As we near the end of February, I realized I haven’t recapped January. I’ve decided to change up my monthly recap. What are the things I’m celebrating from the month of January?! In no particular order:
Swim: 15,650 yards (8.89 miles)
Bike: 660 miles
Run: 66.6 miles
Total Hours: 63 hours & 32 minutes of swim/bike/run/strength/yoga
“Sometimes you have to push yourself, and it can be uncomfortable. You will want to quit. But if you can find your edge and embrace the discomfort even for a little bit, you’ll find a new level of fitness, skill, and knowledge. And there’s no better feeling than growth.” ~Roísín McGettigan-Dumas
A recent swim had me reflecting on the growth I’ve made in sport. In order to see this growth, I had to look backwards, which is not something I do very often. The swim was “100s to failure” and looked like this:
300 easy swim
100 kick with fins
100 easy swim
Swim as many 100s below a 1:40/100 yard pace as possible (20 seconds rest). If the pace is 1:40/100 or higher, failure has been achieved.
200 any stroke
When I entered the water, I decided to give myself the goal of trying to get to 15×100 yards at this sub 1:40/100 yard pace. I really felt this was a stretch goal as I didn’t swim as much in January as I normally do thanks to the #hcccyclingchallenge, but I decided to go for it knowing it would push my limits. I started off with 1:39.8/100 yards for the very first 100 yards; coming close to “failure” at the starting gate. Uh Oh! What if I don’t even make 5 of these?! “You aren’t done yet! Just keep swimming.” Thankfully my mental focus and strength showed up and took over. I found my groove and before long, I had successfully completed 15×100 yards at this sub 1:40/100 yard pace. Once I had successfully completed 15, I decided to shoot for 20. When I successfully achieved 20, I decided to try for 2 more. When I successfully achieved 22, I decided to shoot for 25. When I successfully achieved 25, I decided to keep pushing and gave myself a pep talk before each of the next ones. “Just one more! You aren’t done yet!” During #26, my body started to feel like lead. How many more of these could I do?! As I was swimming #27 I had mixed emotions. I really wanted to see how many more I could do, but I was so tired I also really wanted to be done. #27 wasn’t my time to fail though. I apparently had more to give. I successfully completed 28×100 yards at a sub 1:40/100 yard pace before “failing” (I find 28×100 a success, not a failure…hence the quotation marks) on #29 with a 1:40.6/100 yards. Boo-yah!! Not only did I surpass my wildest expectations of 15×100 yards at a sub 1:40/100 yard pace, but I also didn’t let my goal of 15 limit me. In the past, when I have successfully achieved a goal or target, I have let the self sabotage demons show up and take over. Instead, I stayed strong, kept the self sabotage demons at bay, and swam 13 more 100s at a hard (for me) effort!
This got me wondering…when was the last time I had completed this swim? How many 100s did I successfully complete before failing? What was the pace I was aiming for at that time? So, I looked it up in Training Peaks. The last time I completed this swim was on on August 14, 2018. I successfully completed 20×100 yards before failing and my target pace was sub 1:47/100 yards. What?! Seriously?! I have grown SO much in 18 months and this is only the swim!!
Thanks to the #hcccyclingchallenge in January, I am seeing lots of growth in my cycling as well. Incase you missed it, my FTP improved by 16 watts in 1 month! Hard work and consistency definitely pay off, so keep showing up and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. It works!
The growth in my biking has translated nicely to my run legs. This is the area I have the most room to grow, but I’m excited about the growth I’ve made and looking forward to the growth that’s yet to come.
When it comes to training, I have made some huge improvements. It is fun and rewarding to push myself WAY out of my comfort zone, past the fear zone, and into the growth zone. This is where the magic happens!
Which zone do you spend the majority of your time? How can you push yourself into the growth zone more in the future?
Self coaching in 2020 will provide me with so many opportunities. I can do what lights my fire. I have the flexibility to change up my schedule based on how I am feeling in the moment/weather/appointments/socializing/emergencies that may come up. I can take part in challenges that interest me. I can do training camps that interest me. I have control over my training and schedule. I can do what I want, when I want to. Sure there are key workouts that I will have to make sure I complete to be successful on race day, but self coaching will provide me with some flexibility on when I complete them during the week.
