February’s training schedule was slightly different than my typical training blocks, it included heavy gym training. I finished up the winter season in Miami on February 8th and took a few days off. Following the short break I shipped off to the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan for the US Olympic Sailing Team fundraiser. Immediately following the NYC trip, I flew out to Colorado Springs for 2 weeks of dry land training at the US Olympic Team Training Center.
The fundraiser was a huge success. More than 250 people attended and bid on some illustrious auction items. The 15 auction items suited a wide array of interests. The first item, a “surprise item,” which was later displayed as a Dark n’ Stormy cocktail went for $500. My table won the Dark n’ Stormy. Additionally, there were a variety of travel packages available for auction. The final auction items were blown up action shots of all of the sailors. As an attempt to gardener a higher bidding price, I took my photo and displayed it around the floor of potential donors (see picture). It was a very successful evening and all the proceeds from the event were split equally among the 22 Olympic and Paralympic sailors.
After a short stop over at home, I shipped off to Colorado Springs for two weeks of HARD dry land training at altitude (6,500 feet). I have incorporated gym work into my program in the past; however, not at this volume. Each day was nearly identical: Wake up, 2 hour workout, eat, nap, snack, 1.5 hour workout, recovery center, dinner, evening activity then sleep. This program, albeit, slightly different to what I am used to, added a lot of value to my sailing. Furthermore, experiencing the Olympic Training Center was truly a unique experience. It was incredibly motivating to be surrounded by the best athletes in the world all working towards the same goal: An Olympic Gold Medal. The environment was free of distractions, allowing for an ideal training platform and I feel it contributed a unique and beneficial component to my training. And yes, Michael Phelps was there!
One afternoon in Colorado, two US Olympic Sailing team members (Erik Stork – 49er, Rob Crane – Laser) and I summited an old railway line at the base of Pikes Peak, the Manitou Incline. The climb began at 6,500 feet and finished at 8,500 feet covering a distance of 1.3 KM. The average gradient of the incline is 40 degrees and the steepest, 68 degrees. I finished my first and only attempt in 28:34 minutes, with an average heart rate of 178. It was extremely difficult but unbelievably gratifying at the top. A US triathlete holds the record at just over 16 minutes!
Each year, my coach and I schedule 2-3 events to peak at. This year, however, there is only one: The Olympic Games. It may be easy to question why I don’t peak at every event. Peaking for a particular event requires a unique mental and physical approach. When preparing for a peak event, every workout is value added for the targeted event. This is done in an effort to master as many variables as possible, thus decreasing the level of uncertainty come race time. It is a long process that can’t be rushed. For this purpose, training events produce more long-term beneficial mental and physical results; where peak performance events produce top finishes and peak performance results on all levels.
For example, despite the 2011 Pan American Games being a very important event, it was too close to the 2nd half of the Olympic trials and 2011 World Championships to peak at. Thus I approached the Pan Am Games as a training event and didn’t have a fantastic result. However, it proved to be great preparation for Perth. Subsequently, Perth was a peak performance event and I was able to accomplish my peak performance goal which was to both qualify the country and myself for the Olympics.
In addition to the training program and routine there is another, challenging factor, that I take into serious consideration when scheduling my peak events: Body weight. I am one of (if not the biggest) sailors in my fleet. In order to be as competitive as possible in every sailing condition I often need to lose weight. My natural body weight is about 185 lbs at 13% - 15% body fat, but for peak events, I like to get down to 176 – 178 (while staying strong) – which is usually at about 8% body fat. Going from 13% body fat to 8% body fat is naturally very hard; however, coupling weight loss with demanding training is exhausting and mentally demoralizing. With less body fat, your body recovers slower, tires quicker and is more prone to sickness. There are clearly risks involved, but as an athlete I have developed a keen “ear” and have done well in the past at listening to my body. It generally takes me about 6 weeks to drop weight at a healthy rate. Fortunately I only have to do it once this year!
Currently I am in Cadiz Spain preparing for the 2012 World Championships at the end of the month.
Special Thank you:
I would like to extend a special thank you to my sister who has been incredibly helpful the past few months with accommodation and logistics. There are a handful of people who have devoted a lot of time to this campaign and my sister in some regards is the glue that holds a lot of my operation together! Thanks Sis!
Updated on May 20, 2013, 6:40am