Tuesday, August 30, 2011

3 weeks in

I'm heading into about the fourth week of being coached and my life is pretty different.  I get a schedule for 3-4 weeks at a time, so every night I look at it to see what I need to do the next day and pack my bag, set up my Garmin, etc.  It's nice because I don't have to do the big weekly planning, figuring out where things will fit in and how to rotate myself through swim-bike-run-lift-recover(?).  I know that I'm pretty fortunate to be able to have a coach, so I'm trying to really maximize it by following his schedule as perfectly as possible, no matter how insane it seems to me.  Once I got over being grumpy about ditching a bunch of races, it's been really interesting to see how training is progressing.  


The downside of having a schedule like this, of course, is it makes training a much more lonely place.  Because of the specifics of each workout, I would be a giant pain in the ass to try and run or bike with, so I just do almost all of it alone.  Last week, I was pretty excited to bump into Emily mid-brick at Hains Point, but I eventually had to leave her to keep my HR in the correct zone for the correct amount of time.  Pre-coaching, I would have just hung out and chatted.  It also means that when I see/hear about/get invited to workouts by other people, I have to turn them down.  Normally, if someone would post, "Hey, I'm thinking about swimming 4 zillion yards at this time," I'd get excited and try to find a way to make it work.  But now my life is - sorry, I don't swim on Thursdays, it's not on my schedule.  So to all my workout buddies, yeah.  I suck, sorry about that.  But I miss you, can we go out for drinks?


I mentioned a few weeks ago that the volume is generally the same but the quality is very different.  I don't think that I even, in my entire life, have planned a swim workout before my 500 yard warm-up.  Cycling had an on/off switch.  Fortunately, I've been running with CAR for a while now so my running workouts were less of a mess (while on the track under a watchful eye, any mess I made on my own was certainly not George's fault).  But now every workout is broken down into lots of little pieces, and every little piece has a purpose.  There are some days when I do everything that's on my schedule and then think, "well, now what?" because I don't feel spent from the session.  (Note: this is called "recovery."  I'm learning about it.)  And then there are some days when I can barely drag myself back in the door.  The first week or so, workouts took a little longer to execute because I had to keep checking in with the plan to make sure I knew what was going on, but now I'm starting to get used to the overall structure of each session.  


The best thing about having a coach is that I've handed all the worry over.  I no longer stress when I see or hear about what other people are doing, especially people that are preparing for similar events.  I think I used to spend a lot of time worrying that I wasn't doing enough, and now I don't have to.  I spent a ton of time looking for a coach before I chose mine, and I'm glad I went through that process because I feel like by finding someone that is exactly right for me, I can completely trust that what he's doing will have me ready for race day.  I also don't worry about workouts once they are over.  I don't obsess over missed splits or how slow I had to run to stay in my zones or how much faster I was running last spring.  I upload the workout, I send him a little note along with it about how it went, and then I can let it go.  He always sends me feedback about the workout, usually with part of the workouts copied and pasted so I can see what he is referring to.  I'm sure (I hope?) he is using all of the data to shape my training, but it means that, as awesome as this is, I don't have to analyze it to death to figure out where I am:
I really love HR training because of the essence of what it is.  I'm using my own heart to make sure that I'm training and recovering at intensities that are right from me, instead of trying to hit splits that I think are "fast" and "slow" because of how relative they are to my own history of running and the running that people around me are doing.  So logical.  Why wasn't I doing this before?  I know that it takes a few months to adapt to HR training, and I'm trying not to fret over how slow some things seem, because I understand that it is both completely normal and essential to building the correct base.  To that end, I've taken the "pace" and "distance" fields off of my Garmin, and am only showing lap time and HR zone.  I finished my track workout today and had absolutely no idea what my overall mileage, time, or pace was for the workout until I got home and uploaded it.  I'm a pretty new swimmer so times in general mean nothing to me in the pool, so that's been easy to let go.  One of my big worries about starting to work with a coach was that I'd feel itchy and anxious about letting someone else call the shots, but instead I just feel relieved, because all I have to do is work through what's on my notecard in my jersey pocket or water-pasted to the side of my bottle and then I can roll on with my day.  


So that's where I am with coached training.  I'm really curious about what's going to happen - both in 5 weeks at Poconos and over the next 10 months on the way to the big beast.


How's your training going?    

20 comments:

  1. You really want to know how my training is going? Mixed bag of what I want to do and what other people will do with me. Not taking into account strengths, weaknesses, periodization, recovery, heart rate, or effort. In summary: its going about the same as my training usually goes. Fun!

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  2. I do not understand why you would not want to swim 4 zillion yards. No wait I do. You want to swim 4.5 zillion yards.

