This week marked the beginning of my first training block for IM Canada, after taking three weeks off following the California International Marathon. With all of the holiday shenanigans and wet-snowy-windy-cold weather, I certainly didn’t mind, and my body seemed to appreciate the much needed and well-deserved rest. I lounged a lot, watched a lot of movies, worked, and watched a lot of football.
But then the day finally came when I had a great meeting with my coach, discussed a lot of BIG goals for the season, and felt that mental fire reignite. And so the journey begins, albeit a few days earlier than originally planned.
When your coach offers the opportunity to do an FTP test, in some sick, sadistic way, you say yes without hesitation. It was only my second time on the bike since September 2 (that’s four months, folks) and my third workout since CIM. However, I’m always up for 25 minutes of torture – bring it. *never say no to a FTP test*
A FTP or Functional Threshold Power test measures the power (watts) that an athlete can sustain for 60 minutes and is widely recognized as the best indicator of cycling fitness, performance, and ability. It is the best type of pain a cyclist can endure, and produces an abundance of information that can be used while training and racing. There are various ways to test FTP, but one of the most common is to put the body through 25 minutes of all out grind on the bike, pushing the legs, lungs, and heart to their limits. I often wonder where the mind goes during these trying times as it attempts to block out the pain and suffering. Once I had finished my most recent FTP test, I immediately thought to myself, what the heck did I think about during that time? How was I able to do that? The mind and body are quite spectacular, if you really think about it.
The result: I’m stronger than I was at the same time last year, but have a lot of work to do to get back to where my coach and I want me to be. My current FTP is 205 watts, and the goal is to have an FTP of 230-240 watts by IM Canada.
I also got back into the pool for the first time since Lake Stevens. Sigh. I know, I know, that was four and a half months ago. When you are already a weak swimmer, the first time back in the pool after a long break is quite ugly. My poor arms didn’t know what hit em’! 1,300 yards of this…
As for the days to follow, here is how the first week back unfolded…
Monday: It snowed. A lot. It was supposed to be a day off, but I spent over an hour shoveling snow on three different occasions to keep up with the 10 inches that fell throughout the day. Crosstraining, as I like to call it.
Tuesday: I got to the pool just in time to discover they had emptied it the prior day and refilled it with fresh, cold water. On the plus side, I had the place to myself and had a fresh batch of untouched water to swim in. Unfortunately, the water was really cold. I almost opted for laps in the hot tub before sucking it up and fighting my way through the cold. It was a QUICK 1,700 yards. I didn’t warm up until I returned home and hopped on the trainer for a 45-minute spin.
Wednesday: My wonderful friend Nicole texted me the night before asking if I wanted to join her for a morning run in the snow. Why yes, I would love to forgo the treadmill, throw on my screwed shoes, and strut around in 5-degree temperatures for an hour. We had a blast running 6.5 hilly miles on the last day in 2014.
Later that evening, Justin and I stopped and walked around Smith Rock State Park before having dinner with some friends. Smith Rock is extra beautiful when sprinkled in snow!
Thursday: Happy New Year!!! Let’s just say that swimming 1,600 yards after a late night and lots of champagne is not recommended. But, I managed to get it done with the help of my friend, the pull-buoy.
Friday: I took off in the morning for a 4.5-mile run in the snow along the river, and followed it with a 45-minute spin on the trainer. My legs were definitely feeling it, but the scenery was worth it.
Saturday: With a run and swim on the schedule, Justin and I headed to the Athletic Club first thing to claim a treadmill. Treadmills are like gold at the start of the New Year. After 3.6 miles on the treddie, I hopped in the pool with the music blaring (BEST purchase ever) and completed 2,075 yards, my longest swim since August. My stick arms are finally adjusting to the water.
Sunday: Larsen Spin Class. My coach leads these group trainer classes three times a week throughout the winter months, and let me just say, these classes are not your your typical spin class—they are B-R-U-T-A-L. This is probably one of the best workouts you can get while saddled up on the trainer. Last year I was too intimidated to join (newbie syndrome), but this year I had enough confidence to show up one Sunday. I’m so glad I did. It’s a badass workout with a great, eclectic group of athletes of all ages and abilities. Plus, no one should have to suffer alone on the trainer (at least not all the time). I have no doubt these sessions will help me get stronger during the winter months.
Oh, and lesson learned… never let intimidation hold you back. You will only get better and make gains from stepping out of the comfort zone. Note to self: this means it’s also time to finally take the plunge and start going to Masters swimming classes).
Week 1 Totals
Swim: 5,375 yards, 1hr 46mins
Bike: 67.1 miles, 3hrs 36mins
Run: 14.6 miles, 2hrs 9mins
There’s nothing like that first week back and the renewed energy after a long layoff to motivate you to train and work hard. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, and my body could definitely feel the shock of the bike and swim, but mentally it felt great to be back. It’s go time. I’ve got two half Ironmans and a full Ironman in the next seven months to prepare for. Let’s just say the adrenaline that I thrive off of is flowing…
What do you think about when you are performing at threshold? Or do you blackout like me?
Be honest – what is the hardest workout you have ever done?