Monday, March 28, 2011

When in doubt...

i could write a post about how my weekend of workouts (well, bike workouts) was terrible. i mean reeeeaaallly bad. just slow and in a total slump. my HR never wanted to creep out of the 120s and my legs were just done i think. but, anyway, this post is not going to be about that! i hope that i can shake whatever fatigue, or whatever, and come out the other end fresh and ready to race Oceanside 70.3 on Saturday. OPERATION TAPER in FULL EFFECT. i must admit, it's hard riding the balance between wanting to train for that Ironman that is in less than 8 weeks, and wanting to taper properly for the half next weekend. SURE, the IM is my "A" race, but Oceanside 70.3 is my hometown race and i'd be lying if i said that even though it's a "B" race on the calendar, it is a total "A" race in my head. despite feeling like crap, i'm REALLY excited. this race was magical for me last year and i can't wait for the "cocktail party" on the run!

so, the real deal of this post. a few people have asked me about my "approach" to running. well, i am definitely governed by my current coach, Dirk, but i also have my own leanings towards the "what" and "why" in my running. I was heavily influenced in my training for my first marathon by Lucho and I still take a lot of what I learned with him into my daily running. i don't really have a certain "philosophy" but i have a few rules i run by: (*disclaimer: these are not the opinions of my current or former coach. they are only the things that i feel have gotten me "this far" ("this far" being basically an amateur runner who has worked consistently to go from non-runner to 2:59 marathon & 3:10 Ironman marathon in 3 years) there is a WHOLE 'nother world above my personal "this far", and i may need to change this list to move up to that world. but again, this is just what has gotten me where i am today. 

1) run with other people. run with people faster than you. run with people SLOWER than you. running with good friends is better than any therapy session. even if your friend has a different workout- warm up together, do your own speed part, and then cool down together. time flies!

2) start every run VERY SLOW. something Lucho said once about turning on your fat burning system first really stuck with me. it makes total sense. if you go out and push it right out the door, your body is going to start using up the precious glycogen. if you reeeeeeaaally take care to warm it up slow, and warm it up right, your body will burn fat much more efficiently. i start every run with 2 miles usually 8:30 or 9 minute pace and with a heart rate just creeping in the 120s. of all the things i do, i think this is my one best "secret". i secretly think that this is why i haven't bonked in marathons and can feel strong until the end. because my body knows how to burn the fat and save a little glycogen.

3) after starting slow, unless your training plan says to run fast, keep running slow and easy!!! i log lots and lots and lots of miles just jogging along. i'd say that 80% of the miles I log are with my heartrate in the low 130s or below (65-70% of my max heartrate).

4) when the plan says to pick it up, PICK IT UP! Dirk gives me run workouts that are short in duration (the max I hit before Kona last year was 25 minutes at "tempo" pace or 6X1000 on the track.) BUT, when i run these, i am running pretty hard. my tempo is always at half marathon heart rate or sometimes faster, and this tempo pace is now down in the low 6's. so, i know you've heard it, but when it says go fast, go fast! if not, GO SLOW!!!

5) so by now you probably get the idea that i am running mostly slow (for me) and sometimes fast (for me). to give you a better idea, i actually spend ZERO percent of my running time AT ironman pace. My last ironman pace was 7:15 min/miles. i really never run this pace. okay, maybe 3% of the time, on a rare time i am chasing james because i don't want to run alone and he is running that pace. but i just never set out to run that pace. i hear about a lot of people running xx miles at ironman race pace or holding xx pace for their long run.. not that this is bad, it is just something i never do. i am either running slower or faster. i also believe that by keeping my pace in check on easy runs, and only running hard when called for, i am helping to prevent injury.

6) just because it is a track workout, doesn't mean you need to do it on the track. i have been to the track 1 time since january. i usually opt for using my garmin on the road or heading to the treadmill...which brings me to #7

7) embrace the treadmill! i love the treadmill because you can lock it in and make yourself hit paces that are tough on the road. i ALSO think it is highly beneficial for training because you can practice very high cadence (hello ironman shuffle!) and also good form. also, i think varying the surface you are running on, and going soft on the treadmill is always a good call. (and you can also use the potty and watch MTV videos and HGTV...woot!). i run usually at 1% incline. sometimes i "cheat" and go at .5% incline.

8) run on trails. it's pretty. it's nice on your skeleton, it builds ankle (maybe even core?) stability. i run at least 50% of my miles on trails.

