Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hatching The Egg

Alan Couzens wrote a blog last week where he included this quote and it spoke to me...

Hatching chicks is a part of the chicken journey I have not (yet) attempted, but I've read some about it on the Backyard Chickens web pages. Apparently it's really important to let those chicks hatch on their own without any outside assistance, even if it appears that they are struggling and taking forever and might not make it on their own. Apparently, if/when an impatient chicken owner tries to help that chick hatch out of his/her shell, the chick often ends up in more trouble and often doesn't make it out alive. You just can't rush the process.

Anyway, that analogy reminds me of how I've been approaching my run training. I got myself into a bit of trouble in recent months by consistently pushing too much too hard when it came to running. For a while my HR monitor wasn't working, so I did all my easy runs by feel (I wasn't breathing that hard so that was easy, right?) ... then on my hard runs I prefer to focus on pace or effort so I (usually) consciously choose to not use HR during those sessions... Then even when I finally got my HR monitor back up and functioning, I don't know, I think I just figured I was 'past' that stage in my development b/c OMG I've been training for like 20 years now you guys surely my aerobic fitness would have to be really good, no?!? And coach was on the same page there so I think neither of us really worried about that much at all. Run training seemed to be going well and my daily runs were getting faster and while I noted often that I was suffering more, I kind of took that as a good sign b/c (duh!) learning to tolerate suffering is like the key to success in triathlon! I will admit that the thought crossed my mind that I felt like I was working really hard really often on that run, but I thought maybe that's just what it takes to really develop my run into what I want it to be?

So then I got to run a half marathon, and I was sort of excited b/c I thought maybe I was actually going to run a good half marathon... But I didn't run a good half marathon. Instead, I blew to shreds. Damn.

So that was disappointing for sure and when I have a performance like that it really makes me go back and question what the heck happened... Where was the limiter? For me that day 100% it was my breathing... Breathing was way too labored starting around mile 5 and once I lost that I couldn't bring it back without slowing WAY down. My gut told me that my aerobic efficiency was something I should probably take a look at- I know what it feels like to have super aerobic efficiency and to be ticking along like a machine- working hard but in control- that feels awesome and I love that. But I did not have that with running. I raced again the following weekend (sprint tri) and noted that my run was limited by my panting breathing- I was at my top end limit but I was not going very fast. I knew I needed to go back and fix this the patient way... from the bottom up.

In good news, coach was open to also listening to my gut, and we decided that a 5 mile MAF test was in order. That would tell us what was up. So I did one of those and, um, I don't even know where to start with that?! I expected to see my pace fall off a bit at the same HR but it fell off like 2'/mile over the course of 5 miles and I was in shock. Like, what?! That's like off-the-couch level fitness and it was shocking to me. How that could possibly have happened I have no idea, but the fact that we had that concrete evidence of what was happening with my HR was the key to understanding how we needed to move forward. (See? Bad race results can be beneficial if they prompt you to look into why it went bad!)

Anyway, I got my HR monitor back out and am on a mission to fix this aerobic efficiency thing... I ran 45 miles this past week, all HR 140-150 (diligently!!), and watched my fitness rebound. I actually quite love that process and since I had a lot of time to think while I was out jogging almost every day, I got to wondering why it was that I seem to have a bigger issue with aerobic efficiency than many other athletes I know? I never really figured this one out? My guess is that it's genetic b/c I coach athletes who do a lot less aerobic volume than I do and their heart rates remain in control. I see a lot of files from a lot of athletes and some seem to have a really hard time keeping their HR under control (I fall into this category) while others struggle and have to work quite hard to get their HR up into the right zones. I think those in the latter group can do more hard/fast running and adapt to it just fine, but those of us in the first group need to focus more on aerobic running and that's where we get the most benefit. And when those of us in the first group do a higher % of our run training in the 'hard' category, we have a harder time going back and keeping heart rate under control. Anyway, the learning in the past month or so has been really good and just confirms to me what I thought I knew all along- I am a volume athlete... I respond well both physically and mentally/emotionally to high volume lower intensity work. Some higher intensity work can be good for me but too much of it buries me. These are good lessons!

If you're in the same category as me and feel you are limited more often by your breathing vs your legs, I think the key is actually running by heart rate- not by feel or by pace. Early on in the week I had to run very very slow and stupidly easy to keep HR in the 140's. Today, if I ran that same pace or effort, my HR would have been in the 130's which is too low for me. My goal is NOT to run slow- it's to run easy. And those two are only the same thing if you're missing aerobic fitness and efficiency. Today I was running and was actually able to push a bit b/c my HR was still pretty low and wow that felt GREAT.

I'll try to keep you updated on how this process continues to progress!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Not In Kansas Anymore...

