week in review: Olympic Distance Training, Week 3

Another big volume week, leading into a nice three day weekend.  I did a spontaneous LT test for the bike so I could set my zones properly.  The weather this summer has been so mild!  Here’s the details of the week.

My totals:

Swim - 3:14:04, 7000 yards

Bike - 4:34:24, 71.08 miles

Run - 2:08:43, 9.83 miles

June lilies after a weekday run.

June lilies after a weekday run.

Monday

  • Swim - 1:08:32, 2500 yards
    • 300 swim
    • 200 pull
    • 100 kick
    • 12x50 :30 (kick, drill, by 25)
    • 4x100 swim :60
    • 8x50 :15 (drill, swim, by 25)
    • 4x100 pull :30
    • 100 c/d

I wish I'd made the decision earlier in the workout to cuts the rests in half. :30 after a 50 and a full :60 after the hundred was eating up so much time. Even with cutting the rests, I got out of the pool later than I wanted, and skidded into work a couple minutes late.

Workout wise, I concentrated on really reaching and extended my forward warm, which is turn had me noticing my rotation.

  • Trainer Ride - 1:00:06, 2x20 Tester Workout
    • 10 min warm up
    • 15 minutes RPE 7/10
    • 10 min recovery
    • 15 minutes RPE 7/10
    • 10 min cool down

This workout actually calls for 2x20 minutes at RPE 7/10, hence the name of the workout.  That’s a bit too much for me right now, so I went with 2x15.  That gives me room to grow in this workouts.

Tuesday

  • Run - 32:52, 2.49 miles

Icky and humid. My calves were still tight from Saturday's big effort on the LT field test. Getting going was tough, but it never really hurt. Just...tight. Z2, so I was walking up most of the hills. I changed my Garmin display fields to show only elapsed time and HR, no distance or pace, which helped me focus on the point of the workout.  No way to feel bad about being slow if I don’t know my speed!

  • Functional Strength - 44 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • pedestal 1
    • myrtls
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

As usual the ankle/foot routine is challenging from a balance perspective. The planks are maybe the tiniest bit easier, except for the back plank, which is crazy hard for me still. One more day of this routine and then next week I move up to the next level!

Wednesday

  • Swim - 1:07:27, 2500 yards
    • 3x300 :60 (some BR, some back, some pull)
    • 4x50 :30 drill (catch-up, Tarzan)
    • 4x100 :45 (breathe 3/5/3/5 by 25)
    • 3x [100 swim strong:20, 50 kick hard :20, 50 EZ swim :60]
    • 3x100 :30 (swim/kick by 50)
    • 100 cool down

Today was the day I realized that I'm going to need to start getting to the pool earlier. Now that my workouts are heading towards 1:10 time-frame, I need to get IN the water at 7am, rather than pull into the parking lot then. By the time I walk in, check in, get through the locker room, etc...the minutes just add up. I barely remember anything about this workout. I was fussing with my goggled pretty much the entire time.  That's a bad sign, when you think more about the equipment than the technique or effort.

  • Trainer Ride - 1:00:07

On a whim, I decided to try to do a trainer LT test. I wasn't feeling confident about my cycling zones, and now that I have more structured workouts, I wanted to make sure I was doing them to the best of my ability.

I don't think I was as successful with the cycling LT test as compared to my running one. Maybe I'm not as good at pacing myself, or even pushing myself. At the end of my run test, I felt completely spent. With this cycling test, I feel like I could have kept going a little longer. Even so, I'm glad I did this. Looking forward to doing another in about six weeks, and hopefully being better at it.

Thursday

  • Run - 42:48, 3.21 miles

So nice out: sunny, low 60s, and not humid. I could do with more runs like this! My shorts were a bit of a mess, though.  I dragged out some regular running shorts with pockets to see how I liked them. They rode up the entire time, and I remember now why these were banned to the back of the drawer. Back to my usual chafe free compression shorts!

  • Functional Strength - 45 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • pedestal 1
    • myrtls
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

The ankle/foot routine isn't easy, but it is getting easier. I had some issues during the back planks with my elbow sliding out from under me. It felt like the mat was sticky, and I really didn't want to think about that too much. Ew.  The Myrtl routine is also starting to be….well, routine.  It is feeling more comfortable. Next week I move to the next level!

