Despite quite a few nascent ailments, none of which seem overly severe, training is going relatively well. I was bored a few nights ago and decided to look back at what I was doing a year ago in preparation for last season. I was definitely training hard. Perhaps too hard. Certainly more than I am now, although part of that has to do with slashing weight training down to a minimum. Each day was a fairly intense workout, sometimes combining a 10k threshold run with a long (3000y) swim afterward. Shit, I'd even lift weights for a bit beforehand.
Now, I'm hoping to get by on less. At that point I figured I was at such a disadvantage from my peers who had been in the sport for years, that I had to train extremely hard to compensate. I didn't have the years of endurance or strength that they had.
But now, with another year of training under my belt, I feel a bit more comfortable not pushing as hard and dialing in my workouts based on feel and not, "Well, today I could do 800m repeats followed by a 40k time trial...cuz that seems like a decent workout."
It's premature to tell if my 'less is more' theory will produce positive results, but if nothing else I do have a couple years now of racing/training under my belt to fall back on. That's nothing to shrug off. It brings confidence. And experience. And mental toughness.
Since I have no coach and no training plan, I would be lying to say I'm not still a bit uh...cautious, or tentative about my lack of structure. Each day I take as it comes. If I feel refreshed and light, I typically do a hard workout. If I'm feeling sluggish and slow, I may do an LSD run or or a long spin. I admit it's a very odd way to train. In a sense, it's no different than I was last year. But in a sense, it is different b/c I don't have the looming pressure of "I HAVE TO get in that speed session today." I was pushing myself regardless of how I felt last year (while still approaching workouts day by day).
I'm just not an organized person, I prefer to take things as they come and go on feel. Type A individuals would not function well with this approach.
As I said, the verdict is still out. The past two years I did nothing but improve. And the gains weren't dramatic. Each race I got a little faster. I probably shaved 5-6 minutes off my times from 2011-2012.
My expectations are tapered a bit this year, but not significantly. My ambitious goal last year was to break 2:10 in an Olympic Distance Triathlon. I missed it by about 30 seconds, but I was knocking on the door a few times.
This year, I'd like to go 2:07:XX. Which would give me about a 3+ minute improvement from last season. The incremental approach is healthier I believe, and hopefully less conducive to injuries. Most theories say you're not supposed to go harder than 10% from one week to the next anyway. I still have no desire to do anything longer than an Olympic distance triathlon. I also don't have an aching desire to qualify as elite. If I talk to Andy or others about what it's like to be sponsored and part of a team maybe I will change my mind. But the pressures that come with that, the brand obligations, the mandatory training and participation events, placing, don't really suit me. I enjoy the loner aspect of triathlon. I kinda like coming into a race as an unknown and surprising people. I also am extremely self-motivated and generally train harder solo than in groups (although I'm sure a HUGE benefit to elite/sponsorship is training with the best - which I haven't had access to).
There are many great advantages to being a part of a sponsored-team of that I am sure. But I suppose I'd have to research more on whether or not it's for me. (Under the BIG assumption that I'd be good enough based on results this year to qualify). But I'm confident, and barring any significant setbacks I'm getting better and better.
I think I'll surprise a lot people this year again with my cycling. In a sense, I'm cycling less (near 100 miles or less a week), but cycling harder. Also, the gearing on my tri bike is tough and that provides me a tremendous edge on guys with normal gears. The mileage is near the same as last year, but the intensity is a bit higher. I haven't been doing my VO2 max intervals (which is likely a mistake), but I think I'm better off doing short (15-30 min) thresholds anyway for TT riding. Again, we'll have to wait and see and once it warms the Garmin should let me know if that is indeed the case.
I'm running slightly more this season. With less intensity, but with more frequency. On a really great week I can do close to 40 miles. On average I'm getting in between 30-40 miles per week.
Swimming is the one sport I've neglected a bit. I think I wasted too much time in the pool last year. I'm not a bad swimmer, but the gains in swimming are small unless you invest HOURS. I'd be better served going a little faster on the bike or riding a bit more aggressively position-wise. Like I've said a million times, the verdict is still out, but I'm confident with this approach. 6-8k max per week here.
Finally weight training has been 'sequestered' too. Only one lift per week for upper body. Well three, really. One day I do shoulders/chest, one day bi's and tri's, one day back. I try to get in 2 challenging leg lifts each week too. This remains the hidden secret for power on the bike in my opinion. For there are many people who cycle twice as much as I do, but I think I can stay with them based on wattage output.
So I suppose that's what's been going on in the training front. Finally bought some new running shoes, so let's see if that alleviates the foot pain that's been hurting me. Hope to ride on Sunday my favorite route on MacArthur if it's warm enough. If not, maybe an indoor spin. You know me...I'll take it as it comes.