To cycle, to run, perhaps, to train…
While I’ve been really non-attentive to this space in place of other fiction writing and also work, I definitely want to make sure to document this training cycle, even if it’s not with as much scrutiny and obsessiveness as typical in years past.
First, let’s talk details with the actual swim/bike/run stuff. I had some fits and starts with attending every training session and not just blowing off the days I didn’t feel like completing, but it’s now just rote. Six weeks ago, I stood at the bottom of a mountain, looking up at the work to get there, facing the idea and found myself terrified. Even though this is my ninth, this beginning felt different. I couldn’t fathom any of these distances separately let alone together. I couldn’t remember how it felt to train regularly. But you know what? Screw all that. I love to climb.
Now, I swim on Monday, we ride about 60 miles of commuting in 36 hours with a brick run off the morning bike on Tuesday or Wednesday, we long run on Friday morning, and we ride bikes for hours and run in the heat on Saturday. This is simply how it is done. I can barely remember six weeks ago when this wasn’t the norm, but I do remember how scared I was that this was the cycle where I wouldn’t be able to give myself the chance to earn the race I deserved. Not the case at all.
I have five and a half weeks before I toe the start line, and I’ve swam (almost) the race distance, I’ve cycled the approximate race distance twice, I’ve nudged my long run up to 10 miles, and I’ve put together some long bricks – 3 hours of cycling/4 miles running and 2.25 hours of cycling/6 miles of running. I’m happy to have more time to gain more endurance and sharpen the stick, for sure, but if I had to get out there and race tomorrow, I think I’d be in good shape for completion if not a shot for kicking ass. And that’s about a million billion trillion zipcodes away from where I was six weeks ago.
I’ve been splitting my rest weeks over two weeks, starting Saturday and ending Friday (honestly, due to scheduling necessity), and I finish my second block in two days. I have three more weekends and two more weeks for the last block, and here’s what I’d like to accomplish:
- 13.1 long run. Let’s do it at least once.
- 56 mile bike/6 mile run. This is typically my longest workout of the season and they’re typically big confidence boosters.
- 1-2 hour intense bike/2 hour run (hopefully twice). I have the major mental issue where I get a few miles into the run and my mind reels at how far I still have to go and I stop and walk and get discouraged, even if I can pick it up and do well the second half. I can trot for a long time in the heat if I get out of my own head. I think preparing myself mentally to run longer off the bike will help.
- At least 2-3 more ~2000 yd swims in the lake. I wasn’t unhappy with my pace or feeling after the first one, but mentally it was just so LONG. I want to raise my comfort level.
I plan to keep the volume this block about the same, everything seems to be working just fine, and finish things off just in time for a nice 2-week taper. Typically, I taper for three, and I may make the call to cut the last week short anyway, but I think with my 2019 volume (not much) and how my body feels right now (a little tired but pretty good), that seems right.
Since I’ve given a lot of lipservice to mental machinations here on the blog lately, I think I’ll save the bulk of my words here for closer to the race. However, I’ve been pleased to find that when I set myself up for success I do well. This is what I’ve talked about before – focusing on morning training, my weekday bike volume as commutes (even if you don’t effing feel like riding after work you gotta get home somehow), and managing my expectations properly. I’d like to swim more, I’d like to do weights, but something has to give and I am doing enough and the right things with my 7-10 hours per week I can spare.
I’ve also found saving a topic to ponder on long workouts to be a huge win. I spent 10 miles thinking about the cost of hamburgers as it relates to pricing structure and tolerance and I barely remember feeling any malaise on the last long run in feels like a billion degrees at crazy early o’clock. I’ve spent bike rides thinking through conversations my D&D character will have in the next few sessions. Having something mentally challenging to chew on really helps to pass the time. I will definitely put a few subjects in my pocket for race day. Sometimes I’m better living in the moment, sometimes I need the distraction. I plan to be ready for either eventuality.
The one part of training I’m not nailing, or perhaps nailing a little too hard (TWSS?) is nutrition. Let me tell you, after the majority of the last two years under restriction, being a little freer with my consumption has been AWESOME. It’s been great to get pizza because I feel like it, not carefully scheduled to minimize the calorie deficit impact. I *have* to eat like a trash compactor on Fridays, since I’m running long in the morning and then training for another 3-4 hours the next day.
However, it’s time to shut that unrestricted sh%t down and be a bit smarter. I’ve been gaming and avoiding the scale to stay in the 160-somethings, but I’ve gained a little weight. Like, maybe 2-3 lbs max from my lowest low this year, and I’m probably still under 2018’s Cozumel race weight, but I don’t like the trend. Between training inflammation, eating some stuff I don’t normally eat (simple carbs and more sugar), and short term medication that sent my hormones into a tailspin, I feel like I have this giant gut and I’ve gained like 20 lbs instead of just a few.
I know this makes no sense, and the rational part of my brain is aware of my crazy. However, I know I can do better so I’m back to tracking my food so I can make sure I’m eating enough on the days I should and not too much on my days off. I’m not doing anything utterly nutzo like tracking diet quality, but when I have to log what I eat, I generally eat a little better, so we’ll go with that for now.
I suppose the last part of training to mention is heat acclimation, which is a huge part of readiness for a six-hour race in late September. Kerrville has the potentiality of a nice cool day, but it’s also been in the 90s/feels like 100s as well. Being ready to run in the hot sun after over 3 hours of exposure to the elements is key, and if the day is temperate, even better.
While last year we were bolstering our heat acclimation with walks, I think we’re doing alright. All our swims are outside in the soup. We bike commute ~4 hours per week. All our runs are outside and not confined to sunrise when it’s the coolest. Last weekend, my AC was set to 78 degrees and I donned a fleece sweatshirt, fuzzy socks, and a blanket. Running and biking when the feels like temperatures are under 90 feel like a breath of fresh air right now.
Oddly enough in the next few weeks, I start to root for summer to stick around a little longer. The worst situation is to suffer through all this heat training and then September is weirdly temperate… typically until race day when we get record heat :P. So, sorry, y’all. Hoping for feels like 100 until the week before the race. I promise after that we can get all pumpkin spice up in this bizness.