The Tortoise Vs. The Hare: McMaster Indoor Tri and Training Update 2
February 2, 2016
One month into 2016 and the first training block of the year is done and dusted.
For most of us, real training starts with the turn of the calendar. The holidays are over, we’re trying to shed a few pounds and races are now marked on the calendar for the up coming season. It’s time to get serious.
In this first block, the overall theme of training hasn’t changed drastically for me, but the volume has. Having gone through this period many times before, I’ve grown wise. I know it’s important to prepare so I’ve tried to arm myself with as much ammunition to comfortably tackle this spike in volume.
That’s why on New New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, my parents, along with Angela’s parents, were in Kitchener helping us finish off our new pain cave. A couple of big days were spent dry walling, mudding, and painting. My arms ached as soon as our parents left, but our training center was complete.
One of the major additions was a treadmill and with installation of this complete, the pain cave was transformed into an indoor space that could rival those of my peers.
I’ve been enjoying this new creature comfort. That first week I didn’t run outside at all and I can probably count on one hand all of my outdoor runs in the last month – despite some decent temperatures. It’s fair to say I’m basking in the comforts of my indoor pain cave.
With the turn of the year, we also added some quality run workouts to my schedule. So once a week I’ve been hitting the indoor track at the Waterloo Rec Centre where we’ve been focused on 5k-10k paces. It feels good to push the body and the legs. Blow some of the winter dust off.
Volume-wise, the biggest jump has been the bike. We added a few longer rides in 3-3:30 hour range – mainly a mix of zone 1 and zone 2 work. We’ve kept the once-a-week high intensity ride, which is a mix of intervals between one and three minutes at a power in and around 290w. On top of this there’s the spin class that I lead on Sunday’s – is primarily zone 3 work. It’s a decent mix for this time of the year and I’m seeing improvements.
Swimming has been going great. I can’t say how helpful it is to swim with a group that pushes you day in and day out. This is the environment at the University of Waterloo swim group. Thanks to these guys, I feel I’m back swimming at the same level I was hitting when I was training with the Western team in London. It feels great to be part of the UW group here, it makes Kitchener feel more like home. (And by the way, good luck to all the Waterloo swimmers as they start getting ready for the OUA championships.)
The end of this block was capped off with the Provincial Indoor Championships at McMaster University on Sunday, the last day of January. It’s a timely end to the month, a chance to assess fitness and review any gains.
I’ve raced here the last two years, so it’s safe to say I’m a fan of this little test. It breaks things up during these shorter days.
The race format is straightforward: a 15 minute run, followed by 15 minutes on the bike, capped off with a 15 minute run. You score points based on how far you swim and run, as well as on how many watts you average on the bike.
One of my favourite things about this race is that it attracts a lot of the u-p-and-coming Ontario athletes. It’s a good motivator to try stay ahead of these young bucks!
I was most interested in the outcome of my swim. Swimming has been going really well as of late, but I’m used to swimming meters in London compared to yards here in Waterloo Region and I find that little things like that can play tricks with your head. You’re not comparing apples to apples.
With a race stacked with draft legal racers, the swim went out fast and 25 meters in I was thinking “oh shit I’m in for some hurt here”. I was able to limit my loses early on, though, and I was able to catch a little draft off my lane mate, Reid Burrows, who was about three seconds ahead of me.
There was also the little matter of the race within a race. This was between Ang (who was two lanes over) and myself.
She’s been crushing her workouts lately and where once I thought I was quite a bit faster than her in short stuff in the pool, she’s now beating me on dive 25’s and fast 50’s in practice.
On Sunday, I was trying to keep my eye on her when I could to make sure she wasn’t gaining me and the strategy helped: I think we pushed each other to solid swims.
I managed to swim 75 metres further than last year, which doesn’t sound like much, but triathlon is a game of inches and any improvement is a step in the right direction.
The bike was, well, biking. Using spin bikes that you quickly set-up between events isn’t the most accurate tool for measuring power and you’re never sure the calibration is. So my plan for the bike was to get in a good effort and not pay attention to the numbers. Heart rate stayed high (for me) at around 163 beats, which would correlate to around my threshold effort.
I was unsure of what the run would bring but very interested to see the outcome. I guess it’s that time of year where you’re still finding your footing and seeing what your body can do.
Last year, the race was held in February so I had a little more speed work in my legs compared to this year and Sunday was a little like running in the dark.
Similar to the swim, the young guns went out like rockets. Having not done any running faster than 5k pace I was happy to let them go, but before I knew it I was about 50 metres behind and once again thinking to myself “oh shit!”
On reflection, I went out a little slower than what I should have done and after 600 metres this thought clicked with me. So I had to pick it up.
I slowly moved my way through the field, and about two kilometres in I caught Andrew Beardsall who had been leading the race since the gun. I tried recovering a bit on his shoulder and we ran side by side for lap after lap.
With about four minutes to go I was starting to hurt and tie-up. I knew if I didn’t’ make a move now I knew it would be hard to stay with Andrew.
But I love these situations. I always tell myself when I’m racing stride for stride with someone that if I’m hurting, they’re definitely turning themselves inside out to stay there. So at this point I put in a surge and moved into the lead.
This was the first time I started feeling the pain creeping in and it began to rise from my legs and move upwards, quickly showing in my face. I knew I couldn’t slow down so I just kept turning my legs over and when the whistle went to signal the end of the race, it turned out I ran the exact same distance as last year.
All in all it was a great event to kick off the season and I have to thank Barrie and Sean for organizing this unique opportunity to allow us race in January.
Like I said, I’ve always been a big fan of racing, and while it isn’t always about racing the farthest as possible, these events are great tests and great workouts.
I also want to give a shout out to all the other Healthy Results athletes that raced on Sunday. There were a lot of excellent results, and I can’t wait to see what the summer brings.