Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tri a little Wu Wei

There is a principle in Taoism called Wu Wei. A similar western concept is to “go with the flow.” While this may sound corny and cliché, the idea really is to become one with yourself and your environment; to proceed in an observant but detached fashion. A lot of folks get hung up in their own heads when it comes to racing; “Who’s behind me?” “Who’s in front of me?”, “What’s that noise coming from my bike and why the hell won’t it stop?”, “Where the hell did this wind come from?”, “Why didn’t they start the race earlier if they knew it would get this hot?”, “Why is this course so bumpy, curvy, hilly, dirty, boring, remote, congested etc…?” or on a more personal level there is the parade of self-statements “I should have, could have, need to, have to…”, “Why can’t I, didn’t I…?

While these thoughts may have some validity and even necessity, they do nothing to increase your speed or endurance, they do nothing to improve you nutrition or cadence, they do noting to reduce your weight or fatigue. Quite the opposite, they are all likely to be performance limiters during a race and deterrents to solid training in the training phase. Practice converting these and other thoughts into dispassionate observations, think like Spock and these thoughts suddenly become valuable information either to be acted upon or stored for future reference but they are robbed of the emotional dead weight.

Save your emotion for after the race or intentionally, skillfully, inject it into your race strategy at appropriate times. However, during the race just Tri a little Wu Wei.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bike is back, Hamstring is not

Well, I found out last night that both the wife and I are fortunate in that our racing bikes are ok after the bedlam on the Bosque and I can pick them up Friday in time for our duathlon this Sunday. Equally good news, my commuter bike was ready to be picked up today. I had put it in the shop Friday with the intention of getting a tune up on it and ridding my racing bike to work the first couple days of the week. Of course, being without my racing bike left me --- sigh --- BIKELESS for the past two days. Forced to make my way through the mean streets of Albuquerque in my car…. ugh!

So, I’m pretty happy about the bike situation but my right hamstring is still tender. I doubt it is a pull but it is definitely on the edge. Tomorrow is a normally scheduled run day for me. I haven’t had to use any self discipline to keep myself from running yet because I start off my weeks with two swim days but tomorrow I’m just going to have to suck it up and take a walk. No running for me until the race this weekend, by which time I should be good to go. If I’m not 100% I’ll probably just cruse on the run and hammer the bike. It’s early season yet and I can afford a less than stellar performance if needed.

However, to make myself feel better I registered myself and wife for the:
Rio Rancho Duathlon
Wind Triathlon
Jay Benson Triathlon (should be able to register at but the event is not posted yet. contact Sportz Outdoors for registration info) and,
The Buffman & Squeaky Triathlon

Ahhhh, now that feels better…………….

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bedlam on the Bosque

Today it was a beautiful Sunday in Albuquerque with the sun shining, sky clear and blue and the temperature hovering around 65 in the “heat” of the afternoon. The wife and I went out for a bit of an easy ride along the Albuquerque bike trails that I use to commute to work on. She has never been along that particular route and will be ridding it a lot this summer when she starts attending summer school at Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI). We looped out of the Rio Grande valley onto a trail known as the North Diversion Channel Trail and headed to the University of New Mexico and then on to TVI. On the way back we dropped down through town and caught the Bosque trail in the south valley and headed north back along the Rio Grande to where we had parked. Let me tell you, the Bosque trail was PACKED with all manner of people. People on bikes of all stripes, people running, people walking people with dogs, people with kids, people on roller blades people people people. Because of the congestion, we were traveling slowly, maybe 14 mph, which is adequate for safety so long as you are using good trail etiquette and slowing to pass etc…

So we are coming up on a line of about 5 roller bladders in a group that included wobbly kids and I slowed a bit to go on by. I saw a guy on a mountain bike behind the roller bladders and he was going very slowly and there definitely was not enough room for him to pass prior to my wife and I pulling along side. But all of a sudden he swings out into my lane and heads straight at me. There was still time for him to do one of two things, he could have pulled back into his lane and wedged himself between the lead skaters and the rear skaters, which would have been rude but possible, or he could have pulled out of my lane and onto the dirt trail that runs alongside the bike path. Because he was on a mountain bike and he was in my lane and my wife and I had the right of way, I figured he would pull off but instead he headed straight at me going slow and looking straight ahead. I had to hit my brakes and slow rapidly in order to avoid one of three options, running headlong into a group of kids on roller blades, running headlong into the mountain biker that was headed for me in my lane or pulling off the path onto a sand and gravel road where I would have immediately done an endo into the dirt. When I slowed my wife didn’t notice and she ran right into my rear end hitting her front tire on my rear sprockets, flipping into the dirt and tearing a hole in her tire. She was laying flat on her back gasping for air having had the wind knocked out of her and I was trying to see if she was ok. The guy who had caused the accident stopped and asked if we were ok and offered to let us use his cell phone but there really wasn’t much to be done. Besides, I was too angry to really even look at the guy. I just focused on my wife and her bike. He ended up leaving without me noticing without so much as an apology or explanation, which may have been for the best anyhow because I probably would have ended up ruining my bike on his body.

