Friday, December 23, 2011

Updates and Up-enders

It has been a physically challenging second week of Ironman preparation in my second meso-cycle. A meso-cycle, in my case, is a month’s load of triathlon-specific training. Each week, I have three sessions each for swimming, cycling and running. I have a heavier workload over my weekends, as this reserved for long rides and runs. It has been three weeks since my flu-troubled Singapore Marathon; I only registered a dismal 3:41, nowhere near the revised Boston Qualifier time of 3:24:59.

It is supposed to be an off-season, and in my personal design I am thick in my racing season. 3 March, in Taupo, New Zealand will be my 12th assault for an Ironman finish. This will be my third time in Auckland to attempt a personal record for an Ironman course. After my PB plan was up-ended with last year’s pre-Ironman road accident, I had to refocus. I have the numbers to improve on. Numbers do not lie, and plans can be tweaked. Because my weaknesses lie in climbing (and rolling courses) and headwinds, I have dedicated my training towards strength development: time-trials, intervals, and sprints. I am aiming for fresher legs at T2, holding steady for 180K, before the marathon in nine weeks’ time.

Disease and acute fatigue can up-end a well-designed, comprehensive race program. Rest is something I factored in deliberately in recent weeks. I aim for 6-8 hours each night of quality sleep. I am also flexible (with my coach, Fox) with how I attend to my training sessions. For a time-crunched triathlete, you need to be able to shift sessions around without bogging yourself down. You have to be decisive in changing plans and altering your goals. The monsoon season is predictable for its abundant and ubiquitous rainfall. Sometimes, you may miss a session or two, and you move on. It may be useless to recover it like lost sleep. Instead, you could focus your efforts on the next workout/s, or do something else like focus on building your core stability and strength, run on a treadmill, or ride a stationary-bike. Never allow your body to be too clever in adapting to routine. After all, triathletes love routine and structure to their madness.

My nutritional changes include: higher antioxidant-laden foods (mainly unprocessed nuts, tart cherry juice and pomegranate juice); more vegetables, water, vitamin C (with zinc) and protein (including two Muscle Milk whey protein drinks daily).

I am reading ‘Ironstruck’ (2006) by Ray Fauteux, which I bought online as an e-book. He describes his fascination with marathons, ultra-marathons and his 14 Ironman triathlon finishes. John Cooke wrote about his reflection and perspective on preparing for Ironman races. How do you restore balance when this sport is skewed towards a 10-15 hour training week? How can we reduce its impact as an indulgent sport? How do we position it as a sane sport when many perceive it as extreme from the insanely long hours we spend training? When this bolt of lightning strikes you from out of the blue, you can bet your last cup of Kona coffee that life will never be the same again.

Have a very good Christmas weekend!

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