Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cut-back Week Madness??

We've all heard of Taper Madness, but is there such a thing as Cutback Week Madness? Or is it the fact that we've got a crazy amount of stuff we're trying to throw into this week (and next week!) that is making me feel like I'm losing my grip on reality?!

Whatever it is, I'm ready for it to go away!

I'm not sure I've ever explained my Cut-back Week model, so I'll do that now.

Every 3-4 weeks, I will step back from training and let my body rest a little bit. I will do 75% of my workout volume. So my swims the previous week were 1300 meter swims - during Cut-back week, I only swim 1000 meters. My short run was 4.5 miles - I did around 3 this week. My short ride was 18 miles, and I did 13.5 miles yesterday. And so on.

The reason is simple - mental and physical breaks are good for the body. They allow for the integration of all of the work the body has done the previous month and allow the small tears in the muscles to heal. Mentally, it is nice to know that you have a little down time before it's time to work hard again.

Now this fall/winter is my off-season from triathlon but I am using it to slowly build up my base in running and cycling so when the next season starts, I'll be able to use my training time to increase my speed instead of worrying about having to add the distance slowly to avoid injury. It is my hope that this winter, I will be able to add to the mileage slowly (increasing by no more than 10% each MONTH, rather than each week!) and thereby maintain my overall fitness yet build a strong base for next year's endeavors. I hope it works and that I am able to do this without injury since I'm building up over a matter of at least 6 months.

So every 3-4 weeks, I will Cut-back and invest in recovery - but hopefully not go crazy in the process!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Training the body and the mind!

Despite saying yesterday that I was going to do my miles on the trainer today, I debated in my head for most of the night if I should go ahead and go to the trail. A friend from Team Tough Chik commented that she was was going to be doing a 100 miler out there today, so naturally I felt like I was being a wimp. Also, I never train in the rain - and that is a problem when it comes to a race day where it's raining (as I learned during the PTC triathlon). Ultimately, however, I decided to stick to the house for a number of reasons. The main reason being that my left side/hip/glute/elusive body part was sore last night, and I was afraid that I'd get 17 miles out on the trail and something would hurt and I couldn't get back - and it's an hour drive from my house to the trail. So my rainy training day will have to wait for another day, and maybe a closer-to-home location!

I turned off the alarm when it went off this morning. I checked the radar quickly on my phone and saw that it was already raining on that part of Georgia where the Silver Comet Trail is, and decided that that was my confirmation! When I woke up 2 hours later, I decided it was time to get busy. I ate a granola bar for some fueling and then rolled and stretched. All of the kids were still asleep, and I was afraid my noisy trainer would wake them up, but I had 2 1/2 hours ahead of me and needed to get on with it.

My view. Charming, huh? 
My left "whatever" didn't immediately start yelling at me so I took that as a cue to continue my workout. I turned on my new playlist titled "Mind-numbing Trainer Music" and cranked it up.

I decided to keep it in a fairly low gear today. I did a 10 minute warm-up, and then notched it up one gear and left it there until the cool-down. This would be my first time tackling 35 miles and there was no need to make it harder than it needed to be.

It was hard mentally. And my legs were so tired from yesterday's run. I fueled every 30 minutes, alternating Honey Stingers Chews and Peanut Butter Sandwich. I had one bottle of Grape Nuun and one bottle of water. So I knew this time it wasn't a problem with fueling or hydration - it was just hard.

I decided to stop at 21 miles so I could use the bathroom. I left my shoes clipped in (like I've heard of triathletes doing to speed up their transition times - I was doing it so I didn't scratch my floors with my cleats! LOL). I went to the potty, ate the rest of my honey stingers, and drank a little water. Then I clumsily got back into my shoes!

The difference after that little break was remarkable! Mentally and physically I just felt better! Maybe this is why there are rest stops during bike races?

The last 14 miles flew by and I was done!

Just a little over 14 MPH - not too bad!
My left "whatever" isn't bothering me, but I am diligently rolling and stretching anyway! Tomorrow is a rest day and this coming week is a cut-back week so that will be a nice rest for the whole body!

