Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Different Athlete

Thought you might enjoy reading some tidbits of notes that I've written in my Training Peaks account the last few days...

I expected to feel super strong this morning after several easy days but interestingly I did not...

blah. felt like a lethargic elephant this morning.

super slow jogging but didn't feel easy??

Missing 10-20W off what I would have expected- Just felt weak.

I felt like shit and was swimming sloooow. BLAH. I looked at my watch once to see how bad it was on one of the 'fast' 50's... saw 43" and then just stopped looking.

power meter crapped out after ~3 hours but no big deal I didn't like my power numbers today anyway.

was pissy in my own head

still super windy so I swore out loud a lot and wasn't loving my bike

blah. well there you go, I'm 3 for 3 in shitty training sessions today. I'm fairly certain this is not excess training fatigue but rather pissy PMS hormones. I'm just all around in a bad mood today negative thoughts, etc and I'm not 'tired' per say just BLAH.

All better today. Estrogen is magic. Seriously. The difference in how I think and how my brain works today vs yesterday is night and day.

100x better than yesterday

physically I felt strong today and mentally I were there too. solid ride

This actually felt great!

Can you tell what happened there?? Mama was PMSing. It was an ugly 3 days or so Sunday-Tuesday... By Tuesday I had it figured out what was going on so I wasn't necessarily beating myself up over my crap training sessions b/c I understood by then what was happening... but yikes I was still super pissy and negative. I actually thought my cycle wasn't going to start until today (Thurs) so my expectation was that yesterday would be ugly too, so you can imagine my surprise when I woke up and smiled and realized that I didn't feel awful. Hmmm. Turns out, I started a day early. For me, the day I start my new cycle is like magic- I tend to feel like Superwoman immediately and that's exactly how it played out this month as well. I am a completely different athlete when I am PMSing vs when I am not.

Anyway, I suppose different women respond in different ways to monthly hormonal shifts... I've been paying close enough attention to mine for several years now that I've got it pretty down pat. I put a little * in my TP calendar on the day I predict I'm going to start the next month and that way if/when several days before that I notice I'm feeling fat, grumpy, slow, or whatever I can at least understand it even if I cannot change it.

Another funny thing is when I'm able to tell when some of my female athletes are PMSing as well. I'm not really a mind reader or anything... But when they wrote stuff like Feeling like a fat ass today, well, it's pretty obvious! Ha! And I'm only laughing b/c I've written those exact same notes before! :)

I guess my point here is that paying attention and understanding these hormonal shifts and cycles is really key to cutting yourself some slack on your shitty PMS days. Without that understanding of what was actually happening to me hormonally, my coach might be scratching his head a little trying to understand why I didn't respond well to the little rest block he prescribed (yes I tell my coach- poor guy- BUT I think it's important he knows even if he doesn't totally get it- at least then we don't question/blame the training plan, you know?)

You want to know the really great news? I'm finally, for once, NOT going to be PMSing while racing an Ironman! My last 3 Ironmans have happened 1-2 days prior to the start of a new cycle. I have high hopes that means I'm actually going to have an Ironman that just might reflect my training. So.Super.Stoked about that! :))))

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tackle Swimming!

It was my birthday yesterday. I am 39!

To celebrate, we opted for a little break from hard core training and planned a birthday party Mokes swim. We talk about Mokes all the time so here are some pics to give you a good visual! It really was this aqua color- no photo enhancing or anything needed!
We pre-loaded with a beer while putting our wetsuits on... it looks warm and all, and I supposed it is doable without a wetsuit but the winds are still blowing 20-30mph and well, we are wimpy (some of us). Plus, we justify it that we're racing in a wetsuit in a few weeks so we should definitely practice in our wetsuits! Full sleeves nonetheless. No, I was not hot.
Moana now also has a wetsuit! Mostly we just don't want her to be miserable when we're out so seemed like she shouldn't have to suffer being cold if we don't! She was so darn cute in that Rip Curl suit though... oh my.

