Monday, November 30, 2009

Overcoming the grey days?

Last week was a bit of a tough one. I really don’t know why and in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that bad, I just struggled a little more than I would like – and not just in training. This week I seemed to struggle a little on all fronts: training, work and well, just the day to day grind in general.

As for training, I had a rest day on Monday which was nice. I didn’t necessarily feel too worn out and in need of a day off, but I gladly took it anyway. Onto Tuesday… I experienced some really bad cramping and pain in my calf when I set out for an easy run at lunch. This unfortunately came after an already lack luster swim that morning and it just kind of discouraged me and set the tone. I struggled to find a rhythm in anything I did and couldn’t just help but feeling a bit down. Maybe it’s the grey skyline or the total lack of inspiration / challenge / motivation at work, but either way, I just couldn’t seem to shake it. Thankfully I had a solid bike trainer session on Wednesday night (which was the high point of training during the work week), but sadly followed it by another ho-hum swim on Thursday morning. Feeling completely flustered, I decided to skip my run later that day (Thursday) – and you know, I didn’t even feel that guilty about skipping the workout, which is very very rare for me. By Friday I was just tired. Distracted even. Uneasy and on edge and just having one of those days where I was ready to cry over absolutely nothing and everything at the same time. The day was just one big *sigh*

All that said, after a good sleep on Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning feeling quite a bit better and more like myself (hmm, oddly it wasn’t a work day – go figure). I got up early and met Kirsten at my parent’s for an easy 90’ bike in the rain. We stuck mainly to the Goose as I haven’t been on my bike much other than on the trainer and didn’t want to ride alongside traffic in such a crazy downpour. We probably chatted more than actually pushed ourselves, but it was great to be out riding and enjoying the day. I don’t think either of us were really bothered by the pounding rain until the last 20 minutes or so.

Sunday was equally as fun. Shane and I met one of his friends (Seth) for a birthday fun run around Elk Lake. It was my first time ever running at the lakes (pretty shocking I know) and although I ended up getting separated/lost from the guys after I stopped for a bathroom break, it was a good morning. I can see why so many people run and walk the trails there! From there we had a great little breakfast/brunch with Seth’s family and friends and then I was off to my actual training session for the day…. This was a technical swim and run session coached by Kelly and Nick. I got some really great pointers from the guys for my swim stroke (which couldn’t have come at a better time as I have really been feelings sloppy in the water lately and just said the other day that I felt like I needed to throw my swim stroke out and start fresh). I need to work more on pulling with my lats and I’m now actually really looking forward to my next swim so I can focus on this. I know it is going to make a big difference (cause it already did in yesterday’s swim) but hopefully sooner than later it will become second nature. The run session was just as good, (focusing on some drills and strides) although my calf pain came back, so I was quite happy when it was over.

Other than that, after a “down in the dumps” week, the weekend was a nice pick me up. I’m hoping this week will carry on that same trend and that I've finally shaken whatever was getting me down.

Well, until next time… thanks for reading.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Long Live the Weekend!

I love the weekend. Everything about it, but especially the parts where you don't have to work :)

Anyway, this past Saturday I ran the Bear Mountain 10k. I hadn’t really intended on taking part in this race before the Sunday prior. My thoughts about doing the race went something like this: “well, I’ll wait and see if Kelly puts it on my calendar and if so, I’ll run. If not, no biggie.” [Read: ‘no biggie’ as ‘yippee, what crazy person would really want to do this race!’]

Kirsten had registered but wasn’t able to run due to her ongoing battle with plantar fasciitis, so using her registration was another push to get out there…. Oh, and yes, after a brief discussion on the Sunday night prior Kelly had included the race in my training schedule (with the qualifier that it was supposed to be an easy base run, really just an excuse to get out and enjoy the social aspect of running and racing). As such, I had no expectations or goal times to meet.

So, let's see - the 'race'. I went slow. Very slow actually... Mentally, I think it’s kind of hard to go out to a ‘race’ and not intend to push yourself fully, but I did just that. Trust me, I still worked my butt off – it is “Canada’s Hardest 10k” after all – but in the end, I enjoyed myself. The first part of the run included a lot of negative thoughts (mainly “why did I agree to do this” over and over in my head), but as I approached the half way point and saw Kirsten and my folks standing there cheering me on (as corny as it sounds) I reminded myself I should be thankful that I was able to be out there, running, being active, taking part in a great event. Six months ago, I don’t know if this would have been considered ‘moderate’. Anyway, it’s amazing what a bit of positive thinking can do because the last half of the run went pretty well.

As for the physical side of the run, I found I didn't warm up quite enough and had some really bad calf/achilles pain on the first climb, which led me to walk a bit up one of the hills. I did find a nice pace in the mid portion before having another small walk break up the second major climb that is known as "Mama Bear". I know I probably could have run it, but the climbs were hurting my calf more than I would have liked, so I figured it wasn't worth pushing it or risking an injury.

So, all in all, it was fun. I know I didn't push myself as hard as I could since I felt pretty great at the end and after the race, but that’s what it was supposed to be. And heck, now I know I should be able to get a PB next year at this race.

