Saturday, February 18, 2012

Triathlon Training - Week 3

Sunday, February 12th - 7 mile long run

Since I skipped out on my long run on Saturday (in favor of that wonderful swim with Jennifer), I had to make it up on Sunday.  This one was a 7 mile run that I was supposed to do at a 10:48 minute per mile pace, but since I'm really trying to speed up this year, and because running a 9-something minute mile is more comfortable, I didn't exactly follow the plan again.  Oh, and did I mention I was a little short on time again?  This time it was because I was writing up my Triathlon Training - Week 2 Review, so that's a good excuse, right?

We got to the gym around 6:45pm, and since it was Sunday, they were closing at 8.  Instead of adding my warm-up and cool-down to my total mileage (and going for 7.5 miles or so), I had to include it this time.  I normally like to start my runs with a 1/4 mile warm-up walk, gradually increasing the pace as I go.  This time, I only went a tenth of a mile before switching to running.  I started running at a 6 mph pace (10 minutes/mile), and gradually increased the speed over the first few miles.  I was so worried about not finishing in time that I really pushed myself, and ended up hitting 6.2 miles at 56:14!  Yep, I totally just PR'd my 10K time (my previous time was 57:47), but it doesn't exactly count in my book since a) it was on a treadmill, and b) it wasn't an official time.

After that, I stopped the treadmill so it wouldn't shut off on me at an hour, and fired it right back up to finish that last mile.  I hit 7 miles in 1:05:00, which is an average pace of around 9:17 minutes/mile.  What a great run!

Tuesday, February 14th - 25 minute swim

Still coming off the high I was still on from my Saturday swim with Jennifer, I was excited to get back in the pool.  That was until I walked in to find the place swarming with high school students.  I found a lane and started into my routine, but I had a lot of trouble getting back into the groove.  At one point, I was joined by an older gentleman, which certainly didn't help the situation.  I made it through the 950 yards of drills and regular swimming, but I definitely wasn't happy with how it turned out.  It seemed I had all but forgotten everything I had learned on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 15th - 6 mile tempo run

Jennifer made the comment that a 6 mile tempo run is "a long run to be doing on top of a long run, on top of tri training," and I agree.  Nevertheless, that's what the plan says, so that's what I did.

Once again I was at the gym.  I didn't quite understand tempo runs and speedwork until this year, and now that I get their purpose, I really understand how beneficial they are.  In the past, I viewed all my runs the same -- run for X miles, try to do it without walking, and absolutely do it without dying or passing out.  Training that way really hurt me in races because I would start off too fast and not know how to scale it back to a more comfortable pace.  About halfway through, I would be forced to walk (usually because of pain), and once I started walking, I couldn't get back to running.

Early in this training season, something just clicked.  As an example, this run was a 6 mile tempo run, consisting of a warm-up, 4 miles at a 9:17 minute/mile pace, and a cool-down.  Obviously, the warm-up and cool-down would each be a mile.  To condition my body to transition between fast running and slow running, I began with my 1/4 mile walk, then finished the first mile at a 6 mph pace (10 min/mile).  After running the 4 miles at the 9:17/mile pace (6.5 mph), I reversed the warm-up for my cool-down -- running for 3/4 of a mile at 6 mph and then walking the last 1/4.

It seems so obvious now, but it never really clicked with me before.  The amazing part is how difficult it is (at first) to slow down from 6.5 mph to 6 mph.  It seems like such a small change, but it's almost like going from a comfortable run to a jog.  And honestly, I think it's more mental than it is physical, because slowing down means I'm going to have to be running longer, and that's the last thing I want to do when I'm so close to finishing!

Thursday, February 16th - 45 minute bike

I've really been neglecting my bike rides.  When I first started training, the bike wasn't something I was worried about at all.  But after going out for a couple of rides on my own, and seeing how much effort it took just to maintain a 10 to 15 mph pace (which isn't all that fast), I realized it's just as important for me to work in two bikes rides per week as it is for me to work in two days of swimming.

That said, the weather isn't exactly the best for grabbing the bike and going for a ride on a whim (or when my schedule says I should).  So Thursday morning I sat down and re-arranged my workout schedule according to the spin class schedule at our gym.  I found a class on Thursdays from 12 to 12:45pm, and two classes on Monday nights (so if I miss the first one, I can make the later one).

The Thursday class wasn't very full, which was kinda nice, and I liked the instructor, although she was a little on the calm side.  I like the instructor to be full of energy so I work harder, but maybe I'll get that with the Monday class.

Friday, February 17th - 30 minute swim

I was really hoping for a better swim than what I had on Tuesday.  Since I'm still not 100% comfortable with the new drills Jennifer gave me last Saturday, I stuck with that same workout:

Warm-up - 250 yards: 50 Swim, 50 Kicks, 50 Drill, 50 Pull, 50 Swim
Pre-Set - 200 yards: 50 Catch-up drill, 50 Skate drill, 50 Hesitation drill, 50 Fingertip drag drill
Main Set - 400 yards: 4 x 50 yards with 10 second rests; 2 x 100 yards with 20 second rests

Maybe it's because I went early and it wasn't that crowded, or maybe I was just in a better mindset -- either way, I was able to get back into my groove this time.  I still struggled with the drills, but overall my swim went much, much better.  So much so, that after I finished the 850 yard workout, I wanted to push myself a little.  You see, last Saturday was the first time I swam 100 yards without stopping.  After I did that twice again for my main set, I thought I'd see if I could do 200 yards without stopping.  Well, I did!  For laughs, I timed myself, and I came in at a really slow 5 1/2 minutes, but I still did it, and I didn't stop.  Since the swim I have to do for my triathlon is 400 yards, I decided to do it again.  So now I know that if I had to do the triathlon tomorrow, not only could I finish the swim, but I could do it with only one break, and I could finish in under 12 minutes.  The best part?  I still have 2 months of training to go.

Saturday, February 18th - 7 mile long run

Yep, another 7 mile long run.  This time I got to do it outside around the neighborhood, though, since the weather was pretty nice (around 50° and mostly cloudy, but no rain).  I didn't do anything special or fancy this time -- just set out at a comfortable pace and kept going.  After 5.5 miles I came back and grabbed the dogs puppies, and they finished out the rest with me.  They have been CRAZY lately, so they definitely needed to get some energy out.  I ended up doing 7.18 miles in 1:06:52 (including a warm-up and cool-down), which gave me an overall average pace of 9:15 minutes per mile (6.5 mph).  That's exactly the pace I need to maintain to hit my goal of a two hour half-marathon!

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