Work is Speed Entering the Body!
Jenn “The Beginner” Edwards
Joining Endurance Nation is the best decision I’ve made since I started the sport of triathlon. The coolest thing about my membership is that it now helps me make every other triathlon decision with ease. As I continue to learn I find again and again that the support in the forums from my team and coaches is invariably prompt and insightful. The entire Team is upbeat and like minded while respecting unique goals and circumstances. I feel like I found my tribe when I joined EN.
I had what I consider enormous successes in my first year with Endurance Nation. I have a firm grasp on how to train and why. I know how to improve and I have the results to prove it! I finished fifth overall in a sprint triathlon that, just a few years prior I was almost last. I took fifth in my age group (and got to go up on the podium!) at the Lavaman Olympic distance. I had realistic goals for my second attempt at Canada and I earned a PR of about 50 minutes. Also, I know that goals are my primary motivator so knowing how to set realistic goals in the coming years is a key benefit of what I am learning. Most importantly, with the healthy dose of “work-life balance” prescribed by EN, my passion for the sport is still burning strong!
I’ve been active my entire life. For about fifteen years, my husband and I played on two, sometimes three ice hockey teams at a time in addition to dabbling in running, mountain biking, soccer, cross country skiing and all sports in between. Though I was active, somewhere along the way I looked in the mirror and saw a big girl in a skinny girl’s world. I stumbled into a beginner’s triathlon class in 2006 in hopes of gaining a figure that more accurately reflected my fitness level. Suffice it to say I embraced the triathlon lifestyle! Fast forward to 2010. I was 80 pounds lighter, had just finished my first Ironman® at Canada and was hungry (pun intended) for more.
I joined EN after listening to a Four Keys podcast, fortuitously enough, on the drive up to Canada 2010. I knew I wanted to get faster, I knew there were better ways to execute an Ironman, but I didn’t know how to do so and I didn’t know how to quantify my goals. Coaches Rich and Patrick were touting training methods, power meters and a time management philosophy that simply made sense to me at a price I could afford. Also, a virtual team was perfect for my personality. I didn’t really need (or want) anyone to train with on a daily basis but I did want the structure of a training plan with the support of fellow team members and coaches as needed. I signed up shortly after I recovered from the race and never looked back.
I approached my training with EN as a diligent student. Though I’d been training for several years, a few minutes after logging into the EN site I became aware that there was a whole lot more to learn! The old adage “you don’t know what you don’t know” rang very true. What is my FTP? What is my vDot? How do I use these numbers to train? Which powermeter should I buy? Exactly how fast should I run in my Ironman® marathon? What nutrition should I race with? I was eager to learn and the site provided resources and a community to help. For example, after one of my first training runs using my newly determined vDot figure I discovered the world isn’t flat! I didn’t know how to adjust my training paces to my “real world” so I posed the question in the forums and within a day I had over ten replies from my team. It’s hard to beat that kind of support on any team!
The primary challenge I faced this year was absorbing all of the valuable information available to the team. As someone with a penchant for all things scientific, I was eager to learn more about the metrics and how to use them and had to pace myself or face data overload. Luckily, there are podcasts to accompany each week of training so it was easy to take in a little bit each week. I now consider myself fairly well versed in most metrics. Data Geeks unite!
Grant “The Transformer” Stauffer
One morning in 2004, I got onto the scale – not sure why since I knew it was going to be ugly – and it was. 301 lbs. Ouch. I had always considered myself “athletic”, but certainly not fit. I thought riding downhill on a mountain bike counted – funny I never found myself riding up the hill. I said to myself “enough is enough”. So 9 months later, I was 135 lbs. lighter and started my new life journey.
I started running to keep my weight in check. Running became a passion which lead to competing in my first marathon. Then my second. Then number three. I ran four marathons my first year of running. I thought “maybe I should hook up with someone that knows more than me about all this running business”. 7 years ago I hooked up with Patrick. Shortly after meeting him, I traveled to LP to cheer him on and watch my first Ironman® event. He asked me what I thought of the whole experience – I said something like “you people are nuts – I’ll stick to running”. Well, that didn’t last long and I was out shopping for a bike.
