Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On to the Next One . . .

In the last two years, I have listened to Jay-Z's "On to the Next One" more than any other song on my iPod.

Parental advisory . . .

I like it because it makes the monotony of endurance training and racing seem dynamic and even edgy. Even though I am CERTAIN that Jay-Z didn't have this in mind, the song helps me to put one workout or race behind me and look ahead (with a bit of swagger) to the next one. Over the last several months, I often listened to this song immediately following hard workouts or good races, and it helped me focus on what was next. Post-Ironman, I wasn't ready to do that for a little while. I am ready now. Enough wallowing on Cozumel. It's on to the next one.

Of course, I won't be doing any eight-hour bricks just yet. Unlike Kacie, who has a double Ironman in February and is already back to doing two-a-day workouts, I I have a bit more time to chill. This will let me catch up on stuff that has fallen by the wayside in the past few months. Among other things, I will be sending out our Christmas cards that will feature pictures of us in Cozumel. Check them out!

I have started thinking a lot about how the race felt and what I did to prepare. In particular, I have considered the overall arc of my training and what I can change in the next six months ahead of Ironman Coeur d'Alene. In December, I hope to spend time recovering and gathering up my motivation. Come January, February, and March, I'd like to put in some miles, but also some short fast stuff to build my power and speed. Around mid-April, though, I want to switch to higher volume LT work on both the bike and the run. In other words, I want to switch the traditional means of race-preparation.

The standard means of going about training an endurance athlete is to have them do base training and then some tempo work when they are several months out from an event. As you approach your event, you shorten the workouts but increase their intensity. By the time that the target event arrives, athletes should be feeling rested, "sharp," and speedy. This is the overall plan that I follow with the high school cross-country runners I coach, and it's one that I've followed myself several times over several seasons.

Ironman, though, is a totally different type of race. The race, as I learned the hard way, is not about going hard from the gun, but rather moving through the day at a moderate intensity. Even in the last two hours when it gets hard, it's not hard because you're pushing to run fast. It's hard because you're pushing to run AT ALL. Given this, it seems to me that the trick is not to arrive at the start line feeling speedy, but to arrive at the start line feeling as if you could go all day at a moderate intensity--which, after all, is precisely what you have to do!

To this end, I've asked my coach to design a training plan for the next 24 weeks that will start with the hard, fast stuff and then add the moderate-intensity volume at the end. I'm excited to give this a shot. Anybody have any feedback on this idea?

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