The Hidden Beauty of Tempo Workouts

I’m pretty locked in on training for the Rev3 Olympic in Knoxville and that will consist of mainly speed work.  After a rough showing in New Orleans, I’m not only training my body, I’m training my mind.

I listened to a great Tim Ferris podcast while I was riding the trainer last night.  He interviewed child chess prodigy, Joshua Waitzkin, who wrote, The Art Learning Journey: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance, which is widely praised and used by brilliant executives and schools around the world.  Not to mention, he studies martial arts with Marcelo Garcia, who is regarded as the best pound for pound submission grappler in the world.

At one point Waitzkin made an awesome point about tempo workouts.  He said they are the greatest thing you can do because they train your body to be calm, then be full of vitality on demand.  He used the analogy of a boxer being completely at ease before going into the ring before unleashing controlled fury. He also said it’s a great way to mold your mind and body to turn off before bed or crank it into gear when you wake up.

Burst, recover.

My kindred alliance with Joshua must be serendipity because earlier that morning I did a bunch of 25 meter sprints with cool downs in the pool, and at night, I did a never before attempted bike workout.  The Bike-o-ghetti.

Yes, folks, it’s a direct descendant of the infamous Monoghetti family run.  It goes like this:

10 minute warm up.
30 on, 30 off (repeat)
45 on, 45 off (repeat)
1:00 on, 1:00 off (repeat)
1:30 on, 1:30 off (repeat)

Then go back down to 30′s.

The technique is what is killer.  The “on” portions are as fast as you can go in aero and the “off” stuff is standing, under control, slowly pushing the hardest gear.

10-15 minute cool down.

45 minutes and you have just fried your legs.  It’s awesome.

Enjoy your new life in Heaven and Hell!

IMG_2854

Are We Willing to Commit to Change?

The last post pinpointed my problems with energy and vitality, and I have known these things forever, but for some reason I can’t implement them into my lifestyle.  I think the answer lies in consistent patterns, and having a CLEAR reason for following your passion.

I started all this endurance training because I saw myself on a video two years ago and didn’t like the the image.  I looked nothing like I “imagined” myself.  It was a bitter pill and within a couple weeks I was hell bent on running away the fat.

About 12 months, and 20 pounds later, my problem was “solved.”  The body was back and I was no longer ashamed of what I saw in the mirror.  But, of course, that wasn’t the real problem.

I had slimmed down and was routinely knocking out 1-2 hour workouts, but I knew there was still a void.  Good thing I had IRONMAN to distract me for a while.

I plowed further into the field hoping for the yield of a lifetime.  It never got easy, but I had endless fertile and seemingly endless land.  But, like a King with all the money in the world, something was still missing.

Then, I raced Ironman Wisconsin.

This was undoubtedly the best day of my life for the last 10 years or so.  I scaled a mountain and lived to tell the stories.  And there were many.

I floated on that high for days, weeks, and months before realizing my pantry was nearly empty.  It was time to go back into the field.  But I had a new problem.

I had been harvesting for Ironman, and she needed a lot of fuel.  Now it was just me, alone with my thoughts, and no plan for distribution.

While endless tilling was something to be proud of, I knew I wasn’t addressing the fundamentals of farming.  I was throwing shit everywhere and the land produced just enough to keep me going.  I neglected the soil and weeds were taking over.

Much of the world survives on food or drugs that get us by “today” but do little for the long haul.  And it’s easy to understand why we take this path.  It’s easy, and, for the most part, it works.  Hey, take it “one day at a time.”  But we all know that it’s on the surface, and not much is being done to build the foundation.

For me it comes down to habits.  Taking sleep (and its wind down) seriously.  Starting early by letting go of electronics, turning down lights, easing into the night and getting good, sound rest.  Waking fresh around the same time.

Then exercising/walking before a solid breakfast that gives me slow burning fuel.  Visualizing and writing out a productive day so I have a focus.  Then eating right and avoiding surface snacks.  At night, eating earlier, working out, then winding down again.