As for the rest of the weekend, it was full of catch-ups and get togethers with some great friends that I hadn't seen in a while. A couple of them were over for visits from Vancouver and another pair who actually live here in Victoria that I just hadn't seen in a while. It's amazing how life can just get going sometimes and before you know it, it's been a month or two since you've connected. Anyway, it's always nice to reconnect.

Now it's back to the grind for the week. I'm looking forward to some down time with Shane now that the opera is over, as well as some solid training days and the first (of what I'm sure will be many) group rides and technical run sessions with the LiveFit crew.

And last but not least, I came across the paragraph(s) below this morning, and it has kinda stuck with me, so thought I would share.

Almost nothing worth doing can be done alone. You will need help. You will need people to challenge you. You will need people to support you.

Remember this quote: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you don’t like that average, you’re going to have to start introducing some positive people into your social circle.

Get help, get mentors, team up with friends, do whatever you can. Better yet, do all of the above. Then you can become the positive social support for those around you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lessons Learned

I headed out for an easy 40’ (last 16’ as :30RP/:90EZ) run today on my lunch break. As the pineapple express beats down on the island I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few wet weather lessons….

Running in the rain is actually not so bad.
Running is the rain with a tail wind is really quite nice.
However, running in the rain with a head wind is not my favourite thing.
On that topic, running on Dallas Rd during a storm is probably not the best idea.
And running on Dallas Rd during a storm into a headwind is an even worse idea.
But running downhill with a tailwind at race pace is awesome.

My Garmin is not waterproof (which I already was well aware of, and yet, it still bothers me. It’s like I expect it to become waterproof between each rainy workout).
A ‘dry fit’ tech shirt does not keep you dry (not that I really expected it to).
Covering my Garmin with the sleeve of said ‘dry fit’ tech shirt does not keep my little gadget any drier than just leaving it uncovered.
Running commando when you’ve only got the one pair of knickers that you wore to work for the day is a very good idea.
New socks are the best! (thanks Kelly & Nick)
Running in the pouring rain makes my sponge bath in the office bathroom post-run much easier…. Ahhh, nature’s shower.

Last but not least, no matter what the weather, getting out for a run on your lunch break is way better than sitting at your desk staring at the computer all day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Splish Splash

Well I’m glad to have put a nice big check mark beside each workout on last week’s training calendar. It was nice to be back into a routine and also nice to start building into things at a reasonable pace.

I will admit I had a few moments of beating up on myself (emotionally) early in the week as I felt a large amount of frustration in the pool. My first pool workout included a timed 400, something that in the past has come easy to me (and so it should), yet this time around it felt extremely labored. I was completely out of rhythm and anything but smooth in the water. My shoulders were tight and I couldn’t help but feel like everything I had last May had somehow gone completely out the window... and *gasp* Kirsten kicked my butt! I know this was my first real swim workout in a while, but still, you have certain expectations for yourself and when you fail to meet those expectations it kind of takes the wind out of your sails.

Thankfully, I had some good easy runs and was able to spin away some frustrations on the bike. Also, my second swim workout of the week went a little better than the first. It was kind of a funny one, in that, when I first looked at the workout I thought “hmm, this should be easy” as it had lots of short fast efforts (nothing more than 100m, each with a 20 second rest in between). But, wow, I was wrong - easy it was not! As I hit the wall on the last effort of my second (and last) set, the words “thank god that is over” came shooting out of my mouth… and yet it still felt better than the other day. I focused on not over thinking things (something I do too much of), on really lengthening out my stroke and just staying relaxed. Shane once said to me "swimming seems a lot like golf, when you try and kill it, the ball goes nowhere, you do so much better if you just swing easy".

Last night I took another crack at the workout with the timed 400. I approached it with the 'swing easy' mentality and you know, it was better... good almost. I'm still not quite as quick as I would like to be, but my stroke didn't feel like some crazy wind-up toy on the verge of a breakdown and I think I may have actually looked somewhat smooth moving down the lane. On top of that, I cut 10 seconds of my time from last week which is definitely encouraging.

Oh, and I finally got a new set of goggles... heaven!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Uh-oh... the Red Cups are back!

One of my biggest vices is spending far too much money and consuming far too many empty calories on lattes. I love lattes. With a good shot of espresso I love them just as they are – espresso and milk. But I also love them wrapped in sugary goodness and filled with all sorts of gooey artificially flavoured syrups. I try to support my local coffee shops (Habit, Street Level Espresso and Discovery Coffee are my top picks by far – great coffee and great baristas at each of these shops), but there is just something wonderful about the “holiday” flavours that come packaged in a lovely red cup from Starbucks that I just can’t resist. Oh the corporate machine has got me and it’s got me good. It’s just so hard to decide, eggnog or gingerbread, caramel brûlée or peppermint mocha. It’s like Christmas in a cup!

Now, what has this got to do with triathlon training you ask? Well, it seems it was perfect timing this year. On November 1st I “officially” started on my Ironman training schedule (it feels so good to be back into a routine). It also seems that on November 1st the red cups came back and therefore my latte calorie consumption is about to go up!

So, I’m thinking, maybe the training will help balance out this holiday indulgence?