Training Tuesday: it’s all about finesse

[note: I meant to post this after TRI101 yesterday but got sidetracked with RAGE, for reasons which I’ll explain shortly.]

I’ve been super busy since my last Training Tuesday post with a variety of projects (new job means finishing up the old job’s work!), so I skipped a couple of weeks. I did, however, join Strava, so if you’re on there feel free to follow me.

TRI101 has continued to rock right along. Two weeks ago we did a timed mile (8:08, a new PR for me) plus about 2.5 miles worth of hill work; last week we did two 2-mile runs at Indian Creek, with some core work in between, and tonight we did a brick. I finally got back into the pool and am slowly cranking up my distance. You don’t get a lot of training benefit from just swimming super long distances without stopping; instead, the best advice I’ve seen is that you should swim for whatever the total time you expect in the race is. For example, if you swim 400m in 8 minutes, and you’re getting ready to swim a 1500m race, swim at least 3×400 with short rests and you’re good to go. I’m trying to work up to swimming 1000m in one session, even with rest breaks. That will cover me for any of the sprint-distance events I’m doing this year or next, and will give me a solid base for next season if I move up to Olympic distance races, which feature a 1500m swim.

My friend Rachel loaned me her Garmin heart rate strap, which, when paired with my Ambit 2s, gives me a good idea of how hard I’m working. It turns out that at my normal pace of between 8 and 8:30/mi, I am working pretty dang hard; my heart rate runs in the 140-160bpm zone. For my age, that’s nearly max effort. Interestingly, I don’t work nearly as hard on the bike as I do in the run. I think that means I’ve got a lot of potential speed improvement ahead on the bike if I can get my legs to cooperate; my cardio isn’t the limiting factor there. I think I’ve mastered the trick of getting the Ambit to correctly measure pool swims, too (you need a hard push off the wall when turning), so all my remaining races and training will hopefully be logged correctly.

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Maximal effort for great justice

Right now I’ve got two more races coming up: one in Houma week after next, then the Huntsville Sprint two weeks later. At this point I don’t feel like I have a lot of new stuff to learn; instead, I am trying to polish what I do know and focus on my technique. For example, my swim technique still needs some fine tuning; that’s still my biggest weak point, although the more I swim, the more confident I feel about it. The only way to get good at swimming is to swim, of course. On runs, I’m working in fartleks for speed. On the bike, I’m still working on not falling over when I unclip.

Although I’ve been trying not to make any more equipment changes, I finally got around to doing something I’d been planning for a while: I put road tires on my bike. Those of you who have seen my giant bike know that it had big knobby hybrid trail/road tires on it. I pulled those and put on a pair of Continental 28s. At yesterday’s workout I was killing it on the bike— my speed on the route (a loop around the Arsenal) was a good 3-4mph higher than normal, with no more effort expended. I felt great, right up until I dismounted and tried to switch my watch into transition without looking… resulting in erasing my workout altogether. I was roughly keeping pace with my pal Alex, so I know it was about 11.2 mi in just over 44 minutes, but I lost all the pace and HR data. By the time I got home, I was so mad that I didn’t feel like finishing this post, thus its appearance on Wednesday.

(The good news about the delay in posting is that I can sum up today’s swim lesson with Lisi: enlightening. Unlike running or riding, where my form is pretty natural and just needs a few tweaks, my swim form is poorly developed. It’s improving, for sure, but there are lots of little tweaks that Lisi has been able to point out. After my last session with her a few weeks ago, I’ve felt more at ease in the pool so I’m looking forward to working on the 3 things she identified for me today: earlier head rotation when breathing on the right, keeping my hips lower in the water, and being sure to get my full extension before I start the pull. She’s also given me some new drills and workouts that I will do twice a week; I think they’ll make a big difference.)

I’ve been trying to rest my left Achilles tendon a bit, so I skipped my regular long run last week and have been icing it at night. I think it’s about back to normal, so this week I’ll hit my long run, at least one long ride, and another swim or two. It didn’t bother me at all yesterday, though it was a bit tender after the bike/run brick last night.

What will all this polishing and tweaking lead to? There are a bunch of upcoming races in various places, and at various distances, so I’ll probably continue doing sprints until the end of the season and work in at least one 10K. It’s not too early for me to start thinking of what races I want to run next year, too. I found this article to be super helpful; this year I didn’t really have an A race, but I need to pick one for next year: probably an Olympic. I love poking around on trifind.com and looking at all the races, so this will be a lot of fun.

Fun note: I like to try to work races into my training schedule, so last weekend I flew up to Providence and ran the Craft Brew 5K with Julie and her friend Sigrid. This was a fun race, with a large emphasis on post-race beer drinking as opposed to record-smashing running. Despite that, I turned in a smoking time, at least for me: 2.9mi in 25:22, an 8:42 pace. The race chip time scored me at 25:18 and gave me an 8:08 pace, so I am thinking that the last-minute change to the race course shortened it a bit. The post-race beer tasting was fun, although the quality varied quite a bit. My favorite was Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout, for what that’s worth; I may have to lay in a post-race supply!

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