It sounds simple, but we get sucked in to things because somewhere we have doubts about our path.  Why?  Because establishing a good healthy pattern is painful and takes time.  A long time.  And frankly, it takes a lot of failures and lessons to figure it all out.  I think most of us have always known what it takes, we just need to define why we really want to get the answer.

 

 

 

How Do You Know When You’re Really Tired?

My coach pointed out that I’ve raced 3 Halfs and a Full Ironman in nine months.  Not bad for a guy who spent most of his nights drinking and eating Italians on a barstool until two years ago. But it comes with a few questions.

Sometimes I feel very fatigued.  It’s all I can do to put on my workout clothes, and often I blow it off.  But 9 times out of 10 I feel much better after a workout, even if I think I’m exhausted.

IMG_2844

So, here is the million dollar question:  What’s the difference between being tired and fatigued, and when is exercise better than rest?

When I was a lazy ass, I often had genuine intentions of training after work, only to lay on the couch or go to Happy Hour.  I just “didn’t have” energy to hit the gym.

When I reflect on these feelings they are very similar to the ones I still have (though not as much).  I’ll still occasionally lay down after work, but wake up recharged and hammer a workout.  This leads me to believe my brain is more exhausted than my body.

Life, like racing, is very mental and when you are not fueling well, both can overwhelm you.

I think a lot of this can be attributed to bad sleep and no breakfast.  I get up, have coffee, often times throw in a muffin, then head to work.  I’m usually strong through noon, then grab lunch, before slowly fading into afternoon-snack-land.  It’s not a good pattern.

It seems like an easy fix, but I’ve struggled with this pattern my whole life.  And while I’ve known it forever, it’s not getting much easier, which is why I’m reaching a breaking point.

Ironman had an amazing power to wiggle its way into my brain and motivate on a daily basis.  It was a purpose and a passion.  It was spring-out-of-bed-for-Christmas-present-energy.  But now that I’ve done it, it doesn’t have the same stranglehold on my psyche.

I have no choice but to find a bigger, more lasting inspiration.  Something more genuine and much bigger that gives me continual fuel to push for what is truly important.  That is where energy lies.  That is where vitality lives.

So, I sit here on a beautiful Saturday morning looking for something grander to lead me in life. The sun is shining, warm wind is blowing through the windows, and Mattie is chasing squirrels in the backyard.  My buddy Wasky ran a PR 1:27 half, Corey rode 60 miles on the Trace, and Jim is taking photos of nature.  Maybe all of that is my answer.

 

 

mattiefloorcropped

Ironman Pain and Recovery #IMNOLA

The morning after Ironman Wisconsin I laid in bed and took inventory.  I lifted my arms, circled my ankles, and stretched my legs.  I’d never done anything remotely close to 140.6 miles, and getting out of bed scared the shit out of me.

I sat on the edge looking down at the floor for about 5 minutes.  Should I try to walk, or just fall to my knees and crawl to the bathroom?  I decided to trust my legs, and what happened next was just short of remarkable.

Other than stabbing heel pain and a general tenderness, I felt fine.  Sure, I moved slowly, but that’s no different than most mornings.  I was physically drained, but the very next day I felt great swimming a 1,000 meters in Turtle Lake.  It’s just weird, and quite amazing, how much the body can handle.

This brings me back to Sunday in New Orleans.

From mile one of the run, I felt like my body was done, cooked, stewed in a Cajun goulash.  I just “couldn’t” run the entire 13.1 miles.  I was weak, battered, beaten.  But somehow, I completely ran the last 4 miles after intermittent walk/runs.  Then came the morning.

It felt exactly like Wisconsin.  I limped toward the bathroom, but after 10 minutes, I was fine.  I walked all over New Orleans that day and the only tough part was getting up after sitting a while.

On Tuesday I drove 8 hours back to Nashville and was full of energy that night.  I literally forgot I had just raced a Half Ironman.

All of this got me thinking.

Obviously my body was “ready” for 70.3 miles, but somewhere in there my mind convinced me it wasn’t.  I couldn’t find a “reason” to push through the pain.  I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I hadn’t been writing about training much.  I hadn’t been thinking about how I would deal with the stress of the race, or why I wanted to do it in the first place.

