After Ironman Austria, Karel wasn't sure if he would ever be able to go that hard in a race again.
With only 8 weeks between IM Austria and IMMT, Karel was able to fully recover from IM Austria (thanks to his mom's cooking and lots of IPA and pastries) and return home with excitement to train again to achieve his season goal of Kona qualifying.
At IMMT, Karel went "there" again for 140.6 miles.
After Kona qualifying at IMMT, Karel was extremely sore and once again, he questioned if he had anything left for a third Ironman, within 15 weeks.
But after quickly physically recovering from IMMT, his body was in a good place to train again.
And most importantly, his mind was in a really good place.
Not only was Karel excited to race on the big island for the 2nd time but he was excited to train for 5-6 more weeks before dropping down the volume before IM Kona.
There are several things that Karel has done right this season which has helped him take his fitness to the next level but as his training partner for many workouts, there is one thing that I often observe in Karel - he never ever goes into workouts with exceptions and he never gets stuck in the metrics of a workout.
After Karel's 5-day trip to Colorado, where he stayed at 9,000 feet with a few friends, he returned home to Greenville very exhausted. He didn't sleep well in CO and his normal sleep cycle was a little off when he returned home. His appetite was a bit zapped after his CO trip and he all-around, felt flat.
We knew that a lot of this was due to the altitude training (which was not intentional for performance benefits but instead, it was just a guys bike trip that was planned last year, without knowing if Karel would Kona qualify) so Karel didn't obsess over any workout and just did the best that he could, while also focusing on all the little details, like diet, sleep and mobility, to help him recover from the CO trip.
Karel was in the middle of his biggest IM Kona training prep which required a lot of mental and physical strength.
I am reminded by a statement from Dr. G who once told me that many times, when athletes feel extremely flat, tired and sore, this means a breakthrough is coming. It's often hard to think that your fitness is coming around when you are feeling empty inside but sure enough, with a very smart training mindset to not have any expectations for any workout, Karel was able to successfully get through his 5-weeks out from Kona training (albeit, with a tired body) and then 4 weeks out (this past week) his fitness came around and he had some of his best workout executions, with a feeling of "I've never been able to train like this before!"
And let's remember, this comes after racing deep for 2 Ironmans since the end of June.
It's been incredible to see Karel stay so strong this summer, despite some niggles that have required weekly care from a great local massage therapist and the occasional sessions with a hip/spine focused PT, but I believe it all comes down to his mind.
He is willing to put in the work.
He is willing to dig deep and go "there".
He keeps his easy sessions easy.
He never has expectations for workouts, thus, there are no "bad" workouts.
He doesn't obsess about metrics.
He focuses on good lifestyle habits (sleep, mobility, diet, sport nutrition) to help him recover and execute.
He never worries about his weight (ex. race weight).
He has never followed a diet plan.
He sleeps great.
He is mentally strong.
He absolutely loves training.
It's sad to hear about the athletes who just want their Ironman journey to end with still weeks to go before race day. With so much commitment, time and energy, it can't be performance enhancing to look forward to the end of every workout, with little motivation to even train.
And with the Ironman requiring so much mental strength, I believe this is what takes Karel to that next level with every workout - he does the work early season so that come peak IM training, he's not training with the intention to "build fitness/endurance" to be Ironman ready but instead, he becomes Ironman ready by executing every workout to his best ability and mentally putting himself into race day scenarios and letting his mind be his only limiter. There is no obsession with paces, watts or speeds, thus no let down or need to term a workout as "bad".
This weekend was a quality weekend of "long" training for Karel. Lucky me, I was able to join Karel for his long ride on Saturday and for his key swim on Sunday.
Here's a recap of some of his weekend IM Kona training, 3 weeks out from race day (which followed a very high volume/intense week of training).
(Matt Dixon with Purple Patch is Karel's coach)
Saturday: 4 hour ride (77 miles, 4500 feet of elevation gain):
All endurance effort with the last 70 minutes at half IM effort.
30 min run off the bike (Karel ran on our treadmill to help him execute this set):
10 min form focused
10 min at IM effort
10 min at faster than IM effort
CD as needed
AM: 90 min run (treadmill for the purpose of this set):
10 min EZ warm-up
Pre set: 2 x 3 min build effort
4 x 11 min at 4% incline at IM pace (one of the few times that Karel was instructed to go by pace, not effort)
4 min EZ jog in between
10-15 min IM effort at 1% grade
CD as needed
PM: 4200 yard swim
10 min EZ warm-up
Pre set: 2xs
2 x 25 fast, 50 easy, 50 fast, 2 x 25 EZ
100 fast w/ 2 sec rest
Right into 75 on same send off
(ex. if you come in at 1:30 for 100, your interval for the 75 is 1:30)
MS #2: 7xs
75 fast w/ 0-2 sec rest
right into 50 with same send off
It's hard to believe that in 8 days, we will be flying to the big island!
From 2011...Karel's first time to Kona to watch me race in my 2nd IM World Championship....where the thought came into his head "If I ever become a triathlete, I want to race HERE!"