Tag Archives: tapering

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Aug. 4 (Week 30)

I’m baaaaaack!

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-collage

I’ve been in Milwaukee since Thursday afternoon settling in before the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, which took place Saturday. I stayed through Sunday to watch some teammates do the sprint race too and arrived home last night. It’s been a memorable trip—and triathlon season.

General training notes: As to be expected during race week, I was a total head case. Because I embraced the taper and shut down workouts early, I had a ton of extra energy. In typical type-A form, I also over-analyzed everything. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were especially rough, but by Wednesday afternoon, I changed my mindset and started to relax.

Monday – a.m. bike

Yes, this sounds dramatic, but this was the worst way to start taper week. My cousin loaned me some race wheels (you’re the best, MB!), so I installed them myself (mistake number one) and took them out for a test ride. During the 30 miles in Central Park, my legs felt absolutely awful, and my effort level did not match my speed; it seemed like I should’ve been going a lot faster for my perceived exertion. Later that day, I took my Slice to Zen Bikes, and the guys joked I must’ve had a great workout because my front brake pads were touching the front wheel and essentially braking the entire ride. Even though I looked like a moron, I felt so much better knowing it was a bike issue and not a “me” issue.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Race wheels take two: 20 miles. Holy cow. Race wheels are incredible. I felt so much smoother on hills and flats—and my speed was, well, very fast (for me).

Wednesday – a.m. swim and run

The lane in the pool was packed, and everyone was doing their own thing—and this organized chaos did not bode well for me, so I hopped out after 1,200 yards. Then I headed to the treadmill for three easy miles, and my coach went over my race plan and goals. That’s when it really hit me: Everything I’ve done this season comes down to this race, which was terrifying and exciting. But it also occurred to me that I felt ready.

Thursday – off

Travel day to Milwaukee. And I always take a rest day two days before a race. It works.

Friday – a.m. run

Doing a light run the day before a race leads to absolutely no gains, but it gives me peace of mind. I always have nightmares about forgetting how to swim, bike, and/or run, so I did an easy run-walk on the treadmill to silence those doubts.

Saturday – USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

There will obviously be a race report, but here’s the CliffNotes version: decent swim, good bike, and good first three miles off the bike. I put myself in a position to contend for a top-25 spot, but couldn’t hold on once I got to the run. Official finishing time was 2:31, which placed me 36/91 in my age group (and 54/128 in my “new” 25-29 age group). I’m satisfied with my performance, and I know what needs to happen during the off-season. Hint: It involved running all the (smart, injury-free) miles.

Sunday – a.m. easy run

My Garmin didn’t sync, but this was an easy, three-mile-ish run through downtown Milwaukee. I even saw a handful of my teammates who were doing the sprint, so I got to wish them luck beforehand.

So what’s next? That’s a good question. Since I’m happy with Saturday, I probably will not race another triathlon this season, but I will continue to swim, bike, and run. I still need to sit down with my coach to recap the race, discuss my season as a whole, and map out some off-season goals, but I already have a few objectives. There will be a post for those, too. This week, I’ll focus on being a “real person.”

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 9 (Week 23)

Another race with Full Throttle Endurance is in the books!

full-throttle-endurance-usa-triathlon-northeast-regional-team-champions

We did the Pat Griskus Triathlon yesterday, an Olympic-distance event (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run) in Middlebury, CT. And we captured the USA Triathlon Northeast Regional Club/Team Championship!

Spoiler alert: It was a brutal race, but I took second place in my age group.

General training notes: Overall, I had a good pre-race week. Good, not great. Taper crazies arrived Thursday morning, and I also altered my race week workout schedule. Typically, I do nothing two days before a race and do something light the day before. However, I took my rest day 24 hours before the race (on Friday). This did not work. Looking forward, I will return to my normal schedule before Stamford this Sunday.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

Since this was the last hard swim before Griskus, I dusted off the ol’ Helix and wiggled into it for the 2,850-yd. set. Wow, I love that wetsuit! Even though it was monsooning outside, I logged an easy five miles; it takes a lot—a lot—to make me run indoors.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Tuesday failed on the taper front. My workout called for three steady Central Park loops, and I may have done five—for a total of 50 miles. Whoops. But it’s not like I cranked the pace; it was a steady ride.

Wednesday – a.m. bike and swim

After talking with my coach, we decided biking and swimming would be better than running and swimming—because he’s not concerned about my run come Saturday. (We’ll see.) This was another easy, three-loop ride. I started out in charge of a group of dudes, and even though I communicated constantly (“is the pace OK? Everyone feeling good?”), they said I wasn’t going steady on the hills. So I pulled off the front and told two other guys to take the lead—and one of them just started hammering. Really, guys? So I removed myself from the chaos and rode with my coach. Since it was a shorter ride, there was time to hit the pool, so I logged 1,100 yards with 3×300 at race pace. It felt good!

