Monday, March 24, 2008

The Taper Begins...

I am really behind on posting and have A TON to catch up on but have been waaaay too exhausted lately. Keep checking back this week as I reveal the good stuff:

1. New Bike Porn:
I have a new bike announcement. My Look 585 Elle has arrived and has been officially indoctrinated into my bike family--whole post on that coming this week.
2. Palomar Mountain Ride:
Yes, I biked up a mountain...and it was fantastic!
3. IMAZ Training Plan Synopsis & Details
(including more on nutrition)

Lessons Learned During Final Push Week:
"You have learned well my young grasshopper..."

I successfully completed my "Final Push" week, and am now officially beginning my 3-week taper. Thank God, because I am completely wiped. However, I learned a verrry valuable lesson during my final push week, which, hopefully, I took to heart just in time. For my previous 2 half-ironmans, I would push as hard as I could the final 3 weeks leading into the taper, entering the taper completely overtrained. This forced me to taper way too hard leading up to race day both times, as opposed to a gradual reduction in volume (as well as upping the intensity). As a result, I felt flat and sluggish on race day both times (not to mention sick or injured).

My swim buddy on Friday mentioned that he liked to really focus on recovery during his final push into the taper so he could have a quality taper with key, race-specific workouts. Something really hit home with that statement for me. Early that week, I had been so tired from my previous weekend workouts (74 mile, windy ride Saturday and 17-mile run Sunday) that I had no idea how I was going to make it through to the next weekend. My weekend workouts have always had the biggest priority since that's when I do my long rides and long runs. I decided to focus on rest mid-week to arrive at the weekend fresh and ready to take on my weekend warrior battles.

I began scaling back and cancelling workouts as well as adding naps. Here's the weekly breakdown (*denotes altered/cancelled workouts to account for fatigue):

Final Push Week:
Monday: completely off (massage)
Tuesday: am bike (intense, hilly 60 min ride)--felt great!
*pm track workout (felt completely wiped; cut it short and only did 5 miles, including warm-up and cool-down; also scaled back on intensity)
Wednesday: am swim (took rest of day off; still felt exhausted)
Thursday: am swim (felt good for swim but exhausted by afternoon)
*pm tempo run (originally planned Olympic brick but way too tired; took 2.5 hr nap before run; felt awesome on run)
Friday: *cancelled am bike to sleep in b/c still exhausted
pm Cove to Pier and back swim (3 mile ocean swim)--the longest open water and continual swim I have ever done! Whoo-hoo! If I can do 5000 meters in the open ocean, I surely can do 4000 in a lake! Also, I learned that my wetsuit chafes horribly after 2 miles. Very valuable since I still have time to rustle up a new one and break it in before race day.
Saturday: 64 mile, long ride up Mt. Palomar (the highest peak in San Diego county; ride report coming soon). This ride was challenging, brutal, and absolutely awesome! I felt great.
Sunday: 20 mile run on the coast (some hills, some heat). I got a high at mile 17 and felt I could have gone a few more miles! I also learned I need to drink a lot more water than expected. Ran much better after a much-needed water stop. Learned a lot on this run and ended fabulously!

Lesson learned? You can't be a slave to the training plan. There's a real art and science to training. The science is drawing up an effective plan and using all the data out there to help you but the art (the hardest part) is listening to your body and knowing when to scale back (or push harder). A true training plan is flexible and malleable. I find myself constantly adjusting and tinkering with it to fine-tune what my body needs. Hopefully because I scaled back mid-week, I was able to hit my weekend workouts hard and effectively (without injury or illness; knock on wood), which should put me into a great position for the taper.

I learned A TON this week! Feeling tired but healthy and ready to rest up for IMAZ in 3 short weeks!

Now, I just need to master the art of the taper, which is no small feat...


Wes said...

There is comfort in the plan, grasshopper, but following it religiously means you do not have to use your mind. That of course, is the WRONG ANSWER :-)

Enjoy your taper! I think you hitting it on all cylinders!!

Rainmaker said...

That's awesome to be so close, and all within taper-land. Enjoy the ride now! And of course the great spring weather.

Ken Schulz said...

Gotta love the taper! Rest up and go FAAAST on race day!

Sherry said...

As I was reading your most recent blog, I glanced over to your Iron Man countdown timer... saw 18 days and my stomach did a flip flop! I'm not even the one who is racing! What's up with that??? Must be pre-race-jitters empathy! LOL!

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Anytime you can make it to your taper for a big race without an injury, your training has been a success.

Very true that you have to use the training plan as just that...a plan. Listening to your body is how you audit the plan.

Great job!

CVSURF said...

Your on the home stretch now. Sounds like your plenty ready for this.

Sara said...

That is so so exciting - woot woot!!! Your last week went great and I can't wait to hear about the rest!

RunBubbaRun said...

Now you can try to relax, I mean try to anyways... You'll do great in 3 weeks..

You definetly have to get a shot of the LOOK bike and let us know how it rides..

Ange said...

Those are very valuable lessons. Thank you so much for sharing that. I am not training for an IM right now, but I have had a big week wiht hard workouts and have been wiped. I chose to sleep this a.m. and run later if possible. Now, after reading this, I will not feel guilty. I feel smart. Thank you for this wisdom. You're goign to rock at IMAZ. I can't wait to hear about it all. Good luck with taper!!

Mallie said...

I have no doubt you'll master the art of taper and go into your IM feeling fantastic. You've really put in both the time and the proper thought. I'm very impressed.

jay said...

Congrats Rachel! You are almost there. You are going to do great. Best of luck in AZ!