End of the Offseason, Wrap-up

Tomorrow starts the training for Ironman South Africa! Well actually today does, but I have today as a rest day. Back in the pool for the first time since September and on the bike for more than just fun rides.

The offseason was pretty productive this year. It was ~ 2 months long from my last race in late September until now. South Africa is April 15th so I have a solid 4.5 months to prepare. Some things that I accomplished on my offseason:

1. Lots of rest, no stressing on missed workouts (mostly accomplished) and a break from the trainer and the pool!

2. The run has always been my weakness so I took about a week off here (I believe in 2 weeks a year of time off from the run, typically in 2 one-week blocks). The first month or so was pretty inconsistent, but the last month I ran over 100 miles. My running was mostly base work with some what I like to call “micro-intervals” as given by Coach Liz, http://www.multisportmastery.com. I love these intervals – typically anywhere from :15 to 3:00, they are all about foot speed, run economy and keeping some level of fast running in the training without over taxing the body. I have found over the years that running feels mostly awful if I run less than 20 miles a week. Once over that threshold things are much more enjoyable.

3. Along with the run training I made a trip with my athlete Troy to the UVA Speed Clinic. This was a very useful trip as I learned that the issue with my running was something I hadn’t thought about at all! I know I have swimmers posture, something I have worked on all my life but Max taught me how to work on that in my running! I had been sticking my head/neck too far forward, which caused overstriding and issues I have been experiencing in my hamstrings/hips. With a simple cue of “neck back” my posture was suddenly better with very little muscle engagement and I have noticed I am using more of my posterior chain instead of just being a “quad runner”. This trip also motivated me to get back into yoga as it would help with my postural issues.  https://med.virginia.edu/speed-clinic/

UVA Speed Clinic
Learning my exercises

4. I also did 10 yoga sessions that were really helpful for strength, flexibility and mobility. And they were a great change of pace from swim, bike run. http://fiv3racing.com/news/index.php/2017/10/26/why-i-do-yoga-in-the-offseason/

5. Probably my biggest limiter other than time is weight. Especially post-baby that last 15 pounds has been sticking. I focused on no sugar, very limited grains, and limited dairy for 30 days and lost 6.5 pounds. I made some new habits – swapping rice with cauliflower rice, eating a banana instead of a granola bar, etc, that were quite helpful with the weight.

Now on to IMSA. I have some big personal goals. I figure if I write about them I will be more likely to make them a priority. So here goes:

  • PR the Ironman distance. I have done 4 Ironmans, 3 Lake Placids and one Louisville. Other than being hilly one Lake Placid was 4 weeks post broken collarbone, one was less than a year post-baby and the third is my PR when I put up the most training I have ever completed (12:14 in 2011). Louisville I was in great shape but I had a run injury (2012).
    Lake Placid 2011

    Lake Placid 2016
  • Get back to my race weight. 10 pounds to go!
  • Do the training necessary to compete. The last time I did training that I would find suitable to compete well at long course was in 2011/2012. I took 2013-2014 mostly off with IVF/trying to get pregnant and in 2015 I was pregnant with Bode. Since Bode I have averaged in season about 8 hours of training, will need to double that to be competitive. I focused my time on proper execution on limited training since 2015. Now it’s time to tie the execution to training load.
  • Write about the training every 1-2 weeks. I have learned so much from doing the sport myself. I love coaching races and training others, but there is something about making the sacrifices and doing the work that can’t be replicated watching others.
  • Balance family, work and training. When training put the focus on training, when not training put the focus on work or family. Multitasking only goes so far, productivity is the goal.
  • Find a masters program I really love. I really enjoy the social aspect of it, but I need to do a daytime masters program as mornings and evenings are mostly focused on Bode. I am going to try a lunchtime program 2x a week in January. Swimming is clearly my strength, but my best long course fitness came when I swam a lot.
  • Learn to love long rides on zwift/kickr and get outside when it’s cold but dry. This is going to be a challenge. The garage is setup with tv/plex/treadmill/kickr/trx etc so I really have no excuse.
  • Keep the running going. I’m happy where it is right now and hope with the 10 pound weight loss that it continues to go well.

Why I do Yoga in the Offseason

By Coach Shelly

There is something awesome about challenging myself on my yoga mat. I have found it to be a perfect complement to triathlon training in the off-season months. This is not the first year where I have been consumed by the balance that yoga provides in my training (and in my mind). If you have never tried yoga I suggest you try it out. You do not have to be an expert and pretty much every pose can be adjusted to a beginner or a more advanced level. I practice yoga at Down Dog Yoga in Virginia, www.downdogyoga.com. Here are some reasons I make yoga an important part of my off-season:

