Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ironman Florida: A Look Back At My Training

by Meghann on November 12, 2013

For Ironman Florida, I followed the training plan found in Start to Finish: 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon.

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Well, I didn’t follow the training plan word-for-word, but I did follow the overall gist of it. What really appealed to me about this plan was how flexible it was. You had the option of training a little harder by including the additional “optional” workouts in your weekly routine, or you could go bare bones with the required workouts only. I went “bare bones,” which made the plan very friendly for my 40+ hour week work schedule. I was also traveling a lot for work and had to get a little creative with how I moved my training schedule around (it was a lot of “on” one weekend and “off” the next with long workouts.)

I didn’t end up following all of the swim and track workouts included in the plan since I trained with my team and just did the workouts our coach gave us. The book actually makes a note that if you’re swimming with a group, it’s perfectly fine to use the group’s workouts, since training with a group will ALWAYS be better than by yourself (especially in the pool!). However, I did follow the bike trainer workouts and was thankful to have them each week. I also followed the recommended long workouts on the weekend (minus the weekends I was traveling for work).

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I would 100% recommend the plan for a first time Ironman. It was easy to follow, not very intimidating, and didn’t completely take over my life. I trained roughly 15 hours a week and was happy with that. I would have no problem following this exact plan again.

I should also note that even though the plan is 24-weeks long, it does require a decent base before starting. Before starting my plan, I was running pretty regularly (15-20 miles per week), had built up my long bike rides to 30 miles (roughly 2 hours), and was consistently swimming 3 days a week. I was also strong thanks to regular CrossFit (something i had to eventually give up while training, but was glad I had the strength base going into it).

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There’s no way I would have been able to swim 2.4 miles, if it weren’t my swim group. I owe my whole swim to them and I’ve thanked them over and over again for teaching me proper technique and getting my butt in shape for my Ironman. I can’t recommend training with a swim group enough. I grew up in the pool, but I wasn’t a swimmer – they made me a swimmer.

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A LOT of people ask me how I found my swim group, but the truth is I happily stumbled into it. My friend Courtney invited me to swim with her friends that met a couple of times a week and I enjoyed it so much that I kept going back. Almost two years later I count everyone in XP as my closest friends. We’ve attended each other’s weddings and they were even there to cheer me on at the finish line.

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I <3 all of them!

It’s always so strange to train in such a public forum. Blogging so openly about my training meant I was putting everything out there. One minute I would be very confident about my training, the next I would receive a comment that had me questioning everything I was doing. More than a few readers told me to quit because of my crazy travel schedule or because they thought I wasn’t getting all of my recommended miles in. You can only take so many of those comments before you start to believe them and I was really starting to doubt myself.

I spent many hours turning to friends/ coaches/ co-workers who had earned the Ironman title and asking them for their opinions. They were all great at reassuring me that I was on track. That I was training smart and the #1 problem people face with any race is injuries because of overtraining. I’ve been very, very, very lucky in my racing career with avoiding injuries (KNOCK ON WOOD) and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I train smart, that I don’t overdo it, and that I only push it when I need to push it. I think I’m proof that quality over quantity is always key when it comes to training for races.

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Still, if you would have asked me before race day if I had any regrets, I probably would have said that I regretted not getting in enough really long swims or spending enough time in the saddle on the bike. I would have said that I should have maxed out higher than 16 miles on the run or made more of an effort to get longer training sessions in while traveling for work.

However, now that I’ve crushed any goal I would have ever thought imaginable on race day, I don’t have any regrets. I trained smart and I raced smart and listening to my coach (and not letting other comments get to me) paid off. My ONLY regret is letting some of those comments get to me.

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I know this photo is blurry – and I look like a crazy person- but it’s still one of my favorites from race day. 🙂

Do I have another Ironman in me?

Again, if you would have asked me before the race I may have had another opinion than I do now. The race was AWESOME. So much fun and so much better than I would have ever thought possible. I never once told myself on the course “I’m never doing this again,” which I think can attest to how great I felt out there.

HOWEVER, I can tell you I uttered those same words HUNDREDS of times before the race. It’s not the race that sucks – it’s the training! For 24-weeks my life outside of work revolved around training, which was really tough since I was also a newlywed. Thankfully my husband 100% supports everything I do, but I still think he might kill me if I immediately registered for another IM and threw myself into training again. I bow down to all the moms out there who train for Ironmans with little ones running around. How do yo do it?! You all earn MAD respect.

I asked my husband several times how he could put up with all my training and he said he could because he knew how much it made me happy and that made him happy. We respect each other’s passions and I think that’s key to making our relationship work. He also said it was because he knew that it would eventually end, i.e. I would cross that finish line and take a break. So, for the sake of my marriage, I will not be registering for another Ironman anytime soon. However, the yearning to improve my 70.3 time is definitely out there and that distance is not off the table. 😉

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He was SO excited to be the one to give me my medal at the finish line.

I’m not done with you yet, Ironman! But it may be a few years before I return. For now I want to work on improving my short distance times (that’s going to hurt!) and maybe see about a 70.3. I’m also itching to return to CrossFit. I really fell in love with it last year and was so sad when I had to drop it from my training due to weekly time constraints. I’m looking forward to getting back to my box and building my muscles back up (oh, and getting back some of that awesome muscle definition I had going into my wedding! 😉 ).

Have you ever told yourself “I’m never doing this again,” then immediately changed your mind once it was all over?

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