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At A Crossroads (or May 2015 Month in Review)

June 1, 2015 Leave a comment

badtri

As I write this, I’m 20 days away from my first race of the season – the Olympic Distance at the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  And I’m feeling really torn (and a fair bit tired) – like I’m at a crossroads of sorts.  Like at some point soon I need to decide what I want out of triathlon, or perhaps more accurately, what I want to put into triathlon (and what I’m willing to accept out of it, consequently).

15MayWeekly

Let’s look back at the month of May.  My training in May was a tail of two triathletes.  The first week (and a half) and the last week were really strong, focused training weeks.  I had a decent balance and volume of training in all 3 sports.  I had some high intensity days and some recovery days.  Everything felt like it clicked.  The middle two weeks were the opposite – I dragged myself out for a little bit of running, but that was it.  I was lazy, disinterested, and found all kinds of excuses not to get in the pool or touch the bike.  I got tired, and a little burnt out.  I backed off.  I spent my time on other hobbies instead.

Last week was a great week.  This morning I feel exhausted.  I missed my swim this morning and rationalized my way out of biking this evening.  I’m backing off again.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

14May15MayMonthly

Looking back over the past year I think helps paint the picture.  Disregarding the ‘sports’ minutes (baseball/volleyball/curling, etc, which I stopped tracking around the new year), May of 2014 was a (relatively) giant month for me for training, if not a little bit imbalanced.  As we got into the summer – into the core of race season (and also the core of patio season) – my training really tapered off.  It became real easy to hear the excuses not to train: how much time it took, how tired I felt, how many other fun things there were to do over the summer.  In fact, you have to go back to May of last year to find the last time I did as much training as I did in May of this year, and that’s even with those two lazy weeks.

Which brings me back to my original crossroads question: what do I want out of triathlon?  On one hand, I’m really damn proud of the work I put in this past month.  It’s the most I’ve ran or swam in over a year.  And not only have the volumes gone up, but having joined a swimming group and a cycling group, the intensity has gone up too.  I feel stronger than I have in a LONG time.

On the other hand, I feel more tired than I have in a long time.  And I feel a little bit more disinterested than I have in a long time (which I think correlates inversely with the approach of patio season, and the plethora of other fun summer things I could be doing with my training time).  To keep up this training means making choices – and at some point I have to decide where this falls on my personal priority list.  Right now, I feel like my mind changes back and forth each week.

I read a great blog post a few weeks back called It’s All About That Bass: How The Triathlon Industry Gets It Wrong (go read it now, I’ll wait…).  It’s a fantastic article that discusses a lot of points on motivation in the triathlon age-group industry and how it could be better approached by marketing.  A fantastic read, which I really enjoyed, and hardly relates to what I’m discussing here today other than it makes one really key distinction:

The sport is growing from an increasing number of new athletes who are more average, heavier, less athletic but still inspired to participate– if not necessarily compete.

This has really stuck with me since reading this piece:  Am I in this sport to participate, or to compete?  What do I want to get out of triathlon?  What do I want to put into it?

History tells me I can back off my training – I can enjoy all the patios and beaches and summer fun that I’d like, do the occasional Weekend Warrior training, and still participate in triathlon races.  That’s what I did last year, and truthfully every summer in the past.  I can be that average, heavier, less athletic but still inspired to participate athlete.  I can finish, grab my finisher’s medal, sweaty selfie, and post race pint, and be on my way.  I can do that without feeling so tired, so burnt out, all summer long.  I can choose that balance.  And that’s not a bad thing – even doing that much would make me a much healthier and fitter self than I was before I got into the sport, and would still let me enjoy the fun of race day.

But what if I want to compete?  What if I want to push myself?  What if I want to try to race faster, or race longer distances?  What if this summer I want to tell my family and friends that I need to pass on the Saturday night patio, because I have an early morning ride the next morning?  What if I want to make this a priority?  But even so, to what end?  I’m never going to be a pro.  I’m realistically never really going to “compete” (other than competing against myself).  Is that worth the trade off?  Maybe…

I’m at a crossroads, and I don’t know which way I’m leaning.  I know that I’m really proud of the work I did this month.  And I know that I’m really tired.  And I don’t know what to do with that.

