Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stay On The Attack

Stay On The Attack

                During yesterday’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 3, a group of five cyclists broke away from the main group of riders—known as the peloton. Among the break away group was a 41 (soon to be 42) year old German named Jens Voit. Voit is known in the cycling world for his aggression and complete lack of fear of going on a solo ride. This has both won and lost him races. This aggression has given him the designation as one of “cycling’s hard boys.”

                With 51 kilometers (about 31 miles) left to go in the stage, Voit surged ahead and separated himself from the break away cyclists. Now Voit was completely alone riding over the mountains of Colorado with a five minute gap on the peloton. As I watched I knew the chances of Voit making it to the finish line ahead of 120 cyclists was highly unlikely. But a large part of me admired him for his courage. I listened to the announcers talk about Voit’s pure strength and cycling ability. I’d watched Jens Voit solo ride into Beaver Creek, Colorado, just the previous year to win a stage of the 2012 USAPCC. And Voit had accomplished the same feit early this year in the Tour of California.

                Cycling’s an interesting sport. Break away cyclists are sometimes seen as amusingly courageous. This is because a group of cyclists working together is much faster than one or two cyclists. It has to do with power and the amount of air that one cyclist can move vs the power and amount of air a group (like the peloton) can move. So one solo cyclist charging out on his own is much like the lone soldier who tries to take on an army. He might succeed, but he’s going to have to work a lot harder to do so.

                Voit soloed for about 30 miles and it looked like he might pull off yet another Herculean effort and win a solo break away. But with 1.5 miles to go to the finishing line, the power of the peloton swept him up and Peter Sagan won yet another thrilling sprint to the line.

                There are a variety of lessons that we can learn from Jens Voit. But I’ll just focus on one of them for now. Confidence in yourself to go, and stay, on the attack.

                If Jens Voit had been hesitant or unsure of himself, he would’ve been caught long before the 1.5 mile mark to go. He would’ve been swept up and swallowed by the peloton. But he wasn’t. He charged ahead with four other riders after just seven miles. And then he surged ahead when those four started to falter. He was confident in his abilities. He knew there was a chance he was going to get caught. But he also knew there was a chance he’d make it all the way. He wasn’t afraid of failure.

                Quite often these fears hold us back. What will others think? What will happen if I fail? I’ll be crushed if I don’t succeed. It’s hopeless even trying. I’m susceptible to these fears as much as the next man. But when these fears start to come over me I’ll think of Jens Voit and maybe that’ll give me the confidence to break away from the pack. I can dig deep and have the strength to stay on the attack.

                Don’t be afraid of failure. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. That will help you on your road to success.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And I thought I was in Shape...

I like to think of myself as a pretty fit guy. I enjoy testing myself at different activities and measuring my results against those of other athletes and champions. But watching the USA Pro Cycling Challenge humbles me tremendously. Here's how.

Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of having a power meter on the stationary bikes I occasionally get to ride. Power is a measurement of how much work we do over a given time. We measure it in watts--so we're trying to see what kind of lightbulb we can power by just using our body essentially. We can calculate power by using the formula
But I get the feeling that I'm losing a lot of you right now, so we'll save the exercise physiology lecture for another time.

Since I didn't get to watch the conclusion of yesterday's stage of the USAPCC, I went on the Training Peaks website to see how the stage went in terms of numbers. Training Peaks is a company that measures and analysizes exercise data--power, speed, heart rate, etc--and let's the athlete and coach know what part of the ride was easiest, hardest, and overall general performance. So out of curiosity I looked at Rory Sutherland's data to see how he faired over the 126.1 mile course.

I'm not going to pretend that I know what all the numbers mean. But if you scroll down to his Minimum, Average and Maximum numbers you'll see some crazy numbers. For example:
Rory Sutherland (who, last year, took fourth place in the USAPCC) averaged 225 watts over the course of the day with a max of 1119 So he could've powered quite a few lightbulbs over the course of the day. But the numbers that most surprised me were his average speed, and his heart rate numbers. These surprised and humbled me because these are the numbers that I can most closely measure during my own workouts.
Average speed was 37.5 km/h (23.076 mph). My most recent measured ride on a stationary bike, I averaged 23.8 mph over the course of 30 minutes and felt like I was going to pass out. So I can't comprehend doing that over the course of 126.1 miles. To put this more in perspective, Sutherland was averaging going 1 (one) mile in 2 minutes and 36 seconds. AVERAGE!
But even more disheartening to me were Sutherland's heart rate numbers.
Average: 137 bpm (beats per minute)
Maximum: 179 bpm
My average heart rate during my last timed workout...181 bpm. So my average is higher than Sutherland's maximum.

