The Did Well Assessment (Part 2.0)

Posted: July 2, 2011 in In Transition, Motivation

The Welland event has now come and passed and I’ve been replaying the race over in my mind for the past three days in order to assess my performance and look for any further opportunities for improvement prior to my next major competition in September.  I don’t want to give you the impression that I am obsessed, but, this is something I want to seriously continue with and develop at over the next 10-15 years or so, or for as long as I physically can anyways.  One day – mark my words – I will race in a Team Canada uniform at the World Games, even if I’m the only competitor in the 60-65 age category – I don’t care – come hell or high water it will happen.

Regular visitors to this blog might recall my two-part Did Well Assessment’  I conducted on myself a few months ago; so now that I am transitioning again into the third and final stage of this seasons training – ‘The Big Suck: Part 3’ – I figured it was also high time that I did another such mini-evaluation as I want to be confident that I am still on the right track and that I am 100% physically and mentally prepared for my first major International event in another two months.  Sure I have a coach to design and schedule all my workouts for optimal peak performance, but she can’t do anything for my mental conditioning – that’s all on me.

First, let’s look at my results from Sunday.  My finish time of 5:02:25 represents nearly a 54 minute improvement over last year’s first attempt at this distance (5:56:47) at the Musselman in Geneva, NY.  Now, first, bear in mind that the Musselman was the much more difficult course as Welland provided little challenges in the way of hills or a technical layout; in fact, the only challenges I battled on the Welland course were the headwinds and the boredom of riding/running alone.  However, it must also be said that I am much, much fitter now than I was at this time last year so, really, comparing these races is like comparing apples and oranges.   Having said that, let’s delve into this past weekend’s successes specifically to evaluate my next steps going forward.

Did Well’s:

1.  Continued weight loss.  I originally gave myself a target racing weight of 185 lbs to achieve for September, yet I entered into the Welland race weighing in below that at 183 lbs representing an overall difference of 22 lbs since October.  This difference in load bearing has equated to a drastic improvement in time for both my bike and run splits, not to mention minimalizing my recovery time afterwards.

I haven’t really consciously altered my diet too drastically, but, I have maintained a much healthier meal plan strategy that has enabled me to more efficiently burn the calories that I consume and vice versa.  The simple truth is, I am seldom hungry – if ever – and yet the pounds continue to melt away, so I’m definitely doing something right.  I plan on continuing with this successful eating strategy and I am now recalibrating my target race weight for September at 178 lbs which I think is very realistic given that I still have two months of training and preparation to complete prior to competing in Cancun.

2.  Running focus.  Being what my Coach refers to as an ‘identifier’ (needs most improvement), I have dedicated a lot of time to developing a stronger run base this year.  I am beginning to make peace with running (not quite, but almost…) and I have put forth a lot more effort this year into running more smoothly; not carrying an added 22 lbs definitely helps.  Likewise, I have relied on more ‘ABC’ drills, tempo runs and hill work this year to make me not only a faster more powerful runner, but a more well-rounded and efficient runner to boot.  Part and parcel with being well-rounded (no pun intended) means getting out there in all types of weather be it cold wind, rain, heat, humidity or heavens forbid, snow – I’ve run in it all.  This is what I refer to as ‘mental toughness’ conditioning and there’s not a lot that will spook me off a run these days so, come race time, despite the weather conditions I’m good to go.  All in all, this has led me to an overall improvement in both my half marathon time (19 minutes) as well as my 30k time (17 minutes).

3.  Race NutritionOkay, I think I may finally have this figured out.    Knowing now that my body does not like processing solid food while exercising, I have found a suitable means by which to still provide me the necessary energy while successfully minimalizing all those nasty after effects (think:  IB issues, abdominal cramps, and the like).  I now take 95% of my race day nutrition in liquid form, as well as during my long workouts, and I am now able to sustain a level of intensity in my performance that I am happy with without sounding like a flock of ducks in a wind tunnel.  Here is my current race (training) day nutrition plan:

  • Breakfast:  1 banana, ½ toasted bagel w/ peanut butter & jam
  • Pre-race (1 hour): 1 btl. Perpetuem
  • Bike: 2 btls. Perpetuem, 1 btl. ordinary water, 2 Chomp bites per 10k
  • Run:  GU gels (as required)
  • Post-race (1 hour):  1 btl. Recovery drink, and foooooooooood

4.  Recovery.  This has been huge for me this year.  As opposed to previous years, I am also now putting a lot of attention into my ‘recovery’ or, rather, the processes by which I allow my body to heal and repair itself after major events or between long or grueling workouts.  The benefits of this particular recovery strategy are two-fold as I see it: 1) injury avoidance, 2) being able to successfully keep up with the rest of your weekly training schedule.