It's nice to know that I can do it on the trainer if I need to - but I really hope the next time I need to do my long ride the sun is out and it's a beautiful day! :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Great long run!

This morning I hit another milestone in my recovery! Today I ran 8 miles without walk breaks for the first time since early 2011!

The weather started off cooler, so it felt really comfortable until the very last miles. I am definitely ready for the fall to come! Since it was cooler, I didn't carry any liquids with me, and just left them at the trail head like I used to do. It worked just fine! Funny how sometimes I worry that I won't be able to do something like I used to (going without carrying fluids with me).

Tomorrow is my longest bike ride ever, and it will be on the trainer. There is an 80-100% chance of rain and I don't want to drive an hour to get to the trail only go get rained out. So I'm going to strengthen my mind as well as my legs tomorrow!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Workout Bliss

Lack of posting this week only because of busy-ness with the family! Nothing bad happened - quite the contrary, it's been a great week for working out!

I was rewarded for my patient approach to last week's over-zealous workout schedule and the resulting twinges with a fantastic bike ride around Stone Mountain on Sunday. I felt great during and after, and I had to stop myself from adding another lap. I was a tiny bit disappointed to see that my pace was slightly slower than the previous time, but I felt so much better during the laps that I'm going to consider it success anyway!

Monday I ran in my neighborhood. My pace was a little higher than it probably needed to be, but I was bored and wanted to get it over with. I also did my lower body strength training routine.

Tuesday is a swim day. I had planned to do 1400 meters, but then I realized that I would have been going over the 10% rule (not increasing distance each week by more than 10% of the previous week's distance), so I decided to stick to 1300 meters. I followed it up with my upper body and core strength training routine.

Tuesday evening I have my adult tap class. I am really enjoying it now that I'm not feeling so overwhelmed with the steps. I do have to work on my technique, but since I've only been going for 4 weeks, I'll cut myself some slack! :)

Wednesday I did my bike ride on the trainer during our afternoon break from lessons. I did 18 miles, like I did last week, but on the trainer it gives me the chance to keep up my cadence the entire time and work a little on speed. I actually had THREE consecutive miles where I was over 17 MPH. I felt tougher than tough! Afterward, I did my lower body strength, but I had to modify it due to tired legs from tap and the ride! LOL

Today is a swim day again - 1300 meters. Upper body and core work followed. This week I practiced different breathing patterns. This will be helpful in the open water swim in case I get spooked again and need to take more frequent breaths like I did at the PTC Tri. Also if the water conditions or the crowd dictate that I need to breathe on a different side and in a different pattern, I will have experience with that. It was harder on Tuesday than today, so I think I'm getting better at it.

The only workouts that are left are my long run and long ride. The weather is not looking favorably upon my long ride on Saturday, but I'm not giving up just yet. However, the prospect of doing 35 miles on the trainer does not make me happy.

Sunday will be a rest day - and then next week is a cutback week! I almost skipped the cutback because of taking 2 days off last week, but I decided to keep on my schedule. I'm feeling too good right now, and I have no major races - just some fun goals and new experiences in the next 2 months - that I don't want to risk injury and missing out on the fun.

Because, after all, isn't that what it's supposed to be all about?!?!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The End of an Era

This afternoon, I scraped the "Runner Girl" sticker off the back window of my car.

I had 4 stickers on my back window: "Runner Girl", "Swim Bike Run", "39.3 (Mickey Ears)", and "26.2". Last year when I joined USAT, they sent me a sticker and I wanted to put it on my car but decided that I didn't have room for any more in the window. At that time, I debated taking off the Runner Girl or the 26.2 (since I am not planning to do another full marathon in the future). But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was less than a year out from my big injury and trying hard to come back to my previous form. Although I did my second triathlon around that time, I was still not fully committed to triathlon over running.

