities like strength training for hypertrophy.

Yes, it's true, if you're used to 'killing' your workouts, it can be frustrating to NOT do it. But ask anyone who's grossly overtrained for an event, and you'll see that it's very, very real to hit all your "A" workout priorities by gutting it out, going deep, and then having an awful race day even with taper, as you're so fried as a result.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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For better or worse, I've always viewed training predominantly as a mental endeavor; both in the sense of adhering to it over the long-term, as well as pushing every session to complete fatigue. Even now, I feel like a total sandbagger if my hands and toes aren't numb after a run or swim. So I guess I'm in the process of reevaluating my criteria for a successful session.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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JasoninHalifax wrote:
It isn't about the physiological side of training. It's the mental side, training yourself to grab that extra 5 seconds here, 5 seconds there. Pretty soon that starts adding up to real time in the race.

This is exactly the point....I bet Phelps realized when it is close enough the guy who hits the touch pad at the same time but with more pressure ealier likely have a better chance at the gold...small details in practice add up to executing the small details in racing. It is definitely nothing to do with the physiological benefits.

Dev
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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lightheir wrote:
domingjm wrote:
lightheir wrote:
The point of the intervals isnt' to prove how manly and beastly you are - they are to provide a training stimulus.


This is insanely frustrating. In a perfect world, more work = more stimulus, end of story. Even though I'm well aware that this is not the complete formula, it's perpetually difficult for me to rationalize away that mentality. I feel like such a POS if I cut any corners at all. I just always have to remind myself that training to utter failure really has very little support in the literature, even for activities like strength training for hypertrophy.


Yes, it's true, if you're used to 'killing' your workouts, it can be frustrating to NOT do it. But ask anyone who's grossly overtrained for an event, and you'll see that it's very, very real to hit all your "A" workout priorities by gutting it out, going deep, and then having an awful race day even with taper, as you're so fried as a result.

I think you are missing the difference between killing workout and taking every task to completion. Taking a task to completion does not mean killing it. The task may be to do stay inside your zone 1 for the entire 40 min recovery run. If you go to zone 2, you just failed the task and did not take the original task to completion by going outside the boundaries. Likewise on taking the task of getting the complete amount of sleep or recovery to completion. There are many elements to athletic performance, and maximizing exercise output at every moment may actually be failing the task.....practicing staying in zone 1 as awesome as you feel on a given recovery workout may just be the exact mental training exercise that someone has to repeat 4x per week so that they can apply the same discipline for the first 2/3 of the bike leg in an Ironman when you feel awesome and want to light it up at 100% FTP when all the jacked Euro studs go motoring by on the QueenK.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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I don't actually think that you and Dev are disagreeing, I think you're talking about different aspects of the mental game, both of which are correct. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that it is important to know when you are too fatigued/tired/etc to gain from a session, and be quite happy to call it quits and go home, and that this is a skill that many triathletes lack. If so, I agree 100% - I think it's a skill we all need to work on, and possibly one of the most significant values of a coach. If I understand Dev correctly, he is not disagreeing with you, but is saying if you have decided that you are good to do this next interval, then do it properly, don't shirk the work, prepare yourself mentally to be prepared to suffer, to gut it out to the end, etc. That doesn't mean that after 3 out of 5 interval that aren't going to plan you shouldn't pull the pin - in fact, I'd say he's saying that it's better to pull the pin and decide that you are done for the day, than try and push out the last two, well under target watts, giving up after 9'50" because those last 10 seconds don't count. Either commit and commit 100%, or change the plan and commit 100% to the new plan (which may be riding home slowly), just don't go at it 95% and kid yourself. You're teaching yourself not to suffer when it's hard. At least, that's my interpretation of what you're both saying. And I agree!
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [J7] [ In reply to ]
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J7 wrote:
lightheir wrote:

I err on the wimp-out side. In addition, I encourage myself to wimp out on my intervals regularly! At first it felt like a wuss-out, but now if I feel like I've got what I need from the set early on, I'll just skip the rest of 'em and rest up for next time!


I totally agree, there is no way you really need to finish off an interval for ironman training. Like your body knows any different. Body isn't gonna say: "Oh she only did 1:57 instead of two minutes on that last interval, I'm not gonna
improve because of that!" I will agree to the OP's point about minimizing race times by fast transitions, etc.

I've been reading the "How to make sense of train slow, race fast?" thread and it seems easy is the way to go. Our resident experts have been giving tons of advice regarding the benefits of train easy/race hard (H2Ofun) and how walking is very similar to running (Coggan). Sure glad I've been walking up the hills recently. Hate to say it but it seems like easy is the new hard!

