‘Twas the dawn of the last century, during my first computer science course. (Let’s conveniently ignore the exact date.) I was laboring through my second year in the Electrical & Computer Engineering program at the University of Texas at Austin. By then, I was already getting crushed by the curriculum and it was clear I was in way over my head. While passionate about the material, I already knew that toiling in a basement designing circuit boards for a large computer company was not in my future. But I was in too deep to back out, and the tuition check had already cleared the bank.
My first assignment was to write a C++ program displaying the two words above on a computer screen. By doing so, I would be treading a path required of all EE’s that had come before me, and all that would follow. Sounds easy now, but back in the day this was an ECE rite of passage. Where a boy became a nerd.
That simple phrase – and its greater meaning – still carries great relevancy in my coaching philosophy today:
‘Hello, World!’ is usually the first program used to introduce novice programmers to coding. Similarly, my coaching and programs focus primarily on introducing new athletes to the fundamental building blocks of endurance training so that they can “accelerate up the learning curve” of proficiency quickly and efficiently. This touches an exposed nerve whenever I reflect on the countless years I spent on unnecessary, ineffective and often counter-productive methods and models. (Remember how ‘barefoot running’ was going to free us all to become Olympic runners? And how about Newton ‘actuator lugs?’)
In computer science, ‘Hello, World’ also serves as a sanity test– a brief trial run of the functionality to verify that the system or methodology is reasonably aligned with expectations before moving on to deeper analysis. The theme is speed and efficiency, not perfection. The objective is to ‘fail fast.’
Endurance training need not be complicated, either; we only make it so. Core concepts used today are largely unchanged from previous eras, Vilfredo Pareto still rules and additional complexity often only tempts Murphy’s Law. Yet my experience is that this is where most athletes continue getting tripped up. They overthink, the classic curse of the Type-A personality. My objective remain singularly focused on K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid.)
Finally, because nerds created it, ‘Hello, World’ is notorious for its multiple variations- including punctuation, casing and even purpose. And as it is in coding, so it is with multisport. For the one axiom I’ve learned as a coach is that no human body is created the same, our maker has a wicked sense of humor, silver bullets don’t exist and what works for one athlete may be disastrous for another. (Keto, anyone?)
Effective endurance coaching must be customized because we are all custom-designed. My methodologies may appear somewhat unorthodox because my approach and background are so unique space. Combining real-world experience, scientific methodology, physiological acumen and most importantly, the ability to articulate them through written word (and jokes!) are a rare combination in a world of selfies, memes and 280-character pontification.
These pillars represent the crux of my coaching and this series- to impart the most important foundational concepts of endurance training in the simplest manner possible, while always accounting for the beautiful uniqueness of every individual. And having fun. Because life is stressful enough.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely the same kind of different as me. You already know that you didn’t “find” triathlon. It was destined to find you. There’s a very distinct and rare type of individual drawn to this universe. This resource is dedicated to all those fanatical about reaching their maximum potential in sport, and life. Those who understand that you can only manifest true identify, and limitless potential, when fully-engaged in a healthy and honest lifestyle. This blog caters to, and honors, that spirit. If you’re seeking to squeeze all the juice out of this lifestyle, I hope to represent another ‘fruit’ in the crazy-basket.
It is with this ethos that I click Publish on this first post, thrusting myself sanctimoniously into the unchartered waters of the blogosphere with my unique brand of irreverent Delphi insight.
I’m putting my stamp on the game. I hope you like it. And if not, that’s okay too. Cuz I’ve also learned I’m not for everybody. Cuz how many fitness posts start with a line of computer code?
Question: Where’s the biggest information gap, or misinformation, in endurance sports today?