I was also training alone.  I didn’t surround myself with like minded people to inspire and push me.  Group training is great for accountability, but I think its biggest advantage comes from keeping your head straight.  It creates mental momentum and helps you believe.  It’s very hard to live alone on an island.

Moving forward, I have two commitments to make.  One is writing more, the other is working out with friends and groups.  So much of this is mental and if you try tackling a full or half Ironman without being focused, you are sunk.

Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of variables regarding recovery that include nutrition, rest, training, etc, but I think most of us can get a huge advantage from simply being mentally prepared for what you’ll face before, during, and after the race.

The day after Ironman New Orleans, I joined my mom and her friends for a paddle boat ride.  I sat in peace, gazing at the swirling water, taking in the glory of the Mighty Mississippi.  But I kept having a strange thought, what would happen if the boat sank?

Hysteria.

Hundreds of people scrambling for their lives.  I calculated the distance to the shore, and plotted how I would save those around me.  Hauling one on each leg like a pull buoy, using the current to guide us to the nearest plot of land.  It gave me an eery confidence.  I had a plan and felt good about it.  I visualized what it would take, and I was ready.

We would not sink.

 

 

Ironman New Orleans Shuttle Buss

What’s Next After Ironman New Orleans 70.3?

This is a tough question.  On one hand I was absolutely miserable on that New Orleans course, on the other, I feel like I need redemption.

I’ve taken a little grief for trashing my own performance and can definitely understand that perspective.  To complete a Half Ironman is a major accomplishment for most, but when you finish nearly an hour slower than you hoped, it can leave a slight scar.

I’m already signed up for Rev3 Knoxville and will compete in the Olympic.  The wounds from New Orleans have already healed and I’m looking forward to race with a few people I know.

Familiar faces cannot be underestimated.  I made a few new friends in New Orleans, but saying hi to alligators, wild stallions, and snakes for 70.3 miles can wear on you.

The elephant in the room continues to be Louisville.  I have gone around and around about that race, but still don’t know if I want to do it.  Frankly the last two half’s I’ve done were miserable.  From Goosepond to Crescent City, I feel like I got worse.  But, truthfully, I haven’t even been sore (aside from sunburn) since IMNOLA and that has me inching closer to so saying yes to Louisville.  I just have to figure out how to let go of my incredible disdain for riding a bike.

I will start training for Rev3 this weekend and focus specifically on the Olympic distance with shorter, high intensity workouts.  In fact, I’m leaning that way in general and still believe focusing on mileage in training is a mistake.

I really think New Orleans was a bit of an aberration.  I hadn’t ridden outside, and that day was windy, sunny, and hot.  Not to mention my brake was stuck.  That all took a huge toll on my overall vitality and shrunk my head for the run.  I’m going to leave that race behind and go back to Knoxville with focus.  I had a good race there last year, so it will be tough to beat my time, but that’s my intention.

Until then, I plan to lay on the couch, eat lots of good fat, and read books on psychology.  I know you’re jealous, Corey.

Prelude to Ironman New Orleans – 6 Short Videos

Rare and raw footage of a triathlete in the days before a big race.  Follow Mike’s journey from the highways of Mississippi to downtown New Orleans as he prepares for his 3rd Half Ironman in less than a year.  These videos are loaded with reflection and undeterminable babbling that is sure to make you think, and confuse you at the same time.

Mike decides he really likes Mississippi.

Friday Night in Nola.  Mike settles into his digs for the weekend and exposes his bed head Saturday morning while contemplating his ability to remember how to run.

Ironman Athlete Check in.  Mike takes you behind the scenes of the mysterious race briefings and delivers several day before pointers for the aspiring Ironman.

Transition Set Up.  Anxious moments the day before the race.  This episode includes the now infamous barnacle cut on his toe and Swiftwick sock endorsement.

The Night Before the Race.  Mike contemplates last minute nutrition.

