I can see why people get addicted to certain levels of racing – each time around you can find out where to improve and how to train better. Last year I felt like I spent a LOT of time training but did not see as much improvement as I expected. David and I did a lot of long, slow rides that were in hillier areas about an hour away from town, so we ended up with lots of driving every weekend. Plus, we never really had active recovery or rest weeks and every week was the same routine. Here are a few things this time around that were things I personally set out to change:
Many of my workouts are in intervals; by intervals I don’t mean I’m always all-out sprinting during the interval, but generally I have a pace to maintain then I go easy for a bit. During the main set (the part in between warm up and cool down), I might have X sets of a certain zone with some rest in between. The idea of dividing workouts into sets or intervals has really helped break them up and makes them much more doable.
For example, this week I had a swim-bike brick with a straight 2200 yard swim before hopping on my bike for a couple hours. A year or two ago I would have gotten in and counted 44 laps (44×50) and likely been pretty bored. This time, even though my workout did not have any guidance on it, I mentally broke the swim into 4 sets of 10 laps + 4 at the end. It’s silly, but it made the time go by much faster and made me concentrate only on the set I was in, not about the 40+ laps I still had to go. I could think “I’m on the first set of 10, this is my warm up”, “I’m on the 3rd set, over half way done!”, and “just 4 more to add and I’m completely done”. Just a little mind trick that kept me present and in the moment rather than dreading X number of laps to go. I think this will help in longer distances as well – break things up into measurable sets and just concentrating on the set you are in.
Yes, there are some active recovery days built into my training plan, but aside from that, I’m making small personal changes that I feel are making a difference. I’m really utilizing my standing desk both at work and at home to help the hips. At work I have a pair of Toms handy that I switch to while standing – so comfortable! I’m also making an effort to walk more and see the walks as a treat rather than “I have to walk”. Sundays or Mondays (which is generally my recovery day) are a great time for evening or after dinner walks which “shake out” the legs. And lastly, easy swims or just getting in the water on weekend afternoons tends to relax my muscles and allow me to stretch out.
This is a partly a personal preference, but I’m a firm believer in getting things done early (and it helps that I’m a morning person). If you go early, less unexpected issues/appointments/social opportunities pop up which are convenient excuses to skip workouts. Plus, you never know what the weather will do – I’d rather get things done if the weather is good in the morning versus take the risk of afternoon storms later. My trick for getting up early is to set EVERYTHING out beforehand and to pack my lunches and breakfasts the night before. Yep, my mornings are early (4 AM often!), but I can still get to work early then have time in the evening with David. That is before I zonk out at 9 PM or earlier sometimes…
It’s no secret that I don’t love my android (in fact, I absolutely can’t wait to get a new iPhone soon!); however, it has one cool feature which is the alarm clock: when I set it for the following day it says “your alarm will go off X hours and X minutes from now”. I’m making sure to get to bed early enough to get at least 7 hours, hopefully 8 of sleep each night. I have some really early morning workouts, but if I won’t sacrifice sleep to do them because I don’t want to get sick. I think the extra sleep is boosting my immunity and allowing me to train strong.
I think the above tips & tricks can apply to any training plan or athletic lifestyle and are really helping me out this year. Alright, I’m off to San Antonio this weekend to see my Mom who is in town – talk to you guys later!