Four weeks in, fifteen weeks to go until race day, and welcome to my second Ironman 70.3 Victoria training check-in! I’ve got lots to report back on, but if you hang on till the end there’s a giveaway to enter. 😉

Psst… missed the first one? Catch up by reading it here.

Asics FuseX

My first month of proper training has gone well and it feels really good to be training for something again. For those of you who are fair-weather athletes like me, do you ever find that you start to get a bit antsy in the winter when it’s still sort of too soon to be training for a specific race? I certainly do, and right now my head seems to be in a really good spot where I can focus on the 15 weeks ahead. It’s not so long that it feels far off, but not so soon that I worry about being physically ready. It’s juuuuuuust right.

This check-in is broken into 2 parts: training and nutrition. Let’s get straight in!

Training

As I mentioned, there were a few small challenges when it came to the workouts I scheduled for myself. If you recall, this was the plan I designed for February (week 1-4):

Ironman 70.3 Training at a Glance- February - Eat Spin Run Repeat

I can proudly say that the hour targets I allocated to bike and run workouts were achieved, and these days I’m finding myself going to bed on Saturday nights, truly looking forward to my long ride the next morning. It’s still too chilly to ride outside (for me anyway), so these sessions are being done on my trainer in front of my Macbook while it streams Youtube videos that I queue up the night before.

Sunday morning long ride on the trainer

One of the things I’ve really been enjoying in my run and bike sessions is more variety in comparison to last year. When I was being coached for Challenge Penticton Half, the majority of my workouts were done with my heart rate in zone 1 or lower. While this was great for helping me build an aerobic base, it left me wondering if my body was truly being challenged enough for any other fitness gains to be happening. I use my Polar V800 to track my heart rate for all 3 triathlon disciplines (although I don’t care too much about it for the swim), and I can see that across all workouts, the amount of time I spend in each zone looks like this:

Training zones - Feb 2016

By contrast, last year at this stage in my training (15 weeks away from the race), the distribution looked more like this:

Training zones - April 2015

Is it a good thing? I don’t know. My coach from last year would probably argue that I’m not spending nearly enough time in the low heart rate zones, and I might be inviting a ton of criticism here but I don’t see too much harm in getting my heart rate up a bit more frequently as long as I’m still feeling good physically. I suppose the true test will be my performance on race day!

Polar V800 on my handlebars

So what about the swim? Well, that’s where I kinda screwed up. I missed 2 swim workouts and I have no good reason for it – I just felt really good on the treadmill both times and opted to keep running instead! Terrible, I know. But as some of you who are also runners-turned-triathletes may concur, you just don’t get the same endorphins from a swim as you do from a run, and when you get in a good running groove it can be hard to stop!

Obviously this can’t carry on because I’ll be putting myself at an extreme disadvantage. I don’t hate swimming – I certainly don’t love it, but I can tolerate it – but more so the effort of packing all my stuff for the pool, getting there, and sharing a lane with a bunch of other lane swimmers who won’t let you pass (sorry, I don’t mean to sound like a spoiled princess, but it’s true!) Nobody wants to be “that girl” who all the other swimmers think is rude for passing all the time, and most mornings I’m quite tolerant. But on others when I’ve got a ton on my mind and would rather be running, the struggle is real!

So here’s where I’m at: Friends have recommended joining a local swim team, but after a lot of thinking, I don’t think that’s the solution. I’d be doing it as a “should”, not as a “want to”, and life is too short to be should-ing all the time. Instead, I’ve decided to change my mindset around swimming. Rather than anticipating the frustration of a busy lane, I’m looking at each workout as a way to keep developing strength and work my aerobic and anaerobic fitness without taxing my joints, which means the runs and rides that follow will be of even higher quality, and they’ll feel better.

As someone who swam competitively as a kid, I like to think I’ve got muscle memory working in my favour. Despite minimal sessions so far, I actually feel pretty smooth in the water. Of course though, it’s gotta be done regularly if I want to get even a little bit better.

You can bet that I’ve Googled minimalist swim plans for half Ironman training programs. Going into the next training block, I’m planning to keep my frequency at 2x/week and approximately 2.5-3KM per swim – only I’ll actually go this time.

