Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tips & Framework for HIM Training

I woke up today feeling worse than Monday and Tuesday. It's catching up with me. THe soreness is just about gone but I'm exhausted. Guess I need the rest. Apparently, last weekend's running a half marathon with a cold and the weekend before--biking 44 miles after the stomach bug--may have been a bit much for me. I skipped spinning class Tues am and am skipping the club track workout tonight (although I will join them for pizza afterwards; is that cheating?). I'm just listening to my body. These next 2 weeks are just going to be rest for me. I'm not going to force myself to do anything I don't feel like doing because there's no point. Jason, on the other hand, is fine. He's going to the track workout and is perky and strong as ever. He ran the half in 1:58. Goody for him. As you can tell, I'm kind of cranky. Just goes to show how much I need this rest.

Thanks to all who helped so much with their advice. I wanted to compile a summary from what everyone said b/c I think these tips are gold. Maybe others can benefit. Plus, since I've been too trashed to train (hmm "too trashed to train"--the title of a novel?), I've been doing lots of thinking and planning. Have the rough draft of my 5 month half-IM training plan written up so I'll go over the framework of that.

My plan is roughly a 20-week plan, adapted from several different sources (see below). I've broken it up into 4 week periods, beginning in November:
Prep/Base1 (Nov-Dec)
Base1 (Dec-Jan)
Base2 (Jan-Mar)
Build1 2 weeks (Mar)
Taper: 2 weeks (including race week--3 wks)
Race Week: 3/31/07
Recovery--eat and sleep, baby!

"Off" season:
Ideally, I would be able to have 4-8 weeks for an Off season. However, I took a lot of down-time this summer when I was sick with the low thyroid thing. I was feeling really good this fall. I'm hoping I'll be able to completely recover in the next 2 weeks. If, I don't feel good when I start training, I'll take more time off.
This period gets your body used to training again slowly and gradually after an off season. Because my off season is short, I don't expect to lose very much fitness. Therefore, the Prep period will be only 2 weeks before I start Base1. Of course, if my body is still tired at this point, I'll scale back and increase the Prep period.
The most important part--building endurance. Training here will be long and slow. Stay in the aerobic zone. I'll still have a few, limited speed workouts thrown in for variation and to prevent staleness. Also, long, slow training makes long, slow athletes. Maintaining a small amount of speed sessions in should prevent that.
More experienced athletes will do a Build period here. However, this is my first half-IM. Also, because of the funny time-line, my time is better spent continuing to build my endurance.
Build 1:
Leading into my taper, I will shorten the sessions and increase the intensity to build power and speed. Overall time per week will be similar to Base1.
1st week--shorten total training time by 75%. Keep workouts intense, fast, and short. Begin recovery.
2nd week--shorten training time by 50%.
Race week--sessions should be very short and only to prevent stiffness. I want to be fresh on race day. I will spend the extra time honing my mental skills by daily meditation/visualization exercises.

R&R weeks--every 4th week, I will cut my training back and allow extra time to recover to prevent injury and keep my mind and body fresh.
Training time--6 days a week with 1 day completely off. If this is too much, I will train 5 days with 2 days off spaced evenly (say Mon and Fri)
Training Hrs--About 8-10 hrs a week (6 during R&R and less during taper).
Key Workouts--Most important is the long ride, the long run, and bricks. Because these workouts take a tremendous toll on the body, I will alternate long weeks with brick weeks. Due to my schedule, the key workouts will have to take place on the weekend. Although this is hard for recovery, it will prepare my body for having to bike and run long while feeling tired (pluses and minuses to the strategy of the "death weekends"). Friday will be an active recovery swim, Saturday will be my long ride or brick, and Sunday will be my long run with Monday being my "Off" day.
Frequency: I will aim for 3 runs, 3 swims, and 3 bikes a week. In addition, b/c I'm female and lean, I benefit tremendously from weight training. I will aim for 2 45 min weight sessions a week. I will also do 2 Yoga sessions a week on my Off day (Mon) and Active Recovery day (Fri) to reinforce a consistent stretching program. Yoga and weights should help prevent injury.
Obviously, during R&R weeks, I will do less--1 weight, 2 runs, 2 swims, and 2 bikes. During the taper, no weights whatsoever and less running (since it's so hard on the body). If this feels like too much, I can always adjust. For instance, I can alternate the frequency of workouts: 2 runs, 3 bikes, 2 swims 1st week, 3 runs, 2 bikes, 3 swims 2nd week, or some variation of this. If weights 2x/wk is too much, that will probably be the first thing I will reduce (to once a week).
Focus on eating lots of healthy foods. Fruits, veggies, fish (sushi is awesome), whole grains, smoothies, lean beef, yogurt, eggs, etc. Focus on eating balanced and small meals spread throughout the day. Do not restrict calories b/c I'll need lots and I don't need to lose any weight (I don't want to lose muscle). In addition, I'll need to determine my needs during training and practice. I'm figuring this out now but from what I've read, it seems we can replace 30-50% of calories burned during cycling and 20% during running. I have to keep my sensitive stomach in my mind. Electrolyte replacement and hydration is probably more important since this is the number one cause of fatigue in athletes. I'm looking into energy bars, gus, and liquids (e.g. CarboPro) for cals, and I've been using buffered sea salt and buffered electrolyte tablets for salt.
Sleep and Overall Health:
Keep my routine. I will need 8-10 hours of sleep a night. I will go to bed early in order to wake early. I will stretch for 10 minutes when I wake up and 10 minutes before I go to bed.
Mental Toughness:
I will spend 1 day a week (my off day) using meditation exercises and visualization techniques to practice the kind of focus/concentration/positive energy I will need on race day. 20 minutes should do it.
And above all, I will have fun!!!

