Friday, September 3, 2010

Final stretch

So it has been a little while and a lot has happened. Forgive the long posting.

First, I started a new job. I’m now at Northwestern Mutual with a couple other Gear Grinders and other people I knew. Everything is going well there, but transitioning to a new job is a bit stressful. Especially moving from a “secure” full-time position to an hourly contractor. It is a little nerve wracking and I was feeling the stress most of the week.

I saw my GI doctor about 2 weeks ago. Due to the several bowel obstructions I’ve had over the last several months we decided to try a low dose of prednisone for a month. I started that on the 25th or so. Unfortunately I had another obstruction despite the prednisone. As a result my training almost all week has been nothing.

Starting Saturday I could just tell I was worn down. I certainly don’t have my training plan down as I continue to have great days and then HORRIBLE days. Part of my problem is feeling really good one day and pushing too hard only to suffer later in the week when I am supposed to have a quality workout. I am certainly not doing myself any favors in that regard. This off season I plan to do a lot of reading on proper training plans and things like that.

Anyway, Saturday was supposed to be an interval run. My legs were like lead the entire way so I simply put in a 60 minute run. At this point the volume is as important as any speed work I might do. I followed that up with a 90 min masters swim. Sunday came and I was going to do an easy ride a little longer than normal, about 4 hours. I quickly realized two things when I started riding. #1, I was wasted. Easy ride or not, I was tired. #2, I hate easy rides. I don’t know what it is, easy zone 2 stuff bores me to death. I did one loop at around 30 miles, by the end of that loop I was really negative and wanting to stop. But I forced myself to refill my water bottles and hit loop two. I headed out for loop 2 and gave up 5 miles in and turned around. I just couldn’t get going.

There are a few reasons for what is happening to me…IMO.
  • First, this is by far the biggest training season of my life. I am tracking more and watching more and can easily see the additional volume I’ve done. Realistically it is probably too much considering the number of years I’ve been serious about this sport.
  • Second, I continue to behave as if I don’t actually have Crohns disease. Crohns brings with it a whole host of issues including internal bleeding, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, pain, etc, etc. And I continue to eat and act like I am perfectly healthy. Part of that is normal for me, but this season has been especially bad. Specifically my diet has been very bad with regards to Crohns. The funny thing is that my diet has been very healthy, for the most part. I’ve been eating more salads and a TON more fruit than usual. While that is “healthy” for a normal person, I am far from normal. That roughage is very difficult on my gut and I’ve been ignoring that fact. Yet if I look back, most of my attacks – including this weeks – have come immediately following a very large serving of fruit and/or salad. This is all stuff I know and apparently refuse to acknowledge as I train. 
  • Third, I continue to train in a somewhat foolish and impatient manner. I have great weeks near 15 hours that have both volume and intensity, and then I have weeks with neither volume or intensity. I often times find myself doing the same workouts week in and week out, only trying to do them harder and faster each week. Typically I forget to even look at my training plan as I know what I am supposed to do each day because I never change the plan. However intensity and durations do change, I often don’t look at that until it is too late. 
  • Lastly, I am a little burned out in general. I started training HARD about two weeks after IMWI last year. From that point on I have been running and biking more than I ever have in the past. And during a typical season I would already be done and relaxing by now or at least in my taper. Instead I am training for an “A” race in October. While that is great, it is a lot of extra work.
So here I sit with 4 full weeks until Nationals. I took Tuesday afternoon off, Wednesday completely off, and did only a 20 minute run last night due to my gut issues. The stress from starting a new job seems to have died off as I really like where I am right now.

But now I have a couple things to consider. First off, I have a race tomorrow. It is my wife’s birthday and she wanted to do the lake country half marathon. She’ll be walking with her dad and I’ll be running. While I’ll be rested, I am not sure how hard I want to push as it will hurt my ability to train if I really go hard. Originally I wanted to start at a 7:10 pace and just see if I can hold it. The charts say I should be able to, we’ll see. I think I will make that decision later tonight depending on how my gut feels.

I’ve been having a lot of hip trouble due to my new bike fit. I am getting that looked at on Sunday. Hopefully we’ll get it resolved.

Plus my shoulder has had enough swimming. I doubt I will do any swimming this off season and will focus on rehab and strength instead. At most I swim 10k yards a week and am still a top tri-swimmer. I know I’d be much faster if I swam more, but the shoulder continues to be a problem. I need to correct that if possible. It’s a far cry from my true swimming ability…but I don’t really care that much either. We’re talking about a difference of 1-3 minutes in a half-iron race. I can still get 30 minutes faster in my run and 15 faster on the bike before I am at the elite level. So my time is better spent there as I am an elite swimmer with only 10k yards/week. Plus I can start swimming in March/April and be in 19 minute Oly shape by June.

So, I have a lot of problems and need an off-season to sort through some of this stuff. I’ve been thinking about my off season plans a lot lately too. That is a good indication that I am ready to be done for a while. My current train of thought is to take 2 full weeks off with maybe some minimal running, nothing longer than 30 minutes. After two weeks I think I’ll take another 2 weeks of running only where I continue to build on my volume. No intervals, rather getting from a 30:60:90 run plan up to 40:80:120. That is 400 minutes or a little more than 6.6 hours of running. Roughly 45-50 miles per week depending on pace. That is a lot of volume for me, so I figure my biking will be just enough to maintain bike fitness. I am also assuming that will take me from November – January to get there. If I simply add 10% per week it would only take 5 weeks to make the jump. But realistically it will take a bit longer as I don’t want to get injured. I also want to spend some time doing that volume.

I am thinking that at some point in January I’ll transition over to more of a bike focus and drop my running numbers down to 30:60:90. That way I can drop down 3 quality rides and 2 easier rides during the week and still maintain my running gains. This year I was really able to improve both my run and bike. That was because my initial run volumes were so low I could still bike really hard. As I got to the season and tried that with additional swimming, I couldn’t really maintain it. So my thought process is to improve both again this off season with 3-month spurts in each sport while maintaining the other. So while I focus on my running I will only do 1 hard ride with 2-3 easier rides. The interval ride will only be 60 minutes or so. When I focus on biking I may still run 6 days per week, but there will be no interval running and my long run won’t be longer than 90 minutes. I will stagger things from morning to afternoon for additional recovery. Plus I will take 1 full day off every week. And the biggest change will be eliminating my really long ride as that is what typically hits me with the biggest TSS score. 2 hours will be the maximum on the trainer. And during my run focus I doubt I’ll go that long. I’m not training for an Ironman and once the spring hits getting the endurance for a 3 hour ride is easy. I’m taking an Endurance Nation type of mentality with my training as that is what worked so well this season. Focus on run volume and bike power, to hell with swimming.

Those are my general thoughts right now. They may change as the off-season approaches. We shall see.  I still need to focus on my final race of the year and final preparations.

Good luck to all those doing IMWI.


  1. Take care of yourself! Doing athletic stuff with a chronic disease is tough stuff and you need to pay attention to both. Also, you should take a full month off for recovery- you can be active during that time, but you can't think of it as training because if you do, you'll still be mentally burnt out. Good luck and stay sane!

  2. Good post. Lots of changes and key observations. Hang tough.