I will tell you too- she is such a bad ass. There are many adults who are too afraid to make the trip out to those islands.... but my 4 year old can do it! Even in crazy conditions! Mostly b/c she trusts us and Scott and I are both super comfortable in the ocean so she just soaks up that vibe, I think. Check this out though... in the background you can see how it was indeed pretty rough out there yesterday. So Scott goes on a surfboard and she hops on his back. Like a monkey! She said, Well, I was a little bit scared but mostly excited.

Our neighbors took a kayak out there and hauled a bunch of beers. So we hung out for a while on the island, soaking up the atmosphere and talking story!
Here's the view between islands. Even we are not BSC enough to try to swim around the back side on a day like this.
So you know what is super fun?? Swimming in the ocean after drinking several beers!! Ha! Swimming back I was next to Nalani the whole way and laughing pretty much the whole time. It's actually fairly challenging to laugh and swim at the same time. ;) As we got closer to shore I decided that maybe I should remind her what an ironman swim actually feels like... so I swam right over top of her... hand on her back shoving her down... we both popped up and started laughing hysterically. Like, uncontrollably can't stop laughing all time funniest mokes moment ever... And then I did it again and again and again. Full on tackle swimming. In good news, Nalani is now fully prepared for that swim in Los Cabos. I'm such a thoughtful coach. ;)

Then we hung out some more... eating the most awesome chocolate mocha cake ever... finished off that case of Guiness... Pretty fitting birthday party for me I think. Mahalo to everyone who came out and helped me celebrate! :)))

Don't worry- tomorrow we'll get down to business and knock out those obligatory 39x200's.

Friday, February 15, 2013

When Things Aren't Clicking...

Sometimes your training week goes awesome... You're planning ahead and working hard and surprising yourself by nailing some hard sessions that you weren't even sure you could do... Those are great weeks! So much fun! I've actually had a lot of those weeks recently...

But not all weeks go like that. Sometimes things just go bad. I've found this is typically related to too much excess stress... so you're trying to fit your normal training on top of excess stress at work or at home and that just doesn't work. When outside stress is low, athletes can handle more training stress. (Hence, if you follow social media at all you see that um, everyone?? is at a training camp right now... clearly the best way to focus on training without any excess stress from home/work!) When outside stress is high (wife is sick, kids are sick, boss comes into town, have to travel for work meeting, etc) then it's just a fact that something's gotta give. These weeks, if you try to fit it ALL in, in an obsessive compulsive way (um, guilty!), things just won't click. Sometimes you end up sick. Sometimes you end up injured. Sometimes you just end up tired.

So what to do?? This depends, I think, partly on your philosophy but mostly where you're at in your season (ie how soon are your races coming up??) If it's a while before your big race(s), and by a lot I mean 12+ weeks, then DON'T STRESS IT. Let the training go. Get your life in order. Set yourself up so that when it matters, you're in a position to put the good training in. If, on the other hand, you're close to a big race, then sometimes it's about sucking it up and figuring it out (depending on your goals of course). I will say this... the folks who are on the podium at big races have set up their lives in such a way as to minimize outside stress and therefore maximize quality training/recovery time.

I had a challenging week here myself. I was bummed because I just couldn't do it all. I wanted to, and the fact that I couldn't led me into a bit of what felt like depression for a few days. Not like full blown depression but just bummed b/c I'd been hitting everything perfectly and then to not be able to do it for a few days initially felt like failure. So I was sad. BLAH! In these scenarios it is good to remind ourselves that the fitness you build from consistent training doesn't disappear when you miss a couple of training sessions. Phew! And if you are able to get in the right mindset about your situation (ie, let it go!) then eventually- and maybe sooner rather than later if you handle the stress right- you'll be back doing what you love and killing it again! :)

