Sunday, March 27, 2011

Train Harder, Train Smarter

Building distance and speed at the same time is a difficult task to manage.  Training your body to handle the distance of 26.2 or 70.3 is no small feat.  Managing your fuel(diet), training, personal life, and school/work life can get difficult.  Developing a plan is the first step to success.  I have had a plan week by week and month by month.  This plan and the "morning" routine of it has gotten a little stale - this is where train smarter comes into play.

I became so used to my usual morning run and swim before school.  Gradually I added intervals to the swim part and different distances to make it more exciting.  The run has been the same now for a little over a year.  This week I am going to change the Wednesday morning 3 mile run to a tempo run.  I used to do weekly fartleks during the college days - but those are as close as I've come to a tempo run.  It'll be a constant push, it will be uncomfortable, and it will probably hurt.  But when it's done I'll feel great and be better for it.

Do you include any specific training runs in your workouts or do you just run?

Training smarter is not just about adding miles so I can put them in the log and say I did it.  It's about adding quality workouts, in all 3 disciplines as well as taking proper rest so that I get the best out of every workout.  I had the privilege of listening to Karen Smyers (she's won six national titles, three world championships, and the Ironman) at the MultiSport Expo Today.  She addressed how Multi-sport is a lifestyle but you need balance in your life.  Whatever you are doing - be in the present, in the moment with it.  As athlete's who are constantly thinking about the next workout or race it's hard to enjoy the time we have away from training.  It is important to enjoy time with your family, friends, enjoying other hobbies.

All to often athlete's identify themselves by their sport, so what happens when you are injured, sick, or sidelined for any other reason?  A young woman was present at the 2 seminars I attended at the expo and she was also at the Psychology of Injury lecture I attended at Sport and Spinal PT a few weeks ago.  She was asking everyone to address the psychology of injury and what to do when sidelined for a x-amount of time and not being able to run.  She spoke about her chronic injury at the SSPT lecture so I knew today what was going on, and recognized her right away.  She's searching for an answer - a quick "do this" answer.  When trials and tribulations set you back use them to fuel your fire, listen to the professionals you choose to see - if they tell you to quit your sport fire them and find someone who will help you get back to your sport, and use them to work on your weaknesses both in sport and life.

Have you had any chronic injuries that have set you back?  How did you handle them?

Injuries happen when we don't have a plan.  Overtraining and undertraining happen when we don't have a plan.  So take care of your body and train harder, train smarter.

In excitement for this year's Augusta 70.3 - "Once you're on the course in any of these races, you're going to have the challenge of your lifetime".  I greet this challenge with open arms.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

13.1 and Done

Spring break was a huge success.  That is a successful taper with a successful race!  I was able to hold myself at bay from going completely crazy by really only taking two days completely "off" during the taper.  The cold weather of pureMichigan made it easy to keep my runs shorter or go to the pool for a swim workout.  The weather in Atlanta was much more inviting for running but I was kept entertained with more appropriate tapering activities.  Throughout preparing for the racing and running it today the hardest part for me was the taper.  I looked back and knew I had put in sufficient work and knew my body needed to rest prior to race day for decreased fatigue levels and optimal form.

The Publix Georgia Marathon and Half-Marathon was the March race of choice.  It was an awesome event in all aspects and I recommend it to anyone looking for a marathon/half next March!  The expo was organized with a good mix of vendors, clubs, and information.  They also had a mini Publix set up in the middle of it with free samples of products from their new organic food line.  I couldn't resist buying some bright pink CEP Recovery Socks at the expo, I'll let you know how they contribute to the recovery process!

Do you have any Recovery Secrets?

The race very well organized - pre paid parking, tons of volunteers with bright orange flags, sufficient amounts of port-o-potties a nice gear check, and great course.  We made it hassle free to our parking spot at the GA Dome about an hour before that starting gun.  Plenty of time to walk over to Centennial Olympic Park, do our business, check our gear and take a moment to mellow out.  Ryan (read:boyfriend) was my gracious Altanta host and racing buddy so I wasn't out to navigate ATL on my own.  We weren't surprised to be starting in different race corrals and had previously each decided to run our own race with different goals.  At the expo I chose to join a pace group - which I thought would really help me out.  I signed up for the 1:50 pace group for the 1/2 Marathon - a good realistic goal for me.

