Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Triathlon is a Process

Thank goodness! If Triathlon were a point-in-time sort of thing, it wouldn't be nearly as appealing....and....life would probably get in the way. What am I talking about? Well, life outside of triathlon has been very consuming over the past couple of weeks. I know I've argued that my life and triathlon are interconnected, and they are, but at different times of the year there are different levels of importance placed on things. Just as in my training right now I am emphasizing my run and bike training, in life, I am emphasizing family and work over tri.

The interesting thing on the tri-front is that I am still able to get in my prescribed workouts and manage stress quite well. I think it has to do with me having gained experience. I still have a long way to go, but I am moving into my 4th full season of active racing and have focused on learning and retaining knowledge along the way. One thing that I have been not able to avoid is the drain that non-tri related stress puts on training. This stress is real, impactful and flat-out detrimental to performance. But, I know what it is, how it feels and how to manage it...even it if means re-shuffling the training plan deck etc.

So what have I been doing training wise? Well, I am not focusing on the swim. I am only swimming 2x/week, 3000m each time. One day is a mellow drill day with two longer sets at the end. One day has a mix of middle distance stuff with increased intensity, but still fairly easy. I was starting to get fairly fast towards the end of last season and it sucks not ramping right back to where I left off, but I know that my time in the pool will come. No worries....and....not to bask in my current state, but even if I didn't get any faster, I would still be fine competing in the amateur ranks. Who wants to stay put though? Not me. Mental gymnastics are in effect though.

I've been riding with groups more frequently. I've deemed my solo, zone 2 rides my hardest rides. After group rides with a constant incentive to ride hard, fast, long or all of the above, riding "slow" without motivation beyond an ipod is tough. I set out to hit all the Arizona MTB race series this year, but had to miss the first one (last weekend) due to some out of town family stuff. No worries, my "race" intensity is being trained into my system and my MTB mind gets freshened with regular rides with people who are all faster than me. This year I am putting a lot of intensity early-on into my bike. Part of this is to do well at the MTB races, par is to have fun and another part is basically because my body seems to handle it ok. But...."don't try this at home".....my coach prescribed this after working for years with me and this bike intensity is orchestrated within the context of easy, low volume swimming and the right run balance.

Lots of running these days. It leads to tired legs when biking, but the increased volume is something I haven't done before, so the change should lead to something good. My cardio engine is responding well through monitoring my HR at various paces...basically, I can go a lot faster at a lot lower heart rate week-over-week-over-week. I've got some run-specific races coming up which will be fun. I've almost doubled my volume over previous years.

All in all, I feel I'm becoming more efficient with how I spend my time which is great. I am not stuck on volume for the sake of volume. I'll do my time where applicable for sure though. I can't really take all the credit. Coach Grasky has something to do with it too.