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The Pete Plan blog

Maximise your strengths, utilise your weaknesses

Posted by thepeteplan on May 26, 2008

Every athletes has their strengths and weaknesses, and the trick is knowing what each is, and making it work to your advantage. I believe this is the case is others areas of your life too. When I was younger I thought I had a weakness when it came to public speaking. I thought nerves made it very difficult to even contemplate getting up in front of a group of people and speaking to them. My heart rate would rise rapidly and my mouth would become very dry just at the thought of it. Later I realised that this wasn’t nerves, or at least not solely nerves. It was a flood of adrenelin into my blood stream. At school I would get the same feeling as the public speaking “nerves” if a difficult question was asked in class and I knew the answer, the heart rate rise and dry mouth. There is obviously a fine line between nerves and the “excitement” causing the adrenelin spike. Why is this relevant to a blog about training and racing on a rowing machine? Simple, I experience the same physical response to racing on the erg, and sometimes towards the end of a personal best attempt when I know I’m going to get a great time. Knowing this “weakness” and when it occurs I can turn it around to become a strength, both on the erg and in other situations.

On the erg this adrenelin spike can have a very negative effect, draining you of energy before a big race or time trial. It has to be controlled to become a strength, and released at the right time. When ROW appears on the monitor at the beginning of a race and the effortless 1:20 splits come out for a few strokes, that’s when to realise both the reason they seem effortless, and the positive effect they can have. I find it can work like a turbo at the end of a race too, when you think your body can’t deliver any more, but you realise you can beat that guy you’ve never beaten before a sudden adrenelin burst can be like an extra gear, pushing you beyond the limit.

Through my experience in fitness training I have become pretty good at controlling my heart rate, and so can limit the rise caused by the adrenelin in situations where it’s not an asset to me. Try to assess what you perceive as your weaknesses, why they occur, and what you can do to utilise their effect to your advantage.

Training:

With 5 days to go until the PP08 half marathon test this week is a fairly low volume training week, aiming to make us all fresh for the half maraton on Saturday. Today was a steady 10k in the gym:

10k = 35:53.1 / 1:47.6 / 25
2k splits:
1:49.0 / 25
1:48.3 / 25
1:48.9 / 25
1:48.1 / 25
1:43.9 / 26

Faster than planned, but still in the comfort zone most of the way. I know I’m coming into good shape when I have to consciously hold myself back in training from going too fast. The half marathon should be great on Saturday – there are three of us getting together to row it in my back garden, and one more joining us from New York on rowpro – you simply can’t do anything but your best when you’re doing the same challenge with quality athletes like this.

Cycling and gadgets:

On a recommendation of a friend I bought a bike GPS unit today, a Garmin Edge 305. It’s on charge at the moment so I won’t get to use it until later in the week. It has some great features for recording my cycling workouts, so should be useful.

Blog comments:

This training blog gets quite a few views, but very few comments. Please do comment if you have a question, find any of the information on here useful, or couldn’t find what you were looking for and have a suggestion for extra content. Thanks for reading.

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One Response to “Maximise your strengths, utilise your weaknesses”

  1. rowmyboat said

    Very good points Pete, especially the fact it can adversely affect you at either or both the start or nearing the end of a race. But it’s also something that I find happens only very mildly in training sessions (more in TT’s) but out of control in race situations especially at the start. More actual events would help of course. This would be where total concentration before an event would perhaps help to alleviate the problem.

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