Training Week Recap

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So, I know this is pretty typical for endurance sports bloggers, but as a reader, one of the things I look forward to most is reading recaps about training schedules (and races, of course). Even though it’s not always good to compare yourself to others in training, it’s nice to get a peek at what others are up to. Here’s how my week went down:

Monday

1175m swim: Swimming with TTC. We focused on short, hard efforts. To be honest, I struggled through this workout. It definitely was not one of my Michael Phelps days at the pool. I was so exhausted that I was barely able to finish some of the 50m sprints.

Tuesday

7km run: Lactate Threshold Heart Rate Test! This was my second attempt at the test (first was a disaster), and I did considerably better with running hard for an extended period of time. However, I got home and uploaded my run, eager to see the data, and it turns out my heart rate hadn’t tracked correctly, so the second attempt wasn’t as fruitful as we had hoped, either.

35 minutes strength: Strength routine after the run. I do a circuit of bodyweight exercises, usually immediately following my run. I’ve been seeing the positive effects of strength training on my progress, which is a real motivator to digging in for another 35-40 minutes after a tough run.

Wednesday

1225m swim: Swimming with TTC in the morning. This practice also focused on some short work, and I was feeling considerably better than Monday.

23.4km ride: The evening saw me doing a one-hour low cadence, heavy gear workout on the trainer. Nothing too crazy, since I was still recovering from the LTHR test. As usual, I devoured an episode of Game of Thrones during my ride.

Thursday

10km run: I took to the Twitters to get some advice on where to run some good hills. Twitter delivered, and I did 5 hill repeats during my run. The hill really is a great one to train on, and I am looking forward to seeing some progress in my hill running over the next 10 weeks as I build for Around the Bay.

40 minutes strength: I ended my run at the gym, and Coach PK had some plans to step up my strength workout. It did not disappoint, and I’ve got some new moves and challenging variations on the old moves in the rotation.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious rest day.

Saturday

17km long run: I hit the road with some of my Tribe Fitness friends, and we tackled some of the Around the Bay hills in Hamilton. Despite having done Around the Bay twice, I have never gotten to run on the infamous Valley Inn Road. We incorporated it into our route, and I felt really great almost the entire time.

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I also did a solid 20 minutes of stretching and foam rolling on Saturday night. I must make time to do this regularly, as my body felt better almost immediately.

Sunday

22.6km ride: I had an aerobic ride on the schedule. I started season 4 of GoT and spun my legs out.

1500m swim: Endurance solo swim. Earlier this week on a phone call with my coach, I said that I wanted to try adding a third swim that focused on endurance, as opposed to speed. I’ve been working hard in my group swimming sessions, and I think I would benefit from some quiet time in the pool to let my body absorb all that work. I went for 1500m on my own today, and it was a really great way to end my training week.

 

Swim: 3900m/1:36

Bike: 46km/2:00

Run: 34km/3:39

Strength: 1:13

Total Time: 8:48

 

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about last week’s training. It got off to a shaky start with my struggle bus swim, and the LTHR test that didn’t go quite to plan. Things got better as the week progressed, and I ended the week on a high note. I have a challenging work week coming up with a major three-day conference, so I’m trying to focus on keeping things relatively on track.


If you’re training for anything, how did your week of training go? 

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Swimming, Swimming in the Swimming Pool

“Would you ever do a triathlon, Courtney?”

“No, never. Not for me.”

“Never? Oh…why not?”

“Meh. Not really interested. Also, can’t swim.”

“Really? Can’t swim at all?”

“Weeeeeell, I can tread water a bit, doggy paddle, and, of course, keep myself afloat in a pool with a drink in my hand. As for structured, proper, freestyle swimming, no. No, I cannot.”

I’ve had some variation of the above exchange with a number of people over the last few years. Up until June-ish of 2015, it was entirely true and usually enough to end the conversation about triathlon. If I was in a particularly testy mood, it would leave me slightly annoyed and wondering why people kept asking. I resisted the temptation to argue that not every runner has to progress to multi-sport. I was just fine with my marathon running, thankyouverymuch. Occasionally, people would press further and point out that adult swimming lessons were offered in most pools around the city. Touché, friends. Touché.

To be honest, pool swimming had never appealed to me. I wouldn’t describe it as a phobia exactly, but there were always a couple of things about the pool that gave me the heebie-jeebies. I cringed at the thought of my bare feet touching the slimy floor (still wearing flip flops, by the way!) and I challenge you to name something grosser than band-aids and hair in and around the pool. Ick.

However, the more people asked, the more internally curious I became. Why couldn’t I learn to swim? Aside from my fear of death by assorted flotsam and jetsam or being strangled by a stray hair in the water, I couldn’t think of a single reason. After all, my six-year-old niece was progressing through lessons, and a couple of my co-workers had just signed up for a Stroke Mechanics summer class. Defeated and out of excuses Inspired, off to Learn to Swim 1 I went. #stillnotdoingatriathlon ← I actually used this hashtag on Instagram a few times as I was reporting my swim progress. We all know how that turned out now, don’t we?

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After Learn to Swim 1 & 2 + Stroke Mechanics, I still wasn’t all that confident in the water. By then, I had registered for my first triathlon, and I wasn’t convinced of my ability to swim 750m in under 30 minutes in open water. I certainly didn’t feel like I had the endurance to do so, and I was dreadfully slow. My friends were supportive, and most people told me to just keep logging the mileage (metreage? yardage?) at the pool and I would be just fine. Consistency is key, everyone said.

