How To Surive CX Race On Zero Fitness

“Tell me lies lies lies, sweet lil lies, when I cannot face the truth.” Spearhead

I love cross. Its boss. But it often comes when I have little fitness. This year the last cross races are going down just as I start up again. In fact, I had exactly 1 day of training when I lined up for my only (most likely) cross race of the year. Here is how you don’t die:

First, there are two types of cross racers: surly new englanders and everyone else. New englanders see ‘cross as the main season. They come to race hard and take it very seriously. Everyone else shows up drunk in awesome hats. Get your head into the silly hat place. I see ‘cross like bowling. I suck at it and that’s what makes it fun.

In CX the start is key. To win you want to start at the front, hammer all out and stay out in front. The race stacks up and slows at the first turn. If you’re trying to survive this is a great time to practice giving up. Start at the back. This way the race is lost within the first 30 seconds and that last dash of hope can be gone and you can get down to the business of having fun and getting a good workout and stop all this racing business.

At the stack up of the first turn look around. This is your real race. The really fat guy, the hairy leg guy with a mt bike, and the guy who takes himself way too seriously (shaved down, skin suited, and has a tricked out bike and pit bike and yet still sucks – as noted by the fact that he is right next to you). This is your race now! Beat these guys! Or don’t! Whatever! Yay!

You don’t want to blow up so don’t go too hard on the first lap. Notice where you can move up or draft and go easy. Save energy at every second. Keep in mind, being brave or skilled doesn’t take fitness so you can do both of those things still. This should be enough to battle the guys around you.

The good news about ‘cross is people fade badly. As an ironman, I always have an hour of fitness if I keep it reasonable. So be patient and wait for others to slow down and slow down with them. No need to a hero. If you drink, get a beer feed. Or muffin feed. Try to crash once so people know you are trying a little.

Then on the last lap beat at least either the poser, fat guy or mt biker but not all 3. That would be over achieving. Also make sure to get out of the way of the top guys when they lap you. Be thankful, if they didn’t lap you you would have to do another lap. It’s a mercy killing. I bet when I lap age groupers at ironman they wished it ended their pain.

At the finish, laugh WITH the bike guy and fat guy and AT poser guy and then pack up and head home and tell yourself next year you really are gonna race ‘cross, for real.

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The Other 4 Weeks of the Year

I can’t fight your war until I am finished with mine- atmosphere

The 4 weeks since Beach 2 Battleship have been stuffed with the 52 weeks most people use to take up a years worth of stuff. But I use the off season to kick ass at all things that aren’t training and racing. The first week was the NYC Marathon, ITU Worlds and IMFL. I had people at each and felt like super coach. I love that I am a racing coaching and race and train with my people but I also love when I can stay on the side lines and cheer.

Team Continuum, my marathon team does it up with parties, dinners, 3 days of expo and just an awesome time. It’s one of the best weeks of the year, even if exhausting.

After that I had a monstrous law gig happening. I can’t real go into details but it felt great to be fully lawyer guy again, even if only for 2 weeks. I also put In a bunch of over time. After all no reason not to work more. Got to make a few extra bones while on break from ironmaning.

It is also the end of the year/start of the year for CREW! Returning and new athletes have a pretty long meeting. This is one of my favorite things because it’s when we think big. Set goals. Dream. I love watching a person realize they are going to DO and ironman. Or see them set the bar higher for there results. Or chase a world championship spot. It’s totally inspiring as is reviewing what goals they chased the prior year, even if they didn’t hit them all.

After that it all came to an end with thanksgiving weekend on Block Island. I got a HuGE 4 day doze of family. I am tight with them so seeing them really was great. We hiked 2-3 times a day, spent days outside with amazing weather and even jumped into the 5k for the first workout in 4 weeks. I took 2nd male and Christine 2nd female. My sister and brother in law both took 3rd in there gender. Most importantly it was fun and a sign that I am mentally in the right place again to start up, slowly.

There is all the mundane things: oil changes, dental appointments, physicals, paper work of all kinds, but the off season is the time to do as much stuff as you can to clear the tasks and chores, and to set up your life so that you can have the time to train and race. Because when it’s on again you don’t want distractions.

I find giving my body a rest and my mind a change of pace I lose some fitness but gain a lot in recovery. I
Also think it’s why I have stayed in the sport for 12 years. Burn out can happen short term or long terms, and if you want to be good at ironman you often need to be in it for the long term.

