Training, from Russ Sears

November 14, 2007 |

KenyansAfter 27 years of training at or above the intensity level of most decent college distance track athletes, I have developed quite a philosophy on "practicing" or "training".

Group Activity: The secret to the Kenyans' training camps was that they trained in groups. This model has been successfully adopted in the USA . First it was brought here by Africans, who came here to race. They set up training camps in high altitudes in Arizona and Colorado . About the time I was peaking, camps for potential hopeful US citizens were beginning to be set up. The Hanson running community gets credit for one of the first long term success stories. The Hanson brothers, selling running shoes, started hiring runners whose job description included paid time to train. (Nike, Asics and others generally hired only the already successful runners; hence there was a significant hurdle to overcome, from college level to world class).

This also was the secret to my rise, at the 1996 olympic trials, seven of the distance runners I ran with at Virginia Tech ran. Seven also came from BYU that year. Plus I had a very good training partner most of the time I was in Lafayette IN.

What does this imply for you:

1. Nothing breeds success better than understanding how others succeeded. Understanding others had  weaknesses, but still succeeded, brings confidence that you are on the right path. Self-defeat is often really self-doubt.

2. Learning the tricks of the trade. Reading or hearing about them is not enough, seeing them in action helps. For example Desitin ointment for the blister has enabled many training partners to do a run with me when they thought they had to take a day off.

3. Wanting it. Running generally is boring, yet seeing others are willing to do what it takes lets you come to peace with your goals. Goals others may see as unrealistic, selfish or simply unimportant. Camaraderie of focus is vital to excellence.

4. Down time: for rest or injury

a. As David Martin, the first major running physiologist, calls it: the Do Do Principle. As he explains, it is not the running that you do that matters, rather it's the recovery that you do that makes you stronger. Seeing this in action is a major lesson for most runners.

b. Similarly seeing other runners learning and recovering from an injury is also a major lesson in patience, strength in vision and confidence in the healer and healing process. Or in some cases Healer, as some runners' recovery is a lesson in divine intervention. The body and human spirit have some amazing recovery processes if you can invoke them.

For investors this means knowing that you will be hit, but learning the lesson of the hit. The markets' constructive destruction is similar: getting to the depth of your individual human spirit and using the invisible hand and the tail wind of the market behind your efforts and recovery.

Monetary Reward: While money is always a motivator, bragging rights added to money is even better. Most runners could easily work part time and make more than the scholarship money they earn. Few male runners even earn a scholarship. Although Vic has pointed out that trying to be number one usually means taking too much risk. Often the competition within a team is what causes the runners' success.

Parental supervision: With highly motivated runners, it is the coach's job to ensure that the drive to be number one within the group does not become either a contest of taking too much risk, or a contest of spitting into the wind as often happens in unsupervised training. Many great races are left on the training track or flushed down the drain by injury brought on by showing off, often in a unrelated sport.

Record Keeping: Record keeping is a part of most competitive runners' obsession. One important statistic I used while training was called the irritability index. This index was often more predictive of my performance than how I felt physically. A high index meant: 1) your efforts were not going to be rewarded; 2) it was time to take a day very easy or even completely off, before it was forced on by sickness, injury or low quality workouts. The index measured moods that spontaneously happened. "Did you jump out of bed, blessing the new day"? (Which by the way is an excellent habit to develop). Are you glad you get to start out with a training run? Did you snap at someone?

Consistency: Runners generally take 10 years of consistent training before they will start hitting their plateau. Yet there is a cycle that training undergoes. Most marathoners learn how to peak. The Colorado Rockies seemed to do this almost perfectly, up until they meet Boston . But peaking exactly right is difficult.

A shorter distance racer generally only has about 4-6 weeks at peak levels. I suspect pitchers, like distance runners, benefit from peaking. Both need some time between performances, because the intensity is taxing. In a trading room a rotation of limit levels, who is the pitcher, for the day may bring more success; perhaps even a clean-up man for the end of volatile days.

A few Vic did not mention:

Intensity: What really made Bannister break the 4:00 barrier first IMO, was his difficult doctoral schedule made him stumble onto interval training. These are periods of training more intense than you get in racing and are more intense by faster, and by longer distances than the race. To achieve this you put breaks in between intervals.

Also, now that I am not racing regularly, I find that the intense workouts are often the least enjoyable and first to go. Yet, racing without them will never go well and often leads to the blow-up injury.

Traders recently have gone through low vol, to high vol and irrational markets. This usually produces a few blow-ups. Perhaps, training for higher intensity levels, and a rotation of schedule can help.

Keeping the Fun in it: Many of my college friends are now fat and lazy. Alberto Salazar, perhaps the most gifted runner in the late 70's early 80's, now a coach with NIKE, recently had a heart attack at only 50. Running and training can quickly change from a pleasure to a job. For the trader/entrepeneur family sometimes it takes a couple of generations before they lose the libertarian/free market spirit… sometimes it takes half a career to go from hardcore to soft.

Drug cheating is another sign of too much pressure, not enough fun. When I hear of a endurance athlete dying while racing or training from apparent heart failure, EPO comes to mind. If you get dehydrated while cheating on EPO your blood turns to sludge.





Speak your mind


Resources & Links