Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting back to basics...

Following everyone online as they raced Galveston over the weekend really gave me the kick I need to start getting excited about my upcoming races! CONGRATULATIONS to all of the newly crowned ironpeople in blogland!

I think I mentioned a couple of posts back that I was doing something called Fast Camp. It is basically an online 8-week training camp. The idea being that you will become blazingly fast and want to sign up for coaching services. The premise is great and I love having a new variety of workouts to keep me focused. I needed a little change to spark my interest again. The funny thing about Fast Camp is that it has taught me a little something about myself. Somethng that I wasn’t really expecting to get out of this experience.

While I don’t have all that many triathlons under my belt, I have enough training invested to have an idea of what it takes to get myself across the finish line on race day. Everyone is different in terms of what they want to get out of their triathlon experience. You may have a time goal, a need to finish in the top 10% or to cross the finish line and not require a trip to the hospital. I am sort of mixture of wanting to finish in a certain time (or improve upon my last time) and simply cross the finish line without requiring a trip to the medical tent (which seems to be more difficult for me than one might think… seeing as I got a minor concussion in one race and severely dehydrated in the last two races). I’m special. Special enough to know next time there will be a new hydration plan and no skid soles attached to the bottom of my feet.

In the last year, I have eagerly soaked up triathlon advice from every source possible. When it comes to training, people and their plans run the gamut from someone who pays a coach and follows a structured plan to those who really have no formal plan they just know basically what it takes to get the job done. I think the experience of Fast Camp has shown me that I really prefer less structure when it comes to training (which was the opposite of the intent of the camp – they were, after all, hoping the participants would like it so much that they would sign up for their coaching services).

Don’t get me wrong, I am gaining a lot from the program but I like to be able to insert a tennis match or two here, some weight training there and flip flop workouts around to fit my schedule. I am more of a “here is how many miles you need for your long run / long ride this week, go do it” as opposed to “today we are going to ride 15 minutes in zone 4 followed by 5 minute bursts in zone 5 and then 30 minutes in zone 2”. I like simple, uncomplicated and plain vanilla.

I am glad I went through this exercise so I could come to the realization of what works for me. I had taken what amounted to a year off of tennis when I was focusing on triathlon last year and recently realized how much I had missed it. There has to be a way to work it all in. Why should I have to choose between two things that make me happy, right? Ironically, a blog on the Fast Camp website helped clarify my thoughts. They listed the 5 most common mistakes made by Half-Ironman athletes. The top two really spoke to me and what I am feeling right now.

- Getting overwhelmed by the training lingo. Aerobic, anaerobic, lactic thresholds, VO2Max, that sort of thing. “Your training only has be as complicated as you make it…and we suggest you keep it simple… Focus on the WORK, do progressively more of it, and the fitness will follow”

- Making training overly complicated. You don’t need overly complicated brick workouts. Make sure that Monday works with Tuesday and so on and that it all meshes with your personal / social life.

While I know that the “less simple” version probably would make me faster in the long run. It’s not like I am giving up a shot at a Kona spot here - that certainly is not in my genetic make up. Right now, it is more important to me to be able to fit in other activities. I am still going to follow a loose plan and will definitely be putting in the work but it will be in a way that works for me. We’ll see how it goes…. :)


Mike said...

Sounds like you have your priorities right for a good balance of what you like. That should make for less stressful training.

Lora Abernathy said...

I'm exactly the same way when it comes to training. Glad you are able to glean some good ideas from the camp.

ajh said...

I like a training plan but I like to be able to switch it around. I am not following a plan for my tri though. I am going to continue to run/train for all the halves I have coming, swim twice a week or increase it and bike a few times a week. I am in the want to finish and not go to the hospital but my secret hope is to not be last. Although that may be too much to hope for.

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

i couldn't agree more with your findings Karen. i have never followed a plan. i tried to back in the day when i first began running marathons and quickly came to the realization that following a plan took the fun out of it for me. i basically ramp the miles up gradually and everything just falls right into place and no stress trying to decipher training zones, heart rate, or watts.

Scott Cannon said...

I fully embrace what you said. The crazy-complicated plans assume your body is like a machine. The problem with this is that all of our bodies are different, and even our own body varies from day to day depending on diet, illness, internal struggles, and external events beyond our control. It stresses me out to follow a complicated plan. That's not why I exercise. I also wonder whether many of these plans are based on scientific findings or just anecdotes. Just because something works for one person doesn't mean it will work for another--the placebo effect is strong.

RockStarTri said...

I've done every one of those "mistakes" but don't think all are bad. I learned that when I turn my brain off better things happen than when I try to use my brain.

May just me, but it works.

Amanda said...

I completely understand. I like the idea of coaching and a training plan, but I have to be able to be flexibly more than anything else. I still have a life to lead and training sometimes takes a back seat.

It sounds like you know what you want out of your training and I know you have the knowledge and stick to it atttitude that will always serve you well!

By the way - my work motto is KISS...Keep it simple stupid :). Too many things in life are complicated so why do I want to make it worse?

Carolina John said...

There will eventually come a time when you want to get that zone training in. I want it now, but it's taken me 5 years to get there.

Beth said...

A more complicated, structured plan won't make you faster if you don't enjoy it. I think you can get the same results from less structure as long as you have all the key elements in there. Have fun and enjoy the season!

Jenn ( said...

I'm the same way Karen and I studied and learned the total opposite in school....but its really not hard. I think a lot has to do with the distance a person gravitates to as well...I'm suited for longer endurance events and there is not a whole lot of room for speed work there. It COULD be done, but the risks outweigh any benefits. You hit the nail on the head. Do work...gradually do more work...gradually make that work harder...The end. NOW, the tricky part I think is all the rest/recovery. I am very disciplined with training and paces...but HORRIBLE at volume reduction and resting. Gets me every time!

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Teamarcia said...

Your rationale sounds more than reasonable to me. Everybody's different and there's more than one way to arrive at the same destination. Find the way that's most enjoyable! :)

Suz and Allan said...

Hope your training is going well!

B.o.B. said...

that first one rings a bell with me too! i read blogs and start thinking i need to do and learn all of this stuff, but really what you said is right. keep it simple so we can fit in other stuff we enjoy!