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?