4/3/17

Weekend workouts - Building confidence for race day


Confidence as an athlete is having a strong belief in your ability to achieve your athletic goals. Confidence keeps you focused, motivated, focused and positive, even when obstacles are in your way or setbacks occur. Confidence keeps you excited to embrace challenging and pressure situations/workouts as you remain emotionally in control.

Confident athletes think differently about workouts, obstacles and uncomfortable situations. Confident thinking is key for athletic success. For many athletes, negative and doubtful thinking influences performance, ultimately sabotaging your potential to improve and to perform to your ability. Whether it's low self esteem, self doubt or fear of failure, it's important to explore your inner doubter that is keeping you from thinking positively in order to build your confidence. 

One of the best confidence boosters is preparation. While training and checking off workouts counts as preparation, athletic readiness also includes the technical, tactical, gear, nutrition, equipment and mental aspects of your sport. Thus, putting in the time only to train will not make you as prepared for your upcoming event compared to putting time into every aspect of training. Imagine arriving to your upcoming event thinking "I am as prepared as I can be!" - now that is confidence speaking! 

Athletes often make the mistake thinking that completing workouts provides athletic readiness but what is missing is the ability to learn and to grow from the failed and subpar workouts, which are needed in order to succeed. How an athlete responds to situations is just as important, if not more important, than building confidence from perfectly executing a workout and nailing the metrics in perfect environmental conditions. 

Most athletes would agree that confidence comes from success. When you are succeeding, you feel validated that your hard work is paying off. When a setback occurs, you feel defeated and question your abilities. Although success encourages you to continue to train hard and to put in the work, success as an athlete is much more than just training and racing. If you are constantly chasing great workouts and beating yourself up for the days when you don't excel, you will never experience true success. Little victories, like showing up for a workout on a busy day or when you are exhausted, or finishing a workout despite your legs/arm feeling like they can't move a minute longer, are the winning moments that build confidence. Improvements build confidence. Overcoming adversity builds confidence. Small victories in training accumulate so that every day, you can move closer to your big goals.

If you constantly find yourself thinking negatively or expecting yourself to achieve your high expectations  in training and on race day, reduce the negative and pressure cooker thinking and replace it with positive self talk and process driven, in the moment thinking. Understanding that adversity increases your belief that you can respond positively to difficult, uncomfortable and tough situations, I encourage you to not fear adversity, especially when a setback occurs during those "why now" moments. 

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Saturday morning was our last "long" ride before we compete in Haines City 70.3 this coming weekend. Karel and I are anxious to shake off some rust and go through the motions and emotions of endurance racing as we kick start our upcoming endurance triathlon race season. Although Haines City is not a key race for us and we won't be prescribing to a normal taper for this race, we will adjust our training this week in order to execute to the best of our abilities for this strategically planned race. As you may (or may not know), St. George 70.3 is in 4 weeks and that is a very important race for me. This race has been on my to-do list for many years as I love difficult race courses. Due to the challenging course, it is a race that I would like to place overall female amateur. The course suits me very well so I will gather confidence and take some risks here at Haines City as it is a stepping stone in my developmental plan for St. George, before I continue on with the rest of the season of training and racing. 

Our Saturday ride was a little eventful as Karel's rear bottle cage got unhinged from his saddle after our first interval. This broke our momentum during our ride and it turned into a frustrating situation as that cage held Karel's two other bottles. We both stopped and tried to assess the situation and instead of calling it a day due to the obstacle, we continued on riding to finish off our intervals and then we would pick up the cage on the way home.

For some reason, Karel and I both felt off on the bikes. The bumps on the road felt bumpier than before, it was hard to feel comfortable and it was just one of those rides where we both felt blah. BUT, we continued on with the workout. 

Bike workout:
WU: ~45 minutes
MS: 3 x 20 minutes at half IM effort as
(5 min <65 5="" min="" rpm="">95 rpm, 5 min <65 5="" min="" rpm="">95 rpm)
6 min EZ in between
Then:
1 x 20 minute half IM effort (choice cadence)

Total: 2:55, 50.6 miles, 3547 feet elevation gained

Off the bike, it was time to run. Our run was very effort specific and we performed it on the rolling terrain outside of our neighborhood. We have been doing more effort specific runs and I really enjoy them because they go by fast as you are constantly thinking about what you are doing and what is next. Of course, our hilly terrain makes it nearly impossible to go by pace when we run so the effort specific workouts are more practical for our training. Although I can't keep up with Karel, we did out and backs on a stretch of road (with two turns and two u-turns) so it was nice to see each other throughout the set. I always get a boost of confidence when I see Karel running.

Brick run workout: 10 min build to half ironman (HIM) effort
2 min endurance effort
5 min at HIM effort 
2 min endurance 
4 min at HIM
2 min enduranace
3 min at HIM
2 min endurance
5 min HIM effort, build to strong
EZ cool down jog
Total: 46:24, 5.88 miles, 381 feet elevation gained


On Sunday, our athlete Thomas, who is training for his first IM in September (Chatty) joined us for our long run. If you may have noticed, our long runs are very specific and only but a few times do we sprinkle in a run where we simply just run. The long runs are always based on time and pace is rarely, if ever, a focus. I hardly ever run on flat terrain so my focus when I run is always on my form vs what is on my Garmin. To be honest, when I finish a run, I have no idea how far I go because I do my warm-up, then do my pre and main set and then I cool down. When my main set is over, I simply need to get home and that is my cool down. This approach provides a lot more fun to running for it keeps me engaged on what I am doing in the moment vs having to chase prescribed miles or paces to hit.

This run was very specific to the location where we were running so it is a bit hard to explain but I will try to do my best.
We left from our house and ran an easy 23 minutes/2.63 miles to the location of our main set. Which for the locals, we started our main set on Pine Forest Road, which is a .66 mile stretch of road that connects to Little Texas and has 127 feet of climbing. At the bottom of the road, off Old Buncome, there is a park with a sidewalk trail around a park (and public bathrooms).

Now that you understand the location (park with a ~.3 mile loop trail around it and a .66 mile uphill road), I can explain the main set:

MS: 4x's:
~4-5 minutes (or 2 full loops) around the park
Climb to the top of the hill steady/strong with the last 20-30 seconds very strong
Then run down the hill but still keeping a steady effort w/ good form
Then back into another 2 loops or 4-5 minutes around the park to start the next round.
No breaks throughout this entire set. Four rounds total.

The climb took me about 5:30 to complete and another 5 minutes to run down and then we ran about 4.5 minutes around the park so each interval lasted about 15 minutes. Thomas finished each climb about 10 seconds ahead of me but we ran the downhill and park section and almost 1/2 each climb together. It was awesome to have him for motivation to not give up.
Did I mention we had no breaks in between those 4 rounds?

I actually gained a lot of confidence in this workout, thanks to seeing Karel looking so strong and having Thomas as my rabbit/running buddy. I was also super impressed with how my legs were able to run well after the main set, especially on our rolling terrain back home. Although this workout was very challenging, I was so proud of my body for staying so strong throughout the entire set.

After over 7.5 miles of our main set, we had another few miles to get home which gave Thomas and I 1:50 total running, 13.4 miles and almost 1200 feet of climbing. Karel, the speedster, had about a mile more on us since he finished the set before us and ran a little extra and also covered a little more in the park loop during those 4-5 minutes. 

And to finish off the weekend training, a 4000 yard swim on Sunday afternoon. As usual, it's always hard to get to the pool but we always feel better when it's over.

WU: 400

Pre set: snorkel and fins
1 x 200
2 x 150
2 x 100
2 x 50
All with 10-15 sec rest (building effort as the duration decreases)

MS:
500 buoy - smooth
6 x 75's at 90%, strong w/ 15 sec rest
300 buoy - smooth
10 x 50's at 90% strong w/ 10 sec rest
300 buoy - smooth
12 x 25's at 90% strong w/ 5 sec rest
300 buoy - smooth
100 strong

Another great week + weekend of training behind me and now to keep myself in good health this race week as I go into my first half ironman distance event in my 11th season of endurance triathlon racing. 

Thank you body!