With block 1 behind me, I’m heading into week 5, a lower-volume recovery week. The timing is impeccable because the next 5 days at work are going to be absolutely crazypants. I know that even though my body might not be physically as stressed, I’ll definitely be mentally stressed. Therefore, this is what block 2 will look like (and note that the majority of the week 5 workouts will be of very, very low intensity:

Ironman 70.3 Training at a Glance- March - Eat Spin Run Repeat

 

Volume isn’t that much bigger than last month, but the most notable difference is making Mondays about swimming only. Depending on how I feel on a week-by-week basis, I may make Mondays complete rest days and shift that first swim to Wednesdays. I figure that by having only a swim on the agenda, not only will I get more sleep, but I’ll also be far less likely to repeat any of my previous “I’ll just stay on the treadmill” cop-outs because I’ll be going from home to the pool – no gym in between. Either way, I’m committing to making those 2 swims happen. The fear of not feeling strong enough in the water on race day is enough of a motivator!

Nutrition

Since most of my training has been indoors and my long rides haven’t been that long, I haven’t busted out the gels just yet. However, now that I’ll be getting into rides over 3 hours, it’s time to start getting my stomach re-accustomed to absorbing that kind of fuel while under physical stress. My fuel to get through the long sessions will be a mixture of the following:

  • Vega Endurance Gels – slurped out of their packets, or shaken and mixed into water. These are also what I’ll be carrying with me on the race course.
  • Vega Electrolyte Hydrator – I like to alternate between the Lemon Lime and Acai Berry flavours and tend to go through this stuff much faster than I’d like to admit!
  • Vega Sugar-Free Energizer and Vega Pre-Workout Energizer – I take these before my workouts on a regular basis, and prefer the sugar free version because it dissolves better. However, sometimes I’ll use the pre-workout energizer in the middle of a workout because it contains sugar and natural sources of caffeine, so it helps to give me a bit of a boost mid-way.

spibelt with water resistant pocket and gel loops and a vega gel

Outside of sports nutrition, I’ve been doing my usual eat clean thing, focusing on refuelling with nutrient-dense foods post-workout. That means lots of fruits, veggies, a variety of animal and plant-based protein, and healthy fats. In fact, increasing my healthy fat intake is something I’m experimenting with more during this training cycle because I noticed that my diet wasn’t as well-balanced as it could have been last year. It’s still too early to say how this change is impacting my training, but I’ll definitely mention it in a future training check-in.

Right… now about that giveaway!

Thrive series of books by Brendan Brazier

Many of you know who Brendan Brazier is, but if this is the first time you’ve heard the name, what you need to know is that he’s the founder and formulator of Vega, and a former professional Ironman triathlete. He’s written 3 other books about plant-based nutrition and thriving as an athlete on a plant-based diet, and just recently, his 4th book, Thrive Fitness, Second Edition was released.

Thrive Fitness and Vega Sport Performance Protein

So what’s new? In Thrive Fitness, Brendan talks about his approach to training (which is just as applicable to a complete beginner as it is to a seasoned athlete), and how training fits into what he calls the 4 components of vitality. There’s a complete training plan to help you achieve and maintain Thrive Fitness – which is not just a physical state, but a total lifestyle – and of course, a large section on how to use nutrition to complement that. It doesn’t just include sample menu plans, but also explanations as to why the ingredients used are effective. And in case you wondered, no, you do not need Vega products for all of them.

You can buy the book on the Vega website or on Amazonbut I’ve also got a copy to give away, plus a tub of the newly-reformulated and totally improved Vega Sport Performance Protein.

Here’s how to enter:

  • Mandatory blog comment entry: Tell me about what your main fitness goal is right now. Why is it important to you and how’s your progress so far?
  • Bonus tweet: Tweet about this giveaway, being sure to mention @eatspinrunrpt, @vegateam and #ThriveFitness in your tweet. Here’s one to use if you like:

This one’s open to anyone in the US or Canada, and closes at 8pm PT this Thursday, March 3rd, 2016. Good luck, and I can’t wait to read your comments! 🙂