It all came back together for me today. I showed up at the pool in my pink sparkle suit and Mark said, "Oh crap... She's wearing that suit!" because he knew that meant it was going to be an extraordinarily challenging workout. Yep! Couple days away from big training just left my hungry to HIT IT today and boy that's what we did! I am not kidding we didn't even warm up... just got in and swam 1000 straight (that was supposed to be warm up but somehow it turned into a race, like from the first stroke, I blame my pink sparkle suit, and the fact that it was Steve's birthday and he had a wild hair up his ass or something)... It was one of the fastest 1000's I have ever swam without paddles. Lol. Nice way to start the session. Then we did a whole bunch of 100's on a roomy interval, which is actually WAY harder than the threshold 100's we do on tight intervals b/c roomy interval means GO MAX EFFORT. We didn't speak a lot during that set. But the racing (and panting) continued! I was stoked b/c I was hitting the fastest 100's I've ever swam in that pool... and narrowing the gap to Nalani ever so slightly...  Yes! ;)  Finished it up with another 1000, this time tying our feet together just for the extra challenge (this is what happens when I am not as tired as I should be from a big training week- I go crazy and try to kill us in a single session lol)... It was all good though. The extra 'rest' I had this week was apparently good! (My swim partners might disagree...)

I guess the point here is just that we all endure ups and downs in life/home/work/training... Prioritize what's important, take care of the people in your life, and get back to training when your life is sorted. You'll be hungrier than ever and ready to crush it in a very rewarding way. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Big Girl Pants

A joke with some of my athletes lately has been about putting on your Big Girl Pants... Sometimes I'll write that into their workout descriptions when the session is an especially challenging one. Nalani and I were emailing about the a few weeks back and she looked at her training for the week and commented that she'd be supergluing her big girl pants on for the whole week... which I found funny. Leave it to Nalani to make the best comments about this kind of stuff! :) So anyway, that's been the little BSC inside joke as of late.

I've taken it a step further and actually declared one of my pairs of run shorts to be my Big Girl Shorts. Which is ironic because they are actually the smallest ones I own! I bought these shorts online with a gift certificate from one of my athletes... and when they first arrived I sort of gasped, then came to the conclusion that Lululemon shorts were for skinny runner girls, not cyclists who actually have glute muscles. That is code for I ate too much crap in December and my ass is too big for these shorts.
In good news, I ate less crap trained more in January and now these fit like shorts instead of bootie tights so I gained the courage to wear them. The first time I pulled them out was for what I thought (at the time, oh how perspectives change) was a pretty big/hard fartlek run... something in my head clicked like If I'm going to have the courage to pull off this run then I'll muster the courage to wear these shorts! And it worked! I pulled off the run session without dying and called it a success and from that day forward these became my Big Girl Pants. I'm 4 for 4 with good runs in these shorts now. Batting 100 I think they call that? I pulled them out again for todays track session, and again, success! I definitely impressed a guy at the track... though I don't know if it was the shorts? Toward the end of my session he showed up and asked, "Is it my imagination or have you been running here for two hours?" I hadn't seen him there at the beginning but I just smiled and said "I'm almost done." :) #TeamTBB #trackspecial

I've got a similar story with a swim suit now... Months back I ordered a bunch of splish suits when they were on sale... $25 you can't pass up, right?? But when this one showed up I gasped and thought no way I'm stuffing my body into that thing and going out in public... not even if it's just the local pool where just about everyone is 70+ years old.

But then the weeks passed and the weight started to come off and my swim times started to come down and all of a sudden I had the confidence to show up to the pool in pink sparkles. I decided that I would only pull this one out for key swim sessions, though who am I kidding? Key swim sessions happen at least 3x/week these days so I could wear this suit quite often if that was the only criteria. I will say though, on Friday at the pool, Mark asked me if this suit was magic or something b/c I was swimming so much faster than normal. I replied that it was. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :) And fwiw, several of the old ladies at the pool told me they loved it. One of them even asked if she could touch it. Not.kidding.

So there you go! Find yourself some Big Girl Pants (or swim suit!) They're magic!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Training For Confidence

I've found it interesting that over the last few weeks the folks over at Endurance Corner have been writing about maximizing your strengths... I've really enjoyed reading their take on what it means to them and why an athlete might consider approaching training in this way. I know there are some different views on this topic but it hit kinda close to home for me so I thought I'd share my personal views. :)

So I come from a swimming background and feel my strength is swimmer/biker. In the past I've had coaches really try to focus on bringing up my run as that is clearly my weakness... so of course that makes sense logically, no? I've felt the same way... that damn run!!! Argh. Has it worked? Not really. I mean, my run has gotten better of course and I am more durable than I've been in the past but it's not like I'm on my way to cracking 90' in a half marathon or anything. 18 damn years trying to run and still no one who knows running would call me a 'runner'.

