By all accounts 2010 was a big success for me. I went from a middle/back of the pack racer to a front/middle of the pack racer. That doesn’t sound like much, but I jumped over a lot of people. I also showed improvement in all three sports including swimming.
It has been a week or so since my final race and I have worked on this post for a few days and tried to think about what I need to do to continue to improve at my current pace, and where some pitfalls might be. I also want to review my pre-season goals and compare against what I actually accomplished. Surprisingly I find myself excited for my off season training plan to begin and am forcing myself to take off 2 weeks. I am still nursing a bit of an injury to my hip/knee/calf/foot. It is really minor, but the pain shoots from my hip all the way down. I need to get it figured out before getting serious again as I suspect my bike fit caused it.
Along with that success, however, have been some pretty large failures. Of particular note, my Crohns disease has been a bigger problem than any year in the past. At its worst, years ago, I would have a very bad occurrence once every 3 months or so. This year I had problems almost every month starting in February. Almost all were very small and did not disrupt my training too much, but they were enough to cause stress and cast some doubts on my ability to maintain my athleticism. This is something I will need to address in the off-season. It may be as simple as short-term medication, or it may require a series of tests to determine what the problem is, or perhaps a new long-term medication. I don’t care to be on medications and will have to address that with my doctor. I have a few months until my next appointment and am hoping to go issue free until then.
One of my main goals this season was to go without an over-use type of injury…mission accomplished. I am proud to say that the only injuries I sustained were from pure stupidity. At Lake Mills I bruised my arse by falling on it. At Elkhart Lake I got bumps and bruises from falling on my face. At Pleasant Prairie I sprained my knee getting into the water. And at the Lake Country half marathon I sprained my calf by running too hard after being sick. None of the injuries prevented me from training, so that is the silver lining.
If nothing else, this new-found injury-free status led to my improvements more than any other tool/technique. I am happy to report that I did not fall, crash, trip, or otherwise cause bodily harm to myself at the USAT National Championships. I am in the middle of 2 easy weeks before I start to do a little training for 2 weeks and then into my Endurance Nation Out-season training plan. Hopefully I don’t fall down between now and then.
From a macro perspective it is very easy to say this season was a success. My times in all three sports have come down, some dramatically. I have PR’d every event, every distance this year. I won my age group at Elkhart Lake. I had the fastest swim split at Lake Mills. I qualified for USAT Nationals and was very close to qualifying for ITU Worlds in a competitive field trying to go to Las Vegas. I split above 23mph in a ½ iron distance race. This success stems from several things.
First, my off season training plan was very different than previous years. I used an Endurance Nation type training plan that included a LOT of intervals. I watched my FTP go from an unmeasured 250 up to 320. I then watched it go down to 305 as I tested in the aero bars.
I started a new run program that had me able to run more miles at faster speeds than ever before, and I did it completely injury-free. This program started in November 2009 and had me happily running until my calf strain in September 2010. Even then I was able to maintain 3-4 days of easy running while it healed and had no problems at my race.
I lost a lot of weight getting under 200lbs for the first time since highschool. This played a large role in my running speed and will continue to do so as I drop to 185-190.
The other part of this success came from race simulation. Prior to my big races I went out and trained at race pace and followed it with a hard run to gauge how I felt and my fitness. It gave me a lot of confidence on race day. It is an Endurance Nation philosophy I hope to perfect this coming season. I will say this…I discovered at Myrtle Beach that my “race pace” on training rides was a bit conservative. I really believe that if I had been smart about my pacing and simply held an even-paced 270 watts, I could have held onto that run and finished with a 1:44 split. I need to let it all go, fear, doubt, disbelief. (Morpheus)
While I will also list this under my failures, this software really helped me get an understanding of why I was feeling the way I did. Long hard bike rides come with a cost, and when I would push beyond the prescribed workout I paid the price the following days/week. As a result I began to learn how to dial back my effort and rest where appropriate. This is something that will really help me in the future as I track my efforts.
First, I did not use WKO+ to the extent it can be used. Part of this was a conscious decision due to the lack of data. Part was not truly understanding the product. Part was laziness. I simply did not add the notes or information I should because it was boring. As a result of this there were many times I over-trained only to under-train and fall apart. I lost a LOT of training consistency because of this.