  1. Challenge. It keeps me interested in doing something active that is “different” than swim/bike/run. I am challenged by trying something new and seeing how I can improve each of the poses. When I do a pose much closer to correct (I’m not going to pretend that I do any perfectly) it’s a nice sense of accomplishment!
  2. Hip Flexibility. Yoga allows me to focus on hip flexibility and range of motion. This is a limiter, especially in my running. My hips are so tight. Yoga is a wonderful way to stretch and strengthen the hips. At Down Dog, we always end the practice with a few minutes in pigeon pose. Pigeon pose stretches the hip flexors and the hip rotators (glutes). It often feels great because I know how good it is for me, while at the same time feeling terrible, because it feels awkward. But afterwards my hips feel so much better.
  3. Focus. Hard poses require a lot of focus. This is an area that many of triathletes need to work on.. When something hurts and is not comfortable, it’s easy to stop the pose. Staying with it teaches good lessons in mental toughness.
  4. Core Strength. Core is the easy thing to forget to do during the triathlon season. It is also the thing that triathletes first drop from their training week. The off-season is a good time to reintroduce and recommit to core work. Yoga has been great to help work on my core, especially the lower back.
  5. Balance. I have a different amount of balance on each side of my body, that comes from a fall from 18 feet, which resulted in a leg break and a 1/2 inch leg length discrepancy. I am unable to properly fire the muscles in my left leg. This is the reason I manage to feel most of my aches/pains/injuries in my left leg. Yoga poses such as eagle and tree allow me to focus on firing my left leg muscles to allow staying upright during the pose. Hopefully focusing on this inequality will help to make my legs more symmetrical and end the feeling that I can run a marathon with my right leg while my left leg is done after 2 miles.
  6. Heat Acclimation. Down Dog yoga studios are heated to 90-95 degrees. There is also a nice humidifier. A 90 minute practice gets “juicy”. These classes will become more important for  acclimation for an early season warm weather race.
  7. Breath control. As a lifelong swimmer, I have a problem with holding my breath. In yoga I am much more aware of breathing as many of the poses are timed and controlled by the breath.
  8. Cleansing. Yoga just makes you feel better. If I have had a bad night sleep, or have a headache, I typically feel back to normal after class.
  9. Injury Prevention. The years I did yoga in the offseason I just felt better when the training got heavy. Less nagging injuries.

Of all the benefits I listed above, the most important, in my opinion, is how I just feel great after class. I have worked hard, had fun, worked on my limiters and did something active that is just different than the normal swim/bike/run.

Kona Thoughts by Nathan Rickman

As fall approaches and many of us are winding down our triathlon season, the biggest and most iconic race in our sport nears.  For those that have earned the right to be in the water at Dig Me Beach when the cannon goes off, you need to figure out why you are there and what you are looking to accomplish.  There are only two reasons as far as I am concerned.  Some will say there are plenty of areas in between and maybe there are, but for me it is binary, but then again, some say I am little messed up in the head.

  • Are you looking to relish the moment, take a victory lap, be smart and do the best you can? Or…
  • Are you willing to turn yourself inside out, throw caution to wind and do something special, something that you wouldn’t have thought you were capable of?

If the former, no shame in that.  Great accomplishment and achievement making it to the big island and hanging out with the world’s best.  You are roughly the top 2% of those that do this sport just by qualifying. You have 17 hours to finish and you will not be alone. Enjoy your day.

If the latter, you are there to match yourself up against the hardest headed, self-motivated and driven type A’s in the world.  For me, this is why I compete.  If I am going to enter a race; it is a race after all; I am going to do everything I can to cross that finish line knowing I had nothing else left to give on that day.  That may mean crashing and burning and having a historic meltdown and has always resulted in me going to the medical tent after this race.  But maybe, just maybe, that may mean doing something that you never thought possible.  The human body is capable of so much more than we realize and can comprehend.  It is our minds’ that get in the way of achieving our full potential.  Every time I hear, I need to ride “my watts” or I can’t go over “X”, a piece of me dies.  I am not suggesting to go FTP from the gun, but we should be racing to see what our potential is.  Often times, that may mean we fail, but on that special day, it will mean you are able to accomplish what you previously thought impossible.  That is what motivates me and should motivate you.  To be great and do what you previously thought unachievable, it needs to hurt.  You need to second guess yourself.  You need to think this is insane and there is no way you can maintain this.  If you go easier because the conditions are harder, then you have already lost.  This is the World Championships – you should be going harder!  It should be tougher than anything you have experienced.  It is tougher for everyone and if you are able to mentally push through that, you will feel something you have never felt before.  For me, nothing is worse than not giving every ounce that I had.  The sporting events where I have not laid it on the line or let up, I lay in bed thinking about at night.  The what if, the should’ve been moments – those are the ones that will haunt me until the day I die.    You need to embrace the pain and learn how to suffer.  Only then can you truly achieve what you are capable of.  The individuals that perform the best are the ones willing to take that chance and go further than they ever thought possible.  Every race is not going to be their race, but the day that is their day, is the day that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

With that – my advice is to get in the mix in the swim and push the bike.  The harder you ride, the less the wind affects you.  You need to be alert but if you are not pushing yourself, then you will never know what was possible. If you are riding hard, the cross winds, head winds and swirling winds are just that and as everyone else is thinking about them, you are passing them.  Do not skip an aid station and force yourself to drink more than you ever had.  You will lose more hydration and electrolytes than you can replace, so don’t miss an opportunity to get what you can in.  For the run, steady and strong.  Feed off the energy of the island, those cheering you on and your competitors.  Get something to drink (multiple drinks) at every aid station and find a reason to embrace the pain.  For some it is memories where you have excelled that make you feel good, for others, it is times where you didn’t achieve what you were capable of that motivate you.  Figure out what works for you and find a gear you didn’t know you had.  It is hot for everyone, embrace it and push on.  While others are embracing the last mile and taking in the atmosphere, you are putting time on your competitors, digging deep and ensuring you do not leave a second on the course as there will be plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere after you have crossed that line.

Of course, I will be a case deep listening to the Boss singing Glory Days on repeat as you all run down Ali’i Drive in two weeks.