As the New Year approaches rapidly, it's time to do some planning for the 2013 athletic season; mine will certainly look very different than it has the past seven years. (Here's a great article on the importance of season planning by ironguides' Austria-based Coach Alun 'Woody' Woodward.)
For the past seven years, my race planning revolved around marathons, with 10Ks and half marathons, and the odd ultra, thrown in as preparation, finetuning, or pure fun. My training consisted of running, as did my races. I ran. Period. Choose a marathon, start specific training four months earlier. Recover at least one month. This is how I planned my seasons for the past 12 marathons, or seven years, and loved it.
2013 will be different. There will be cycling, and swimming, and yoga. And -- hopefully -- running too.
For me, this year is all about Ironman Whistler, my goal race of the year, about finding the courage to start. Held on August 25, I'd like to use a 16-week race-specific preparation -- this means that real Ironman training starts on May 5.
There are another 18 weeks between today and May 5. And that's a very good thing; the last time I raced, and trained, as a triathlete was in March 2005. You can imagine that both my swimming and cycling need a little work.
One benefit of a temporary inability to run (I've been struggling with heel pain for six months after allowing myself to be guided into a high-intensity program too soon after my fastest marathon) is that it makes time-consuming triathlon training easier to manage; it's always good to look on the bright side of things.
As of January 7, I will begin swimming with the Titans; Coach Roseline Mondor Grimm leads a masters program that involves three one-hour sessions a week. Those are held on Monday evening, Wednesday evening and Friday morning, so that's the weekly swimming taken care of. These sessions also help firm up my new weekly schedule.
I don't expect to finish the one-hour whole workouts initially; the local pool has just reopened after a six-week closure for annual maintenance and upgrades. Prior to the closure on November 12, I got into the water nine times with my longest swim covering 1.5K in total.
As of this week, I plan to cycle on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the latter reserved for the longer rides; those will all be done indoors until Spring, mostly on the windtrainer at home, though Tim and I also plan to accept a local bike store's offer to use its Computrainer sometimes.
I first got back on my bike, on the windtrainer, on October 16, before I knew I'd sign up for Ironman two days later, as I was desperate to return to some kind of training; since then I have done about two dozen spins, though only two of those happened in December -- we were away for a couple of weeks and upon our return near-daily Bikram yoga sessions have taken up most of my time and energy. Today I did my 16th Bikram session in 22 days.
We got a great Black Friday deal on a Cycleops Mag+ in the Western Bikeworks store in Portland (also, Oregon has no sales tax). The bike is now set up in my office, and I like the new view from my desk.
I will continue doing yoga (I'll likely stick with Bikram), though I won't be going as often as I have in the past 22 days.I will also keep doing daily exercises to strengthen my feet, ankles and calves, and plan to add core strength exercises; the key is to develop a sustainable routine that is effective and time-efficient, and fits into the weekly schedule.
Training is all about consistency, ask any coach. Eight months is a long time to stay consistent, so it is crucial to avoid burning out before you even get to the Ironman-specific preparation phase. In the five Ironmans I did between 2002 and 2005, I found the third month of each four-month prep the hardest to sustain and I certainly wasn't alone in the squad I trained with back then.
Mental and physical fatigue can easily overwhelm the Ironman triathlete after a few months of training just a little too hard too often, breaking the willpower and ability to remain consistent in the Iron prep at a time when it is most needed.
To help break up the season and get some much-needed refreshment in tri racing, I have entered the Victoria Half Ironman on June 16; this will be my first half Ironman since I last did one, in Nieuwkoop, the Netherlands, in May 2004. (A race report on my chilly experience there, titled Triathlon Popsicle, ran on Xtri.com; my body had adapted to the Aussie climate by then and did not appreciate the return to water temperatures of my native land.)
For the past six months I hung in the unpleasant no-man's land of injury, suspended in the unknown, expecting to be training and racing again "soon". Planning revolved around injury treatment, while training sessions began in hope and ended in disappointment.
In August I entered an early December marathon as I believed, as did those who treated me, that surely I'd be running by then. I still am not of course but I have made great progress; I am focusing on the things I can do and plan accordingly. It has taken me a few months to find joy in training that does not involve running, but now I am grateful for the forced change in pace.
Planning the athletic year ahead is exciting and fun -- I hope yours is taking shape too.
Wishing you a healthy, fit, happy and inspired 2013!