Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Holiday is Over

Three Toed SlothImage by pierre pouliquin via Flickr
So I've had about 7 weeks off serious training and have spent that time being pretty much a complete sloth.  There's been the odd swim session, an occasional run, an infrequent bike ride and a couple of aquajogging sessions.  When I look at my log it averages around 2 hours per week of exercise - basically nothing!

I did confirm a very important characteristic about myself, though.  If the coach doesn't prescribe it, it doesn't get done.  It seems that I need to have an actual program, with tasks I can schedule in my diary and tick off.  If it's not important enough to schedule then it obviously doesn't matter if it doesn't get done - well that seems to be how my brain works...

Coach Dave had been really relaxed about my training over this recovery period, but he probably wasn't anticipating I'd be quite as relaxed as I was!  However I did suggest that it was time he gave me an actual programme to follow again, as I did recognise that I was starting to go slightly stir-crazy - and he has.

I've also had about 7 weeks without stepping on the scales, so the start of training also meant the dreaded weigh-in.  Thankfully it wasn't as dire as I had expected.  A couple of kilos have found their way back to me but I'm confident they won't be around for too long, and I expect with my more aggressive training schedule this year there will be a few more kilos being kicked into touch, which can't be a bad thing if I'm going to succeed in slicing 2 hours off my 2011 debut IM time.

Another signal to indicate the "start" of the season is the reappearance of the wind trainer in the lounge.  The road bike is back upstairs (in its own bedroom!), only venturing out now for Sunday group rides (on fine days) and the wind trainer is set up in front of the TV ready for week night and wet Sunday sessions.

310 days to Ironman New Zealand 2012 - here I come!

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Avoiding Complacency

One of the biggest dangers about repeating an event, I've found, is complacency.  The first time you do something you train really hard for it.  You have a goal to achieve (to finish) and you want to make sure you're well prepared.  That was certainly true for ironman.  Everything I did the previous year leading up to it was all about getting me to the finish line and the fear of failure provided part of that motivation.  Training was rarely missed and Dave's programmes were followed almost to the letter.

This time around, though, I don't have that fear of the unknown to deal with and train for.  I know I can do it.  I've done it before.  And that's where complacency sets in and before you know it you're going slower at your next event, not faster.

So to get around that, to avoid complacency, I've set new goals with Coach Dave.  And while Dave believes they are realistic goals, they're ambitious enough that they should keep the pressure on and keep the big C out of the picture.

My goal for 2012 then?  To take 2 hours off my 2011 time.
Yep, that's right ... 2 hours.

And the plan is to achieve it by doing the following:

Swim - 15 minutes
- stronger pull action
- increase stroke rate (faster swim stroke)

Bike - 1 hour
- more hill work
- continue focusing on high cadence
- St Pete buys me new time trial bike (!)

Run - 45 minutes
- increase fuel intake on the bike to avoid bonking on the run (Based on what I recall taking in on the bike Dave thinks I simply bonked on the run - because I hadn't eaten enough during the bike leg)
- focus more on maintaining pace rather than timed workouts 

It's going to require more aggressive training but I'm up for it.  Should be an interesting year!

Paying it Forward

Today was a very satisfying day.

No, I didn't bike 100km.  I didn't swim 4km.  I didn't run a half marathon. 

I did bike about 20km ... which took about an hour.  And I did run about 2.5km ... which took about 20 minutes.

So it was a slack day training-wise, but it didn't matter.  And it didn't matter because I was asked to help out at the Christchurch running of the Contact TriWoman Series, out at Pegasus.  What a fantastic opportunity, and Pete and I were delighted to be involved.

The series holds a special place in my heart.  Back in 2003 it was called the Special K Womens' Triathlon and comprised a 300m swim, 10km bike and 3km run or walk, held out at Sumner Beach in Christchurch.  It was the first triathlon I tried and it started me out on my running career and, more importantly, my journey to ironman.  The event was designed to give women an opportunity to try triathlon and to encourage participation in being active and having fun at the same time.  It was hugely encouraging and tailored specifically for the first timers, no matter their age, size or ability.

I had entered as a way of getting into running.  Over the previous few years I had got on top of my weight, losing 30kg through a combination of Weight Watchers and power walking.  However I recognised that power walking wasn't going to cut the mustard for much longer.  I needed a new challenge so I started looking at running and the Special K event.

It seemed pretty achievable - I had a mountain bike and loved cycling.  I could probably fluff my way through a 300m swim.  The challenge for me would be the run.  And so I entered and my goal for the event was to simply get through the run leg without walking.  That was all I wanted to achieve.  It therefore gave me a reason to start running and I did the event and had a ball.  And didn't walk the run leg!

Since then I've gone on to do more Special K Tri's, plus the Contours Triathlon series and then half marathons, long bike events, marathons, half ironman and finally ironman this year.  My turning point, then, in terms of embracing exercise as part of my lifestyle can be pinpointed to the Special K Triathlon. 

So, back to today, and it was great to be able to go out to Pegasus and support the ladies taking on the challenge of a swim/bike/run (or run/bike/run).  Pete got involved with guiding people around the transition area and then helping with the marshalling at the start and finish of the bike leg.  Meanwhile I did duty on the bike, leading the ladies out on the duathlon and then following the last person back into transition before heading out as tail end charlie on the bike course.  Once everyone had finished their bike leg Pete and I then did an impromptu jog around the run course making sure everyone was safely across the finish line.

The weather played ball and provided a perfect day and I hope all the ladies had a great experience and are inspired to achieve all that they want to.