grumpy hip flexors and reality checks…

I realize this training go-round that I’ve not really delved much into my actual training plan. Many people go about training differently. Having had previous success with using a training program for my previous two 70.3s, I decided to stick with a 24-week long Ironman plan from one of Matt Fitzgerald’s books. In addition, I have a lot of resources and individuals with whom I’ve consulted as to what kind of training plan they used and how they would recommend we go about doing this. In general the plan calls for 9 workouts a week – 3 swimming, 3 biking and 3 running – with brick workouts a couple times a month. The first 70.3 I did, I got pretty darn close to hitting every workout . Last year, I was a lot more realistic about whether that was entirely necessary considering my goal was not to win the whole race, just to finish.

This year, I figured that I’d be pretty happy with 6-8 quality workouts and on weeks where time was especially tight, I’m making sure to hit the long runs, rides and swims, the interval training, the hill workouts, etc. and dropping the foundation workouts if necessary (what could arguably be considered “junk” miles).

I’ve been trucking right along, (scheduled to clock in about 4 hours of running, 6 hours of biking and 3 hours of swimming alone in Week 13) but what’s been clearly missing in all 3 years is any dedicated time for strength training and any time for stretching. They are the “assumed workouts” – the ones we all know we should do but are so often guilty of skipping because we’ll do them later or because they must not be that important if they’re not written into the plan…

This year has been no different . All of the biking and running I’m doing, added to the fact that I commute a little over an hour each day to and from a job where I sit at a desk all day at work and no stretching during the day or after workouts, meant that some of my muscles were getting pretty grumpy with me.

Two weeks ago I was doing a mental check-in and it was clear I needed to start doing something to provide some relief to my tight muscles, especially my hip flexors, which had been pretty vocal the past 2 or 3 weeks. I was starting to feel creaky and downright OLD. It became crystal clear that if I didn’t do something to head this off at the pass, there was a lot of potential for my hips to become a much bigger problem in training for Ironman. If I didn’t do something it seemed, my tightly wound hip flexors might just snap. Ick. Sounds messy. And dare I say, an untimely inconvenience.

As a result, Week 11’s resolution was to spend more time stretching and strength training. The guys at Mobility WOD have some good stuff for all sorts of fixes and I found this to be a painful (yet helpful)  addition to my days:

But I also know that I’m flat out awful at committing to stretching for more than a few days in a row, which is a big part of the reason why I’m in this position in the first place. So I also added in one evening a week for yoga – 90 minutes dedicated specifically to stretching and  focusing on erasing the tight spots with some added core and balance elements as a bonus. And of course, mentally it’s refreshing to focus on one thing and one thing only – not falling over.

After three weeks, I think I feel some improvements. Whether it’s the yoga or the mobility wods, I’m no longer in fear of my muscles snapping. Now on to Week 14 and figuring out how to NOT get that same crick in my neck every time I’m on the bike…

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new reasons for guilt…

When you’re training for Ironman, your time disappears. Quickly. You have a calendar, a tight schedule that walks you step by step by step by week by week by week towards what you hope will be those final steps that find you crossing a finish line and hearing those magical words “You are an Ironman”. At first it seems insurmountable. All the free time you had before is suddenly gone and then some. And then, as you go along day after day, it seems doable. Step by step. Giving up evenings and lunches and sleeping and hanging with friends seems ok. Letting the dishes sit for one more day is ok. And you get used to it. For a while. But then you feel guilty for skipping friends. Taking days to return phone calls to family because you’re too busy working and working out. Putting off laundry yet another day becomes impossible. Blogging about your time (as you can see from the date of my last entry) falls to the bottom of the list.

And here we are. Seven weeks in and things have started to fray. Ever so slightly at first. Skipping a workout to see a friend, grabbing a drink here and there. Missing a lunchtime workout because work won’t allow for sneaking away. It’s subtle. Work picks up and a few lunch workouts disappear. But sticking to evenings and throwing in an early morning (dang near impossible for an staunchly non-morning person like myself) every once in a while makes it possible to cover up those misses. But then? Piled on top of that, we had a trip planned to visit family for 5 days last week… An active 5 days, but still only 1 “official” workout.

Here’s the thing about falling off the wagon – once you fall off, getting back on can be a little tricky. Time keeps right on a-tickin’ and the wagon keeps on a-rollin’. It can be hard to get back in the swing of things. So this week, as I was catching up with work that piled while I was gone, there were a few more missed workouts this week. And this weekend, we’ll be out of town again for a birthday celebration (cake and very possibly, no workouts). And whaddaya know, I’m feeling guilty about it. Even though before this little stint, I regularly hit 7 or 8 workouts a week and this week, I’ll still get in a solid 5 workouts. I’ll feel guilty for missing one or two.

When you get used to 2 workouts a day, its easy to feel that a 1-workout day or a rest day is total slackertown. But seriously, don’t fall into that trap. First of all, one workout a day is more than many people can manage on a normal day. And second of all, slackertown is totally an alright place to visit, just don’t become the mayor. Enjoy your time there – rest days are so important. And maybe more importantly, the mental rest days are priceless. So tonight I got my nearly 3 hour bike ride in on my trainer (ick) and tomorrow, I will enjoy the birthday version of slackertown, complete with indulgent foods, some cake, and even a skipped workout or two. But I’ll be back and rested and ready to take on Week 8 (gulp!) with a vengeance!

frozen foods…

As you might expect, training for Ironman means you want (and need) to eat. Lots.

