OK, so let me be very candid: in the gym, I am very happy being a solo act. I listen to my music, I zone out, and I go through my routine: get to the gym when it opens at 5am. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I head up to the lead pile and lift. Tuesdays and Thursdays I make a mad dash to the pool and grab a lane before the masses decide to converge on it to conduct their daily uncoordinated version of synchronized water ballet. Most mornings during the week I try to get my run in before hitting the gym at 5 – but after 24+ inches of snow, there is NO WAY I am risking running in Central Park in the dark, with the threat of black ice. One injury now and BOOM – there go my 2016 goals. So my evenings are spent on the dreadmill before heading home to a glass of Cabernet and episodes of The Newsroom. My Saturdays and Sundays are spent doing BRICK workouts (that’s when you start your workout by riding your bike for a set amount of miles, then hop off and run for a few more. Try it – you’ll see just how much that sucks if you are new to triathlons) and long runs. I can rattle my routine off in my sleep. 4 sets of this, 10 reps of that. 10 laps of this, 4 miles of that. Blah, blah, blah.
That was my routine. Until yesterday.
Over the weekend, I developed a new and improved plan to prepare for Ironman. Why? Because my basic routine is not nearly good enough to get me where I want to go. changes needed to be made. Here’s why:
- My current routine does not include nearly enough swimming. Two pool visits a week won’t cut it for Ironman preparation for me, as the event requires all athletes to complete 2.4 miles in less than 2 hours and 20 minutes. Take one second longer than that, and the grim reaper greets you as you exit the water and tells you that your day is over. THAT WOULD SUCK. So, I need more pool time and some expert instruction. (One thing I have to recommend to all of you: always be open to new wisdom.) So, that’s where my new triathlon team comes in. The team I just joined has a weekly swim class at my gym (go figure my good luck!) on Sunday evenings. While swimming is probably one of my strengths (that’s what growing up on City Island will do for you – if you can swim like a fish in Long Island Sound, you can swim anywhere), I won’t be as fast or as technically clean as my teammates. Sure I’ll be embarrassed during the first class – but I’m not going to show off – I’m going to gain some wisdom. In addition to the weekly team workout, my gym offers a weekly swim class as well, where I can learn to make my stroke more efficient. So my total pool time will be increased to 4 times a week. Oh yeah – in your face, Michael Phelps! LOL
- My current routine does not include NEARLY enough biking. Why? Because I’d rather do other things at the gym, and I suck at it. I have absolutely no other reason to offer up. This is NOT a good thing, and I know it. The cycling portion of the Ironman requires athletes to cover 112 miles, with a cutoff time of 5:30pm. If you cruise in to the transition area on your bike one second late, you’ll be greeted by that grim reaper again. “I’m sorry, but your day is over”. NO THANK YOU. So – let’s say that the swim portion of the event takes me two hours and ten minutes to complete…that means I have approximately 8 hours to cover the 112 miles on the bike. That means I need to maintain an average speed of 14 miles per hour for that entire time frame. And that pace leaves very little flexibility for the FUBAR moments associated with flat tires, slipped chains, etc. So – I’ll need to prepare for a 15mph pace for 112 miles. Period. Can I do that now? OH HELL NO. So I need to go searching for wisdom again. Enter: the Equinox Spin class. I’m going to participate in spin classes 5 times a week. I’m betting on the fact that peer pressure will make me step up my effort on the bike, and the pace will definitely be quicker than the 15mph I’ll need. Then all I’ll need to do is work on my endurance on Saturdays, during my BRICK workouts.
- The way I’m planning my weeks, I have myself spending time on things I am not so good at. I’ll keep my strength workouts in place, and I’ll get my weekly runs in without changing much. I’ll add one triathlon team run workout a week, just so I can measure myself versus my teammates and see where I stand. Plus, I want to get to know the team members. The way I am figuring it, I just need to my get my running shoes on by 5:30pm in order to become an Ironman. That will give me 6 and a half hours to complete the marathon. I need to budget in the extreme level of fatigue I’ll be suffering at this point in the long day – but running is my strength as far as endurance is concerned. I know I can gut the run portion out – I just need to get to that point.
- Lastly – all of this cardio and lifting during the week will be great for endurance – but my flexibility will suck even more than it currently does. If I wanted to touch my toes right now, someone would need to hack off my foot and hand it to me. When I try to touch my toes, I just simply wave at them from the distance. So – I’m going in search of wisdom again by participating in a weekly yoga class on Sunday mornings. Oh yeah – I’m bringing the zen. Boom. It should be funny to watch the instructor’s face as he tells us to do some yoga pose and I collapse like a flan in a cupboard.
So I’ve set up a rigorous weekly routine for myself. It will be challenging, and there will be days where life requires certain scheduled workouts to be altered. But at least now I feel like I’m giving myself the best chance I can at nailing Ironman on July 30th.
Give some thought to your weekly routine. Don’t be afraid to go searching for wisdom. Don’t be afraid of joining a group where you might be one of the slower / weaker / whatever members – if you surround yourself with faster and stronger athletes, you’ll find yourself pushing hard to keep up, and that will make you better in the long run (and if you pick the right team, they’ll support your efforts and be some of your biggest cheerleaders). And lastly….have fun! Because if you don’t enjoy the journey, the destination will lose its luster.