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Month in Review

March 2, 2015 1 comment

badtri

Looking Back, February 2015:

15FebMonthly15FebWeekly

What do you call something that was less than what you hoped, but better than what you did last time?  An improvement?  A poor expectation?

It’s taken me a good 6 months to get back into training after race season ended last year – if you can call what I’m doing right now ‘into training’ – though I do feel I’m starting to turn a corner.  For me it’s all about consistency of routine, and I’m not nearly as consistent as I’d like to be yet, though I’m probably about as consistent as I’ve ever really been at any point in my training past (and certainly more consistent than at any time in the past 6 months).  So maybe that’s good?  I think I’m thinking of it as good, but with a big asterisk.  I know I can do better…

Looking Forward:

… which means March is the time to put up or shut up.  I have 6.5 weeks until a lovely trip down south that I’m very much looking forward to, and is going to wreck all hell and havoc on my training routine, I just know it.  So I’ve got 6.5 weeks to really make that routine solid before I go, and before I come back and right into my first race in early May.  My weekly training routine is pretty standard (the specific intervals, weights, reps change week to week, but the routine is solid):

15WeeklyRoutine

So what do I need to do to make this happen?

  1. Strength sessions are priority.  Never short change a strength session.  Get strong before you go long!
  2. Saturday Long Run is the most important workout of the week.  Everything else feeds into (or off of) that
  3. Monday evening’s easy spin and Friday morning’s swim are optional.  Hit them when I’m strong.  Take them off when I need rest.  When in doubt, remember points #1 and #2
  4. Get my ass out of bed and hit my morning sessions.  And leave my crap in the gym locker.  I can’t talk myself out of an evening session if I have to go back to pick up my crap anyway.
  5. Laundry must be done Tuesday and Sunday evening.  It is known.  Lack of clean workout clothes is not an excuse.  This should almost be part of my training calendar.
  6. Monday & Thursday am/pm sessions can be swapped if needed, if I get to the gym in the morning and one of the good stationary bikes is free (the ones with the TV that works).  A good stationary bike is key to surviving a 60 minute workout.  Spring can’t come fast enough!!
  7. I think ‘Get my ass out of bed’ needs to go on this list a second time.
  8. Whenever not training (or working, which I’m pretty good about not doing outside of 9-5) spend time with my wife.  This is my time – the rest is her time.

So I guess that’s what I’m focusing on for March.  That’s a pretty big list…

5 Things I Think I Think:

  1. February 2015 was the coldest month in Toronto in the history of ever.  Fuck that shit!
  2. I’m considering joining the Grand River Cycling Club this summer.  I’ve never cycled with a group before.  One of the things I’ve always liked about cycling (and triathlon in general) is the individualistic nature of the sport.  I like team sports – but a 1-2hr cycle is a great chance for some self time.  But perhaps having a group to cycle with would be a good thing, with regular ride times, routes, and paces?  I think it would help with the ‘consistency’ thing I’m going for here
  3. Sports Geek: As I’m typing this, I’m watching a live tweet feed of the Blue Jays intersquad game.  The season hasn’t even started yet.  The preseason hasn’t even started yet.  And. I’m. Already. Geeking. Out.  Opening day is just 5 weeks away.  It’s not just that baseball is awesome (which, it is), but it’s the start of summer.  It’s sitting out in the sun, drinking overpriced crappy beer, and watching a bunch of millionaire grown men play a game.  It’s baseball.  #SoExcited!!
  4. Beer Geek: My wife had a rare weekend off this weekend, so we had a chance to hop across the border for a romp with some American (and international) craft beers.  I got to sample a whole bunch of things, and we brought a whole lot more back with us.  I think my favorite of the night might have been the Allagash Interlude.  Allagash is quickly becoming a favorite brewery of mine.
  5. It’s just started snowing outside my window again as I type this.  *sigh* I’m so ready for spring.

