My Ironman training plan started almost 7 weeks ago, and 6.5 weeks ago I could hardly walk due to sciatic and glute injuries. Things are getting better.
To start on a positive note, swimming is going very well. I’m using a buoy for all of my workouts to avoid using my tush which needs time to heal. Kicking is not my strong suit, so it’s not much of a disadvantage. I’ll be swimming the race in a full sleeved wet suit, so I’ll need strong arms and shoulders as it’s more difficult to get shoulder rotation with the wet suit. I don’t know why I’m surprised, but my lap times are getting faster. For previous races, I trained by swimming straight yardage with only occasional structured workouts. That type of training gave me the endurance that I needed but I never got any faster. I don’t know if the faster pace will translate to the open water, but it’s nice to see my efforts in the pool paying off. Speaking of open water, some friends and I made it into the lake this week to check out the water temperature. It was chilly but definitely warm enough to start some outdoor workouts.
Running and biking are a little more complicated. While I was rehabbing my left sided injuries, I was biking every day. While that allowed my left side to heal, I ended up with pain in my right hamstring and glute. I can’t catch a break! So now my left side feels fantastic and my right side hurts. Biking every day was probably not a great idea. I’m now up to running 4 miles and adding a little bit more with each run. I hope to catch up with my plan next week. I’ve also cut back the biking to only what it says on my plan. The pain hasn’t gotten any worse, so I’m hoping that time, ice, and Ibuprofen will do their magic. If it’s not better soon, I’ll have to take a break from riding for a few days. Even with the latest injury, my biking is going well. I’m riding in the right zones and I’m starting to see an improvement in my power output. I still have a lot of work to do in this area, but if I can get over this latest pain in the butt I’ll be happy.
Overall, I’m enjoying Ironman training so far. The workouts are still short enough to be manageable, and there are only 2 days right now that have 2 workouts. When I get to Week #11, I will pick up a couple more days with 2 workouts. With the kids in school, I’ve been able to manage the training and my other responsibilities by moving some of my training to the afternoons and being more conscientious of how I spend my time. When the number of workouts increases and the kids are out of school, things will get more complicated.
What have I learned after 7 weeks?
1. A bike trainer is essential. Riding on the trainer takes less time than gearing up to go outside, and it’s easier to target the right type of workout. Need a ride in Zone 1 or 2? There is no better way than on the bike trainer. Need a brick workout? Just jump off the bike, throw on running shoes and head out the front door. Riding a spin bike isn’t the same as riding your own bike with it’s own specific geometry. If you are training for any race longer than a sprint, a bike trainer is a great investment.
2. Believe in your own plan and ignore what everyone else is doing. I’ve said this before, but I often have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Others are training for different races or are training in different ways. Others have different bodies and different philosophies. It doesn’t matter what is on the schedule for any particular day, but how the schedule works together as a whole. I believe in the underlying philosophy of my schedule and that is what counts.
3. The ability to mentally entertain yourself for hours helps.On the bike trainer I like to watch Mad Men, and in the pool and on the run I listen to headphones. Even with those distractions, there is a lot of time that it’s just me and my own thoughts. Luckily I find myself amusing and entertaining. I love working out with friends, but the volume of training means that a lot of the workouts are solo. Sometimes I think about my training, sometimes other areas of my life, sometimes nothing at all. I’m enjoying the time by myself and luckily I still have workout times with friends which is a wonderful gift.
4. Ice is magic.
I’m looking forward to my 2 hour ride this weekend. It will be clear afterwards whether I need to take a short break from the bike or if I can stay on schedule. I vote for stay on schedule, please.