Since I wrote yesterday's post, my brain instantly went into "reflection" mode over what went well this past season, and what didn't go so well this past season.
Without reflection and learning from our mistakes, we will never improve.
So here are the biggest things that I learned, grew from, made mistakes etc:
Train like you race
I am a member of beginnerTriathlete.com. I have learned mostly everything about triathlon from that site. Fast forward almost three years and you start to see the trends of the successful and speedy athletes. One trend that I started to see over and over again, especially for long course triathlon, is to train like you will race.
For me, that meant on the bike that I had to up the ante! I was reading more and more about folks literally holding their HIM wattage from start to finish on their training rides. I thought that this would lead to too much recovery time from a hard bike ride. But I gave it a try anyways.
My results? The first long 56 milers hurt, but I felt stronger as the rides progressed. I started to understand what it felt like to sustain a goal wattage for 3 hours straight. It helped not only increase my wattage FTP, but it also made me mentally stronger. Suddenly a ride that took 3:30:00 now took 3:00:00. Training with Power was working, because it kept me honest, but also held me back so that I could finish a strong ride and still have enough juice left over for a run.
Eat like you race
Race day, I learned from Timberman '09, was NOT the day to figure out race nutrition. So this year, I practiced, tested, refined, and repeated my nutrition on the bike until I got it right, and I got it simple. What started out as a complex eating method early in the season became a simple eating regimen of a Gu every 30 mins and drinking plain water with a dissolved Nuun tablet every 5 mins. This worked like dynamite on the bike. On the run, I ate a Gu every 3-4 miles and drank when I took a Gu or was thirsty.
Races are great places to practice
So my goal for this year was to do Mooseman 70.3 and Timberman 70.3 with Timberman as the A++++ race of the season. That schedule turned into adding New Orleans 70.3 and Rhode Island 70.3.
A funny thing happened. I could never what I call "complete the trifecta".....aka have a perfect swim, bike, and run.
@ New Orleans, I had a bad swim, but good bike and good run.
@ Mooseman, I had a good swim, bad bike, excellent run.
@ Rhode Island, I had a bad swim, excellent bike, terrible run.
So I made my mistakes in all three disciplines in various combinations. I got "it" out of my system. I knew what it took to have a good swim, good bike, good run. From these mistakes, I learned pacing and nutrition. Now I just had to put it all together!
And my result? A 47 min PR @ Timberman. I PR'ed EVERY single part of that race, including transition times.
Make time to recover and injury prevention.
I never spent time to recover in years past. I would workout, eat, shower, and move onto my day. Well when my volume increased, so did the risk for injury, and guess what? I got injured. Almost a year ago I set a new 10K PR at a running race down on Long Island. I didn't stretch, foam roll, or take it easy after that race. I ended up getting injured.
After Timberman 8 weeks ago I set a huge PR and figured because it was the last race of the season that I didn't need to stretch or foam roll. Guess what happened? I got injured.
Notice a trend here? Stretching and foam rolling is a necessity for me after hard workouts.
Both injuries were the result of over tightening muscles after a super strenuous race. After the 10K, my right quad became so tight that it was pulling on the attachment point in the inside of the knee. Deep tissue massage, lots of stretching and foam rolling was the remedy to fix that injury.
After Timberman, my left calve muscles were too tight. That resulted in the pulling of the attachment point at the bottom of the foot. Again, deep tissue massage, lots of stretching and foam rolling was the remedy to fix this injury.
So lesson learned! Even if I don't think I need to stretch & foam roll, I SHOULD.
Swimming is like the ugly cousin of biking and running. To go faster on the bike, you spin your legs faster. To run faster, you increase your stride rate. To go faster in the pool? Windmilling your arms faster might actually make you go backwards, but will mostly make you sink like a rock.
How about swimming long and slow to build up a massive base? Well, you will became a very proficient long, but SLOW swimmer. That was my mistake my first year of triathlon.
I shattered all of my swim records this year by swimming lots of short, but intense swim intervals. Before Timberman I was doing a 500 yard warmup, then hitting the 100 yard intervals. A set of 5 x 100 on 2:00 quickly followed by 5 x 100 on 1:50 to 5 x 100 on 1:40 would absolutely obliterate me, but boy oh boy did I get faster in the pool! I would mix these sets up with 200 yard and 300 yard sets. I NEVER went above 300 yards, unless it was the 500 yard warmup.
My result? I shaved off over 2 mins off my swim @ Timberman. Intervals is the way to go in the water!
So I hope that you have some revelations during this off season. Its great when you have a "Eureka" moment!