Half-IM Training Tips (from my awesome fellow bloggers):
1. Take one full day of rest per week. Sometimes more if you need it. Really rest on rest days and R&R weeks.
2. Be flexible. Don't get locked into a cookie cutter plan and follow it verbatum. Listen to the feedback from your body and adjust your training plan accordingly. It's always better to undertrain than overtrain.
3. Periodize your training. Base for a few weeks, rest a week. etc. Increase hours/mileage by no more than 10%/week.
4. Base building is key to H-IM success. It should be long and slow and only in the aerobic zone. Along the same lines, long runs and bikes are the most important workouts to do for preparation.
5. Also, bricks are instrumental in preparing you for race day.
For some, a coach is instrumental in ensuring that you don't overtrain and also that your easy days are easy and your hard days hard.
6. Unlike an IM, you can actually do the different pieces of a half. Do the 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run (separately) to help prepare you and build confidence.
7. Pace yourself. Go hard on hard days and easy on easy days. To help discipline yourself and stay in your aerobic zone during LSD workouts, heart rate monitors and coaches can be instrumental.
8. Nutrition--the 4th discipline. Practice what you'll eat/drink on race day to replace electrolytes and cals during training. Eat healthy and balanced when recovering and resting.
9. Group workouts can be great. Masters swimming, group rides, group runs, and spin classes are great workout options. At the same time, don't push past your limits either. Doing too many group workouts can alter you training plan if you're not careful.
10. Have confidence in your body and your ability to do the distance.
11. Include a stretching regime to prevent injury. Include weights if your schedule allows it.
12. Sleep!
13. Training hourse per week varies. The average is anywhere from 6 to 15. Experiment to see what fits your body best. Don't overdo.

Training Plan Resources:
a) my fellow bloggers including (but not limited to):
IM Mike
Cookie Monster
Run Bubba Run
Tri Teacher
b) Craig Zelent
of Tri Club San Diego (our IM coach; has developed a very simple, basic plan specifically for CA 70.3)
c) Joe Friel The Triathlete's Training Bible (a must-have for all triathletes)
also his book with Gordon Byrn Going Long is also most excellent and a very good complement.
d) Triathlon Workout Planner
by John Mora (great for honing in on key workouts).
e) Tri Fuel--basic plan to give you an outline
f)Beginner Triathlete has a very good beginner plan that's also very in-depth
g) Tri Newbies--another free plan worth looking at
h)Terry Laughlin's Total Immersion system is invaluable for swimming.


Paul said...

Wow, detailed plan! Very nice!

Rachel said...

Thanks for the input. You're probably right about the intensity stuff. I'll just have to see how it goes. Otherwise, I may go crazy from all the long and slow stuff. I'm definitely going to do 80-90% distance training.

PS Why did you take down your blog, IMMike?

RunBubbaRun said...

The recap was great. The tips were helpful. The weight training I would stick to free weights, movements that work a wide area of muscles at one time. Just take it easy for your 1st half IM and most of all have fun.

qcmier said...

Sounds like you've got a plan. Going to be fun following your progress.

Just a thought and it may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but if you want some speed and intensity, do it earlier rather than later.

Mike said...

Rachel- catching up on your blog here- congrats on finishing that 1/2 mary while not feeling 100%- you are tough!
It looks like you have a great plan lined up here....remember you build 1/2IM or IM run fitness on the some overdistance stuff (56++) on the bike on some of your long days! Looking forward to tracking your progress

Cliff said...

Rachel..u are hard core..i haven'te ven think about next season yet. I am still in my off season.sitting around wasting my time period.

As IM-Mike said,

My last season, I did not even bother with a build period. I just replace it with another base period.

If your ultimate goal (or a few years down) is IM, just consider the next season to build your base. Besides base takes years to build.

As for nutrition, train long ride,run with what u are going to take. On race day, it becomes second nature. I still have to focus on it. Just easier.

Lastly, u might want to space out the run and ride. Just see if it works for u. For me, my long run is wed and long ride is sat.

And yeah, go long...Mike gave me good advice that riding long is a great way to build aerobic base. is fuN :)

Kewl Nitrox said...

"last weekend's running a half marathon with a cold and the weekend before--biking 44 miles after the stomach bug--may have been a bit much for me" ;) You sure are hard core!

Impressive Plan!

JeffM said...

Very well thought out and well put together plan!

Jack said...

Sounds like a great, well thought-out plan. I found myself taking some mental notes. It will be exciting to follow your training journey!

Zoo said...

wow, you're organized! Thanks for the list, looks like it will be pretty helpful for the next season.

Andy said...

Holy Crap!

I have not read the post yet, but I will have to link it through my site. I will have to take some time out tonight to read this one.


Rice said...

hey great plan.. If you do not know where you are going you will likely end up somewhere else.. But it sounds like you know what you want and how your going to get there...



Jenö said...

This is a great roadmap - thanks for sharing. I am also in the process of putting something together for next year so this will come in handy. Thanks again and great job!

Anonymous said...

Finally - someone more organized than me...