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

So. This was an interesting day. I woke up with a full case of taper crazies and couldn’t totally shake them even when I hopped in the water. Speaking of the pool, my coach bumped me up a lane. Yes, during taper. And yes, I “swam” (a.k.a. hung on for dear life) with fast lane number one. #Wannabeswimmer moving up in the world! Although, if I’m being honest, I was pretty aggravated. Obviously, I worked a lot harder in that lane, which would be fine under normal circumstances, but not ideal for tapering. My coach totally knew it, too: “Carrie, I know you’re pissed, but work! Just work and stay on their feet!” Long story short, my 4x200s were above race pace. Anyway. Then my coach said he didn’t trust me to run easy outside, so he banished me to the treadmill for three easy miles. And then I shut everything down; the hay is in the barn. At least I hope there’s some in there.

Friday – off

Saturday – Pat Griskus Triathlon (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run)

I did not have a good race, but I learned a lot.  Recap should go live Monday or Tuesday.

Sunday – easy/recovery run

Nothing interesting to report: just an easy 5.5-mile run. I left my Garmin at home, listened to some chill tunes, and reflected on yesterday’s race. I was able to work through what happened at Griskus, and it dawned on me it was similar to having a tough basketball game—failing to make easy shots, playing sloppy on defense, etc. And I know how I was able to bounce back from those types of games, so I know what needs to happen now. Overall, I felt much better mentally and physically once I returned home.

How do you bounce back from a tough race?

Sympathy Taper Crazies

For whatever reason, I’ve felt off this past week. And it didn’t make sense.

Even though nutrition, workload, and recovery remained constant, there were bizarre feelings popping up during and after training sessions. In the water, I felt dizzy, inebriated, and basically like I had an altered state of mind. And doing flip turns didn’t exactly help. In the saddle, I felt sleepy. Extremely sleepy. Like I could take a nap during hill repeats. And on the run, I felt lethargic. My legs turned over, but it seemed like I was moving in slow motion.

These feelings followed me to work, too, and refused to relent. I’d be writing, typing an email, talking to a coworker—all normal things—when I would zone out and forget what I was doing. I tried to cover it up, but people definitely took note. After all, I’m usually a ball of energy, and folks noticed I wasn’t acting like myself.

Having off days is part of life. One of the deans at my alma mater said to always remember the highs would pass and the lows would pass. This advice became my mantra, and I kept telling myself, “I’ll be more like myself tomorrow,” but when Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday passed without improvement, I wasn’t sure what to think: What is wrong with me?

On Thursday night, I talked to one of the Full Throttle Endurance coaches and explained what had been going on. Yes, I was still bringing it to work and workouts—hey, no excuses—but clearly, I wasn’t 100 percent with it. He had an interesting insight: My next race takes place in one week (ekkk!), but several people are racing this weekend, including teammates I train alongside regularly (like people in my swim lane, in my cycling group, etc.). Perhaps I’m feeling the effects of their taper.

tapering

Ding, ding, ding!

Based on this theory, I have a self-diagnosis:  You know sympathy pains? I’ve been suffering from sympathy taper crazies.

So how come I didn’t experience these side effects last year? Since I trained with the three-day-a-week group, everyone had basically the same race schedule; this meant we would build, taper, and, you guessed it, race together. We synced up.

This season, however, people in the five-day-a-week program have different goal races (short- vs. long-course). And folks follow different training schedules too. For example, my training partners were MIA this week (due to sickness, work obligations, etc.), and when they did attend practice, they didn’t complete the entire workout—because they were tapering.

You can’t let outside factors affect training too much, but it felt weird to log laps in the pool and loops in Central Park without my “normal” people. Yes, I executed my workouts, but everything felt off. And that makes sense since I’m used to spending two-plus hours everyday with these folks, and suddenly I’m not.

Even though physically I seemed fine, it was mentally where problems arose—and those feelings only come when I’m tapering. From Monday through Friday morning, I felt extremely unsettled. Training was getting done, but since my teammates weren’t doing it all with me, it was different; it was fun, but nowhere near as much fun.  I hit a low Thursday night, but my mood slowly shifted after Friday’s ride. Yeah, I still felt off, but I experienced a sense of calmness. I knew everything would be OK and work itself out. It reminded me of the day before a race: trusting my training, remembering I’ve put in the work, and knowing everything will be fine once I get in the water.

Bottom line, my sympathy taper crazies prove I’ve become emotionally attached to Ironman Eagleman 70.3. Which is interesting since I have zero plans to tackle this distance and/or this race specifically … when I do, it will be at Syracuse 70.3. But that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, even though this scares me—being so concerned about a race I’m not doing—it shows how close my teammates and I have become.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope I don’t experience back-to-back weeks of taper crazies. T-minus one week until Pat Griskus!

