Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Tired again

Struggle town today. I feel like every few days I write a post talking about how tired I am and the importance of sleep. This is another one of those.

My current tiredness is entirely self inflicted, the cause being that common issue of trying to do too much in too little time. One of the most common first world problems going around. It isn't that I have any pressing issue keeping me awake at night or preventing me from going to bed, it is just that by the time I get all my things ticked off my list it is usually 30 minutes later than I want it to be. Something I keep telling myself that I need to get better at and then consistently failing at.

The importance of sleep sort of goes without saying and is something I have written about numerous times before. I think science is starting to understand more and more how important it is to our long term mental health and for an athlete sleep is even more important as it is where we do the bulk of our good recovery work. Without enough sleep we are hamstringing the efficiency of our training. We don't get as many gains from the training we do because we aren't recovering enough at night and the training we do is reduced in quality because we are starting the sessions too fatigued.

These above points are all very important, however, for me the most significant effects of insufficient sleep is how it actually makes you feel. Everything is harder. Getting out of bed, finding motivation to work hard, clarity of thought during training and work. All of it suffers. Not to mention personal relationships that are affected because you are tired and irritable.

When you are tired it is much easier to justify missing a session, you aren't thinking very clearly and your motivation levels are low and so sometimes it is just easier to stay in bed. This can then affect long term training consistency. When you are training, the tired brain can find it very hard to focus on the purpose of the session, meaning the sessions can be a bit unfocused or done at a sub optimal intensities. This missing or poor quality training can then further the lack of motivation becoming a vicious circle.

Yep, for sure lack of sleep is a major barrier to effective training, but unfortunately it is also a very common one among working athletes and one that probably doesn't get the recognition it deserves. People often choosing to address other, less significant, gaps before spending any thoughts on how to get more sleep.

For me it is definitely an area that I know I need to do better. Does it mean I will get better, really not sure. But I am going to be giving it a darn good crack tonight.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Warm Fuzzy

Good bit of riding this morning, inclusive of powermeter and all. More on that in a moment.

I have had a couple of warm fuzzy coaching moments recently. As we get closer to Busso race day we are seeing more and more athletes start to realise the gains they have made over the past few months of furious training. There are still a few weeks to go and people haven't tapered yet, but people are starting to see their gains. Always encouraging.

The warm fuzzy came because a couple of people have given me call outs for helping them recently. I have to say I am not entirely sure I warrant the thanks as in all the cases I don't directly coach the athletes, but rather I just coach sessions that they attend, but it is really appreciated all the same. Happy to be included in the feel good party.

I mostly coach because I enjoy it. I have been coaching properly for a bit over a year now and have sort of settled into the rhythm of it now. As you normalise what you are doing you can lose sight of the impact that it has on people. It is always nice to be reminded that on the whole that impact is positive.

One of the positive comments came from a woman who rides with us every Tuesday, including this morning (hence the comment at the top of the page). Her feedback was based on the fact that over the months that she has been riding with us she has incrementally and consistently seen improvements in her performance. I have so say, watching her ride, I have noticed them too, like a lot of the squad, there have been definite gains. When those gains occur it always gives you a great boost both in confidence and motivation. Really that gain is down to her persistence and hard work, but it is nice for her to include us in the lift she has just received.

Thanks and recognition doesn't really feature on my list of reasons why I coach, in fact it isn't something I ever think of. I have to say though, when the thanks are forthcoming it is always a nice feeling. Warm fuzzies. 

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Saga

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my powermeter. I love having one and all the juicy data that it gives me. Wonderful. However, I am not a massive fan of the specific powermeter that I have.

My powermeter is the original version of the Garmin Vectors. Great device (sort of), pretty accurate, consistent, does all the things that a powermeter should do. Easyish to swap between bikes too, which is exactly why I got them way back when. All hunky dory then.

Well no not really. My main issue with the original Vectors is that they are compromised by so many design flaws. Easy to break, pretty tricky to install right, even if you do everything right they will wear out eventually, needless to say my issues with the design are many. I think the fact that they are poorly designed is well illustrated by Garmin significantly changing the design over the years to the point now that Generation 3 (the current one) is finally around where they should always have been. Another illustration of their issues is that when a friend of mine gave up on his Vectors and moved on with his powermeter journey I eagerly obtained his bag of spare parts. Not only was I happy to receive these spare parts but I beat out several over keen individuals to do so, such was the need for replacement parts. People beating each other up to obtain a cache of small spare parts does not usually indicate a highly reliable product. Not a good sign.

Of course now that I have stopped racing I can't really justify a powermeter upgrade, so instead I slog away with my Garmin Vectors Gen 1. Normally they don't cause to many problems, but then every now and then one of their vulnerabilities rears its ugly head and they break. Tonight for example.

I have to admit that the breakage of my Vectors this time was not entirely the fault of the product, this particular breakage came about because I accidentally gave one of the pedals a big knock a couple of weeks ago. At the time I thought the fact that the powermeter suddenly stopped working was due to a flat battery, however, as I found out tonight that was not the case. Instead the sudden cessation of function was due to a damaged contact pin on the right pedal. The fact that the proper functioning of the device relies on fragile contact pins in the first place is part of my issue with the design, but moving on.

Normally this sort of breakage would have been a major pain, eating up my entire evening as I rushed around trying to find replacement parts, trying in vain to update their firmware, failing at all that and then finally giving up, tired, frustrated and powermeterless.

Not tonight though. For once, resolving my Vector issue was actually pretty straight forward. Once I realised the fault I went straight to the aforementioned bag of spare parts and quite quickly found a suitable replacement bit. The replacement was a bit old which meant I needed to update the firmware, but once again that was actually straight forward for once. I downloaded the updater, found my ANT stick from where I hide it to be used once a year for my annual Vector firmware update (usually prompted by a breakage). The updater connected as it should and also updated the firmware as it should (but never actually seems to). For once the issue was resolved easily, frustration free and all in about 30 minutes. Amazing. Always nice when technology comes to the party, so often it seems to stay away.

Still not the biggest fan of the product, and I know it will only be a matter of time until I have another breakage, but I guess for now I can live my dodgy Vector Gen 1s. At least until my bag of spare parts runs out.