Thursday, November 17, 2005

Musings on the future of endurance sports

As I've mentioned earlier, I believe that the future of endurance sports in the modern, western world is pretty grim. Take a look at my posting from a few days earlier: I would like to address specifically what happens to the quality of endurance sports, when 90% of kids growing up today is not as active in daily life, as they were 15 - 20 years ago. Ask top atheletes in endurance sports about their life as kids and they will all tell you about how active they were. And I'm not necessarily referring to "organized" activities, such as practice etc. It is all the other little things, such as how did they get back and forth from practice (ran, biked etc). How did they get back and forth from school (ran, biked) and basically how active they were growing up, doing all sorts of outdoor activities. All these "little" things led to a very active upbringing, which easily included 15-25 hours of training per week. This training was not "planned" or organized, it didn't get recorded in a training log, it wasn't "planned intervals", but it all consisted of good, sound base training for endurance sports. This base "training" laid a very important foundation for their future success in their respective sports. Without this foundation the athlete is not able to sustain the high volume of training nesseccary for success (800-1100 hours per year). Today, more and more youth is sitting still. The hiking trips, fishing trips and all the other outdoor activities have been replaced by Playstation, McDonalds and TV shows. This is a terrible trend. To illustrate the point, take a look at medium and long distance running. Which nations have been dominating the scene the last 10-15 years? African nations. One of the reasons for their success is found in how these athletes lived as kids. Being active and eating simple, healthy food gave them the foundation for success later in life. I was once told a very interesting story, at a training camp: The Danish national long distance running team was at a training camp in Africa. On one of their long, hard endurance runs they ran past a group of young, African kids (12 years or so). These kids were so intrigued by these tall, skinny white guys that they decided to join the team on the run. They ran with the Danes for the entire session and then returned home to continue their game of soccer. This should clearly illustrate the problem we have in the western world. In the sport of cycling and cross country skiing we don't have the dominance from 2nd and 3rd world countries, mostly because these sports are very "equipment heavy". It is not enough to run every day, you need a certain amount of money to even start. Because of this, we don't have to panic in our sports, but the level of performance will drop. So, what can we do? Lets bring back the joy of outdoor activities! For the people reading this - what do you think? Any comments? Today I've had a fairly simple day. I ran for about 1 hour and then focused on strenght training for the reminder of the day. Leg press, leg extentions and leg curl was on the program. In addition to push-ups and sit-ups. I've got 3 sessions a week of strenght training during the first part of my base-period. Next month I will cut down to 1 session per week and transfer the general strenght gained in the weight room to bike-specific exercises in order to capatalize on the gains. Since I started my prep for the 2006 season I've had 3 sessions of strenght training per week, so that makes 12 weeks or so of very focused weight room training. That is more then I've done in the past, and I'm curious to see the results on the bike.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish you the best.but i would like to ask you some old are you?and what are you doing for living?What is your motivation?
I think motivation has a big part of why we are doing something.
I am 30 years lod and i want to ride my bicycle every day 5 to 6 hours but i cannot due to my job.So i decrease the hours spend on the saddle during the week and i really engoy cycling in the weekend.
At this period i have 2 weeks off the saddle due to sickness.But now i feel good so i will begin to training.
My motivation is to be healthy and stay healthy as well.Also to lose some extra pounds..and of course to be the next winner of tour de france :).Your blog is very interesting and i will check it every day.Thank you for reminding me how beautiful and thrilling this sport is.
So Keep pedalling and good luck.

Blogger mags said...


Thank you very much for the kind words! This gives me motivation to continue writing this blog.
Lets just say that when the 2012 Olympics start, I will be in the "optimal" age-range for an endurance athlete (25-32). I'm not ruling out the 2008 Olympics, but I need the extra 4 years to be a serious contender. I am very fortunate in that I have an extremely "part-time" job that allows me to train and compete full-time. My employer understands my priorities and gives me a 100% flexible schedule. Along with sponsorship aid and race placements, I am able to fully devote myself towards the sport. Realistically, in order to compete at my level and reach the goals I have set, I need to train 800+ hours every year. This would not be possible without the financial support I have, since you cannot juggle a full-time job and training. You would not get the required rest. Furthermore, keep in mind that even if you had the time and financial means to train full-time - your body cannot process such a high volume of training without previous experience. In other words - an athlete needs to "walk the ladder" every year, step by step. Time/work/money is the smallest hurdle towards success. You cannot go from 400 hours of training per year, up to 850 hours the next year. Small increments (100 hours) per year is best. Many people have asked me what my motivation is. I cannot give a real clear, simple answer to it. Generally I love training and I am very competitive. This drives me forward. But it's not the complete answer - Many athletes get so wound up in trying to emulate other successful athletes, such as "Armstrong trains this way, so I must also train that way in order to be successful". As the saying goes "There are many roads to Rome". One of the fundamental things that motivate me is the strive to always become better then I was yesterday. If I can improve MYSELF, get better then I was last week / month /year, then I will also become better than my competitors. I think this motivation has given me a sort of "inner peace" and long-term view on things. All I need to do is improve myself, push my own body further, and I will become better than the next guy. One big advice I have is simply that - quit worrying about what everyone else is doing. Run your own race. Be creative when it comes to finding time to train, ride to and from work, during your lunch break etc. Do some long rides on weekends.

Take care.


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