Let’s face it; you’re not improving any by staying at home on the couch eating bon-bon’s while patting yourself on the back after yesterday’s workout, can you?  Hell, no!  You need to get back out there and at ‘em, tiger!  Likewise, how effective will your workouts really be if you haven’t allowed your body the chance to adequately recovery back near its 100% optimal efficiently?  So to enable me to do just this, I have incorporated a lot of added yoga conditioning into my regular training schedule – specifically balance and flexibility – the very essence of movement.  To date, I am swimming, cycling and running 100% injury free and have yet to miss a single workout in nearly 3 months.  *knock on wood*

The other factor in my successful recovery plan this year has been seeing Jen, my soon-to-be-registered massage therapist.  Regular once a month visits have definitely provided their perks as well.  Besides the multi-fold advantages of having your fatigued muscles massaged and relaxed, I am also learning a shitload about my body, as in what is connected to what and will make what go and so on and so forth.  It’s been amazing.  I am learning now through our conversations (not to mention bouts of uncontrollable giggles) about what muscles in particular may need focus for additional conditioning or relaxing, so I can zero in on them specifically later during my yoga sessions; it’s almost like having your own technical support advisor for your own body.

5.  Bricks.  This year, the name of the game has been ‘Suck it up, Buttercup!”  “Go hard or go home”, would do just as nicely.  In years previous, I participated only in shorter distance, yet faster interval Bricks designed to spike your heart rate and simulate the feeling of racing; in fact, I only did one Iron distance Brick run last year three weeks before my event simply to conquer the fear.   And this is all well and good if you’re training for going shorter distances quickly, but when the task is to go longer at a steadier pace this type of Brick is a bit counter-productive (imo).

The strategy this year was to do longer distance Brick runs in order to get my legs more accustomed to doing the distance comfortably after long rides.  The idea has been to condition myself and facilitate ‘muscle memory’ to be able to grind out those long runs post- ride.  It has made for some really long and painful Sunday mornings over the past few months but it has paid off in spades.  This past Sunday, I managed a 1:48:59 half marathon immediately following my 90k bike, which is only less than two minutes off my personal best time I pulled off in February at the Grimsby Half Marathon.  Not too shabby, eh?

So, all in all, there has been lots of successes so far this year but, let’s try and not get too cocky, eh, as there’s still much I need to focus on over the next 2 and a half months. So, next up, let’s take a hard look at ‘Do Differently’s’, or what my next developmental steps need to be going forward.

(to be con’d…)

  1. Aquaman says:

    Just out of curiousity, are you doing anything in the way of interval workouts?

    • Not Interval work so much in it’s classic sense, Aquaman, as my priority is more being able to go long at a steadier pace, but I definitely do some Fartlek and tempo runs every other week or so just to keep things interesting…particularly if I have a Sprint distance race coming up. I also do the same on the bike and in the pool. So, not as much as most I guess…but I do do some.

  2. Jan says:

    I am astounded at your tenacity and integrity with your training. You are doing incredibly well! Plus never hungry and losing weight? Design a nutrition plan for the rest of us challenged people at Transcom. I’ll pay for it. In the meantime Terry, I look forward to watching you complete with Team Cda when you are my age. Keep up the awesome work. Jan

  3. Aquaman says:

    I only ask about the intervals because I know that intervals are the exact “sufferfest” that you would relish. 20 x 400m with 1 minute rest is a particularly gruesome one if you were in the mood 😛

  4. mom says:

    Come HELL or HIGH WATER, I WILL BE THERE for you at the WORLD’S! Will my wheelchair or walker be allowed on the plane? If you are 65, that is!

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