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Goals In 2012

I reject your nothingness I am your no one no more. -108

I dropped a novel worth of emails on my coach. Mostly about training for 2012 and improvements. Then I realized I didn’t know what I was training for exactly. I hadn’t picked races. I tossed around a ton of ideas with the only clear peak being rev3 CP.

But the other goals were less clear and I had 3 events battling for my attention. The first was IMSTG. Having been there both years to train and run support for my homeboy I know this is a quality venue and a cool race. But it’s made less cool by the WTC which can suck it. Also they made the run course less insane. I can’t blame them but it took some of the appeal away for me. Add the cost of travel and staying there and it wasnt a clear first peak. also in the back of my mind I know two ironman’s a year hasn’t exactly gone great for me (never raced two well in the same year) and I didn’t want my best day to be in Utah.

American Zofigen was a cool race too. I love the event. I love the idea, the spirit and the course. Pure evil. Maybe less recovery then an ironman and also the math was good: prize money, free entry, no travel costs. Hell, I dont even have to get a dog sitter! But mostly I get 7 hours of insane racing on the hardest yet prettiest course anywhere. Add that the CREW looks to be rolling deep and I dug it. The draw backs are that it lacks that BIG race feel. In fact it intentionally isn’t a big event feeling race. It’s grass roots.

The other race that caught my eye was leadman. I love the valley of fire and the idea of a race 250k is just cool. The less running also struck me as allowing for faster recovery and making sure I came correct for rev3. But it too lacked that big race feel. Also it doesn’t have prize money and big travel costs.

I went around and around with these races until I realized I was judging them based on what they had to offer in general, not in how they related to my goals. Then I realized I HAVE NO GOALS!

My first goal ever in 2000 was to be an ironman finisher. Then kona. Then it was turning pro. Then it was top 1/2 of pros at an ironman. Then top 10. Then kona as a pro. But with the Kona Point Series, the WTC fees, the halving of pro slots for kona and just a general distain for the WTC I am not chasing Kona this year (even though based on this year it looks like I would have a shot.)

So I had to ask myself what the goal is. I don’t want to be a top 10 again. I want top 5 and I want sub 9 at rev3. Imstg is sick but it doesn’t offer me anything really and gets in the way. Leadman loses out over am zof. Also without an ironman to prep for I can spend some time really focusing on my riding which needs to be taken to the next level.

I think I struggled to give up on imstg as I really want to do an ironman soon. Waiting 10 months for an ironman seems like torture, but it’s worth it if it means coming correct for rev3.

Also I just saw B2B moved it’s date to 10/20 so it no longer conflicts with the New York Marathon. At 6 weeks away it makes for a doable double. So I will get my two ironman’s in 2012 hopefully. I really want to return to B2B an kill that race as well.

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Do you Want to Be CREW In two thousand and one two

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Pic: Bill, Me, Grant, and Ms. Murder: Four of the 8 CREW that rolled up to IMLP to race volunteer, train and kick ass.

I am accepting athletes for 2012. I only have 1 type of plan: an all access to me, 100% custom, 100% individual training plan, interactive training log, and discounts on product sponsors.

I don’t have 1 size fits no-one plans. My coaching philosophy is that athletes are individuals who need individual plans, to help them get the most out of themselves. I believe that the best coaches need to listen more than talk. I believe that we need to build a partnership and relationship as athlete-coach to craft the best plan, workouts and strategies for making you the best you can be, while addressing all the issues that we all face (limited amount of time and energy.)    You are a person, you have a full life, your training plan needs to reflect that.

For nearly a decade I have worked with hundreds of athletes and because of my two way communication I not only provided the best type of coaching but have learned and amassed a huge amount of feedback about what works and what doesn’t. I have read the science, read the training books, gone to the lectures, read the online information, but beyond that I have tested all of the science against the real world training: my coaching is based on where the lab meets the street (or pool), where the rubber meets the road.

Lastly, I am a serious pro, with 7 years on the pro rack. I am filled with passion, excitement, and love of the sport. Being the squad means not only getting a custom training plan, objective feed back, but also as much emotional, and motivational support as well; its a holistic, mind and body to approach to kicking ass. (You think you do race with just your legs and arms?)

