Nearing race day, I can only reflect on the work that was done with Karel as my teammate, coach and biggest supporter. I'd like to believe that he thinks the same way about me for we have really enjoyed sharing this journey together. It's awesome when we both have amazing workouts and after the work is done, drenched in sweat we can share thoughts from our workout. But it is still entertaining when one of us has a great workout and the other, well, not so much. Thankfully this happened only a few times but two athletes in the same house with similar training plans means a lot of highs and lows, not always at the same time. But I guess in a good way, it is great to hear about a high with someone when your workout didn't go as planned. There's no reason to beat yourself up for your "off" feeling when a loved one is having a great day. I really enjoy this part of training because being able to share all moments with Karel has kept me enjoying this journey more than my past 5 IM experiences. As usual, I have never felt burnout, questioned "why" am I doing this, felt fatigued or exhausted. I have woken up excited for every workout and I feel progress was made in every workout. I owe a lot of this to sharing the workouts with someone as it is amazing how we all can use a little pep talk (or sound advice) when things don't go as planned as many times, it only takes one negative thought to ruin a workout but one positive thought to keep on going.
Nearing our taper, these last few weeks are very race specific in terms of training. This means no more group rides to ensure we both enter the race with skin on our body (not risking group-ride crashes). We have been extra careful on rest and rather than having 1 day of rest or active recovery, we have been taking 2 days, with race specific workouts falling every 2-3 days + 1 day active recovery. Because many athletes do too much too soon (or too long) in training, taper often becomes a time of "necessity" - I finally get to rest or I need to keep going hard. Realizing that no more significant performance gains can be made and endurance has already been built over the last 10 weeks of IM specific training, the elements we are trying to balance include resisting fatigue, maintaining fitness, staying healthy, staying mentally strong/focused and keeping good form. All of this can be done with the right type of training plan in the weeks leading up to a race and for many athletes, the taper can be the time when previous weeks/months of training are either put together for a peaking performance on race day....or fear-based training (at any point in training) takes over the athletes' mind and come taper, too much "I need to rest" ruins the athlete's race day performance. It is a tough combination to balance but it can be done..you just have to trust yourself that it will all come together on race day.
Every athlete will peak differently, primarily based on previous training, current fitness and racing/season goals. Obviously, Karel and I want nothing more than to peak on July 28th so we are maintaining fitness while doing everything possible to reduce fatigue. We entered this week with a rested body thanks to a day off on Monday, an active recovery swim on Tues and an EZ endurance (2 hour) bike on Wed. We both did an intense brick (3 hour ride + 8 mile run) on Thurs (Karel ran 4 miles upfront before the bike) and then Fri was an endurance swim. Saturday was our "long run" with fresh legs again (for Karel, he split it up into 4 miles upfront, 3.5 hour ride, 10 mile run...then off to work for the day - what a trooper! For me, 2 hour ride + 15 mile run) and Sunday was our 2nd and last 100+ mile ride with our 10 week IM specific training. I don't believe in junk miles and none have been wasted on this training. With most of our "long" rides being around 3-4 hours with higher intensity intervals we are able to put the pieces nicely for these longer rides without feeling drained or burnout and with a lot of confidence and endurance in the tank. It's a beautiful thing when fitness comes together over a period of time but what's not so fun is when fatigue happens quickly and lingers around.
Although athletes struggle with resting (some more than others), I must say that without a doubt, you have to put in the work to progress with fitness and to train for endurance events. But without the right balance of training, your risk for poor form increases (and motivation declines) because the body is unable to adapt properly. If you are currently training for an endurance event or seek fitness gains with your exercise routine, be mindful that the body needs to rest in a way that is beneficial to you making gains with your fitness. Not too much, just enough and when I say rest, this means not wasting time on doing miles/time that don't contribute to your race day fitness. Get the workout done, rest and do it again tomorrow.
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup Fage 0% Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp honey
Small handful (about 1/8 cup or so) raisins or currants (optional small handful of dried cranberries)
1/2 cup blueberries