Sunday, April 19, 2009

Training plans and Life

It occurred to me last night that the things I love the most about Triathlon are the same things that can get me into trouble: I love the training, I love the adventure, I most of all love the friends I have made through the sport. There is such a sense of bonding because you go through something that is very different from the everyday life of home, and work. You meet people who are dealing with the same stresses, and so you find yourself drawn to these people.

I love that.

You can go to a race alone and yet know that when you get to a race, every single person there sees you as one of them despite the fact you are competing against one another. Maybe thats why the time I forgot all my water bottles at home for a race, I had all of these other folks I did not know offer me their spares and extra nutrition they had, so much so I had to turn away stuff. Triathletes are just plain awesome.

But Like all things good, it is possible to have too much of it. Life should be balanced and that includes triathlon. Which leads me to this post, I am following a plan that was created for me last year by fabulous coach and Pro triathlete John Hirsch. It was originally developed for IM Wisconsin. However when I broke my collarbone last year all of this was put aside. So naturally when I was able to sign up for IM Lake Placid of this year, I just dusted it off and started all over.

Last year I wanted a plan that would lead me to kick some serious booty, in the race. Its aggressive. It will no doubt lead me to crush the competition. The problem is that my life situation from last year has changed. Those things that gave me time last year to do this, have changed.

So now that I am reaching the real Meat of the training plan which has me doing back to back Huge rides on Saturday and Sunday, I am starting to feel the cracks widen in my life. My current situation cannot support me being away from my family for 6-8 hrs a day on both Saturday and Sunday.

This plan was specifically designed to turn my weakness, cycling, into my strength. So that I could annihilate all my competition. Yesterday when I was out on my ride I saw all of these people out raking and doing plantings and such. I got home and looked at my front lawn and realized that there is still tons of fall leaves all over the place. Spring is not springing in my house because I am spending two days each weekend doing long hard rides. When I get home its already late, and I am too exhausted to do anything. Retno cant do all of these things by herself, nor should she have to.

This plan no longer works for me

The perfectly good plan from a year ago is no longer perfectly good. Why? Because our lives change, our needs and goals change and maintaining a balance is critical to success in keeping a triathlon lifestyle. I had last week a plan to go on a 4 hour ride on Saturday and a 6 hour ride on Sunday ( today). I had made plans with a really fun group to take on a very hilly 100 miler. But yesterday I realized I have let my plan and triathlon life take an overwhelming priority in my life.

Truth is that annihilating the competition is just not THAT important (GASP!), I would be satisfied with just crushing them a little. So I am just changing the focus of my plan I will still have one long ride on the weekends, but I will make the other day a long run instead. That takes up 2 hours instead of 8. It also does not wipe me out. I can actually have energy to pay attention to other parts of my life.

I used to ask myself, why would would anyone in this day and age, pay me to coach them when they have access to all of these resources online? Why hire a coach?

Answer: You hire a coach when you truly want to achieve something in triathlon but realize that there will be challenges along the way. A coach will help you navigate those challenges by adapting your training to address those challenges. Case in above :)

If you find that you are missing 30% of the training sessions scheduled on your plan, on a regular basis, I have news for you. That plan is not working for you. Nor are you getting the benefit of a plan that fits your life. When I say missing I do not mean that you can move things around from one day to the next, we all do that. What I mean is that you are just outright skipping workouts because you have no time to do them, and you find you are doing this on a regular basis.

This is why you get a coach. To help you evaluate if a training plan works for your current life situation, and help customize that for your goals. If you already have a coach, and you find yourself regularly missing 3-4 workouts a week, Call him/her or email and tell them you need to change your plan. You truly are not getting the benefit of that plan in my opinion.

If you have a coach that says no-can-do because there is a limit to changes made or a limit on communication, then drop that coach because you are paying too much money. A Tri coach should be your partner in getting you to that race feeling confident and prepared. You should feel like you are part of a team simply because you have a coach that is watching what you do and giving you feedback. That coach should be vested in your success. That includes dealing with life. If you are counting the time you have contacted them because there is a limit per month, drop that coach. Life happens and no training plan is perfect year round.

When I push out a plan to my athletes its generally no more than a month of training at a time. Most of the time its even less. Why? because in one month things can change. I develop a long term strategy, but the daily stuff is done a month at a time. I try to make sure the plans fit my athletes lives, and that if they have an injury we modify the training ASAP, and not wait until it becomes a bigger problem. I am ALWAYS in contact either through monitoring their workouts or email or simple interaction in Twitter. No communication limits. Thats my approach.

There are so many good coaches out there that do the same. Do not ever settle for paying someone a monthly or annual fee for a standard plan that cannot be changed. If you want that you can get a great plan by buying one of the thousands of good books with training plans.

So.. do you need a coach to achieve your goals? Nope. You can do it yourself. It just depends on who you are and how you approach things? If you are a DIY type then just take my advise and re-look at your plan if you are in fact missing that many workouts.

