Thursday, July 16, 2009

The NonTraining Training NonPlan Plan

I’ve been training. But not really following a plan. I’m shooting from the hip, flying by the seat of my pants and taking a stab in the dark. Or something like that.

I call it the nontraining training. The other day I thought about the word “training.” How is it that we came to call this (“this” being the swim, bike, run) training. It’s two words: train + ing. Immediately I thought of of my father in law and his obsession with trains (by the way: may I add that the third version of the train cake was a complete success because of my engineering husband is eating his engineering degree right now while my father-in-law was eating the world's best train cake). What is a “train”? Cars attached together in long series that ride across a rail. What does this have to do with training. I suppose you string together a bunch of workouts moving together toward one end destination with a purpose.


With that in mind, right now I am not training because I don’t have a purpose. I thought I would absolutely freak out without a purpose. What is the point of doing all of this if…there is no point? But now I find that the opposite is true. For the first time in a long time I am having a blast.

Best thing about nontraining training – you get to do what you want when you want. It’s raining? Guess what, you don’t have to slog through 60 miles of that. Go for a swim (and when you by all means avoid going over 2000 yds because that just seems like a really long way to go). Go for a walk. Better yet, do nothing at all. It’s warm, go for a run. It’s windy, avoid your bike. Your husband says want to go to the group ride, you have the option to say no – or yes (it is in your best interests though to tell him no unless you want to be dropped by the entire kids team and then have their team dad help you in an I feel so sorry for this girl attempt to motorpace you up to the group with no avail).

I wake up each day and think to myself – now what. If anything. What can be whatever I want. Bike commute. Yardwork. Run hard. Run slow. If my body is tired, I go easy. If I feel good, I push it. I’m slowly realizing that this may be the best training of all – the one where YOU listen to YOUR body and then make the call.

Jumping off the ship in the middle of the season also has other perks. You’re damn fit. So fit that if your Ironman training group is doing an 86 mile ride you have the fitness to hop right in and go for it. This does not mean that 2 days later you won't still feel like you were hit by the NonTraining Train but you’ll get through it without worrying about deviating from a nutrition plan or blowing your pace in the first lap (which you did and it was so worth it). Plus recovering with what might be the 3 best food groups after that - beer, ketchup, Dairy Queen Blizzard (in that order) - was also so worth it.

This nontrainingnonplan plan is totally carefree with no worries. If something doesn’t go well – so what. On Saturday I went running and it went so NOT well that I made my hard intervals moderate and my moderate easy until I hit 50 minutes then it was all easy. I got over that in all of about 5 minutes as I walked back to the car. Let’s hear it for walking! But you know what – who cares. Because it didn’t mean anything about me or my potential or my next race.

And that’s when it hit me – I spent so much time worrying about what each workout meant that they became too much work. I spent so much time ‘looking for clues’ about will I or will I not succeed that I was doomed to fail. I lost the ability to just let go, do the work and move on to the next thing.


Do I miss racing yet? No. Because in the next two weekends I have so many athletes racing and helping them prepare for their races is exciting. In fact, all of this nontraining has opened up oodles of time to train with my athletes and help them become better at what they want to do. This is more rewarding to me than chasing after my own personal goals because it has impact beyond myself. It gets me outside of myself. That is a good thing.

What I really want right now is just to stay fit. I want time to do the things that helped me just be a fit person, albeit a fun person, a real person. It’s not necessarily specific to triathlon and maybe that was the problem. I like to do a lot of things – yard work, house work, walks…..all of that stuff that you think will interfere with your recovery while you should be sitting in a tub of cold water or taking a nap…

I got sick of sitting around waiting for my body to recover. Timing everything I put into my mouth. I was becoming a prisoner of…all of this. And it wasn’t worth it. While the rest of the world was doing “things” I was waiting for something – the next workout, the next meal, the recovery. While I was waiting I was losing time to do the other things that make for a well-rounded life, an enjoyable life – fun.

It’s worth the wait, I’m sure. And those that work and wait and work and wait – I admire them. But I don’t envy them. Because I’m having a pretty good time here. And it’s about to get better. Two more days until we leave for Ragbrai. I’m going to put all of my belongings in plastic baggies and wrap them up in a kerchief tied to a long stick and then make my way across Iowa. Day 1 is 53 miles. Day 2 is 72 miles. Day 3 is 77 miles. Day 4 is 44 miles. 44 miles? Ragbrai is getting soft. Day 5 is 100 miles. Day 6 is 77 miles. Day 7 is 43 miles.

