Sunday, January 12, 2014

On Coaching Myself...

Wow this has been a quite a busy and exciting week. Between working on the development of our new website and details of Scottsdale Camp (2 spots left!), Krista and Kelly and I have been in constant communication! It's been a little crazy, but in a really good way... I've also been working on getting a few more local athletes going and teaching several 1:1 swim lessons each week... It hardly leaves me time to get my own training in these days. It's all so good though and I feel super happy/satisfied with this path I've chosen. :)

So yesterday I managed to get out on my bike in the morning... Longest ride since Cozumel at 57 miles! Go me! Funny how looooong that can feel. It's all relative of course, but since I've ridden 30-40 miles like twice in the last 6 weeks, that was long! Anyway, thought I'd write out a bit of how my brain is working right now when it comes to my own training and how I am managing it myself at the moment...

It can be tough to go from an obedient non-thinking coached athlete to being your own coach. All last year I didn't spend much time or energy contemplating about my own training (which honestly can be really nice!). I just did what was on my schedule! I'm totally compliant when it comes to following a training schedule that someone else has written for me- I don't modify or adjust workouts (well except for maybe some of the swim sessions- I have a habit of adjusting those so they are more to my liking, which almost universally means longer/harder, but at the very least means more varied and interesting). Interestingly though, when I am the one writing the training schedule for myself, I tend to modify or adjust nearly every session on the fly. Go figure!

Last time I tried to coach myself I think my biggest downfall was lack of consistency and volume on the bike, as well as not making myself work hard enough on the bike. I would write a specific session for myself but then I would get out there and think I don't really feel that strong today so I'll just cruise this one easier... OR I'd have a ride scheduled but there would be a light rain coming down so I'd think I'll just do that one tomorrow... So avoiding mindsets like those will be my biggest challenge this year!

I sat down and wrote out a very loose training plan for Honu. More like I wrote down the key training sessions I wanted to get in and about when I wanted to get them in... then worked backwards from there and wrote out some sets that would build me toward the key sessions, etc. I hypothesized that I would need a good chunk of time to train by HR- holding myself back and reclaiming that aerobic efficiency that I think eluded me in 2013. On paper, I wouldn't have that efficiency until March.

So in an effort to be more objective about my fitness this year, I've been wearing my HR monitor on every run, and I brought my power meter back out on the bike. Actually, on the bike I set my garmin so I can see HR but not power... but then afterward I have the power data to look at to see what's happening. My thinking was that for now, I want to ride at the right effort level and power can be whatever it is... then as the race season gets closer I'll get more specific about pushing for specific wattage. The thing I want to watch most right now is HR/power ratio because seems to me this is the first element of fitness that needs to be in place.

My first ride back (a few weeks ago) I tried to keep my HR in the 140's... I had to hold back a bit to keep it from floating up and at the end when I looked at the data I had to laugh b/c my power was lower than my avg HR! Yikes mama had some work to do! But then the second ride back, HR and power were almost equal, and by ride #3 I had a HR/power scenario that was more to my liking. So the next step was to watch the decoupling factor... With this goal in mind, yesterday I went out and rode long intervals (2x55') at HR ~145- on the way out and the way back (I have long flat sections of road where nothing interrupts me which is perfect for a session like this). I was capturing power data but not watching it while I was riding (only watching HR)... My expectation was that power at the same HR would fall off in the back half of the ride, but interestingly it did not! Power was exactly the same, to the watt, for both intervals at the same HR. This information leads me to feel like I probably need to adjust that loose plan I'd set out for achieving bike fitness! Turns out those 9000+ miles I rode last year are still right there in my legs and long moderate aerobic riding is NOT what I need to be doing right now after all. I love having that data to guide me in making these decisions!

So where do I go from here? Well, my key race isn't for like 20 more weeks... so doing race specific 20-30' threshold/TT efforts right now would likely leave me peaking too early and flat by the time race day rolls around. I'm trying to avoid that scenario this year (!!) so since I have so much time, my gut says to go the opposite way and do super short HARD efforts looking to max out top end power. That's what I suck at so now would be the time to try to develop that side of fitness... So I'm talking 20-60" at a time just rippin' it! I'll also (of course) do a bunch of big gear strength work and hill reps. In good news, the last little hill up to my house yesterday required 280+ watts just to get up (not even trying to go hard- just to not fall over) so I'll have that to finish up on every time I ride. :)

On the run I don't know if I have the same scenario? It's harder to 'test' because all my runs start with a long downhill and finish with a long uphill... and obviously that has a huge impact on pace at a specific HR! I will have to go to the track and do a long MAF run if I want to gather the same type of decoupling data that I got on the bike yesterday. I can see though that with every run I do, my HR stays a little more stable and pace gets a hair faster, so I think I'll keep doing those MAF type runs on the hills around my house until I see pace stagnate, and then I'll change things up. I did however run a set of short/steep hill reps on Friday. It had been a long time since I had done those so I started with 8 reps and will build from there. I have the PERFECT hill for those right down the street! My old coach had me doing 30 of those short hill reps nearly every week last year. By late summer/fall I'd built up and adapted to that set so it did not hurt me anymore, but I don't think I'll do that again this year. I think the risk outweighs the reward with that and that 10-20 reps is beneficial enough. Just my gut talking there.

Anyway, that's how I'm managing my bike/run training at the moment. I'm finding the process to be genuinely interesting and enjoyable! Let me know if you have any questions... I'd be happy to answer! :)

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