What do you do to make yourself get out and train during the winter?

Month in Review

June 30, 2014 1 comment

badtri

Looking Back, June 2014:

MIR 1406 2

MIR 1406

(“Sport” is a combination of softball, volleyball, or any other team sport I may get myself talked into.  Not “training” per se, but part of the general contribution to how tired I feel in any given week/month)

I was hoping for a bit of momentum after a strong end to May, but that didn’t turn out as such.  There were a few rainy days (and many days threatening to be raining) that altered my training plans – and a race on June 21st led to a bit of a taper the week before (and a bit of recovery/laziness the week after).  But, if I’m being honest, it was a bit of a let down month.

I find posting the images above (and thus, looking at them) to be really helpful.  What good is data if you’re not reviewing it and learning from it, amiright?  One thing jumps out at me above all else in the pictures above – there was zero time spent on strength training in June.  Zero.  Whoops.  I certainly need to fix that in July.

On the positive side though, I stepped on a scale this weekend for the first time in a long time: 228.6lbs.  That’s the first time I’ve been < 230lbs since… highschool?  maybe?  possibly very early highschool, even!  That’s a pretty damn awesome feeling!!

YabbaDabbaDo

Looking Forward:

July is a bit of an odd duck.  My “A” race of the year is two weeks away, on Sunday July 13th.  And I’m debating adding in a Try-a-tri at the end of July that wasn’t in my original race calendar, but a bunch of highschool buddies are trying it out, and if I’m gonna drive down to cheer them on, I might as well suit up as well, right?  For all my Sprint and Olympic distance races, I’ve never actually tried a Try-a-tri.  I don’t take it lightly at all – it’s a whole different beast: a max effort sprint rather than an endurance effort race.  I think it could be fun to give it a shot!

My month then really breaks down into 4 distinct weeks, with very different goals:

  • Week 1 (this week): I’ve got some work to do!  I want to get 1-2 strength sessions in, and particularly work my lower back, traps, and glutes.  If Guelph Lake taught me anything a few weeks ago, it’s that I’m a lot weaker there than I should be.  Continue cycling to work, a long ride and long run this weekend, and a few shorter runs/rides this week would be good.  And it would be nice to get in the pool once or twice too.  Shit – that’s a really busy week…
  • Week 2: Taper week leading up to TTF.  1-2 mid week runs/rides, and a pool session or two.  Start to back it off by Wednesday or Thursday.  Better to be a bit under trained and rested than well trained and exhausted going into a race, IMO.
  • Week 3: Waddle week.  If Guelph Lake taught me anything else, it’s that I’m going to hurt for a few days after the race.  Lots of stretching, walking, and active recovery.  Hopefully by mid-late week I’ll be ready for some light running
  • Week 4: Shit, it’s race week again already, huh?  I may not get as much of a taper in leading up to my try-a-tri (and hoping I don’t need as much of a taper).  Try to squeeze a few speed work sessions in, especially early in the week.  But really, this 2nd race is for fun – I’ll do what I can, and won’t worry about what I can’t.

