To date most of my triathlon training has followed the formula of run-swim-bike, repeat. There has been no master plan and no nutritional plan, apart from the overall goal of finishing, and the secondary goals of overcoming my fear of deep water, learning to ride a bike and generally rediscovering my joie de vivre .
There were some advantages to this approach. I discovered that riding a bike was such an exhilirating experience! Not only was it fun, but I am starting to develop a real passion for riding. After years and years of watching the Tour de France et al, I can finally appreciate and understand the more technical aspects of the competition. The second advantage was that I signed up to do a pre-triathlon training course at MIT, and met some really nice people. It was really cool turning up at two of my tri's and actually knowing some people there!
Perhaps the biggest advantage was not overcoming my fear of deep water as easily as I thought I would. Yes, I wrote 'advantage'. Reason being that I was able to meet some wonderful women who are such powerful swimmers. Watching them swim was inspirational. Their speed, grace and elegance in the water made me realise that I would not be content to just get by, but that I need to find a proper swim coach and turn my weakness into my strength. I want to swim like Nancy and Tonya and Kristen!
The disadvantages of my laissez-faire approach can be seen in my pear-shaped nutrition. With 2 training sessions daily, I found myself running out of time to do anything else - especially cook. Too many evenings were spent dining on cereal - which is fine. It started going pear-shaped when I was even too tired for that, and would order in pizza. Eating outside of my usual routine has left me tired and listless, as well as feeling hungry all the time. I feel like I need to go to an Austrian spa for 2 weeks and then go back to my old eating habits which constitutes superb nutrition in my book, and makes me feel great. Needless to say it does not include pizza, biscuits or anything processed!
The second disadvantage to generic training without following any kind of programme, is that you peak at the most inopportune moments, rather than when you are supposed to. This is quite challenging, and having to stave off fatigue and mental burnout too, can be rather tiresome. Furthermore bad planning means that you are adrift without any real idea of the progress or improvements you are making. Sure, one has a general idea based on performance from 1 workout to another, but this has it's limits.
I have therefore decided to follow an actual programme. My goal is to complete 2 half-marathons before the end of 2009. In view of this, I have started following a 10 week training programme. This is a great programme which also has 2 days of cross-training. I have decided to concentrate on cycling for the moment, since I have recently gotten clipped in, and I would like to ride faster. There is a duathlon in my very near future, and I want to give it a decent shot!
My second goal is to get my nutrition and eating habits back on track. This is proving a bit difficult as I tend to 'snack' in the afternoons. Although they are healthy snacks (dried fruit and nuts), they have been my downfall in the past, and I need to kick this habit! Thirdly, I need to get back with my circuits. I love circuits, but they too have fallen by the wayside. I used to them before work, now they are pointedly ignored. I am slowly trying to sort through it all, and I am sure that even though it may take a bit of time, once it's done, all this organization will help me understand how to train more efficiently.