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And so it begins…

April 9, 2012

We just started our actual Ironman training plan this Sunday. So now it really begins. Just over seven months of scheduled training sessions, workouts with a team, training races, and more, all to make sure I’m ready for Ironman Arizona.

After several months of base-building, with relatively shorter workouts, Sunday was super intense. I started the morning off with Bikram Yoga for a friend’s birthday party. How cool is that? One of the members of my gym invited a bunch of us to do yoga with him for his birthday. I finished yoga at 9:30 am, and then had an hour and a half before a team bike ride on the computrainers. So I cycled the mile between the yoga studio and crossfit gym, sat down, ate, and rested a bit. Then on to the computrainers for 90 hard minutes (it’s warm enough to ride outside, but city riding is not great for real training). I need to try to get a new bike sooner rather than later. My touring bike works great for long slow days of riding cross-country, with multiple stops, etc, built in. Not so great for consistent in the saddle high speed riding. I already sort of knew that. But 90 minutes riding reminded me very quickly! My legs were dying by the end. After the ride, another hour break and then an hour of olympic weightlifting class (also at my crossfit gym). We were working on our clean and jerk, but did a lot of front squats to build the leg strength. This included a static half-squat hold, where we got the bar bell on the front of our shoulders (95 lbs for men, 65 for women), got into a squat with legs parallel to the ground, and then held it for as long as possible (goal time 90 seconds). My legs were wobbling by 15 seconds and I dropped the bar by 26 seconds. I’ve done about 35 seconds before, but not after 90 minutes on the bike!

The yoga and lifting were not actually part of our training plan, but it did fit well that they were on our “long” endurance day. It was definitely a good first test of my ability to recover in between workouts. The best part about being on a team training plan now is no more excuses. If I wasn’t on a training plan, I would not have skipped a workout today. But I might have decided that it was okay to do 3-5 miles steady state run, since my legs are so tired. And yes, once in a while, if I’m really beat up, it is appropriate to veer off the training plan to take a couple days lighter recovery. But more often than not, I really can keep training hard. Our training plan has the recovery time built into it. And the only way to get stronger is to break the body down (literally — your body gets stronger when it rebuilds itself). So today, I will be going down to the track for speed work on running. I think we’re doing a three mile time trial. I did one of these on my own a couple weeks ago, but on fresher legs. I’ll tell the coach what my time was from that trial, and then we’ll see how my time compares when I’m on more tired legs.

As much as part of me doesn’t like giving up control of my workout schedule, giving up the ability to throw in whatever random workouts and competitions I like, it’s also nice to not have to think about “what should I be doing?” Our coach will give us our weekly workout plan, and I should just follow that. We’ll do three team workouts a week, one each for bike, swim, and run, plus other workouts on our own (but trying to get in some of those together as well when possible). I’ll still retain a little control, in the minimal sense that life happens, and if I have to miss a scheduled workout, I might have to figure out on my own what makes sense for me to do to fill it in. For example, when I’m traveling for a conference I’ll have to try to make workouts match the scheduled plan as close as possible. But otherwise I shouldn’t be trying to add much extra on my own — I don’t want to overtrain.

And when I’m in Chicago, I should be trying to do the scheduled workouts as much as possible, instead of just deciding to swap things out. I know my schedule can be hectic sometimes, so I will inevitably miss some scheduled workouts, even when I’m in Chicago. And when that happens, I might jump on the erg or something at home to fill in as best I can. But if I can do what’s on the schedule, I should do that, instead of just deciding “the erg sounds fun today.” I will be adding extra swimming workouts to our group plan (already cleared that with my coach) because I need the technique work.

Time to start tracking more closely my nutrition, both in general and during endurance workouts (I ate a banana and some craisins during the 90 minute bike ride which seemed to work well), tracking my sleeping, tracking my energy levels, tracking my workouts and how I felt during and after them. All of this will let me figure out what works for my body and what doesn’t. For now, I’m looking forward to a 90 minute massage this afternoon, before the track workout this evening. I wish I could afford to make massages part of my normal routine. But this one was a holiday gift from my parents that I saved for a time I really needed it.

223 days till Ironman Arizona.

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