Race Morning.  New Orleans at 5 am and Mike is wide awake.  Rare footage inside the cage of race day transition, with a bonus look at Team Tabasco.

 

Ironman New Orleans 70.3 Crushed Me

I went into this race with guarded optimism.  Training was going well, and I was especially excited to get to the run.  I honestly thought I could lay down a 1:45 for the half marathon, but New Orleans was about to beat me like a rusty timpani drum.

noladowntown

My biggest fear was the effect a ton of driving would have on me (well, that and the wind and the sun and the humidity and the street swindlers).  The Final Four in Dallas was a welcome surprise the weekend before, and I have zero regrets about going, but the travel shanked my mental mojo.

CHECK IN - 

As usual I forgot my USAT card, so I had to pull it up on my phone, which pissed off about 10 people in line behind me.  Then, after some wickedly lame small-talk with volunteers, I bought my third “name t-shirt” — which officially put me over one million dollars spent on the Ironman brand.

I ran into an nice old man (older than me) wearing a Wisconsin logo, so we talked Badgers for a while before he dragged me onto the veranda and pointed with joy at paddle boat he was spending the next week aboard.  “There’s no gambling, or kids, which is nice,” he said.

I also spent a lot of time in here.

nolaprayer

Then it was time for the Athlete’s Meeting where I sat next to Wells, who was doing his first half. He was all of 24-years-old and excited to get my expert advice — which he promptly used to kick my ass in the race.  I was happy for him and it made me wonder how often that kind of thing happens.  Some guy in a gangster TYR hat, who’s been around the block a couple times, starts talking about how great he is then gets dusted dusted by the student.

mikehat

My immediate concern after the meeting was to figure out how I could get a practice swim. Luckily I ran into a woman who heard about an open-water-deal hosted by a local tri club. I got directions and drove about 20 minutes to jump in the cold and murky water of Lake Ponchartrain.

I was “wetsuit rusty” but felt great until I climbed the concrete stairs and had a bout with dizziness.  I sat on the ledge collecting my bearings and this incident quickly turned into my number one fear for the next morning.

As I was stripped my wetsuit I noticed a gash in my big toe and it quickly proved my blood was red, just like yours.  The guys supervising, Coach Kevin, said it was probably from “those damn barnacles,” and the funny part of this story happened the next morning in the swim line with Rick, from Nashville, who I just met.  We talked for a while, then he looked at my toe and said, “Did you cut your toe at that open water swim yesterday?” I was like, “Yeah, how the hell did you know?”  He said, “Me too.”  I took an awkward gaze at his bare big toe and it was sliced in exactly the same spot.

That night, I slept like a man expecting an earthquake, and netted about four hours sleep.  I woke at 4:30, grabbed my gear and walked 8 blocks to the shuttle bus.  The streets of New Orleans are quite the sight at 5 am.  Drunks stagger by and look at you funny as you walk past them carrying a wetsuit.  A very small part of me wished I was staggering back to bed, too, but I convinced myself to pursue the torture.

I do love the morning of an Ironman race.  The energy is awesome and palpable.  This race had a real international flavor and I salsa’d my way to transition-bike-rack number 1266 (the one near the milk jug, which wasn’t put on by me, but was easy to spot).

nolatransition

For the second day in a row I debated wheeling my bike to the tech so he could check the brakes.  I had a small issue with my wider race wheels but convinced myself it would be cool.  That said, I should note that I am likely the worst bike mechanic on the planet, so neither you, or me, should trust my opinion on bike health.
THE SWIM  -

In the spirit of our “going out of the way to do a race” theme, the Swim Entrance was about a ½ mile away from my bike.  Thankfully they had a gear-bag-shuttle to the finish line, so I wore sweats, and shoes over to the swim, then dropped them in the bag and put on wet suit.

nolaswimstart

The swim was an age group time-trial start.  Fifteen age groups went off in order (6 at a time) starting with the Pros at 7am.  I guessed I might jump in at 7:45, but it was more like 8:10.  I was literally one of the last men to get into the water.