Friday (Active Recovery Day)

  • Swim - 58:05, 2000 yards
    • 4x200 :60 (150 swim, 50 kick)
    • 4x50 :45 (odds kick, evens sailboat)
    • 4x50 :45 (odds one arm, evens 6/3/6)
    • 4x50 :30 descending
    • 8x50 :30 (odds sprint, evens easy)
    • 200 cool down

Finally Friday, and yet another swim with really long rests. The descending and sprint/easy were both written with :60 rest, but I really didn't want to spend that much time at the side, so I made it :30.

Descending 50s went well: 59.3, 56.2, 53.1, 49.2. The sprints had me working, but I really liked having an easy 50 between. I was able to refocus my form, and then carry that into the next sprint. I managed TWO 48.2s in my sprint, so that felt pretty good.

Saturday

Saturday morning before 4th of July at the Farmer's Market.  It doesn't get much better!

Saturday morning before 4th of July at the Farmer's Market.  It doesn't get much better!

  • City Bike
    • To - 22:04, 3.81 miles
    • Fro - 25:05, 3.81 miles

Got the bright idea to ride Peggy out to the Farmer's Market before it opened, lock her up, and do my long run out on the W&OD.  On the one hand, it was a stupid idea to ride my bike, go for a long run so I’m starving, buy a bunch of heavy produce and eggs, and then have to haul it all back home up the hills.  On the other hand, this was such fun!  I can’t wait to do this again, and just a little bit of planning should make it go more smoothly.

  • Long Run - 53:03, 4.13 miles
My turnaround point on the W&OD

My turnaround point on the W&OD

Sunny and breezy; this was such a lovely day. I do wish I had brought a handheld bottle, as this was quite a ways to go without water, and I couldn't see any readily apparent water fountains on the W&OD. I headed out toward Arlington. The W&OD is a rail conversion, and the flat nature of the trail meant I kept my HR in Zone 2 without ever having to walk. My lower back on the right side started to feel a bit tired/achy in the last mile. Nothing really bad, just....tired. That is the side where my hip has been bothering me a bit.  My stomach started growling pretty hard as I was making my way back, and I had no food on me. Fortunately, the Farmer's Market was opening up, and the samples were plentiful.

Sunday

Getting ready for almost two hours on the trainer.  Breakfast of champions.

Getting ready for almost two hours on the trainer.  Breakfast of champions.

  • Trainer Ride - 1:47:02
    • 10' warm up at 75% LT
    • 30' at 75%
    • 30' at 80%
    • 30' at 85%
    • 7' at 65%

It was raining when I woke up, and with a race the next day I didn't want to push too hard. I took to the trainer, keeping it aerobic. Estimated distance: 27.3 miles.  Took in: two bottles nuun, one cereal bar, one honey stinger waffle, and two episodes of Doctor Who. It felt a lot easier than I'm used to, which was kind of nice. There are so many hills around here that I feel like my HR is constantly spiking into the red zone when I ride outside.  I’m actually looking forward to building my bike aerobic base on the trainer this winter.  For now, though, I need to keep riding outside whenever possible to improve my handling skills.

Last week was a big one, and I’m enjoying the structure and challenge.  On the goggle front, I still don't know about the R1s. The visibility is incredible, and I want them to work so badly because of that. The sad reality is that I just don't think they suit my face. After a few adjustments, I didn’t have as much leaking as the first week.  They don't have an adjustable nose bridge, and they just aren't quite the right width, so things aren't sitting as nicely as I like.  Finding goggles that fit is harder than finding a comfortable bra!

week in review: Olympic Distance Training, Week 2

This second week of Oly training also turned out to be my biggest week ever, volume wise.  I guess that means most weeks will have that distinction, as I move towards race day.  I bumped up my swim workouts to 2500 yards, put in some good hard workouts on the trainer, and did my very first LT field test.  Let’s dig in, shall we?

