Training Recap Week 7

img_4202

 

WOW. I find myself saying this in every recap, but last week was quite a week for me. No, seriously this time. 😉 Coming down from last week’s Chilly Half (my recap is ready! I’ll probably post it tomorrow or Wednesday.), I had my very first FTP test to look forward to, as well as my peak run before Around the Bay. Like most weeks, there were some ups and downs, but never a dull moment.

 

Monday

1509m swim: OUCH. I woke up the day after the race with a major case of the DOMS. I hobbled out of bed and got right back in just as quickly. No swim practice for me. I decided to pack my things in case I was feeling semi-human at lunch and could make it to the pool. I made it to the pool, but I’m not sure I felt human at any point. My body quickly revolted, and my swim turned into a mix of pull and fin sets, with some work on my drills as prescribed by my swim coach. It was not pleasant, but moving my body even a little helped. Maybe.

16km ride: After work, I did a super easy ride. There was no structure, just get on the bike and spin the pedals for 45 minutes. No more pleasant than my swim. I expected to be sore after the race, and it was the best feeling, if that makes sense. Happy to take a couple of easy workouts today.

Tuesday

7km run: Thanks to my success at the Chilly Half, I got myself a brand new set of HR training zones! Woo hoo! Along with it, I got some torrential rain, wind, and persisting soreness. Boo! Turns out my legs still worked and I didn’t die, but the run was a tough one.

40 minutes strength: Getting in my strength work after that run was a challenge, for sure. Not much to report.

Wednesday

1350m swim: Back to early swim practice, and still a bit exhausted. Part of me started to worry because my FTP test was scheduled for the next day, and everyone kept advising me that I should be well-rested for the test. After work, I went out for dinner with friends and got a good night of sleep.

Thursday

FTP Test: My very first FTP test! I ended up being the only one at The Lab for my test. I was initially a bit nervous and intimidated, but all that went out the window. Michael, the Head Coach at X3 and owner of The Lab, put me completely at ease and explained everything that was happening at various stages. With this being my first crack at the test, I faced no pressure to put up big numbers and because I was on my own, no worry of having to compare myself to others. For someone who is clueless about cycling, I have a lot of thoughts on my first FTP test and will be writing about it separately.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

28km long run: I had a pretty rough run this weekend. I headed out to Hamilton once more with Ryan and a few others from my run group to get in one last long run on parts of the ATB course. My run *sucked* big time. I felt like garbage on many of the hills, especially the rollers. In addition, the weather was cold and terrible. I had a complete meltdown and even cried towards the end, wondering how I was going to be able to pull this off in two weeks. However, because I was running on my own for a while, I paid close attention to where I was on the course, as I know that will come into play big time as I come up with my race day plan. We also (literally) ran into my childhood friend and university room mate from Newfoundland who now lives in St. Catharines. She was out for her peak long run too, and it was the first time I had seen her in years. Yay, reunion!

Sunday

30km ride: I switched things up today, and did my ride using Zwift. I’m going to be experimenting with riding in my power zones now that I have some relevant data, so I did an easy ride with a few blocks of work in various power zones.

40 minutes strength: My normal post-run strength routine got moved to Sunday to accommodate my FTP test.

 

Swim: 2859m/1:07

Bike: 71.5km/3:01

Run: 35km/3:37

Strength: 1:15

Total Time: 9:00

Lots of ups and downs this week, as usual. I started the week on a high from the Chilly Half, despite being tired post-race. My FTP test took a lot out of me, both mentally and physically, so it should have come as no surprise that my run on Saturday went less than smoothly. My long run was also only my second run with my newly adjusted heart rate zones, so my pace was a little quicker than usual. I’m up for the challenge and although it is nice to see my long run pace dropping closer to where it once was, I need to keep myself in check before heading immediately into meltdown mode. HR training has proven an effective approach for me, and I need to be patient just a while longer.

My focus over the next couple of weeks is to get my workouts in, focus on recovery/sleep and eating mostly good food before Around the Bay. I still have some work to do in finalizing my race prep, like (maybe) selecting a B goal and a little more mental work in visualizing the course on race day. I think I’ve got this in hand, and now that I’ve had a test run at Chilly, I’m eager to see how Around the Bay will unfold. Stay tuned!

