Note: The title of this blog is inspired by an excellent book I read called “The Art of Racing in the Rain“.
It’s All Happening
I may be at Week 6 of 2014 and this blog, but my journey to Ironman is just beginning. This is officially the first week where I’m starting to follow a triathlon training calendar. Up until now I’ve been training on my own and doing workouts that were convenient, fun, or getting me prepped for the Kaiser half marathon. But now it’s time to follow a smart, calculated plan that has been designed by Team in Training to get me to the Wildflower half ironman triathlon safely, and then eventually with GGTC to Ironman Lake Tahoe. I also have to remind myself that this is the beginning, so workouts are going to be short, light, and underwhelming. On Sunday we ran 3.5 miles and I was itching to do more. But I know that I have to trust the process and build my endurance wisely to avoid overtraining and burn out. So here we go!!
Coached Workout #1!
It was another cold and rainy day in the Bay on Saturday. We had a lot of flooding and it pretty much downpoured all day. It was great for our environment and I’m happy to see the rain so keep it comin’! After a short demonstration on the pool deck, all of us hopped in the warm pool and did ~1000 yards of drills such as: catch up, closed fist, side stroke, body balance, zipper, stroke count, etc. It was great to get the basics down again and focus on proper form and exaggerated moves that will help my long-term swimming technique.
We’re also fortunate to have coaches that will watch us swim and give pointers. I definitely need that! So big ‘thank you’ to Kim Polite and Damien Greathead for letting me know:
- I kick from my knees and not at my hips, causing a lot of splashing around and my hips to drop, leading to more drag and slowing down
- My left arm ‘crosses over’ into the middle (as opposed to straight ahead). This is because I’m overcompensating for a huge left-side breath. So if I make sure to exhale completely and blow out all the air then I can take shorter inhale breaths, not have to turn so aggressively to the side, and keep my straight-line arm stroke as opposed to crossing over the middle.
- My hips dip under when I breathe, so Kim suggested working with a pull buoy to get a better sense of the feeling of buoyancy
After about an hour of swimming we went inside for an overview of the gear needed for our triathlon. I remember when I did this last year for the first time it was extremely overwhelming how much stuff you need for this sport. I had no idea what chamois butter, body glide, neoprene caps were in the beginning. But now I know more than I’d like! And the good thing is that once you have them, most items last a long time and are good investments. After gear discussion we did some strength training exercises and finally a bike clinic where our coach showed us how to change a flat tire, how to use hand signals on the road, etc. None of this is new for me, but it’s always good to hear it again.
After almost 4 hours of coached training and demonstrations we went out for a nice Mexican lunch in Lafayette complete with margaritas and tons of laughs. It’s awesome getting to know everyone on the team and I can’t wait for the rest of the season. Everyone is so nice, laid back, and just genuinely friendly with big hearts. We dedicated our workout to several people who are battling cancer, and also celebrated a very large donation made by a friend of one of our teammates. A great day for blood cancer awareness and getting one step closer to finding a cure. Go TEAM!!
Sunday morning we did an informal run in the Marina district along the Bay towards the bridge and back. We did a nice and easy 3.5 miles which was a great chance to meet people in the group and get outside on a very rainy day. I had a chance to meet Teri, a hair stylist, first time TNT participant, and very creative fundraiser. Keep it up, Teri!!
The last week or so have been extremely rainy, and pretty cold. But it hasn’t stopped any of us from getting outside and putting in the work. What our coach said on Saturday really struck a chord with me — “any of our honored teammates would switch places with us in a second.” And then I think about my people like my friend Kellen who is training for the Boston marathon in the snow and one of the coldest winters in history. So I have absolutely no room to complain and in fact, I realized that I kind of enjoy working out in the rain! OK one complaint — I LOVE cycling outside and that’s too dangerous to do in the rain. Wah wah.
“Santa Run Raises Money for LLS”
I was so happy that the Grosse Pointe News (my hometown’s paper) decided to run the story about my Team in Training fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was a really fun event and I hope the little publicity helps us raise even more money next year!
Using Tech for a More Peaceful Swim
Usually when people think of ‘peaceful’ workouts they think of training without music, iPhones, iPods, Garmins, Gu, Strava, or other technology. But I gotta say, having a Garmin during my swim sessions has made it sooo much more peaceful. In the past if I had a workout where I had to do 500 or 1000 yards at a time as a continuous swim, I would literally count my laps “1…2…3…4…” and so on. It was so boring and monotonous. But now I have a water proof watch that tracks exactly how many laps I’ve done, my speed, elapsed time, etc. So instead of focusing my mind on boring counting, I can focus on my form, I can let my mind wander like it does during long runs, and I can just enjoy the workout without keeping track of laps. Amazing!! I personally use the Garmin Forerunner 910Xt and highly recommend it if you want to check it out. It also doubles as my bike computer and running watch.
