Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Are you Training to Race or Racing to Train?

This is the argument that I think I have with myself on a daily basis.  I think that a lot of triathletes(myself included) almost enjoy the training more than the racing.  This seems odd.  Why is putting yourself through stress and fatigue on a daily basis more rewarding than the actual race in itself?  Beats me, but for some reason training is the part I enjoy.  Until very recently, most of my best times and paces were in training and not during actual races.

This may have been a combination of multiple things.  I have actually had this argument with one of my good friends who is also a triathlete.  When it comes down to training on a day to day basis, he cannot keep a pace to save his life no matter how hard he pushes himself; however, on race day when it matters, he throws out times that are significantly better than anything he had ever done before.  My situation is much different.  The times and paces that I throw out in training are very similar if not better than what I am able to reproduce on race day.

The questions that we argue is: Is he bad at practicing? Or is he just good at getting mentally ready for races?  Am I just good at getting myself up for day to day training or do I just struggle when there are others around to chase after?

When I actually figure this out, I will let you all know.

Another thing that I am starting to realize is that I, in the past, went into many of my races overtrained.  The percentages may vary, but many of you have probably heard the phrase "It’s better to be 50 percent undertrained than 15 percent overtrained." This was something that I struggled with.  I would push myself through workouts weeks and days leading up to races to either prove to myself that I was fit or to try to gain every ounce of fitness that I felt that I was missing leading up to a race.

Recently, I have begun to trust in my fitness and the plan laid out for me and have been able to finally break through some PR's in races that have eluded me in the past.  In fact, two weeks ago I was able to PR a half marathon and PR a sprint triathlon in back to back days.  I was even disappointed in the sprint triathlon result because I wanted to do better, even with the fatigue.

I think learning to love the RACE, as the end goal is something that I am learning to do.  As for next season, with the hiring of a new coach, I have set some lofty goals for myself both with placing and finish times. 

Trusting the process and deciding the end goal is something that I will continue to work on.  Learning to use training as a tool for the end goal.  I am hoping it will ultimately pay off. 

If nothing else, there are normally cool people to high five at the end of races.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sometimes you need to get lost to find yourself

Wow.  It has been a really, really long time since I have updated this blog.  Moving to Winona, starting a new job, coaching, training, and other life stuff has gotten in the way.  Such is life I guess.  I am not complaining because this new job has led me to meet plenty of new, awesome people, and these last few months have brought on changes that have helped me to grow in so many ways.

This is a lake I get to run around in
Some new things that have occurred in the past few months:

1. I took a new job a moved to Winona.
2. Started coaching both the men's and women's soccer teams at Saint Mary's University.
3. Raced a few times: Oak Brook Half Marathon, YMCA Lacrosse Half Marathon, UWW Sprint triathlon, Viterbo Days 5K, Fall Frolic 5K.

4. I hired a triathlon coach, Liz Waterstraat(she is awesome!)

That is pretty much the fun stuff anyways.

However, the purpose of this blog post is to talk about the transition that my life has made since I have moved.  In regards to triathlon training, I was in a complete "RUT" at the end of August/early September.  I was training harder than ever, logging more miles, than I ever had in every sport and was making absolutely no improvement.

I ran the first half marathon over Labor Day weekend, in Oakbrook, and although I had a PR, it was still not as fast as what I was hoping and I felt overly fatigued afterwards.  I got right back into heavy training, thinking that I still was not doing enough.  I was killing myself every workout and still seeing nothing.

It was at this point that I was beginning to lose motivation fearing that I would not live up to my best
every time out.  By sheer luck, I was reading through blogs on the internet and came across one on listoftriathlonblogs.com by Liz Waterstraat.  She spoke of this same fear.  Fear of not doing enough, fear of not being able to perform, Fears in general.  She spoke of how having these fears makes you stronger.  She spoke of how she overcame it and had one of the best seasons of her life as a triathlete. 

I decided to reach out to her.  I thanked her for the post because it helped me a lot to know other were going through the same fears.  I also found out that she was a coach through the process and decided to hire my first coach in the sport.  Let me tell you, it is not hard to pick a coach when the one you are looking at is one who is a mother of 3 I think, can still swim laps around you in a pool, out bike you, and still beat you in a sprint tri.

Since hiring a new coach, I have already set a new half marathon, sprint tri(day after the half marathon), 5K, and multiple swim PR's.  I have learned the process and importance of recovery.  I have also learned how to workout slow.  And that I do not need to set a PR every workout.

This is where the title of this blog comes into play.  I was lost, not improving, losing motivation, and not happy.  However, now I am found.  I have direction, desire, and renewed love for all three sports.

I was on a run the other day where I was told to go out and run for 70 minutes.  No GPS, just "enjoy running."  Believe me, it is possible to actually do this.  I was running and decided early in the run that it would go by faster if I went some areas that I had never been before, and get lost a little.  This is not something that I would recommend to people that live in or around bad areas, but I live in Winona.  It was great to just run.  I ran around a lake.  I ran through a golf course(Hole 7, I think).  I ran on a prairie path.  I ran on a desolate road.  I ran everywhere.  I got lost.  Twice.  However, eventually I started making my way back to the direction I knew I needed to go.  I found the road that led to my house and ran home.

I reached the front step and looked at my watch.  67 minutes.  Close enough for me.  I walked inside and sat down and reflected on how awesome that felt.

It has been a hard transition these last few months, moving to a new place, moving away from all the people I know and love.  I got lost, but with a little help and a lot of reflection, I was able to find myself again.

Life is good.