I was listening to the Radio Lab podcast “Limits” the other day on Julie Moss’ finish at the 1982 Iron Man Triathlon. According to the website description “Jad and Robert talk to two Ironman competitors, Julie Moss and Wendy Ingraham to find out how they do what they do. Physiologist Dr. David Jones tells us how to trick the voice in your head that tells you you’re exhausted.”
I used to watch the Ironman on NBC when I was younger, but in my twenties I was usually deployed when it aired and couldn’t catch it. This was after a brief attempt at doing Triathlon and Endurance Competitions. At the time I was following Dave Scott’s Triathlon Training, and spending A LOT of time running, swimming, and biking.
The reason I did this (and Doug and Dan were doing it too, probably for the same reason) is that this was what the most “fit” guys that we knew were doing. If you were a firebreather, if you were hard, then you did Triathlon, Marathon, Adventure Racing – that’s what the societal expectation was.
So some questions arise:
1) Are competitions like Crossfit.com programming, Crossfit Games, and Hawaii Ironman trying to make the fittest man/woman or are we trying to find them?
2) What are the psychological inputs and outputs (most of which are immeasurable) that go into which group we join? What are the inputs and outputs of those that try to do both Crossfit and Traditional Endurance Training? How do we as coaches get them to do Crossfit Endurance training?
3) [Caution: These links are not easy to watch] Does Julie Moss or Sian Welch or Wendy Ingraham look like they need to improve their aerobic capacity or their strength? What do you think their 1RM Squat is? How many pullups do you think they can do? What are the aesthetic cues associated with biological desirability that we see demonstrated here?
4) What part of the human psyche is most at work when we have athletes that say “My Goal is to be fit”, and they ignore our advice and keep running/eating high carb.
Some thoughts on Q4: we tell nearly all of these athletes to stop any and all running and endurance as that is causing a severe lack of fitness and a significantly propensity towards injury. Those same athletes ignore our advice, continue to run, injure themselves, and usually stop any type of exercise. How do we make them listen? Do we encourage them to self-select out of joining our gym by having them sign a contract that says “if I run, I get booted?” Psychologically, this attitude doesn’t make sense to me. It’s self-defeating, yet widely practiced.
When I tell an athlete “stop running” and they reply “running is my ‘Zen’ time, I feel so much better, I’m not going to give it up. Do I:
a) Fire them as my client.
b) Cajole them with clinical and anecdotal statistics.
I welcome your inputs. Answers are not required either – ask another question to move the conversation along.