Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fitness learnings happy burble

The swim on the weekend was so-so at best, as readers will recall. None the less, I didn't beat myself up about it.

Over the several years now, I've learned there are awesome days, good days, ok days, struggle days, and workouts you'd just as soon forget. Except that you shouldn't. All of these days go together to create the you on race day.

Once upon a time I took a plant operator course. The instructor gave brutal exams; most of us barely passed. The upside was that he also marked up the test showing exactly what had been required for full marks. His reasoning was that if we passed his tests, we were going to sail through the exam given by the regulatory authority. And so I did.

So it is with training for a race. You should be praying for crap weather in training. Windy, cold, or hot, or raining. You want it just bad enough that the race officials would agonize over cancelling the race, but not so bad that it's actually unsafe for you to be out there.

It isn't just physical training. You are training your mind to be strong. To carry on without music or someone cheering you on. To be able to keep going into the teeth of a cold wind. To build confidence riding in a gusty cross wind. To swim in choppy water while your competitors are trying to take out your liver with their feet. To keep going to finish the workout. If you've done it before, you can do it again.

Your well trained mind is by far your biggest asset on race day. You learn to cope while training, so you don't have to figure it out in a race. Embrace the training suck. Celebrate those tough days when you didn't want to get out bed, when your legs felt like wood, where your arms wouldn't go around. Get out and own it. It ain't bragging if you done it. The biggest cardio engine in the race is useless if you don't have the guts to keep going when things don't go your way.

Thus, my swim with feeble arms. I took it for what it was. I swam with tired arms, trying to work on form, being clean in the water, even though I could feel I was sloppy. And really, my times weren't THAT bad. I didn't bail on it. I went through what I had planned. Just one workout of many, and no one workout is likely to make or break your race.

Last night was an easy spin session, with some core. Pretty good night's sleep.

Then the swim this morning. A buddy texted to ask how it went, and here is my dictated response, as interpreted by Siri.
"The swim was awesome!! I had a link to myself the rest of the pool was pretty quiet except for some of the swim kids in the fire lane. The swim at sulfur me went really good the shoulders were good the water was perfect and so I was really happy on the water. When Katie 18 minutes 20 seconds which without even trying was really really good and then some hundred meter intervals are really happy making time so I am pretty pleased by that an interest in the hunt up I was sitting and thinking that it was my happy place.if I was writing my blog right now this would all be in operable in the block including some life lessons about perseverance and hanging in there and not letting up at work I'll get you down carrying onto the next one and all of that sort of stuff which would be good in the blog and probably not so good in a text message or a tweak."
 Well, maybe not so good in a blog either. The technical translation is 1K, 18:20, 5 x 100 in < 100 seconds, on 2 minutes (just barely made that last one!) Then 1x 100 in 90 seconds. Cool down, stretch.

I'm not sure what exactly drove the different swims. I don't think I was particularly more rested, and nutrition was good. I suspect it's just one of those things. Some days you're in tune, and some days not. It's nice when you can peak on race day, and you're in tune, and the weather is nice, and you have people cheering you on, and the race soundtrack pumps you up, and the race goes well for you. Enjoy the day, because you've earned it.

You get another of my theories here. Maybe not quite as good as the floating elephant theory, but still. I don't think I've mentioned it before. You are going someplace and don't want to be late. Unfortunately, time got away from you, and you're running a little late. You are sure to get stuck in traffic, get caught at the lights, have trouble finding parking, and the final indignity, an elevator will be out of service so you have to wait. Stressful, especially if it's a job interview, or a really hot date. But if you plan ahead and allow lots of time for the trip, thinking about what could go wrong, life will be good. You'll likely get there early, unfrazzled. Able to relax a few minutes and do some people watching.

Training ought to build in space for surprises. If you have no slack in the rope, then you are going to get jerked around. You'll get sick. You'll need to deal with kids, or work, or something. If you're training for a half iron or tougher, I can guarantee there are going to be days you NEED to roll over and go back to sleep. Not having allowance for that can go downhill quick.

Not to end on a downer or anything, but you're getting older by the minute. Use it or lose it.   


  1. Amen. It can be a fine line between knowing when to take or needed rest day and just rolling over and making excuses. Slogging through the bog definitely prepares you for race day. Some days the hardest part is just getting dressed or getting out the door and then it's easy from there. Congratulations on your good swim Keith!

  2. Excellent post, Keith. Lots to ruminate about. I rarely build enough space into my training for surprises - something to work on in the new year.

    I'm with you on training in tough conditions though. Last winter, I ran on some seriously cold, icy days. A neighbour who saw me on the street one evening in February remarked that I must be a seriously hard core runner. Naturally, I took it as a compliment.

    That said, I wimped out last night. Heavy rain, high winds and temperatures hovering around freezing. No thank you. I curled up by the fire instead. Will try to make up for it this evening.

    Happy training!


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