Thursday, February 23, 2012

Post-Workout Analysis... getting geeky!!!

I'm going to show you what I do after I've completed a workout. How do I analyze my data? How do I make it easy for my coach to analyze a heck of a lot more??? Here's how!!

Step 1. I shower and eat food. I'm usually quite manic after a hard training session, so if you're standing in between me and food, GTFO. This is serious. I'm renown for getting realllllly grumpy when hungry.

Step 2. I log into my TrainingPeaks account and I upload my data file once it has been downloaded from my watch (I use a Garmin Forerunner 310xt for OWS, bike and run, and I just use my brain's memory storage for pool swims).

The coach gave me this workout a while back: warm up for
30', then do 3x30' at HIM effort on 30' of easy spinning. 

Step 3. The data (power, pace, distance, HR, etc) is all there, ready to be analyzed by myself and my coach. All I need to add is additional comments. Not to sound too new-age, but I write down how I was feeling, I sometimes am very serious and detail oriented, and other times the workout was so ridiculous that I have to write a joke or two. In general, I stick to the facts.

Step 4. On top of all my facts and feelings, I add how this session was good, how I gained from it, and/or how I can improve upon it for future sessions.

Some notes:
- I always mention what I ate and drank (if anything).
e.g. nutrition: what I ate (number of calories), then how many cals that meant per hr.
e.g. hydration: how many bottles of water/nuun
- If the ride had specific sets, I break down how each one went, whether I hit my target power numbers, paces or HR zones or not, etc, and if I did, whether the RPE changed at all throughout.
- I mention any outside factors that might influence how the workout went
e.g. Yes, power numbers were high zone 4 but I only achieved 21km/hr? Weird? NOT REALLY, we had a 70-80km/hr northwesterly wind, so I'm amazed I survived!!! If heat is a factor, as it might be on the run, then I might mention that as well.
- Other comments...
e.g. I FELT LIKE I WAS FLYING, IT WAS AWESOME!!
e.g. I'm pretty sure gnomes snuck into my room at night and injected 10 kilos of lead into my legs while I was asleep. They feel sooooooo heavy. I think I'm dying.

Clearly, my coach has a bit of information to dig through here, and it all helps in him seeing the bigger picture. I like doing my own wee analysis as well. For example, on the bike I mainly check my power numbers; I have a mental picture of what a certain power range felt like 1-2 months ago, and what it feels like now. It's very rough analysis, but I go mainly by feel. It's made me realize what works well for me, and what doesn't. I respond very poorly to "run 3x15' at HR zone 4, on 5' rest interval", but respond like a raving maniac (awesomely!) if told "run like you stole something for 3x approx 10-15' (about how long it takes to run away), on 5' of blending into the crowd, acting normal, cruisey jogging". Yes, I recognize that I act like a 5 year old. What triathlete doesn't??

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Relaxation February

I'm learning lessons all over the place! After I sorted out my anemia, I was still feeling as crappy as I felt before. Here were the symptoms:

- Unable to get my HR high enough to hit high-intensity or even moderate-intensity workouts.
- Even the easy and steady workouts felt massively difficult.
- I had absolutely NO pep, you could NOT get me excited to hit certain demanding time intervals in the pool, or go all out hard on the bike, or ask me to bust up a hill. It got to a point where attempting to access another gear, no, didn't raise my HR but it did leave me feeling very very weak.
- The motivation to do anything else was very low. It required huge mental focus to hang out with friends and to complete even the simplest of chores.

The thing is, it became progressively worse since October so I'd been able to get used to feeling really really exhausted. My coach at every phone conversation would often suggest that I take some time off, and I'd insist that even if I were to take time off from being coached, I'd still feel the urge to train on my own. I'd still swim/bike/run. He believed I was overtrained far sooner than I could admit it; things were also complicated because of my sudden anemia... what was overtraining and what was anemia?