5 Things I Think I Think:

  1. I’ve noticed that my training, and my blogging, tend to follow similar patters.  When I blog 1-2 times per week, I train regularly.  When I’m absent online, my training often suffers.  It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing: I don’t know which drives the other.  When I blog, I think about training.  When I think about training, I am more inspired to get out and do it.  When I get out and train, I have more experiences to blog about.  I don’t know if this means anything or not… funny coincidence, perhaps…
  2. I’m starting to question some of the goals I set out for myself for my “A” race, now only 2 weeks away, when I wrote them back in March.  I’m still learning how to set reasonable expectations for myself as far as racing and training are concerned.  I think this may warrant a full post on it’s own (which, hey, maybe the prospect of another post will help me get through this training week!)
  3. Sports Geek: The CFL season kicked off this past Thursday.  I think I should be a lot more excited, but I’m not.  The funny thing about sports in summer – I just want to get outside, go sit on a beach, or a patio, or ride my bike.  I don’t want to follow yet another sports league starting up right now!  The CFL is a great league, with a great product, but the timing of their season is all wrong.  I’ll start to care in September, when the season is half over, and I can figure out which bandwagon to jump onto.  I just can’t bring myself to be interested in it at this time of year.
  4. Beer Geek: Got to try a growler of Pale Ale this weekend from Royal City Brewing, who’ve been open in Guelph ON for less than a month now.  My first impression – it was a pale ale from a new brewery that was still getting settled.  But the more I had over the weekend, the more I really enjoyed it.  Really happy to see another new local craft brewery getting off the ground.  Exciting times right now!
  5. I think having a stat holiday on a Tuesday is weird.  I’m all for celebrating Canada Day on July 1st each year – birthdays should be celebrated on their proper day – but the stat holiday (the day off work) should be flexed to a Friday or a Monday.  It’s odd being at work on a Monday, knowing tomorrow is a day off.  Oh well, happy pre-Canada Day everyone!

CanadianFlag

Does a Try-a-Tri need a taper period before the race?  What do you think?

Week/Month In Review

June 2, 2014 2 comments

badtriThis may or may not end up being a recurring feature on this blog, largely dependent on how busy lazy I am on Sundays.  We’ll give it a try for a bit and see how it goes.

Looking Back:

I’m killing two birds with one stone here, looking back on the past week, and on the Month of May all in one post.  Efficiency!

May 2014:

MIR 1405

(“Sport” is a combination of softball and beach volleyball, or any other team sport I may get myself talked into.  Not “training” per se, but part of the general contribution to how tired I feel in any given week/month)

Last week (May 26th 2014 – June 1st 2014):

WIR 140601

(I did 25 minutes of hill repeats last week.  I didn’t bother to measure how long the hill section was that I did, but I did 6x run up/walk down the garbage toboggan hill at McLennan Park.  So that was that)

Not my best week/month, but certainly not my worst.  I feel like winter is finally behind us, and I’m so much more inclined to get out and train.  And to get outside and train!  Cycling has certainly ramped up over the past two week, due in part to commute cycling.  The swimming and strength numbers look kinda ugly (particularly last week, where they were non existent).  But holy shit – nearly 400km of cycling in May!!  And almost half of that last week alone!! Damn!!!

Looking Forward:

ride alarm

My ability to get my ass out of bed and train in the morning before work is really what’s going to make or break my training season (and possibly make or break me in the process).  I hate waking up in the morning.  I feel like a fail as a triathlete because I’m not jumping out of bed at 5:15 every morning, pounding a protein shake and a coffee and putting in 100km before going to work.  Isn’t that the stereotype?  I seriously love sleeping in!  But the work doesn’t get done if I don’t get my ass up!  It’s true.  Trying to do everything at lunch or after work – life gets in the way.

This morning I got out of bed and did 1,500m in the pool.  An easy swim, but the real victory is in the routine!  Tomorrow morning I’m getting up again and swimming 2,500m.  And Wednesday I’m getting up and hitting the weights.  Every.  Day.  That’s the goal for this week.  Every.  Day.

