Sunday, January 3, 2016

Getting ready for Ironman 70.3

Hey guys, welcome to 2016!  We're 3 days in and I'm 3 workouts in, so I am feeling pretty good about that!  Especially, as I wrap up my "exercise streak" (that sort of fizzled at the end) by sharing that I did NOT workout on Wednesday the 30th as I spent 12 hours in the car eating a variety of fast food.  But then did workout out on the 31st, finishing the year with a 3-mile run in Piedmont Park and a cross training workout with a group in the park as well.

I continued on to run 3 more miles on New Years Day, a 70 minute bike ride on Saturday, and today went out on an attempted 8-mile run that turned into a 6-mile run with 2-miles of run/walking.  But let's get to that in another post...

The new year is here!!!!!

I have been working hard researching and setting goals for myself and trying to define my year as I felt so happy about how well my year went athletically in 2015.  I think a lot of it was owed to the fact that at the BEGINNING of the year, I had a year's worth of goals mapped out ahead of me.  So there was no room to get lazy, just to shift focus.  It also kept me from getting burnt out to go from working on speed, to cross training, to endurance.

Right now I am just heavily focused on the first half of the year as I work towards the Half Ironman.  I have tentatively scheduled races further in the year and have said I will do another Half Ironman in the fall if I like this one, and/or possibly a fall marathon... however, I feel uneasy having a less focused agenda for this year goal wise.  YET AGAIN... this Half Ironman overwhelms me 50% of the time that I start to think about it.  Some days it feels like it will be a piece of cake, some days I am terrified.  So I am trying to not get too far ahead of myself in thinking beyond May.  Goodness knows, I've got quite a bit to get through between today and May 22nd.  Including, two half marathons at the end of this month and the end of February!

But let's talk a little bit about what I have been thinking and planning and researching in terms of getting ready for this Half Ironman.  I apologize, because this is a bit long, but here we go:

First, a training plan:  I have done a bit of research online and have also talked with a few friends who are 70.3 distance race veterans about what their training plan has been like and have put together a tentative training plan for myself between now and the race.  It has been a bit of a challenge for me since unlike half marathons and marathons, there are not an abundance of free training plans available online for triathlons.  I think it depends so much on what you have access to, which sports are your strengths, what your goal is for the race, what amount of time you have, and a ton of other factors, it is difficult to just be generic.  Additionally, it seems like everything having to do with triathlon requires you spending a TON more money than with just straight running races, so it doesn't surprise me that most training plans you have to pay for!

I've put together a tentative plan that includes biking about 3 times a week, swimming 3 times a week, and running 3 times a week.  Yes, that means that there are days of double workouts, which I am very comfortable with.  The challenge is more around the fact that they aren't always as flexible as a running workouts because they require either going to a specific class, or involve equipment or facilities that you don't have everywhere, etc.  I have put together a "tentative" plan, but it is something that I will need to adjust week-to-week as travel, life, schedules, etc. change.  I don't feel I can print out a piece of paper and hang it on my wall as I have done for every half and full marathon I have done in the past because I cannot predict that I will have access to a pool or my bike every day I may want it.  So, that's a mental adjustment and work in progress for me.

Second, the idea of getting a coach or joining a triathlon club.  Because training for an endurance race with three different sports and so many different things to consider within it, having a specific coach is extremely common.  Even for just regular old people such as myself just trying to have fun and finish the race healthy and successful, it is not abnormal to have a coach.  The majority of the people that I know who do half ironman races have coaches and everyone I know who does full Ironman races has a coach.  It is common to have a personal coach that you hire, often virtually, or a way around that is to join a group such as Team in Training, which has you training as a group with a coach.

I have spoken with a number of friends, a number of friends have coaches and are coaches, have done a few information sessions, had lunch with a coach to talk about training, etc. and in the end have decided to make the decision to NOT have a coach for this race.  Some days I feel confident in that decision and other days I think, "What the heck, I have no idea what I am thinking!"  As I just merely get into this, I think it will be something I strongly consider or do for a second race, even at the half distance.  However, as I am just getting into it right now and already investing a ton of money since I am a first-timer, I am going to try and do it on my own.  I feel confident (sometimes) that my friends in this space will be able to help me out (thanks guys!) and that I can do research on my own (thanks Internet!) to help with questions that I have.

My friends who are runners who have helped me through decisions during marathon training of scheduling runs, whether or not to do a run, rest, nutrition, etc. know that I can be a very needy person.  I think I felt a little cocky coming into this race and forgot about that.  So hopefully will be able to get through this race on my own.  Oh, however, I forgot to mention that I have been researching the local triathlon clubs and am thinking of at the very least, joining a club to be able to have a bigger network of people to ask questions to so I don't just annoy the same people over and over.

Thirdly, a nutrition plan.  As I mentioned when I recapped marathon training, I spent more time thinking about nutrition during this marathon training cycle, which I think really helped me to improve.  And when I say I thought more about nutrition, I mostly just did what I was told by a friend. [Side note as I am writing this whole post out, I am like WTF why did I decide to not get a coach?!?]  And I have been listening to some podcasts, doing some research, and talking with my one friend who is a triathlon coach about what I should do with nutrition.  So far, I am planning to just approach it with what has always worked for me with running.  Or at least, what worked for me during this marathon - Gatorade, Water, Gu, salt tabs, etc.  Hopefully as I get further along I will see what works for me and what doesn't, but will be training with the same approach to nutrition as I did for the Chicago Marathon.

And lastly, I am now the proud owner of a bike trainer.  A trainer is a contraption that allows you to take your personal bicycle and turn it into a stationary bike.  It is pretty amazing as I set this thing up on Saturday and biked inside my apartment while watching TV.  It is better for training to have this specific training because it more directly simulates an outdoor ride than a regular stationary bike or a spin bike that has a weighted wheel on it.  It also is YOUR BIKE so you get used to the fit and the feel of the bike during training that you will be using on race day.  You can more realistically prepare yourself for race day by training the way - and with the equipment - that you'll use during the day of the race.

Even during my first ride on the trainer, I learned that there is more to just setting up the trainer though.  I mean, the whole sport of biking is just a huge money suck.  But I also need to plan for a new back tire, since that tire will wear more on the trainer.  I need to figure out how to raise up the front portion of my bike to level out the bike (since the back is raised), get some sort of fan or way to keep myself cool on the bike, I need to look into getting a computer for my bike, since I have no way to judge how many miles I have gone while riding indoors (right now I am riding based off time - I decided to do a 70 minute ride on Saturday) and then, I have to figure out ways to entertain myself while I ride that thing for hours (I don't think "Making a Murderer" is going to cut it for me.)

So this is a bit of what has been going on in my mind the past couple of weeks as I get ready for Half Ironman training!  I know I haven't written about it a ton, but it has been on my mind a ton and something I have been working on and preparing for a lot in the past month or so of "off season."  So, with all that said - get ready people because we're about to start the Half Ironman adventure!


  1. If it helps, it's better to go off time while indoors. The mileage and speed isn't always accurate which can be frustrating. That's temporarily one less thing...though aa cadence sensor is a good investment.

    1. Thank you Katie!! I thought that as well - will be interesting to see if I do this whole training thing correctly. Appreciate your advice!