My plan was to take a leisurely glide.  Start slow, stay slow, then speed up at the end.  I swam it to perfection.  But, as I neared the exit, I started thinking about my dizzy spell from the day before.  Surely I would feel it again, so I came up with a strategy to stop about 10 yards from the staircase and tread water for 30 seconds so my body had a vertical head start.  I think it helped.

Swim Time: 39:17  (1:52/100yds)

THE BIKE - 

All of my bike workouts for this race had been inside on a trainer.  I had a few opportunities to ride outside, but this is the time of year when my allergies can be brutal and nothing ignites an itchy nasal cavity like a free-wheeling jaunt through the pollen farm called Nashville, TN.

More than anything I was concerned about the wind in New Orleans and riding 56 miles in fresh air for the first time.  As it turned out, my fears were well founded.

If you enjoy being in aero and riding directly into gusting winds, New Orleans is your race.  I must have heard 20 people say, “Take it easy on the bike, or you’ll be screwed on the run.”  And, for once, I listened  . . . sorta.

The first ten miles weren’t too bad, but the combination of not riding outside along with lake got my attention.  So did a guy trying to tame a horse.

I’m riding up on this scene in disbelief.  The horse looked like a wild black stallion and this guy is holding onto it with a rope.  The horse is bucking and shaking its mane and I’m literally riding right at it.  I honestly thought I might get kicked in the face, but swerved just out of his range.  It was probably the coolest part of the bike.

My plan was to stay in the small ring for the first hour and just spin.  It was going pretty well and I was hovering around 18 miles an hour.  Not ideal, but I was waiting for some wind assistance and thought I could jack that average closer to 20 mph.  But, those moments were few and far between.

It felt like two-thirds of the race was either directly into the wind or hampered by a strong crosswind.  I was a little frustrated, but feeling pretty good up until mile 30.

I made a mental note of the look on some of the pro’s faces as they passed by me going the other way.  I’m pretty sure Andy Potts was puking and Ben Hoffman was falling asleep in aero, or . . . I may have been projecting.

My goal-pace was a greasy watermelon and a pinching brake pad was not helping my mood. Ever so slightly the right brake rubber would slide in against the wheel.  I stopped a few times, but as I mentioned, I am a joke when it comes to bike maintenance.  At one point I was in a panic because I tightened it so both sides were locked on my wheel.  If I a had a wire cutter I would have sliced the cable.  It was pretty ridiculous and I bet I spent 15-20% of the ride with my brake pad rubbing.  This probably wasn’t good for my speed . . . or legs.

Around mile 35 there was a nice tail wind and I was solid at 26 mph for 3-4 miles.  Then . . . there was a turnaround.  For those same 3-4 miles on the way back I hovered around 13 mph.  It was brutal and this was a common theme . . .

gotchicked

People always tell me they could never do an Ironman, but could do the bike, and to those people, I say, “You have no clue.”  Racing a bike 56 or 112 miles is no joke.  The strategy is immense and one bad section, or over zealousness, can screw up your race.

I was hell bent on taking it easy, but my average speed was dropping like Black Friday.  I started pushing, and from mile 40-50 I was out of my comfort zone and bonked the last 6.  It was just a brutal day . . . and far from over.

Bike Time – 3:12:39  (17.4 mph)

THE RUN - 

The minute I got off the bike, I knew I was in trouble.  I always have a little trouble walking, but this time my back was fried.  I couldn’t run my bike into transition and my mental state plummeted.

I kept the faith and trusted that it was just a “feeling,” then followed the advice I gave Wells the day before, “Just start running and your legs will figure it out.”   Eventually they may have, but my head wasn’t on board.

The course started flat, then climbed a substantial bridge at mile one.  Everyone was walking, but if you’ve read my blog, you know I refuse to walk.

I slugged up the hill and was absolutely cooked.  I kept the feet moving down the backside and at the  aid station realized my initial mile was just under a 10 minute pace.  That’s no way to run a 1:45.

Shortly after, we ran up our second hill which happened to be a draw bridge.  By the time I got to the top I was really hoping it would just open and drop me into the river.  I was in a bad place and soon thereafter . . . I was . . . walking.