Have you experienced sympathy pains, stress, etc.?

Severe Case of Taper Crazies

Hiya, friends—happy Thursday!  How’s your week going so far?  Mine’s been filled with working and working out—and suffering from a severe case of taper crazies.  As you know, the 13th Annual Aquahphor New York City Triathlon takes place this Sunday.

nyc-triathlon-count-down

T-minus three days (for those of us counting)!

Obviously, I’m pumped and excited to race, but this tapering stuff has been tough.  Physically, I hate shutting down workouts feeling strong, and mentally, I’ve been all over the place.  One second, I’m confident, and then next, I start questioning everything:  is my training adequate?  Did I bike enough?  Should I have strength trained more?  And plus, I don’t feel like myself.  I’ve been quiet and reserved at work, yet anxious and on-edge. (Thanks for the pep talk yesterday, Patrick!) Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been doing and thinking this week.

My appetite has disappeared.  Friends, this is huge.  Yes, my workouts this week haven’t been as long or intense (hence the phrase tapering), but my hunger seems to be non-existent.  This is weird and isn’t like me at all.

‘Drink more water.  Drink more water.  Drink more water.’

‘How fast should I run during the half-mile trek from the swim exit to transition?’

Because workouts have been shorter, I’ve had free time every morning this week.  Which is also weird.

‘Should I hammer on the bike?  Maybe after the turnaround point …’

‘How will I handle the inevitable heat and humidity?  Can I run strong and not blow up?’

Sleeping.  Lots of sleeping.  My “grandma hours” have become even more exaggerated, and I feel tired all the time.  Case in point:  I crashed hard after work yesterday, started to fall asleep while watching the news, and tucked myself into bed at 8:20 p.m.  I didn’t wake up until this morning’s 6 a.m. alarm.

‘What will it be like running Central Park clockwise?  Is it harder or easier than counterclockwise?’

‘Will everyone have fun at the post-race party?’

Workout

So remember how I fell asleep at 8:20 p.m. last night and woke up at 6 a.m. this morning?  The only reason I didn’t hit snooze was because I made plans to run with a teammate.  We took to the track and completed a one-mile warm up before we alternated between steady and solid efforts:  three laps steady, one lap solid.  Repeat for three miles.

Breakfast

I wasn’t hungry after the workout, but polished off a bowl of overnight two-hour oats anyway.

7:11-breakfast-overnight-oats

And now it’s after 2 p.m., and I should start to think about lunch.  Again, not so hungry.

How do you feel during the days leading up to a race?  Have you experienced taper crazies?

Taper Crazies

Friends, hello—I hope you’re having a great week so far!  For those who’ve checked in with me this week, I’m alive!  I never really got settled since coming back to New York City on Sunday night, so I’ve been trying to get Nautica South Beach preparations squared away (oh, and working!), hence my absence from the blog.  But I’m back with a major update:  I’m currently suffering from taper crazies.

nautica-south-beach-countdown-three-days

Note to self:  Add the rest of my races to this app.

Since my first triathlon of the season takes place in three days (cue cheers and nervous butterflies), I’ve backed off the duration and intensity of workouts this week, a process known as tapering.  A lot of you know about this philosophy, but for those who don’t, tapering simply means storing energy for an upcoming event by reducing physical workload; depending on the athlete and the event, tapering can begin days or weeks before race day.  For example, this Sunday’s triathlon is a short-course event (0.5-mi. open water swim, 19-mi. bike, and 4-mi. run), so my tapering period is relatively short as well.  Good thing, too, because I’m going crazy.  Here’s what my workouts have looked like this week:

Monday – My Full Throttle Endurance (FTE) teammates and I normally kick off the week with speedwork (specifically 5-ish miles slightly below anticipated race pace).  This week, though, we did 20 minutes of tempo work.  That’s it.  Sure, we warmed up and did some dynamic stretching, but it felt so strange shutting things down after 20 minutes; I had so much left in the tank and was so amped and ready to keep going.  But I respected the taper and spent some time stretching before I headed to the sauna for some heat training.

Tuesday – From now until winter, FTE will have organized team rides in Central Park at least once a week.  My teammates have told me these workouts usually contain interval work or hill repeats, but Tuesday’s ride took the form of two steady loops.  In related news, I rode with the “racing team” and didn’t get dropped—woohoo!  We had the park to ourselves, which was really nice. (Surprisingly, not a lot of people bike at 5:30 a.m. when it’s 32 degrees Fahrenheit—strange, right?) When the team ride ended, I did a third lap with a teammate for a total of 18.6 miles.  I usually strength train on Tuesdays, but Andrew said absolutely no lifting this week.  Even though the leg press machine seemed to be calling my name, I respected the taper and stayed away from the weights.  Easier said than done!