Holy cats... where to start? So this past weekend I had the honor of having two of my athletes from Kansas come out to work/train with me in person. I kind of can't say enough about how great this kind of opportunity is... While I've definitely had some success guiding athletes from afar, getting to know them the way you can when you spend time training together in person is priceless. Ok, well it's the price of a plane ticket and a car and a place to stay for the weekend... But worth so much more than that!

We basically spent the last 4 days swimming and biking and running... I pretty much lived out of my car. Here's proof! (It still looks like this, yes.)
I figured that since they were coming from their Kansas-winter-dark-little-basement training caves,  starting off our training weekend at this location would be pretty cool.
So we did a little Aloha Friday morning swim/run along this beach and the giddy looks on their faces assured me it was a good call. :) Welcome to Hawaii, boys!

A big focus for our weekend was swim speed/technique, and in good news, I think it's safe to say we were successful on this front. We spent a bunch of time in the pool on 3 separate occasions and with some new technique, they both dropped 10-15"/100 off their old paces. I found this process *really* interesting. Especially in Todd's case. Here's a guy who's been working *diligently* on that damn swim yet not seeing any improvement at all in his swim times. In good news, he was swimming plenty of yards consistently every single week, so his fitness was there. He was capable of swimming for a long time at the same steady pace, but he wasn't capable of swimming faster, even for a single 50yd. In a scenario like this, it's 100% technique that is the issue. I know there are a bunch of athletes (and coaches!) who think that an athlete shouldn't just keep swimming if their technique is not good, but here's where I will completely disagree with that. In Todd's case, yes, his technique left something to be desired. Swimming a bunch was frustrating for him b/c he wasn't seeing improvement, but he kept chipping away at that fitness anyway. And you know what? When we finally managed to tweak his technique so he was actually able to move through the water more effectively, all that fitness showed right up, and his 'new' pace was a pace that he could *hold* because his fitness was already in place. So all those hard yards were not for nothing! On the other hand, if/when a swimmer is capable of swimming fast for a 50 (let's say 45" or better), then like it or not the issue is fitness/endurance, so that athlete has to put in more time/volume and that's where the money will be for him/her. Anyway, I'm super proud of the progress we made in the pool this past weekend and will look forward to continuing to push these guys so they get even faster down the road!

Friday afternoon I took the guys for some sightseeing on our local mountain... Apparently in Kansas they have a hard time finding a hill that lasts more than a few minutes, so we looped Tantalus a few times so they would have an opportunity to climb continuously for 30+'. Plus, the views from up there are amazing.

Day 2 started off at the beach again, this time with a lesson on "What is a Portuguese Man-o-war?"
I found a couple of these critters on the beach and feared that our morning swim might end prematurely (and not without some electrocuting pain) but all's well that ends well and by some miracle we all managed to avoid getting stung. We spent a good chunk of time practicing open water starts and finishes and sighting and torpedo turns... super fun and we ended that session with lots of smiles.

The rest of the day on Saturday was pretty much spent on our bikes, where the boys from Kansas got a taste of Hawaii winds, which aren't altogether different from Kansas winds, except that there's no wind when you'r riding on your trainer in your basement because its 30 degrees outside. Regardless, the ocean views were great and we (somehow?!?) didn't even get rained on. #winning

Sunday morning started dark and early. Hey boys! Find your legs because we've got a little race to do! Lanikai Triathlon was Sunday morning, and the race was officially closed, but in a show of Aloha, Raul and Hina graciously let the boys from Kansas into the race, which was a bit of a thrill.

I raced too and it was my first triathlon of 2015. Decent showing I suppose, though if I'm honest I'd admit it left some things to be desired... but it's all good! I have both the time and understanding of where my weaknesses are at the moment so am setting about fixing them... :)
I'm pretty sure this is where I was telling my friend Mike about how much I am completely 100% IN LOVE with my new Enve wheels... Yesterday was the first time I'd tried them Don't try anything new on race day but from the first pedal stroke I knew I was IN LOVE...

In good news, my swim was decent (thumbs up for my new Roka speed suit, which I tested out for the first time at this race Don't try anything new on race day) and my bike didn't suck. Ahem, we just won't talk about that run! This picture makes it look like maybe it didn't completely suck, but don't be fooled- it completely sucked. ;) Ok, well except for the views. The views didn't suck.

In good news, Coeur Sports was well represented on the women's 40-44 podium. Yay Coeur Sports! (and yay Shannon!) These 2015 kits are the bomb. Really, the whole line is just awesome. I train in this gear all.time.time because they are simply the most comfortable kits I have.

