Saturday, April 23, 2016

Run Block

            2013 – I had Baya at the end of February and then the season that followed was my fastest running season ever.  Just 7 weeks postpartum, I PR’d a 5K by 30 seconds!  I PR’d a 10K, my half-marathon time during my first half-ironman (dropped my pace from 7:23 to 7:17!), ran a marathon and qualified for Boston with a time of 3:21 (7:41/mile).  In 2014, my times slowed, though not too significantly, but I couldn’t find that top gear again.  2015 was a terrible year for my running, feeling like I was unable to ever fully bounce back after having Myles.  Was it just the lack of sleep?  Will I ever be fast on my feet again?  Doubt creeps in, sits there, and it gnaws on you.
            Track season is underway, and so I am also currently in my run block.  I have it coincide with the season so that I can get my tough sessions in with the distance crew.  This year our team doubled in size and we also got a TON of amazing athletes to work with.  Two years ago, I had zero distance runners.  Last year I had 3, but I had the lead paces.  This year, I have 3-4 boys faster than me (one almost broke 5 minutes in his debut mile this season as a freshman) , and I have an 8th grade girl that I pace and she stays right on my heel.  I’m hoping she breaks 6 minutes in the mile this season.  I anticipate that next year I won’t be able to keep up with her. 
Ending a hard day on the track with chocolate milk
It’s been a lot of fun having a mix of kids and it’s always exciting watching their times drop!  Hopefully this year mine will start dropping again too, though I’d be quite happy if I could just get to where I was in 2013.  Even if my breakthrough comes a while after the my run block ends (as it has with swimming and biking), hopefully things will be clicking before Nationals rolls around in August.  Setbacks always inevitably happen, as I’ve taken a couple days completely off due to illness, but then I need to trust that big-picture consistency will keep things moving in the right direction.   
While I’ve known that hill repeats are great for runners, it’s also easy to avoid when you’re on your own in training because, well, they’re miserable.  This season we’ve hit the hills quite a few times, and been on the track running 300-400 repeats, 800-1,000 intervals, and we’ll soon be doing threshold work.  Due to April snow showers, I’ve only been outside on the bike a couple times this spring and had a couple brick runs after it.  Brick sessions will become a regular staple now and I’m working on teaching my body to run hard off the bike (an absolutely terrible feeling).  At least in Three Lakes Track & Field, we know how to recover right with chocolate milk!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Is fast just a thing of the past?!

In 2013, I was swimming really fast in the pool and dropping time like crazy.  Then I plateaued, and then I couldn’t hit close to those times again.  Until this year.  I’m hitting those times (and surpassing some) and I’m feeling strong in the water (I credit weight lifting a lot).  But all that time between now and then was increasingly frustrating in the pool.  Even during my last swim block (November-December), I wasn’t getting where I wanted.  It wasn’t until almost a month after my swim block ended that I started seeing my times drop.  And keep dropping. 
Here’s a glimpse of my 2-week swim workouts that I rotate through currently, which seems to be working for me.  You can always try them out - just change the interval times to something that works for you!
Week 1
Monday: WU: (400 swim, 200 back, 2x50 build),
Main Set: 6x200 on 3:05 (best average 2:40), 300 pull, 200 hard (best 2:37)
CD: (200 kick, 200IM, 200 pull)
Wednesday: WU: (300 swim, 200 back, 4x25 build)
            Main Set: 36x50 on 1’ (average 35”) – building to 40x50 on 1’
            CD: 50 pull, 4x50 kick on 1’, 50 pull
Friday: WU (400 swim, 200 back, 2x50 build)
            Main Set: 10x100 on 1:30 (best average 1:18.6)
            CD: 200 SKIPS (swim, kick, IM, pull, swim)
Week 2
Monday: same as week 1
Wednesday: WU: (400 swim, 200 back, 4x50 build)
            Main Set: 12x100 on 2:10 (descend 1-3, fastest average possible 4-12)
            CD: 200 pull, 4x50 kick on 1’, 100 pull
Friday: Long set that can vary, so here are two examples:
1)    12x300: (freestyle x2, backstroke, pull) x3 (on 5’ intervals)
2)    800, 2x400, 4x200, 8x100 (all on 1:40 interval pace), 400 cd.

            2013-2014 was my fastest bike splits in races.  2015 started strong after having Myles, but tanked after May when sleep (and any semblance of order in our lives) disappeared.  May 2015, I was KILLING it, churning out my best efforts in training rides, only to crumble when the season began.  I did a January-February bike block and was disheartened by the lack of improvement that I was hoping to find.  If anything, I felt like every ride was a struggle.  Again the question of , Will I ever be fast again? crept up and took root.  Am I not doing enough?  Do I need to do something differently?  I knew I needed to TRUST MY TRAINING but that can be hard to do at times.  My bike block ended in what felt like failure.  Until a couple weeks ago when I had a breakthrough session on the bike.  And then another.  And another.  Suddenly I felt like I was back on my game and now I hope to be where I was last May when I was at my fastest ever.  The improvements in swim and bike training sessions self-motivate me to keep getting after it.
            Here’s a glimpse of some of my favorite bike workouts that I’m currently doing.  They are based on % of FTP (the effort that you can hold for approximately an hour in a race).  Recovery is noted by parenthesis following the main set effort.  All of these should include a warm up and cool down, which will make them about an hour or so.
  1. 2x20’ (5’) at 88-92%
  2. 4-5 x6’ sprints: 2’@80%, 2’@100%, 1’@110%, 1’@120%
  3. 3x4’ (1’) with 1st @HIM effort (90%), 2nd @Oly effort (100%), 3rd @Sprint effort (110%).  Start with 3 rounds and build up to 5 with 3’ easy between rounds.
  4. 10’@100% (5’), 2’@110%, 1’@100%, 1’@90%, 1’@80%, 1’@70%, and 10’@105-110%. 
There is a fear that you may never be your best again.  But fast doesn’t have to be just a thing of the past.  I’m hoping that the 2016 season will prove it!