In 10 days I will be participating in my 7th half ironman event - Branson 70.3. I am beyond excited that I will be sharing the course with Karel, for his first ever half ironman. We are both ready and feeling strong and we are out to race our competition with our current level of fitness. The goal is to race smart. We are not out for a specific finishing time but instead to be challenged by what the day will bring. In endurance racing it's not about being fast but rather about who slows down the least. No need to make up time or put any time in the bank. 70.3 miles (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) is a long way for the body and whether you like it or not, fatigue is bound to occur. I can only speak about the event based on the course profile and from other reports but it will be a very challenging bike course so the mind and body will need to work well together.....just like we have trained them to do.
(with good nutrition, of course).
This week is a FULL recovery week. As I mentioned before, all the work is done (as of last weekend). We aren't using the word "taper" for "taper" in my opinion, involves intensity. Right now, we are allowing the body to rest, rejuvenate and repair so volume is really low (typical training week for us has been ~13-15 hours a week, this week is around 7 hours). We both took Monday completely off from training and woke up feeling rested (although a bit sore in the legs from the weekend). By Tues, I was feeling really good so I went for an easy 1 hour spin and Karel took another day off. There's a lot of stretching going on and massages are scheduled for Sun (Karel) and Tues (me). Next week we leave on Fri so before then we will be waking up the body with the same type of low volume "training" but adding in a little intensity w/ adequate recovery. This will give the body a little taste as to what will come on Sept 23rd but without the residual fatigue that comes with periodized training.
At the Ladies Tri Night event on Monday, I dedicated the middle third of my talk to a topic that I have learned to embrace this year. In having my best season ever, I can contribute most of my athletic success this year (which in turn, translates to my athletes having individual success as well) coming from training smart.
For many people, there's the basic understanding that if you want to get faster or reach PR, you just have to train more. It's all about volume.
After removing my stubborn hat a few years ago (pre IMWI '10), I started to recognize the balance, fun and consistent progression that comes from training smart. Or as I like to say, quality training.
So, do you train smart?
ØDo you know the difference between training and an active lifestyle?
ØIs your training/exercise schedule flexible to fit your lifestyle?
ØDo you respect your body when you are injured or fatigued?
ØIs counting miles the only way you feel accomplished?
ØDo you feel guilty if you miss a workout? Are you able to schedule intentional rest/recovery days?
ØDoes a number on a scale or food intake determine your daily training volume and intensity?
ØDo you find yourself comparing your training/exercise routine to others?
ØIs your current training and diet routine working for you?
ØHave you ever raced injured, just for a t-shirt and medal?
ØDo you feel it is normal to experience severe cramps, dehydration, extreme fatigue, lack of appetite, extreme weight loss (or gain) and brain fog, just because you are training for a race, exercising for fitness or racing to a finish line?
ØAre you having fun?
It's not necessary to fit into every category but hopefully the questions (and your responses) will make you think about your current training (and perhaps, diet) regime and if it is working for your body, your personal life and your athletic goals. You may think that your current training routine is working for you but take my word, it is possible to gain fitness and improve performance by focusing more on quality over quantity. It's not just about the miles and burning calories.
If there was one word I could suggest for athletic individuals, the word would be: CONSISTENCY
You do not achieve goals in life on one day. Goals require hard work, dedication, patience and time. If they don't, they likely aren't seen as major life accomplishments.
2) Fuel consistently during workouts, before you feel tired and fatigued.
3) Prioritize nutrition before and after workouts, before you find yourself struggling with recovery.
4) Prioritize your nutrition throughout the day to compliment your intense/long daily training regime rather than obsessing about your intake on your "off" or lighter days.
5) Don't strive for a race weight but rather a strong body that will perform optimally by x-day.
7) Don't "rest" an injury/pain after a workout. Address normal vs. not-normal aches on a daily basis and seek help before it gets worse.
8) Don't just train hard and "rest" unintentionally – when you badly need it. Consider intentional rest days long before you actually need them.
9) Respect and thank your body for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.
10) Have fun, trust yourself and be confident. Don’t rush the journey.
Have you ever seen a child with a garmin while playing tag?? Isn't it funny how so many athletes have to get to x-miles or x-time before the workout is officially complete. I challenge you to run or bike to a destination or to just stop when it feels right.