Trek Women
January 29, 2009

Two Too Many?

When I finished my las tri for the season last September, I put away my swimsuit and goggles in exchange for my bike and running shoes.  Who can blame me?  Faced with the beauty of fall weather, who wants to slide themselves into an indoor chlorinated pool for the sake of training.  I spent the fall cycling for enjoyment and running to improve my weakest sport.  It all paid off.  I enjoyed my time on the bike more than I ever have and did actually improve my running right into a new half marathon PR in November.  The swimsuit and goggles remained tucked away until Jan 1st.

When I started swimming again, almost a month ago, I swore my gym had installed a current of some kind along with extra thick and heavy water.  I felt like a fish flopping and gasping, swimming against a current. (And to think, when I started my road to triathlon, the swim was the only thing in which I felt confidence.)   I've spent a month silently cursing my loss of swim fitness, while massaging my tender triceps and sore shoulders.  But, at least I still had cycling and running, right?

After the half-marathon, I took two weeks off from running - I needed the overall break and some recovery time.  Then the holidays hit where my workouts were sporadic, unstructured and mostly about blowing off holiday stress.  It was exactly what I needed during December as a break from a more formal training routine.  On January 2nd, however, I twisted my ankle by simply walking (again, still amazing such a klutz can actually race 3 sports, right?).  I laid off the running, and besides, it had quickly become clear that I needed to reinvest myself in the art of swimming.  Then, two weeks ago I was able to return to running, or, as I'm sure it looked to the rest of the world, something known as "barely moving on a treadmill while gasping from the effort."

Every time I take one step forward, I take two steps back.  If I allow myself to focus on one sport, I rapidly lose the ability to have ability in the other two.  I'm the first one to say that triathlon in and of itself is one of the greatest challenges because of its three sport nature.  Very, very few people can naturally excel in all three areas.  Ask any honest triathlete and they will own up to at least one area being their weakest no matter how much training they put into improvement.  So, while I try to accept the realistic training hour limitations I have in my schedule, I am back on the wagon with all three sports so that I don't have to keep starting over.  But, juggling the schedule of three sports, especially during the winter, is constantly having me ask myself, is this two sports too many?  How do I balance out my abilities and know how to best invest my training time?  Coach Tom forwarded me this article awhile back that I revisited recently as I struggled to figure out my athletic balance and whether or not it is feasible for me to try and achieve my best in all 3 sports (or at least all in the same race).  Let me know your thoughts and if you struggle in the same ways with your training.

-Jen


PS.  And, to make matters funnier, because I don't mind if you laugh at my expense - all this specific training has left my strength training non-existent.  So, in a moment of endorphins overload I did some strength training last week and paid for it with Day After Muscle Soreness (aka "Help I can't lift my arms above shoulder level!") and Day After That Muscle Soreness followed by Day After That Day After Muscle Soreness. . . .    Laugh Away. . . .




January 19, 2009

Miscalculation

Calc Many people ask me how I plan my training.  I am extremely fortunate to have Coach Tom, whom I met when he became the triathlon coach for Team Survivor, and a masterful training program/spreadsheet that he created.  It lists each week of training from January 1st through September, which is when I expect I will wrap my season for 2009.  By entering (or manipulating, as I like to do) the number of total hours I will train for the year, the training spreadsheet will then show me how many hours each week I will be training, accounting for race weeks, tapers, recovery weeks and the like.  It then further breaks each week into swim, bike and run portions, dependent on the percentage of time I want to devote to each sport (more swim this time of year, for example).  In December, when I was getting my program ready, I felt completely comfortable looking at a spreadsheet with weekly volumes of 9-12+ hours of training a week.  Looking at the breakdowns and time for each trainer session, run or swim, for January, I thought, "no problem, I can knock that out easy."

Well, two weeks in I've spotted a miscalculation.  I timed myself the other day and door to door a 61 minute swim session set me back two hours (and that was without factoring in the gym-bag packing exercise).  I had to drive to the gym, get dressed, swim for 61 minutes, stretch, take a shower, get dressed, dry my hair and drive home.  Sure, if I ride my trainer or get out for a run, the time is a little less because I'm not having to drive anywhere but it's still not a 1:1 correlation.  Depending on my level of sweaty, and the timing of the next workout, a shower and changing are usually involved.  The stretching - can't nix that either.  Eating following a workout - nope, not gonna cut that either.  So, I am looking at my training plan with fresh eyes.  If I have to double the amount of time involved to take into account all the parts that accompany the training, I am looking at weeks of 18-24+ hours of training.  I'm not sure that I have that kind of time - in fact, I'm fairly certain I don't, at least without cutting sleep which is completely non-negotiable.  How do you fit it all in? 

So, this week I will tinker.  My ankle is healing nicely and I was able to give it a test run late last week with no problems.  I will fit in as much training as is do-able and then see where I am at, how many actual training hours I am able to accomplish and then plan from there. . .