5 Things I Think I Think:

bike commute

  1. I think I’m really enjoying my bike commute to/from work.  The commuter bike kicks the shit out of my quads (that thing is so old, and heavy, and stiff), but it’s so much nicer riding home from work through the park than being stuck in traffic.
  2. I think I continue to be amazed by the differences between my commuter bike and my road bike.  I’ve been alternating between the two riding to/from softball, depending on if I want to ride in traffic, or on the park paths.  The trip by road is a hair longer, but takes me 2/3rds the time.  And my body is almost more comfortable now in the aggressive road bike position than on a very casual hybrid bike.
  3. Sports Geek: That Blue Jays 9 game winning streak was amazing!  But it wouldn’t last forever, and I’m kinda glad it did end.  A baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint.  Just keep winning series’ boys.  Can’t wait to see how they stack up against Detroit this week.  Go Jays!!
  4. Beer Geek: Had a lovely Hop House Belgian style Pale Ale by Ommegang Brewery this weekend.  That was quite the treat!  I’ve really come to love Belgian style beers lately, but haven’t had many with a strong hop component without losing the typical qualities of a Belgian ale.  This one was very well done.  Ommegang can pretty much do no wrong in my books at this point!
  5. I think I love the way swim training exhausts me in a completely different way than run training or bike training.  Swimming is so peaceful and so killer at the same time.  Love it!

Do you prefer to train/work out in the morning?  Or in the evening?

Month In Review (or “why my Give-A-Shit is broken, and that’s ok”)

February 28, 2014 7 comments

badtri

Hmm… over 2 weeks since my last post, huh?  As goes my training, so goes my posting, apparently…

Looking at it purely through the lens of “Triathlon Training”, my February has been shit a bit inconsistent.  I’ve made it to a few training sessions, but have easily missed just as many.  Excuses?  You betcha!  I got loads of ’em:

Excuses

  • It’s cold, and dark, and miserable outside
  • Work is busy.  Not drowning-in-overtime busy, but full-intense-days busy such that all I want to do when I get home is collapse on the couch.  But I can’t, because…
  • This volunteering gig I’ve signed up for is taking a lot of time and energy.  It’s like a second part-time job on top of my day job.  It’s an amazing experience (in fact, probably worthy of it’s own blog post… which I should do…), but it eats into my time

Yep – excuses.  The result of which being that my February sucked as far as training months go!  m’ohwell.

Should I be more upset about it?  Maybe.  But my Give-A-Shit is kinda broken right now.  And that’s okay.  I’m really trying to put it in perspective.  What should I be upset about?  About missing a bunch of sessions from a training plan that I took from a website, that isn’t personalized to me whatsoever, and that is almost 100% more intense than the plan I followed last year?  All while I’m working a different job than last year, living in a different city, and dealing with a distinctly colder and snowier winter?

Maybe I should be upset about that.  But I’m not gonna be.

So what lens should I look at it from?  Instead of comparing myself to a random training plan online (or to an ideal I picked up somewhere that all age group triathletes need to be training 7-10 hours per week, regardless of background, goals, or race distances planned), let’s try comparing myself to… myself:

Here’s my training volume so far in 2014 (left), compared to so far in 2013 (right):

MIR 1402to1302

The overall volume this year is a bit lower, though not embarrassingly lower.  Last year at this time I was training for my first half marathon in late February, and a 30km running race in late March.  This year I don’t have running-specific races on the horizon (or any specific races on the horizon), so my training is much more balanced and less urgent.  My bike effort is much improved.  My swim and strength efforts are marginally improved.  My run effort was holding it’s own in January – has slid a little in February, admittedly, but hasn’t fallen off completely.  There’s a base there.  I can still build on that!

(Shout out to one of my favorite blogs: A Promise to Dad, for the inspiration to contrast 2014 YTD vs 2013 YTD.  What a great way to look at my training, rather than solely comparing it to an arbitrary training plan!  Thanks 🙂 )

What other lenses can I look at it through?

  • I’m ~10lbs lighter than I was this time last year
  • My waste size is 4″ smaller than it was last year
  • I’m running at a 6:15/km pace reliably, where last year I was between 7:00/km and 7:30/km

None of those measures are by themselves earth shattering changes over the course of a year.  But progress is progress, and every time I get down on myself that I missed a single training session, I need to remember that over the course of a year I’m trending in the right direction.  It’s all about long term gains, not short term pains!

KeepGoing

image from theBERRY

Happy End-of-February Everybody!  Spring is just around the corner!!!

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