 

 

Training Recap Week 6

img_4202

What a week! So many things to be happy about in this week’s training: I pulled off some amazing PBs in swimming, had a really positive experience with running intervals (it usually gives me a ton of anxiety), AND I had a great race today! Here’s what I got up to over the last week:

 

Monday

1325m swim: Today, I got my individual feedback from last week’s filming. As I suspected, there are a few key points in my swim stroke that need work. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, my coach is going to have me work on one or two things at a time, starting with the timing of my stroke (I’m windmilling at the moment), and body rotation.

Tuesday

10km run with intervals: My first set of intervals in nearly a year! I was curious to see how HR training would factor into interval training – would I run intervals by pace or HR zone? It was the latter, and running intervals by HR actually took all the pressure off, and I was able to run all my intervals without issue and I wasn’t too far off last year’s paces, actually.

40 minutes strength: Post-run strength training tonight went better than it has in a while. I’m starting to hit my stride with this particular routine.

Wednesday

1050m swim: Time trial day again! We did our 400m and 50m time trials today. Holy crap, what an improvement! I got PBs in both my distances: my 400m went from 10:44 to 10:11, and my 50m went from 63s to 59s. My 100m CSS dropped from 2:46 to 2:37. I’m thrilled with these improvements in just one month!

34km bike: A long, low cadence ride with big blocks of low cadence work. Really got my sweat on with this one!

Thursday

9km run: An easy Zone 2 run on the schedule in advance of Sunday’s race. I was attending a nutrition seminar through the triathlon club, so I did my run, and finished at the seminar. It was c-o-l-d outside tonight.

40 minutes strength: After the seminar, I had to do my strength once I got home. I must confess, I was not feeling this workout at all. I was cranky and tired, and took more shortcuts than I care to admit, but there’s no point in dwelling on it.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

1500m swimI had a bit of a health scare this morning, so my swim got cancelled. I had a suuuuuuuper long nap and a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner to get some extra iron. I was fully prepared to scrap Sunday’s half marathon if I wasn’t feeling 100% when I woke up on Sunday. Health > races. Always.

Sunday

21.1km run: Chilly Half Marathon! I woke up this morning feeling much better than I thought I would. I had a decent night of sleep on Saturday night, paired with the big nap and meaty meal, and I was ready to at least attempt the race. This was meant to be a dress rehearsal for Around the Bay in just 3 weeks, and I was able to execute it almost perfectly. It is certainly is deserving of a post of its own, and I’ll write all about it very soon.

img_4679

 

Swim: 2375m/0:57

Bike: 34km/1:30

Run: 40.5km/4:09

Strength: 1:13

Total Time: 7:49


How was your week of training? Did anybody else race the Chilly Half Marathon?

My Two Cents on Two Wheels

Check out that title, eh? I was pretty pleased with myself, too.

I digress.

Like many topics of discussion in the world of triathlon, I have a lot to learn about cycling. In fact, at present time, I would say that the bike is the discipline that I know the least about. It remains to be seen whether it is my weakest discipline per se, but it’s certainly the one I’ve spent the least amount of time and mental energy on. I suspect it is because I’ve been focusing so much on improving my swim, while also training for longer running races. Indeed, my coach has dialled back my cycling for the next few weeks as I build towards my goal race at the end of March.

Current State of Affairs

As I mentioned, I’m blissfully ignorant when it comes to cycling. I don’t have a fancy power meter, and I am just learning about cadence. I’ve often had to get clarification on my posted workouts. Some actual questions asked include, “So, dropping a gear means to make it harder?” and “What’s a single leg drill?”

My bike handling skills are rudimentary at best, I struggle with changing tires, fussing with my gears is a challenge, and I am also too afraid to ride clipped in. Eating and drinking while riding? Ha. The fast track to flipping over the handlebars, you mean. Group ride? Not on your life. That should give you some idea of what my coach is working with here, bless her heart.

I fully recognize that the bike is the longest leg of the triathlon and it will eventually make up the bulk of my training hours. I squeaked by on the bike portion of my first triathlon doing nothing other than getting on my bike and pedalling. I don’t recall changing gears once, and I certainly did not take in any nutrition (see above about flipping over the handlebars). I quite literally just coasted for the entire ride without a thought, except, “Don’t die.”

