This week, nothing went according to plan and honestly, it worked out really well for my sporty pursuits.
Proof of training, and taper crazies.
I’m somewhat flexible. I typically plan a *little* aggressively in terms of training, so I don’t freak if I miss one of my 10-12 sessions per week that’s just sort of volume filler. Missing a 2 mile easy run is not going to make or break my race. Occasionally, it will be something bigger, and if it’s for a good reason, I’ll get over it. The gauge is typically if I’m willing to eat dinner and go to bed while it’s still light, the relaxation is more important than the training.
However, this week, everything just got kinda fubared with work and life and stuff. I missed an open water race pace swim. It was planned for Monday and I could not fit it in the rest of the week, not for lack of at least half-heartedly trying. I missed said 2 mile run, a weights session, and cut a killer bike workout to a “slightly harder than easy” and shortened it… after already intentionally cutting a bike workout. The original plan was 9 hours, modified plan 8 hours, and I got in… 6.25 hours.
I’ve been dealing with some major fatigue (see above said crawling into bed before the sun sets… this has happened a handful of times over the last two weeks). Stress is stress is stress and things aren’t exactly calm around these parts. I’m still at the point where I’m conquering workouts I can get to, but the amount of eating and sleeping I’m doing to just pretend like I can even right now is not normal.
On Thursday morning, I was able to execute an 8 mile half easy, half race pace run without an issue. When I went to bed Wednesday before sunset, I was not 100% sure if I was going to even start it. On Saturday, I rode the same course as a month ago, and pulled down more power (10-15W+) and faster speeds (.5 mph+) with way less effort (HR 5-10 bpm lower). It was about 10 degrees cooler, but still. It was a pretty significant jump in 4 weeks.
I also had an “intensity TBD” 6 mile run on the plan after the bike. Considering my fatigue lately, I didn’t really want to dig too far down in the pain cave to get this done, but miles 1, 2, and 3 ticked off at 10:30, 10 flat, and 10:22 just concentrating on my cadence, so I stuck with it and finished with a nice 10:12/mile average. It was warm (feels like almost 90), but not HOT, and I wasn’t completely cooked at the end. With more fuel, liquid, and the promise of a week off after, I could have probably put another 7 like that together. I was actually holding my legs back a lot of the time to keep this pace because they just wanted to go. It felt FUCKING great after months and months of lacking run fitness to just nail this one to the wall.
I am definitely ready for the race that makes me feel like THIS after. I’m due. I’m doing everything I can to get myself there open for THIS experience.
While all the studies I’ve read say an exponential taper is not necessarily the best, that’s what happened this time and so far, it’s working out. The cool thing is that I’m feeling my legs and brain come around a lot quicker, so my confidence is much higher than normal. With two weeks to go, I’ve usually had at least one nervous breakdown and I’m thinking “how the eff am I going to do a 6 hour race when I feel like shit doing a 30 minute run”? This time, I’m holding my legs back at race pace. I’ll take it.
So, the key now, is volume down, and keep the intensity. Here’s the plan for this week:
- Monday: race pace 2250m (3 quarry loop) swim.
- Tuesday: endurance cycle class
- Wednesday: ~1500m pool swim (with some fast segments) + BSS recovery ride
- Thursday: 5 miles w/3 below race pace
- Saturday: 1 hour cycle, 1 hour run, both easy with race effort segments
It’s not a whole lot (about 6.5 hours), so I’ll be pretty iffy about skipping anything here because there’s not much filler. If I had to skip anything in terms of not adding much to the training, it’s the BSS recovery ride, but I miss my peeps. But, it’s the first to go if the fit hits the shan.
Life outside of training might be summed up with “what doesn’t kill you makes you tired”. I’m eating a lot – negative 1000 calories is the furthest thing from my mind right now. If I’m hungry, I’m putting food in my face. I’m doing my best to make it quality food, but let’s be honest, it’s not all veggies and brown rice. Every 3-5 hour Saturday workout leaves me starving for about 2 days. Yesterday’s eats were ridiculous. I ate tons of fruits and veggies and good stuff, but I also ate a churro and two servings of ice cream.
Compromise. Delicious, delicious compromise. Normally the lack of veggies would be a point of contention, but I had already had strawberries, plums, corn, onions, green pepper, and carrots that day and met my fiber goals.
While I’m super not concentrating on losing weight or dieting right now, I am doing these things:
- Easy access to fruits and veggies means I eat more of them. Literally having to cut up salad or peel a piece of fruit may mean I’ll go “nah” and eat something else sometimes. The barrier to entry on this stuff needs to be NONE. Buying bags of baby carrots and snow peas, cut up watermelon, or grab and nom fruit like apples is key. This is not the time to work on habits. It’s time to make doing the right thing as brainless as possible.
- Hydration. I’m getting my daily intake of water and also trying to make sure I interject more electrolytes into the mix because I seem to be running low lately (running and biking in the “feels like 100000” definitely causes this). When I’m drooling over coconut water or would crime for some watermelon or can actually tolerate nuun in my water bottle at work or start adding salt to pre-packaged foods, I know I need to be doing that stuff until things are too salty and watermelon is just another fruit and not my secret lover.
- Trying the healthy things before the craving. I was craving pizza so I made pizza bread at home w/turkey pepperoni and lowfat cheese, and the craving was satiated. I was craving sweets more than normal last week, so first thing I’d try was fruit, or a quest bar, or a protein shake. Sometimes that would do me. Sometimes, I still wanted the sweets and I’d indulge.
The plan up until the race is simple and one I’ve been using for a while. Eat fruits and veggies. Hit my protein and fiber goals. Don’t go overboard on the fats. Let my activity level and appetite dictate the carb intake.
In about a month, I’ll be back to stage one, doing all those normal things. Weights. Tracking food. -1000 calories. Training less specifically, doing things more things as they sound fun (let’s go ride bikes with people all day Saturday!) and less structured workouts that are super duper business time important for an imminent race (30 miles of intervals w/an hour race pace brick run during the heat of the day when I’ll be racing). Letting my life dictate what training I have time for, not vice versa. Probably not sleeping at sunset. Probably not waking up before sunrise unless there’s a huge twinkle in my eye about what I’m doing in the dark.
For the next two weeks at least, the goal is to treat this stuff like a responsible adult and not a frat boy.
So, it’s taper week two. Time to continue to walk myself off the ledge of overreaching, store up some of the energy and confidence that comes with not being beaten down and having legs that might be considered *snappy*, and trying to keep from losing my mind over everything.