Friday, December 2, 2016

Off Season... what next?

So as I sit here, about a month after NYC Marathon - a day that, as amazing as any marathon day is, was challenging and not a day I felt I showed my true potential - what is next for me?  And looking back a little bit, what exactly happened at that race that led me to run a painful and challenging 4:29 marathon, which was not what I expected - or am ultimately capable of.

I thought a lot about what happened at NYC and why my day was off. I knew I wasn't going to run a 4:00 hour marathon that day, but thought that I would be prepared for a 4:10 or 4:15. My coach actually thought I could do closer to 4:00 if things went well. But they didn't.

I think that I could have done better with some of the simple "easy" things to fix like the mental preparation for that race, my outfit plans (I was overdressed), and the logistics of race morning I think were tough on me. I didn't know how to eat or rest or prepare for a race where I would be up for 6 hours before I started running.

Additionally, I think my final 3 weeks of taper I did not do myself any favors. This was my first year doing a marathon in early November - aka AFTER Halloween. Although a minor detail, I think it affected my race a bit.

I have seen the pattern in 2014, 2015, and now 2016 of putting on weight in the fall. I tend to do good about "resetting" at the beginning of the year, eating healthy through the summer and to my birthday, and then post Labor Day put on a bit of weight every year.  I have found a number of things to blame that on over the past years. In 2014 I was moving, and marathon training. In 2015 I was coming off of a great summer of hitting goals. This year, I had been working SO hard for the Half Ironman World Championships. It just seems that I always tend to... collapse a little... following my big summer races.

My decline didn't affect me that much since my race last year was early in October, but having an early November marathon this year, I think really affected me. I legitimately ate Halloween candy as 50% of my diet for about 10 days. It was NOT good. I put on all of the weight that I had lost through working with the nutritionist and following her guidelines. It is a little shameful to admit, but it is the truth.

So, what next?

It's "off season" in triathlon and marathon runner world. Which means that I (and most people) don't have any goal races until next spring. My 2017 goals are shaping up nicely and I am super excited to report what I am working towards. In the past, I don't usually write what my goals are on here.  I never told anyone that I aimed for Sub-4:00 in Chicago (on the blog) last year.  But I am going to try that out.

This 2016 year for me was a lot about new things. I will write more about that when I do my year-end recap (which I have already been writing a little bit about in my mind.) 2016 was new challenges and 2017, to me, I want to be about the PR. I really, really, want to have a massive PR in the Half Ironman. I would love to race Chattanooga Half Ironman in May in sub-6:00 hours. Then, I found out this week that I was accepted via the lottery into the Berlin Marathon in September! So my goal for that race is to beat my marathon time from Chicago of 3:58.

New York City threw me a little. I want to prove to myself that my time in Chicago was not a "fluke" and a one-time only thing. Some of my friends laugh at me when I say that. They tell me, Katelyn, it was your time, it can't be a FLUKE. You earned it. But as the ever self critic, I feel the need to prove it. I ran 3:58 in Chicago without really trying to hit that time in my training. I trained to run a marathon.Not to hit a goal time. So I want to train this year to see how fast I can go (and Berlin is a PERFECT marathon to do that at) and see what sort of damage I can do.

Same thought with Chattanooga. I raced that last year with the goal to finish. I had bike 56 miles ONE time before that race. I really, really want to see what I can accomplish one year exactly from day-to-day at that race.

I'm really driven towards those goals. More so than I feel in a while.

So the question still remains, what next? We're barely a few days into December yet my next goal race is in May. What am I doing now?

Well, I am doing my best to enjoy the off season. I am not in a training cycle. I took a break from the coach I had been working with. And I am not setting any restrictions on myself besides to swim, bike, and run at least one or so a week. Otherwise I am taking yoga classes, I am strength training, I am doing what I want when my schedule wants it. I am still exercising every day (I take a rest day maybe every 10 days) and I am still keeping a routine of getting up in the mornings. But I am just doing it without a schedule to give myself the mental break of though from "I HAVE TO do XYZ today." to "Hm, I FEEL LIKE doing ABC today!"

I am really enjoying that shift for the time being.

In addition, I am focusing on my diet. I hadn't seen the nutritionist that helped me so much since early August. I felt like I "knew" the lesson plan and the things that I needed to do, but I think I am the type of person that needs a bit of accountability. So I went back to the nutritionist and she gave me many pearls of wisdom, including that the "off season" is for training - not for diet.

When I return to a training cycle, I want to be READY TO GO. I do not want to have to spend the first 2 months recovering from the damage I did throughout the holiday season. I already have enough damage that I did throughout this fall.

I am doing my best to follow her guidelines through the holiday season but also enjoy the extra nights out with friends, holiday cookies, and relaxation I feel by not being in a schedule. My goal is to lose a little of the weight I have put on in the fall, by January 1, so that I can start training again without having to negate anything.

Next week I see the nutritionist again and I am hoping it goes well. I swear, she is part nutritionist, part therapist, because the last time we talked it was a little about diet and a lot about how I feel like a failure for yo-yo-ing in my diet so much. She took my weight and body fat but did not tell me what they were and said she wanted me to prove to her that I could improve.

So - that's my current "what's next?" goal. For me, breaking it into chunks is massively helpful vs. just having my next goal be in MAY. I am working hard, I am relaxing, I am enjoying off season, the holidays, wine, chocolate, and my life that does not include triathlon or running.

I feel balance and I feel happy. Hope that you are doing the same and hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

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