Automatic Endurance Training
I gotta say, I couldn't have asked for a better start to the year. Winning races is pretty frickin' neat. I already knew this. What I didn't know is how much cooler it would be to see one of my athletes lay down the law on her rivals. Or better yet, see two of my athletes do it on the same day, in two different races, just a couple hours apart. So without further ado, allow me to introduce to you:
1) Perrin Clavijo is someone I have to be careful with when writing her workouts. She's the type of person who, whatever you tell her to do, will do it, plus 10 percent, then maybe go for a trail run, break her foot, then continue to train through said broken foot (seriously, stop doing that). This little ball of enthusiasm races for Georgia Tech and just recently switched over to road cycling from triathlon, a path I myself took. It's a tough path because, although both are endurance sports, and both necessitate riding a bike well, each is on a different planet when it comes to physical and tactical preparation. It takes a long time to shake one mentality in favor of the other. In any case, Perrin seems to be making the transition well enough, winning in her first ever road race this past Saturday at the Swamp Classic in Gainesville, Florida. I think it surprised her a little more than it surprised me. In fact, it didn't surprise me at all. I was expecting it, but no coach in their right mind would tell an athlete before their first race ever, "you're probably going to win." That's a sure-fire way to make their head so big they need to buy a new helmet. But that's exactly what she did, flying away from the field to cross the line alone, with no competition in sight. Perrin's wins won't always be so... lonely. But I have no doubt this is just the beginning for her. Read the name. Remember it. You'll be hearing it a lot from now on.
2) Lauren Dodge is a natural. born. killer. She just doesn't know it yet. If she has a weakness, it's confidence. It's a weakness I myself share, and one that is easily addressed once you start winning races, which she's already done this year, in pretty violent fashion. She told me on Friday night when we were pre-riding the course, "I'm going to open the sprint from here." As it turns out, "Here" was about 250m, uphill. I voiced soft concern, but she was adamant. I figured, well that's bold, but hey, YOLO, let's let her make her own mistakes. Turns out I was the one mistaken: a gap on the line of eight bike lengths in the P,1,2 field is hard to argue with. Toss in a new max power by 50w, and any critiques you might have had start to fade away. She made it look easy. But it wasn't, and she'll be the first to tell you that. This is the same woman who told me last August when I started training her, "I'm not good enough to deserve a coach." And just last month told me, "I never thought I'd be athletic." Let that sink in for a minute: this woman, who is just entering her second full season of racing, and is now just a couple points away from her Category 1 upgrade, didn't think she'd ever be capable of being athletic. That's how hard she works. Hard enough to entirely change her perception of herself from underserving of a coach, to killer in just under six months. She's still got a long way to go until she even gets close to realizing her potential. But for day 1 of 2017... well, shit. I couldn't have asked for a better performance.
It is no exaggeration when I say I'm humbled to coach these women. Seeing the tenacity with which they attack my training plans keeps me honest in my own training. It pushes me to hold myself to the same standard that they hold themselves: a standard that says, anything less than better every day is a goddamn travesty.