I signed up for Zwift, thinking that I would use it for all my longer rides. I used it for a while and created a few custom workouts in there, which has been great, but for the most part, I’ve been programming my workouts using Garmin Connect and using my trainer time to binge watch Game of Thrones. My watch beeps when I need to take on a new block of my workout and chirps at me when I’m out of a specified speed, cadence, or HR range. It’s a pretty decent system for now. I have both a cadence and speed sensor, as well as a heart rate monitor, but I am finding that Zwift overestimates my distance and speed, so I’ve been sticking with Garmin Connect for the time being. It’s nice to get a rough idea of the power I am generating that comes with Zwift, although without a power meter, I suppose it’s anyone’s guess. When I’m fully caught up with GoT and my rides get longer, I’ll likely revisit Zwift.

The Plan Going Forward

So, what’s next for Waltzing Matilda and I?

img_3584

Waltzing Matilda after a glorious ride last summer.

NB: Waltzing Matilda is my bike. I strongly believe that naming certain major pieces of training equipment is a fun way to appreciate them. Winnie the Wetsuit should need no further introduction. She will reappear in the spring.

Once Around the Bay is over, I suspect my cycling volume will pick up significantly leading into the summer. NB: My coach doesn’t give me my workouts beyond the current week, which frankly is in my best interest. We have broad conversations about what’s coming in the weeks and months down the road, but I largely just focus on the week that’s in front of me, lest I become overwhelmed.

I have registered to take an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) Test on March 9 through my triathlon club. Even though I don’t have a power meter of my own at the moment, it is useful data to have and we can measure improvement over time with subsequent testing. A power meter is definitely on my wish list, but it’s not a necessity at this level, especially as I have so many other cycling-related skills and concepts to get my head around.

I’ve read about the FTP test, and I’m scared shitless at the moment, to be perfectly honest. I tend to get worked up about things like this. Remind me to write about my first attempts at a Lactate Threshold running test someday. I really just need to cool it and realize that these are only ‘tests’ in the sense that they help me establish a base for training. Ultimately, nothing is riding on this (see what I did there?), and there’s no reason to make a big deal out of it. I’m trying not to think about it too much and build it up unnecessarily in my head. We’ll see how that works out over the next week. Ha.

I am also planning to attend a newbie skills clinic offered by my club in May. That will hopefully help me develop some bike handling skills and, most importantly, learn to ride outside clipped in. I currently have a set of pedals that allow both clipped and clipless riding, so I may learn one foot at a time. We’ll see. I’m riding clipped in to my trainer right now, so I hope that it’s giving me a feel for clipping in and out.

All of this is working towards me actually being able to go on some group rides with the club (and training friends outside the club) in the spring and summer. Much like my swimming started out, I’m a little too slow on the bike and lacking some important skills to just head out on a ride. Not only would I get dropped almost immediately, but I would be nervous and probably make things unsafe for myself and those around me. So I wait…


Any cycling tips for me as I get my bearings?

 

Training Recap Week 5

img_4202

Hi! This week of training was considerably better than last, although not without its challenges. I was away for the long weekend and I got in most of my workouts. The week started off a little shaky, but ended on a strong note. I’m a week away from my first race of the year and feeling better than I thought I would. I’ve got a couple of other posts in the works about the current state of my biking and my race plans for the upcoming season, but not before my weekly recap of training.

Here’s how the week went:

Monday

This is usually a swim day, but it was cancelled because of the Family Day holiday. I was also still in Ottawa for work, so I took this as an unintended rest day.

Tuesday

9km run: Womp.

40 minutes strength: Womp.

I was in a meeting all day, and then we made the 5 hour drive home. We ran into some rainy weather and, although I had the best of intentions, my run and strength did not get done when we made it home. No excuses. I just didn’t get it done.

Wednesday

1000m swim: After a fairly solid night of sleep, I was more than ready for swim practice. I was fully expecting to be uncomfortable after my weekend away, but it wasn’t too bad! We had a fun setup of stations and filming, so there wasn’t as much volume as normal. What a perfect way to ease back into training. We had two videos each taken, one from the side and one from the front. We’ll get some feedback in the coming weeks, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I need to work on. My coach watched them, and gave me some initial pointers.

29km bike: A steady cadence ride focused on gear changes. It was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I was a sweaty mess by the end of it.