But I don't lay all of these facts and numbers out to discourage you. I do it to show us all the potential we have. We all may not want to race and win the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, you may not ever want to get on a bike, but we all want to measure our success and check and see how we're doing. We need to find ways of analyzing where we're at, what parts are harder and easier. Where can we focus a little more of our effort. Do we need to build that aerobic base back up? Or do we need to climb the stairs before we can climb a mountain? Do we need to pay off that credit card  and student loans before investing in the stock market?

Let's do what the pros do and measure and analyze. Compare how you're doing to someone you know who's successful. You want to be a professional athlete, compare your results to those of your favorite athlete. You want to be a millionaire, then find one and compare the steps you're taking to the ones they took. Always evaluate the steps we're taking to reach our goals and achieve our vision.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Importance of Preparation

The Importance of Preparation

                “One definition of success is when preparation meets opportunity,” is what my soon-to-be father-in-law told me one day after I was feeling a bit down since I hadn’t yet landed a job despite going on five interviews. It made me remember that preparation is key in everything we do. How we reach our goals is by preparing for that moment.

                In sports, we practice hard so that we’ll be in tip top shape for our event. When my family and I would go on ski trips we always upped our cardiovascular training for a month prior, and also upped our fluid—water—intake. This helped improve our red blood cell counts and kept us well hydrated and was preparing us for the drier, high altitude climate of the Rocky Mountains.

                This week marks the third annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge—a professional bike race that goes through the state of Colorado. It’s an intense race that tests the best cyclists in the world against each other, but more importantly the mountains of Colorado.

                In yesterday’s opening stage—a 61 mile circuit through Aspen and Snowmass—I watched as a young rider for Team Sky, the top ranked cycling team in the world, got a nose bleed and had to drift back to his team physician. I listened as the announcers remarked at how team Sky had just arrived a few days before in Colorado and how they must not be used to the altitude yet. (A nose bleed is one symptom of high altitude.) Even Team Sky’s leader and Tour de France winner, Chris Frume, looked fatigued.

                On the other hand, there were those cyclists who looked strong and prepared. Last year’s runner-up, BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen, rode strong and came in fifth. This puts him in a good overall position to attack and put pressure on the rest of the field as he looks for victory in his home state. But the most prepared cyclist yesterday was none other than the second ranked rider in the International rankings, Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling.

                In order to prepare for the USAPCC, Sagan went to Colorado two weeks before hand and trained. He didn’t race in any other races, just trained and got used to the altitude. Yesterday his team rode at the front and set the pace all day until RadioShack and BMC took over late in the day. Sagan tried surging ahead near the end but was caught by BMC. It looked as though the young Slovak may not be able to pull off a win, but in the last few kilometers he latched onto the wheel of a BMC sprinter and whipped around him to easily take the victory.

                Sagan notched his 15th victory of the cycling season. He captured the Smash Burgers [yellow] Leaders Jersey, the Colorado State University Best Young Rider’s Jersey, and the CLIF Bar Sprint [green] Leader Jersey. Sagan was the winner of the Green Sprinter’s Jersey at the Tour de France.

                While it’s highly unlikely that Sagan will keep the yellow jersey—he’s more of a sprinter than a climber—there was no doubt that yesterday he was the strongest. But that’s no accident. He was the strongest and took the victory because he was the best prepared.

                So are you prepared to take on your goals and challenges head on? Remember that there’s no path of least resistance. There are no shortcuts. Be prepared and take it on.



Friday, August 9, 2013

Tough Guy Nearly Breaks

Meant to post this on Tuesday. It's been a busy week. Enjoy.

Tuesday: Tough Guy Nearly Breaks.