I guess I’m a founding member of EN. All I knew was how to run a marathon – thanks to Coach P – but new absolutely nothing about training or competing in an IM event. Remembering back, I don’t think I had the goal of doing a long course IM in my mind when I got into this. I just needed training and Team guidance from people that did have the experience. I took in as much as I could and applied it to compete in Sprint, Oly and then finally a Half IM. I still remember the day I stood in line in Lake Placid the day after the race to sign up for the next years’ event… thinking “OK, I have one year to train for this.” My goal now became not just competing in my first IM, but finishing it. That I did and remember every moment of that very memorable day. I haven’t looked back since.
I’m not your typical EN athlete – if there is such a thing. I’m not a big online community forum guy – simply because my entire day is spent on a computer – so the last thing I want to do at home is be on a computer. I hang my training plan on the refrig and spend my non-work hours either at the pool, the gym or out on the road running or cycling. I don’t know all the answers but at the same time – I don’t have a lot of questions. I know what I need to do and if I’m not happy with the outcome – I know what the answer is. Train smarter. Train wiser. Train.
I wouldn’t call my challenges special – they are certainly experienced by most other triathletes. Work fatigue often sets in so training suffers at times in the evening. But the answer to that is to train before work – which I’m doing more of this season. Basically the challenges I face (along with everyone else) is the desire to achieve balance in everyday life – family, work, home life, must-dos, want-to-dos, have-to-dos, and then there’s training. The challenge is keeping all those things balanced and aligned with each another. And at the same time – I do expect a certain level of greatness from myself in all of them. Simply put – my challenge is not crossing the IM finish line – I know I can do that. But it’s balancing everyday life for 5+ months prior to the event and winning at that – everyday.
I still vividly remember the day I crossed the finish line of my very first marathon. I said to myself “thank God that’s over and out of my system. I’ll never do that again”. Those thoughts might have lasted 20 minutes before I was thinking about what race was next. With gobs of marathons and triathlons under my belt over that past 7 years – every time a cross a finish line is a success. I never forget where I came from – 300+ lbs, alcoholic, addict – and never take tomorrow for granted. Having lost dear friends competing in the sport and having crashed twice myself over the past few years – I cherish the last medal put around my neck as if it could be my last one. Remember yesterday but live for tomorrow. There’s another success just around the corner waiting to be claimed.
Al “The Veteran” Truscott
There are four things which make EN essential to my life as a triathlete:
- The coaches know what they are doing, are continually improving their training plans and race advice, and provide over the top customer service. No limits to email or other conversation, on course at all US IMs, honest and transparent about their thinking.
- The training plans value the athlete’s time and goals. Based on the athlete’s own tested performance, they provide a steady progression thru the season, and are modular, so one can “plug and play” or “mix and match” to make the perfect plan for a whole season.
- Race execution, especially at the IM and HIM distances, is a science unto itself, and here EN shines. It’s one thing to get fit; it’s another thing entirely to know how to use that fitness. EN provides both elements for racing success.
- Finally, and most important, EN is a team. I knew early in my career as a triathlete that the support and encouragement of others is as valuable as a low resting pulse. In EN I found a group of people across the nation (and world) who are positive, supportive, and eager to communicate and learn together. The network is robust, using a Facebook-like dashboard, an email forum, a user generated wiki, Twitter, a Facebook page, special events together, not just two coaches telling folks what to do. Without the team, my recovery and return to racing may not ever have happened, and my success in races owes much to their support, and the natural desire to not let them down.