My totals:

Swim - 2:58:48, 7000 yards

Bike - 3:28:26, 51.67 miles

Run - 1:55:53, 9.18 miles

My time at the REC this week was marked by some fun decorations in preparation for the All Night Graduation Party

My time at the REC this week was marked by some fun decorations in preparation for the All Night Graduation Party

Monday

  • Swim - 1:01:46, 2500 yards
    • 500 warm up
    • 5x100 (kick, swim, thumb drag drill, swim by 25) :15-:25
    • 3x100 pull @2:00 (negative split 50s)
    • 6x50 @60 pull strong
    • 4x100 swim @2:00 descend
    • 4x50 @1:05 (3/5 breathe by 25)
    • 4x25 @60 shooters (streamline and kick, then easy)
    • 200 cool down

This was my first swim of 2500 yards, AND my first swim of over an hour. Milestones: I'm checking them off! This workout was challenging, as it also marked the first time I had a series of sets where I left at a particular time, rather than specifically counting out my rest. By the time I was getting to the last sets of 100s, I was getting barely 5 seconds of rest.

I did get my negative splits on the 100 pulls, but didn't have success in descending my 100 swims. Guess I need to file this workout away to try again sometime!

  • Trainer Ride - 50:02, 20/40 Sprint Workout
    • 10 min warm up
    • 3x (5x 20 sec all out, 40 sec rec) + 5 min easy pedaling
    • 10 min cool down

These sprints started out deceptively easy, but the longer I went, the harder it got. Not as big of a sweatfest as last week’s LT or Aerobic Intervals, but still working hard all the same.

Tuesday

  • Run - 29:45, 2.13 miles

72 and quite humid. I thought it was going to slay cloudy, so I didn't bring my sunglasses, and then of course the sun started peeking out. This was a Zone 2 fail, as I accidentally had my watch set to buzz at the top of Zone 3.  Whoops!

  • Functional Strength - 48 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • pedestal 1
    • myrtls
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

By the time I got to the end of the ankle/foot routine, I was really feeling it. My balance needs some work.

Wednesday

  • Swim - 1:03:46, 2500 yards
    • 400 warm up, kick every 4th 25
    • 8x50 :30 (drill/swim by 25)
    • 4x25 :20
    • 4x50 :30
    • 4x100 :45
    • 4x50 :30
    • 4x25 :20
    • 6x75 pull @1:30
    • 1x150 (100 ALL OUT, 50 EZ)
    • 100 cool down

New suit today, new goggles, and a very tired me. The suit is a new TYR polyester grab bag, and I lucked into some decent looking red flames. For goggles I splurged and got some ROKA R1s. The visibility is incredible, and once I’ve put them through their paces I do a full review.

For drills I did half catch up and half fist. Right around the 75 pull sets is when my shoulders started to complain, and I was losing my form trying to get enough rest on 1:30. I switched it to 1:35 to avoid practicing a sloppy stroke. As for 100 all out, right at the end of the workout....no. That did not happen. Is anyone surprised?

This started out feeling kind of easy, then by the last set I was really cooking. Tough, but I would enjoy doing this workout again. I’m not switching to velodrome or anything, but Katie Archibald knows her stuff!

Thursday

  • Run - 38:06, 2.63 miles

Quite steady rain for this Z2 run.  I walked my HR back down to the bottom of the zone when it buzzed too high. My right hip started feeling a little bit cranky towards the end, but nothing bad. This was super slow and sopping wet, but still felt like a good run.

  • Functional Strength - 49 minutes
    • 1/4 mile walk warm up
    • ankle/foot routine
    • pedestal 1
    • myrtls
    • 1/4 mile walk cool down

My balance is awful, no wonder I fall down all the time. Not so much violent shaking in the side planks, so some progress there.

Friday (Active Recovery Day)

  • Swim - 53:16, 2000 yards
    • 300 warm up
    • 4x75 :30 (kick, drill, swim by 25)
    • 6x50 : descend 1-3, 4-6
    • 200 pull :20
    • 150 build :30
    • 100 fast :60
    • 50 sprint
    • 100 recovery
    • 400 (kick, swim by 50)
    • 100 cool down

I forgot my bottle of nuun on the counter when I left the house, so I did this swim, showered, and drove to the office before I could have anything to drink. Do not recommend!