Thursday

40 minutes strength: I had a longer run on the schedule than I’m used to on the weekdays, so in order to make sure it got done, I got up early to do my strength workout before work. Nothing much to report.

13km run: Tonight’s run was the strongest hill workout I’ve had this training cycle, I think! All the worry about my previously missed hill workouts was put to bed quickly. I knocked out 7 hill repeats perhaps stronger than any of my other attempts, and finished the additional distance feeling pretty damn great. The weather was phenomenal, and the reminder that spring is inching closer was just what I needed to get through this longer run.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

1550m swim: Wait, what?! Due to my two unintended, consecutive rest days this week, my normal rest day got switched for a swim. The workout consisted of several sets of 200m, focused on upper body strength to save my legs for Saturday’s long run and strength.

Saturday

26km run: My longest run of this training cycle! Sadly, I woke up with some pain in my foot. I haven’t had a plantar fasciitis relapse in a long time, but here we are. I waited around, stretched everything out and did some extra foam rolling, stretching, and icing before I left. I started the run with the intention of quitting the second that anything hurt. I had to see for myself, even though my decision to run may not have been the best one. Surprisingly, it was a great run! It was a little slower than I would have liked, but in the spirit of staying on track with the HR training, I took the slightly slower kms and finished my run STRONG. I had zero pain, and it was a perfectly executed effort, if I do say so myself.

40 minutes strength: I don’t often do strength after a long run (in fact, maybe never!). By some miracle, I had the energy to get it done. HR training for the win! I was fully warmed up, so I was able to dig a little deeper into my squats and push-ups and it was a nice feeling to be able to do this after a 3 hour run.

Sunday

1825m swim: As I have been doing for the last while, I did my swim before my bike ride. Today’s effort was a couple of 600m blocks, with one of them being a negative split. The first set was a mental slog and I really wasn’t sure how I would be able to pull off another set, let alone another set as a negative split. I keep proving myself wrong in the pool, because I was able to get the negative split set done and I finished my swim in a much better mood than when I started.

28.2km ride: A misadventure in technology! For some reason, I wasn’t able to get my cadence sensor to connect today. The speed sensor was fine, but no go for the cadence. I restarted my watch a few times, hoping that it was just being cranky. Nothing. I tried repairing the sensors and that also didn’t work. Rather than spend all day fussing with it and get angrier, I decided that I had done enough low cadence rides that I could get pretty close to my ranges riding by feel. That’s what I did, and I had a good ride to round out the week.

 

Swim: 4375m/1:47

Bike: 57.2km/2:25

Run: 39km/4:30

Strength: 1:16

Total Time: 9:58

 

The week definitely did not start out as I had intended. Before our trip to Ottawa, I carefully researched accommodations that would allow me to stay on track with training. What I didn’t account for was the Family Day long weekend. Our hotel was swarming with children, which made it hard to swim laps in the 10m pool. As soon as we got home, I was eager to dig back into training and I did pretty well for the remainder of the week.

The potential relapse of my plantar fasciitis is bugging me. Certainly, I am handling it better this year than last. I suppose I’ve got a little hindsight now and know what to expect. I’m also a lot more invested in my swimming and cycling than I was last year. If my upcoming races don’t go as planned, I will try my best not to dwell on it, but rather focus more on the other disciplines. I really have put in the work to make these races go well, but my long-term health and the upcoming triathlon season are more important to me right now. I’ve been taking all the steps to cut this off at the head, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Saturday morning’s episode was a one-off.

Although nowhere near perfect, I made an effort to eat and sleep better this week and that was definitely reflected in my workouts. There are always improvements to make, but I’m heading into this week feeling good. I’m doing everything to ensure that I’m rested for the Chilly Half next Sunday.

Control what you can control, I guess. Have a great week, everyone!


Have you ever had a recurring injury? How did you cope with it?

Training Recap Week 4

img_4202

After a rough few weeks, things started to come around. It’s a good thing I had a recovery week on the schedule. It was just what I needed to get myself back on track. I hit a major milestone this week with my swimming, which you probably already know if you saw it on Instagram. In any event, I’m feeling a lot better after this week and ready to dig back in before the Chilly Half in two weeks, and Around the Bay in five weeks.

