Stumbling along on this triathlon journey, I have become something of a ‘jack of all trades’. And yes you guessed it; a master of none.
I can now proudly swim without drowning, bike without coming last (or first) and run without losing my place in a crowd of fellow runners.
My slight improvements have been consistent but not outstanding in any of the three sports required. But now that is about to change.
Because it is time for me to become a master of running.
I have enjoyed a couple of weeks of haphazard training without goals since completing The Straddie Salute Triathlon. It has been nice to do some sessions based on what I wanted to do rather than what I needed to do in order to achieve step 327 of triathlon domination. Yes, we’re up to step 327.
SIDENOTE: Incidentally, what I wanted to do was lots of biking. It seems that the bike and I have struck up quite a strong bond. I like it.
You may also have noticed that I enjoyed some time off from blogging after the last tri. This was mainly due to the fact that I found my new job to be quite exciting in its newness and each time that I sat down to type a blog post I felt drawn to writing work emails and whatnot. Like, outside of work time. Like, on a Saturday, even. Those who know me may need to pick their jaws up off the floor after reading that sentence, but don’t worry too much because it’s now week three of the job and I am settling nicely into the usual habits of cursing my employer and dreaming of my Nigerian friend sending me my winnings someday soon, so that I can retire and be a full-time crap triathlete.
So yes, being plan-less has been quite nice. But now there is an event looming on the horizon.
The Sunshine Coast Half Marathon event.
Oh, and the 14km City2South race I signed up for the other night as I lay in bed Googling races. Yup. Because apparently I no longer read novels or interesting articles in my free time; I Google ways in which I can spend money on events of torture that may, if I am lucky, reward me with a t-shirt or medal.
I spotted the 14km City2South race purely by chance and signed up immediately because it was only two weeks away (now only a week and a half away) and the perfect distance for me, at the stage I’m at. You may remember I reached the 14km run mark a few weeks ago (although I haven’t increased my max distance since then) and according to the training plan I am following, I can continue with the 14km distance as my ‘long run’ for another three weeks.
A training plan? I hear you yell. Yes, a plan. Because as I mentioned above, it is time for me to become fantastic at running.
For those who are new to the blog (or those who fell asleep half way through my boring account of this triathlon adventure and need to be reminded) I started off in the world of triathlon convinced that running would be my strength. I had assumed that my mother had passed down her fantastic runner genes, because I look a bit like her and we like to read the same books.
Over the course of the past 6 months it has become obvious to all the blog readers (and me) that not only did she withhold her running genes, but also the ones that understand logic or in fact genetics.
I am not good at running.
My running training started off with lots of pain and running like someone who hated their body (IE inflicting as much pain as possible on all the joints)
As those problems were solved, the challenge quickly evolved into running too much and apparently trying to overdo it.
Just as I hit my stride, in the lead-up to The Straddie Salute I fell down a hole while camping and took three weeks off from running, deciding that I hated it (although it was partly the freak-out talking)
But I’ve got a while now until my next triathlon – more than 5 months, in fact. So there is plenty of time to try and focus on one of the sports and aim for some improvements of epic proportion.
I could have chosen cycling, but that would have been a cop-out. I have grown to really love the cycling aspect and if I’m feeling down or sick or a bit lazy, jumping on a bike is my go-to workout. It cheers me right up. If I’d chosen cycling, there was a risk I’d have completely passed up any opportunity to run or swim ever again.
I could have chosen swimming of course. As my weakest leg, there is muchos work to be done in the swimming department. But if you look at my results from my swimming, I’m about a minute in total behind what I would consider to be a good swimmer for me to emulate, over a 1km course. I could spend the next 5 months swimming twice a day every day and working my butt off… In order to improve by one minute overall. One. Minute. Overall.
But frankly, by choosing running I am hoping to get a bigger payoff. Swimming will get its turn (and obviously I’m not going to stop swimming) but the focus is on my running. If I can knock 5 minutes off my run time, that will be fantastic.
Oh, and of course there is the little fact that I signed up for a half marathon a few months ago in my depths of running despair. So I kind of have to get good at putting one foot in front of the other, pain-free, without injuring myself and without hating it.
I discovered the training plan that I am following online – by Google searching, of course, because it is my favourite. You can see it on www.endurancetraining.com.au if you need one. I chose this particular plan because it requires three run sessions a week, which means I can still fit in plenty of cycling and swimming. I also liked that it wasn’t just a case of starting with running 5km and gradually adding 100m every day until we reach 21.1km. It’s a bit more technical.
Because it turns out that getting good at running requires a mixture of training sessions that have goals other than just ‘run from point a to point b’, which is how I have conducted my running training thus far.
My training plan says that once a week I need to do a long run. These are important to get my bones and joints used to long, consistent efforts and building my endurance.
I don’t envisage this being a problem as my endurance has been building since I started my triathlon training and apparently… don’t wee yourself in excitement like I did… I have to do these sessions at about 20% slower than my race day pace.
This phenomenon of running slowly on purpose was first brought to my attention by a fellow blogger (I thought it was www.oztriathlete.com but I can’t find the post) who did a post on running slow to get fast. Which frankly just confused me because the more I read of the post, the more I realised that his ‘really slow’ pace was the exact same as my ‘pushing myself to the death’ pace. My mind boggled and the point of the blog was lost on me.
But my training plan and various blogs containing long words have reassured me – science has proven that by doing 80% of your training below the lactate threshold (which basically means below high intensity) you will improve your running times. Don’t ask me how – I’m not a scientist. I don’t even understand genes. But I’ve basically got 12 weeks of long, easy, enjoyable runs ahead of me.
Unfortunately some of the other sessions sound less fun. For the first 6 weeks, I have to do 45 minute speed runs (basically where I do 200 metre sprints as part of a relaxed run) and a 30 minute hills session each week. In the final 6 weeks the speed runs get swapped out for VO2 max sessions where the sprints are 800 metres long and the recovery in between is only 2 minutes. It all sounds a bit torturous.
Hopefully it will all be worth it. I am confident it’s keeping me motivated in this rather long, nerve-wracking wait until I attempt The Noosa Triathlon in October. And it should even help me to kick some butt in the 10km run leg of that Tri, too. Whether or not I will do any good in a half marathon will remain to be seen.