Well, here we are. Ironman Coeur d’Alene is happening this year in seven months’ time. I’m still on track, and my fears of burning out over the winter are proving to be unfounded. I’m actually feeling remarkably engaged mentally with the process so far. What I’ve managed to do is essentially up the intensity of my routine while decreasing the time spent. I think that has helped me remain excited about it and not overwhelmed. Blogging about it has helped too, I’m sure. I think I’ll be in more danger of burning out in the summer when I’ll be logging 12-18 hour training weeks.
My marathon training is going well as it hits its peak. I ran my first 20 miler this month, and I hit an 8:11/mile pace—that’s faster than my pace during the run portion of my Olympic triathlon this summer. I honestly never thought I’d be able to run that fast for that long, so this whole winter, I’ve really been riding the improvement high. My swimming fitness is also improving, although that improvement has slowed down now. I’m in a good place to improve even more, though, once I start swimming more often in the spring. It’s been hard to watch my cycling fitness decrease. It’s discouraging to compare my rides this summer with my rides now, especially when I think about where I’ll need to be in August. I know it’s part of the process, and I’m glad I didn’t devote this winter to three hour trainer ride, but it’s still frustrating.
Other than a somewhat nasty cold I came down with right after Christmas, my health has been solid. My weight is mostly stabilized, although it stabilized slightly lower than it was before I lost it this summer. As near as I can tell, instead of having a range of 130-134, my range is now more like 128-132. It’s not a problem now, but it could be when I start training more in the spring. I’ve had a few aches and pains after my long runs, but nothing has materialized into anything that I need to be worried about. My knee has been a bit sore off-and-on but has only given me real pain during one 15 mile run, and my left hip flexor was quite sore after my 20 miler, but that went away in a couple of days. I’ve had a few weeks where I found myself overtired from not getting enough sleep, but that has been easily remedied by simply going to bed earlier.
I had a few low spells this month, but I was able to work through them mostly by getting more sleep. For the most part, I’ve been very encouraged and engaged in my training, even when that training requires me to wake up at 4:00am. Now that I’m approaching the end of my marathon training cycle, it’s easier to find the motivation to do the hard workouts because the finish line is in sight. The fact that I’ve been hitting my paces on my runs and swimming well also helps. Additionally, it’s hit that point in winter where I feel like I’m on the downhill slope towards spring. Since spring means better weather and longer bike rides, I have something to look forward to.
Longest swim: 3000 yards*
Longest ride: 15.1 miles
Longest run: 20 miles
Most encouraging workout: My 20 mile run. I feel like running your first 20 miler is, well, a milestone in marathon training. It signifies that you have “made it” and that you could go out there and run the full distance, even if the missing weeks of training may cause you to run slower than your potential. I know the real pinnacle of marathon training is the marathon, but the 20 miler comes close.
Most discouraging workout: My 15.1 mile bike ride. It was the longest bike ride I did this month. Of course, I enjoyed it because it was a bike ride. And it didn’t go poorly. But this is by far the shortest “longest ride of the month” I’ve had in a long, long time. I miss the days of getting up at 6:00am to ride 30-40 miles on a Saturday or going for a “short” ride up Emigration Canyon after work. This bike ride stood out because it reminded me exactly how far I’ve fallen in regards to cycling. I know that my focus on running this winter will help me pick up cycling again quickly in the spring, but it’s still discouraging.
Average time per sport per week
Swimming: 75 minutes
Cycling: 63.75 minutes
Running: 238.75 minutes
Looking to the future
The theme for this winter carries on: Running and swimming are great, but what about cycling? I know spring is coming, though, which means I only have one more month until cycling can take a front seat in my training again (weather permitting, of course). At this point, I’m starting to think beyond the marathon. I’ve got my race calendar mostly worked out for the 2016 season, and I’ve started studying the (free) Ironman training program I selected. Oh, and I’ve finally managed to make core work a regular part of my routine. I’d like to expand how much I’m doing. I hope to eventually be doing ab exercises four times a week, with a shorter session (8 minutes) three times a week and a longer (length to be determined) session once a week.
*My hour-long race was more than 3000 yards and took place before the 21st, so it technically happened during this month. However, when I come up with the averages, I only use completed weeks just to make it easier. So since I will be using that swim towards my averages next month, I’ll use it as my longest swim that month as well.