Why You Should Train With Percieved Effort

A long time ago (2007) I went down to take part in some physiological testing during a training camp in Temecula, California.  As part of Powertap training camp, Alan Lim conducted step tests to determine lactate threshold for all the campers.  I normally do four of these tests per year, with one in the early stages of my base preparation phase for the season.  In the early season, it is important for me to see my yearly starting point.  It is encouraging when my January results reflect previous results for late in the previous season, which is an indication that overall my form from year to year is improving, but that is not always the case.  I always look at test results as a relative measure rather than an absolute indicator.  Just as you can have good and bad days racing, so too can your tests vary according to how you feel.  Never beat yourself up about test results… there is something called competition that truly measures individual ability.  Only races will really indicate your true athletic potential.

Alan measured an interesting marker that during this year’s test.  In addition to watts, heart rate and lactate values, Alan measured our perceived effort and graphed all of the numbers together.  Perceived effort was first quantified by a man named Gunnar Borg.  He created a 15 point 6-20 scale to produce estimates of exertion.  This scale has also been adapted to the CR10 Scale as follows:


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New Bike, New Look, New Friends at Frostbike

Before I put up my official sponsor announcement post, I would like to discuss my past weekend in Minneapolis. This is kind of a prelude to my sponsor announcements but I think it is really important to talk about WHY there have been some changes this year.

First off, I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the past three days. It was like, minus a million, I did all of my training indoors and…. I have never had as much FUN doing so. I am now riding for BMC and let me tell you, the bikes and the company are KICK ASS!

BMC is the newest brand for Quality Bicycle Products (http://www.qbp.com). You may or may not know this company but for sure, they are supplying you with something to support your bicycling habits. Quality is a huge bicycling stuff distributor based in Minneapolis and this last weekend they had Frostbike, which is essentially Interbike for vendors distributed by Quality. With a lot less porn given it isn’t in Vegas.

So anyways, this whole BMC thing started in Temecula. Just a casual conversation with Scott Thomson, who rocks the house, which turned into “wait a minute… what I wanna do this year (win stuff) is what you wanna get done (win stuff on a BMC bicycle)…. Maybe we should be having a less casual conversation?” A week later I am now BMC’s dirt diva. My first official appearance was incredibly promising as I was having so much fun with these Minnesotans…

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Speaking To the Best of the Next Generation at Northwestern Mutual

This past week I had the pleasure of making a presentation to the top 100 interns at Northwestern Mutual at their annual Winter Camp in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  What an outstanding experience!  Here is a group of future superstars in the insurance and financial industry for which goal setting is old hat and thinking about being number one is a daily affirmation.  In fact, when I suggested their goal might be “to be the best performer there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be”, not an eyebrow was raised and instead a light went on in nearly every one of their faces with “Hmmm, good idea!”  Like I said, it was a group of college rock stars present at that meeting.  I would like to thank Michael, Cameron and Lisa in particular and the many other amazing people at Northwestern Mutual for making my stay so enjoyable.

A number of people have asked how I was connected with Northwestern Mutual.  Well, it happens to be another instance where networking is the key.  First link is my good friend Tom, who I cold-called for a homestay at the Xterra in Utah last summer.  He happens to be a rock star at Northwestern Mutual as well as an accomplished triathlete.  He asked if I would make a small talk to a small group of interns at a golf tournament that was scheduled for the same week as the race.  I made a quick presentation to that group which was seen by Lisa, one of the recruiters from head office in Milwaukee.  Lisa, along with her daughter, is a competitive triathlete as well.  She suggested I would be a good speaker for the Winter Camp to Michael and I agreed to come from Feb 8-10th.  (Okay sidebar… I am only giving first names in the interest of their privacy not because I can’t remember last names.)

I flew in Thursday night to speak on Friday afternoon.    I was armed with a great video showcasing Xterra that was guaranteed to get any audience psyched and I prepared a presentation that I thought would be appropriate for the group.  I think they ranged in age from about 20 years old to 28 years old and were basically getting ready to embark on their full time career.  My presentation was called “Love the Challenges – Win Consistently”. 

In a nutshell, I discussed six attributes that I think are common among consistent top performers.  I believe consistent performers are passionate, goal-oriented, fearless, accountable, resilient and balanced.  I am sure there are many other ways to describe ass-kickers, but those six are a good start.  It was too long a presentation to go into it here but if you want to book an appearance you know how to get a hold of me.. haha!

Anyway… I will share one point I think is funny.  On the topic of fearlessness, I want to clarify.  I don’t mean the daredevil type of fearless that everyone in triathlon seems to think the Xterra crowd is.  What appears to be fearlessness is actually exercising calculated risk.  That said, in racing you need to ride just on the edge of your comfort level to be as fast as possible on the bike.   High performers are confident and believe they have a high chance of success and therefore are comfortable taking those risks.  They will go ahead even when there is a risk of failure.  It is not important what the ODDS of success are, it is important that there is a CHANCE of success.  Like in the movie “Dumb and Dumber”, when Mary says to Harry “I would only be with you if you were the last man on earth and I am the last woman on earth.”  To which Harry says “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”  Ha ha, think positively!