                “I don’t think I’ve been this sore and sweat this much since I stopped wrestling.” Those were some of my less explicit thoughts as I walked out of…wait for it…yoga class. What?! Yoga?! Are you kidding me?! Yeah I know what yawl are all saying out there. Yoga isn’t hard. You’re supposed to feel good and calm and one with nature and all that jazz. Maybe you’re thinking that I went to a Power Yoga class. Or maybe you’re just thinking, “Wow, that blind mountain climbing dude is really out of shape.” Now I’ll admit that I’d like to have a little less body fat and a bit more muscle. I’d love to jump on my bike and ride the Tour de France route without breaking a sweat. And I’d love to be a Navy Seal as well. (Maybe I can pass the eye test this time around…Hmm…)

                Ok. So why did I have some rather more colorful thoughts about a yoga class? For the last two nights, Kailee and I attended Bikram’s Yoga with her Dad. It’s not you’re normal yoga with stretching and meditation. It’s not power yoga where you powerfully flow from move to move and never take a break. Bikram’s Yoga is a series of 26 different yoga poses and the room is at 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

I like to think that I’m pretty athletic and in fairly decent shape. But I will say that out of any group exercise/mind body class that I’ve taken, this was the hardest one.

                So why am I writing about it. Well, it just so happens to flow nicely into what I wanted to talk about today regarding reaching our goals. What good is a goal if we don’t try to reach it. If we’ve set our goals right, then we should be striving for something that isn’t easily attainable. In other words, it’s hard to reach our goals. So how do we do it?

                Hate to break it to you folks, but there’s no magic formula. I watch infomercials for fun. And sometimes I just laugh outloud at the variety of “get rich quick,” and “get six pack abs in less than six weeks,” stuff that I see. Sure anyone can be wealthy, and I can draw up a training plan that will give you six pack abs no problem. But first you have to make a decision/choice.

                Ask yourself this question. How badly do I want to reach my goals? On a scale of 1-10, if you answer 7 or lower, set yourself some new goals and do some soul searching. 7/10=70% That’s barely passing in school. That’s average. If you want to be average then be my guest.

                You reach your goals by being above average. You reach your goals by “hard work and pain,”—to quote Filch from the first Harry Potter book.

                Maybe we don’t want to be in pain. But reaching your goals is going to take some sacrifice. I wrote down on my Monday blog post that my goals are to be employed by September, to ride 25 miles in 1 hour on the bike, and to eventually compete in a time trial. That’s not easy stuff.

                For my fellow recent college grads. You feel my pain on the first goal. So far I’ve submitted 60 plus applications and have had three interviews. I just passed my Earth/Space Science teacher’s examination, but I still have to apply to the state of Florida and wait to hear back from them until I can start applying for teaching jobs. Every morning I wake up, drink my coffee, have a little breakfast, sit down at my computer and start job searching. Right now career searching is my full-time job.

                Maybe in the afternoon Kailee and I will go to the gym, take Tyrone (my Seeing Eye dog) to the dog park to let him run, or even go to the torcher chamber known as Bikram’s Yoga Studio. (Ok it’s not a torcher chamber, but it is extremely tough.)

                The point is that I’m sacrificing time and effort to reach my goals. And if that means that Kailee and I can’t go to our favorite steakhouse or restaurant because we can’t afford it, or I have to suffer through 90 minutes of stifling heat and sweat, then I’ll do it if it means accomplishing my goals.

                My Dad always used to tell me, when I was younger, “Short term sacrifice for long term results.” I hated making sacrifices as a kid. But now I realize that the sacrifices I make will be way worth it in the long run.

                So my younger readers. You may hate doing homework, but—one day--trust me, you will thank your parents and teachers for giving it to you. I do every day. My competitive sports readers, I know that going to practice and off season conditioning really sucks. Trust me. I’ve been there. But I’ve also been at the point where I’ve seen the results from all that hard work. And finally, my readers that are older and wiser than me, keep trucking on. If you think you’re too old and it’s too late for you, or you’re set in your ways and you’re not changing, well you can change and you too can exceed your own expectations.

                So I’ll leave with this today. Can you reach your goals? Yes. Are you willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to reach them? On your own piece of paper, white board, smart phone, IPad--or whatever devices people use nowadays—write down how much you want to reach your goals. Write down the sacrifices you’ll need to make it to the top.

                As my old tenth grade chemistry teacher, Vic Sciullo, used to say, “There’s no path of least resistance.”