In the past when I have felt like I was really focusing on my run, I've cut down on swimming/biking with the thinking that I would then have more time/energy to focus on running. And when I did that, not only did my run not really improve a ton, but my swimming and biking became rather mediocre as well. So now I'm in T2 without the lead I need and those damn runners are just that much closer to catching me. GAH. That did not work.

Interestingly, my current coach is doing what the coaches at Endurance Corner have been writing about... maximizing strengths! And you know what? I am loving it. The benefits I see are as follows:

~Coming from a swimming background I can swim 5x/week- and a lot of it very hard- and it does not take that much energy out of me. I regularly go do a hard bike or run session after I swim super hard and based on the numbers I'm seeing, I would say those sessions are not suffering at all.

~When my swim is going well, I have more overall confidence as an athlete. I feel indestructible. Seriously- that was what I was telling myself at the end of our 5K swim this morning... ripping off some near max effort 200's with paddles on very short rest and all I'm thinking is I'm indestructible. I'm indestructible. That's a great mantra by the way. Totally works. :) Honestly, I think- as a swimmer- the worst thing a coach can do to a swimmer is reduce his/her swim strength. That is a confidence killer and it just doesn't work.

I'd say the same thing about biking- when I'm biking a lot and biking hard (and therefore biking well!) I have a ton more confidence than when I'm not putting in the big training on the bike. And now that I'm fit enough, it does not take a ton out of me which means I still have the energy I need to put into key runs. Which really, how much key running can one safely do?? I can go swim hard 5-6x/week and won't get hurt. If I run hard 5-6x/week I'd be on the sidelines with an injury.  That's just the nature of the sport. So I'm watching closely what coach is having me do and I think he's spot on... drill the swim, drill the bike, and run as much and as hard as I can handle without getting hurt. So the run comes along slowly, but it's coming along... and really, no more slowly than it was when I was swimming and biking less! So I could reduce my swimming and biking, but b/c of the nature of running I really could not then run any more or any harder... so reducing my swim/bike would just be a waste of talent and a hit to my confidence level.

So will this approach work? My gut says it will. And that's half of it, right? Believing in your program? Going into your race with the confidence that your strengths are as strong as they can be and your weakness is minimized as much as possible is priceless. So we'll see I guess!?! 5 weeks!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Today the ocean was stunning... Simply amazing. It was crystal clear and I felt like I was swimming in an aquarium. There was hardly any wind chop and I was out there cruising with some friends and just felt super happy. The ocean is not always like that so when it is, we take time to appreciate it.

While we were swimming I found myself thinking about perceptions... and how the way we perceive something maybe changes over time or on different days or years or whatever. Sometimes a 55' ocean swim feels like training. Today I viewed it as a reward.

Afterward I went for a run. Coach gave me a fartlek set to do today... it was one he gave me once before (during my first week with him).  I remember it distinctly because I was afraid of it. I think I even wrote that in my post-workout notes- that I was afraid of that run. And I remember thinking something like I bet a couple months from now I will look back and laugh at the fact that I was afraid of this run. Indeed! It only took 6 weeks. :) Today that run felt like a no brainer recovery set. Totally nothing to fear at all.

Workouts are progressing. Each week it builds a little. But my perception of what is "crazy" has seriously changed. Now I look at some of these workouts and just figure out which ones I'm going to need to mentally prep for vs which ones I could/should just shut my brain off and do. I am not actually perceiving any of them as "crazy" anymore. Pretty cool how we can train our bodies and our minds like that. Coach is doing an awesome job of bringing me along.

That's all. Have a great week!

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Quiet Brain

Phew! I did it... got through the little 4 day block coach just threw at me. He might as well have sent me this e-card along with the plan for the week...

He said this week would be "mentally challenging" which I think I took as a dare of some sort... like maybe I would crack again part way through so my goal was to not do that.

So I had a lot of time the last few days in my own brain... training by yourself will allow you to really think about things... maybe too many things... Maybe you start thinking too much and overanalyzing too much and is my power where it should be oh no I'm off pace 10"/mile I should be swimming faster or maybe this is too fast and not sustainable... blah blah blah.

