Alternate title: What the heck should I do before my training plan starts?
In Fall of last year, I first started toying around with the idea of doing an Ironman in 2017 (thank you, Kaitlin, for the inspiration!). After all, with my work the next few years, it was basically 2017 or 2020 or beyond before I would be able to commit to training. One thing that really held me back was the unknown of whether I was fit enough now to train in 2017. Was my nagging plantar fasciitis going to hold me back? Was my shoddy triathlon season of 2016 and very stressful year in general going to set me up for failure? Was I physically and mentally ready to take the plunge?
With my injury subsiding and knowing my work load for 2017 wasn’t going to be as stressful, I took the plunge and signed up. Ironman Coeur d’Alene, I’m coming for you!
With a six-month training plan, I ~officially~ start training March 13. One thing I have struggled with, however, is what I should be doing in the meantime. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything online and really don’t know a lot of people who have done an IM. Kait ran a marathon and I think that is a genius thing to do before officially training. It lays the groundwork for running fitness, gives you the mental confidence for IM, and keeps you from getting bored. But in Alberta, the earliest marathon I would be willing to do is in May and I just recovered from an injury. So I decided to work on a few things in the meantime to prepare myself before I start training (overachiever status here!).
- Get stronger. Right now, I’m strength training 3-4/week, focusing on slightly heavier weights than I would lift during triathlon training. I’m replacing 1-2 swims/week with strength training so I’m not overwhelming myself.
- Work on technique. This has been particularly paramount in my running form. I’ve always been injury prone, but my PF really threw me for a doozy. So I saw a kinesiologist who gave me some very helpful exercises. Apparently I’m not activating my transverse abdominis and gluteus medius as much as I should. I felt a huge difference in my running form right after starting to think of this on every run. I’m also trying to consciously observe my swimming and cycling form and implement changes there.
- Be consistent. This was a huge issue for me when I was training for IM 70.3 Calgary in 2015. I slacked off a little more than I’d like to admit and my training schedule changed often. Before I signed up for IM CDA, I made sure I had some consistent training for about a month and ensured I’m mentally ready for those early mornings, two-a-days, and crazy weekends (and by ‘crazy’ I mean long bike rides, runs, and open water swimming). On the other hand, I am listening to my body and only shortening my workouts or making them easier when I am truly tired, not because I just didn’t want to (which has only happened twice since December). And you know what? I’ve felt so much healthier and energetic!
- Meal prepping like a boss. I’m a poor, time-crunched student, which means going out to eat a lot is not an option. I also know I’m going to be very tired on Sundays. So it might seem silly or “fluffly”, but I’m starting to look at my weekly meal prep differently. For example, what freezes well? Can I meal prep every other week, on my days off, and freeze the leftovers? This Sunday’s meal prep took about an hour and I’m also using some other things I’ve already made:
Lunch option 1: kale/roasted vegetable salad with carrot top pesto (inspired by the recipe posted here) with tofu for added protein
Lunch option 2: lentil, tofu, cheese burrito I made a few weeks ago and froze
Snack option 1: boiled some eggs and prepared some hummus and veggies + fruit
Snack option 2: Greek yogurt + a leftover cookie dough protein ball (recipe here) + fruit
Breakfast options: I’ll have something quick like yogurt + granola or overnight oats for breakfast this week.
My husband and I take turns cooking dinner and usually cook 2-3x/week and eat leftovers.
Something like this with more calories might work for peak IM training!
- Am I getting enough calories? Did you know that the position statement on nutrition for athletic performance (a joint position paper from the Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American College of Sports Medicine) recommends 6-10 g carbohydrate/day for 1-3 hours of high intensity exercise? Given my body weight and anticipated activity in peak training, that equates to 382 g carbohydrates (on the low end of the recommendation), which is ~1530 kcal. Let’s assume I’m getting 60% of my calories for carbohydrate – that’s 2550 kcals/day, which might be challenging for me. And this is during the week… once the long bike rides and runs start on the weekend, I’ll have to eat more on those days. Although I’m not quite in that high intensity category quite yet, and I hate counting calories, I’ve been checking in every few days to see what I’m eating and how I feel. As an example, I went to the gym last Friday and crashed HARD about 10 minutes into it. Turns out I certainly did not eat enough that day – note taken.
- What kind of schedule do I want? Of course, there are a few staples such as long rides and brick workouts on the weekend. But what about swimming and running? What day is my favorite to take a day off? Where do two-a-days fit best? I’m learning more and being very observant about my behavior and preferences. For example, a hard workout on Friday afternoon/evening is NOT going to happen (give me wine, cheese, and movie please!)
- I’m also trying to enjoy non-triathlon things such as cross-country skiing, yoga, social activities, etc… Not that I won’t avoid these completely in the summer, but I might have to cut down on them some.
So far, I’ve been having fun and have rode on the wave of pre-training joy and bliss in 2017, but I can’t wait until March! More adventures to come!