Usually I have this big deal about wrapping up my seasons and setting goals for the next, but five weeks ago I just sort of went quietly into #offseason and didn’t really think much.
I think the main reason for that is… it was a pretty great year. Sure, I can definitely think of some things I want to improve upon, but a PR for every single distance I raced (and every RACE I raced, minus 1 hilly marathon) is not anything to sneeze at.
But, I like to look back at this stuff, so let’s navel gaze, shall we?
Things I did right:
1. Consistent training.
I had no weeks where I was completely knocked out by injury. I had a few niggles here and there, but I was completely doctor approved to run through them and nothing hung around too long. My body showed up all year and I was able to swim, bike, and run each week from July 28th 2014 to June 21st, 2015 at my discretion.
One of the best things I did for myself was that 5 week run streak in January. It taught me that I could run in any conditions, that running didn’t have to be a special event. It taught me how to really do a recovery run. It made me harden the fuck up and get the miles done because it I couldn’t put it off until a better day. I also think it’s one reason I was able to run the whole marathon in February.
2. Taking enough time off during season to stave off major burnout.
I had at least one week off after each major race, and one ramp up week after that. I also followed each major race with vacations – in some cases that helped my stress levels and in some cases it didn’t.
- October – 70.3 recovery – one week OFF, one week low volume (5 hours).
- December – Marathon #1 recovery – one week OFF, one week low volume (5 hours).
- March – Marathon #2 recovery – one week OFF, two weeks low volume (3-5 hours).
After that, I took about 1 recovery week for every 3 weeks of solid tri training. This helped me stay mentally with it pretty much through the end of my season instead of being OVER IT a few months before like 2014.
3. My head game
While I lost it a little bit at times, I felt like 2014-15 was a breakthrough season in many ways because of how much better I got mentally at racing, not just physically.
I did sessions to really focus on keeping my head straight and simulate racing more often, and I think this helped me… y’know, race well. I was executing by rote instead of constantly problem solving new things I didn’t expect.
I went into just about every race feeling excited, rested, fueled, prepared, and motivated. It might help that I wasn’t racing any new distances, but I also pursued some lofty goals for each one.
I attacked every race. I never let myself do the “well, it’s not your race, let’s just jog this one in and forget the time” thing. If I was missing my A goal, I was doing strategerie calculating how to accomplish my B goal. This season was the one where I hung the fuck on every race, even if the day wasn’t going 100% my way.
I can’t lie – the marathon results frustrated me. I still can’t believe I can’t boast a sub-5 PR after everything I did last year. But I bounced back pretty quickly from both races and was thrilled with what I DID achieve; especially once I started in on the shorter stuff and started obliterating PR after PR.
I also was able to salvage my season even though I lost my training partner for a few months due to injury. I also think because I stayed motivated and training, he was more motivated to get back into the swing of things quickly.
4. Training Specifically
As a 70.3er and marathoner, it’s really easy to overtrain the easy distance volume. It seems reasonable if you’re going to do a few long events throughout the year, you should always be ready to race the distance, right? Multi-mile swims, 3-4 hour bike rides, double digit runs should be done no matter what you’re racing, right?
Sure – if you want to stay the same speed and get burnt out. Taking a few months to work on shorter distances without so much endurance fatigue made me speedier. We’ll see how this plays out now that I’m having to ramp up the mileage rather quickly… but it helped me be mentally and physically ready to race each race knowing I specifically prepared for it. When I’ve been doing 70.3 volume, I’ll show up to sprint triathlons thinking “what the fuck am I doing here, this is a waste of time”. Not this year. It was fun!
Things to improve:
1. Losing a bit of focus during the winter.
I may have consistently gotten out there, but most of my marathon training was literally running however many miles however I felt like running them. To take my racing a little further, I think I need to put a little more intention into my run training.
There is definitely a time and a place for workouts that involve just running whatever, but once a week I should have a structured shorter workout, and I should ALWAYS have a focus for my long run (even if it is just run 20 miles easy – that should be a choice, not default).
I definitely had some low points during the winter where I wasn’t able to get myself out for my long runs and I just hated everything, but I was able to pull myself together in time.
2. Letting myself gain weight during season
At Kerrville last year, I was pretty lean (for me). I gained about 10 lbs between October and May. I’ve got about 5 lbs of that off, but it took a LOT of work. For most of season, I didn’t track my calories, I didn’t take pre-and post- workout recovery seriously, I ate until I was stuffed, and while I ate a lot of healthy food, I also ate a lot of junk.
Obviously I need to eat a lot to fuel training, but I also need to keep it in check. I also found at the end of the season that proper fueling before, during, and right after intense sessions helped me to eat less calories the rest of the day.
3. Peaking for my last race about 2 weeks too early.
I’m still not quite sure what happened here or why, but two weeks out of Pflugerville I was so ready to kick it’s ass. Once the race got there, I was kinda meh and didn’t have 100% mental oomph that day. The only thing I can think of is that I ramped my volume wayyyy down and dialed the intensity way up too early. I also started to reduce my calories a bit there, which always fucks with my motivations.
4. Dropping the strength work
Looking back, I did 24 strength sessions last season. That’s approximately one every two weeks. That’s not so great. I should be doing maintenance work 2x week, and I know this. This is also one reason why I was only able to eek out 9 pushups before failure when I started the pushup challenge. Let’s not do this again, yeah?
It’s hard to fit in when I’m trying to swim/bike/run as many miles as I can but it’s worth it.
This year will be a little shorter in terms of focused season but I still have the same big 3 races to tackle. Next post/soon, I’ll summarize the general goals I have through March.