We hear a lot that our brains have a ton of power that most of us don't even start to harness and I'm learning about that more and more as the years go by. I'm a total believer in the power of our brains but I'd say that until recently I have not really learned how to harness it. But I've got some interesting examples/lessons from this week that I thought I'd share.

My notes in Training Peaks from yesterday's key swim:
"Woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a bus BUT all week I'd been mentally prepping myself to swim fast today, so this turned out to be a stellar swim! Fastest 800 on record then the 100's were really solid as well."

So if I would have listened to my body yesterday, I would have had a super shitty slow swim. But since I'd made a decision- before I even arrived at the pool- that I was going to rip it and swim faster than ever , I was able to do that. Pretty cool. 100% that was my brain telling my body what it was going to do. I think some of my athletes are starting to experience this a bit now too- recognizing key workouts as key as mentally gearing up for them ahead of time and then surprising themselves at what they can do! Good stuff for sure.

The description of the bike ride after that swim said something like "Most wouldn't give you a ride like this the day after a run like that..." Then he told me this ride would "hit me mentally" and reminded me that I requested ''No kid gloves..." So, um, needless to say I was scared shitless of that ride before I even started! I swear that the only way I got through it was making a concerted effort to shut my brain up and just not think. I rode mostly by effort and really tried to not obsess over what my power meter was telling me and I'm not kidding when I say I hardly even remember doing that ride. Quiet, brain! And it worked! Part of my post ride notes:
"Ta Dah! No kid gloves needed! :) This went way better than I anticipated it would... no big efforts at all but no sightseeing either... moderate winds but weird- coming from all directions today not normal at all... BUT roads were dry so it was good... I got stronger as I went and covered 81 miles in 3:59. And it didn't feel hard. I just shut my brain off and pedaled my bike. Perfect. Interestingly, I was not pissy at all during this. Somehow, I expected to be..."

So I think the key there was that I had a healthy fear of that ride but going into it I had already decided that whatever it was would be fine and that I would not beat myself up over it. Turns out, that was a good mental approach to the ride b/c I didn't need to beat myself up over anything! Pleasantly surprised for sure.

So on the other side of that coin, when you don't mentally gear yourself up for a session b/c you don't think it's going to be that hard or it's not key or whatever, it's easy for it to go very poorly. Pretty much any swim these days that says 'aerobic' I just think will be fairly easy so I don't give it two thoughts... No 'healthy fear' at all. This mornings swim was like that and I was shocked every time I looked at my watch at how slow it was. Like, I was just barely making intervals I'd written for myself thinking they would be super roomy but instead I was coming in getting like <5" rest and just laughing at myself at how slow I was. Polar opposite of yesterday! Had I lost all my swimming ability in the last 24 hours? Of course not. But clearly I need the right mind-set to get myself to swim fast when I'm tired... which I can do, as evidenced by yesterday, but it requires more grit than I was willing to put forth today. I can accept that.

Finished up the block with a long run and of course back comes the healthy fear. I have not had a decent long run in months- I think I'm typically just going into all of them too trashed to run well. Last week my long run was simply practice putting one foot in front of the other while feeling like ASS. Maybe I needed more healthy fear? One thing I know for sure is that I needed to quiet my brain. I think one key to that, for me, is to not obsess over data. I am not kidding when I say I did not once look at my garmin until mile 18 today. I felt it buzz every mile- so I knew when to take my gels and e21- but no idea of pace. I actually just assumed it was going to be super slow and really I just didn't even want to know b/c I knew that information would just piss me off. I didn't feel like I was sucking today but then I didn't feel like I was sucking last week either until I saw the numbers that told me I was sucking- which then made me think I felt like I was sucking. Don't know if that makes sense? So my goal today was to avoid that knowledge and just focus on running as I felt vs what any numbers were telling me. So when I came through 18 miles 9+ minutes faster than last week I can tell you I was SHOCKED. The beauty of a quiet brain... I am learning! :)

So this weekend, as you're out doing your training, try quieting your brain and see what happens... You just might surprise yourself!