I’m this way without training for anything, so one of the best things for me about any training program (but especially training for endurance races like Ironman) is the ability (and justification) to eat whatever it is you darn please. However, training also puts a severe damper on the amount of time you have to do non-training things, such as grocery shop and cook… minor details.

In previous years when I’ve trained for half Ironman distances, I’ve had weeks where I was just so darn tired from working and training, training and working, that I didn’t want to do anything but SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP when nighttime or the weekend came.

I don’t imagine that this year will be any different and in fact the need to have easy, accessible, relatively nutritious food is doubled with two hungry bears in our household training for Ironman. So on my rest day the other day, I ran out to the grocery store and picked up all sorts of yummies – ingredients for things that could be cooked and prepared now while I have the time and frozen for future convenient consumption.

Behold my progress!

yum yums for later!

yum yums for later!

I am no professional food photographer, nor am I a professional chef. But I can tell you that a frozen lasagna and a container full of 3 bean chili are happily sitting in my freezer now, waiting to fulfill their destinies as fuel in a time crunch in the near future. The third is a concoction of the nuts – oats- chocolate – raisins persuasion that was intended to be saved for future but proved to be too tasty to resist!

I hope to have some more time this coming week to put together some more freezer meals while the workouts are still relatively short. The more I can make, the better!  My future self will thank me…

Do you have a favorite freezer-type standby meal?

sometimes it takes a village…

We’ve all heard that quote before, “It takes a village to raise a child”. I think that quote, or at least the paraphrased version “It takes a village” definitely applies to me and my training. Only mine would end in “…of doctors to hold me together”. Not my intention, but it happened last 70.3 and it’s seemingly happened again.

I’ve posted prolifically about my shoe-orthotic debacle. Here is the grand take-away from my on-going shoe /orthotic / foot drama lest any of you run into comparable issues:

For those of you who are seeking medical attention of some sort, here’s my two cents (as obvious as it may seem):
Make sure that you like and trust the doctors and medical professionals with whom you are working. Ask the doctors what their experience is in training and participating in the kinds of events you are planning to complete. If they haven’t completed something similar themselves, have they treated someone who has? And what were the results?

They should know and understand your goals and the training program that’s required to get you from here to there. They should be aware of the commitment. And perhaps more importantly than anything, find someone who totally gets it – someone who’s been there, done that (or done something comparable), who understands the sacrifice and commitment. They will do whatever it takes to help you achieve your goals. These people will not tell you to STOP. On the contrary, they will troubleshoot, research, brainstorm, give you options and help you solve the problem. In my opinion, if your doctor tells you at your first visit that if running hurts, you should stop, get a second opinion. Get a third opinion if you need to. Get some options – alternatives to stopping. Alternatives that will help you solve the problem so you can keep on keepin’ on. You’ve put too much time and energy into preparing to get sidelined by a medical professional who is unwilling or unable to help you find a resolution that still allows you to meet your goals within reason.

So, how the heck do you figure out who’s the best physical therapist in town? Sports medicine doctor? Orthopedic specialist? Podiatrist? Massage Therapist? I’ve found that these medical professionals who specialize in treating athletes are often best found through word of mouth. Know a weekend warrior? Someone who runs marathons? Does triathlons? Epic century rides? At some point, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ve had some issues and they probably have a specialist they would be more than happy to recommend (or people to steer clear from, which is also valuable information!). A recommendation from people you know is a much better starting point than Google or the phone book – take it from someone who’s learning the hard way! I won’t make the same mistake twice, that’s for sure…

 

side effects of training…

Holy heck. Boy, do nine workouts a week eat up your days and weeks quick. You run out of hours to do all of the little things that you used to do with your spare time. Like do laundry. Buy groceries. Cook. Do yard work. You know. Those things.

The other night, I got home late after a longer workout after work… and we had NO food. I mean seriously. Our fridge was a barren, empty desert. I tried to scavenge what I could, but ultimately determined I would need an emergency trip to the grocery store. Entirely too unprepared for a full-fledged grocery store visit (and too late and much too hungry to get prepared for one), I ran in and out for some apples, bananas and yogurt.  Enough for some semblance of a smoothie in the blender… it’ll get me through the night and hopefully the fruit, plus the can of soup I bought will get me through the next day too. And maybe then I’ll find some time to go to the grocery store for reals.

When I pulled into the driveway, I noticed (not for the first time, or even the second time) that with all of this sun and all this rain, our grass has been G-R-O-W-I-N-G. Shoot. Someone ought to mow that, I think to myself yet again. Later. Maybe this weekend I can fit it in between workouts and errands.

Back at home, I made an attempt at getting ready for the next day – workout clothes, lunch and snacks (apples and bananas – good thing I stopped for groceries!), post work workout clothes, bike, bike helmet, bike shoes, etc.

In addition to the post work workout, I had also worked out at lunch, so today (as with many days), out came two full sets of dank, stinky gym clothes from my bag and straight into a laundry basket full of stinky gym clothes. Oh geez. Someone should do something about that. Right? These days, clean clothes are a hot commodity ‘round these parts and it’s getting to be slim pickin’s; it’s been a week or maybe more since I poured some detergent on those bad boys and ran them through the wash. Sigh. Armful of clothes into the wash. Switch it on and hope to stay awake long enough to get things hung to dry.

I have a necklace my mom gave me that says SLEEP ● EAT ● SWIM ● BIKE ● RUN ● REPEAT. As it turns out, there are a few steps in between. Minor details. Call them all the “side effects” of training.

So, come tomorrow? I get to do it all again. Except I guess I’ll have just a little less laundry to do. Maybe we can get a maid. And a gardener. And maybe a cook.

Anyone??