It’s been a while since I wrote a blog about training. My performance at Los Cabos was nothing spectacular due in part to my breathing issues, but since it’s now the off season and I have more time to write, the training leading up to the race might be interesting to some. So here goes. First, a bit on the summer leading up to this final training block:
After injuring my sacrum at Raleigh 70.3 in early June, I had a fairly poor June and July of training. I wasn’t able to run for nearly two months and I had to cut back on swimming and riding for a number of weeks as well due to the injury. Finally, when I was able to race again I was too eager to race, and made the mistake of doing Boulder 70.3 and Steelhead 70.3 back to back. I had shitty performances at both. With all the tapering, traveling, and recovering, plus a week visiting my parents in Oregon, my form was shot once again by the end of August. Needless to say, Santa Cruz in early September did not go well, especially since I got sick a week before it. Having a DNF there after a summer of injury and bad races nearly ate up the rest of my motivation for the season. Then to add insult to injury I got sick again the night after Santa Cruz. I decided to take a week very easy after I recovered from the latest bout of illness to refresh my mental and emotional selves, then get back to work for the remainder of the season. That left my coach Chris Winn seven weeks to work with until Los Cabos.
At this late point in the season I wasn’t eager to rack up large hours, and for a professional triathlete I tend to train on the lower end of the volume spectrum to begin with. For one, I get sick when I train too many hours. It may sound like I was sick all summer long, but starting from the beginning of this season 52 weeks ago, I was only sick for a total of 3.5 weeks the whole year, meaning that I definitely didn’t overtrain this year. Secondly, I lose motivation when I do too many hours, quality drops, and I fall behind at work. I enjoy harder efforts anyways, and for now the shorter hours seem to be working.
I averaged 20 hours per week for six weeks leading up to Los Cabos, with the seventh week (race week) at just 12 hours since I like a nice taper. In fact, I began tapering the week before that, so it was really a 5.5 week hard block with the largest week at 23 hours and the shortest at 14 (by accident since I missed two long workouts that week due to life). I followed a similar pattern each week, which usually went something as follows:
Monday: Rest day, so usually some commuting on the bike to the pool/grocery store and a 4,000 to 4,5000 meter masters workout.
Tuesday: Morning Boulder Track Club group run. This would usually entail about four miles of intensity at 5:00 to 5:50 mile pace, and around 9 to 11 miles total for an 80 minute workout. I’d generally follow this up with a 2K easy swim later in the day.
Wednesday: 2-2.5 hours on the bike with intervals. A typical set of intervals would be 3-4×20 minutes at sweet spot, or possibly 2×20 minutes at threshold. Later into the training block I did more VO2 and zone 6. Usually these rides were scheduled for three hours, but in order to make noon masters on time I almost always cut them to 2-2.5 hours since I rarely make it out the door for a ride before 9. Next would be masters, which is usually a hard workout and a total of 4,000 to 4,800 meters.
Thursday: 3-4 hour ride, typically with at least some sort of intervals. Sometimes it would be 90 minutes of tempo, other days it might be up to 90 minutes of sweet spot, which is a hard workout.
Friday: Another Boulder Track Club morning group run with around 3-4 miles of intensity and 9 to 11 total, followed by noon masters, again 4 to 4.8K in length.
Saturday: Morning masters, 4-5K in length with more of an endurance focus, then a 3-5 hour endurance ride. Sometimes this ride would have intervals as well depending on what Wednesday and Thursday were like.
Sunday: Long endurance run (13 to 17 miles) followed by an easy 2-3K in the pool.
(I commuted on the bike a few hours each week as well, though I only include about a third of those hours in my totals since they’re easy and short efforts).
No two weeks were identical by any means, but I do like to get into a steady routine. I seemed to adapt well to this type of training and structure. However, my cardiovascular fitness seems to have surpassed by body. Like last year, I suffered from back injuries, hip injuries, and most plaguing of all, my damaged intercostal issue. They all stem from bad technique, stiffness, and imbalances. Hopefully, strength and mobility training will take care of most of those injuries. Looking at my training above, I neglected to include strength and mobility entirely (I did it through the winter and spring, then stopped in early summer).
Areas to Focus on Next Year
My biggest issue right now is my chest. Improper chest-dominant breathing, which I’ve done for a decade at this point, may be responsible for straining my intercostal muscles. I have abnormally large lungs (7.3 liters but who’s counting), which have helped me get away with this poor breathing technique all these years. Loosening up my chest and back, stretching and training my body to ‘breath correctly,’ and then strengthening my core may help solve that problem. Next, weak glutes are failing me on the run and late into the bike, so I need to fix that issue as well. Finally, I drag the lower half of my body like an anchor. I need to invest more time and energy fixing my stroke.
Throw in two or three hours in the gym and another 90 minutes in the pool and I guess I’ll be hitting 24-26 hours per week like everyone else. Maybe doing more with less isn’t possible in this sport after all, because if you slack on training within any of the three sports, you get dropped; if you slack on mobility/strength, you get injured; if you slack on sleep or recovery you get sick or burned out; and if you slack on your wife and dog you sleep on the couch (metaphorically that is. I would never be able to actually fall asleep on our couch. I’m way too fragile for that). I work from home and only part time and there still aren’t enough hours in the day. This sport is bullshit!