Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sweet 16

I forgot to mention in my last post that I just turned 48 -- not a terribly significant number, but picking up speed towards 50, for sure. In more relevant numbers, it's 16 weeks and counting to Eagleman. To celebrate the fact, I'm fighting a minor cold -- little dry in the nasal passages, slight cough -- just enough to remind you that you're mortal.

I ran with Coach Debi on Friday. A nice session -- she did a little bit of form coaching on the fly and we had a nice chance to talk about this and that (triathlon mainly, duh...). Turns out I need to lean forward a bit more, and keep my hands a bit higher. I've worked on it a bit and like the results -- not a radical change, but I feel I've got more forward momentum working for me.

The weather's finally warming somewhat here in VA, so the prospect of a 90 minute run in the morning doesn't seem too bad. That's a nice milestone as well -- it's my longest run of the training cycle so far, and my longest in several years. I'm on pace to rack up over 60 miles for the month as well. Not huge numbers, but pretty impressive considering I only did about 240 all of last year.

Of course the knee surgery had a lot to do with that!


Updated, and ready for your perusal -- my training log.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Domino Theory

Training is going well as the dark cold of February grinds by. My training program is nicely balanced (thanks Coach Debi), and I've been keeping up with it very well.

"Keeping up" is the key, though, and I've had a good lesson in that this week. The schedule is pretty demanding this week -- 5+ hours of cycling, 2 hours in the pool, almost 3 hours running, plus a bit over an hour of strength training. Ensuring it all gets done requires good scheduling, commitment and dedication.

Did I mention weather as well? Sure enough, a snow and ice storm blew in on Tuesday, and the 80 minute long run for Wednesday morning was out. The change threw me for a loop, and I couldn't get motivated to get out of bed and substitute a 2 hour trainer ride in place of it.

Oh well, I'll do that on Wednesday night, and I can reschedule the run for Saturday. Sure enough, at 9 PM on Wednesday night I spun out two hours on the trainer and hit the sack. Now I was too tired to get up for my Thusday morning swim. And, to top it off, I had a sore throat and some head congestion. Now I'm really behind -- it's like a chain of dominoes -- miss one and everything starts falling.

It's time to step back and be realistic -- one missed swim and weight session isn't going to kill me, and I probably could do with some rest anyway. So, a big meal on Thursday night, and early to bed.

Today is another day, and I'll get it back on track. Coach Debi is in town, and she's running with me this afternoon. Should be fun!


I'm doing well (really!) -- check out my training log.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Why I (Usually) Train Alone

I wrote a while back about Ginger, my 6-year old Labrador retriever and running buddy. But aside from my time on the road with Ginger, I usually find myself alone when training. Why is that?

It's not that I'm completely anti-social, nor do I have a problem with group training sessions -- I know they're a big motivator for many people. And on occasion I'll get together with a buddy or two for a bike ride, or do a group ride with some other triathletes -- and I swim with my Masters swim group once a week. But for the most part, it's just me, myself, and I.

There are several reasons why I usually train alone -- some practical, some philosophical. Let's look at the practical first:

1. Scheduling -- There's very little margin for error in scheduling. Working full-time, 13-year old son, wife, dog, social life, house upkeep -- they're all constraints on when and where I can train. My first priority in scheduling is to figure out when to do it without interfering with my obligations and commitment to the aforementioned.

2. Opportunity -- Charlottesville is a pretty active town, and there is a local tri club that schedules some group workouts at different times of the week. Try as I like though, it's a rare opportunity that I can fit in my training with them (see #1).

3. Appropriateness -- Since I'm working with a coach, my training is mapped out for me, and the group's workout often isn't a good match. And as an improving athlete, I find myself "stuck in the middle" very often. The easy Sunday 1-hour "beginner's ride" is too easy, while the "hammer down" Saturday 70 miler is too much. And for me, it's all too easy to let the competitive juices start flowing. Suddenly that easy run becomes a lung-busting anaerobic workout.

Now for the "philosophical:"

1. Mental Training -- When you're racing, you're alone. You won't have anybody else to rely on during the race -- might as well get used to it. And when you're racing well, you need to concentrate on many things: your effort level, your nutrition, etc. What better time to practice this than when you're training? I like to look at my training sessions as "dress rehearsals." Got a long bike ride? Practice how you're going to eat and drink, like it's the race you're training for. Concentrate on monitoring your effort, working through the bad patches, staying smooth -- all things you want to make second nature for the race. There's a reason it's called "training."

2. Solitude -- It's a busy, noisy world out there, and solitude is a good thing. How often do we get a chance to be by ourselves, alone with our thoughts and undisturbed. Despite what I said in #1, sometimes it's nice to let the mind drift and explore your environment and your inner self. No yoga mat or meditation class required, and I'll often find myself refreshed mentally at the end of a long solo training session.

I may change -- maybe in a few months I'll be writing about how much fun my weekly group run is. But for now I'm a happy camper when I'm on my own.


My training log.