I’m all for the idea that consistency is key. To be a better swimmer, you have to swim. Duh. I would add to that by agreeing that although consistency is key, you are not going to improve if you have poor technique. I wasn’t fine in my first triathlon swim, and that was the reason why. I never really got the flutter kick down, which is crucial to freestyle swimming. Sure, your kick doesn’t do all the work for you (at least, it shouldn’t), but an inefficient kick can really slow you down and expend a whole lot of unnecessary energy in my experience, making it nearly impossible to properly build endurance. I was going to the pool regularly, so the consistency was there, but swimming for 500-800m per session and feeling completely exhausted with no improvement at all.

Post-triathlon, I was stuck in a place where I was no longer learn to swim material, but I also could not find a masters group whose base skills I met. 100m uninterrupted and the endurance to go further? Ha. I was stuck in swim improvement purgatory. Luckily, my boyfriend was working with a great coach who was about to run an 11 week group program and there was room for me! The group was the ultimate game-changer for my swim. If you have the resources to do so, my biggest piece of advice for new triathletes, especially for those who do not come from a swimming background, is to invest the time and money in being coached (in a group, if you can).

I am definitely still a slow swimmer, but I am finally seeing some big improvements. After the 11 week group ended, I was in that sweet spot where I could finally seriously consider joining another group. I settled on the Toronto Triathlon Club for a variety of reasons. It took a few weeks to adjust to hearing the alarm go off at 5:00, but I enjoy having my workout finished by 7:00. Now, to translate that to my running the other two days per week. 😉

Working hard to fix my technique and finding a swim coach/group to work with have made a big difference. With swimming as my weakest discipline, I tend to focus most of my time and energy on improving it. We’re experimenting with adding a third swim on the weekends that is more focused on endurance so I can really let my body absorb the work of my weekday sessions.

I’m not sure I will ever love swimming, but right now I am motivated by the challenge and improvements that are coming. Some days I feel like Michael Phelps, and other days I honestly think I might drown in a 25m pool surrounded by peers and lifeguards.

I leave you with one of my favourite articles about swimming written by Jesse Thomas. It started as a little joke among friends last fall, but I definitely find myself drawing on its wisdom occasionally, especially in that glorious moment when it’s all done and you give yourself a little internal high five because you didn’t drown.

“My swim is over. Thank you, Lord Jesus.” Ha.


Do you come from a swimming background? If not, how did you learn to love the pool?

Welcome!

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“Welcome” by Nathan | Source | Shared under a CC BY-SA 2.0 License

Hello! My name is Courtney, and I’m a new triathlete. Welcome to my little corner of the internets where I’ll write all about my training. There may be some deep content as I work through my near daily existential crises about why I took up multisport to begin with, but I’ll try to keep it mostly light-hearted and we can laugh at me together while I figure out basic things, such as “What the hell is an FTP test, and why do I need to do one?” (Editor’s note: This is a legit question, and I will need it answered at some point.)

You might ask why I’m writing about triathlon training when the internet is seemingly saturated with millions of blogs about everything, including (you got it) triathlon training. When I started running back in 2011, I couldn’t get enough of running blogs. I read a wide range of blogs, everything from beginners all the way up to elites.

I started to entertain the idea of doing a triathlon after much (well-intentioned and positive) pressure from a few of my nearest and dearest. Naturally, I turned to the blogging world for inspiration, the inner workings of someone like me who was bumbling their way through this brave new (to me) world. I found a lot of advanced and elite athletes who were blogging about their races and training, and read those regularly for inspiration.

However, I still found myself hungry for musings from someone who was more at my level. The true newb. Surely there are more like me out there?

So, here we are. If you are looking for dozens of fancy, filtered GoPro videos and photos and tons of high-profile sponsored content, I won’t have that for you here. For the record, I love reading that type of stuff, but it’s not a niche I’m able to fill. What I can promise is honest, semi-regular postings of my training adventures while I figure out this triathlon thing. You’ll get an occasional iPhone photo thrown in there, with some raw thoughts and commentary. You’ll hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the pretty too.

Welcome 2017

I know, I know. It feels late for new year intention posts, but humour me a little here. Full disclosure: I started this little blog post weeks ago. A number of bloggers that I follow set their intentions for the year by choosing a word to guide their goals. I was all set to do the same, and then sat on the partially finished post for a while until it seemed silly to be writing about goals for the new year. For what it’s worth, the word was welcome, and was focused both on being welcomed and being welcoming. Here’s a condensed version of it:

I’ve really been feeling the love from the triathlon community since I took on my first (and only, to date) triathlon last summer. You can read all about that here. It’s probably the only time in my life I’ll be on page 6. Ha. I digress. My positive experience in putting myself out there in the running community gave me the confidence to do the same with triathlon. I recently joined the Toronto Triathlon Club, and have been welcomed by each person I’ve encountered.

In addition to being welcomed, I’m making an effort to welcome new and different things into my training life. Instead of my past approach of simply adding 1-2 unstructured biking and swimming sessions per week to my running plan (I truly was winging it last summer), I’ve enlisted the help and coaching services of a truly inspirational athlete and coach who I’ve been wanting to work with for a long time.

So, welcome to 2017, welcome to setting more goals that scare the crap out of me, welcome to this crazy world of triathlon that I never thought I would enter, and welcome to all of you! Thank you for following along. I’m looking forward to sharing my triathlon training adventures with you!