Monday, May 25, 2015

Getting Unstuck

            I’ve realized that I’ve been doing a lot of the same workouts for the past few years, and expecting it to be enough to keep improving.  While that has worked to an extent, there is also a point of diminishing returns.  So for this season, I’ve been shaking things up.  This is what I’ve been doing to prepare to be faster for this season….
            Swimming.  I’ve essentially been doing the same thing week after week, year after year.  The volume and intervals change a bit depending on where I am in the season, but I hit a plateau and it has gotten frustrating.  The 50x50 on 1’ sprint challenge was good to shake things up a little, but not good enough.  Post-pregnancy, I basically returned to the same old thing.  I did threshold sets twice/week of different distances, but short recoveries (100s, 200s, and 300s are the most common).  And then I do a speed set of either 50s or 100s once/ week as well.  If I get crazy, I may do a ladder for something different.  But my speed hasn’t continued to improve and the workouts have become mundane. 
I am now one of those people using the workouts out of a binder at the end of my swim lane.  And you know what – I LOVE it!  It’s the change I’ve needed.  So for the month of May I have been sticking 100% to these workouts and then I’ll do a repeat of the test set I did at the beginning of the month to see how far I’ve come.  I can already tell you that I’ve been noticing improvement.  These workouts are based on your pace that is established by an initial test set, and then pushes you to hit that pace (and sometimes faster!) at different points in the workout.  It also frequently has short, fast sprints at the end of a workout as well.  These tough workouts have pushed me in all new ways.  It has left me exhausted and has even kicked my butt when I couldn’t reach sub-pace one of the days.  I have swum intervals faster than what I thought I could in a workout, and while I’m sticking to 3 days/week for a while, it has increased my volume of each swim as well.  Sometimes you have to play mental games to get through it, but afterwards you feel like you have reached a higher level of swimming.  I finally feel stronger and faster in the water, and I hope it shows on race day!
Best. Ride. Ever.
            Biking.  I used to do a lot of the same repetitive sets (much like with swimming), but I’ve been mixing it up a lot more this past winter and spring.  I have new favorite workouts that push me in all new ways.  I was settling before.  Being that I train with power, I know what watts I need to be pushing for different sets.  I have been completing tougher sets this year and I’m excited to see what kind of watts I will be able to put out at races.  I also had some adjustments done to my fit on the bike, and I could immediately tell a difference in my speed - thank you Mel's Trading Post!  On top of all that, I also am now riding my 7.5 Series Trek Speed Concept and I am BLOWN AWAY by the amazing speed that machine has!  Even on a super windy day, I have been able to blast through the miles.  I am better positioned, riding a faster bike, and have been turning out higher quality workouts. A fast training ride has been around 20mph, and last year I was racing around 22.5mph.  My last training ride I averaged 23mph!  (Granted, I was hammering for the vast majority of it, but still.) To say the least, I’m just a little excited to see what I can do this season… (And now I better be able to bike at least that fast in races!)
            So if you’re stuck in a rut or have hit a plateau in your training or racing, don’t be afraid to shake things up!  Some crazy things might just happen.

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