My first Olympic-distance event in two years is done. It was a small race and an usually hot day, so given the conditions, I’m happy with my performance. You can’t control the weather and ultimately can only race the race you chose and do as much as your body allows.
This was a ‘B’ race for me and I wanted to do it for two reasons.
First, with the marathon in the fall, I didn’t want to burn out on running. I knew my propensity for running would get the best of me and I wanted to go into the marathon block fresh. Training for an Olympic wouldn’t put the stress on my body of a 70.3, but would force me to consistently train in all three sports.
Second, it was a good soft test for the marathon. The longest event I’ve done since my diagnosis is a half-marathon in just over 90 minutes. An Oly would be significantly longer and would allow me to see how my body would react.
Being (mostly) self-coached, I think it’s important to pause after an event and take an honest look at what went right during training and what went wrong and could be improved the next time around.
3 Positive Things
Consistent Bike Training
If you were feeling generous, you could call my biking average. Given my fitness and strengths in other areas, I’ve always considered it a bit below average. I was determined to get my butt in the saddle consistently for this training block. And I mostly succeeded. I could probably have targeted 3 rides a week, but I did average just over 2 for the entire 18 weeks.
With the heat and mechanical issues on race day, it was hard to measure how much improvement there was from my efforts. I think it helped. It had to help, right? My power and speed ended up about the same as past Oly’s, but with the conditions, I’m guessing they would have been worse had I continued to half-ass the bike training.
There’s no faking time in the saddle.
Sometimes just getting to the start line feeling confident in you body is the toughest thing about training. On the whole, following TrainerRoad’s Olympic distance plan had me fit and healthy on race day.
While I still defaulted to running a little too easily, I think the cross-training worked and the emphasis on intervals, hills and controlled-intensity efforts really helped maximize my fitness given the limited hours I had to train during the week.
This one is a bit ironic as this week (the week following the race), I’ve developed an issue with my right knee. There was no one event that I remember causing it, so I’m guessing it was just the overall effort on race day. I never felt anything during the race and actually felt fine until I tried to jog a few days later.
Before that, however, I was feeling fine. I never missed a workout in the block due to injury. I did take a few days here and there due to fatigue/Addisons, but there were no niggles or lingering pain throughout training. It’s rare you can say that.
3 Things to Improve
Wimped Out on Swimming
I used a little shoulder discomfort early on in training to basically avoid swimming for a few months. Not the best plan. I needed to be in the pool more. No excuses. It probably would have only netted me a few minutes, but it’s the first event and going in confident and strong can set up the rest of your race.
Action plan: I think I need to join a Master’s group or find a swim partner to hold me accountable to getting in the water and getting the swim sets done.
Too Much Running
This one goes hand in hand with not enough swimming and maybe putting in an extra bike ride each week. I like running, of the three sports, it’s by far my favorite, so on days were I’m waffling about trekking to the pool or setting up the trainer, I will often just hop on the treadmill or run outside. Sure, it’s better than not working out at all, but it’s not helping my swimming or biking either.
Action plan: Get some accountability for doing the other sports.
Not Enough Strength/Core
I will give myself a pat on the back for consistent foam rolling and dynamic warm-ups, but once the official training block was under way, I fell off the strength band wagon. Need to find time for at least one strength workout a week.
I think the foam rolling definitely helped keep my body intact and helped me get to the starting line fresh, but the lack of core work is what I suspect has me nursing my knee this week.
Action plan: Commit to a core/hips plan at the very least, but a balanced strength session once a week would be better.
While race day didn’t go exactly as planned, I’ve come to learn those days are very rare, I was able to train and race and do something I loved. It’s hard to find too many faults there. Better to take what you can from a race, find some gratitude in the ability to race and move on to the next one.
Here I come Chicago.