Even as we try to let him fade from public attention, Lance Armstrong’s legacy goes on (and on and on and on).
Earlier this month, the disgraced Texan cyclist found himself the subject of both a new book, Wheelman, and a new movie, The Armstrong Lie. And earlier this week, filming began on a Hollywood-size biopic directed by Stephen Frears, with Armstrong portrayed by Chris O’Dowd, of the TV comedy The IT Crowd. And, only today, Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro d’Italia, admitted to having doped in 2003, just beyond the statute of limitations, and just prior to joining Armstrong during his doping days at US Postal.
A quick glance through the comments of the latest Armstrong coverage shows an overarching ambivalence about him—with roughly half dissing him, the other half staunchly upholding his integrity.
In a stroke of brilliance, Andrew Straw, of the Newcastle, England-based bike-tour operator Saddle Skedaddle, tapped into the undercurrent of Armstrong equivocation when he noticed a few copies of the dethroned Tour champ’s autobiographies on sale in local second-hand shops. Straw determined there must be more Armstrong paraphernalia out there that people don't want or know what to do with. He put out the offer, and, to his surprise, the Armstrong biographies began pouring in. “I thought maybe we’d receive a few copies,” Straw says. “But within a week, we had hundreds.” He also received, among various mementos, an autographed jersey and a US Postal Trek bike frame.
Straw had to find something to do with all the booty. “I had two ideas. One was to make a throne-like piece of furniture, which could live in the Hub, and the public could sit on the pages,” he says. “Another was to cover the floor in pages of the book.”
He opted for the flooring alternative. After ripping pages from the donated books, Straw requested that café patrons write their thoughts about Lance Armstrong on loose sheets and use floor varnish to affix them to the floor. “Lance is a hero,” reads one. “Manipulator!” says another.
Letting clients express their views—good or bad—was exactly the point, according to Straw. “It works in two ways,” he says. “For people who still rate Lance, it is something that can be admired. And those now ‘anti-Lance,’ can stamp all over the lies written in the books."
On October 12, Mirinda Carfrae won the Ironman World Championship. Not only did she win, the 32-year old Aussie also beat the course record, set in 2009 by Chrissie Wellington, by just under two minutes. It now stands at 8:52:14.
To achieve that top time, Carfrae did something previously considered impossible: she raced a faster marathon than the men’s winner, Frederik Van Lierde. After swimming 2.4 miles, and biking 112 miles, Carfrae averaged a 6:30 minute-per-mile pace for a final run split of 2:50:38. (Van Lierde ran a 2:51:18.)
“This year the stars aligned for me,” Carfrae says. “I knew that performance was in me. But believing that you’re capable of something, then actually having it come together on the one day of the year that matters—that’s like a dream.”
It wasn’t an easy victory. After winning the race in 2010 in only her second attempt, Carfrae struggled to reclaim the throne, placing second in 2011, and third in 2012. But what she learned during those few years in between wins ultimately made her a stronger, faster competitor.
Below, Carfrae shares her hard-earned tips and tricks for getting the most out of training and competing.
Turn negatives into positives
Going into the race in 2012, I was fit enough to contend for the title. To make mistakes in nutrition and fall short, I was disappointed because of the lost opportunity. But I was also quite surprised and proud of my performance because I was running on fumes and held it together for third place.
I went into medical after and had lost 10 pounds. That’s a lot for someone my size. (Carfrae is 5-foot-2, 118 pounds.) For my body to still be able to function on an OK level after basically depleting itself, I took a bout of confidence from that. I know that f I get the nutrition right, and even if things go a little bit south, I should still be able to perform.
Keep a training log
I take a lot of confidence from my training. This past year in particular, I had a pretty rough year. I really didn’t have any great results until July and I started racing in March. But I didn’t panic because I could see the numbers in my training log. I could always go back and look to see what sessions I was able to hold, how I felt through the sessions, and that really helped me stay calm. It would’ve been very easy to panic and worry that I wasn’t fit enough or that I was gonna have a disastrous Kona. But when I can just go back and look at the numbers, it takes the emotion out of it, and I could take a lot of confidence from those good sessions.
Schedule benchmark workouts
I have a few key workouts. About eight weeks out from Kona, I’ll do a 5.5-hour ride with the last hour flat out, as hard as I can go. Then I’ll hop off and do 10 by 1-mile on a road that’s slightly uphill on the way out, slightly downhill on the way back. If I’ve held a certain amount of watts on the bike and a certain pace on the run, then I know that I’m on track.
Date around (with coaches)
Siri [Lindley] and I started working together in ’05. Then in the beginning of 2012, I left her because after 6.5 years of working together, I wanted to seek some different opinions, work with some different coaches. For a year, I was with a guy who just wrote my cycling program, and I did everything else, and I didn’t enjoy that. Siri’s a really hands-on coach, and I realized that that’s really what I need to function at my best level. [The two reunited in July 2013.] Siri’s basically like family and it was awesome to share the win in Kona with her. I don’t think I would’ve been able to perform to the level that I did without her support.
I don’t believe in weight training for my body type. I’m naturally muscular, so putting me in a gym bulks me up and slows me down. I do functional movement to optimize the strength that I have and making sure everything’s firing in the correct pattern so that I have access to all of my muscles when I’m out there exercising. A lot of it is making sure everything is open and free, so I do a lot of ankle and hip mobilizers to start, then some plyometrics and more explosive exercises. [Check out this full-body plyometrics regimen.]
