I just had a great weekend of training! It's Sunday night... I'm feeling quite satisfied with the weekend that I just had. Phew!
I spent much of the month of June trying to get my mojo back. I know its very common to have some 'down' time after a big race that you've been focusing on for a long time... And while I can't say I was like, depressed, or anything, after Honu, I did spend about a month feeling somewhat unmotivated to train. Physically I didn't feel great and I felt like I was just going through the motions during my workouts, if you know what I mean.
In my head, Ironman Training began July 1, so I was trying hard to shift my mental focus back to wanting it... I needed to have some hunger for training... But I think I was just so physically tired (or something??) that it just wasn't happening for me.
But finally, this weekend, I felt it. My mojo came back.
The training plan called for an 80 mile ride, including 5 x 5 min hard toward the end, followed by a 4.5 mile run, including a 20 minute hard effort after I got going. That's a tough workout to do if you're just going through the motions.
Turns out, the group ride turned into a girl's ride, and the only two girls were Sandy and myself. As much as I like riding with the guys, riding with Sandy can be just as good. Our average speed may not be quite as fast without a boy up front breaking the wind, but that just means that she and I work harder to do it ourselves. Like we would in a race. So we took turns taking loooong pulls (like 20-25 minutes at a time) and just cruised in our aero bars at a steady effort... until the 5 minute intervals... when we just jammed down the road at a pace normally reserved for a 20K TT. It was awesome.
At the end of the ride, Sandy checked her computer, and we decided that our average speed for the day would have made us both quite happy with our bike splits if we were to ride the same pace in Kona.
Quick change of clothes after I got home and I was off running. In some sick kind of way, I was kind of glad that Jen gave me the green light to push the run for 20 minutes. Many times I'm told to just keep it steady, but not yesterday. Instructions said HARD, in capital letters. So I cruised through the first couple miles of my normal brick run at my normal pace, and then picked it up. I ended up running about 90 seconds faster than I usually do that run- with all of that gain in the last 2.5 miles. I almost peed myself when I looked down at my watch at the end. Really? A PR on this run course after that ride?? Niiice.
Focus on recovery... drink, eat, ice bath, compression socks... 4th of July celebrations... and off to bed before my 2 hour run today.
I remember when I first started training for Ironmans. Like, a looong time ago. First of all, we knew nothing about training methods or recovery or nutrition or whathaveyou. But beyond that point, I was just not physically capable of completing two hard workouts on back to back days. Every time I tried to do a long run the day after a long bike, I would completely fall apart and end up walking, head down, toward home.
I think it really takes years to teach your body how to Go Long. I know some people can do it seemingly overnight... but those folks must have more genetic talent (or something??) than I do, because for me, it took years.
Anyway, my body finally 'gets it'. After 15 years of triathlon training, I can finally say that I can pull off a great long run the day after a great long brick!
I was amazed at how fresh I felt when I woke up this morning. Since my legs didn't feel heavy or anything, I chose my hilly long run... the one that goes up and down relentlessly for 5 miles... and then at the end of the road I snuck through the fence and kept going up the unmaintained road that climbs up the side of a mountain... up up up... and then down... until the road actually ended at a highway that I wasn't going to cross. Turn around and go up up up and then down down down* and then eventually back to the park where it was time to turn the engines ON and push it for 20 minutes. I felt like a rock star running that section... I knew I was working harder than I'd ever worked on a long run (I've been a long time student of the slow long run philosophy, but Jen is teaching me to change up pace during long runs). I felt like I could actually pick my knees and feet up and run up the hills, rather than just slog up them like sometimes I do. Sweet! When I got to the gate that marked the end of the park road, I saw yet another PR on my watch. Gotta like that. I cruised home at what felt like an easier pace, but it was still as fast as I went last week when I ran shorter and pushed it. Go figure.
And now, with my compression socks on, I am actually feeling pretty good. Not nearly as beat up as you'd think after a couple of days like that. I think the key for me is making my easy days EASY. Thursday and Friday were both just aerobic easy days, so clearly that was the key for me this weekend. Keeping easy days EASY allows me to be fresh(er) for the hard days so I can go HARD.
And when I see numerical proof on my watch that I am improving, that goes a long way toward bringing back that mojo I had leading up to Honu.