Spring has sprung. The flowers are blooming, the trees are getting gussied up for the year, and the sun is actually warm and happy and shining instead of a dirty liar or just GONE for days at a time.
Kettlebells in the sun are the best kettlebells!
Spring for triathletes means that allllll the social medias are a-twitters (or a-grams, or a-books) about their 60 mile rides with stops for donuts and pizza and beer at the end. Or maybe even the serious ones riding centuries or more (with or without the junk food stops) now that the weather is primed and ready for riding bikes all day.
And then, here I am, spending a majority of my scant 4-6 hours a week (like, less than the time of some of my long rides last year) training, with the vast majority of it indoors, lifting heavy things in the gym. Do we still say FOMO? Is that still a thing? Well, either way, I have some major lust to be doing all that stuff again. I really wanted to just take my bike and go for hours and hours. I wanted to go find a pretty place in the country and go run until my watch ticks over to double digits. I think the only reason I’m not compelled to swim lap after lap in the lake is that the temperature starts with a 6 and that’s cold for me but soon that will be a thing as well.
And, let’s be honest, I miss the other aspect of that – the refueling. Stopping mid-long-ride for a Rudy’s chopped beef taco and a Coke. Ending a multi-hour ride at Desanos for a pie and a pint. Opening up a new bag of Baked Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles and cracking whatever’s cold in the beer fridge after a run that’s taken me from the morning to the afternoon. Oh, how I miss Ironman training, if especially the “eat anything anything ANYTHING you want and not gain weight” aspect.
However, that’s not what I’m doing right now.
I spent the last 7 weeks in the gym lifting heavy as my major form of exercise. My biking, running, and swimming were minimal, and I called it cardio instead of training. It’s definitely not where I’m usually at this time of year, although, my spring training has varied so much over the last five years, I don’t know that there is a usual, but this is DEFINITELY not it.
While it also gave me a chance to let my cranky left leg heal up without pounding on it all the time, my body needed a reset. I could run or bike or swim for hours without any real issue. I just couldn’t do it very fast. The limiter on both how far and how fast I was going was muscular, not endurance based. I was having trouble getting my heart rate up and hitting paces because my LEGS didn’t want to cooperate. The cue to stop running and biking was not when I got tired, but when my legs and lower back hurt too much to continue. My form sucked on my run because I didn’t have the strength and flexibility to fully correct it.
Basically, staying out of the weightroom for a year and a half made me a fragile little flower that was only good at one thing – doing things slowly, for a moderately long time. Because we are what we repeatedly do.
To paraphrase another oft-used quote – to do the same thing over and over and expect different results is madness. While I really want to just go run pretty places at a comfortable speed and ride bikes with friends at a conversational pace from the morning until the late afternoon, THIS IS NOT WHAT I’M DOING RIGHT NOW. There’s a big disconnect between that sort of training and standing on sprint triathlon podiums. And while I want to just go play, my spring goals state that I should be doing a little more work than that.
And those goal are to have this kit see Cleveland Ohio for Nationals.
The good news is that my body is responding to the stimulus. I went out for my first team BSS brick workout of the year on Wednesday. While I’m not *quite* where I was at the end of the season last year, my ability to ride my TT bike around 18 mph in traffic and then hold a 9:30/min mile for 2 miles after (with a few gears left on each discipline, this was going moderately hard but not puke pace) shows promise. My endurance may suck right now, but I’m sharpening up for the shorter races quite nicely.
The most encouraging thing is not necessarily the paces, but the feeling. My body feels strong as hell right now. I was pushing 10 more watts last week than I was on that same ride last year. My speed just sucked because it got windy and I also got myself a little turned around and had to slow down and backtrack. Twice. Because I’m dumb. On the run, I was sucking wind, but my legs felt strong and capable, not like they were dragging to keep up, like they have the last year or two. As my endurance grows back again, I have a feeling my speed will coincide this time. And that’s exciting!
Also, just in the last week, my left knee/ankle/heel have started to cooperate. It took a massage and then an adjustment and some new ankle strengthening exercises, but I think it’s gotten the hint that it’s triathlon season and it’s no longer welcome to hinder me. Or, it’s that the chiropractor, stumped as to what the problem was, said “maybe it’s a little early arthritis?” to which my body said “hell no, we’re not that old” and fixed it’s malfunction. Either way, I was a much happier person last week because of it. I’ll joyfully go through a little bit of daily/monthly maintenance so I can play pain free.