Monday

1450m swim: We worked on our 200s today. It went fairly well, considering I had slept very poorly the night before.

Tuesday

7km run: A prescribed Zone 3 run that I thought would be a touch too high out of the zone, but the average worked out perfectly. I dragged my heels on this one and it was tough to get out the door, but I felt okay once I got moving. Isn’t that almost always the case?

40 minutes strength. Post-run strength was tough tonight. My coach said it’s quite normal to be tired on recovery week, which makes sense. I struggled with some of my circuit exercises, particularly my plank variations.

Wednesday

1775m swim: Our regular swim coach is still away and when I looked ahead at our workout, I immediately thought there was no way I was going to make it through without modifications. It said we were working on 800s. I had never been able to swim any more than 500m consecutively, and now we were to attempt 800? Guess what? I did it. And it was a little faster than prescribed. Had we not run out of time at practice, I would have completed not one, but two blocks of 800. It was a breakthrough practice for my swimming, and got me pumped for the weekend.

16.9km bike: The Type A in me cringed when the workout ended and I wasn’t able to get to the 17km mark. Really, Courtney?! Aside from that, though, the ride was fine.

Thursday

9km run: Today’s run took a lot out of me, both physically and mentally. The first 5km was to be in Zone 2 (long run pace), and the last 4km in Zone 3. I’m being really firm with myself and trying my very best to give HR training an honest effort. Over 9km, I ran the slowest I had ever run for a sustained period of time. At times, I was running so slowly that it hurt. I stuck to it, though, and ended with an average pace that was slower than when I walked/ran the Chicago Marathon in 2015. I won’t lie, it was a very deflating run and left me questioning whether or not my spring goals were too aggressive.

40 minutes strength: On the upside, my strength workout went considerably better tonight than it did on Tuesday. My planks were a lot stronger, and I was able to dig a bit deeper after my slow run.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

21.4km ride: We came down to Ottawa for the long weekend, so I was up bright and early on Saturday to get in two workouts and get one of the dogs dropped off at boarding. Saturday is normally my long run day, but because of the timing with the dog drop-off and me wanting to do my long run on the Rideau Canal, we swapped my workouts. I did my low cadence ride really early, dropped off the dog, and headed to the pool for…

2012m swim: MY VERY FIRST 2KM SWIM!!! I was nervously looking forward to this ever since my coach added it to Training Peaks.

img_4585

2200 yds/2012m. Not excited at all.

Sunday

20km run: A sloppy run in Ottawa. We ran along the Rideau Canal and through Little Italy and back. It was sunny and warm, and I was able to run with Ryan, which is rare. He had 32km on his plan, and I really enjoyed being able to explore the city on foot with him. It is also worth noting that my splits were much faster today than on Thursday, which gave me a little more faith in HR training. It really hit home how much my HR can vary from day to day for a number of reasons, and helped me gain some perspective on Thursday’s run.

 

Swim: 5237m/2:18

Bike: 38.3km/1:40

Run: 36km/4:05

Strength: 1:19

Total Time: 9:42

 

Once again, the star of the show this week was the swim. After the confidence-boosting swim on Wednesday, I couldn’t wait to go for the 2km distance. I looked over the workout in Training Peaks at least once a day, and visualized it. I thought about how I would feel, and how I would regroup if it didn’t go according to plan. I broke apart the main set in my head and tried to anticipate how I would feel with each part. I went over strategies to negative split my last set. Mostly, I looked forward to the feeling of actually hitting the 2km mark. As I’ve written before, swimming has never come easily to me and being able to swim 2km in a single session really meant a lot to me. Don’t get me wrong; Saturday’s swim certainly hasn’t made things magically easy for me in the water. I’ve still got a ton of work to do with my swim, but this at least gave me some confidence in my long-term goals.

I know that I ultimately put in the hard work to make it happen, but I honestly don’t think it would have been possible without the encouragement of my swim group and having a coach that gives me that extra nudge. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: if it’s a possibility for you, find a swimming group.

With my runs getting longer for Around the Bay, and the extra swim, this may have been the most time I’ve ever spent working out in a single week! A recovery week was just what I needed to reset. I think I’m starting to regain some of the momentum that I was building before the end of January. As my work schedule challenged me, I also started to experience some of the winter blues. I normally struggle through the winter, so this was not surprising and I sort of anticipated it. This year has been a bit better, and having a new set of goals for training has made a big difference.