Cheers, I now have to go do some raking lol

Friday, April 17, 2009

So why was I grovelling?

So it was maybe two weeks ago that I embarked on my first 100 miler of the season. I had spent time on the trainer and time riding outdoors, but This ride with Phil, was hard. It was the first of many to come and I am still not in top shape. In particular this ride was HILLY! At one point I was at about mile 75 looking at possibly the hundredth hill to climb and I know that inside I was grovelling saying in a small voice "no not another one" (maybe it was a low end whine). Whatever it was it was ...sad

Anyhow I none the less sucked it up and pushed up the hill and the next one and next....

What was kinda interesting was what it was that made me so exhausted. It wasn't my legs. It was actually my shoulders and arms. As you climb hills you tend to rock the bike side to side, which involves almost your whole body working. My legs were fine and strong enough, my body as whole was not. I was feeling my core, shoulders, arms all were beat.

Since my operation on my collarbone late last year, I have layed off upper body work to let the shoulder heal. But now that is past and its time to focus and rebuild the shoulder strength. THUS on twitter I started 100 pushup Fridays. Its just a game in order to get some inspiration to do some core and strength work. Last year at Race with Purpose that crew was doing it on Wendsdays.

Also I figure I will be getting back on the 100 pushup challenge again. My pal HolisticGuru is also doing the 200 situp challenge which I think is probably another thing I may have to take on.

My first race is a Half marathon in April 29! Time to get serious.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Great long run!

There are workouts that just make you feel freaken good. Today was one of them. I had actually a ride to do but since the weather was rainy and windy, and I had missed my lomg run on Thursday evening due to work, I chose to get that done today since it better to run than ride in this weather.

Started off feeling stiff and unmotivated. The first half I ran with Simba, to get her her exercise. It was Hilly with wet and cold wind. But no sooner than I got my feet on the pavement, I was moving and moving with Purpose. The first half just went by easy as I stuck to the Long slow distance pace, keeping my HR in Zone 2. Dropped SImba off after the first hour, took in some water and resumed my run. I just felt like I had wings on my feet. There were plenty of hills but they seemed to just blend in, not even noticeable.

As the last half hour approached, I had on the plan to kick it up and finish strong. Not a problem I brought my average pace on the last half hour from my average of 9:30 to around 8 min/mile with ease and finished with plenty of energy for a sprint at the end.

The totals: 14.14 miles, 2 hrs 15 minutes, 3185 feet of climbing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

So its a day off.....from work

This translates to a day of swimming and running, along with doing essay questions for my Tri Coach exam, and doing a few training plans for my core group of athletes.

So really a day off translates to a day on of doing the stuff I love! Yeah Baby!

Anyhow did you guys know that there are some athletes out there that actually use their indoor trainers year round? Its true! The trainer has some benefits that you cant get from the great outdoors:

  • You control the effort level, if you want to do 5 10 minute hill climbs with 2 minutes rest, its kind of hard to find any hills conveniently placed so that you can successfully do this. Same goes for time trials or anything where you really need to control the effort level.
  • Its locked in place so you will not fall off. Great place to work on single leg drills to help improve your pedal technique.
  • Along the line with pedal technique, you can easily work on pedal cadence. A high pedal cadence is good in that its overall more efficient. For triathletes it also means your legs are fresher for the run if you maintain a high pedal cadence.
Despite all of these benefits, you still NEED the great outdoors. Bike handling is key to cycling and well you don't really move much on a trainer. Also balance is not really worked on.

There is also the mental workout you get from dealing with varied terrain. Learn to adapt to the unexpected.

Lets face it, cycling can also serve to just plain "Take you away" when its beautiful outside, a slight wind is blowing and you are just riding with some good friends. THAT cant be replaced by a trainer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

When to rest

So I was up this morning to do a trainer workout. I was looking forward to it since I have not been able to get a good workout in in probably a week. The travel last week to Colorado took a chunk of time where I could only run. Then I came back from Colorado with a brand spanking new cold. So now I went to run last night with Simba and couldn't breath due to coughing fits so that was cut short. This morning I couldn't stop coughing enough to hold teh bike steady to put the bike in the trainer. Well it took me 5 minutes to do something I normally do in 30 seconds. Its a sign.

So it was back to bed. But of course I am awak now so after 10 minutes of tossing and turning, I decided to just get up and get an early start to the day.

Whether you should train through sickness or not that is a common question. In fact just yesterday Christine ( HolisticGuru ) was asking me the same thing since she herself is fighting off a Flu. My answer was let your body tell you. If you have no energyt and just cant get a good workout in, you are betteroff letting your body do what it has to do, and fight off this illness.

Same goes for me. As much as I hate it when I am now eneterring a Build phase in my prep for IMLP. Between work travel and sickness I will have lost a week of training. However, it will take longer if I don't let my body recover. I will just have to absord the 15 seconds I will lose out on my finish time at IM LP due to this missed workout :)

Life happens. Thats what the balancing act we have to do withFamily, training, work, Friends ..