Sometimes you have to give up good things in order to make time for better things. My pastor has preached about this topic before, but lately I’ve been finding it pretty relevant in athletics as well.
Going into this week, I had to really decide what “good” training would be and what “better” training would be.
It would be good to keep plugging away miles. I’m about a month out from my first Ironman in 6 years and I’m really starting to feel like I’m not ready. My run has been steadily getting faster and more comfortable, but my bike, which should be my strong point, has had me pretty nervous. I’ve been riding long every Saturday and my performance has been getting worse and worse. In fact, on one ride I actually had to stop at a fountain in front of a neighborhood to cool my body off, just so I could make it back to my car. This past weekend I started cramping up about 4 hours into my ride and blew off my run afterwards. It makes pretty logical sense that since I’m so close to the event and my performance is so mediocre, I need to make full use of every training day I have between now and then.
That would be what most people would offer as “good” advice for me.
Instead, I took a step back, looked at my training log, and figured out a “better” plan.
I’ve been having long and/or intense workout weeks for 5 weeks in a row. Usually I like to hit it hard for about 3 weeks and then take a few easy days to recover and rehydrate. But due to some racing commitments and stubbornness, I haven’t really combined two easy or off days in a row for a while now. It’s been hot lately, and the combination of heat and intensity has caused a drop in my weight. Unfortunately, I’m pretty certain that my weight has steadily dropped because of chronic dehydration rather than the loss of body fat. It explains why I’m cramping, even after taking in 600mg of sodium (+ other electrolytes, via EFS) per hour on the bike. My longterm fatigue I’ve built over the past 5 weeks explains why I can still suffer through a fast 90 minute run, but I melt on an easy 4 hour ride.
The “better” decision was to take a few days off. Mentally, it’s so challenging to do that right now. I really want to be out in the heat suffering, but I know that isn’t the best thing I can do right now. My solution was to do a small workout on Sunday morning, take Monday off, get some housework doneon Tuesday, and get back to training on Wednesday.
It’s too early to tell if it “worked” or not, but my weight is back up…that’s actually a good thing. I know I’ll probably be a bit stale tonight, but it’s a sacrifice I had to make. Now, rather than putting in 100% into a workout and getting out a lackluster performance, hopefully I can put in 100% and get 100% back out of it.
The good/better concept also fits into specific training sessions. My workout partners (my wife and my friend Lee) will be back at Mt. Scott doing hill repeats again this weekend. That is great for them, but only good for me. My limiting factor right now isn’t climbing or even power/FTP on the bike. My limiter is pacing, caloric intake, and hydration. For me, the “better” workout is finding a course similar to what I’ll be racing on so that I can perform a dry run of my race-day strategy. Is it a better workout that repeats up Mt. Scott or Big Rock? Heck no; but for my specific limiter, it should be way more beneficial. Mt. Scott would be good for me, but the ride I have planned will be better.
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