Hardcoeur Coaching offered a cycling challenge for the month of January. The goal was to ride 30 hours in 31 days. I was intrigued! After IRONMAN Lake Placid, I kept my cycling volume up while it was still nice enough to ride outside, but once October hit, my cycling mileage dropped SUBSTANTIALLY!! By January 1, I was more than ready to improve my cycling fitness as a lead up to IRONMAN Mont Tremblant training and this challenge seemed like the perfect way to jumpstart my cycling fitness in 2020! A special thanks to Scott Batula for helping me get my Wahoo Kickr and Zwift ready to roll before the start of this challenge!
I did a FTP test using Zwift on December 31, so that I would have baseline data to start from. My FTP on December 31, 2019 was 198 watts. I used the first 3 days of January to attempt to figure out how Zwift works before starting the 4-week FTP Booster on January 4. Truth – I still don’t have Zwift figured out after using it everyday for a month.
This 4-week FTP Booster was either going to kill me or make me stronger. Did I mention this cycling challenge wasn’t the only exercising I was doing?! I was also registered for an indoor sprint triathlon on January 19 and a 1/2 marathon on February 1 (which I changed the day before to a 5K…see squirrel), so I had to keep showing up to swim and run. Trying to get my running mileage ready for the 1/2 marathon on tired legs was tougher than I imagined, but thankfully my body held up like a superstar!
Week 1 of the 4-week FTP booster: I started the FTP booster on Saturday, January 4.
Day 1 = HIT 80% FTP #1: 😊 Total ride time = 2:05:38
Day 2 = HIT 45 sec #1: 😊 Total ride time = 1:13:45 followed by a 1 hour treadmill run
Day 3 = Tempo into Sprints: 😔 I missed hitting the sprint wattage during this ride. Total ride time = 1:06:07 + some strength and yoga after the ride
Day 4 = Endurance: 😊 It was so nice to have an endurance ride today. Total ride time = 1:08:22 + 2,450 yards of swimming before the ride
Day 5 = 40/20s #1: 😊 Total ride time = 1:06:12 + 30 minute run off the bike
Day 6 = Tempo with accelerations #1: 😊Total ride time = 1:10:25 + a 90 minute (9.5 mile) run in the afternoon
Day 7 = Sweet Spot 12: 😊 Total ride time = 1:33:11 + 2300 yards of swimming after work
Overall…very tired legs, but I’m grateful my body is holding up nicely. Bike totals = 9:23:40 for 150 miles, Run totals = 2:50:00 for 19.1 miles, Swim totals = 1:20:00 for 4750 yards
Week 2 of the 4-week FTP booster:
Day 1 = HIT 80% FTP #2: 😊 Total ride time = 2:05:07 + 1 hour hilly and snow covered run + 30 minutes of yoga
Day 2 = HIT 45 sec #2: 😔 I missed 4 of the 6 x 45 sec at 345 wattage intervals on this ride. Total ride time = 1:15:46 + 2700 yards of swimming
Day 3 = Tempo with Finale: 😊 Total ride time = 1:06:02
Day 4 = Endurance: 😊 Yay for endurance riding today! Total ride time = 1:13:27 + 2700 yards of swimming
Day 5 = 40/20s #2: 😊 I nailed all of the targets on this ride and felt stronger today than I have since this challenge started. Total ride time = 1:05:03 + 20 minute run off the bike
Day 6 = Tempo with accelerations #2: 😊 I nailed all of the targets on this ride and felt strong doing so. Total ride time = 1:24:36 + 10 mile treadmill run after work (we got freezing rain yesterday that has covered all the outdoor running surfaces in a sheet of ice…even though it was -3F today, I would have ran outside had the surfaces been safe for running)
Day 7 = Max Aerobic declining: 😊 I nailed all of the targets on this ride and while my legs were definitely fatigued, I still felt strong. Total ride time = 1:30:12
Overall…my body was extremely tired at the beginning of the week, but I reminded myself that it is OK to miss targets because it is too challenging in that moment. This is where I learn. This is where I grow. This is where I gain strength. This is what makes me fierce. AND when I nail these targets the next time, this is when I build confidence. Thankfully by the end of the week, I felt strong…definitely fatigued, but I finally felt strong while tired. Bike totals = 9:40:13 for 159 miles, Run totals = 3:00:37 for 19.3 miles, Swim totals = 1:34:35 for 5400 yards
