Races Training

The Lies We Tell

No matter how moral or honest or candid you are as a human being, the chances are good you routinely say things you don’t really mean.

  • I’m not trying to PR on Sunday. I just want to finish.
  • Of course he’ll call!
  • No, no, you take the last slice of pizza.
  • I’m not mad at you, I swear.
  • I’ve thought it through. A 60-pound dog would totally thrive in my New York City apartment.
She just has to sleep on the couch.
She just has to sleep on the couch.

Time to add one more to the list:

  • I’m going to race a triathlon on July 28th!

As you may recall, I announced in mid-May plans to train for a sprint triathlon along the scenic Rhode Island coast this summer in an effort to diversify my workout routine and enter marathon training stronger, fitter and less injury prone than I would have been had I spent the past eight weeks running nothing but reservoir loops.

“The spice of life!” I’d said. Turns out, the only thing in my pantry is wonder bread.

The truth is, I initially had full intentions of running/swimming/biking this weekend’s race and even went so far as to put in the preparatory work. For nearly two months, I supplemented my running routine with freestyle laps and harrowing Brooklyn bike rides, and were I being chased today by a bear along a quarter-mile waterway, an 11-mile bike course and a 3.1-mile roadway, there’s no doubt in my mind I could cross the finish line unscathed (unless that bear is riding a Schwinn five-speed, in which case, God help us all).

But there’s more to racing an event than physical preparation. In order to enjoy yourself during a sustained period of athleticism/dehydration/bear-drifting, you not only have to have built up the stamina and muscle mass to perform, but you need the right mental mindset as well. And I simply wasn’t going to have it.

Call me Debbie Downer, but after traveling out of the city for three straight July weekends, the idea of commuting up to Rhode Island for another excursion away sounded more depleting than refreshing, even if the people I was set to visit are among my favorite in the world. Throw into the mix the fact that I’m starting a new job bright and early Monday morning, and I knew I wouldn’t have been able to fully enjoy myself racing on Sunday in a whole different state. With my thoughts undoubtedly set to be elsewhere, the event didn’t quite seem worth the $85 registration fee, even if it came complete with a sweet neon swim cap. 

But while I won’t be throwing myself into the Atlantic Ocean this weekend with 500 of my closest friends, I in no way regret my summer of mock triathlon training. At this time last year, I could hardly sit down for fear of snapping in half my aching IT bands; this summer, I’ve swum and biked my way to a level of overall fitness that can’t be beat. And as I transition out of multi-sport training into 40-mile running weeks, that extra base of fitness is going to be a welcome buffer indeed.

So here’s to the second half of summer 2013. No looking back! Only looking forward here on out – as well as lovingly into a certain pooch’s adoring gaze.

Yes, Elton, I CAN feel the love tonight.
Yes, Elton, I CAN feel the love tonight.

What curve balls has the summer thrown your training plans? Matt Harvey, this one’s for you.

Running Training

Said No One Ever

There are a handful of phrases in the English language that I’d wager have rarely, if ever, been spoken aloud.

  • No thanks, I’ve had enough cookie dough for one day.
  • Franklin Pierce’s economic policies are worth emulating today.
  • No way, the blue ranger is my favorite, too!
  • Don’t you just love the smell of Manhattan in June?
  • I mean it! Your dog’s new haircut doesn’t look silly at all.
Back Camera
She knows the truth.

Here’s one more to add to the list:

  • I cannot wait until marathon training starts so I can finally have my life back.

Except that the aforementioned sentence has, in fact, been spoken aloud, and the speaker was none other than yours truly, and the whole exchange took place about 15 seconds ago. That’s right, folks. You’re livin’ through history.

As you may recall, I’m shaking up my running routine and spending the first half of the summer training for a beachside sprint triathlon scheduled for July 28 along the Rhode Island coast. For those of you unfamiliar with the sprint distance, we are talking a quarter-mile swim, an 11-mile ride and a 5K run in what I hope will take about one-third the time it takes me to run a marathon. Training should be a walk (/swim/bike) in the park, right?

Wrong. Not having much experience myself training for a multi-sport event, I (SURPRISE!) turned to my homeboy Hal Higdon for advice. There, I found his recommended 8-week workout plan designed for “runners who would like to test their fitness in a triathlon by adding swimming and cycling to their workout routines.” There might as well have been a headshot of me on the intro page. Plan selection = complete.

tri plan

I’m now on week 4 — why yes, I am writing this post from the comfort of a stationary bike — and let me tell you: training for a triathlon is not for the weak of heart. (Actually, your cardiologist probably could have told you that, too.)

Seriously though, I went into this summer thinking tri training would be a good way to ease my way into marathon training by building a base of core muscle groups while also allowing me more free time to enjoy all the perks a Manhattan summer provides.

Boy was I wrong. While it’s true my total weekly running mileage has been dramatically reduced since picking up two extra sports, the same can also be said of my free time. Unlike marathon training, when I tend to take two scheduled rest days a week, Hal now has me working out a full six out of seven. And many of those workouts involve more than one sport — say, swim 30 mins, bike 20 mins. But that’s less than an hour of training! — you say. — How can that be more time consuming than marathon training?

How? I’ll tell you how. My pool is on 92nd St.; my borrowed bike resides in Greenpoint. You do the math.

As a result, I’m breaking up most of my scheduled brick workouts and completing the first half before work in one borough and the second at night in another. I realize the expectation is athletes on tri plans will transition right from one sport to the next during training in order to simulate actual race conditions, but I also realize I don’t have a magic carpet to transport me over the East River during transitions. Pre-genie Aladdin, I feel your pain.

Now I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed pieces of triathlon training. My Friday night bike ride around Roosevelt Island made me feel like a real, multi-sport athlete, strength training has made me feel strangely stronger, and swimming at the 92Y has taught me to strategically sidestep 90-year-old women in swim caps.

But the constant stream of two-a-day workouts is starting to wreck havoc on both my sleep schedule and my social life. And that’s why I’m about to repeat myself:

  • I cannot wait until marathon training starts so I can finally have my life back.

marathon planThat, and I love the smell of Manhattan in June.

How is your summer training progressing?