Monday, March 24, 2014

Columbia Triathlon Training Week 5

Last week I took a much needed break from structured training and did whatever workouts I wanted to do. I ended up being pretty productive and having some great workouts. Sometimes it's too hard to plan workouts in advance when the weather is so unpredictable so instead I'm focusing on getting in what I can. If one week is run heavy that's fine as long as I'm getting in quality workouts.

Some highlights from the week include my first track workout of the season, an outdoors bike ride, and the fastest swim workout I've done since I was a competitive swimmer. I rode on Friday and was on such an endorphin high. I've missed spending time outside on two wheels. I was going to ride again on Saturday but it was super windy and I didn't feel safe enough to leave the parking lot. Plus I'm squirrelly when it comes to biking and get really nervous over silly things.

I had intentions of swimming more than once while home for break but the nice weather kept enticing me outside. Wednesday's swim more than made up for it though. The water was a balmy 85.6 degrees which is about 5.6 degrees too warm. I actually like training in the warmer water as it had me really prepared for my warmer water races. My main set was 2 rounds of 6 x 100 on the 1:35, first 6 were 75 easy/25 hard and the final 6 were 50 easy/50 hard. I averaged 1:14-1:16 during the first round and 1:08-1:12 during the second. I remember struggling to hit these paces during the peak of my training last summer so to see them so early on is huge for me. Swimming is already my strength but I want to really take advantage of that this year.

Here's how the week played out:


Puppy runs are the best runs

2.84 mile run, 9:36 avg.
50 min strength


55 min body flow
6 mile run, 8:57 avg.


Dear UMBC, please open your outdoor pool now. Thanks.

3000 yd swim
40 min strength


2 mile run, 10:38 avg.
55 min yoga


18.71 miles bike, 15.77 mph


4.35 mile run, 9:20 avg.



3000 yards
18.71 mile bike
15.19 miles run
7 hours 51 min

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back to the Grind

Tuesday evening marked my return to the track for the first time since the NYC Marathon and being injured. I was nervous about doing my first real speed session in so long but also felt ready. I didn't want to do anything too hard, more just getting the legs to turn over quicker. During each of my hill workouts this season I felt held back by my leg turnover. I just couldn't get them to move faster!

Since I didn't want to overdo it my first time back, I planned an easier workout with no expectations. I did this workout around the same time last year so I can look back and compare too. My main goal for these repeats was to run strong and pay attention to any signs that my body wasn't ready yet.

15 min warm up
4 x 100 w/ 100 jog recovery
4 x 400 w/ 200 jog recovery
4 x 100 w/ 100 jog recovery
15 min cool down

After I finished this workout I felt on cloud 9. It felt SO good to move fast again. I didn't look at last year's workout before I went so I had no idea how they compared. All I knew was that I felt great- strong, powerful, graceful.

400's are probably my favorite distance to run on the track, although mile repeats are also up there. 400's are not short enough to be an all-out sprint but they don't really let you settle into the pace at all. I've been told they are the hardest distance for repeats, and I can believe that. The 400's were the main part of this workout and were also my favorite part of this workout. I feel awkward trying to sprint for a 100 but during a 400 I feel unstoppable.

March 2013- 1:39, 1:35, 1:37, 1:34
March 2014- 2:00, 1:55, 1:54, 1:43

Looking at the comparison between this workout last year and this year I feel rather ambivalent. In one sense I feel defeated once again. I thought I had such a great workout until I look at how much fitness I've lost. On the other hand, I felt like I had such a great workout and that's what matters. Last year I was training for a half marathon PR, not a triathlon. I was running considerably more and considerably faster.

What's most important to me is making progress from where I am today. I may never see those paces again or I may be running faster by the end of the summer. My focus is different this year and I am okay with that. Sometimes a little perspective is all you need.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Columbia Triathlon Week 4

Week 4 was not my best week but certainly wasn't my worst. I was coming off almost a complete rest week and dealing with a lot of school related stress. I was feeling absolutely terrible the beginning half of the week, which didn't help things. I felt severely overtrained and was ridiculously hot for three days straight. I started taking a new medicine Sunday night that I think was the culprit.

On Wednesday I did my first time trial swim so I could measure my progress and compare it to where I was last year. After a warm up I did a 200 for time, followed by 2 minutes rest and a 400 for time. My arms felt heavy and lethargic the entire time but the good news is that my 200 was FOUR seconds faster than last year's at this same time. I think I went too hard on my 200 though because I was beat for that 400.

200- 2:20
400- 5:07

Sometimes I struggle with these times because they are so much slower than when I swam competitively. It's hard to look at a 200 that is 20 seconds slower than my best as being fast. It's all part of this triathlon journey though. I can't dwell on the past if I want to get better.

Taking a break from training to see Ellie Goulding

The end of the week finished up nicely with the return of my pre-injury running pace. Most of my runs this year have averaged in pace anywhere from 9:25-10:30. Not that these are slow, it's just that I worked my butt off last year to get faster and seeing those times was really defeating. I kept thinking that my pace would eventually drop back down but it never did.

Until Sunday. I was feeling pretty good so I decided to do a progression run. My goal was to run a mile under 9 minutes since that would be a stretch for me right now. I kept the first mile super easy as I was still figuring out the plan and trying to warm up. 9:57. I picked it up over the next mile, planning on running somewhere between 9:30-9:40. Instead, when I looked down at my watch it said 9:01. The next two miles clocked in at 8:48 and 8:20.

