Monday, March 24, 2014

Tri Training Log: 3/17 to 3/24

It’s taken me a long time to get into the groove this season, but for once, I actually felt like a triathlete this week.  I swam twice, I rode several times, and I ran twice, and I would’ve done more of all of those things, but I decided to try to cap my point total for the week at about 120.  That way I won’t take on too much too soon and either exhaust myself or make myself sick.  
I usually work on a four-week cycle, taking three working weeks followed by a rest week.  But since the season has started so slowly, this past week was a fourth working week, meaning that I’m overdue for a rest.  That’s fine, but it does mean that I’d be foolish to push it too hard right here at the beginning of the training season.

My daughter Emma’s ninth birthday was on Tuesday, which was also the first day of Tri Club Swim Practice.  I went to practice--but didn’t stay long--and then the family and I went out to dinner.  As a result, Tuesday’s workout was basically just one long set of fast-interval grunt work:
5 x 100 @ 1:30
Main Set
13 x 100 tempo @ 1:25
 -- I stopped after 10 and worked with one of my guys with his stroke.  Then picked it back up for the last 300, until I ran out of time.
Cool Down
100 Easy
 The next time I got in the water was Sunday.  I was mindful of a conversation I’d had on Tuesday with one of the guys in my club, a local swim coach.  He’d suggested trying to work in more stroke work during these swims, both to break up the monotony and as a way to just build muscle mass.  So I tried it.  I don’t know that it was necessarily abetter workout than I’d have gotten if I’d just worked the whole thing freestyle, but it was certainly different, and that counts for a lot when you’re swimming back-and-forth for an hour.
200 SKIPS*
Aerobic Grunt-Work
8 x 100 @ 1:25 (85% effort)
 -- 50 easy
Main/Stroke Set
8 x 50 alternating fly/free @ :55
Cool Down
100 easy
The 8 x 100 freestyle felt pretty good.  The water was a touch warmer than I’d have preferred, but I was around 1:10 on the first 100 and kept it under 1:15 for all of the others.  That’s about where I need to be.
The 50’s fly/free were more of a challenge.  I tried not to work the butterfly reps too hard, but I just don’t have the kind of long, loose stroke that I used to have as a teenager.  I could still get the 50’s fly under :35 consistently--even after I started getting tired--but doing it took a lot of effort.  Hell, just holding my stroke together for the last two 50’s fly was tougher than I’d have liked.
Part of the problem, I think, is that I don’t have the kind of core strength that I used to have.  Where my stroke used to be anchored by a really strong kick, even when I got tired, now I have to muscle it with my arms.  Unfortunately, that kind of thing only goes so far.
Anyway, the theory here is that working fly will strength your core muscles, which will help with all three disciplines.  I suppose there’s no reason not to combat test that theory over the next two months or so, but it looks like it’s gonna be a lot of work making that happen.
Swimming Total: 2 x swim workouts (1900, 2450); 43.5 pts.
I rode my commute four time this past week, and for the most part, I enjoyed it.  The weather warmed up a bit, and besides that, it was nice just to start building a little rhythm into my riding habits.  If I’d wanted, I could’ve ridden every day last week, but I rode my commute and ran at lunch on Wednesday and then decided to take Thursday off completely.  That was a good decision.  I felt much better on the bike on Friday and had more than enough energy on Saturday for a short ride with my friend Ben.
Saturday was, of course, Tri Club practice.  We’d decided to ride last weekend, and folks seemed fired up about it.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t look too promising as the week progressed, but still, I stuck to my guns.  By the time Saturday morning rolled around, it was in the lower-40s and windy (but not super-windy), and it wound up being just me and Ben who showed up for practice.  For shame!  I’ll agree that 40º with 15 mph of wind isn’t ideal riding conditions, but it is definitely ridable.  I’ve ridden in worse nearly every day this past winter.
Well.  Alisha said something about her bike and her trainer; my friends Chris and Steve both had prior commitments…  Blah, blah, blah.  I hear all that, but still.  In the event, it was just me and Ben out there freezing together for the first twenty minutes.  After that, though, things warmed up, and I have to say that I really enjoyed the ride overall.
Ben needed to go 90-minutes for his half-Ironman training program, while I was trying to figure out how I was gonna get in both a ride and a run during the weekend without blowing completely past my 120-point total goal.  Eventually we decided to just ride some hills together for an hour and then call it a day.  Ben went on to work another half-hour easy on the bike while I came back, threw on some running shoes, and put in a quick run just to keep all three disciplines at least somewhat balanced on the week.  I came out feeling great, and we both finished at the same time, so I suppose everything workout out the way it was supposed to.
Cycling Total: 4 x commute ride; 1 x brick (4 x 11 mi.; 14.5 mi.); 58.5 pts.
Yeah, I know.  You probably rode 58 miles on Saturday all in one shot.  I get that.  We’re just not there yet.
All I wanted to accomplish running this week was to get out there twice without exhausting myself.  I did that.  I ran at lunch on Wednesday for a little more than half an hour, keeping something like an 8:45/mile pace over the Bridle Trail in Central Park.  Then, as I mentioned above, I turned Saturday’s scheduled bike workout into a little brick, basically just to try to keep my running form together.  The running portion of that workout turned out to be two-and-a-quarter miles, lasting just under twenty minutes.  
Like I said, I wasn’t out there killing myself.  But I did get in my two runs.
Running Total: 2 x short runs (3.6 mi., 2.25 mi.); 23.5 pts.
Triathlon Training Total: 125.5 pts.
That’s more points than I’ve done in a good six months or more, and it’s absolutely the maximum of what I feel comfortable doing right now.  As I write this, it’s Monday morning, and I’m tired but not dead tired, so I’m probably about where I need to be.
I had been thinking about trying to push through six weeks without a Rest Week as a kind of forced Spring Training, but having started--finally--with some more serious training, I’m kind of doubting the wisdom of that six-week plan.  There is no doubt that I could do it, but would I be so tired at the end of it that I’d need to take two weeks off to fully recover and prepare for the rest of the season?  That’s the question.  Plus, it’s not like the rest of my life ever takes a break.  Hannah’s still got the lead in the school play, Sally’s still incredibly busy doing all of her stuff, and I’ve still got a job and a life outside of triathlon.  
So.  We’re supposed to have crappy weather for a good portion of the coming week, and I think I’m going to use that as a way to get some rest.  It’ll make it tough to commute on the foldie one way or another, but if I also back off running and swimming, I should feel better by the weekend.  Then we’ll put in a long, easy run with the Club on Saturday morning and be back at it by next week.