This is partly why I am excited about Endurance Nation. I will have a proven template of workouts to use. I can track them in WKO+ and copy them into the tool. It will give me a reference point for all future years, and I won’t have to deal with trial and error as much this year. I will have the workouts, I only need to execute them.
Aside from that, it will give every workout a purpose. I often found myself getting on my bike wondering what I should do and just “going for a ride”. It was simple volume with no clear direction. And while I am new enough to make a program like that work, making sure every workout has a purpose ensures no wasted time or energy. It also forces me to get the rest I need and should dramatically increase my chances of another year of strong improvements.
I never did hit my goal weight this season. I dropped below 200lbs on a few occasions only to jump back over days later. I love food, I love to eat. My sweet tooth is raging out of control. But if I want to reach my potential I need to get to 185-190lbs while maintaining my strength. This should not be a problem as I still have a mid-section to eliminate. I won’t be cutting into muscle at all.
At the end of the day I simply lost my focus. I would really focus for a week and lose a pound or two, only to lose focus the next week. Part of this is the “close enough” mentality. I finished my basement a couple years back. I put in the framing, electrical, drywall, bar, etc. But I’ve not quite gotten around to finishing the ceiling tile or other minor stuff. The reason is because it is “close enough” and certainly usable. Just like me. I saw huge improvements at this weight, close enough. The other problem is the Crohns disease causing trouble. It is tough to lose weight while eating a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake.
Well, “good enough” isn’t going to cut it for next season. So this off season I will be really focusing on my nutrition. I will have to be careful with my Crohns as well however.
It seems like my ability to taper properly is nothing but a failure. Last season for Ironman I was sidelined due to Crohns and injury. Instead of a good taper of lower volume with race pace efforts, etc…I had a week off essentially. Not good for confidence.
This year it was the same story. My calf was worrisome, so I took it very easy running. My bike was in transit and causing other calf problems. So my week leading up to the race wasn’t very good. I am really hoping EN and having a plan to follow resolves this. I also need to address my pre-race stress levels as this may be causing issues with my Crohns.
It isn’t just that however. I really seem to lose focus during my tapers. Perhaps it is the month of September, I don’t know. I hope taking little mini-breaks during the off-season and in-season will alleviate this. A-races are A-races, everything else is a really fast and fun training day.
Until starting to write this posting, I had forgotten about all my goals. I had a general sense of what I wanted to do, and had individual race goals, but never reminded myself about the goals I had set early in the year. In 2011 I am going to print my goals and have them by my trainer so they are burned into my brain.
I fell on my face/ass too much. It was embarrassing, I’m an idiot. I think that sums it up really well.
Changes for 2011
I need to take better notes of my workouts and how I feel afterwards for review later. I need to track my swimming better as well. Adding my yardage and workouts into WKO was an afterthought at best. I have not checked, but if EN gives me swim workouts to complete, that will help quite a bit. They may have me swimming more yardage than I’d like, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. Who knows, a little more yardage and speed work may help me drop under 19 for Oly races. I know I am capable if my shoulder holds up.
Considering the limited amount of swimming I currently do, I think 18-minute Oly’s isn’t out of the question. My problem with that is the price I’d have to pay in both pain and time/energy. That time is much better spent on the bike and run until my improvements there slow down.
I think my key change for the upcoming season is going to be focus. I want my workouts to have a purpose. My most bored moments and hated workouts were those when I got on the trainer or road to do an easy workout with no real purpose or goal because I was too tired to do anything else. It bored me to tears and I hated it. If I have sets to accomplish I found it very easy to stay on task. A real training plan should help that quite a bit.
I lost sight of my key races throughout the year. As a result, after key races I never dropped out of race mode and took a break. We have a very short race season in Wisconsin and I really felt I needed to be training and racing through the entire summer. I would have been better served with some planned time off to recover and recharge. It may have prevented some illnesses and other issues.
I also need rest from a day-to-day perspective. Gone are the days of doing 3hr steady state rides at 270 watts only to miss key workouts during the week. Really hard days are great when they are called for, but that is not every weekend! I need to be smarter with my workouts and when I take rest.