As this year has progressed, and I have completed 2 more triathlons and the training that goes along with them, I have come to realize that I really prefer "triathlon" to "running with cycling and swimming as cross-training". I feel truly energized when I am in triathlon mode!

Not that I don't appreciate running and everything it has done for me. I wouldn't BE a triathlete without running. If someone had said to me back in 2008, "Hey, let's do a triathlon" there is NO. WAY. I would have contemplated that. Running was 'safer' and, although it was still a crazy endeavor for someone who had never done any sort of sport before, it was definitely not intimidating like a triathlon! LOL  And I still do want to complete at least one more half marathon just to prove to myself that I can run one again straight through (and I have the race all picked out - since it will be my 10th half marathon, but that will be another post!).

So today while I was out removing all of my stickers from my van, which my son is now driving, I also removed the "Runner Girl" sticker from the car. I almost removed the "26.2" sticker as well but decided not to for now. I am pretty sure I will put the USAT sticker on the car in its place, but I will wait to see if there is a different one when I renew my membership at the end of the month!

So what does that make me now? Tri Girl? Multisport Girl? Hmm, they don't have the same ring to them, do they?! LOL 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I am feeling better today, but since I subscribe to the Bobby Cox method of injury recovery and prevention, I am taking "One More Day" off today! Since the weather is absolutely gorgeous this morning, I planned to do something with my Saturday morning that I never get to do since I'm always working out on Saturdays - I went to a farmer's market!

My friend Hope owns Bold Springs Bakery and she posted yesterday that she was going to have Honey Wheat Bread at her booth! Well, that was enough to get me to make the drive to Monroe! :)

I've never been to a Farmer's Market before, and I wasn't sure what to expect. This is the end of the season and it has been a terribly wet summer, so I don't think there was as much produce there are there might have been.

At Hope's booth I picked up my bread and she also gave me some samples of loose tea for my daughter to try. Then I stopped at another booth to inquire about the local honey, and tried a sample of her cinnamon rolls and ended up buying one to share with my son when I got home.

Farmer's Market goodness!
There were booths with handmade jewelry, dresses, soaps, grass fed buffalo meat and pork, and some veggies and fruits. There were also a few booths for local businesses like a theater that will be performing The Christmas Story ("You'll put your eye out" version) later this year. I had hoped to get some green peppers and corn and apples but there weren't any to be found.

It was a crisp, cool, sunny morning and it felt so much like fall! I actually wore track pants! I know it will warm up again, but this was a perfect preview of fall!

I am debating biking tomorrow, or I may take another day off. I will see how I feel the rest of today! The time off will do me and my body some good - and maybe I will learn my lesson and not try to do every single activity out there! LOL

Thursday, September 12, 2013


So let me get this right?

Sunday night - Rock concert, lots of standing and jumping around and getting to bed late
Monday - 4.5 mile trail run in the heat
Tuesday - 1200 meter swim, one hour tap class
Wednesday - 18.25 mile bike ride, one hour Zumba class

Ah, so that is why I woke up this morning feeling the way I did! I am a middle-aged woman, not a workout machine! LOL

I hobbled around enough to get up and head over to the pool for another 1200 meters. And then came home for some yoga.

Tomorrow, I declare an impromptu rest day!

And maybe Saturday, too, depending on how I'm feeling!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hitting the trails!

Since I'm hoping to do a trail race next month, I figured I should actually do a little trail running to see if it will even be possible. So I went this morning. Which may not have been very smart. Last night I went down to Atlanta to see my favorite band in concert. I did a lot of standing and jumping around and dancing. I got home at 12:30 AM and settled into sleep around 1 AM. Which means I got up late (the alarm went off at 6:30, which is an hour later than usual but I turned it off).  So by the time I got the kids started on their school work and headed to the park it was mid morning - and hot. And I had only had a half a banana on the way. So I'm starting out tired, poorly fed, dehydrated, and on used-up legs.

So when I say, "This is much harder than I remember it being!" perhaps that is the reason. My last experience in running trails was over the winter when it was nice and cool and I was hydrated and fed for a 10 mile run. I'm sure that makes a difference. Anyway... here we go!