Crank the tunes
I can’t live without my iPod on those long runs and long solo rides. I listen to all sorts of music from Dave Matthews Band to Pink to David Guetta. I love David Guetta, he’s my go-to guy for key sessions. I probably wouldn’t go country. That’s where I draw the line.
Eat the ice cream
I’m pretty relaxed with my diet. Obviously, I’m not eating fast food all of the time. I try to fill my body with good food for the most part. But I enjoy a lot of wine and for most of the year I eat ice cream every night. That’s more to keep the weight on throughout the season, because you don’t want to be too lean. That leads you to being susceptible to sickness and being run down. So I try to keep a couple extra pounds on throughout the season.
Zen out on course
For the most part, you want to just shut your brain down and focus on being in the moment. When you’re able to have a quiet mind and focus on what you’re doing in every moment, that’s when you’ll have your best race.
After I won in 2010, a lot of people asked me why I’m continuing to do Ironman—it’s a tough sport, it’s grueling. Why are you continuing to put your body through this when you’ve already won the world title? My answer to that is: my goal is always to see what my capabilities are. It’s always been how fast can I race Kona? I still believe I can improve my swim, bike, and run. Until I believe I can’t get any better, I’ll keep racing. That’s what drives me.
When Les Stroud isn’t filming the Discovery Channel’s Survivorman or offering advice on how to overcome life-threatening situations, from storms to alligator attacks, he plays guitar and harmonica with blues-rock outfits. He’s not alone—here are a few of the adventurers and athletes who moonlight as musicians, not always with resounding success.
Kelly Slater: surfer, singer, guitarist
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Black sand on the beaches / White wave on the water / And I think of you / And I think of you (“Hawaii”)
Les Stroud: survivorman, guitarist, harmonica player, singer
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Snow, winter, spruce boughs for a floor / Fur, fire, keep the body warm / Where eagles fly and the caribou lie is where we got to be / The wolf waits there for me (“Snowshoes
Rush Sturges: whitewater kayaker, rapper
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Canyons and rains / Floods through the plains / Blood pump in my veins / We are one in the same (“Who Am I”)
Sara Mancuso (a.k.a. Smokey Jones): skier, singer
Notable sport-inspired lyric: None that we could find. Good for you, Smokey.
Makua Rothman: surfer, ukulelist
Notable sport-inspired lyric: Andy Irons / Andy Irons / Mr. Andy Irons / Andy Irons (“Andy Irons Tribute Song”)
ALBERTO SALAZAR knows a thing or two about his sport. A former world-record holder in the marathon, and three-time winner of the New York City event, Salazar was the face of American distance running's last golden age, which peaked during the Reagan administration. Salazar also learned his lessons the hard way: The famously competitive runner's body broke down at age 27, as a result of years of superhuman,150-mile training weeks. Now fully recovered, the 55-year-old coach of Nike's Oregon Project, which includes 2012 gold medalist Mo Farah and silver medalist Galen Rupp, has paired cutting-edge technology with meticulous workouts to shape some of the most successful American runners in a generation. This is a man who has almost given his life to the sport on multiple occasions—he was once read his last rites after crossing a finish line with a 108-degree fever—and he's lived to share a few pieces of essential wisdom.
1. BE CONSISTENT Find a training plan that you can stick to long-term. If you can run four days a week, every week, you are going to get 90 percent of the benefits of training seven days a week.
2. TAKE RECOVERY DAYS SERIOUSLY The day after a tough workout, the most you want to do is jog lightly or do some form of cross-training, like cycling. You need a recovery day after a hard day. No exceptions.
3. INCREASE MILEAGE GRADUALLY Do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent every month. No matter how good you feel, be very gradual. You won't know until it's too late that you're overdoing it.
4. STAY ON THE TRAIL Pavement damages joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The more you can run on grass, woodchips, or dirt, the better off you are. My athletes run 90 percent of their workouts on soft surfaces.
5. RUN FASTER It's hard to race faster than you train. However fast you want to run a race, you've got to do some shorter intervals—what we call speed work—at least that fast.
6. STRENGTHEN YOUR WHOLE BODY Good runners condition their whole bodies. The arms drive the legs. Keep your upper body and core toned with a lot of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and back raises (don't forget that the back is part of the core). Stay away from machine weights and stick to Pilates, climbing, and dynamic flexibility work like yoga.
7. WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES The second-most-common cause of injuries, next to running too much on hard surfaces, is foot pronation and shoe instability. The more you run, the more support your foot needs.
8. PERFECT YOUR FORM Every motion your body makes should propel you directly forward. If your arms are crossing or you are overstriding, you're losing force. Your posture should be straight, and your striding foot should land directly underneath you.
9. TACKLE DOUBT HEAD-ON At some point you're going to push yourself harder, you're going to enter into a gray area that can be painful, and you're going to doubt yourself. Push through it. Never think you are mentally weak.
10. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY If you don't have enough knowledge behind what you're doing, you're not going to run well or you're going to injure yourself. With the Internet, GPS phones, advanced heart-rate monitors, and even your iPod, you now can be coached individually, even while you run. I have an antigravity treadmill in my garage. Use the knowledge and tools that are out there.