I feel like Nick and I are finally at a point of consistency in our training. Since the beginning of January, I’ve only had one week (that’s right, only one!) with three days of exercise. All of the other weeks have had up to six days of exercise. This past week, I analyzed our training plan as well as our progress, and I realized that a 70.3 is absolutely within reach.
We joined the gym in mid-January to take advantage of the lap pool. I really tried to begin as if I had no experience swimming (not much of a stretch from my actual swimming experience) and started with the bare basics. We began very slowly, some days only logging 100 or 200 yards of swimming. For the first month, most of my time consisted of drills rather than actual swimming freestyle in the pool. Following the advice of my friend, Kellie, in mid-February I began swimming no less than 50 yards at a time. This past weekend, I upped it to 100 yards.
Last week, I spoke to a friend who is an Ironman. (I am very lucky to know someone who has completed the race I can only aspire to finish one day. He has been so kind and patient with me, answering all of my novice triathlete questions. I am grateful for all of the guidance he has given me, and I have deemed him my triathlon coach.) Anyway, he recommended that if I’m going to “get dressed and drive to the pool, do no less than 1000. Make it worth the trip.”
This past weekend I cursed his words of advice. Sunday morning we went to the gym, completed our weights, then headed to the pool. The lap pool was full and had people waiting for lanes. So Nick and I decided to swim in the family pool; it is open on one side and has two lanes roped off on the other. After about 200 yards, I had psyched myself out of finishing the 1000 yards. I got out of the pool and relaxed in the hot tub until Nick finished his laps. That afternoon, I drove back to the gym to swim, again. The lap pool was empty, and I began my 100 yard sets. At about the 600 yard mark, I was ready to go home. My arms were tired, I was having a difficult time breathing on my left side, and the pool was beginning to fill up with three of the four lanes occupied. Then, I heard the voice in my head saying, “Do at least 1000 yards, make it worth your while.” Although I struggled to finish, I persisted and just kept telling myself, “I have to make it worth my while. There’s no point in training for something if I’m not going to put forth the effort. Some days are better than others, and today is just one of those days when swimming is difficult.” I was finally done, and I had actually completed 1100 yards.
Due to the winter weather, all of my rides this year have been on the trainer. This has been good in that I’m able to really focus on my cadence. I ride twice a week, one short maintenance ride and one distance ride. Both rides, I keep my cadence over 80 rpm and do 1 minute sprints every 10 minutes. During the 30 minute rides, I really try to push myself.
Today my goal was to be “a beast on the bike”. I upped my sprints to 1 minute, 15 seconds, and believe me, I feel every bit of that extra 15 seconds. I kept my cadence over 85 rpm with my sprints at 100+ rpm. My legs burned! It was worth it, though. This was my best 30 minute ride with a distance of 11.3 miles, beating my previous best by over 1 mile. Progress!
I have no doubt that road riding will produce different results. Because the Wisconsin weather inhibits that at the moment, my goal is to make the most of the bike trainer. I’m increasing cadence, increasing distance, and increasing speed. I’m doing the best I can with the option available to me.
I have an aversion to running on the treadmill. Seriously, I do. When I get on the treadmill I have anxiety, resulting in some sort of panic attack. My heart races. I feel like the air has been sucked out of the room and my breathing becomes short and labored. Time stands still. I assure myself that minutes have passed, I look at my watch and realize mere seconds have ticked by. The cycle begins again.
I haven’t been able to figure out the root of my anxiety, other than I am bored out of my mind. I’ve searched the internet for articles regarding anxiety on the treadmill, only to find countless articles proving “moderate treadmill exercise reduces anxiety and depression”. Well, not for this girl. I have tried listening to music, watching tv, and listening to audiobooks to distract myself from focusing on the fact that I am running on a treadmill. I’ve also tried increasing/decreasing speed and incline, running intervals, taking walking breaks, and pretending to race the person next to me. None of which have brought any relief. Most of my treadmill runs are less than 30 minutes, typically I give up after a mile or two.
This past weekend was an absolute first for me. At the gym on Saturday, I located a treadmill under an air vent and began my run. My goal was to be on the treadmill for 60 minutes, and I did it! I ran 5 miles in those 60 minutes, and couldn’t believe I lasted that long. Now, I’m not saying I cured for my anxiety as I was in hell the entire time. In fact, at the 50-minute mark, my headphone batteries died. I was being tortured by the treadmill demons. Now it was just me and the awful treadmill. My eyes darted around the room trying to find something to hold my interest for the next 10 minutes. I turned the tv on but couldn’t focus on the screen long enough to pretend to care what I was watching. I heard murmurs of a conversation from a couple on the stationary bikes behind me, they were too muffled to understand. I listened to the rhythm of feet hitting the treadmill from the guy next to me (who was running a 6 minute mile, no way was I going to attempt to race him). Nothing with substance to hold my attention. But somehow I made it through those grueling 10 minutes and finished my run. I felt accomplished, like a little bit of progress had been made.
As for the run itself, it was great. My legs felt like I could keep running for miles. My breathing was as good as it could be on a treadmill, and my form was good. I believe the miles on the bike and the laps in the pool are really increasing my cardio endurance, thus making my long runs easier. As soon as the “feel like” temperatures outside are in the vicinity of bearable, I’m layering clothes and running on the road. According to the forecast, I should be able to hit the pavement some time this week. I’m really looking forward to seeing how far I can run outside.
As long as everything continues to progress as it has, we are on track to complete our first 70.3 in July. This is super exciting and at the same time scares the heck out of me!