Anyhow, I will get feedback on how they think the presentation was but I did have a chance to talk to some interns who found it motivating.  That was the goal and I hope some of the principles stick with them to ensure they remain the cream of the crop at Northwestern Mutual.  The only problem I encountered was the sound system couldn’t handle the bass in the Deep Dish music in the intro to my video so it didn’t sound as kickass as it could have.  Oh well.

So now I am headed home for five whole days before my next trip.  Exciting stuff coming up!  More to report this week but for right now think about your goals for this year and make sure they are challenging enough.  For my last group “the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be” sounded about right.  That is Mel’s new Xterra goal… and seems like the next progression, don’t you think?  Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.  It is the only way to get great things done.

Floyd’s Camp In So Cal and The ESAs

Okay, I have sucked lately in updating this website…. And I have good excuses for it!  I have packed so much stuff to report in the last 15 days it is insane.  It will probably be impossible to include everything but I will try to at least feed you the juicy bits to go with the photos I have uploaded into the Training Camp gallery.

I woke up on Saturday January 20th thinking, screw it.  I don’t feel like getting on a plane, I am just going back to bed for another few hours and later I will just get up and go suffer on another ride in the rain by myself.  Luckily, Ross was making coffee so the thought of drinking some liquid motivation was more enticing than a few more minutes of nap time.  I got on the plane, flew to LA, got a car and jetted to Temecula.  The rental car agent was the nicest man ever: he got me a car with XM radio and told me my rate was crap and proceeded to save me about $300.  I love it.  My new favorite band is the Kooks.  Anyways, I arrived into Temecula late Saturday night to start what would be one of the most fun training camps I have ever attended.. hands down.  I was there to ride with the Powertap Floyd Landis Training Camp along with 22 other campers, two other athletes and a pile of super cool VIPs and staff from Saris Cycling Group.  Being late, my M.O., I started building my bike in the dark only to have my chain wrapped in a nice bow around my chainstay (had to go) so luckily Jesse from Saris, with only the slightest evidence of the “stupid girl” on his face offered to fix my bike and sort me out with my new Powertap 2.4 SL wireless.  YAY!  Thanks Jesse, you are the best!

The next morning was test day.  Being late January testing for me is a scary thing.  One, I know I am not really fit yet so going hard hurts, a lot.  Plus, testing is always related back to your weight and my weight at this time is not optimal.  That said, I am closer to optimal than last January so I think the Nature's Path food is doing its job.    January is not a world class month for Mel and my test results were being broadcasted to the group.  Luckily, I am certain I will go faster later this season but having Alan Lim look at my test results after a season of working with Floyd Landis is painful.  Almost as painful as Floyd offering to give me an arm fling back to Robbie Ventura during our race up Palomar as he watches me blow to pieces.  More on that later….

Anyways, this camp was like a retreat for the exceptional.  Pretty much everyone there was a B.A.M.F.  There were doctors, lawyers, social workers, computer dudes, contractors, architects, realtors.. you name it.  It was a group where as an athlete I could imagine me going to listen to them all deliver a motivational speech rather than the reverse.  The group was kick ass.  I have to say, sport tends to attract the cool people.  Especially the Canadians, right Joel?  Everyone at the camp was hilarious, especially the two badass chicks that flew from Hawaii to join the fun, Alison and Kate.  They rocked.  By the weekend we had a group from the RaceAthlete team http://www.raceathlete.com, come to ride with us as well which helped bolster the triathlete numbers of the camp.  A group of hilarious bloggers, one of whom is the great SimplyStu himself!   I did an interview with Stu, shared stories with Bolder, Rural Girl and Ironwil… very cool.   Great people, great rides and great conversation.  I would just like to say to the whole group, thank you for the fun times, I am so inspired by all of you!

OK, so about Floyd.  He is absolutely hilarious.  Down to earth, normal, respectful but frankly, an athletic freak of nature.  I tell you what… having your hip replaced is not day surgery.  It is medieval torture.  This guy is on his bike kicking my full-time-training-ass already.. and he is about 30 pounds from “Stage 17” weight.  Which, I am ashamed to admit, is within 10 lbs of Mel’s January training camp weight.  Freak.  Very nice freak and I would just like to thank Floyd for dragging my sorry ass all over the Inland Empire for the past two weeks.  These Xterra chicks are going to hate you for it Floyd because frankly, I am going to kick some ass this year.  I left California thinking wow, what a superstar and what a great friend to have.  I also am stoked to announce that Will, Floyd’s business manager and former pro mountain biker extraordinaire will also be helping me manage my career this year.  Will, you are a gong show.. glad to have you on my team!  Oh, but there is so much more…..


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