Climb High.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Motivation: Setting My Goals

Monday Motivation: Setting My Goals

                Those of you that’ve read this blog before, follow me on FaceBook and Twitter, and who know me personally know that I talk a lot about setting a goal and sticking to it. I have several favorite goal setting quotes:

“There’s no crime in not reaching your goal; only in failing to set one.” –Ken Chertow

“Goals seem like false summits. You reach the top of one only to discover there’s another one a little higher.” –Erik Weihenmayer

These are probably my two favorite goal related quotes. Both have served me well through my young life thus far. I keep them handy in a document of motivational quotes that I look at every so often to get a little mental boost.

Goals serve a lot of purposes. They keep our mind focused while we push through the hard times. I scream from the mountaintops about “It’s not the destination, but the journey that makes the trip worthwhile.” I believe this. But the only way we can enjoy the journey is by first setting a goal. Afterall, we like to be rewarded at the end of our journey.

                The first quote, by Ken Chertow, has served me well since the summer before my junior year of high school. Over the course of my first two years of wrestling I’d compiled the steller record of…wait for it…15 wins and 20 losses. Oh yeah! I was a state champ in the making. I thought I was a lot better than I was. However, that wasn’t good enough for me. I was, and still am, competitive. I wanted to be better and win more matches than I lost.

                So the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I attended Ken Chertow’s Gold Medal Training Camp. And I learned that I had a long way to go before I could call myself a wrestler. I had my face ground into the mat. My body ached and it felt like my muscles were being torn from the bone. I tripped and fell on my face more than once. I have the distinct bragging right of being able to say that Olympic Bronze Medalist Nate Carr crossfaced me so hard that my lips were shredded for the duration of the week.

                Eventually I met the larger than life Ken Chertow. Coach Chertow was intense and extremely high energy. He breathed a confidence and determination into the wrestlers that he trained. I was no exception. Coach Chertow and I talked only once or twice that first camp, but he told me that I could become a good wrestler. But I needed to get stronger and work on my technique. He told me to set myself a goal for the upcoming season and stick to it. I had to dedicate my mind and body to reaching that goal.

                So I signed up for Beginner and Intermediate weight training for my gym classes that year in school. I hit the books hard every day—I was taking three Advanced Placement courses—and I went into the wrestling room every day after school to practice the techniques I’d learned at Ken’s camp.

                My goal for the year was to make it to the Regional Tournament. I’d wrestled a State Qualifier from Georgia at camp and I’d been so overmatched that I knew I had a long way to go. I pushed through some tough losses and a knee injury but went into Districts with a 4-3 record. I went 2-1 and took third place at Districts. I was going to Regionals. I’d reached my goal.

                I finished that season with an overall record of 7-6, having gone 1-2 at Regionals. But now my appetite was wetted and it was time to set a higher and more challenging goal.

                One thing that really helped me accomplish that and several other goals was writing them down. I’m currently reading the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Why? I thought you’d never ask. I want to have money so I can support my wife to be, so we can have our own house, a family, send our kids to college, and yes, so I can have toys and go on killer climbing trips. But I digress.

                I read a statistic in Ramsey’s book about one study of Harvard graduates. In the study, three percent of people that wrote down their goals reached and exceeded them. This three percent of people also were financially more wealthy than the other 97 percent COMBINED.

                I believe it. I’ve set goals and not written them down and have fallen short. But I’ve also written down goals and gone above and beyond. The key is to write them down and have them visible. So hanging them on the fridge doesn’t do any good for me. But it might for you.

                For me I need to be constantly reminded of my goals. So I need to write them down and put them somewhere where I will read them, or someone else will remind me of them every day.

                This morning I saw on FaceBook that my friend, Terry, had posted his results of the Iron Man 70.3 that he’d just competed in. And he’d also set himself a goal of completing an Iron Man next year. I like Terry’s approach. So at the end of this post I’ve posted some basic goals of my own. But I don’t want you to just read my goals. I want you to set yourself some goals too.

                I want you to write down your goals and put them somewhere where you are going to look at them multiple times a day. On the fridge, microwave, in your wallet, hanging above the TV…I don’t care. But here’s the kicker. I want you to pick the goal that you most desire to reach and I want you to post it on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram…whatever. You can even post to my FaceBook page

or Tweet at me

When you post to me on FaceBook, or Tweet at me, tell us your goal and when you plan to reach it. Then come back and let us know your progress. Set long and short term goals. And then start your journey on trying to reach those goals.