Week 3 of the 4-week FTP booster:
Day 1 = Progressive 11s: 😊 Total ride time = 2:00:27
Day 2 = Sub-threshold xx #1: 😊 I nailed all of the targets on this ride and completely fatigued my legs before my indoor triathlon later this afternoon. Total ride time = 1:00:01 + a silver medal finish at the InCydeMan Triathlon (500 yard swim, 8 mile bike, and 2 mile run)
Day 3 = Spiked Tempo: 😊 I nailed all of the targets on this ride on VERY fatigued legs. Total ride time = 1:07:42
Day 4 = Endurance: 😊 It felt so good to have an easy day on the bike today. Total ride time = 1:30:24 + 2300 yards of swimming
Day 5 = 40/20s into Threshold: 😊 Total ride time = 1:00:05 + 20 minute EASY run off the bike
Day 6 = Threshold block #1: 😊 Total ride time = 1:00:09 + 9 mile run off the bike with 2×3 miles at tempo pace
Day 7 = Max Aerobic Finale: 😊 I nailed the 4×2 minutes at 240 watts with 2 minutes at 120 watts between each and then averaged 222 watts for a 6 minute interval that I was to ride as hard as I could for the 6 minute duration. Pretty pleased with this as my legs aren’t fresh and I was well above my 198 watt threshold set on December 31. Total ride time = 1:30:08
Overall…All that learning and growing from the first 2 weeks is paying dividends. This week I noticed improvements in my stats and I FEEL SO STRONG! I’m not saying these workouts were easy. They definitely weren’t, but my body is responding to the work and it doesn’t feel as hard as it did during the first 2 weeks of the challenge. I’m gaining more confidence every day! I’m super excited to see just how much stronger I’ve become at the end of this challenge. Bike totals = 9:30:28 for 163 miles, Run totals = 1:57:31 for 13 miles, Swim totals = 49:02 for 2800 yards
Week 4 of the 4-week FTP booster:
Day 1 = Progressive 11s #2: 😊 Total ride time = 2:00:15 + 55 minute negative split run + 1 hour with the personal trainer
Day 2 = Endurance: 😊 Total ride time = 1:00:06 + 2700 yard swim
Day 3 = 10 min Best effort: 😊 My 10 minute best effort power output was 210 watts. I was pretty pumped about this since my legs weren’t fresh. Total ride time = 1:00:08
Day 4 = Sub-threshold xx#2: 😊 Total ride time = 1:00:05
Day 5 = Endurance: 😊 This endurance ride felt so good today! Total ride time = 1:00:12 + 30 minute easy treadmill run
Day 6 = Rest Day Easy Ride: 😊 I found myself really having to hold back because my legs wanted to GOOO today. Total ride time = 1:00:09
Day 7 = FTP test: 😊 Boo-yah!! My new FTP upon completion of this ride was 214 watts. That’s a 16 watt improvement in 1 month. I still have some work to do to get my FTP back up to where it was during peak training in 2019 (233 watts), but it gives me something to work towards. Total ride time = 1:30:29
Overall…This week the workouts actually started to feel easy. I knew I’d have a higher FTP just on how strong I felt on all of these rides. I was very pleased to see a 16 watt improvement over the last 4 weeks. I may repeat the Zwift 4-week FTP booster again, but maybe not. I do need to start incorporating more balance between swim/bike/run as I move into triathlon season. Bike totals = 8:31:24 for 139 miles, Run totals = 1:25:16 for 9.16 miles, Swim totals = 48:12 for 2700 yards
I’m SO grateful to the ladies at Hardcoeur Coaching for creating this challenge. It pushed me way out of my comfort zone and definitely into my growth zone! It built confidence, stamina, grit, and resilience, while making me stronger, both physically and mentally. With just over 40 hours (660 miles) in the saddle during January, I finally feel like an athlete again…what a great feeling! The #hcccyclingchallenge + Zwift 4-week FTP booster was a great way to boost my cycling power before officially kicking off the start to my IRONMAN Mont Tremblant training!
