I hit a significant milestone last week: February 19th marked one year since I broke my foot, and what a year it was! After closing the year strong by logging a PR 70.3, marathon, and 100 mile race, I started 2016 healthy and ready to go. I’ve hit the ground running…biking and swimming; weight training too. Between work, training, social commitments, philanthropy work and ambassadorships, Taylor and I have had full plates this year. In this case, busy is good, and I’ve been making significant progress toward my long term goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Here are the top 5 tweaks I’ve made to my training this year:
1. Coaching: I’m proud to share that I’ve been working with Jay Ridgeway, president and CEO of PacWest Athletics. We’ve been working together for a year through my performance cycling classes at Bay Club San Francisco, and I subscribe to Jay’s approach to training, racing and recovery. Jay’s familiarity with my goals, training approach, and weaknesses made building out an 18 month macro plan simple. The macro plan is the framework for my BQ, and also includes triathlon-specific periodization for my upcoming half and full Ironmans this year. I’ve been gradually cranking up the volume while focusing on quality, and couldn’t be more pleased with the progress I’ve seen in the past two months.
2. Avoiding the “grey zone”: Like many other runners and triathletes, I can safely say that I was guilty of spending too much time in the grey zone prior to this year. The grey zone is a training intensity above your base aerobic pace and below your threshold – tempo. Although some time in that zone is important – it’s often a target race pace – training at tempo (or zone 3) intensity too frequently ultimately hinders your ability to build an aerobic base or top end speed. Instead, I’ve focused on making the easy paces MUCH easier than years past, and the hard workouts much harder; I mix in tempo runs once a week to stay in touch with my target race pace. By the numbers, I’m targeting ~7:00 minute miles for my next marathon, and my easy runs are between 8:30-9 minutes per mile on flat ground; I go even slower on inclines.
3. Double sessions: This has been the biggest adjustment – by far. I’ve been doing double sessions 6 days a week, which breaks my long standing rule of no workouts after work. Jay and I agreed to this approach when laying out the macro plan – I’m doubling down on a BQ this year, and this is my idea of pulling out all the stops. Here’s a high-level overview of my training plan:
Monday: AM strength (upper body/core), PM swim (2500 minimum)
Tuesday: AM cycling (indoor, trainer) and brick run, PM tempo run (~60 minutes)
Wednesday: AM strength (lower body/core), PM swim (2500 minimum)
Thursday: AM cycling (indoor, trainer), PM track workout (~60-90 minutes)
Friday: OFF (foam rolling/stretching)
Saturday: Long bike ride (~60 miles at the moment), brick run (15-30 minutes for now)
Sunday: Long run (alternating long, easy runs and extended tempo runs every week)
4. Heart rate: I’ve been training consistently with a heart rate monitor for the first time. It’s been helping me throttle intensity – both running and cycling. Back to point #1, having ~8 weeks of heart rate data reinforces the fact that I trained too hard, too often in years past. As a result, I’ve been recovering faster, running better, and hitting even splits on my runs more often than not.
5. Strength training: I’ve wanted to take a page out of Taylor’s book for some time now, but finally made the leap and committed to strength training this season. Although I was extremely sore for the first month, I’ve turned a corner, and now feel stronger than ever. I learned that my core – although strong, is weak relative to other muscle groups; an emphasis on core has translated to better running form, faster top end speed, and a new found comfort in my aero position.
So there you have it: I’ve opened the kimono and revealed the secret sauce to my training this year. There’s no plan B – this is what I’ll be sticking with for the foreseeable future, and signs of positive adaptation have reinforced that I’m on the right path. I take it with a grain of salt, but my Garmin race predictor and VO2 max have steadily improved; these benchmarks also reinforce the notion of positive adaptation. The real test will come in my first A race – Mountains2Beach, where I’ve adjusted my target from 3:19 to 3:04:59 – I’m going for my BQ. Stay tuned – it will get ugly in the weeks leading up to the race, but I’m ready for it and want to see you all in Boston next year!