-Jen

January 15, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

There are many times that I wished I lived in Australia, or really anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere for that matter.  Us Northern Hemisphere occupants have ourselves completely backward.  We choose to have January 1st and all its perceived new year hoopla occur when most of the country is at its coldest, grayest and least inspiring of words like "fresh start" and "new goals."    So while I've been struggling mightily with motivation, I'm feeling especially bad for all those "resolution makers" occupying all the spaces at the gym right now - Could it possibly be any harder to motivate yourself to get to the gym?  Side-note: Forecast for Melbourne, Australia today - 70 degrees and mostly sunny (not that I'm bitter - cold, that is).

My new year tends to coincide with the start of school in September and/or to find that feeling come the beginning of April when the weather gets warm and I can relish in the beauty of all outdoor training again (without layering).  In November, I knew that if I waited for April to have that fresh start feeling to my tri season it would essentially be too late.  Race companies are increasingly opening up registration for even local races in November or December forcing athletes to commit to race schedules months in advance (tough for the cancer survivor amateur athlete who relies a lot on the "wait and see" attitude, but I guess we're a small slice of the racing population). 

For the past two years, my race season hasn't kicked off until mid July.  For the past two years I've also had to bail on anything involving off-season training.  This year I didn't have anything blocking my path to earlier training.  So, I made a bold move - I signed up to race the Memphis in May triathlon (isn't it cool that all the information you need is right there in the title of the race?) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training Program (TNT).  This will be my first "destination" tri but luckily the great TNT tri coordinator gets to be the one who worries about getting my bike from point A to point B (a big plus in my book). 

So, on January 1st, with a committed race less than 20 weeks away I had to start training.  What was I thinking?  It is cold.  It is gray.  Motivation is low.  My rear hurts from sitting on my bike trainer.  I have to dress like the Michelin man just to get to the gym to swim.  I stink at treadmill running. I turned my ankle on January 2nd just trying to go upstairs (I should have taken this as a sign). Seriously. What. Was. I. Thinking?  I don't need a destination tri - I need some destination training.  But, at least having the race out there on the calendar is forcing me to push forward.  My training volume isn't where it should be on my training plan but the running had to be sidelined last week to let my ankle heal. 

So, there you have it - 17 weeks until my first big race of the season.  I have some specific goals for the race but let's see where we are in March before I share those. . . .

Back to the bike trainer. . .

-Jen

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January 7, 2009

Trailer

In order to effectively read this entry, you must imagine the voice you hear in dramatic movie trailers - you know the one - the deep dramatic voice that could make even eating oatmeal sound like a drama not to be missed.

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They were ordinary women.  Women of all walks of life who shared one common love.  They loved to ride their bikes.  Their reasons were different, their passion the same.  They wrote of their love and millions of women responded.  Now, they look to expand their circle.  Brought to you by Trek Bikes, the search begins anew.    They will search high and low and read millions of essays looking to identify five new women who can only be known as. . . .Women Who Ride.  (Insert dramatic music here.)

Coming NOW to the Trek website near you.  The search ends on January 24th.  Rated W - Women Only.

Get writing girls!  I can't wait to see what you have to say. . . .

-Jen

January 6, 2009

Holiday Bubble

159 If I must, I will wish all of you out there a Happy New Year.  I am slow entering the New Year not because I had particular attachment to 2008 but because, for the past two weeks, I have been living in the holiday bubble.  I think it started slowly with Thanksgiving - being away and then returning home with all the once-a-year things that come with the holidays.  But, then came Dec 23rd where my brain took a vacation - a much needed vacation. 

We did Christmas here and then boarded a plane the day after for my parents house in Colorado where my whole family gathered.  I got to spend over a week playing with my niece and nephew whom I haven't seen in a year and spend a significant portion of time (read: all day, every day) generally doing nothing (unless you count flag football, bowling or swimming which are a far cry from working, cooking or bill-paying).  I have some well lived in pajamas (and a belly full of cookies.) 

I spent over a week not checking e-mail (any of the 3 accounts), or thinking any of the  "what I should be doing" thoughts.  I truly unplugged.  179 And, because I wasn't in my own house I couldn't even play the "I'm relaxing by not doing anything but mentally making list after list as I look around and see all the things in my house that need attention" game.   When we arrived back home this past weekend, we rolled right into some hockey games for the boys and more pajama time as 160we re-introduced ourselves to the kids toys (some assembly and batteries required).   The only thing we did as an acknowledgment of sorts to the new year was to drag our sad, dying Christmas tree out of the house.  Jeff momentarily dumped it on the driveway and it left behind a a tree shaped pile of dead needles.  It looked like we should have drawn a chalk outline around it to symbolize it's demise.  That should have been a clue of things to come.  

When the alarm went off yesterday morning to get the boys up for school we were all a little dazed and confused.  There was crying that vacations were too short (Brendan) and a general grumpiness about releasing the warm and comfortable blankets and pajamas (me).  It doesn't help that I started the new year with a reminder to my family about how many days left until Daylight Saving Time (41).

Knowing myself and that my brain operates in slow speed during the first part of January, I thought through plans for the new year before the holidays so that I could hit the ground running (an unfortunate turn of phrase - it's really more of a meandering walk).  Luckily, while I pick myself up from the thud of hitting the ground when the holiday bubble burst, I can still wear my pajamas at the computer this week while I share with you more of my plans for 2009. . .

-Jen