I’ve been reading more lately… because I have a plethora of time. Haha, just kidding (I wish). If you check in regularly, you know that I am training for an Ironman triathlon and that I have surrounded myself with a support network that includes a supportive & knowledgeable partner, a coach, and a tri team. I could very easily just follow the program that has been written for me, however, as I learned the hard way over several on-again off-again years of running, I have a really thick noggin and if I don’t understand why I’m doing a particular workout or I can’t see the bigger picture to understand how my training will evolve, I am less committed to executing my plan. I started by reading Be Iron Fit: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for Ultimate Fitness by Don Fink and Melanie Fink because they just released a new edition and I’d heard good things in the Women for Tri group on Facebook. Sidenote: if you aren’t a member of this group & you’re a female triathlete or ‘tri curious’, you should join!
Be Iron Fit is all about making ironman accessible and do-able for people who have busy lives (i.e., not pros), which I love. It is written in layman’s terms and it is very easy to read and understand, no degree in exercise physiology required. It’s focus is on how to incorporate ironman training into your already jam-packed life.
It builds to 3 iron-distance training plans, one each for beginner, intermediate and advanced athletes. What I enjoyed most was the introduction. I am deeply inspired by ironman, but I have a hard time putting those feelings into words. When I try to, they sort of fall flat. Yeah, yeah, it’s a big long race. Oh, but to so many of us, it’s soooo much more.
Here are some excerpts from the intro that I loved:
“We were never the same people again after our first Iron-distance triathlons, and neither is anyone else. It does something wonderful to you, and it’s not just the thrill of crossing the finish line. It starts when you make the commitment to the race and it continues will beyond. It is an amazing journey of self-discovery that carries on … for the rest of your life.”
“After you complete an Iron-distance triathlon, it will always be on your short list of lifetime accomplishments. You can’t help it – it will be. If someone asks you, “What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever done?” you will immediately see yourself finishing the Ironman. So for al those out there with the dream in the back of your head, we are talking to you. You can do it. You will never regret doing it. You will almost definitely regret, deeply regret, not doing it. You need only to decide to take the journey, the most amazing journey of your life.”
I LOVE all of this.
Beyond the compelling intro, the authors go on to explain essential workouts that comprise IM training, training cycles, gradual adaption, heart rate zones (the importance of training in zone 2), race strategies and nutrition.
The Finks present this handy-dandy framework, their rules for how to train efficiently and manage your time. It is spot on and I have two additions of my own. 🙂
- Train in time, not in miles – for obvious reasons, this helps manage time. I also happen to love it because it incentivizes me to stay in the appropriate heart rate zone rather than speeding up to get in X number of miles within a constrained amount of time.
- Indoor training – in the Northeast, winter dictates this and I love indoor workouts for their efficiency, but I don’t love it in terms of simulating what I’ll be going through on race day. Eventually, for my mental sanity and for appropriate physical preparation, I’m going to have to get outdoors. Hopefully in March.
- Lunchtime Workouts – The idea here is that you can get 2 workouts in each day easily by using your lunch hour. My challenge is that I don’t usually take a lunch break, nor do I have easy access to a gym in my office building, but I agree that if you do, this is great!
- Masters Swim Sessions – For a while I was intimidated by “Masters Swim”, but Masters just means 18 years old +. There are some speedy swimmers in the sessions, but not everyone is a super fast swimmer so don’t be intimidated. You can learn a lot from attending Masters swim practice. So far, I’m lucky enough to have tri team swims to attend that fit my schedule, but if that ever changes, I’ll definitely by a punch card pass to attend Masters workouts.
- Early Bird Workouts – The idea here is that you get it in before the day becomes unpredictable. Especially if you have a demanding career, this is absolutely necessary. As a mom, my mornings are unpredictable due to the strange sleep patterns of my children. Sometimes it is actually easier to get workouts in later in the day. For me, the key is planning in advanced and coordinating with the rest of the family so everybody knows when Mom’s “off duty”.
A few additional items that help me with time management are as follows:
- Pack for Workouts in Advance – This means packing or sitting out sports nutrition, watch / HR strap, clothes, equipment and footwear the evening before so I can just wake up and get going. The more I automate my workouts, the easier they are to squeeze in.
- Write Down my Solo Workouts – About 40% of my workouts are on my own and the other 60% are with my tri team. Instructions for the solo efforts are in TrainingPeaks, which is on my phone, however, I find that writing out the workout in advance, especially if it is complex, helps me internalize what I’ll be doing. And knowing what’s coming gives me a sense of control, which removes one of the barriers of starting a workout. Sometimes I can even memorize the workout so there’s no need to reference (or bring) my phone, which I love.
- Define a Trigger for Core – For the first several weeks of training, I was having a tough time executing my strength workouts. I am prescribed 10 minutes of core 3-5 times a week in addition to 2x full body strength. Since the core workouts were just 10 minutes, I would push them off and by the end of the week, I’d still have a stack of 3-5 incomplete workouts. Not good. So, I defined a trigger, which is simply some habit that is already established that will help me remember to initiate a new habit (core workout). My quality time with my SO usually involves Netflix and sitting on the couch in the evenings. As soon as Netflix comes on, my yoga mat comes out and I’m planking. So far, this is working quite well!
Do you have any rules to live by when it comes to training efficiently? If so, please share them! And let me know how you like it if you decide to pick up the book..