I was unbelievably happy with this run. I felt so good and strong. I don't want to get too excited about it but it was definitely the confidence boost I needed. I know I still have a lot of work to do but it's nice to know that the speed is deep down there somewhere.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Taking a Break from the Training Plan

You may be wondering why I would be straying away from a training plan when I have some big races coming up this year. Well, for the past couple weeks following a plan of what workout I do each day has been more stressful than helpful. It felt like ever day this past week I was scrambling to try to change my plan for the week to accommodate some uncalled for obstacle. I had to skip a run due to a last minute advising meeting and the amount of stress it was causing me made me realize had bad things were getting. I was focusing so much on following what my plan said and doing what a triathlete should be doing that I was ignoring what I want to be doing.

I am on spring break until Monday the 24th and am doing whatever workouts I want all this week. I have been craving some serious time on two wheels but who knows what if the weather will cooperate. The Weather Channel is coming for temps in the 50's at the end of the week but they're also calling for 8 inches of snow on Monday. Last night I was trying to put together my workouts for the week and once again was stressing more than I should be. What I want to focus on while on break is getting in quality workouts that I actually want to do. If I want to go to the track for a run, I will. If I wake up and would rather run than swim, that's what I'll do.

More pool time

I've been thinking a lot about why I do triathlons, including why I train for them. The reason has always been because I love it and I want to keep it that way. I still have the same really scary goals for the year and I am still going to chase them with all of my heart. But there is a difference between your heart and your head. Your head is what tells you that you do that swim instead of run. It keeps you on track with your training plan. Your heart is what keeps you passionate.

I haven't talked a lot about my life outside of training but I am in my senior year of college at UMBC, graduating in December. I have started looking at grad schools and it is very overwhelming. This is a whole post in and of itself but the takeaway here is that it is a complicated process. I am also working on proposing my senior project which has turned into a battle with my advisors. As much as I want to be able to put all of my focus on my training, right now I can't. And that is okay. Triathlon is not my life, although it has become an important part of it. I am okay with putting my focus on finishing up my senior year strong and getting into grad school.

For the rest of the semester my training will be mostly training plan free but still filled with plenty swim/bike/running. If there's a week that I can't get out on the bike at all that's fine. I will do what I can when I can and make my training count. My A race for the season is in the middle of September and I have all summer to worry about following a plan. So for now, I'm going to do the best I can because that is all that really matters.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Columbia Triathlon Training Week 3

Week 3 was a pretty nonexistent week for me. The week started off with a snow and ice storm that derailed all my workouts. I put in a solid day of work on Wednesday but that was about all I did. I wish I could say I had a good excuse but I was just lazy.

Yesterday marked the beginning of a four week build to really get into racing shape. The Columbia Triathlon is a little less than ten weeks away which means it's time to start adding in some more biking and bricks. My swimming is going really well and I am confident that I will be able to put up a strong swim, but I am a little nervous for both the bike and the run. I have done minimal biking so far this year because it's been too cold outside and I despise the trainer. Lame excuse but I would rather enjoy my training and being on the trainer makes me all sorts of ragey.

I've been making progress with my running but my paces are still a long ways away from those of last season. I'm trying to put my focus on just making progress and keeping the big picture in mind. The Columbia Triathlon is not an A race for me so as much as I would love to PR there it isn't a need to get worked up about it. What's more important to me is running a strong race and having a solid performance.

What have you been up to this week?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Columbia Triathlon Training Week 2


I don't remember much about this swim other than I felt good. I've been regularly strength training and every time I get in the pool it is evident.

2300 yd swim
45 min strength


Typical Tuesday morning yoga and technique swim. I don't normally like swimming after yoga or lifting but I' coming to really like these short technique focused swims. It's nice to be able to completely let go of all pressure to hit certain paces and reconnect with the water.

Although it wasn't speedy this run was awesome. I felt so relaxed the entire time and felt like I could have run forever. For awhile even my easy runs were somewhat of a strugglefest. Runs like these remind me why I run in the first place.

55 min yoga
1600 yd swim
4.34 miles, 9:44 avg


I had no motivation to do this swim and almost bailed on it so many times but I told myself I could take it easy as long as I did something. My arms were more tired than normal but probably the result of lifting plus swimming three days in a row. Despite the tired arms I felt pretty good and got in my longest swim of the year so far.

Another week, another round of hill repeats. My pace for the repeats came down a little which means I'm making progress. Not a lot but I'll take it.

2500 yd swim
7 miles, 9:44 avg


I was planning on running Thursday morning but my left shin/calf was bothering me off and on during Tuesday and Wednesday's runs so I took the morning off. I have a long season ahead of me and I don't want to miss out on quality base training because of an injury. I still got in a quality strength session and my leg felt better on Saturday so it was definitely the right move.

45 min strength


My swimming and running have been coming along nicely but I am really struggling to get my butt on the trainer for some bike time. I hate riding on the trainer and even doing intervals I am bored out of my mind. I think it's time to invest in some cold weather riding gear for this girl.

8.01 miles bike, 14.84 mph


Longest run post marathon and post injury. I was nervous about how my leg would feel during this run so I kept the pace easy and relaxed and kept checking in with myself to make sure I wasn't feeling any pain. This run flew by and before I knew it I was making the two mile trek back up to my house. I knew this was going to be a hard run because of the hill at the end but I also knew it would be worth it. It was in no way easy but it was still easier than I was expecting it to be.

7.7 mile run, 9:47 avg


I was planning on Sunday being a rest day but with 4-8 inches of snow in the forecast for Monday I decided to squeeze in another strength session. I'm starting to get a tad bored with my current routine so I'm planning on switching things up for a few weeks. It's the little things that make me happy.

35 min strength

I closed out the week with:
6400 yards
8.01 miles bike
19.04 miles run
8 hrs 33 min