Sunday, March 22, 2009
Trusting the Process
Trusting the Process
Do you trust the process? Do you have "a process" or training program?
With the Ironman 70.3 California only 2 weeks away, it is officially TAPER TIME. I can sleep at night because I know the hay is in the barn; the necessary hard work is done.
My training has been spot-on and I am close to lifetime-best fitness. The opportunity is there to set a new personal record for the Half-Ironman distance. That said, the Ironman 70.3 California course is much more challenging than meets the eye. WIND will be the "X Factor" on the bike, slowing down even the top professional riders by an average of 12 minutes over other half ironman races for the 56 mile bike leg.
Since January I have been fortunate enough to remain healthy, averaging 20 hours per week of training. Without any lactate threshold or Max Vo2 training sessions on the bike or run, I feel that I have been able to absorb this volume better than I would have with a traditional (periodized volume + speedwork) program. I also have dropped my weight from a post-layoff 195lbs in early January down to a svelte 178lbs today, March 20th. Zero injuries or even nagging pains (knock knock!).
After zero running due to injury from November through early February, my running form is coming along just in time. My Maximum Aerobic Function, or "MAF" pace at AeT is down to just under 7 minutes per mile. I have dropped that pace over 40 seconds per mile in the last month simply by increasing my mileage and performing all runs with a heart rate cap of 150. It worked! Since my goal was to drop my MAF pace to 6:49 by June, it looks like I am right on target.
It's all about AeT, baby!
There are many benefits to my AeT/Steady/Zone2 training protocol, chiefly steady improvement, specific metrics for aerobic development, and injury prevention. On Saturday I ran 15 miles at 6:50s pace averaging a heart rate in the 140s, which is almost 10bpm under my "marathon" pace. I finished feeling fresh and stoked. In the past that would be unthinkable. In fact, only a month ago my pace for this run would have been in the 7:40s or slower. I trust the process.
Having not reached a performance plateau, I have continued to train for this race without the "special sauce" of Lactate Threshold pace training. As long as I continue to improve without the higher-risk intensity training, there is no reason to go above my "Steady" pace. I have learned quite a bit about patience, trusting the plan, and practicing what I preach.
I have always been able to trace overuse injuries to sharp increases in running volume and/or intensity. Not this year! I have followed my 10 percent increase per week rule, for the first time in my life. It pays dividends...This week was just my first over 40 miles/week, and I have not done any runs over 1hr45...that's right...NO long runs. There wasn't enough time to increase the duration of my longest run to even 2hrs according to my 10% rule. In the past, I would have several 3-4 hour mountain runs under my belt in addition to my traditional triathlon training. This time since I am on the comeback trail from injury I have erred on the very conservative and very low-mileage side and it has paid off! Of course I define that "payoff" as zero recurrence of injury and constant improvement in pace per mile at a 149 heart rate, power on the bike at AeT, and swimming endurance.
This summer I will truly reap the benefits of this extended base training period when I finally do carefully insert speedwork into my routine. My body will be more able to absorb the rigors of the intensity with a stronger engine AND chassis. Again, this closely matches what Mark Allen, Gordo and others have always prescribed...
Lastly, I added a new horse to the stable! Yes, next to the Turner Flux & Giant TCR Advanced there is now a CERVELO P2C. I was fitted by Greg at RocknRoad Cyclery and the bike fits me like a glove.
This is the bike that I will ride throughout the season, in my quest to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships! I have not yet named her, but I am open to suggestions.