I was on age group, high school, and college swim teams. I was always the worst swimmer on the team, and a breaststroker at that. But I like the work and racing in meets. Then, in college, I became a skier in the 70s, I spent two years as a ski bum, @ age 21 and 29, and got very good – powder, trees, bumps, speed. In the 80s, I was also a recreational cyclist, mainly hauling my kids around on those seats over the rear wheel. In the 90s, I took up mtn. biking, and started doing multi-day bike tours, cycling across the country in ’97. I never ran a step until age 50, ’99, when I broke down and gave into the urge to do a triathlon I’d had since reading Barry McDermott’s article on the Ironman® in Sports Illustrated, 1979.
I did my first triathlon just to scratch an itch, but after I survived, I decided to keep doing them, cause I found I like to race and I wanted to show, to myself and to others, what was possible as we get older. I tried all the distances and venues, doing Xterra in Maui 2001-08, and trying IM FL in Nov 2000. I discovered IM was tricker than it seemed, and struggled for years trying to put all the pieces together.
In 04/05, I perused the old Crucible Fitness site and finally the pieces of race execution started to click. I got to Kona and won my AG in IM CDA, and realized there were still more levels to try for. Since the Crucible race plan got me that far, I looked into how EN might help me take myself to the next level.
Training and racing are hard enough, and those are my thing; designing a season’s training plan is most definitely not my thing. I’m lazy enough to just follow the plan. Luckily, EN training plans are the real deal, with good progression and challenge built in. And if I want to go off for a week of more biking, the wiki and the coaches are supportive and help make it work.
Then, 3 weeks from racing for my third time @ Kona, I biked chin first at 25 mph into the rear of a pickup which was going 5 mph. That put me in the ICU for 10 days, damaging my spinal cord, crushing my larynx, knocking out 9 teeth, and breaking 7 bones. I lost 15 pounds, and all my strength and fitness. And I was pretty angry that I didn’t get a chance to race again in Hawaii (I’d dropped out of my last race there at mile 10 on the marathon, after overcooking myself).
I had some unfinished business there, but when I started training five months later, and then went two hours slower at my first IM in June, I worried that I might never get back. I seem to have permanently lost 10% of my speed swimming, my weight gain and training keeps getting interrupted by repeated oral surgeries to repair the damage to my mouth, and I have swallowing issues which make nutrition a bigger challenge than usual during a race. But it never occurred to me to not come back and race again.
In the fours years before I’d joined EN, I had done 7 IMs, with two Kona qualifications, and placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th (twice) and 8th in my AG. In my first 3 races after joining EN, I won my AG each time, settting a course record for my AG each time, and (@ age 60) a PR for the distance.Then, a year after my accident, still not able to swim as fast as before, and running a bit hobbled, I won once again to get back to Kona.
Matt “The AG Winner” Ancona
The biggest success was having more time with my family on the weekends. Having mostly 3-4 hour rides all year allows my to get up early and get back home early in the day. My FTP went up about 70 watts in two years and I set PRs in every distance running race. I also met my long term goal of qualifying for Kona. In my second Ironman, I improved by over two hours and earned a Kona slot.
I tried out various team sports in my childhood but was never stuck with any of them. I was a Gymnast for 3 years in high school, but had no swimming or running background, but did some BMX bike riding.
I joined because I wanted to see big improvement from first IM to second IM and at the same time spend less time training. I wanted to earn a spot to Kona but I figured it would be a few year process as my first IM was a 12:02.
I spent a few months just learning from the other members in the forums and from the podcasts from Rich and Patrick. This quickly got me up to speed on using a power meter. In November 2008 I joined the November Out Season group and starting following the EN OS plan.
Adjusting to all the intensity was my first challenge. Thanks to having a team to training with and check in with I made it over that first hurdle and my body adjusted and that has not been in issues since. Ironically, I went to EN to spend less time training but since I was training so much less I started adding other workouts in on top of the EN plan. This worked for a while but eventually it caught up with me. In the end the biggest challenge as been fully trusting the low volume/high intensity approach and knowing when to back down.
The best part about Endurance Nation is the people I have met. I continue to interact with EN members on a daily basis and many of them are now close friends. I can travel to just about any race and meet up with members. I can talk about any triathlon topic with a group of smart individuals that will provide honest but constructive feedback.