Wednesday – At 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning, FTE’s 80 SoBe-bound triathletes loaded bikes into three trailers that are currently en route to Florida.

full-throttle-endurance-bike-load-nautica-south-beach

Photo swiped from the FTE Facebook group.  That’s me in the pink vest!

This was a semi-stressful learning experience for me, which I’ll blog about post-race. (There will definitely be a “TK Things I Learned About Traveling for a Triathlon” post.) Anyway, it took a lot longer than anticipated, so our indoor cycling session got cut to 43 minutes.  Honestly, though, this was probably for the best because I have a really hard time backing off the intensity in the studio; we can see our heart rates constantly, so I try to stay in the orange or “very hard” zone for most of the workout.  Not going to lie:  I also like spending time in the red or “maximum” zone, but I made a deliberate effort to hold myself back yesterday.  Anyway, we always run off the bike, but Andrew said no way.  Again, I was so tempted, but respected the taper.

Thursday – I’m taking today totally off.  Yep, you read that right:  no easy swim/bike/run, no yoga, no nothing.  Hope you’re happy, taper!

In related news, my appetite has been surprisingly OK this week.  Maybe I’m still full from Easter ham and my grandma’s Venetian cookies, but I’m not thinking about food every ten seconds.  Weird.

easter-goodies

Ah, I miss this Easter dessert spread.

Also, since workouts have been shorter in duration this week, I’ve been ancy with this newfound free time.  For the past few mornings, I went grocery shopping (why not?), ran some errands, and hung out in the sauna.

Bottom line, I’m fighting a taper battle right now.  At the end of these workouts, my body has felt unchallenged and more than ready to keep going, and my mind has agreed:  Let’s go, let’s push!  And honestly, from a mental standpoint, I feel like I’m totally slacking.  Yes, I’ve finished this week’s sessions feeling strong, but the conclusion of each felt anti-climatic—basically like I didn’t complete a solid workout. (And in the infamous words of my team’s head coach, if you’re not passed out and throwing up after a workout, you didn’t work push hard enough.) On the flip side, I feel very fresh and rested, which is directly related to the taper, so I know it’s working.  And that’s having a positive mental effect for sure:  I know I’m storing up energy, so I’ll be totally locked, loaded, and ready to do work on Sunday.

But I also want to do work right now.  Darn you, taper!

How do you deal with taper crazies?  Do you do anything special during race week?

How To Taper For a Half-Marathon

Hi, everyone!  Happy Thursday!  Between yesterday and today—and the day before that, and the day before that, etc.—my Olympic fever continues to run rampant.

(source)

Khatuna Lorig did some serious work this morning.  Did you know she taught Jennifer Lawrence how to shoot for The Hunger Games?  Can’t complain if your teacher is a four-time archery Olympian, right?

Workout

I set my alarm for 6 a.m. this morning and headed out for my last pre-half-marathon long run at 6:30 a.m.  At 12.2 miles, this is the longest distance I’ve covered, but this will obviously change on Aug. 9.

Minus the challenging incline between miles three and five, I felt pretty good, so I feel prepared for next Thursday.  And with seven days to go, it’s taper time.  I’ll come back to this in a minute.

Breakfast

Like yesterday morning, I multitasked during breakfast—Olympics and overnight oats for the win!

Today’s bowl contained two scoops of PB, lemon Chobani yogurt, 1/3 cup of old fashioned oats, 1/3 cup of almond milk, cinnamon, and chia seeds.  Sorry I’ve been boring with my breakfasts lately—I just love overnight oats!

How To Taper

So, my first half-marathon is one week away!  Gulp.

Because I will be running 13.1 miles in seven days, I’m beginning to taper.  What exactly does this mean?  Active.com calls it a period of training at decreased mileage before race day:

“Taper is a time of rest and reduced workouts prior to a race.  During this time, your body rebuilds, refuels, and recovers from the weeks of hard training you have completed.  Research has found that reducing training before competition allows muscle tissue damage to heal and the body’s energy reserves to replenish.”

Experts say you won’t lose fitness during this period of R&R; in fact, it will ensure you have fresh legs on race-day.  For a half-marathon, Runner’s World recommends a taper length of 10-14 days.  However, since I’ve been training for a half-marathon and sprint triathlon simultaneously—and the events actually occur within a four-day span—I wanted to delay my taper.  Here’s a look at the final four weeks of Hal Higdon’s intermediate half-marathon plan I’ve been following.

Up to this point, I’ve been logging 20-25 miles per week, but from now until Thursday, I might run around 10 miles.  Runner’s World says my final running workout, a two-mile run, is especially important—I should run these miles at race pace, and then taking the following two days completely off.

How do you taper before a race?  What’s your tapering progression?  Do you do anything different when you taper?