Sunday, April 11, 2010

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

As I begin to approach the racing season, I thought I'd give a little update as to what's been going on. Training has been absolutely AMAZING. I feel awesome right now.

Since I've started with the coach, I have not had a single day off. Not one. There certainly have been easy recovery days, but no days off. And yet I never feel that taxed or tired. I feel fresh for just about every workout. And even when I don't, I'm still able to get through the training session at the correct targets. So the coach knows what he is doing. He has been awesome, giving lots of feedback, which in turn motivates me to train harder.

The training load has been hovering around 16-18 hours per week with lighter weeks in the 15 hour range. These hours are fewer than what I had been doing before, but there is so much more focus on swimming and running - I still barely bike - that the effort required to complete the week is greater. I am in better overall shape than I was before and it's only April. And despite the minimal riding, I completed a 3 hour rides at 230 watts this past week, the hardest steady ride I have had this year but right about where I'd be riding at this time of the year had I been training myself (my coach usually prescribes shorter rides with high intensity but on that day he told me just to ride and ride longer if I wanted - so I did). It felt great to the legs loose and see what I could do.

My first triathlon race of the season is coming up in mid/late May and from then on, I'll be doing a race just about every month. I'm excited but also curious to see where my fitness is.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Intensity and Frequency

So I'm now into my fourth week of structured training with the coach. We've been gradually building up the hours so that this week will be 15 hours of total training time. I'd say that the time is spread out pretty evenly among swim, bike, and run. But for me, that means a sh!tload of swimming, quite a bit of running, and very little biking.

My coach's training philosophy for Ironman, in a nutshell, is to periodize by first focusing on intensity or "speed" (speed is relative because I am learning I don't have any), which he says is general training, and then move to specific long training as the Ironman approaches. That is very different from what I have done in the past, which was pretty much reverse: i.e., first focus on long, relatively low power, pace, heart rate efforts, followed by race pace and lactate threshold efforts as the Ironman approaches. My coach's intense efforts though, are much more intense than I have ever trained before, such as doing 5K pace and sprint efforts.

Each week has consisted of about 5-6 swims, 5 runs, and 3 bikes. So frequency with respect to swimming and running has been key. The main workouts have consisted of a fartlek run, a long run, two-three main swims, and two days of bike intervals.

The training stimulus so far has been great. I am already swimming faster than I have ever swam before. My running is solid right now. And while my biking legs are not quite there, my power is not bad for this time of the year.

The nice thing about focusing on these intense efforts is that it provides a very much needed incentive to lose weight, and quickly. I definitely feel the extra pounds on the farlek runs. And I am carrying A LOT of extra weight - I put on about 20 lbs from IMWA to the end of my trip in Australia. After having lost some weight over the past few weeks, I'm now at 165....

Monday, January 18, 2010


Now that I have been back into structured training for a few weeks, it's about time that I updated the blog. A lot has happened since Ironman Western Australia and my last post.

As I was traveling Australia and New Zealand, it took two weeks for the swelling in my eye to go down. Nevertheless, I wanted to make sure that I got a run in in every place that I visited, so I still did a few short runs during those two weeks, but other than that, I virtually did nothing.

All the places I visited were amazing, but my favorite run was in Perth, a few days after IMWA. I was running on the path along the skyline and the Swan River, which flows into the Indian Ocean. As I was running, lost in my thoughts, staring at the city on the one side of me, and the water on the other side, two dolphins jumped out of the water and did a spin. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life - wild dolphins from the ocean swimming up to the skyline, jumping out of the water and spinning in the air was a once in lifetime sight. I can't think of any other city in the world where that happens. But running in every city/town in that part of the world was amazing - Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Sydney, Melbourne, Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, etc. It was an unbelievable trip.

During my time off from training, I took a lot of time to think about what I have achieved and what I still want to achieve in this sport. Despite training my ass off and putting up great numbers in training, I have yet to reach my goal. The journey has been amazing thus far, even without the result, but I also want the result, so I can complete the journey. Not having achieved my goal yet has been frustrating to say the least. And I can't afford to train another year without making progress.

So after taking those two weeks to think things through - for hours on end - I decided to switch things up from what I had been doing. It has been no good performing well in training while coming up short in races. I decided that I needed some objectivity in both the way I trained and the way I executed my races. So after weeks of deliberating, I decided to hire a coach.

But I didn't want just any coach. I wanted - and needed - a coach that understand where I was coming from and where I wanted to go. My main criteria was that the coach (1) had the credentials; (2) was able to articulate not only their training philosophy, but how implementing that training philosophy on me would generate the results that I want; and (3) perhaps most importantly, believed in me (at least almost) as much as I believe in myself.

I spoke to several coaches for hours at a time, both via email and on the phone. I asked every question imaginable. And then I finally settled on one. This coach has been amazing so far. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

My training has definitely been different from what I am used to. I have done a lot of swimming and a lot running. But I have barely stepped on the bike. Both my running and swimming are the best they have ever been at this stage of the year. So things are off to a great start.

I'm not sure how often I will update the blog now that I have a coach. I used the blog in part as a way to keep me motivated, but now that I am accountable to my coach, I'm not sure that I need the blog for that purpose anymore.

I also, however, liked the blog because I wanted to share my training with others so that what I was doing, both right and wrong, could help educate others as what to do and what not to do to achieve their goals, whether it be to finish an Ironman, to go sub 13, sub 11, sub 10, or whatever. And I also liked receiving feedback from readers and getting a different perspective on what I was doing and what they were doing.

I love Ironman. I love training for it. And I love talking about it and discussing it. So I'll continue to blog, but I'm not sure how detailed I can get about specific workouts since the workouts are not mine. I'll run it by my coach...