Sunday I pushed my body to its limits. I started the day with a TOUGH session on Zwift. The main set was 10x(2:30 at threshold [180 watts] + 0:30 above threshold [240 watts]). While this ride was TOUGH, I was TOUGHER! I nailed each of the intervals, building strength, confidence, stamina, resilience, and SO MUCH MORE. I was carrying a lot of increased fatigue in my legs from the previous 19 days of the HardCoeur Coaching Cycling Challenge + 4 week FTP Booster on Zwift, so this workout only further fatigued my legs in preparation for the InCydeMan Triathlon Sunday afternoon (scheduled to start about 2 hours after completing this ride).
Why show up to tri on fatigued legs? I wanted to see what I was truly capable of. I’ve always toed the start line of races fairly well rested. I wanted to see just how far I could push myself out of that comfort zone and into the growth zone. What am I truly capable of? How deep can I really dig? How far can I really push myself while fatigued? Can I still achieve my goals for each distance while fatigued? I wanted to build stamina, strength, grit, resilience, confidence, and truly push my limits!!
Swim: 500 yard swim
Last year I had a swim time of 8:05. I haven’t been swimming as much (or as hard) heading into this triathlon this year and I knew I was carrying a lot of fatigue going into this race, so I didn’t want to be too overzealous. I set a swim goal for myself of 8:10 for this year. I could definitely feel the fatigue once I started swimming, but I didn’t let myself use it as an excuse. Instead I reminded myself to have a long, strong stroke and to #celebrate what my body was doing. #playinmyownlane
Swim time = 8:33 (1:43/100 yards)
Bike: 8 miles
Last year I had a bike time of 25:55. I’ve been cycling A LOT this month (I had 25 hours of saddle time in the bank in the first 19 days of January…with a lot of work at or above threshold) and because of all of this cycling, I figured my legs would be tired and I’d have a slower cycling time this year. I decided to set a goal of 25:00, knowing that this was probably a bit overzealous. The women had to set the resistance on our spin bikes to 11 (the men had to set their resistance to 13). I really wanted to have more resistance. I am not a fan of high cadence riding. I’d much rather push hard with lower cadence than spin my legs so fast that I become air born as I fly off the saddle. I was quickly reminded why I despise spin bikes…the saddles are SO. FREAKING. UNCOMFORTABLE! The spin bike is definitely NOT my tri bike on so many different levels! I reminded myself multiple times to #celebrate that I GET to do this and enjoy the challenge!
Bike time = 21:32 (22.3 mph average speed)
Run: 2 miles
Last year I had a run time of 16:03. Knowing I would be running on trashed legs, I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I was going to dig deep to give it my best! My goal was 16:00, knowing that this was likely overzealous, but I wanted to really go for it. I settled in behind a lady that was running exactly what my goal was and tried to stick with her as long as I could. At 1 mile, my timer told me that my time was 7:56. I was right where I wanted to be, but I could feel myself slowing no matter how mentally focused and strong I was, the fatigue in my legs was winning. I continued to dig deep all the way to the end. I did lose time in that 2nd mile, but I didn’t lose focus and I stayed with this lady until the last lap. #celebrate that I GET to do this! Run like Basil…happy, strong, and full of joy!
Run time = 16:13 (8:07/mile average pace)
My overall goal time was 49:10. I crushed this on fatigued legs with an overall finish time of 46:18, which was enough to land me on the podium with a silver medal. What a great start to 2020!! What did I learn?! I am much stronger than I think. I can dig deeper than I thought possible. I am more resilient than I imagined. Challenges build stamina and make us stronger. If I keep pushing myself to new limits, I will make my dreams come true! Don’t settle for mediocre when you can be exceptional!
Have you raced on shredded legs? If so, what did you gain from this experience? If not, why not?