9) collect data. and don't collect data. i alternate between using a Garmin + HR monitor, using a HR monitor only, and using just a watch. From November until February, i used nothing. then, I brought  back the tools when the sessions got more speed specific. people who run with me know that i don't obsess about the numbers. i'm one of those people that will always choose to run without a Garmin if i can, because i'd often rather "not know". all i need to know is that i'm putting in the work on a consistent basis.

10) consistency is key. be consistent but not overeager. don't attack every workout. just do it.

lastly,  someone asked, " how much do you run?/" i have no idea. luckily in January of this year, james had me start tracking my workouts, so i can actually look back. My guess (and i swear I haven't looked yet!) would be about 32 miles per week over 4 runs...hold please, while i look at my log..ok- average- 34.8 miles per week. i'd say it varies + or - 10 miles per week depending on where Dirk has me in a building cycle.
Usually the schedule looks like this:

  • one tempo run (with 12 to 20 minutes at a specific pace)
  • one interval run (might be hill sprints, 200s for speed, 1000s for endurance...basically whatever mood D is in)
  • one long brick run (75 minutes up to two hours)
  • another run (usually a run later in the day on a big bike day 60 to 75 minutes)
  • then, there is sometimes an "optional" 45 minute run (that i actually only do about 50% of the time)

you'll notice that there is not always a traditional long run. some of this is because i run both days on the weekend after biking and together those runs add up to long run mileage (usually 18-20 miles over the weekend). sometimes Dirk does have me do a long run, but i have not run more than 2.5 hours since 2008. and usually, not more than 2 hours. the longest I ran before Las Vegas Marathon 2010 was 16 miles. once.

so, that's it.
oh wait, i forgot #11

11) on race day...when in doubt....GUT IT OUT!
...which is what I plan to do this weekend at Oceanside 70.3.

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Season!

One of my favorite parts about springtime in San Diego...

Fresh local strawberries!
Not only is it berry season, but it's triathlon season! It seems like a lot of people are taking their first dunk in open water and doing their first T1s and T2s of the year. In our house, race day is just around the corner. Two weeks until California 70.3 and as of yesterday, the "big" training for the race is done. (well maybe i need to at least try on my new Zoot Prophet wetsuit and head to the blue abyss....grrrrr!)

Now, I just need to play it safe and head in there sharp and fresh . Good thing I've got Dan the ART man in my corner- working out the junk! In case you didn't know, according to Dan, a good psoas should feel like a tender steak. Mine, apparently feels like one that was left to chargrill on the stove overnight. 
Dan- doing his work! 
 We're still hitting the strength workouts at RU's Sports Performance Center, but they will taper over the next week as well. Bryan has periodized our strength program and we just finished a nice "endurance" block (more reps, less weight, more functional full-body, more constantly-moving-aerobic stuff). Sometimes it is hard to find the motivation to pump the iron, but life's not all that bad for James:

The boys bailed one day & James was "stuck" with Katya & Kristin
Over the next two weeks, we will gradually taper and fine tune for California 70.3. James & I are both getting super excited to race and we're hoping that all the rainy weather is coming now (it is!) rather than in two weeks. Hope all is well with everyone out there...Up next- another blog giveaway! Ok, now I am boring even myself. I apparently have nothing funny, witty, or interesting to say so I'll take off now. All this training may have cooked my brain. Am I turning into a dumb jock? If so, hopefully I'll be a smokin' fast dumb jock in 2 weeks!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In it Together

Training for an Ironman alone can be tough. Training for an Ironman with your significant other can be tougher! Somehow, though, James and I have really found our groove and we're able to make it a really awesome thing we are doing together. A couple of years ago, when we started riding together, it was a total nightmare. He was always going "too fast" and I was always frustrated riding with him. Running was more of the same. It's funny, because you'd think I could run with the boys- running a sub 3 marathon seems like I'd be right in the mix, but James is just to damn fast and when it comes to my easy runs, I am a self-admitted sandbagger. I like to slog along. I purposefully leave my garmin/Gps at home so there is no "proof" - i just go by time.
Well, anyway, back to Ironman training with my husband. Ironman Texas is just around the corner and we're logging some big miles. We have this training thing going where we train together but not together. It's not very complicated really. We set out to ride or run or swim together with the understanding that when he gets ahead, he's just supposed to keep going until it's time to regroup (like at a water stop or whatever). Honestly, if he tries to wait for me at every hill or descent and soft pedals and looks back- it drives me crazy! We USED to do that, but now, we just kind of know that he will wait when it's important. Which means that he gets to make his workout work for him and I can stick to mine without having to constantly feel like I am going "too hard".

