Nowadays it’s hard not to notice all the tech surrounding the endurance and adventure sports world, every day in social media an advert will pop us telling us the latest gadget we need to get our best run, best ride etc. We all love a new bit of tech, but let’s not forget the amazing tech we were born with.
This loss of feeling is not limited to a technology age of youngsters, it’s also older athletes getting into sport later in life, when Ant Middleton runs down a beach and flips a few tyres, well he obviously needs the £700 Garmin Fenix 6 watch. Because obviously special forces are taught to completely rely on tech???
With all this tech, something is being lost, that art of feeling. The art of feeling is listening to our minds and bodies to help guide us through our training, some may call this in adventure terms as our gut feeling, that instinct when you know it’s the right direction or you know you can run this speed for a couple of hours at a given effort.
For me as a coach and athlete I like my athletes to be able to understand how they are feeling while training and to understand their limits of physical and psychological performance, this is feeling what you are doing.
It’s easy now to set a session on your watch or your bike computer and just go and do the session, sit down and retrospectively analyse look at numbers. (A coach’s job in many ways)
What have you just learnt? On that hill, were your legs burning or your lung’s about to burst? Did you feel in control of your effort? How much more could you have given?
Heading home and uploading gives you data, yes this is useful but it’s disconnecting you from feeling and understanding of what is happening while you are out there in the moment.
I am not about to say throw your tech in the bin and just go on feel, as I have said data is useful and if used correctly, can work alongside your feelings during training.
Get the feeling back:
Set some sessions where you are going by feeling, hide you tech in a pocket or just change the screen display, listen to how you feel while you are out and then when you go through your upload, see if your feelings are close to what your tech is saying.
If you want to develop a closer understanding still, then use the tech and feeling through a whole session, reach a hill and say ok I’m feeling zone 2 right now, look at the tech, does it agree? Basically, keep cross referencing.
It’s all about building confidence in your minds understanding of what is going on physically and at times our mind can get confused and so we must keep practising to keep our mind and body in sync.
Your tech can act as a negative control and limit performance. Our mind is our most powerful tech, it can get our bodies to do things we thought impossible, but when you have a device saying this is your max! you can do no more, you back off, you listen? I have had many athletes, that when I have got them to race without watching their devices, they have gone beyond their thresholds and previous maximal zones.
Use your tech but don’t be a slave to it.
One last thing a great coach once told me (Bill Wainwright)
“if your battery dies part way through a race or event, what you going to rely on then to make sure you’re on track, to make sure you’re in the correct zone?”