I’m looking forward to the final push before my goal races!


How did your week of training go? How do you set yourself up for success when you’ve got a milestone workout to complete?

 

Training Recap Week 3

img_4202

Monday

1300m swim: Lots of focus on shorter work today. I’d say that short, fast swim sets are not my forté, but I have a feeling it will be a while before I can claim that anything swimming-related is my forté. 😉

Tuesday

23.1km ride: This was a scheduled run day, but after an ice storm made the walk home treacherous and I didn’t even feel safe venturing out of the house to get to a treadmill, I opted for an episode of Game of Thrones and a low cadence ride.

40 minutes strength. After my ride, I did my circuit workout at home. I picked up a pair of 5 lbs. dumbbells at SportChek last weekend, so I’m able to kick my strength training up a notch without fancy gym machines and equipment. Ever try weighted wall sits? They’re a burner, for sure.

Wednesday

1372m swim: You might be thinking, “Hmmm…this isn’t a multiple of 25. How did she swim this distance in a 25m pool?” Actually, you’re probably not thinking that at all. You probably hadn’t even noticed. I digress. I slept poorly enough that I hit snooze and missed swim practice. I was able to hit the pool at lunch, which I’m rarely able to do, so I took advantage of a quiet lunch swim at the yard pool.

6km run: I had an evening meeting to wrap up that big conference that I talked about last week, so this run happened much later than I’m used to running. It was scheduled to be 8km, but I was feeling really run down, on the verge of sickness, and I wasn’t shaking that feeling on the run. My calves were tightening, as well, and since I live in fear of re-injuring myself, I cut it short.

Thursday

11km hill runNope.

40 minutes strength: Double nope.

That near-sick feeling had not subsided. By this point in the week, I was so exhausted that even getting out of bed was a challenge. I’m trying to listen to this old bod and honour it when it tells me to rest, so I did just that. I had a monster nap, a bath, stretched, and did some foam rolling.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious (scheduled) rest day.

Saturday

23km long run: Longest run since the Chicago Marathon in October 2015!!! I was feeling human again and prayed to the run gods to let me pass this time. Success! At around the 5-6km mark, my foot started to hurt a bit. I immediately panicked, but the pain magically subsided and I finished my run without incident. I was feeling pretty great for most of the run, and I even felt a bit like my old running self.

Sunday

1900m swim: Endurance solo swim. This was my longest swim ever! I know I said that last week, but it’s true! You might have to relive this excitement with me again soon. It’s like Groundhog Day. 🙂

24.3km ride: For the second week in a row, I hit the pool before I did my ride. This order of events has been working well for me, and I think I’ll keep it up.

Swim: 4572m/1:51

Bike: 47.4km/2:00

Run: 29km/3:14

Strength: 0:37

Total Time: 7:44

 

Well, this was another week that didn’t go quite to plan. In retrospect, I probably dove back into my weekend workouts last weekend too quickly after the conference, which left me fatigued heading into the week. I’ve learned that lesson, and will definitely factor it into my game plan for the conference next year.

What is most troubling to me at this point is that I’ve missed my hill workout three weeks in a row. Since my goal race is quite hilly, I’m a little worried. I have not been secretive about the fact that of all my workouts, I’m the least motivated about running right now. Will I be able to run 30km on a challenging course in less than 6 weeks? We’ll see. I’m trying not to think too far ahead. This week, I’m trying to focus on keeping my diet (relatively) in check and making sure I’m getting enough sleep.

On we go, friends.

How was your training last week? Is anyone else running Around the Bay?

My Recently Rocky Relationship with Running

img_2934

Say that fives times fast.

All snarkiness aside, running and I haven’t really been getting along lately. For just about a year, in fact. Over the last couple of weeks, Facebook memories has been reminding me of that pesky little pain in my foot that I thought would be just fine after a few days of rest and stretching. I was mistaken. I spent the following six months downing tart cherry juice, stretching my calves six times a day, donning my beloved Strassburg sock every night, and enduring multiple rounds of shockwave therapy.

img_3083

Yes, it cost $49.99 for this sock. Not a pair. One sock.

Somewhere between the summer of 2011 and the winter of 2016, running became my life, for better or for worse. Not being able to run was debilitating, both mentally and physically.