Now, first of all, please understand that two of my biggest fears with trail running are getting lost and and falling down. I took a trail map with me to help with the 'getting lost' part, and I just figured I'd have to be careful for the 'falling down' part.

I started off at the trail head with a warm up walk. I was hoping to acclimate to the trail and learning how to follow it. I soon figured out that there is a color for each trail and that the trees are marked with that color. For the most part this trail was marked very well, either with the trees or with the path being clear. I planned to do 4.5 miles and this trail is 7 miles long, so I decided to do out and back 2.25 miles (really 2.5 by the time I add the walking warm-up and cool down). Like a dingbat, since it was going well, I figured the extra 2 miles wouldn't be bad and I could take them easy so midway through I decided to go all the way around.

However, around that 2.25 mile marker, I lost the trail. I mean, there was the trail in front of me, but it wasn't marked yellow anymore. It was marked red. So I stopped, got out my trail map, and looked for the red trail. There isn't a red trail. @@ So I ran back to the last place I remember seeing a turn off to see if that was yellow, but it wasn't marked at all except with a sign for mountain bikes. I decided that since I hadn't packed any nutrition for a long run, and I was pretty tired and hot, it would be best to turn around and go back the way I came.

On the way back, I remembered that I wanted to blog this experience so I took this picture of the trail ahead of me:

Isn't it beautiful??
I really should have taken a picture of the most overgrown part that I ran today - it made me think of that scene from the movie, "Romancing the Stone" where they are trying to get away from the bad guys and he is cutting through the brush saying, "I'm following the trail" and she replies, "This is a trail?!?"

Anyway, I did safely make it back to my car. Where I was hot, sweaty, and dirty! I didn't fall, though one time I came really close. And I could of times I could feel my ankles sort of go out from under me, but I didn't trip or sprain anything. It was very pretty, but I didn't get to look around as much as I had wanted to because I was too busy trying not to get lost.

One tired trail runner!

But yay! I did it!!

The next time I run this trail, I plan to start off in the other direction. Perhaps I will come back to where I was when I lost the trail so I can figure out what happened! It would be fun to go completely around the the trail eventually! Just so I can say that I did it! :)

Now, I think I'll go sign up for that trail race!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Two days of records!

It's been a busy couple of days for me! Yesterday, I ran the longest run without intervals since 2011!

7 miles - not the fastest ever, but it feels good to know that I can run this distance nonstop like I used to!

And then today, I did my longest bike ride ever! 

31.5 miles!! Hard to believe!
My legs are definitely tired now. On Thursday, I made the mistake of doing my legs workout (strength training) since I didn't get to it on Wednesday. I didn't consider that Friday and Saturday were intensive leg days! But I guess it's cool that I was able to do both of these workouts on tired legs.

The bike ride went pretty well. I messed up my nutrition and I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated. I haven't been very good with drinking water these days. I think I'm going to get some bottled water to make it easier on me to remember to keep my fluid intake up, especially while it's still so warm and humid outside.

Around mile 20, my left hip and glute started to howl at me. I drank the rest of my Nuun in case it was electrolyte-related. When the feeling started to move down my leg - first to my hamstring and knee, and then to my calf - I knew it was definitely nutrition and hydration related. I debated whether or not I should turn around, but I'm glad I didn't. After a few miles, it stopped altogether.

Around mile 28, however, my legs were flat-out tired. And my bottom was tired of sitting in the seat! LOL This was not only my longest ride in terms of distance, but also in terms of time. I was at the Greenway today and it was crazy busy so I had to keep slowing down - for people AND for deer! Lots and lots of deer today, which actually make me more nervous because you never know which way they are going to dart off. It was a beautiful morning, so I can't blame folks for getting out and enjoying it, but it made keeping a decent speed a little challenging. Since I was almost a mile per hour slower, that put me about 15 minutes longer in the saddle that I ever have been before. And I decided to ride today in my tri shorts since that's what I'll be doing in an Olympic distance triathlon. So yeah, the Queen was displeased by the end!