Sorry Dev, but is all that butterfly messing with your head?

What does it take to be a resident expert? Post endless amounts of nonsense?

Just because someone says it a lot, doesn’t make it true...
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
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devashish_paul wrote:
lightheir wrote:
domingjm wrote:
lightheir wrote:
The point of the intervals isnt' to prove how manly and beastly you are - they are to provide a training stimulus.


This is insanely frustrating. In a perfect world, more work = more stimulus, end of story. Even though I'm well aware that this is not the complete formula, it's perpetually difficult for me to rationalize away that mentality. I feel like such a POS if I cut any corners at all. I just always have to remind myself that training to utter failure really has very little support in the literature, even for activities like strength training for hypertrophy.


Yes, it's true, if you're used to 'killing' your workouts, it can be frustrating to NOT do it. But ask anyone who's grossly overtrained for an event, and you'll see that it's very, very real to hit all your "A" workout priorities by gutting it out, going deep, and then having an awful race day even with taper, as you're so fried as a result.


I think you are missing the difference between killing workout and taking every task to completion. Taking a task to completion does not mean killing it. The task may be to do stay inside your zone 1 for the entire 40 min recovery run. If you go to zone 2, you just failed the task and did not take the original task to completion by going outside the boundaries. Likewise on taking the task of getting the complete amount of sleep or recovery to completion. There are many elements to athletic performance, and maximizing exercise output at every moment may actually be failing the task.....practicing staying in zone 1 as awesome as you feel on a given recovery workout may just be the exact mental training exercise that someone has to repeat 4x per week so that they can apply the same discipline for the first 2/3 of the bike leg in an Ironman when you feel awesome and want to light it up at 100% FTP when all the jacked Euro studs go motoring by on the QueenK.

Oh then - that wasn't my interpretation of your original post, which seemed a lot more about 'pushing hard to finish that interval' with my reading, but with this second clarification, we're basically on the same page, which includes staying in Z1 if its best for you, or failing the task if that yields superior training benefit than pushing really hard just to get it done.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [lightheir] [ In reply to ]
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Yes, it seems we are both in agreement. It's about the task goals of that task and executing it completely. If the task is to rest X amount, recovery Y amount, eat Z tons of celery, so be it. Then do that one well. I remember cutting red peppers making a Jan 1 dinner with my dad when we were both hung over. He was cutting these papers completely precisely. I was just doing it in a rather course and haphazard manner that certainly was no artistic. He stopped me and said, "that's not the job, because the way you cut it, won't be aesthetically pleasing, which means people will not be salivating from the presentation as much....so do it properly, do it with your heart, or don't do it at all". Of course, I was pissed off, that he had to be that picky about something to trivial (it pains me to say my dad is right, but in many of these seemingly trivial items he actually gets it right every time and I don't). Another example was back in 1999 working for a tech chip startup going to Cisco to meet their CTO (at the time, it was Andy Bechtolsheim who some of you will know). In any case, on one of the powerpoint slides, one of the arrows was not perfectly lined up. On the laptop it was maybe 0.3mm out of alignment. On the projector, it was maybe 1cm. But it was. After the meeting over lunch, my CEO ripped me apart for that arrow being imperfect. His point was that if our ppt was out of alignment, then our chip product as likely haphazard and lacking thoroughness.

For me this is a lifelong struggle. I am creative, I can get a lot of stuff done considerably well in huge volume at a high pace, but I would be the worst accountant on the planet. In my professional life, I have to pull myself up, and I try to maximize the attention to detail of people around me and leverage them. You guys can see that on ST too (lack of attention to detail). But as an athlete, I have to just rely on myself, and it goes against my nature to take tasks through to perfection. Maybe that is why I am a triathlete, because I can focus on a zillion things and not get bored doing one thing perfectly...and now focusing just on swimming, I am trying to get better at every stroke, every piece of swimming rather than just my free. I like the variety....but to catch myself, I have decided to take one technical aspect per month and focus on it continuously and get better and better and better and better at that one aspect all month taking that task to completion (as well as I can) daily.
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Re: Where is the finish line of your interval [J7] [ In reply to ]
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J7 wrote:
......Our resident experts have been giving tons of advice regarding the benefits of train easy/race hard (H2Ofun) and how walking is very similar to running (Coggan).....
Are you kidding?
H2Ofun is a fast athlete but 99% of the "expertise" he shares on this website is confused/misguided, self serving drivel. Please don't lead new members reading this to believe he's someone they would do well to heed. The best course of action where he's concerned is to make use of the "hide user" button.... or whatever that option is called!
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