Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Setting Some Goals

rom my previous experience in athletics I have a pretty good idea of what I am capable of. I think that with some good training I can reach a peak performance once again. There are several things I am not sure of, being that triathlons are three distance events piled together.

For one thing, I remember that interval training was a key aspect to achieving the desired results. I also remember training very hard, but yet on this site I see reference after reference to maintaining a specific heart rate. To me that does not make much sense, but then I do not have any degrees in sport science either.

Let me explain my confusion so that you are tracking with me. I always thought training intervals was a way to prepare your body to be able to swim long distances at the particular pace you wanted to keep. In cross-country we ran quarters, in swimming it was generally a series of 100 yard laps. Let us say that my target pace for swimming a 500 yard freestyle in a race was 5:30. That means I would have to keep a pace of 1:06 for every 100 to reach that goal. So during my practices I would start doing intervals at 1:10. Do twenty 100's at 1:10. I swim as fast as I can, comfortably as possibly but also trying to swim faster than 1:10. If I swim the first few 100's at 56 seconds, then that means i get 14 seconds to rest before I have to go again. That is my rest period. I don't ever remember worrying about my heart rate during those intervals...I just remember trying to get back to the wall as fast as possible so I could rest longer.

So then if I train as I did before it would be "all out", which is really the only method I know. Of course I must get through the "initiation phase" where my body has to be reminded that it is in fact actually training and that no matter how much it hurts, it will just have to buck up and do it.

My best times from way back were a 5:30 for 500 yards, and 17:59 for a 5k. I am convinced that those times do not represent my peak. I think I could have gone faster in both sports so my goal will be to train up to those times again. Unfortunately I have no biking experience, so the sky is the limit on that one. Luckily I have very strong legs from all the martial arts training which I think will help with the cycling. The aerobic aspect won't be a problem.

On the down side I have a touring bike, which is a steel tube (can you say heavy?) bike. It is a Surly Longhaul Trucker which I am quite proud of. That is my "racing" bike and I think it is going to be my only detriment unless I can convince a friend to lend me their hot-rod for race day. That would be kind of cool, like when you take your drag pants off and swim in your speedos all shaved and tapered (Oh I feeeel so fast!!). I also have to consider my left knee, which has gone through 2 surgeries. The first was in high school, so I didn't run long distance my senior year (and I think I could have gone 17:00 that year). The second being 3 years ago after tearing the ACL playing baseball. I don't know if I should wear a brace, but I have rehabilitated it quite well. The muscles are all very strong and I only feel minor aches every now and again...

So let me recap my goals.

Mile pace - 6:30 minutes (A fast mile for me is 5:05)
100 yard pace - 1:20 minutes (this may be too conservative. A fast 100 for me is 52:00)
Bike Pace - You tell me!

Here is a disclaimer for these figures. I may not reach those metrics this year, but those are conservative estimates of what I think I could do if I were at my peak. I recognize I need time to acclimate myself to training, lose weight, build muscle, re-establish aerobic capacity, to learn about how to do a triathlon, to adjust my schedule, etc. etc.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Injured Obese and Motivationally Challenged

In High School I could have been an "Iron Man". At the time I was cross training long distance running with competitive swimming. I cannot count the times I would lose my calves in the swimming pool to cramps after having just finished an aggressive cross country workout.

Now 15 years later working in a corporation behind a desk, post ACL surgery, and 60 pounds heavier I sit here thinking I should do something for my health, my daily outlook, and of course my appearance to my wife. I remember forsaking running after my knee surgery thinking that it was "too stressful" for my joints. Soon the swimming was dropped because I over trained and hurt my shoulder, then justified it further saying "Finding an indoor pool is just too difficult".

I still maintained fitness with some heavy martial arts, but the lack of goals and the training without ever using the "skills" I was practicing became boring and disillusioning. Finally I even quit that, became sedentary, but still ate like an athlete (Lord have mercy!). I recognize I have a responsibility to myself and my family to stay healthy and fit, but it seems as time marches by my motivation for these things has begun to wane.

Over the weekend I went to borders and glanced down to see a book about triathlons that someone else had been perusing. As I read through it I thought to myself -- "These people must be crazy" For one, many of them get up early in the morning just to train. Getting up early just for work is challenge enough for me already. I have to admit, that I have never been a morning person. Another thing I noticed the workouts they were doing. I remember them vividly from my best years of training. I remember puking after some of them, I distinctly remember pain accompanying them as well.

Something stood out, however, as I read through. There was a consensus that training and working towards a goal was fulfilling. Completing a challenged that may have seemed impossible was euphoric and to many it became addictive. As I thought back on the euphoria that winning races and competing used to bring me I sort of understood what these people were saying....but an Ironman? They are nuts, every single one of them!

How is it, that insanity kept brewing within my noggin until today I thought to myself -- I should try training for one, "just to see what it's like". Do I now qualify for an award in masochism? I know that currently I can't swim 500 yards before my muscles will seize up and I will be reduced to floating worthlessly in the water. I have always dreaded the first week back in the pool, because those have always been the most painful moments of my life. Swimming is my love and hate. I just hate getting back in shape, but I do love to swim.

In all seriousness, I will probably never do a Triathlon. The thought scares me, but I admit to myself that I need goals, I need a schedule to follow, and I need something to look forward to. I hate the gym, because lifting weights is boring, running and swimming are similarly repetitive and can be boring...but if you have a race you are moving towards training doesn't seem like a bad idea (if you don't want to embarrass yourself that is.) The side effects from the training are what I am really looking for -- I need to lose weight, I need the extra energy, I need to do something beside watching (and participating in) Man vs. Food for 2 - 5 hours after work.

So then, I hereby inaugurate a new training schedule. I call it "Project Get in Shape and Maybe Possibly Perchance do a Triathlon in the Process.." (It's complicated I know). I will be following the SuperCoach Ultra Distance Training Plan. I know I seem pessimistic in my post, but distance doesn't really scare me, in fact I think I am a decent distance/endurance athlete. The scary part for me is the muscle pain I will endure at the outset and of course being consistent!!!!

Would that I had a few friends to keep my accountable. One or two crazies, who have walked the fiery path of coals before me...