But all in all, I am pleased with these long workouts! I have missed being able to spend an hour or two outside getting my heart rate up! Yeah, yeah, I'm nuts! :D

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The week the pool was closed

This happens twice each year, and each time I pout! I'm pouting especially badly this time because my last swim post-triathlon sucked and I really wanted to redeem it. But then I got that "ICK" last week where I felt awful and couldn't breathe, so I had to skip the pool. And now it's closed. But it will be open next week!

Tuesday I had my tap class and it was great! I felt much more confident - though I was a little frustrated that I couldn't get a couple of moves. When I talked to my daughter about it, she told me that it took her a year to get that particular move. Well, that wasn't helpful! LOL But at the same time, I guess it's good to know that I'm not expected to get all of the moves immediately. It's hard when there are so many experienced dancers in the class and you're just starting out! :)

On Wednesday, I needed to ride my bike but by the time my son had his speech class and we got back home, we had a lot of work left to do. I had hoped to get to the park, but I couldn't afford the 30 minutes extra that going to the park would involve. So I put the bike on the trainer in the stifling hot garage and went to town! About 10 minutes into my ride, I yelled at the kids to please turn on the fan for me, which helped a lot! I started with a warm up which was slower than usual as I tried to get my cadence sensor to pick up, and then I did intervals of 10 minutes and then I would go up to the next harder gear. I did that until the 40:00 mark and then started working my way back down again. Then I did a cool down until I got to 16 miles. It went really well!

Today I did the rest of my strength training that I ran out of time for yesterday. I had hoped to go to Zumba last night, but my parenting responsibilities kept me running the roads for the kids.

That's the update for the week so far. I read this really great post today on Swim Bike Mom's blog and I plan to blog a response to it either tomorrow or sometime over the weekend. It's really good stuff to think about! So go on over and check it out, and then come back here this weekend and check out my thoughts as well - not as good as her stuff, but that's OK! It'll be 'good enough'! ;)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Here's to Self-Control!

Since we didn't have school this morning, I decided to go run at the park. And not just the park, but the Hilly Park! Oh, yeah, I am over being 'afraid' of the hills. And since my racing budget is limiting me to local races, I need to make friends with the hills so I can run/race them close to home!

I didn't sleep very well last night and I hit the snooze button 3 times before I shut off the alarm altogether. I even debated in my mind just skipping the run completely.

But I didn't. I got my stuff together, even coming back inside to get a visor because it looked like rain, and headed out to the park - I didn't even get there until 8:30! LOL

I started out with a walk up the biggest hill - sloooooow. Dang. But that's OK. I am continuing to work on slowing down while I am working on distance again. I figured that today would be a great way to practice this since I was tired and I was at the Hilly Park.

And that plan really worked out perfectly. I felt great the entire time, even on the uphills, and even when it started to rain. In fact, I felt so good, I started trying to talk myself into going further than the 4 miles I had planned. First I told myself that since I needed to get back to the car anyway, I may as well just run there. Then I told myself that I could add a little distance today and not go longer on the long run on Friday. Then I told myself that I could just do both and it wouldn't really hurt anything since I'm only running twice a week - and I'm not swimming this week because the pool is closed.

Finally, my sense kicked back in.

The "10% Rule" is a rule for a reason.

So idiots like me don't have one good run and decide to push it too far and get injured.

So when my Garmin hit 4 miles, I stopped and walked the rest of the way back to the car. I wanted to go further.

I felt strong and like I easily could have kept going! 

THAT is the key! I remember reading that in the Penguin's books! And that is what I've been missing over the summer. My runs have been hard and my pace has been quite fast, but when I got to the end of the planned workout, I was tired and done. That isn't how I need to be pacing myself for adding mileage. If I can get this back, then that will be fantastic! I'm actually looking forward to running long again. And biking long. And swimming long. I have plenty of time to get a nice base established!! Now I need to have the self-control to allow it to happen!