I promised myself it was a re-charge and would pick it back up, but my feet were already burning and my body was crumbling.  I started concocting walk/run strategies but my race was slipping away.  The day before in the athlete’s meeting, the guy asked the room if anyone was trying to qualify for Ironman 70.3 World in Canada.  I was “this close” to raising my hand.  Now I was happy I didn’t.  I felt like a fool, a sham, a fake.

The run continued along the shore of Lake Ponchartrain for . . .  ever.  When I hit mile five, I did my best to put the hammer down and may have lasted 2 minutes before I was walking again.  I kept looking at the water thinking it would be a far better place to be and almost . . . quit.

I have really come to love running, but this day made me hate it.  Hot black top, no shade, no scenery, no spectators, and serious doubt.

I knew my run was shot, but the clock would not stop ticking.  At mile 9, after a haphazard slew of run/walk attempts, I spotted a guy dumping multiple cups of ice into his shorts.  We seemed to be in the same boat.  I looked at him and said, “What ya think man, you ready to run this home?”  He said, “Let’s do it.”

His name is David and turns out he did IMWI the year before me.  He also lives in Wisconsin, so I suppose we were destined to meet.

Somehow, someway, we trudged next to each other for four miles and ran it home without stopping (aside from the occasional ice dump).  I’m typically not the guy who runs with anyone, but this opened my mind . . . and maybe even my heart.  We enter these races with our optimal goal in mind, but truthfully, doing Ironman or Half Ironman’s are incredibly difficult feats and things often go wrong.

But I still believe this stuff is mostly mental.  And that’s exactly what I was thinking about during those difficult moments.  I was beaten.  I didn’t see the need to push once my race goal had left reality.  I couldn’t find the reason.  It didn’t matter.  I had “failed” and I could either wallow in it or accept it and bring it back another day.

So often endurance is about managing pain.  Can you create a reason more powerful than the ache to push on?  Can you justify the spears in your hip and daggers in your feet?  Today, David and I both felt unified in our agony and leaned on each other to complete what we started. Neither of us were overly happy with our times, but I’m pretty sure we will reflect with pride as we understand what it took to cross under that white arch.

I guess that’s what they mean by Finisher.

nashvillestrongbike

Run time:  2:23:40
TRT: 6:21:58

The Hardest Part of Ironman Training

I’m not even gonna tease you here, the hardest part of training is putting on your workout clothes.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple, but last night I was planning to ride the bike trainer and the urge to resist stepping over the workout-threshold was unbelievable.  I mean, I had to fill my damn water bottles, put on bike shorts, slide into velcro shoes.  What a pain in the ass!

I am not even kidding when I got pissed at myself for going downstairs to my bike, grabbing my shorts, then forgetting to bring my empty water bottles upstairs.  Here I am, training for triathlon and furious that I have to go back down a flight of stairs.  How can we explain this?

I was talking with a really good friend about it the other day and we agreed that preparation, even with the simplest things takes a major load off of training.  For whatever reason it is just so much easier when your clothes are out or your bike is on/in the car the night before.  The way I see it, every little thing I have to look for is more opportunity to make an excuse.

But, I’m happy to report, I took the trip back downstairs to get my bottles and eventually completed a legit trainer ride.  I was planning to make it a brick, but I’ll be damned if I couldn’t find my running shoes.
——————————–
A lot of you have been asking about my new non-traditional training plan.  It’s hard to explain in one post, but this example of me arm wrestling a strange man at the Big 10 Basketball Tournament provides a small clue.  armwrestle

A Major Distraction for New Orleans 70.3

When I was a kid I would shovel a foot of snow off the driveway just so I could shoot hoops.  I’d be out there in 25 degree weather, a parka and snowmobile gloves, bouncing a frozen basketball on ice.  More times than not it would happen after listening to the Wisconsin Badgers game on the radio.

I would act like I was on the team and countdown the clock to take the last shot.  I’d do it over and over, calling out the radio broadcast with current Badgers passing the ball to me.