I was just thinking about this a lot today as I spent 7 hours looking at (and drifting away from) James' butt. We started with a 5.5 ride with 8,000+ feet of climbing. Hilly rides were historically "tough" for us as I can hang pretty well on a wheel in the flats, but put a hill in front of me (up or down) and i'm OTB with a quickness. Well, James and I were on the same page and we both know the ride (Kit Carson to Wohlford to Mt. Palomar down East Grade back the 76 to Cole Grade and down Valley Center...whew)  so we knew we'd regroup at the top of Wohlford, the taco shop (where we don't eat tacos), etc. It was funny, though, because we were with Matt & Airy- who are both total gentleman. I could tell they would feel bad when I would fall back and they'd try to wait- and do the whole soft pedal, look back, let up dance. They maybe even thought it odd that James would just tell them to go ahead and leave me behind until the regroup. Anyway, by this point, James knows me and he knows I'm not going to be upset and that I actually appreciate them moving along until a spot we would normally stop anyway. So, it works (And thanks for waiting, guys!).
At the Mt. Palomar store- 90 minutes of climbing fun to get there! 

After the ride, we went home and it was time for an hour run. We decided to leave the house together (good motivation to just get out the door!) and then separate. But, in the first mile, I realized that he was in fact taking it mellow and I decided to hang on for the ride. Great call! We wove our way through the Encinitas Ranch trails and of course since James had picked the route, it was very hilly. We didn't talk much (we'd already been together since 6am!) but we ran together an enjoyed the silent company and perfect sunny day. It was a few notches faster than I would have run alone, but once I settled in, I realized the pace was perfect (and as Charisa mentioned in a post a month or so back- I need to redefine "easy"). Sure, we were running sub 8 minute pace on a tough route, but it wasn't hard and it was quite comfortable. BUT, if I had been jogging alone, the pace would have been much more yogging, less running.

And as if James hadn't paid his dues enough today, we topped it off with a 1500yd swim together, and yes, he led the whole time! As I said on twitter today...I spent 7 hours looking at my husband's butt. At least it's a cute one!

But, I must say he's even cuter from the front as seen below. Yes, after 7 hours of dragging me around, he still cooked up an epic dinner (And wore his cute lululemon shants with his I heart cyclocross him!) That's it for now. Refueling for another big day tomorrow!

The Chef! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March ON!

Where does the time go? I swear I just posted a blog and then I realize that was about 10 days ago...And so it is, playing catch up a bit. 

March is a "long" month for me. Although it may not end up to be a huge volume month for me, March will be the most focused as my workouts are becoming much more race specific. This means less "winging it" and fewer social workouts because I need to respect the schedule my coach has made for me :). The intensity is picking up and it's time to put the head down and get 'er done! (Which is what I did during my 5am trainer intervals and then solo track sesh after work today). March is also the long haul for me as I am usually spoiled with my school schedule full of holiday weeks and 3-day weekends. However, in March we have none! A FULL month of work. And a busy month at that with lots of meetings, evaluations, presentations and other school psychological things. So, time to put my head down and get to work on all fronts. My first big race of the season is April 2nd at Oceanside 70.3. I CANNOT wait! (Except for that whole getting-in-the-ocean part- which is a necessary evil at least once or twice before the real deal race day.)

Anyhow, the past week or so has been busy and fun....
I logged some good ride time with James and friends...and completed my longest brick run of the year

Getting started in the foggy morning....

James lounging at one of our standard Cardiff coffee stops

Bryan catching his breath after our 2nd Double Peak repeat (each climb is 1200ft in 3.7 miles)  

enjoying the Double Peak view
Team Walsh
Last Sunday, I also ran in a beach 5k put on by professional triathlete Kate Major to support Australian flood victims. It was a perfect day and I could feel a real sense of community- it was really lovely. Kate & co did a fabulous job and raised a ton of money. And I came away with a new 5k PR (18:20) which I was happy with especially considering the 2.5 hour "hill pyramid" trainer ride I did early morning before the race began.... and it was on sand.

Aussie 5k Beach Run (picture by Dave Strom) 

Me- gettin' it in the 5k. Raced in (& loved!) the Zoot CompressRx Kinckers

That's it for now! It's nearly bedtime (8:30!) in the Walsh house. As we are 4 weeks out from race it's time for "lockdown". Lockdown= no snacks after dinner and in bed by 8:30. It's easier to get in bed on time when there are no tasty snacks to be eaten anyhow!