My plan this week is recovery. It sounds weird to me with such minimal training, but I feel a little beat up from the heavy weights. I plan to mostly lay off the iron, with some short rides, runs, and swims to keep it fresh. Next week, when I’m recovered from the race, I’ll start resuming a normal spring training schedule with a balance of both.
If I haven’t mentioned a race plan, it’s because I don’t really have one besides going as close to that sweet sweet pukepace as possible the whole time to establish some metrics via heart rate and watts and actually how fast I move from point A to B to build upon for the rest of the season. This is a true “rust buster” race.
Actually completely pro #projectraceweight – almond crusted chicken, turnip mash, collard greens from Snap Kitchen. So, so good.
I have the number 56 on my whiteboard at work. It means 56 days until vacation, and I have 56 days left to be really strict with my diet. 7 down, 56 to go.
Last week was definitely an adjustment period. 1500 calories is challenging, but most days, it’s doable. Snap Kitchen for most meals really helped the initial break in period, and helped us “blame” something else for our smaller portion sizes. Don’t get me wrong, the food is actually pretty yummy and it was suuuuuper convenient not to have to do any cooking, but sometimes we’d just open up one of the meals and laugh at how small they were (before crying, because it’s our ENTIRE meal).
This was a pretty good representation of what I’ve been normally eating on a daily basis. The exceptions were Thursday, when I had some drinks after work. I had planned on it, so I just eliminated all my snacks that day, and ended up right at my 1500 calories anyway. On Saturday, we had birthday celebrations. I did my best to eat like a normal human being with what was offered, but I knew I was going to go over on calories unless I skipped dinner (and ending my day with cake at 4pm would set me up to feel flippin’ awful), so I sucked it up and called it a “maintenance calorie day” at 2300 (500 of that was dessert that if it wasn’t homemade by my family, I would have skipped, so I can pretty much see what I would normally eliminate to stay in my range). Sunday, I was right back to it, so we’ll call it a successful week.
For funsies, the numbers went like this:
- Average calories: 1646
- Average Diet Quality Score: 22
- Average Calorie Burn (per Garmin): 2346
- Average Deficit: -700
- Average Weight: 185.7
This next week presents it’s own challenges. There are no family parties to navigate, but I am racing. It’s so not an A race, but I definitely don’t want to go too low in terms of calorie consumption both the day before and the day of the race (but I’d also like to not to sabotage my weight loss efforts either).
So, my goal will be to eat normally today through Thursday. Friday, I’ll eat my normal, pre-race routine of a normal breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch (somewhere on the way down to Katy, TX), and then grill up some chicken, potatoes, and a salad for dinner. Honestly, I will probably be able to get by on around 1500 calories, give or take a little for snacks if I’m feeling hungry.
Race day will probably be the biggest challenge. I’ll have my normal sunbutter jelly half sandwich in the morning with a coconut water and probably 1 gel and a little sports drink during (probably about 500 calories total). The race is sponsored by a brewery, so I’m imagining there will be beer after, and that will be happening. But I’ll try to limit it to ONE (~150 calories) even if they’re serving up all you can drink, because I can easily drink most of the calories I can eat in a day with good beer. With these races, the food is always questionable – if its something AMAZING I’ll indulge but if it’s crappy lukewarm pizza or something, I’ll come prepared with a protein bar or jerky and nuts or something to have something down the hatch to rebuild (200 calories).
Avoiding these. Because they are crack.
Once we get back to our campsite, I’m planning the attack two ways:
#1 – I plan to go for a little hike and hit the pool and I’m bringing some games and my painting supplies so I don’t just kick off the day with a beer at 9am when I finish and then continue doing that while just sitting in my camp chair. And, if I do end up sipping stuff all day, I’m making some very diluted punch and having a bunch of non-alcoholic fizzy water options so if I want to catch a buzz I’ll need to stay very very very very hydrated! Win win!
#2 – I plan to bring really healthy food as my only options. Veggies and fruit and nuts and jerky to snack on. Small steaks with potatoes and veggies for lunch (good high quality carbs and protein and nutrition for recovery). Fish tacos with coleslaw on the side for dinner or pre-made chicken salads if we can’t be arsed to cook again. I’m going to leave the chips and smores and all the other crap that’s just (delicious) extra calories without any nutritional value at home so I’m not even tempted.
And, if I end up going a little overboard anyway, it is just one day in the grand scheme of things and I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to it again the next day.
Someday, the long days of training and the ability to make a few gluttonous food choices will return. But, that’s not what I’m doing right now. And I’ll be fine with it, if for only 56 more days.