    HR training is the only way I can deal with the trainer. It actually makes it bearable. I mean, I have no idea of what I am doing but I like watching numbers flash around.

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  3. Fascinating stuff.
    I really love the HR training info. So intriguing.
    Glad you have someone bossing you around with workouts AND recovery. :)
    Can't wait to see how it all culminates for you!

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  4. Yeah! This is a great post. Trusting a coach and not obsessing over whether or not you are doing it right must be a huge stress relief. I know the results are gonna be awesome!

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  5. I was complaining earlier that I'm in a weird training place where I'm doing all my workouts, meeting the paces and feeling like it's just not enough. With just 4 weeks to go, I'm not gonna change now, but just hearing you say that you feel this way makes me feel like maybe it's OK. Guess I'll find out on October 2nd!

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  6. I just started researching HR training thanks to all your posts. It seems to be the way to go.
    p.s. after my marathon I'm more than willing to join you in your workouts since I won't have anything I *have* to do

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  7. I'm glad to hear the coach led training is going well. I think it would be a huge relief not to worry about whether or not you are doing the right things to have you in the best shape to tackle you Ironman. Also, I find the HR stuff totally fascinating so keep talking about it! :)

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  8. Great post! I had tried HR training before but got very frustrated with how slow I had to go, tonight I'm getting my VO2max tested and I'm interested to see if that low HR was actually my zone 2 or not. Did you get tested for VO2max, or did your coach just calculate it for you?
    Can't wait to see how it goes for you, super jealous of your coach, maybe next year if I sign up for a super big race (a 70.3, no IM in my future!).

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  9. Good post! I guess I nevere considered the added benefit of letting go of some of the worry when you have a coach. I am forever comparing my training to other people who are doing my race (or who have done it in the past) and worrying whether I am doing enough.

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  10. This post makes me really, really happy.

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  11. Coaches are amazing all the way around. I've got several friends that do it, and can help me out if I get in a pinch. I'm not certified, but do have a couple of people that I "coach" to help them get better times or more consistent results.

    Use him and enjoy it!

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  12. i'm diggin your attitude on the changes. it's nice to see you are enjoying it! i may need to get back on my training plan since my shin is seemingly back to normal, i can get back to not just half-assing my workouts. lol

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  13. You are totally lucky!! I can relate to the "lonely" factor all to well though. My IM training was done alone expect for the occasional bike ride that my friend would join me for the first 20-30 miles. You will learn to love yourself! :-)

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  14. Sounds like you have the right mind set for coaching. Not having to obsess over or over-analyze your workouts is definitely a plus. So awesome that you are getting ready for IMCdA!! Should be a fabulous journey. Keep up the smart training!

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  15. I'm excited for you! I know you were struggling with figuring each workout, so I can only imagine that having that stress removed only makes the workout much better! Congrats! Can't wait to see how you tackle Poconos!

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  16. Ahhhh......Grasshopper has found the Holy Grail!

    This is exactly why I love being coached and yes I consider myself fortunate as well to have one. I have given up different things in life just to keep her because of all the benefits I see.

    I wonder after I'm done with 2012 will I still keep her because I should know how to train for an IM but then I think about how to prepare better and only she will know how to do that.

    Congrats to you.

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  17. Glad that your coach is pushing you. Just remember that you are paying HIM, which means you do have a say in some of your workouts. If training is getting lonely because its always those "gotta do it myself because of unusual intervals" workouts, tell him to give you 1-2 workouts a week where you just have a ride or run where you can chat it up with your training friends. The mental side of training, especially when you start going long next season, is gonna be multiplied by 10. Having human contact during more than 1 workout a week is gonna be a saving grace to get your through the slog of training for an Ironman.

    And i am stepping off of my soap box now :)

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  18. I believe I stated to you before, the heart rate training will definitely pay off. Having a coach takes a lot of the guess work out of it, but as you inferred, it also takes the spontaneity out of it too. With specific goals in mind it should be a great experience for you. Good luck Katie!

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  19. I always enjoyed being coached in high school track/cross country. It was so much easier to just show up and have someone else tell you how far and how fast to run each day. I can imagine how refreshing it would be now as I sometimes struggle with the things you mentioned (comparing what I'm doing with others training for the same event, am I doing what I need to to succeed?, etc).
    It sounds like having a coach is benefiting you in ways you didn't expect and I think it's great. I can't wait for you to kick Ironman ass next year (on my birthday!).

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  20. I echo everyone else who is fascinated by the HR training, and have to admit that your explanation of it made me want to buy into it for the first time—SO much less subjective, SO much more focused on where you are right now, today! May I suggest a "HR training for dummies" post for those of us too lazy to seek outside coaching?

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