by Ben Munguia
I think the story of the tortoise and the hare has always slightly bothered me. Yes, there are great points to take away about patience, persistence, and pacing (that tortoise did have his pace dialed in). BUT, what if that showboating hare had decided to dial it back a tad and not take so many pit stops along the way? I mean all he had to do was take a few less stops and BAM, victory would have been his.
A lot of us can relate to both of these characters. There are the tortoises who click off miles after miles of training, but they always play it safe and never push their limits. They get great benefit from developing their aerobic systems and being able to handle the miles, but there is definitely something missing in their training. On the other hand, you have the hares that can’t wait to hit the track, mash the pedals, and do a few massive sessions in the pool, only to end up sidelined by injury and burnout. It’s a fine line we must walk to get the right mix of slow and steady, and quick and intense.
The most important thing is to make sure you are getting some sort of mix in your training. Adding in a group ride/run or masters swim is a great way to mix things up and add controlled intensity (okay, not always controlled—see ATC World Champs Saturday ride) to your training. If you feel like you have been pushing a little too much, don’t be afraid to slow things down. I’ll go on "family runs" with my wife and dog when I know I need to go easy. It’s a great way to keep me in check, and it’s always nice to have their company. Now that ATC got my brother set up on a new Cannondale bike, I'll be reaching out to him for more fun training options. Make it an opportunity to run with a friend who’s just starting out, or someone you usually don’t get to train with. Finding the best mix and balance for you is crucial to long-term growth, health, and probably overall happiness in your training.
I’m still learning to find the right mix for me. After noting my injury free streak of 2013, I started 2014 at the other end of the spectrum, injured. I was eager to build on 2013, and also looking for ways to become less tortoise-like and more hare-like. The hare in me definitely came out and I ended up sidelined from running for a good two months. Yay for 2014! I plan to learn from these mistakes going forward and will be more patient in my build back to fitness. While most people are racing or getting ready for their first race of the year, I’m channeling my inner tortoise to patiently build my way back to competing. As the ever controversial Brett Sutton once said, "hurry slowly."