So the impossible is possible.

So the impossible is possible. On Tuesday night Liverpool overcame a seemingly unassailable lead by Barcelona to win 4-0 and qualify for the Champions League Final whilst on Wednesday morning I managed against all the odds to drag myself out of bed at 06:30 for an early sea swim. That’s the second early sea swim this week and it’s only Wednesday! Toni sold me this camp with the promise; “Come and join some like minded adults who love wearing rubber and are into water sports and have some energetic fun in the sun”It’s a not the holiday I thought I’d signed up for ... So we hit the beach this morning and whilst waving a bleary eyed good morning to a few returning clubbers we discovered that not all those who wear rubber are our friends.An early morning Mr Windsurfer queered our pitch by launching into our proposed swim path. In all the ocean in all the world he chooses to walk into ours. This necessitated a decisive change of swim plan. Meanwhile, the sea had decisively developed a propensity to move around unexpectedly and more unexpectedly than the last time we met up with it. Perhaps she  was also pissed at being up at this unholy hour. Meanwhile the swell and tide thing in combination with Mr Windsurfer’s antics meant that we had to adapt to the circumstances. That was the message of the morning. Adapt. Capital A.  Due to the swell, sighting became more of challenge than usual (a periscope would have been handy) but we learnt that we had to compensate and estimate for the effects of the swell by picking out different landmarks and swimming along with the swell to hit that mark. We also learned that because the sea likes to move a lot, usually in the direction of your mouth, you had to adapt your breathing accordingly unless of course you were intent invoking a hypertensive crisis by ingesting a few gallons of brine. In the post swim run, coach Sandra learnt that by being less ask-assertive and more tell-assertive would ensured that the more indolently minded triathletes ran that extra shuttle.It’s a pleasure when you can help your coach learn new things. No thanks needed. You are very, very welcome.  I also learnt that some strange things can pop out out of your wet suit when you’re rinsing it through. I found a Peanut! In the training workshop there was an awful lot of discussion about zones. Which zones should you train in; zones 1, 2, 3 or 4. Personally I’m not too bothered as long as I can’t get there with an Oyster card.  The discussions gravitated around the value of low intensity training in improving aerobic capacity and how around 80% of the athlete’s conditioning should be done in Zone 2 and rarely in Zone 3. In fact the quote was “Zone 3 - don’t go there”. Although I’d  much rather train in Kensington & Chelsea personally I felt that this was being particularly harsh on Lewisham. Apparently Zone 3 is Okay if you’re considering a Sprint. Again in Lewisham, that’s probably de rigueur depending on the time of day you visit.  It was interesting to note that whilst some athletes felt a sense of real frustration at having to train at a lower intensity the more indolently minded athlete felt that their time had finally come. However, the balance to all this counter intuitiveness is that high energy activity should feature for some of the time and that’s why we need coaches, to get us to do all that ugly stuff as no right minded individual would do it voluntarily. Coaches do advise athletes on what is best for them, even when it hurts and when the athletes ignore that advice the coach can always revert to the Jack Daniel’s V.Dot system which tells them to forget everything, get the coke and ice cubes out and knock back the sour mash whiskey.  Later on and just before lunch the subject was Power! Pow!!‘Watt is Power?’ (you see what I did there?)Or more accurately ‘Watts are Power’. And what inputs do you measure which can affect performance. Well, there were an awful lot of them. For example a dirty chain can cost you a couple of watts of power but I couldn’t help thinking that a dirty mind can cost you an awful  lot more... One factor you can monitor is ‘relative perceived exertion’. In common parlance this is known as ‘feel’. This description was clearly coined by some American jock whilst sitting on a L.A.  freeway in an ‘ongoing stationary vehicular situation’ otherwise known as a ‘traffic jam’. Two things I took from this talk were 1) If you are Sir Bradley Wiggins, your race team will actively induce climate change and personally rebuild the velodrome to get the world record  whilst Sir Brad is just asked to turn up to do the menial thing with the pedals and 2) the fastest overall time is always achieved by holding constant power over race distance.That’s it then. Piece of cake 📷. So the question was then posed ‘How do you use Power?’There then ensued a frenetic and deeply analytical discussion about cogs and graphs and numbers and vectors and ratios and one pedal versus two pedals and torque and at this point I remembered why I’d given up golf. I confess my mind was now wondering just how much power was needed to get me to lunch. But the Power discussion didn’t just stop with the cyclist, it also embraced the runner with a discussion around the ‘power pod’. (Mein Gott! is there no escape?) This gadget coupled with the right software could measure your physical elasticity and how this could impact on your run performance and then how Zwift and Avatars could help you get to your peak performance. Avatars for God’s sake! Clearly this explains why Pheidippides ran the first marathon and promptly died. If only he had access to the internet and a laptop and a subscription to Zwift. Not only would he have delivered the message but he would have run back, rejoined his army and would now be celebrated as the first ever Ultra Marathon runner. It’s the future. I get it, I just don’t understand it. More to the point, do I want to understand it? The antidote to theory is practical. In my mind there is nothing more practical than getting on a bike riding to a hill and climbing it. This was the focus of the afternoon. Meanwhile the sun was now at it’s azimuth and burning weals of flesh off my very red and soon to be scarred for life nose. A gentle 10 minute ride in a force 12 Lanzarote breeze took us to the foot of the hill which coach Sandra, having now decided to fully practice her newly found tell-assertiveness told us we would have to climb descend and climb again.So far so good. This we did to complete satisfaction and now looking forward to the gentle cruise back to the pool for an afternoons worth of RnR the ability to adapt to a change in circumstances was once again brought to the fore.Coach Sandra announced in her newly discovered most tell-assertive way that the plan was now to climb the said hill as many times as possible in a twenty minute period.Extra work. ‘Oh Shit!’ thought the most indolent. Adapt I thought. I also thought that they really do breed them tough in the North East and I fully understand why Hadrian built a wall. Then suddenly, a moment of blinding clarity! Stefan’s lecture on power must have permeated through to my cortex (without any internet connection) perhaps through some cosmic cyclist osmotic telepathy, whereupon I designed in my head the most beautiful mathematical equation (please go to page 94 for the full details) on just how little power and speed one would need to exert in order to a) not fall off the bike and b) do the hill climb in the given period time as few times as possible. One had even factored into the maths a what if variable; How would one adapt (there it is again) if coach Sandra, who was now barking orders at us like a newly promoted general, would tell us to do one extra rep after the session had finished.True to form she did. Complex but predictable.  Job done it was back to camp through what was now a gentle force 14 Lanzarote breeze and then following a workshop designed to discover a band of gristle located somewhere underneath the flab around my belly button which we were encouraged to ‘twang’ by flailing our legs wildly in the air like some poisoned bluebottle, the day ended as it had started with a contemplation of ‘is the impossible possible?’ Writing this as Spurs come from behind from what was previously thought of as an unassailable lead to beat Ajax and qualify for the Champions League final with quite literally the last kick of the game proves to even the most indolent that the impossible is possible if you work hard, stick to the plan and believe in yourself (and your coaching). Jack Daniels anyone?


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