The Points System
Every post is someone’s first, right?
Well, if you’re new to the blog, here’s how it works: I train using a points system that I discovered a couple of years ago on Slowtwitch.Com.  I would gladly link to the original article, but I’ve been unable to find it.
Anyway, you get one point for:
 -- 100 yards swimming
 -- 1 mile cycling
 -- ¼-mile running
This gives you a rough equivalency that I personally use all the time for lots of different things:
100 yards swimming = 1 mile riding = ¼-mile running
That’s not precisely true for everyone, of course, but it’s the best one-size-fits-all formula that I’ve ever seen, and using it certainly helps in comparing one’s overall training week-to-week over the course of a multisport season.
With that, one hundred points becomes a useful benchmark.  It is:
 -- 10,000 yards swimming
 -- 100 miles riding
 -- 25 miles running
In each case, that is a decent amount of training for any of those individual sports, although to be fair, the best guys will crush that on a day-to-day basis.  Still, if someone tells you that they run 25 miles/week or ride 100 miles/week, you at least know that they are reasonably serious.
Finally, my experience with this shows that:
 -- 100 pts/week is about where you want to be to do a Sprint.
 -- 150 pts/week will get you ready for an Olympic.  This is me at 10 hrs/week.
 -- 200+ pts/week will get you ready for a half-Ironman.
 -- 300+ pts/week is what you need to do for a full Ironman.
All of these are rough guidelines, of course.  Your particular mileage may vary.
Finally, I train on a four-week cycle, using three working weeks (Weeks 1, 2, and 3) and a Rest Week.  I probably won’t take a Rest Week this week, however, because I don’t need it yet.  Truth is, I haven’t put in a real training week in nearly six months.  But I’m getting there, and it’s only March, so I guess there’s time.

*SKIPS: Swim, Kick, IM, Pull, Swim.

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