#68 A cautious return to the starting blocks

This was my favorite caution sign

With “official” training scheduled to start on March 1st, last week wasn’t exactly the blast out of the gates and big-entrance to the training season I was looking for…..a torqued left heel and the subsequent ripple-effect “you’d be wise to leave me alone for a bit” messages from my body combined with a crazy kid activity weekend became a down training week pretty quickly……these things happen I guess…..well they do to me anyway…..but it’s a long road.

So, this week, it was time to get back into the starting blocks for me, a metaphor that, with the increased presence of NJNYTC* speedsters going after their dreams in our area I found myself thinking a little bit about the mental toughness required for this aspect of higher level training; the need to push yourself hard and bounce back when things don’t go your way.  

To me this is one of the defining characteristics of a champion (current or eventual).  We all take lumps, no doubt we’ve all experienced the stun of life smacking us in the mouth, but the question of whether you stay down or brush yourself off and get back up is a choice……

This week was a little bit of that for me…..after putting in what I considered a measured, but very productive winter and saw some improvements, I took my eye off of the ball (or the road in this situation) and just like that (snap your fingers here if you want the full effect), I was set back by 1/3rd…….

*(check out NJNYTC and hit this non-profit with a donation if you have the means…..hard working group of athletes building a framework for East Coast track excellence….but like most pioneers…..they need help funding their journey)

Shake it off and refocus the lens

This week, I tried to get my mind right….to not stress over time lost (it’s minimal), to not worry about the potential of a nagging injury (being a PT is an advantage) and let my body do what it needed to do. So it would just be a bike-swim heavy week and practice the skill of every long-course athlete….patience….a skill that isn’t in the “strength” column for me.  

After today’s (“long”) session, I’m feeling like I got mostly there.  2.5 hours of swim work and 6 hours on the bike.  I was able to get in about an 1.5h of running in (2 short bouts + a brick today) with no significant pain and the heel issue seems to be moving in the right direction.  This puts me just under 10 hours of training time for the week, which is still a bit lower than I had hoped, but with the abbreviated ability to run, it’s tolerable.


So at this point in my training, the shift goes from solely reflecting on “how I did” to equal emphasis on “where do we go from here?”.  It’s so important for me to have clear objectives not only long-term, but mid-term, short-term, near-term, immediate and even present.  For me it’s too easy to get into the trap of losing sight of the little things that matter.

Long-term goal (at some point): Simple:  Qualify for Kona.  I’m not putting a timeframe on this…..I think it’s dumb to do so…..long-term goals are by definition for the long-term.  Rather, I’ll rest assured that I’m on the right trajectory and if I stay focused, I’ll achieve it.

Mid-term goal (within 2 years):  Have a tactically perfect Ironman Distance race.  This, to me, means cross the finish line at the exact moment the reserves run out.  Have enough energy to muster an arms-up finish and know that, short of injuring myself, I have raced hard and raced smart at the 140.6 distance

Short-term goal (this year):  Break the 11 hour mark in Ironman.  This will take a confident and smart race and getting the details right. When I do quick-math my high-level analysis puts me around the 11.5 hour area on a good (but not necessarily great) day.  FOCUS in training and a very good race could get me there so a solid goal for me.

Near-term goal (90 days): Now it gets tougher…..what in the next 3 months will put me in line to break 11 hours and still set me up for near perfect tactics?  Hmmm…..that puts me in early June, which is when my training plan really begins to ramp up from an intensity perspective.  Consistently average more than 18 hours of high quality training per week with no less than 3.5 hours in water, 9 on the bike, 5 on the run and 1 hour of cumulative stretch & strengthen.  Whew…..this is a lot and I’m glad I spelled it out to keep it in perspective and the realistic workload in front of my face.

Immediate goal (30 days): This is a little easier for me, because it seems obvious to me….it’s technical, technical and more technical work.  Need to continue to refine my swim stroke to the point where I am at least 10% faster in my next 1000m time trial than last; Need to get outside on the bike A LOT and work on my gearing and fueling to the point where I am able to maintain 20 mph at a reasonable heart rate for at least 50 miles on a moderately “rolling” course; Need to continue to build endurance back up on the run, would like to be able to do at least 13 miles in a 7:35 pace with a heart rate average below lactate threshold.  I don’t usually put specific times/pace goals down at this point in the season, but I’m confident committing to these.

Present goal (7-10 days): This of course should be a relatively easy goal to set because it’s right here…..and in general, it is:  I need to get my training volume up to 12-13 hours with continued improvement in the L foot and no signs of overtraining.

OK, so I’ve got my work cut out for me for sure…….but that’s what I signed up for.

Gettin to work,

Mike E.