I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks head down, nose to the grindstone, so I don’t have a lot of exciting news, but I figured I should come blather on for posterity about how things are going. And share some pictures of skies and food and my face, because that is what we do.
In three weeks, I will be getting ready race a 70.3. Six weeks ago, I was on vacation, ending a glorious off season. Five weeks before that, I was FINALLY having a tri where I felt I put it all together. A week before that, I was having one where I didn’t. My head has been a lot of places recently.
I hit some major funk right around April and May which was decidedly burnout, but since I had races on the schedule, I just had to power through as best I could without going insane. My season was just about 2 months too long (and sadly those two months contained all the triathlons). I knew I was grumpy and unenthused with training and racing at that point, it was just like “ok, you signed up for this shit, put in the work, so you can not be disappointed in yourself after”. If that sounds pessimistic as fuck, it is. That’s just where my head was this spring.
Five weeks off did EVERYTHING I needed. While I didn’t really feel it while it was happening, once I got back to training, I realized that I had unloaded all the fatigue, all the negativity, all the mental exhaustion. I didn’t realize how much it sucks to drag myself through training now that I’m on the other side of it – after a few weeks of acclimation, I’m happily bopping through the weeks and checking the boxes and finding myself not completely smashed into submission. Feels good, man.
It’s happy to have my head, heart, and body all back in alignment again.
It shows how mental this shit is. Lots of base + specific training + taper + bad attitude = the same as 5 weeks off + no base + no specific training + good attitude in the results. There is NO WAY I should have done what I did on that Jack’s Generic course in August.
Since then, I’ve made some progress into continuing the STRONG and just making it LONGER.
I’m swimming more (generally about 3 times a week) because I love the spaces I have to swim. It’s so refreshing to get into a nice clean outdoor pool and swim sets in real lanes. These times are coming down nicely.
Much more often though, I’m swimming in the lake. I’m pretty sure this is all mental but I swim SO MUCH SLOWER open water. I thought maybe it was just my calculations, but now that I have a watch, it shows it as well. I’m regularly 2:20-2:25/100m in the lake, but I’m more like just under 2:00 to 2:10/100m in the pool. And where I need the speed is the lake. I suppose it’s time to really push it in the lake the next few weeks. I don’t think I have much more time to really train my body to be much faster, but I can train my mind to push a little harder and not consider open water = always easy pace.
I’ve been maintaining at least 4 hours a week of cycling (6 on bike heavy weeks), which I’m decently happy with. Would I like to ride more? Sure. However, since I have about 10 hours a week to play with, this is probably about the proper ratio considering the proportions of the race.
I am making sure to get good quality rides in when I am riding. I’ve done three long rides outdoors (and I feel like I really nailed the last 51 miler), and I’ve got at least one more planned before the race. I’m riding on more difficult terrain and conditions outside than the race, so I’m ready for it.
When I’m inside I’ve attempted to keep the stupid easy TV trainer sessions to once a week. Of the nine sessions I’ve done in the last few weeks, only 3 of them were those easy steady state rides. The rest have been videos or spin classes and they’re definitely getting me a better bang for the buck. I’ve established that I can get my heart rate up to approximately a brisk walk and sit there for hours watching TV and eating junk food for an insane amount of time. Yeah, there is something to time in the saddle, but I think shorter time amounts and more ass kicking workouts is helping me with this particular race block.
Ugh. Running in August. Enough said. I remember 6 months ago when I knew there would be a point where I would hate running this year, but I couldn’t fathom it when every day was super pretty. Well, it’s here!
I’m surviving this time by liberal use of the treadmill. I’m banking on the fact that I feel pretty heat acclimated when I HAVE to go out in it, but it’s mentally nice not to have to brave that every time I want to get any sort of run in. I feel like I’m not running enough at all with a total of 71 miles last month, but I checked last year and I didn’t even get in 50 last August. So, in my least favorite running month, I’ve done a little better this year.
I’ve also spread my running out a bit. This time last year, I was running about twice a week, one long run every week, and one less-than-long-run. I remember dreading every one of those and feeling flattened by the heat and the effort and discouraged at how slow I was going.
This year I’m squeezing in more, shorter runs, which crush my soul and my body a lot less (and I can push myself a little more and add a dash of speedwork), and stretching the time out between double digit long runs (every 2 weeks). I think this will pay off. At least, I hope. My goals with my runs have been to a) maintain as many miles as I can without going insane b) run some of those miles faster than slog pace so my feet remember how to turn over and c) run miles off difficult bike rides to prove to myself that my legs will hold up in the race.
Weights… let’s just move on. I do need to incorporate some core and continue to stretch, but the constant fatigue in my arms and legs tell me I think I’m doing ok kicking my own ass in other ways.
Overall – things are going well. I’m pleased with my progress. I’m pleased with how my body seems to need less time to recover, and my mind, generally, is really into the run/bike/swim stuff lately. It’s nice to really and truly love it again, instead of just going through the motions.
Feeling good about training again may also be a product of “garbage in, garbage out”. I usually start seasons with the attempt to eat clean (whatever version of healthy diet is my flavor of the season), and by the end, I’ve deteriorated to crap because a) during offseason I better not eat like an asshole or I’ll gain weight so I’ll get it out of my system now and b) the only way I can get through some training is to promise myself a treat.
I’m not above it yet, I really look forward to my once a week splurge meal. I’d be in the depths of despair if I couldn’t have pizza, ice cream, mexican combos, sandwiches, or burgers and fries ever again. It’s nice to have something easy, something delicious, something I can just order whatever I want and enjoy instead of making sure I’m somewhere that I can get things sans grains.
However, I’m really noticing a difference in my energy, my recovery, my attitude, and definitely how I feel when I stay away from junk the vast majority of the time, and it’s sort of amazing. So that is keeping me on what I’m doing.
It’s been a freeing experience – I figured giving up pasta, bread, and rice was going to literally kill me. I figured that I wouldn’t find anything worth eating. I couldn’t be more wrong – I found most of these items are really tasteless vehicles for sauce and toppings that really taste just fine on their own, thanks. And if I’m skeeved out of eating a burger with no bun, I should probably rethink eating it WITH the bun, that means the quality of beef is not worthy of my
Also, corn tortillas literally save my life. Potatoes definitely support my training. Once you cut out other sugars, fruit tastes SO GOOD. Another secret is making sure I have a lot of healthy things around that I like to eat that are easily accessible, and I have less desire to get crazy with the junk. Like below, I got a bunch of yummy things from the store and put together an appetizer plate to munch on, it was so, so, so good.
I’m also back at that point where I’m considering a nutritionist again, but someone particularly specializing in endurance athletes. This is proving to me that I need a little help. I’m eating cleaner than I ever have, and I’m seeing some change in my shape, but my weight just won’t budge, and there is plenty that I have to lose. I’m pretty broken when it comes to food. I could eat myself into a calorie surplus with only a giant pile of carrots.
I’m not quite ready (financially and mentally) to hand the reigns over to someone else. However, there is part of me that just wants to hand the problem over to someone else and say “tell me what to do and I’ll do anything just fix me fix me FIX ME!!!”. I need rules. I need some assurance that I’m not wasting my time trying to follow said rules.
And, welcome to a tour of my head, circa early September 2014. Please visit the gift shop on the way out.