Clyde Gaines, over to Larry Petty, he dishes to Claude Gregory, to the top of the key, Tarrolly takes the shot!  Clank.

Eventually I’d make one and the driveway arena would erupt in cheers.

This was the 70′s and 80′s and the Badgers were terrible back then.  In fact, so bad, I lost track of them in the 90′s until they sorta “showed up” in the Final 4 in 2000.

After that Final 4 in 2000, I was interested again and over the next few years it’s safe to say I became a little obsessed.  The Badgers were good???  This was unbelievable to me.

I have watched Badger games like a religion.  The Big 10 network is a fixture on my TV and I literally don’t miss a game.  Every year I’d think, THIS is the team, only to have the rug pulled out in painful March Madness fashion.

Saturday night, I sat on my couch in relative silence as the clock ran out and they held off Arizona to go back to the Final 4.  It was like a dream, and in many ways, a relief.  I WOULD see it in my lifetime.

Bo Ryan had led Wisconsin to 13 straight tournament appearances, and never been to the Final 4, until now.  And I will be right there with him in Dallas watching live as 80,000 fans roar and millions watch on CBS.

But there’s a catch, my half Ironman is the next weekend in New Orleans.  Thankfully it’s a taper week, but I’ll be driving all over the South and sitting in a car wanks my body more than running 10 miles.

I’m actually feeling good about the race, but so much of my strategy is mental preparation.  It will be hard to focus with such a major distraction.  Maybe I’ll run laps around the Jerry Dome at halftime or something just to keep my head straight.

 

 

 

My Half Ironman Training Strategy #IMNOLA

Someone asked me the other day if I was taking a break from Crushing Iron, and I suppose the answer is . . . maybe.  I have been struggling with training and along with that comes an apprehension to write.  But my battles with workouts aren’t so much that I “can’t” do them as much as I’m curious to know how little I can get away with.

Lately, my training has been pretty unique and someday soon I’ll fill you in on the methodology, but for now, let’s just say, “I’m kinda doing what I want.”

While training for IRONMAN Wisconsin, I worked out nearly every day for a year.  I was crippled by guilt if I didn’t.  For this half, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  I am routinely skipping days and frankly don’t feel that bad about it.

And it’s not like I think the race will crush me, either.  In fact, I’m right on the edge of believing I may actually do pretty well.  I’m doing “just enough” to keep my head in the game and am very intrigued to find out if that is enough.

In some ways I’m trying to save my career as a triathlete.  I did very well in my first Ironman, but it beat me up.  The mental high was off the charts, but it crashed on me pretty hard.  The physical remnants of exhaustion are still lingering.

But occasionally, I find a groove, like last night.

I have been going into my workouts with a different perspective.  I set the bar low, then gauge how I feel after 30 minutes or so.  Last night I should have probably biked, but it was nice and I felt like running.  I punched my watch and started jogging into the greenway for a 5-6 mile run.

Every inch after the three mile point was pushing me over six miles, but I was feeling good and stretched my turnaround point to 3.5.  Then, four, then . . . I was in no man’s land.

From my house the end of the greenway is 4.5 miles, then I can take a shorter route back home to make it a 7 mile run, but that didn’t seem like enough.  I kept going into the park and added another couple miles.  Around an hour and fifteen minutes into the run, my watch flipped to 9 miles.  It was unbelievable.

If I had planned for 9 miles I doubt I would have made it, but I was totally going by feel.  I wasn’t forcing anything and it was honestly one of the best runs I’ve had in my life.  Normally I am limping at the 7-8 mile mark, but last night not a part of me was even the least bit sore.  I thought about going for the half marathon, but decided to walk away on top.

How often do we do that in Ironman training?  Leave the pool, climb off the bike, or walk away from a run when we feel good?  For me it was rare, but I think it might be the only way I will keep training for triathlon.

So, as I close in on NOLA, let’s hope this strategy is working.  I don’t expect it to be a masterpiece of a race, but have a more important goal . . . to enjoy it.