None of my athletes have DNF-ed an ironman. I have taken athletes to world champioships (kona, ITU, USAT Nationals, 70.3 World Championships) and have gotten people that never thought they would finish ironman to the finish. I want to work with anyone that wants to work, talent isn’t what I look for first. You bring a good attitude, I will bring knowledge, passion, and experience. You want to do this email me: evilracingcult [at] gmail [ dot] com

Oh and I am also the cheapest around, 95 dollars a month with a 12 month commitment.

 

 

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Giant Stick

this is a game we call “giant stick”. during our pre-dawn urban hike I swing a tree around and toss it and Coraline gets it. Its one of the many off season cross training things I do. Along with watch tv and doing law.

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2011 Year In Review

2011 could have been a disaster. I had a minor injury that I ran into a tear of my planter ligament. I preach injury prevention to so many athletes as a coach, but as an athlete I  no different. Because ofthis I found myself re-writing my race calendar, not just in small ways but huge over hauls as I moved both my first for the injury, and then for a wedding. I have zero regrets of skipping rev3 in favor of a wedding. There is an entire blog post there on  priorities.

While the foot healed, I was and am still not 100 percent right. It made my run, the best of the 3 disciplines, off all season. I never got in the running I wanted except maybe for right before IMLP. But you don’t run with the miles you do in the final prep, but the miles you do all year. It doesn’t take much at the elite level for you to find yourself going backwards.

That said, my “almost best” still came through as pretty good at imlp. My best day of the year was also at the biggest race of the year. That alone made 2011 solid and a top 10 at major ironman goes along way to defining my year as solid. Coming correct and the correct moment is a skill in and of itself and as an ironman focused athlete most of my sports carrier is about doing just that. So I can honestly call 2011 a good year based entirely on one very good day.

It wasn’t the only good day though. I won the epic classic American Zofagin. Granted it was the short course. Though with only 4-6 weeks of full training I was in no place to race longer. But I raced hard and took home a win. The race itself was epic and I spent much of it thinking I would lose. I also won fun off road  tri. I failed to defend my title at the BI tri but only 6 days after imlp it’s not surprising. I also didn’t win Hieghtstown tri, which got turned into a duathlon.

Perhaps the biggest disappointments came at my halfs. Rev3 CT and Portland and savageman. I just flat out sucked at those. That’s gonna be a point of off season retooling, reflection and hopefully correction. Rev3 CT was too close to the foot injury. Portland was bad luck and showed signs of good form and racing and savageman was on the backside of my fitness, NOT the race you roll too unless you are ready for a war.

I also did Beach 2 Battleship. At this point I had been going hard for 14 months as I had meant to peak in early may and September and be done by now. I have no regrets, and think I raced ok all things considered but I know that wasn’t my best and I wish I had had my best because it had the makings of more solid result. But 9:26 doesn’t suck, nor does 6th. Also I had a great experience, loved the training in the fall, loved the race, and loved the weekend. My pride didn’t like leading the race only to not finish off the win though. But the failure wasn’t mental, I got all out of my body I could and that’s always rewarding. If I could do it again differently I would have spent more time checking out the swim so I wouldn’t have gotten lost, that cost me a spot. Also I would have done new hard cycling. This might have meant less training to balance it with recovery. And who knows, maybe this would have ended my race completely as I would have cooked myself. But I can into that race with good swim and run training sessions. It’s amazing how races reflect training. Again, I made a knowing decision to not do that, so I wouldn’t be shelled. But I learned that I can’t race ironman well without training with more hard stuff on the bike in the final prep.

So lessons: 1) injuries get worse not better until you address them 2) having your best day on your biggest day is still key. 3) build the recovery in that you need to do the workouts you need for a second peak.

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John Hirsch 2.0

Hello everyone. I was amazed at how many people let me know that my site had crashed. I didn’t know so many people read this blog! Anyways, I am taking the off season to update, and revamp my web presence and here is the start of the site, it will still be filled with the same awesome content, the same blog posts, race reports, training ideas, and assorted silliness, but some of these upgrades, most of which were behind the scenes were really needed to ensure smooth sailing for the next decade of JH.ORG. so thanks for reading, and look for some fun content ASAP.

 

Huge thanks to my heterosexual life partner Sean Langford for all the work, and to Morgan at www.metabender.com for jumping in and brining some awesome to this site.

Thanks again for caring enough to let me know you read this site, like this site, or at least love to hate this site.

Rock on,

John

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