Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It's All About The Base

Climbing Kaloko in Kona, HI. Picture - Paolina Allan

Ounce again, I'm putting the 30-Year-Base to the test. If you have been involved in an endurance sport (running, cycling or triathlon) for less than 5 years, with all due respect, skip right to the end of this post for the final good news.

It's at times like this that I'm thankful that I've been doing what I have for the last 30 plus years. You see, there is a huge advantage to having a massive base of aerobic fitness that you can tap into. You can do things and get away with things that the newer athlete can't.

In a few weeks we are off to Cuba again for some cycling with some pretty serious road cyclists. I'm really looking forward to it, and again, my goal is the same - don't get dropped!

Because of the big base of fitness that I have, over a relatively short period of time, I can elevate my regular fitness to a higher level reasonably "quickly". It's not easy, and it does not come without some genuine, hard and concentrated work, but I always surprise myself, how quickly the fitness does ramp up. I've been using several different sessions on the indoor trainer, coupled with steady state riding on the rollers on the "off-days". I dug into some old training logs, and also read up on "Sweet-Spot" intervals. As a classic "pursuit-style" rider my whole life, these are the kinds of sessions that I both "enjoy", if that's the right word,  have a high impact, and ramp up my fitness quickly. 

The other two sessions I've been doing are NOT so enjoyable (to be honest they are ugly, brutal and painful) - but are also high-impact: T-Max sets, as well as one minute All-Out bursts with almost full recovery - I've always been the, world's worst sprinter on the bike, but these sprint sessions forces me to activate and work this range and the five fast-witch muscle cells I have in my whole body!! Both these sessions have me on the trainer for 60 minutes or less. A painful, 60 minutes - but a productive, 60 minutes!

And it's all coming around - a month in and with just two weeks to go, I can feel the legs and the lungs coming around. I'm looking forward to the trip to Cuba, and fingers-crossed, not getting dropped from the main group.

The good story to end this with and for the newbies just joining back in now, THIS is one of the key up-sides and advantages to hanging in there for the long-haul with endurance sports. Once that serious, long-term aerobic base is established (roughly 5 years or more), you can whip yourself back into some pretty decent form over a relatively short period of time. 

The BIG base is helpful in other ways. When you have some down-time either by choice (vacation, taking a break etc , .) or by force (injury, sickness), the loss of fitness tends to be more minimized the bigger your overall fitness and aerobic base is, and the quicker you will return to good to great form!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Will You Watch? What Happens When You Take the 5-Rings Away?

Canada's women's Track Cycling Pursuit Team  - they are perennial podium placers at the Olympic Games & World Championships

Did you watch the Winter Olympic Games from Pyeongchang, Korea over the last few weeks? You were not alone. Thanks to CBC Sports and their great coverage, millions of Canadians tuned in to watch, our best Winter Sports Athletes compete against the best in the world. Based on these exceptional viewer numbers from the Olympic Games, we seem to want to watch our best Canadian Athletes compete at this level.

However, did you know that, right now, and through this weekend, two other World Championships events - the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships and the UCI Track Cycling World Championships are on - and Canada has medal contenders in both events. Will you be watching either one, or both?

Again - CBC will thankfully have Live Streaming Coverage for the Indoor Track & Field Championships and the UCI has their own YouTube Channel for the Live Stream of the Track Cycling World Championships  (links below for both)** . However the viewer numbers in Canada, with some of Canada's best Track & Field, and Cyclists taking part, will pale in comparison to the numbers who watched the Winter Olympic Games just over a week ago!

And so we enter into that fallow, period between Olympic Games (now two years between the alternating quadrennial Summer & Winter Olympic Games), when most Canadians tune-out watching most of the Olympic Sports. Years ago, the excuse was they are not available to view - and that was true. However in the current internet age and the advent of streaming coverage, almost anything you want to watch sports-wise, regardless of how rare and obscure it is, is available via some form of streaming service to any kind of device - even your mobile phone in the palm of your hand, anywhere, where you are!

My client Athletics Canada in fact has a partnership with RunnerSpace - the top level providor of Streaming coverage of Track & Field and Running in North America, to stream, with top-level commentary talent, and production, many of their marquee, event properties and other races of significance each year.

So the excuse, that "you can't see/find" these sports and the coverage of them, does not add up anymore. So why is it that Canadians who are so keen to watch our best compete against the best in the world, in the Winter & Summer, Olympic Games, when those same athletes are competing in, just as prestigious and competitive races/events, such as a respective sports World Championships, most Canadians are oblivious? Is the attraction of the 5-Rings, that powerful?

Later on this year, in August, Canada and Toronto, will host the NACAC Track & Field Championships (NACAC = North American, Central American & Caribbean region) at Varsity Stadium, right in downtown Toronto. There is no IAAF World Championships (outdoor) this year - but there will be IAAF Regional Championships, like the NACAC Meet here in Toronto. It's worth noting, that in some races/events, the (100m - 400m) sprint events in particular, You could potentially have a Olympic Final, or World Championship Final, made up of  athletes just from the NACAC region - so their will be truly World Class competition at the NACAC Championships in August.

Flipping over to cycling, Canada will again host, a leg of the UCI Tissot World Cup Track Cycling tour later on this year at the Mattamy National Cycling Center in Milton, ON - home for Track Cycling at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. The dates for this are Oct 26-28. This will be year-two for this exciting event, after a VERY successful first effort by Cycling Canada, back in December of, last year, that saw nearly sold-out crowds cheer on the best track cyclists in the world - some of whom are Canadian!

Will you watch sports like Track & Field and Cycling, in these in-between years - between Olympic Games, either via Live Streaming online, or live and in-person, at the two events mentioned above? If your answer is, "no" - I'm very curious as to why, you will not be watching?

What happens when we take the 5-rings away?

** Link for Live Stream of the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships - Link for the Live Stream for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships -