2/26/18

Long workouts/weekend training reflections



Resilience and mental toughness come to mind when summarizing this past weekend of training.

Here's the run down:

Saturday:
Bike: 4:05 ride (70 miles) with 5700 feet elevation gain and one tough 4.5 mile (35 minute) climb up Sassafras mountain. Prior to that climb, we did a hard effort up to Rocky Bottoms - around 4 miles of climbing.
Run off the bike: 2 x 15-20 min smooth effort running with 6 x 30 sec of hill bounding (with 45 sec rest) in between the intervals (total: 48 minutes, 5.64 miles, 407 elevation gain
PM run: Smooth running for 43 minutes, 4.94 miles, 276 elevation gain)

Sunday: 
AM Run: Smooth endurance on rolling hills for 1:45, 12.7 miles, 617 elevation gain
PM group swim: 1 hour/2800 yards

Prior to this weekend, I had a solid week of training - a lot of frequency workouts. As the week went on, I was carrying around a lot more fatigue and working through a bit more niggles than normal but that's all to be expected at this point in my training block. Strength continues to be a focus in all of my workouts (including strength training) so I am feeling very fit and strong right now, but not so fast....and this ok!

Thinking back on this weekend, it's not surprising to see endurance athletes training with this much high volume at various points in the season, especially in peak training before an endurance event. However, I feel it's important to recognize that higher volume training is not a guarantee to athletic success on race day. Many athletes check off long distance workouts on the weekends that involve little structure or specificity or lack the necessary consistency in training to gain true physiological improvements. Instead of gaining fitness, confidence and race readiness, the athlete ends up exhausted, burnt out, injured or sick. In other words, just because you are an endurance athlete, you don't need to be collecting a massive amount of miles/hours over the weekend just to prepare for your upcoming event. Long workouts make sense if you are have prepared yourself to absorb the longer time spent training.

While endurance workouts are a component to preparing for an endurance event, we must not forget that it's the work you do prior to these longer sessions that help you better prepare for race day. Without the right foundation, you may be piling training stress to a weak and fragile body. Although the work that is done in the early part of the season is not as glamorous (or epic) as the longer sessions that make one feel hard core, like an "endurance" athlete, these workouts should be seen as your criteria for the longer sessions. Do your homework in the early season so that your body can better withstand the higher intensity/higher volume training when it's appropriately planned in your training.

Every athlete has the ability to work hard all season long but some choose not to apply the work ethic until there is some type of pressure of an upcoming race. Falling short on the preparatory work prior to the more specific race sessions is not the formula for athletic excellence on race day. While you can still check off those longer training sessions in the 4-8 weeks before your race, these sessions will do little to change your physiology or will allow you to dial in the many components that make for successful racing - like nutrition, pacing and mental strength - compared to if you did these sessions with months of previous work behind you. While I know injuries/sickness/life happens, you can't skip steps in building your foundation. There are no short cuts or quick fixes when it comes to the work that needs to happen to properly and safely prepare your body for an endurance event.

Nearing the start of my 12th consecutive season of endurance racing, I've always been one to embrace the grind and appreciate the process of preparing for a half or full distance Ironman event. Training is also a needed escape to reduce stress, give me energy, boost endorphins and let my creative thoughts flow. But on top of the joy I have for training/exercising, I think about my workouts of the day as a way to move me closer to my season goals. It isn't within one workout that will get me fit but instead, it's the accumulation of consistent workouts that allows for continued growth and development with my athletic skills and fitness. At 35.5 years old, feel stronger, fitter, healthier and more resilient now than when I did my first Ironman at the age of 24. Throughout my journey as an endurance triathlete, I've learned that success on race day doesn't come from checking off weekend long workouts in the 8-12 weeks before a big event but instead, nailing the basics every single day while building the strongest foundation possible to withstand future training stressors.

I am very excited to see what this season has in store for my body. I am bringing 12 years of learning, exploring and challenging my body - along with setbacks and obstacles that have helped me become a smarter and more grateful athlete. I am proud of my body for where it is right now in my training and I am extremely thankful to my body for letting me do what I do with it on a daily basis.

And to finish off my weekend recap, I can't forget about my new furry friends that I met during our shake-out spin on Friday afternoon/evening.