Signal to Noise

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    IMAZ Bikers

I remember when I bought my first tri bike, I scoured the triathlon forums wondering if this was the right bike.  Was it aero enough?  Did I have an “aggressive” fit?  Should I change my tires for the model du jour with lower rolling resistance?  I probably spent as much time on what-ifs as I did training.  I seem to recall going down this rabbit hole with other aspects of triathlon.  Am I swimming enough?  Should I run 30 runs in 30 days?  And yet another avenue – a fixation with the athletes who are racing my “A” race.  As if I’m going to change something which will make a difference because the superstar swimmer, biker, or runner is racing against me.

It’s mentally exhausting and counterproductive.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn about the equipment, or learn about training, or that you shouldn’t know your competition.  But the person winning your age group is probably going to win your age group if they are on the tires with higher rolling resistance.  They may or may not have an aggressive fit.  Maybe they did run 30 runs in 30 days – or maybe they didn’t.  And maybe they have an excel spreadsheet with all of the athletes in your age group and they stalked you at a triathlon camp (true story).

What I can tell you is that they are training -- and training hard.  They are confident.  They are not getting worked up about their bike, rolling resistance numbers, or that they didn’t do 30 runs in 30 days.  They have their bike, it fits like a glove, they know it inside and out and it is an extension of their body.  They trust their training and they know consistent training trumps everything else.  And I doubt they even care you’re on the starting list and their day is focused on executing a perfect race and winning is probably secondary. 

I’m reminded of an athlete that crashed just prior to Kona one year.  She raced and performed well but she wasn’t 100% race ready.  In another year, she got sick and didn’t race.  And then one year, she was absolutely crushing the competition, had a huge lead, and I just kept thinking about the amount of risk she was taking by pushing so hard.  Thinking about it a bit more, I realized it wasn’t about Kona or her competition.  She got her day and she wanted to race it to her full capabilities. 

Pick a direction, commit to it, don’t get distracted, and hope the stars align on race day so you can execute a perfect race.  Everything else is just noise.