I cannot wait. I could care less what 500 miles of cycling does to my running legs or my swimming form. I might miss the recovery window. Or I might fill that window with a cold beer. I could care less if I don't see a pool for a week or if I blow my HR zones in the first day. Speaking of which, I have not worn my heart rate monitor in 3 weeks. I could be dead for all I know. The HRM has a time, a place and a purpose - but none of those which I need to find right now.

So, in two days I am off to do the biggest training block in my nontraining training nonplan plan. That's a lot to say. Let's just call it "fun." Ok?


Greyt Times said...

You and your nontrainingnonplan plan as I'm about to embark on my omgisignedupforanironmanandmycoachsaysihavetodothis plan. :)

I'm going to try and make it to Indianola on Tues night when ya'll roll into town. Any special requests??

Little Lion said...

I really like to see you having FUN! And... just to share with you, I've NEVER worn a heart rate monitor in training, EVER. I think I wore one begrudgingly ONE time for Sonni, to get some run zones or something... but I never wore it after that, so I don't know why I bothered wearing it to begin with! :) have fun on Ragbrai!

E.L.F. said...

Give me a call. If I don't answer, the driver usually posts on the message board - so look for Trousermouse and you will locate our camp. Hope to see you there!!

Stef said...

HA! I can feel the weight that has been lifted from your shoulders from all the way here in the desert!

Sounds (and feels) awesome!

Have fun next week! Duh. As if you won't. LOL

E.L.F. said...

I realized I should put a “do not try this at home” disclaimer on this blog. Following a plan makes sense if you have a desired outcome/goal. Flying by the seat of your pants is one of the most dangerous things you can do as an athlete as many have the tendency to do too much, too fast, too often. Enter a training plan to help you achieve your goal. Right now I do not have a goal so no training plan necessary. But that approach is not for everyone!

Melissa said...

Have a great time at Rabgrai!

GoBigGreen said...

Have fun at Ragbrai..too bad Lance is busy otherwise he would have certainly showed up:)

TriEVIElon said...

This is awesome! I had the same experience this past year training for Eagleman. Every single thing was a clue as to how I would do. I "had" to do so many things that the "had to" became a bigger stressor than my usual stressors!

I am all for a training plan and I stick to my "coach appointed" workouts but sometimes it's nice to break free and just experience the JOY of doing the things that keep you fit, positive and happy.

GOOD FOR YOU! When you decide to race again, you will have the most important recovery of all - MENTAL recovery ;-).

Have fun at (the) Ragbrai. Sounds like a blast!!!

ADC said...

Ha ha, that seems like so much fun. Have even more fun in Iowa.

TriGirl Kate O said...

Your nontrainingplan sounds great--as soon as I get through next weekend. Have a great time and I'll try and channel some of the Trousermouse "it's all about the fun" attitude in Placid!

Kim said...

I love it.. I think you are coming into your own. Every time I do that I get back to feeling like me. We are not one-dimentional, we can't live like that. The more we try, the more we bang our head against the wall. I'm in the same place..that's why no IM this year. I want a chance to be normal..go have cocktails with my friends, sleep!, and have some fun! I'm with you!!!

Jennifer Cunnane said...

YEAH!!!! I LUV THE NON TRAINING PLAN! I did it last year for a while after vineman and it was a blast! Enjoy.

Alicia Parr said...

Yup. Welcome to life, girl.

Susan said...

Amen, sister! It has taken me 2 years to get comfortable with nontraining, but I think I'm good with it now. Running because it's cool out, biking because it feels good for the first 10 miles (then stopping), and swimming only to get back to the boat at the cottage! And walks are so underrated, aren't they? Now come play kickball, dammit!

Melissa said...

Hi Elizabeth. You reminded me that at the end of the season I need to take at least a month off of doing no training.

I first saw your blog on Mary (Ironmatron's) blog and then on Jen's blog. I did the RagBrai when I was in Highschool with my parents and sister.. We had a blast.. I often think of doing it again. Have fun!!