Thursday, March 12, 2009

Allen Lim interview

Great interview: snippits that I found interesting. Warning interview is a bit long but well worth the read. Search around on the site & there is a great Davey Z interview as well.

AS: So you don't run into any of the guys saying "I just want to ride by feel, don't give me all those numbers?"

AL: Not that it's a problem. I actually, believe it or not, encourage guys to train by feel, listen to their intuition as much as possible. In fact, I'm almost the guy on the team who's more into the guys telling me how they feel, what are their sensations, what do they perceive, what are they thinking, how'd that last interval set feel? The key here is that when you get the guys to really think about feel in an organized fashion, and you're able to give the feedback of those numbers and testing and all that science in tandem, then what ends up happening is that they actually learn how to train themselves, they learn how to coach themselves. They learn how to understand what their body needs at any given moment. Because the fact of the matter is, we don't have them wired for sound the entire time, and the power meter and other technologies really just give us a sense of the output. There's still a big black box in between whatever comes in and whatever comes out. So the athletes and their ability to articulate is really the little black box that helps us put the pieces together. The whole "I just want to train by feel" has never been a problem, because I encourage that.

But what I do say is, "Hey, we're going to train by feel, we're going to train by intuition, but you're going to teach me as much about what your body says to you as I hope to teach you". But we're going to use technology to make sure we have an objective stance about what we're thinking. We have a history, a frame of reference, that allows us to continue to learn and organize in a constructive and efficient manner.

AS: How much do you monitor the riders? How many of them do you coach?

AL: I primarily work with the Tour guys, oversee their program. I've kinda stepped away from writing programs, because it doesn't suit my philosophical approach. My philosophical approach, even with the guys that I do coach, is to make them write training programs for me, for themselves. If they say, "What should I do next week?", I'll say, "Hey, dude, write me a program. What do YOU think?", you know? And they'll write a program and I'll end up editing it. And I'll end up being Socratic with them, in terms of saying, "Why the hell do you want to do this?", or "This makes no rational sense", "If you can justify why you want to do this I might agree with you", or "Have you thought about this?"

What's it's really akin to, when I was in grad school writing papers, it was never a situation where a professor wrote a paper for you, right? You did the work, you wrote the paper. But what those professors did, they did a great job of editing your work. So I'd submit a paper and he'd say "Gosh, your hypothesis here is totally wrong", or "You have no real rationale here", and I'd go back and re-craft it, and he'd re-edit it. He'd make me go through three or four runs before a piece of work was good.

I find the same thing happens with training programs. If they write the first draft we might go back and forth three or four times before we have a good program, and then I'll finally give it back to them. But the great thing is because the athlete has gone through the editing process with me, because they were the ones who wrote it, if something comes up, if something changes, they can improv, they can adjust with a greater level of precision than if I had just written them a program and they didn't understand what it meant.