Sunday, September 27, 2009

Funny workout words

I'm sure there are more, but here are some funny words and expressions.
  • fartlek (unstructured run with periodic pickups...forgot this one, thanks JRP)
  • pickups
  • strides
  • hammer (as in go hard and fast) and the revered "hammerfest"
  • drop set, double drop set, triple drop set, triset,
  • settle-in (from swimming - regrouping after starting too fast)
  • aerobic, tempo, threshold zones
  • plyometrics
  • failure (actually a good thing, a goal to strive for on some sets)
  • deadlift, power clean
  • ladder workouts (running progressively faster intervals)
  • cycles
  • splits (no bananas involved here); then there are the negative splits!
  • bricks (workouts of 2 or more activities in succession e.g. ride/run or swim/ride/run
  • cadence
  • shake-out
  • whey, branched chain amino acids
  • refeed

Saturday, September 26, 2009

7 weeks from Richmond

Getting closer - seven weeks till the race. The mileage has slowly gone up (in a nice way that I didn't really notice) and I hit 35+ miles this week including a 17 miler today, which was my strongest long run to date.

I did what has become my usual route in the Tom's Creek Basin finishing up with a lap around campus. Miles 2-17 were an average pace of 8:18 and I worked hard to keep that up through the last mile. The most exhausting part is the mental aspect - keeping the pressure on but staying relaxed, remaining confident, and keeping the cadence up. Running books talk about either associating with your running body (i.e. keeping tabs on breathing, cadence, stride) or dissociating (i.e. thinking of other things, distracting self). I'm guessing I spend close to 3/4 of my time associating. I think of getting springier up hills, revving up rather than slowing down at the top, leg turnover, flowing down hills, etc. By the time I am finished I am so tired of hearing myself think!

It was my favorite running weather today - mid 50's, cloudy, misty rain. There were very few other runners out. And I do enjoy finishing up among the tailgaters knowing I am so much happier running than I would be sitting around at a party with no purpose.

I ran past a ticket scalper who obnoxiously said to me "this mile two?" to which I happily replied, "no, mile sixteen." I'd liked to have seen him run even two.

Incidentally, I think missing that May Marathon made me even hungrier for this one and more confident. I essentially have two marathon training cycles under my belt since I was only four weeks out from the other and had gotten I think two 20+ mile runs in to that point.

At any rate, it's about the journey, the training, the structure, the discipline. That's the stuff I enjoy, the racing is just a celebration of it all.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You can't buy fitness

Yesterday at the pool I overheard a bit of a conversation that included the following, "well, if I could afford to work out with a trainer every day too I could..."

It would be easy to assume one could "buy" fitness through trainers and products. There may even be folks who point a finger at me since I do work out with my trainer several times per week. But what they may not see are all the other hours that go into it and the choices that I and others make that they might not be prepared to make. They don't see the 6 am runs, the 8 pm cycling, the lunchtime swim, the nights I am icing and stretching sore muscles when I'd rather fall directly into bed. I forgo adult "beverages" (with rare exceptions), sacrifice sleep (usually up by 5 am), and work doubly hard at my job and managing the family so I can carve out time to workout without impacting others. I eat for performance which necessitates planning and preparation and implies very little dining out.

The gym time with my trainer is used to touch base on mental and physical readiness, to fine tune his nutrition and endurance training program, and to strength train. I do not lose sight of the fact that I am blessed and privileged to be in a position to work with a personal trainer (not to mention how amazing this particular one is). And I could not have gotten where I am without his help and encouragement. But did I "buy" my way to fitness? If you count among the payments sweat, pain, self-discipline, and occasional deprivation, then, yes! But they are relatively small investments that pay big dividends.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


There is something SO nostalgic about having a locker again. An orange, chipping paint, one missing hook, rusty bottom, combination locker. And just in front of it is a wooden bench, in need of refinishing, that has likely held up many a swimsuit-water bottle-towel-tennis shoe.

Of course now I have the locker combo in my Blackberry address book lest my overloaded mind should fail me.