Sure, I had been injured before, but plantar fasciitis seemed so much more severe than my other injuries. This was confirmed by the reactions of others when I told them why I was no longer logging miles in preparation for a fast spring half marathon. The contorted faces, and sympathetic “awwwww” that inevitably followed, along with tales of commiseration about that one time they knew another runner who had gotten plantar fasciitis, blah, blah, blah…To be honest, I stopped paying attention. To make matters worse, there was no timeline for a full recovery. My health care practitioners said that recovery time varies from several weeks, to months and years. In severe cases, surgery is required.

As the weeks ticked by and my goal races for the spring slipped further and further away, I settled into a winter-long funk. My plans changed from, “I want a marathon PB in the spring” to “Maybe I’ll do a fast half instead” to “I really just want to be able to finish a half pain-free” to “I give up.” I settled on the last one for a long, long time. In retrospect, I was pretty unbearable to be around most days, and my boyfriend deserves a freaking medal for putting up with me. Of course, I ate and drank my feelings until my clothes no longer fit. And so it goes.

Winter turned to spring, and before I knew it, I was running out of time to build for the SeaWheeze half marathon. My plantar fasciitis eventually calmed and I was able to rebuild my running. With the exception of one long run where I was slightly uncomfortable for the last 3 km, I was pain-free. I ran the race without incident, a painful 29 minutes slower than my PB.

My attitude towards running shifted. When I could no longer run, I appreciated it more, but I also realized how big a part of my life it was. At the same time, I hated it for this injury it had handed me. If I couldn’t run, what would I do with my time? Would my running friends still be my friends? What would happen to me if I couldn’t run marathons anymore? Note from current self with perspective: Running does not (or should not) define who you are and dictate your life. At least, that’s my new m.o.

As I was healing, my threshold for running was pain. I was only permitted to run when I had been pain-free the day before, had absolutely no pain upon waking in the morning, and I had to stop immediately if I had any pain whatsoever on the run. On days when I received shockwave therapy, I had to take two complete rest days afterwards. I had never known running to have so many rules. I knew it was all for the best to help me heal faster, but it was unsettling. How long was this going to take? There were no definitive answers.

img_2928

Sorry for the gratuitous foot shot. My foot felt best when it was taped at the end of my physiotherapy appointments.

Since I had no way of knowing whether or not I would wake in pain or develop pain mid-run, running became a complete wild card to me. Almost every night, I went to bed with a knot in my stomach. Would my foot hurt tomorrow? Would tomorrow be a running day? I wished hard every night to wake up pain-free.

I am someone who thrives on routine and structure, so you can imagine how awful this was for me. If I couldn’t plan my day-to-day training, what would a race schedule look like? I had already registered for several shorter distance races and completed most of them. They were mostly 5km races with an occasional 10km and a relay position. I posted some of my worst race times last winter and spring. I no longer enjoyed running, and it showed.

Now that I am trying to ramp up my triathlon training and things have been *mostly* all quiet on the plantar fasciitis front, I’ve got some perspective on my running. I recently came to the conclusion that running has become something I could no longer trust. Every ache in my calf or foot sends my mind into overdrive and worrying that I will wake up the next day in pain. Still, a year later. Maybe I will always be like this with running now. As I train for a 30km race (a distance that I’ve run many times and raced a couple of times), I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. The difference this time around is, I’ve got two other disciplines to focus on, so if running goes down the tubes, I’ll spend more time in the pool and on my bike.

It’s taking more time than I would like, but I’m learning to fall in love with running again. Occasionally, I will feel a bit of my old running self emerge again, especially when I’m running long. Other days, I struggle to get out the door and get discouraged by slower paces. It’s going to be a slow burn for me to get back to where I was with my running. Maybe I’m not meant to get back to where I was? Maybe this is a whole new chapter in my running life.

Here’s hoping.


Have you ever had plantar fasciitis? What helped you heal?

 

Training Week Recap 2

img_4202

I was pretty creative with the title there, wasn’t I?

I’ve got another post in the works about the current state of my running, but it requires some extra thought and brainpower that, frankly, I don’t have right now. I’ve just got to get my thoughts organized on that one, and I should have it up sometime in the coming week. On to the good stuff…

Monday

950m swim: Morning swim practices usually cover a bit more distance than this, but it was test day! We had our 400m and 50m time trials. My 400m time was 10:43 and my 50m time was 1:03.

