9/6/15

Kona countdown 34 days: Every choice matters


We have approached the "less than 5 week" countdown until Kona!!! 

After we returned from Boulder, I mentioned that I was overly exhausted after our 9-day train-cation in Boulder. After taking several days to recover, I was able to get back to my planned training but I did have to make some modifications. 

With so much climbing and hard efforts in Boulder, I came back with a body that was not very happy. Nothing new to me with many years of back issues but with less than 6 weeks left until Kona (at the time), I did not want to take any chances for a tight back to turn into a back injury to turn into a hip injury (which I have had much experience with in the past - 6+ years to be exact from 2007-2013).

My right scapula was so tight/inflamed that I was barely able to swim last week. Additionally, because of the tightness in my upper back, it was tugging on my lower back and hip area and my right leg felt very weak (again, nothing new to me from past hip issues). I also felt calf and ankle issues...all relating to my back. Pretty much - my right side was totally out of whack. 

Rather than trying to treat myself (I never use our foam roller or Trigger Point set- even though we have both), I made an appointment with the best massage therapist in Greenville (I saw him last year before IMWI - my last massage was September 2014!) and simply modified my training. 

I had to back off with the intensity and yards in the pool and I lowered the intensity on the run/bike.  With every workout, I was constantly aware of my back and listened to my body. 

Every day, I found myself feeling better and better and after my massage (last Thursday) I felt so much relief in my hips, neck, back, calf and ankle.
I have always had back issues (which came from years of swimming and then turned into hip issues) so this is just something that I have to constantly be aware of and be proactive with as an endurance triathlete. I do a lot of strength and mobility work to help with my back but I should get more massages than I do to help with all the tension I carry in my upper back. 

Both Karel and I had massages on Thursday evening and decided to take Friday completely off from working out. It was SO needed. 

This Saturday (1.5 weeks after we came home from Boulder), Karel and I rode together on a beautiful country-road route with lots of rolling hills for a very nice, 3 hour low-stress ride. We loved seeing so much wildlife on our ride too. 

After the ride, we went for a 4 mile run (with two walk breaks) and kept the run low stress.
Amazingly, we both felt so good and for the first time in over a week, my back felt almost normal again and I finally felt more comfortable running again. 

I'm so thankful that I was able to make smart decisions with my body since returning home from Boulder and throughout this season. My body is not perfect and I always have to stay on top of it. For the past two years I have remained injury free and it's all from listening to my body and being smart when it speaks to me. It's always hard when you are an athlete and you are nearing a race - accomplishing workouts is often the number one goal. But I want more than simply checking off workouts - I want to be consistent and have quality workouts that will better prepare me for race day. And if I can't have a quality workout, then I want to do whatever I can to help my body stay healthy so that I can have the best performance possible on race day with the fitness I have accumulated over the past season. 

These choices are often tough as athletes but we have to make them if we care about our race day performance. Sure, it feels great to workout and it sucks to miss a workout....but what sucks even more is being injured, sick or burn out. Then you can't do anything with your body in training......or on race day. And on race day, that is when you want to have your best performance - not in training. 

With 5 weeks left until Kona, I did my last long run before the race. But more than my last long run, I was able to properly execute in one of my most favorite Ironman race-prep workouts:

2 hour bike + 2 hour run

I have done this workout several times before when gearing up for an Ironman and I just love this workout. I love the specificity of the workout as well as an opportunity to test nutrition before and during (bike/run) and to work on pacing. It is a great confidence booster and I love the mental test of knowing that I will be running my longest run after a 2 hour bike. 

Here's how the workout went down:
(all pain free - yay for being smart last week!)

2 hour bike
40 minute warm-up spin
MS:
2 x 30 minutes (10 min IM effort, 10 min faster than IM effort, 10 min strong effort)
10 min EZ spin in between
EZ spin home

2 hour run
5 x 3 mile IM effort w/ 1 min walk in between each 3 mile segment
I was able to hold 7:45-8:10 min/mile for the entire run and for the first time, I felt steady and strong with this pace.
(extra stops to refill flasks - it was hot running from 11:30-1:30pm!)

Total workout: 
2 hour bike
2:10 run, 15 miles (my longest run since IMWI last September and this will be my longest run until Kona)
Average pace on run (with walks): 8:15 min/mile

So my question to you is, are you making good choices?

Since every choice matters......

Do you listen to your body or push through pain?
Do you fuel/hydrate before/during/after workouts or are you just getting by?
Do you give yourself time to warm-up before you start your workout or do you hope that you will loosen out when you get going?
Do you recognize that you gain fitness through consistency or do you just focus on getting-by?
Do you focus more on your body composition that you neglect proper fuel and nourishment or do you focus on performance and keeping your body in good health?
Do you make time for recovery or do you tell yourself that you will recover better tomorrow?
Do you prioritize restful sleep or do you feel like you can just get by with little sleep so long as you don't miss a workout?
Are you flexible with your workout or do you struggle to modify when needed?
Do you get stuck in the moment rather than thinking about the big picture? 

I've spent many years training for a 140.6 mile race and I have learned through many mistakes that every choice matters. When we make choices, we have to think about the best decision in the moment that will make for a better next-day workout.
 Performance gains are built from many, many training sessions. With every training session, we have to make smart choices. 

When it comes to your next training session - make a good choice when it comes to how you warm-up, how you fuel and hydrate, how you pace yourself, how you choose to execute and how you recover. 

If you keep making good choices, you will make good progress. And with good progress, THAT is when you experience performance gains to feel ready for your upcoming race.