Spoiler Alert: Tomorrow’s blog post will be on how to reach our goals.

Kyle Coon Goals:


Get a payed job by 09/01/2013.


Long Term:

Ride 30 miles in 1 hour by 08/05/2014.

Compete in a time trial.

Short Term:

Ride 25 miles in 1 hour by 02/05/2014.

Don’t let me forget about them now.

Until next time.

Kyle Coon

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Visualization

Yesterday I posted on FaceBook the Words of Wisdom as being “If you can’t see yourself on top then you won’t get there.” What does this mean?

                I got this quote from the forever philosophical climbing partner of my friend Erik Weihenmayer. If you’ve read Erik’s book, or heard him talk, then you’ve heard him mention his friend Chris Morris. Chris and Erik were talking at Everest basecamp one day. Chris asked Erik if he thought he’d stand on top of Everest. And Erik said he wasn’t sure because they’d had such a difficult time so far. And Chris said, “Then you won’t.”

                We need to remember that if we want to get somewhere and to define our own success then we need to not just set a goal, but we need to see ourselves pushing along that path. We need to see ourselves accomplishing that goal. If we can’t see ourselves being successful then we won’t be.

                I often see this with clients in group exercise and spin. They’re all excited about the possibility of losing weight and getting in better shape. Then they jump on the bike or start an ab routine. Then suddenly they lose that vision. In my spin classes, especially, I try to paint a visual picture of the group riding along a road, up a hill, or sprinting down a highway. In my own personal workouts I take the visualization factor to the extreme.

                I love cycling. At one point I used to fanticize about competing in bicycle races. During the month of July, you can often find the Tour de France playing on our television. I watch and listen to the commentators talk about how hard it is to climb the Alps and Pyrenees. I read accounts of cyclists. Then, when it’s time for my workout, I put myself in that mindset. I visualize myself on the road in my cycling gear. I imagine my shoes clipped into the pedals turning between 90 and 100 RPMs. I feel the sweat rolling down my face and I see the black top of the road melting underneath the broiling sun. I feel the bite in my legs as the road begins to steepen. I see myself climbing up a mountainside on a bike. I feel the rush of adrenaline as my #1 adversary comes into view ahead of me. I feel that urge to get out of the saddle and push myself until my heart explodes out of my chest, until my legs burn and are so heavy it feels like I can’t turn the pedals anymore. And then I see my opponent slipping away and I feel the burst again.

                The funny thing is, I hardly ever get out on a road bike anymore. Most of the time I’m sitting on a stationary bike at our gym listening to music. My fiancĂ©e has been known to come up and tell me that the hour is almost up and I’ve nearly jumped out of my skin because I’m being jerked out of the zone.

                That’s what it takes. If you want to get to the top, then you have to see yourself getting there. You have to put yourself in the mindset you think you’d have when you reach your goal. You can’t just set a goal. You need to visualize yourself getting there. Immerse yourself in the mental game. Feel your heart pound, that sense of euphoria as you accomplish that goal. See the people around you. Hear what they’re going to say to you. Feel the pats on your back.

                We all have the ability to reach our goals. You have to have the vision and you have to experience it in 360 degrees. That’s what’s going to help you push yourself through the tough times. That’s what’s going to help you get through the monotony of doing the same or similar things over and over and over and over and over again.

                So give it a try. Pick a goal that you’ve set for yourself. Maybe you want to lose weight—a favorite goal for many during this “obesity epidemic.” Can you picture yourself having that sleak, toned, sexy body? Can you feel yourself move effortlessly up and down the stairs in your house? Can you hear your friends and family say “OMG! You’re looking amazing!”

                If you can then you’re well on your way to accomplishing your goal. You’ve still got some work to do. Nothing comes easily.

                So for now, just take a few minutes out of your day, sit back and visualize yourself reaching a goal. Get yourself pumped and fired up. Feel the energy course, hum and thrum  through your body. And when you can totally immerse yourself in that visual, let me know. Drop me a line on FaceBook or Tweet at me.


Keep an eye on my various Social Media for updates.


Until next time.