Normally after a race I’ll take at least 4-7 days off to recover from soreness, relax, and take a break. But for the next 7 months, I don’t really have that luxury because races leading up to Tahoe are part of the weekly training, not ‘A’ races where I can afford to take a long recovery. So after the races this year I have to get right back to the week’s training (unless I’m injured of course).
So to practice this I decided to get right back into some (light) training after the Kaiser half marathon last Sunday. I was decently sore, but the key was to find ways to speed recovery through foam rolling, eating healthy foods, getting plenty of sleep, targeted massage, and ice. I’ll need to use these tools going forward to recover fast and stay focused after races. If you have any tips for making a fast recovery, let me know!
Creamy Banana “Ice Cream”
I don’t often eat dessert because I just don’t have a huge sweet tooth. But every so often I crave a cold dessert like ice cream. I’m happy to say that I found a simple recipe for a low-cost, high-nutrition dessert that tastes (almost) as good as Ben & Jerry’s but without added sugar, dairy, excessive fat, preservatives, etc. It’s legitimately a healthy dessert that satisfies any sweet tooth.
Recipe: All you do is put 3 frozen peeled bananas, ~5 pitted dates, and a splash of almond milk in a high powered blender and let ‘er rip for about a minute until it’s nice and creamy. You can also do this with pretty much any frozen fruit — berries, mangoes, pineapple — but I find that bananas give it that nice ice cream consistency. Enjoy!
Soup, Salad, and Sochi
Big thanks and shout out to Mark for having some GGTC people over for a fabulous veg-friendly dinner (vegan soup in bread bowls!) and the Olympic opening ceremonies. I met some new people and was excited to meet a couple of the “Death Ride Dames” who are a group of ~9 women who are doing Death Ride this summer. I think I’ll definitely try and do some training rides with them this summer. They’re even designing some cycling kits specifically for the race, skulls included.
The 4th and 5th Disciplines in Triathlon
My Team in Training coach, Nate, said something on Saturday that really resonated with me. It’s that triathlon actually has 5 (not 3) disciplines: swim, bike, run, nutrition, and mental toughness. I completely agree! Throughout the year I need to strengthen my swimming, biking, and running skills, but I also need to hone my nutrition and develop a strong mind. One of our coaches, affectionately known as “Big Sexy”, said that he often does long workouts solo to get mentally tough.
Nutrition is absolutely essential during an Ironman. Taking in enough food, electrolytes, and water to sustain ~17 hours of racing is critical. For a sprint or an Olympic triathlon you can probably get away with messing up your nutrition plan, but not for an Ironman. I look forward to learning more about this and practicing different quantities, brands and products throughout the spring/Summer.
For mental toughness, this is also something that can definitely be practiced. I’m lucky that I have a competitive tennis background (an enormously mental sport) that I can apply to triathlon. Visualization, bringing yourself ‘here and in the now’, and staying positive are essential. I’m going to try and find some good books on the subject, and also try and do more meditation and yoga. Stay tuned for an update later this season to see how that’s going.
Articles from the Week
- Cycling Study Says Hearts Race With the Riders A new study shows that good endurance is associated with good looks. Maybe that’s why Team in Training is also known as Team in Dating?!
- Safe Bike Riding Tips With so many newbie cyclists on my team, I wanted to share this article for safe biking tips. You can’t be too careful on the roads!
- How to Prevent Common Running Injuries. This is a really comprehensive article that gives strength training ideas, and injury prevention techniques. A must-know for Ironman training! I can’t afford to miss several weeks due to an injury that could’ve been prevented.
- When the Impossible is No More. This guy came up on the most recent Rich Roll podcast and I was totally blown away. He ran 163 miles straight (no sleeping) to honor the victims of the Boston marathon. He’s also a plant-based athlete.
This Week’s Training Log
Sunday the 9th. Run. Easy 3.6 miles in the rain. 9:35/mile
Saturday the 8th. Swim. Coached workout. Swim drills. 975 yards. 40 minutes.
Thursday the 6th. Run. Fast intervals on the treadmill (missed track last night). 6×800 meters.
Wednesday 5th. Crossfit. 10 jerks, 4x100M sprint, 36 pull-ups, 36 dips, 20 power snatches
Tuesday the 4th. Swim. 20 minutes continuous with a warm-up and cool-down. 34 minutes. 1200 yards.
Monday the 3rd. Stretch, foam roll, elliptical to shake out those legs. A little sore from the half marathon.
Thanks everyone. Swim. Bike. Run. Eat Plants.