My experience with the pace group wasn't superb.  The pace group should have been running about 8:23 splits but little did I know we had hit about 7:45 on the first few miles.  I dropped off the pace group about 3 miles in.  The group had been dwindling in size since the first mile.  Once on my own I found my "happy pace" thanks to a sign I saw right as I was dropping off the pace group.  I found some fellow 1:50ers and even a few 1:45ers that had dropped off the pace groups and ran near them the rest of the race - thanks Southern Hospitality!

Have you ever run with a pace group?  Did it work out well?

If you have never been to Atlanta and especially never run around it - it is hilly.  DC is not so hilly.  My quads took a beating over the awesome 13.1.  During the last mile and the last few hills I had to remind myself that nobody ever promised this would be easy and that achieving my goal would probably hurt.  Hurt it did and I just kept pushing right back to Centennial Olympic Park.  Food was easily accessed and we were provided with a grocery bag to make it easier.  I got my chocolate milk, medal, spacesheet for warmth and chilled out in the grass for a bit until it was time to greet Ryan at the Finish Line.
What are you favorites aspects of races?

I also was able to see the marathon winner cross the finish line!  He looked pretty awesome! Ryan did great and dealt with his Runner's Knee issues and got through all 13.1.  I also convinced him to take advantage of his fist Physical Therapy opportunity during the expo.  Yay! Now he might actually go to PT to take care of his knee and make sure he is in tip top form for Tri season!

Final Results: Chip Time: 1:56:57

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Respect the Distance

'08 W-League
Michigan Hawks vs. Chicago Gaels
One of the most difficult things for me to remember is that not everyone has been an athlete their entire life.  Not everyone has a tried and true re cooperation plan for a mildly sprained ankle and most definitely not everyone  has had time for trial and error to see what works best for their body!

I have been blessed with having had all sorts of opportunities to see what works best for my body in terms of fitness, resting, peaking, injury, motivation, and recovery.  The methods I have come up with are what work best for me - and they may not work at all for you or anyone else, but you need to find what you can enjoy, accomplish and commit to for your body.

Do you have a training plan?  How often do you train?  Do you have any home remedies to common injuries?

I recently confirmed a few more races on my schedule and it has got me and a few others itching for racing season to hit us!  I'll be setting my sights on the ATL 1/2 Marathon (3/20), the Augusta 70.3 Half-Ironman (9/25), and the Marine Corps Marathon (10/30) to round out the season.  3 new distances = 3 new PR's!
Rest at the Beach with your dog!
East Tawas, MI
With these distance events as well as all the smaller races filling out my season I am well aware of the risk of an overuse injury or over-training.  I will be listening to my body very closely this year and when it's screaming FATIGUE I will rest, re cooperate, and become re invigorated!

What are the highlights of your race calendar this year?

Common problems I see with those who are new to training include the following:

  • Too Much, Too Soon:  Running, Cycling, Swimming etc.  too far or for too long without proper training.  The body needs time to adapt, work up to your goals don't just go out and try to run 13.1 miles on your first training run.  A good rule of thumb is to increase your mileage about 10% every week.
  • Injured vs. Hurt vs. Sore?: You can play hurt, but you can't play injured.  If you are training hard you are going to be sore, your muscles will ache, you will have to dig deep and, yes, at times it will even hurt.  You need to know when it's an injury though - when it's time to pack it up at the first onset of symptoms, get ice, and figure out a cross-training plan. (A PT would be a great person to help you with this)
  • SuperMan Syndrome:  During the build phase when fitness is improving and you are seeing the gains you are making it can be hard to take proper recovery time.  Days off and proper sleep are when the body actually gets stronger and you improve - so take proper time off!  Feeling like you can do anything and everything is good - but you will lose out to over training if you don't rest!
  • Committing to a Training Plan:  It is hard to wake up at 5 or 6am every morning and get a training session in.  It's also hard to come home from work, lace up the shoes and run out the door.  You'll feel better if you do it - thanks to the endorphin hit!  Get rid of the night time chocolate/ice cream and take up a late afternoon/early evening work out!  Take the time to write out a training plan for yourself, your goals, and your dreams.  Stick to your training plan for 3 weeks and excellence will become habit.
Whatever your racing/training/fitness goals are this year Respect the Distance!  Give your body time to adapt to the demands you are putting on it to avoid an overuse injury or over-training.  70.3/26.2 miles is not an easily traveled smooth freeway - there will be bumps and turns along the way.  Listen to your body, rest when needed and train your mind to know what your body is capable of.

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and 
something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” ~Lance Armstrong