My Kansas boys had a blast racing too. Todd ended up on the podium for his age group (!!) and Greg was this.close (4th!). Was a super fun morning but it was all done by 8AM, which meant we had plenty of time for another bike ride, followed by lunch, followed by another pool swim session. #TeamBSC #WeTrainForDurability

Anyway, one more swim/run this morning (where Todd PR'd his 100 swim by like 10 seconds and then hugged me instinctively) and my Kansas boyz are on a plane heading home right now...  I'm sitting here pretty much glowing just so stoked about how great that weekend was. Not only was it fun and beneficial for Todd and Greg, but it was confidence building for me as a coach. More and more I see/feel that coaching is what I was meant to do. Helping athletes the way I get to is 100x more rewarding than standing on that podium.

The last few days were a whirlwind but have found their way onto my list of top lifetime experiences. You planned a great schedule, sacrificed valuable family and professional time, and shared expertise, optimism and patience beyond words!
You are so passionate about what you do. Your statement about being invested in your athletes is so true. I have a passion for triathlon and want to push myself. You know this and I believe you know a little more about what makes me tick after seeing me in person.
Thank you so much for a great trip. It's just the start of going even higher.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Back to Blogging... Just a Random Update

I sort of miss blogging. I do it so rarely now it feels like I should have something really big and important to say... or some big event to write about... I don't really have either of those here today so I'm just going to babble randomly sort of like I used to do a lot.

My mom told me the other day that she went back and read my blogs from when Moana was a little baby and how fun it was to read all about that stuff. The little things maybe don't seem "blog-worthy" but in reality they're probably the type of stuff that makes the blog worthwhile to look back on, and made me think I should document more just so it's out there in case Moana ever wants to read it when she gets older.

Anyway, it's Thursday, which most weeks means an easy training day and a day where I'm home mostly in front of my computer checking in with athletes and coming up with programming for the following week(s). Marilyn and I have come up with a good schedule and I'm really starting to like the rhythm of my weeks... We've figured out how to balance a decent amount of training while still allowing me enough time to get all my work done and be the wife/mom I want to be. Sometimes I get tired of course but overall I'd say my 'balance' this year is better than it has been in years past.

One thing that's been different this year is that (Knock on wood! Should I even say this out loud?!) I have not had an injury. I can't remember the last time I got through the winter/early spring without an injury? It's been a really long time. To be honest, I think I can say with certainty that staying healthy is not a fluke this time around. I've prioritized a bunch of things that I used to let slide. Now that I am in my 40's I'm smart enough to not let that stuff slide! :) In a nutshell though, I think the heavy lifting I did from Dec-Mar played a big role in this. I've changed my run form a bit (using higher cadence now) which I think also helps. And, I work on mobility every day like it's my job. The mobility stuff has just become a habit and since I can tell such a huge difference in how I feel if I happen to miss it, I'm motivated to not miss it.

So overall I'd say training has gone pretty well. Seems like I have good days and bad days. My bad days are pretty predictable each month and the #HormoneNerd does a great job of explaining all that. It's funny b/c I know its coming every month and yet every month I get so frustrated and have thoughts like "I'm too old for this shit" or "I've lost it I'm just not strong anymore" and I contemplate my retirement from triathlon and think maybe I should just start lifting weights full time... And then a few days pass and I go out and actually ride my bike in a way that reminds me that I do actually know how to ride a bike and it's all good (for the next ~25 days).

I'm experimenting with things now and trying hard to reduce my overall stress levels in the back half of each month to see if that helps at all. Just started on daily magnesium too b/c I've heard from reliable sources that it could help. So we'll see!?

In good news, coaching is going really well and #TeamBSC is growing/thriving! I feel like Krista and I are doing a really good job working together. Our athletes are happy and getting all the attention they want/need. Every year I feel like I'm able to build on what I've known/done in the past so I feel like I just keep getting better and better at this coaching thing. I really couldn't be happier in this regard. A few of our new athletes who've recently come on board have expressed that they are thrilled with the detail and instruction we provide (a lot through our private team FB page) and that is confidence building as well... To know that we are providing the value we want to provide... It feels good and is a win-win all around for everyone. I've got two athletes from Kansas coming into town next weekend to train in person with me for 4 days- really looking forward to that!

In case you're interested, my chickens are all still alive and well... They lay eggs for us every day, though if they saw what we did with them last week they might go on strike...

The wild ones tend to hide their eggs in my neighbors yard, so I have to go searching, and by the time I find their nest under some bush there will be like 12-16 eggs in it. And then once they realize I found their nest, they go find a new hiding place. Silly chickens. My other 3 girls are easy and lay their eggs in the same spot each day so they're easy for me to find and collect. I don't see Peepers on the street anymore. Not sure if after he went through puberty that he just doesn't need me anymore and is back in the woods living out his life with a group of wild hens (my hope!), or if he's not alive anymore? I still stop on the side of the road up there sometimes though and throw out some chicken food. Last night when I did that, 30-40 chickens came out of the woods. So there are a ton of them still out there. I'm not tempted to bring any of them home though. I'm happy with my little flock of 5.