I had a bit of leaking from my goggles.  I was fussing and adjusting my straps a bit, so hopefully once I get the fit dialed in, I'll be okay. It is mostly when I push off the wall. My swim cap also kept coming off for no particular reason. Such a comedy of errors. At least it was a recovery swim.

  • Foam Rolling

Full body, with lots of attention on my calves and thighs. I'm happy to say that it didn't hurt as bad as last week. I need to keep this habit up!

Saturday

  • Run - 48:02, 4.42 miles

This was the day of my very first LT field test.  I have a whole separate post on it, since it felt like such a big milestone for me.  TL;DR - I think I paced pretty well, I didn’t puke, my LT came in at 183, and I have my zones set.  Success!

Sunday

Looking a bit gritty and urban here.  Such a big change in so few miles!

Looking a bit gritty and urban here.  Such a big change in so few miles!

  • Bike - 1:38:22, 18.65 miles, 822 ft gain
    • Highlights: A planned easy ride, I decided to investigate Custis trail, since I heard it had fewer at-grade crossings.  Turns out it has a lot more climbing, and I wound up working harder than I meant to.  I had to walk my bike a couple times, muscled up some unexpected inclines, experienced panic at my first steep S-curve descent, dropped my chain twice (user error?!) and struggled with sun glare until I hit the turnaround.  I also managed to get up more hills than I thought, didn’t crash, got my chain back on quickly, and still was having tons of fun.  I will conquer my fears!
    • Nutrition: What with the climbing and sun blind descents, I didn't really get to practice drinking the way I wanted. Maybe once or twice? I did get down most of a bottle of Skratch lemons & limes (yummy and not too sweet) and a strawberry cereal bar (generic brand Nutrigrain) when I paused at the turnaround. (48g carbs)
    • Health: A teeny bit of back pain and some slight undercarriage soreness, but no chafing or broken skin this week.  

I am quite pleased with how this week went.  There was a lot of new stuff going on: new suit, new goggles, LT test, Custis trail, but I was enjoying it.  I’m usually a person who gets anxious at the thought of new things, but I spent this entire week really looking forward to each new thing I had on my plate.  Beyond the fact that this was a good week with nice volume, I’m most happy with the growth I’m seeing within myself.

 

In the Zone (Part 2) – The Test

Nothing will work unless you do.
— Maya Angelou

Indeed!  I did some serious work on Saturday.  My LT field test was a bit scary, a little painful, and above all, empowering.  There isn’t a feeling much better than overcoming something that had you mentally up against a wall.  My LT test had me unreasonably worried.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t pace myself well, that the results wouldn’t be worthwhile, or that I would collapse and throw up.  If any of these things had happened, it wouldn’t have been a failure, just a learning experience.  Yet in my mind, I had worked it up to catastrophic proportions.  One day I will experience a sports related failure, and at that time I will overcome it, I’m sure.  Fortunately, yesterday I executed well.

My plan had been to head over the high school across the street and run this test on the track.  I jogged over to the school as my warm up, and was dismayed to find that all the gates were locked.  What?  I could have sworn I’d seen runners on the track early on weekend mornings last summer.  Due to the hills, I didn’t want to run my usual routes in the neighborhoods, so decided in the moment to do loops around the high school parking lot.  Each loop took me about 8 minutes to run, and there was only a slight elevation change.

The thirty minute time trial began.  I tried to pace myself slower than I thought I should go for the first five minutes.  Even so, I was moving faster than I had run in quite some time.  I continued with the test, trying to focus on keeping my shoulders relaxed and my breathing even.  After ten minutes I hit the lap button, so that I would be able to check my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of the test.  Mentally I kept checking in.  How am I feeling?  How’s my turnover?  Am I pushing the same now I was did a few minutes ago?  I noticed my breathing switch from my usual count of in-3-out-2 to in-2-out-1.  The last five minutes I tried to give it everything I had, focusing hard to keep myself from slowing down.  I was pouring sweat and felt like I was on fire!  As the last few minutes ticked by, I noticed a guy run into the parking lot from the neighborhood.  He ducked into an unseen alcove, opened a gate that I hadn’t noticed before, and headed down to the track.  Ugh, really?  Luckily I only had to run hard for a couple more minutes, then the test was over.  I walked a little ways, getting my heart rate back down, then slowly trotted the rest of the way home.