18.3km ride.

Tuesday

11km run with 6 hill repeats. 2km run: I have no excuses here, other than I was heading into a three-day work event that I have been pouring my heart and soul into for a year. I cut this run way short.

40 minutes strength. After I aborted my hill workout, I used my night to pack for the conference and get some sleep before morning swim practice.

Wednesday

875m swim: We tested our 200m time today. I got 4:54.

Thursday

35 minutes strength: Modified in the hotel room, but got ‘er done!

8km run. 2.46km run: I did what I could with the time I had before my busy conference day.

Friday

Rest. Glorious, glorious rest day.

Saturday

20km long run: Longest run since August. Completely exhausted from the week at the conference, but I got this done and felt really great for most of the run. With my goal race 9 weeks out, I have been trying to incorporate hills into my long runs and it’s confirmed that my hard work has been paying off.

Sunday

1825m swim: Endurance solo swim. I did 3 blocks of 400m, with a warm-up and cool-down. My watch added a bit of distance. This was my longest swim ever!

22.5km ride: Some low cadence work to end the week. Normally, I would ride before my swim, but swimming was the biggest mental block for me today, so I decided to head to the pool first and check it off the list. I don’t always make wise decisions, but I did today.

 

Swim: 3650m/1:28

Bike: 40.8km/1:44

Run: 24.5km/2:44

Strength: 0:35

Total Time: 6:32

 

To be honest, I had a really challenging week. As I mentioned above, this week was a major work event that I’ve been working hard with a team to plan for just about a year. I started my week with a solid game plan to fit absolutely everything in, and still be on my feet for 12+ hours from Wednesday – Friday. By Tuesday, I was a little ball of stress and I couldn’t quiet my mind to get into my hill workout. I cut the run short and skipped my strength training to get my last-minute preparations done. For the most part, I don’t regret the decision. I was so distracted and wound up that I think it would have manifested itself on the run, and given me a reason to be hard on myself. That’s not the way I wanted to head into the conference.

I shortened my run on the second day of the conference, but squeezed in my strength workout in the hotel. The third and final day of the conference was my scheduled rest day, so I went home after it ended to sleep until my body woke up naturally. My weekend workouts were nothing to write home about. I was still feeling tired and unenthusiastic, but reminded myself that getting back into the swing of things wouldn’t be easy, no matter what. I hit all three workouts for Saturday and Sunday and I’m feeling somewhat recharged heading into the week.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-7-17-23-pm

In the grand scheme of things, I’m short 14.5km of running and one missed strength workout this week. It was easy to focus on this and feel guilty. And I did, a little. I am the queen of ‘red box anxiety’ (the feeling I get when I see the red boxes in Training Peaks, indicated that I’ve either skipped a workout or done less than half of what was prescribed). However, a big step back gave me some perspective. Yes, I missed 14.5km of running, but I did technically run three times and I nailed my long run. I incorporated a lot of hills into my long run on purpose and I felt surprisingly good after being on my feet for three days after the conference. The long run this week confirmed that my body is absorbing the hard work of hill training, effective strength work, and my biking. Mentally, it was necessary for me to get out there and get it done, no matter how ugly it was. It wasn’t ugly at all, and I’m glad I pushed myself out the door.

Perhaps most important from the week, though, is my swim progress! I did three separate time trials over two days, and I *finally* have a benchmark to measure my swimming progress. Anecdotally, I know I’ve been feeling better while swimming and that I’m making huge gains in the pool. I hope to see some improvements in those numbers in the coming weeks and months. I also mentioned above that today (Sunday), I swam further than I’ve ever swam before! This is the second week of having a third swim on Sundays focused on endurance and I enjoyed it again this week. Finally, I was selected as swimmer of the month in my group! This was my first month, I know, but I’ll take all the swimming accolades I can get. Looks like I made a splash. Har.

When I look at the week holistically, rather than its parts, I feel pretty good. I did my very best with the time I had, and I knew when to pull back and save my energy. Here’s to a more focused week!

How do you juggle training when you have major life commitments?

Training Week Recap

img_4202

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.

img_4534

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? 

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?

img_3285

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?