Winter Training Woes

Chicago winters are dark, dreary, cold, windy, LONG, icy, boring, and did I mention long?! The winters around here can do a few things to training. They can kick start the mental toughness that comes along with endurance sports, and/or it can start a process that saps you mentally so you might not want to train! For me it does both. But if I can keep coming back and waking up to train when I am mentally drained I know that I will be ready to go when the season comes along.

I don’t mind riding on the trainer as long as I have some good music of TV to watch. I don’t mind running outside in the cold. What really gets me is waking up early to go swim and it is pitch black outside! I then have to drive to the pool, get in the “cold” water and swim. But once I am in the water things change, well usually. There are times when I am swimming and I think “man I wish I was a duathlete!” But I feel like this is all a part of the process of becoming mentally strong. Winter training separates the weak from the strong and it is the building block to a solid season.

I do get a bit worn down around this time because I want to get outside and ride my bike! Even during the season when the weather is nice I don’t ride outside all of the time. That is mostly because I live in the city and riding, or driving, to an area that is good to ride take a bit of time. But it is also because I know I can get a lot of great quality training done on the trainer since there are no stop lights, no coasting, nothing but me and the numbers!

I am VERY excited for this upcoming year. There are a lot of things that will be going on and triathlon is only a small portion. 2016 is going to be a great year!

Hard Work is King

Before I get to my actual blog post I wanted to give a super short race report of the Chicago Marathon. Wanted around 2:40. Started off at about 2:45 pace. Felt good until mile 14. Then it hurt. And hurt some more. And then really hurt. Why am I doing this? I will never do another marathon again. Finish race. Disappointed with a PR of 2:44:46. Take a few days to realize I only had a month of true marathon prep. So now not as disappointed. The end.

Now to start the real blog post. In the 4ish years I have been training/racing I have learned a lot. I have learned a lot about nutrition, fueling, injuries, bikes, running, aerodynamics. But one of the things that I have come to realize is that there is no one workout that will get you ready for a race. What gets you ready for a race is A LOT of hard work and consistency. I have thought back to what I did the last two years to get to where I am today and realized that it has all been a progression of smart, hard training year after year to get me in this position.

I have had different coaches over the last 4 years and I have been with my current coach for the last 2 years. What have we done differently? Honestly, I am not exactly sure if we have done much differently we have just attacked training with a different mindset. We have changed my swim sets to work on my weaknesses but distances are still around the same. We have focused on the bike a lot to allow me to run better off the bike. We are still doing good volume, like in the past, but we are also working on A LOT of quality, and it is painful, but rewarding quality.

There is no magic to training. Waking up at 5 AM to swim then cycling/running after work when you are tired day after day then again on the weekends is no secret. But it works. It might take 2 years, 4 years, 5 years to get to your potential but it is worth it. I don’t think I have hit my top end yet and I know I can still improve. It is now time to keep up the hard work and consistency to ensure that I keep getting faster. I am looking forward to the 2016, not only for racing, but also because I am getting married in June! I will have a lot going on this year and my life is changing but I will go after it like I have been the last 5 years; with passion and dedication!

Mysterious leg issues

Well I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to write a post like this but after my leg issues came back last week I figured I would write down some thoughts and my feelings so I can get things out.  If you have been following my blog for a few years you might remember my leg issues I had before and during IM Wisconsin in 2012.  I never got an answer on what went wrong and why it happened but I talked to triathlon author and coach Matt Fitzgerald and he said that sometimes the muscles protect themselves during taper by basically shutting down.  Thus, I couldn’t get my body to move the way I wanted it to because my brain shut my muscles down to prevent injury.  The body/mind is a crazy ass thing.  It is so smart and how it can prevent injury but also so frustrating when this happens.

I will try to describe what the pain or feeling is like but it is so hard to put into words.  Basically what it feels like when it happens is my muscle cramps up, contracts, then does not let go.  So working out is impossible and depending on where the “cramp/spasm” is walking becomes painful.  And the worst part about these issues is how they just pop up randomly.  They did not happen last year and I was fine until last Monday when on the trainer my quad went to crap, then my calves, then other quad.  I got a massage from a sports guy and he said I had a weak right glute which caused my left side to overcompensate and my calves had to prevent my legs from straying from the correct gait.  And thus they were over worked.

I have been trying to think of what differences there are between this year and last year to try to figure out what it could be.  The only thing I can think of is me going gluten free last year.  So maybe I will go back to that and see how my body reacts.  But either way this is very frustrating to lose a week of training because my legs can’t work.  But hopefully all will be good going forward and if there are any PTs or docs out there reading or if anyone might have suggestions I am all ears!

Boston Marathon!!!

Starting line!!!

Start line!!!

I cannot believe it but tomorrow I head out to Boston for the Boston Marathon.  I have been wanting to run this race since I started running.  It is the oldest, most historic marathon, and maybe race, in the world.  It seems that everyone who runs wants to run this race and anyone who has any knowledge of running asks if I have done this race.  Being a runner and triathlete I always get the question about Ironman and if I have done that one in Kona.  But the difference between the Boston Marathon and Kona is HUGE.  This year’s race will be the 117th Boston Marathon which makes it the oldest annual marathon in the world!  That’s pretty damn cool.  I am super excited and cannot wait to get out there tomorrow and soak in the expo then relax Sunday then race Monday!  If anyone wants to follow me I am bib #2709.