Saturday, January 8, 2011

Durable? Or Fit? Maybe Both.

Last year when I was coaching myself, my goal was to make myself durable. I reasoned, maybe rightfully so, that being durable was a pre-requisit to being a successful triathlete. I went about achieving my durability goal by beating the crap out of myself nearly every weekend. And sometimes during the week too. Good fun. I loved it.

To some degree, I think it worked. At Honu last year, near the end of the bike (before my flat) I was feeling super and telling myself (out loud!) that I was going to be able to run... I had confidence because I'd put my body through similar scenarios in training all spring.

I never really thought of it in terms of being fit though. My coach now talks to me about being fit. And that when my heart rate does crazy things (like going up but then not wanting to come down) he says its a sign of fitness (or lack thereof). Like seriously? I'm not fit? Come on. Give me a break. I am freaking FIT. Right? Right?

My heart rate tells me otherwise. Nope. Not fit. Not enough anyway. Why won't my heart rate just lie sometimes? A little white lie to boost Mama's ego? That wouldn't kill you now would it?

Why am I even thinking about all this anyway? Well, this morning I had another 4 hour ride on the schedule and since I've been doing so much solo biking in the last few weeks I thought I'd go start the ride with my team and get in a little socializing/training combo. I *knew* I would not be able to simultaneously adhere to my HR guidelines for this ride and ride with the team, but I figured I could chat with them for a few minutes at least in the beginning. Maybe more?

Nope. Not more. In fact, it wasn't 5 minutes into the ride before we hit a little incline and I backed off just a hair to keep my HR from hitting my cap for the day and then it was just bye bye as I watched the group ride away.

I will not lie. That sucked. Especially when the guy on the back of the train kept looking back like he felt sorry for the poor girl who got dropped in the first 5 minutes of the ride. GRRRR. I told some of my friends early on that I was riding by heart rate so if/when I dropped off not to worry- I was fine. But even when you make an informed rational decision to drop off, it still feels a little like being dropped.

So you see, I had 4 more solo hours to contemplate this concept of fitness. Really I was trying to stay relentlessly positive and talk myself into the fact that I was doing the right thing for me... that I was working on fitness today, not durability. (I'm guessing the durability part will come later?) The good news is that even in just 3 short weeks, I have seen some nice gains in fitness. I am riding and running at faster paces than I did 3 weeks ago at the same HR. (Note I did not say 'fast' paces, just 'faster'. There is a difference!) So those little gains I saw this past week gave me the confidence to check my ego at the door this morning, let myself get dropped by my friends/teammates, and do my own thing for the day.

It still kinda sucked getting dropped though. I need to just not even go try to ride with the group again for a while. Maybe not 'til we get to the durability part?

In good news, I executed the workout exactly as coach wrote it today. Pegged a very steady HR the whole way, felt super at the end. Then comes the interesting part. He told me to run 20 min off the bike. No problem. Can do that. Then I read the HR cap he wrote and thought he was smoking crack. I guessed it would be more of a walk off the bike. No way was I going to be able to run at that HR after 4 hours of riding. No way.

I started off running and was seriously just afraid to look down at my HR monitor because I figured I was going to have to stop and walk when I saw it... like living in denial... if I just don't look at it then I can just say oh I didn't know it was that high! Lol... But eventually I gained the courage to glance down. And I had to do a double take. Well look at that?!? Mama was running right where she needed to be. What a nice pleasant surprise. I think it may have even been faster than 10 minute pace. I can run a marathon at this pace, coach! Ta da!

Anyway, possibly the best part about all of this was how I felt walking in the door at the end. I didn't have to fall on the couch and watch the ceiling spin. When Moana tapped me with her magic wand and tried to turn me into a horse, I had the energy to play along! I felt bright eyed and bushy tailed and honestly, if I had to do the exact workout again tomorrow, I could.  Except that tomorrow the schedule actually uses the word 'agony' in the description. I don't know if I even know how to do agony anymore? Oh boy.


Molly said...

It's so fun to watch you going through this anew! Even though it's tough I bet getting all new and different workouts is very exciting for you (it would be for me) - keep up the good work!

Running and living said...

This is so different for how I train, and very interesting. So excited to follow you along!

mmmonyka said...

Very interesting post and I have learnt a lot from it.
It is hard to hold back when you feel good. Ok, I have not tried it yet during the run but I am sure that when I try to run by HR I will have to run 10min pace to keep my HR in check. Because when I run my easy pace my HR is pretty high, which should be a sign of non-fitness (although I can easily hold that pace while jogging a marathon). It makes me mad. But I believe that you are right that one should start very controlled and then the fitness will come. I am just too impatient with running. But very patient with biking:)

Clare said...

always amazing how other people give us different views of ourselves! and how comparing yourself to different people yields such different not fit? laughable compared to me!! yet what your coach said also make sense.

Kelly said...

Great post. I've never really thought of the difference between being fit and durable. Great ride yesterday!!

Sarah Giacomarra Schrader said...

These last few posts have been very enlightening for me. I often go too hard on the run and wonder why I don't make improvements. I plan to dig out my HR monitor today. Thanks!

Aimee said...

I have heard so many great things about HR training! Although it must have been hard for you to hang back on the ride, it sounds like you ended up having an awesome workout!

Regina said...

It really is about checking your ego at the door and not caring what anyone else thinks, isn't it? And you are way 'fitter' than me and have been doing this way longer. Still though, it's tough to stick to your guns even if it is a slooooow draw!