There's something kind of cool and on-the-sly about walking along the Drillfield, with school books and computer in tow, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing to indicate I am about to do something ATHLETIC. Then a quick detour to the right, down a set of stairs, past the check-in desk for a towel and a trade of my Hokie Passport for a rubbery wristband that says they know I am in the pool. Change into my swimsuit, grab goggles, cap, iPod, training instructions, and water, and off I go.

That old pool. How long has it been around?

Everybody gets down to business, it's like the library of the sports world. Quiet, individual, no one speaking, nothing to hear. Lots of thinking going on. I think about my stroke, lap count, work, music I am listening to, the kids, spring triathlons, and the occasional, "now why am I doing this?"

On rest breaks I see the banner showing the yearly Hokie swim team rankings in the NCAA. Mostly they are in the thirty-somethings. Are they proud of that or embarrassed?

I finish my swim, and head back to locker 1503 where my towel and shower accouterments await me, jammed in to a space that was not designed for today's laptop storage needs.

I close the door, with the swimsuit locked to the outside for drying purposes, throw the towel in the laundry, reclaim my Hokie Passport, and rejoin the march of Hokies around the Drillfield. Round and round we go!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Training on a need-to-know basis

On my run today, I was thinking about my training style and how it is markedly different from how I like to manage the rest of my life. I'm a total planner - a day out, week out, months out, years out. I prefer to think now about next summer's vacations and have already picked up a few Christmas gifts and started a list.

However, when it comes to training, I am not a planner. I am quite happy to leave that aspect to others, and even then I want the info doled out on a need-to-know basis. I realized this summer that I like getting my workouts in two week blocks. That allows me to schedule, but prevents me from getting psyched out from what lies ahead. A bit of ignorance is bliss. In the gym I'm even weirder. I don't want to know what's coming, unless it affects wardrobe (e.g. deadlift shoes or belt required)! Going from exercise to exercise without any warning (with my trainer) keeps me from "saving myself" for the next thing. When I work out solo, I am more prone to rationing out my effort and energy.

One beneficial offshoot of the training is that I've learned to be a bit more in the moment, taking each day as it comes. Good thing since today's 13 miler was only the first of many long runs between now and Richmond!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Goal: Normalize, Schedule-ize

Week TWO of the semester and I'm starting to get a feel for what is going to be doable and how to squeeze things in without compromising work or family.
  1. I got a locker and towel service at War Memorial, which is halfway between my office and Torgersen (my class) So I can stop by there T/H and get a 40 min swim workout in.
  2. Gym workouts are moving to 5:30 M/W/F. The kids will already be at the gym so their fabulous Oma has agreed to pick them up there while I get my session in.
  3. And of course I like running at 6 am, which limits interference with kids and family.
  4. Cycle rides I can do on the trainer in the garage either early AM or evening.
So far, so good. Well, I need to work on getting more sleep. One day at a time, one week at a time, and keep it FUN.

The latest Triathlon magazine had a sports psychology article in it dealing with motivation and digging below the superficial reasons people give for participating in multisport competition. So what are my reasons? Well, I'm thinking this through as I type but I would have to say for me it about the structure and discipline, the required focus, and the mental effort to push myself and to adhere to a specific workout plan. I love to sweat and huff and puff and think I can't make it but then do!! I like the time alone and the fact that there is no way to multitask during workouts. I enjoy the confidence it brings, and the way I feel, and the way I look. I like buying clothes in size small (except for my shoes, bigfoot there!). I am proud of my cardio fitness, my low blood pressure (it was 90/70 last week), my strength, and my work ethic. I enjoy the journey toward a goal, the nerves and buildup to a race, then putting it all on the line for race day. I enjoy the feeling of success - whether in a workout, making a good food choice, or having a strong race. There is a freedom that comes with knowing I am an athlete and not simply wishing I were in shape or exercising.

I love the challenge of committing to a goal that my head questions, but my heart embraces. I have faith that I will do the work required to be successful. I have faith in the wisdom of my trainer and coach and the soundness of their plans. On race day my faith shores up my body and allows me to turn the screws a little tighter to give it more than I knew I had.

Faith. FAITH. faith.