After I conducted some blood tests, my ferritin levels were much improved and at "normal" levels, haemoglobin was perfect, nor was I B12/folate deficient or any other thing that the doctor could think of, I began to believe that perhaps taking an extended period of time off would be a good idea.

So I decided to take the rest of February off. It gave me time to think, and hindsight is always 20/20. Of course, two weeks off after a full February - September intense racing season is not enough. From February to May I was entered in one event or another pretty much every weekend, then I did 4 half-irons and a full-iron triathlon in the span of 3 months. I was, of course 100% toast. Moving across the world, in 4 different countries didn't help. When I did return back to training after only a 2 week break, the training was also at a higher intensity. Then the anemia hit.

Very many things culminated in me getting very very fried. I've decided to return to training March 1st. I'm taking my time off very seriously, even if it has me seriously jonesing for a good training fix. The compulsive, diligent need to train, let me tell you, isn't always of benefit to the body.

Here's what I'm doing to heal myself:
- Sleeping 10 hours a night
- If I do exercise for 2-3 days in a row, I take 2 days off.
- Eating well and healthy
- Keep my excitement and energy in check. I'm starting to really feel the drive to hit hard intervals and hard sessions, and it feels so much easier to work hard than it did before... but I know I have to heal a little bit more.

In any case, things are turning back around and I feel really good for my future races. I think some ~magical~ things can happen soon, in a very fresh state. This forced time off has also made me appreciate just how much a coach can see, simply from being an outside personality. He has been suggesting a break from training for months, and I always insisted on continuing onwards. I know I'm pigheaded and stubborn, but perhaps I should listen a bit more? I only gave myself a break when I physically could not swim, bike, or run anymore.

Anyway here is a random photo:

Lake Hawea on a calm day! I love this mountain range, it
looks very dramatic. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pretty Photos 012 - (Road bike and a) sunset

Getting used to my new (secondhand) Specialized Ruby pro
road bike. Feels sweeeeet. 
The pretty picture: toy car racing in a nearby quarry as the
sun set. Wheeeeee!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Easing back into training...

In December and early January, I got bombed by anemia, and then had a bike crash... so the last month has been less about training and more about resting and healing up.

The road rash is nearly healed although, oddly enough, incredibly itchy. I'm dying to just scratch at it, although of course that is definitely NOT the best thing to do right now.

The anemia is... well, we're still figuring things out. My ferritin levels were very low (27 ng/ml) prior to my hormones freaking out and having a period for 2.5 weeks straight, and then now another 9+ days. I just went in for more blood tests to determine how much my ferritin levels have dropped since then, what my haemoglobin status is, and other blood tests and swabs to figure out why the hell I am losing so much blood.

I am back into training, which is capped at 1.5 hours a day, pretty much zero intensity. It's all about maintaining an aerobic base until we figure out what's going on. The only bright side to this mess is that it has forced me to deal with my iron levels. I've always had low ferritin stores. They were borderline passable for a regular person. And I think I rode on those stores for the last 2-3 years as an athlete, slowly dwindling their counts. Now, I've been put in a hole that I have to actively dig myself out of. The real bright side is that, once I do figure out what's going wrong, I will know what to do to bring the iron levels back up, and higher, so I'll probably be a bit of a beast of an athlete. (You can read more about iron for endurance athletes here, a well-written and simple to understand article by TrainingPeaks)

If I can pull off what I did last season (nothing remarkable in the scheme of things, but an awesome racing season for a chick that's only been doing this 2 years), then I can't wait to see what I can do in the next year onwards as a healthy, haemoglobin-rich, blood-pumping triathlete! (Too much?)

As they say, onwards and upwards, eh?

Oh, and here's a random shot of Lake Wanaka and its mountains from Mt Iron:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pretty Photos 011 - Sunset from Mt Roy

Hiked the Mt Roy track to see the sunset from up high. The sun sets on the other side of the mountains (which we missed, having started the hike after work and dilly-dallying a bit too much). The dusky colours were surreal, though. 
Lake Wanaka, looking northeast.
Two islands in sight: Mou Waho and Mou Tapu.