Once I got inside, I got down to the business of recovery.  In this case, I sucked down some nuun and sipped a chocolate milk.  I did get a little bit off track at that point, and while I was still cooling down before hitting the shower, I found myself answering the siren song that is salt & vinegar potato chips.  So good!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

Does Lay's sponsor athletes? Because I would be all over that!

I believe my LT test went very well.  I didn’t puke.  I saw a max heart rate of 193, which sounds kind of freaky high.  I felt completely fine though!  To each heart their own, I suppose.  After getting everything uploaded, I checked the average heart rate from the last 20 minutes of the test.  That number is my lactate threshold, and is used to determine my training zones.  So there we go.  Starting next week I’m ready to start Zone 2 training in earnest.  I’ll do another LT test in about 6-8 weeks.  I’m so excited to see what kind of progress I make through the summer and into the fall!

In the Zone – adventures in heart rate training

This week I’m embarking on a something new with my run training.  Spurred on by Stacey’s training recap, wherein she talks about MAF training, I started to do a bit of thinking.  After looking back at my Reston race report, I know my aerobic engine needs some work if I want to enjoy the run leg.  The final decision was made after accepting my deep desire to do everything within my power to avoid feeling exhausted as DC’s notorious humid summer sets in.  I’m taking the plunge into heart rate training.  Zone 2, here I come!

This is the data from my Tuesday run.  You can see from the cadence and pace where I walked to bring my HR down.

This is the data from my Tuesday run.  You can see from the cadence and pace where I walked to bring my HR down.

The idea behind heart rate training in general is that your heartbeat can be used as a data point to help you improve.  There are so many theories and programs floating around online, it’s enough to make your head spin.    With summer upon us, maybe you’re missing that “homework” feeling of your younger days?  Never fear!  Just try to research heart rate training online and figure out which method is right.  I’ll wait.  No, I won’t, because I’m not that patient.  After some reading, I’ve decided on Zone 2 training.  According to Joe Friel, elite endurance coach, Zone 2 is the easy aerobic zone.  Working predominantly in that zone will give my body the stimulus it needs to adapt and create a more efficient aerobic engine.  Sounds good to me!

There are some caveats.  First, to truly determine the zones, Friel recommends a Lactate Threshold, or LT test.  I’ve been told that these are somewhat painful.  Sometimes puke-inducing.  Come Saturday morning I will be heading over to the high school track and busting out 30 minutes of steady high intensity running.  I need to pace myself evenly over the 30 minutes, but finish knowing I don’t have any more left in me.  Sounds like a great way to start the weekend, no?  My average HR over the last 20 minutes of the test will be my threshold, the number use to determine my zones.  From there, it’s a matter of programming the numbers into my Garmin, and setting it up to buzz at me when my heart rate goes too high.

Second caveat, and the one that people seem to struggle with the most: Zone 2 is slow.  Like, molasses in winter slow.  I’ve read accounts of people who usually head out and run in the 9:00/mile range having to slow down to 11:30 or more to keep their HR in Z2.  Many people seem to give up on Z2 training because they can’t take the blow to their ego, or they find it demoralizing and boring.  As someone who usually trains in the 12:00/mile range, it sounds like I’m going to be slowing way down and doing some walking.  Perhaps an awful lot of walking.  Taking 14+ minutes to cover a mile doesn’t sound particularly riveting, but hey, I’ve never been a speedster.  I plan to keep a positive attitude, and come fall I hope to see some measurable improvement.

So that’s where I’m at.  I want to develop a better aerobic base and eventually run faster.  I’m going to try Z2 running for the next 20 weeks, and see what kind of results come of it once the end of the season rolls around.  I’m pretty sure this weekend’s test is going to be quite painful.  I’m positive that at some point I will want to give up on it.  I’m also more than a bit nervous about what slowing down means as far as getting race ready for an Oly.  My training plan is based on minutes, not miles.  If I’m so slow, will I actually be prepared to race the distance?  After careful consideration, I believe that this is the right course.  I’ve picked a plan, and now it’s time to execute.  That, and always believe in race day magic!