We couldn’t repair her flat because the tire was torn and she said she felt ok, like nothing major had been damaged, but she was sore and scraped up a little. I ended up peddling hard back to the car, about a six mile ride, to bring it back to a place near where the wreck had occurred so I could pick her and her bike up. On my way to the care there was a group of cyclists off to the side of the trail right at the Montano bridge underpass and another cyclist flat on his back with the paramedics carrying a back board down to pick him up. I just kept speeding along trying to get to the car to go back and get wife. Then a pair of mountain bikers were ahead ridding side-by-side, one in the correct lane and one in my lane just ridding straight at me and smiling. Now for those of you who are not from my neck of the woods, these are paved trails with two lanes and each lane in the area I was ridding is wide enough for two people to ride abreast heading in either direction. In addition, the trail is flanked on one side by a nice hard pack dirt road. It’s not a small area. I had to yell ahead to get this numbskull to move. I did get back to pick up wife and when I found her a couple of folks from our triathlon team, “Grumpy” and “The Queen”, had found her and were walking along with her keeping her company.

We took the bikes to the shop, ABC bikes on Coors, to get a damage assessment. The rear derailleur on my bike was misaligned and needed to be straightened out and wife’s bike needed the front tire replace but, more ominously, there was a slight bit of sticking when you tried to turn her front wheel. The suspicion is that a couple bearings in the headset were crushed or knocked out of whack so they are going to have to pull it apart to find out what ma be wrong. I asked them to go ahead and keep both bikes to give them a good once over, we have a race this coming weekend and I want to make certain nothing falls apart on race day.

The thing is, I love springtime in New Mexico because the weather is beautiful but the downside is that every one else also loves spring in New Mexico and so they hit the bike trails. The problem is worst on the Bosque trail on weekends after about 11 am, which is usually fine because most serious cyclists are off the trails by that time. However, if you do end up on the trails during peak mob usage time, look out there are lots of people who don’t know anything of shared trail etiquette, cycling etiquette or, apparently the simple common sense that is required to prevent you from ridding headlong into something that is traveling in the opposite direction at a high rate of speed.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hamstring Heartache

While I was training for the Tucson Marathon, which I ran in early December 05, I started having pain in my feet as my mileage increased. After the race My feet didn’t start feeling better for a couple weeks. Then came the Ghost Town 38.5 Ultra marathon. Again, foot pain after the race. I went to see a podiatrist and it was discovered that the fourth and fifth metatarsals are shorter than should be the case and the podiatrist believed that the additional stress on the sides of my feet were probably the culprit of the pain. Now I don’t think this doc is a quack by any means. He is also a life time runner and marathoner. He prescribed some orthotics to be slipped into my running shoes. I paid the $260 that the insurance didn’t cover and got my new orthotics and went for an easy 3-mile run just to try them out. Within a mile and a half, I was pulled up short by hamstring pain and ended up hobbling back home. This happened three days before I ran the Lost Dutchman Marathon just a couple weeks ago. During the first mile or so of the marathon, my ham felt tight and a little sore but them relaxed. The weekend after the marathon I went for a slow 2.5 hour run in the orthotics and felt fine though they are hard and uncomfortable. Just last Friday I was again out on one of my mid-week runs, which are usually tempo runs and after 6.3 miles, I was pulled up short again by a sharp pain in my right hamstring. I also developed a big blister on the bottom of my foot. This really sucks. Today I went along on a group workout with the team, which may have been ill advised as we did a double brick session, 16 mile bike – 20 minute run – 16 mile bike – 20 minute run. I did take it easy on the run but the hamstring was still tight and uncomfortable but no sharp pain. I was, however, able to ride as fast as ever without any noticeable consequence. I have a Duathlon coming up this weekend and am nervous. I am defiantly getting rid of the orthotics. I didn’t have any problems like this before wearing them and now I feel crippled by them. And, by the way, no foot pain after the Lost Dutchman Marathon. The pain I was experiencing was probably just the discomfort of adapting to a higher workload. It really pisses me off that by trying to be cautious and proactive about my physical condition I have now come up with an injury that could really be a serious impediment to my season and, if I’m not careful, a season ender.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Side Effects of the Quick Fix Society

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, Everyman Triathlon, and read his post “Ironman or Iron Fit.” It’s an excellent post on the health benefits of the triathlon lifestyle. Since I’m a psychologist by profession it got me thinking along the mental health lines of our lifestyle. There is a serious problem in our country with the whole “I want it now, I want it cheap and above all, I don’t want to work too hard for it” attitude. At every turn we are inundated with images of beautiful women and ripped men effortlessly accomplishing everything from reforming their bodies to cleaning their toilets; all with a beaming white smile I might add.

I think that as triathletes and/or generally fanatically active people, we understand that no truly worthwhile accomplishment comes easily. Worthwhile achievements take hard work and perseverance. However, with the work you achieve not only the goal but also the benefits accrued along the way; memorable experiences, friendships and rock solid self-confidence. This is stuff that we, as athletes, know but I’d like to do a little compare and contrast on a couple things that not everyone might know.

Dealing with Depression. The quick fix, take a medication. There are times when medications are appropriate but it is not always appropriate or necessary and what do you get along with your chemically enhanced mood? About a 50% likelihood of sexual side effects, and this doesn’t mean better sex or more sex, this means things like retrograde ejaculation, inability to become aroused and inability to climax. On the other hand, good old exercise has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for depression and anxiety. In addition to the mood benefits of exercise, it improves sexual health.

So lets say you are on meds for depression and are dedicated to the quick fix but don’t like the sexual side effects, what’s the answer? Viagra, right? Well the side effects of that and similar drugs can be quite difficult to deal with and not exactly conducive to the promised beautiful sexual encounter.

So what’s the answer? There is no quick fix to achieve the truly quality life, it is earned every day with our every movement and every thought. Medications have their place but it is important to remember that the devil always demands his due.

So Triathlete, Runner, Cyclist, Swimmer, Athlete…. congratulate yourself! Keep working, keep racing, keep smiling and enjoy your sex you have earned it!