Slight change in plans.
Now that I've qualified for nationals in my first attempt, I am left with questions...the big one being, what now?
The problem with this question is 3-fold:
First, I am injured. My ribs are strained and hurt. I can swim and ride, but running is out for the moment. Most likely at least until the 21st. Possibly longer.
Second, I need to regain my foces. I have always had a problem with tapers. And by problem I mean lack of motivation. I tend to take the "I'm on vacation" approach to tapering and rest more than I should. For the last two weeks I had no focus of any kind. My workouts were hit or miss at best.
Third, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of my training time in the off season was wasted/done improperly. That isn't to say my efforts haven't yielded positive results. Obviously they have. However I am extremely disappointed in my bike splits and I have a good idea why.
For almost all of my indoor bike training in the off season I rode sitting almost completely upright as opposed to in my aero tuck. This uses different muscle recruitment and is probably why I am weaker in the aero tuck.
When I raced at Lake Mills I thought my low power numbers were the result of falling on my ass.
I don't have my numbers from Elkhart, but am confident they were lower than I wanted.
And my nail in the coffin evidence - I put the TT bike on the Computrainer on Monday and began riding exclusively on the aero bars and watched my power numbers.
While my FTP tests show a range of 320 - 325 depeing on the CT vs Garmin...I struggle to hold 300 watts in the aero tuck.
While this could be problem with my position on the bike, I am doubting it. When sitting up I recruit different muscles than in the aero tuck.
So I've begun to test this theory a bit. After a couple days off from Elkhart I got on the bike in the basement and decided to do a few zone 3 intervals. The goal was to do several 5 minute intervals at 290-300 watts.
I repeatedly found myself having to "catch up" to my goal wattage as I lost focus or wasn't able to keep a steady wattage. Realistically I should be able to hold a steady 290-300 watts without a problem. But I couldn't do it consistently.
I suspect this is part of the reason for my fatigue after long rides. During those rides I was in aero a lot and my legs weren't used to that. so I have devised a new plan in light of my inability to run.
I am going to swim 3-4 days per week. And I am going to bike at least 7 times per week, often times twice per day starting now until I can run without killing my ribs.
I swam on Monday, but very lightly. On Tuesday I did an hour interval ride/spinnervals video. Yesterday is when things really started falling into place for me. At that time I had planned to do a 45 minute ride and then an easy run to test things out. So I got on the bike and really focused on staying aero in zone 2.
What I experienced was fatigue. Nothing severe, but my legs were noticeably more fatigued than normal for an easy zone 2 ride.
I followed that up with a 45 minute zone 2 ride this morning, mostly steady state with some different gearings thrown in. I experienced the same thing, fatigue. I plan to ride for at least 90 minutes tonight in zone 3 and 4 as much as possible. It will more than likely have to be shorter intervals of 5-15 minutes. then on Saturday I am going to go with a fellow GearGrinder to ride the Racine 70.3 course. I suspect he's quite a bit faster than me, so either I'm getting dropped or it is going to he an epic ride for me.
Sunday I hope to ride twice, both shorter rides. It is fathers day and I have plans, so I may only get in a morning ride...and it may be recovery.
Fortunately I do believe things happen for a reason. I think this rib injury is going to force me to focus on biking and swimming and get back on par with where I should be. My hope is that all this riding in the aero tuck will shock the weaker muscles and kick them into gear, specifically the hip flexors. I've done this with swimming in the past and it has worked. Fortunately I'll be able to measure how I do at Pleasant Praire on the 27th. It is a flat course and realistically I should be able to hold 285-295 watts (89 - 92% of FTP) and still run reasonably well. The bigger muscles are there, now it's a matter of refining the details. On a flat course with no wind the difference between 275 watts and 295 watts is over 1 minute. That is a significant amount of time.
My plan is to use PP as a practice race and if necessary blow up on the bike. It is a great opportunity to really test myself in a race scenario and hammer the bike prior to a killer run without worrying about qualifying or placing. I ran 7:15's at Elkhart on a challenging course. I'd like to think I can run sub 7min/mile even if I push the bike too hard. We'll find out. And of course the #1 goal is to not crash.
Beyond that I have Racine 70.3 coming. I am regretting that a little bit as I don't feel prepared for a 1/2 Iron. I don't plan to DNS or anything like that, but I think it will be a gametime decision on how hard I push. It may become a long training day depending on how many longer rides and runs I can get in. To this point I don't have a lot of endurance work under my belt. We'll see what the future brings. After that is Tri-ing for Childrens. I love that race and plan to do it. However it is right after Racine, and I don't necessarily want to pay for a race when I know I'll need to recover the week prior. We'll see.
I have nothing planned in August or September. I know I'll do some smaller stuff like Manitowoc. But my plan is to focus on longer rides and runs to re-gain the endurance and couple that with the added strength I now have. All rides will focus on staying in the aero tuck as much as possible. I also want to photgraph myself in position so I can see how things are looking.
And the good news is that my legs are fine. So when the rib injury no longer hurts, I can simply start running again. Realistically I'll only have taken a week away from running, so I may dial back my long run a notch, but otherwise should be fine.
I do hope I can resume running next week.