Sunday, March 16, 2014

Now Approaching: Week 18

Just a few days until week 18 which means I’m one week closer to being halfway there!

When I was pregnant with Max, I kept counting the weeks down, excited to get to the finish as quickly as possible.  This time around, I keep thinking OH MY GOSH I ONLY HAVE 22 WEEKS LEFT.   22 weeks to paint the room, buy a crib, choose a name and figure out everything else you need to remember about having a baby.  All of that leads me to the conclusion that 22 weeks is not nearly enough time so I’m going to need at least another year to be pregnant.

Since my last update not much has changed except for my weight.  By week 16 I was up 16 pounds.  That’s right, I am WINNING this thing called pregnancy!  A pound a week.  If I play my cards right, I just might surpass my husband at his race weight.  The competitive athlete in me is thinking I’M GOING FOR IT!

 As far as fatigue and nausea go, there has been no relief.  I have approximately one day a week where I feel good and “normal” – as close to normal as you can feel when you feel nothing like yourself!  I keep waiting for the second trimester honeymoon to start like it did with Max. 

Still waiting.  


Cravings: cheese and crackers (I could eat these for every meal, some days I do just that).  Aversions: the smell of chicken, the taste of kale, occasionally my husband (after further online forum investigation I’ve realized this is very common and is likely to come and go until week 29 – sorry, dear). 

During week 15, I had an appointment with the doctor for fetal heartbeat and measurement.  The doctor was tied up in a delivery so they told me to reschedule.  One of thing I’ve learned through this experience is how to become high maintenance.  This is NOT who I am.  But I realized early on that no one gets extra points (or a reduction in cost) by not calling the nurse to ask a “stupid” question or not requesting what they want – even if it’s “overboard”.  So when I told the nurse that we were waiting for this check up to formally announce the pregnancy, they gave me an ultrasound!  It was great to see baby wiggling around.  I asked the technician if she could guess on the gender and she politely said I don’t like to do that.  Instead, she showed me a shot between the legs and my nonmedical eyes saw absolutely nothing!  Hmm….it was looking like a girl to me.

During week 16, I finished weaning off of progesterone.  In all, I took 15 weeks of nightly injections.  That’s well over 100 injections!  By the end, my poor glutes were so sore and I kept hitting veins – what a mess!  Bedtime has now become much less painful.   This week I also wore maternity pants for the first time.  I can still wear my old jeans but who can resist pants with an elastic band?

In this week, I also scheduled an appointment at a local ultrasound place called Peek A Belly because I didn’t want to wait until week 20 to find out the gender.  That’s right – high maintenance AND impatient!  HMMPH!  The technician asked what I thought I was having – I said girl – and sure enough she confirmed: GIRL! 


My mind exploded in dozens of pink puppies, unicorns and princess outfits.  GIRL!  Holy crap – GIRL!  MINI ME!  I’m not sure the world is ready.  I got to see some nice views and movement.  I also learned why I can feel her so much (and so early) – she’s basically lying on the placenta like a pillow so there’s no cushion between her and my stomach.  Beating up mom already – great preparation for the teenage years!

(by the way, I’ll have a girl for rent from ages 12 to 18 if she’s anything like I was)

Now that we know it’s a girl, I can choose a color to paint the room and start filling it with bunnies, butterflies and tea cups.  You think I’m joking!  But I’ve spent the past 3 ½ years reading books about trucks, learning the names of complex pieces of construction equipment and getting my Thomas the Train on.  I’ve been living with a husband, a boy and a male dog.  Ok, he’s neutered but for all categorical purposes he too is a boy.  It is about time I get someone else on my side!    

(Poor Max seems to be in denial about the whole thing.  He keeps walking around shouting: NO, IT’S A BOY!)  

In week 17, I started my twice monthly appointments to watch for any signs of pre-term labor.  The good news is that I am currently all clear.  I also got another peek at baby this week and the ultrasound technician confirmed – yup, girl!  (couldn’t have told me that 2 weeks ago, huh?)

As for workouts, some days I feel really good, other days really bad.  I just let my body be the guide.  If I’m feeling good, I go faster.  If I’m feeling bad, I go slow or I just stop.  After taking 10 weeks completely off, I was fearful that I would return to working out only to be unfit, pregnant, heavy and very, very slow.  Then a funny thing happened – the fitness and strength came back.  My paces, watts, heart rate – these have all been a fascinating science experiment to track.

My swimming has returned unusually fast and I can still swim on some of my old intervals if in the massive, awesome draft of Marty.  Speaking of my lanemate, though he can lap me on a 150 when I’m not pregnant, he still requests that I swim with him.  He’s either being protective papa bear or knows that no one will jump in the lane with the pregnant woman.  I’ve been swimming 3 – 4x a week and using paddles, pull buoy or fins when I want to.  Although that’s no different than usual.  I’ve been taking this time to also do things that I don’t usually like to do – as in: kick without fins, chair drill, breaststroke and even – gasp – get out early. 

Biking – not entirely enjoyable on the trainer but such is life in eternal winter!  I can still ride my tri bike but  know it’s only a matter of weeks before I need to pull out the foam roller to put on top of my aero bars – THIS is the aerodynamic breakthrough you’ve all been waiting for! But I swear by it when belly gets too big and I can no longer lean over.

Running feels the best and I have no idea why.  Some days my easy run pace is not too far off from what it used to be, other days, I’m running a full 2 to 3 minutes per mile slower.  My longest run has been 5 ½ miles.  Seems long enough for me!  I’ve been doing a lot of short runs on the indoor track.  There was one day where an 80 year old man was running neck and neck with me for a few laps – and then he threw down a surge and gapped me by a lap.  There is slow and then there is being dropped by an 80 year old man.

As for other pregnancy fun – I am enjoying the fact that I can sleep through the night without a bathroom break and sleep on my stomach or back.  Every once in awhile I remember some of the other “joys” that lie ahead.  My sister in law asked me if I was ready to be pregnant again through the summer.  I had a hot flash-back to the summer of 2010 when it was 100 degrees from April through July and I experienced the one thing hotter than the Queen K – summer and the third trimester. 

I am definitely starting to look pregnant which means that I’m outgrowing my wardrobe.  The other night, I went shopping for maternity pants.  I’m not sure HOW it’s possible to look worse in maternity pants than you do in your regular jeans (which I’m usually one meal away from wearing unbuttoned) – but it happened.  I seem to be pregnant mostly in my thighs, hips and chest.  If my thighs get any bigger, I’m going to need a c-section on my quad so they can pull the baby out of there. 

Lastly – names.  When I named Max, there was no question, no discussion.  We’re going to name him Max.  Done.  Girls names?  Not so easy.  Chris and I have both generated a list.  And after careful review, none of the names overlap.  We agree on nothing.  And if I don’t do some gentle persuasion, I’m going to have a daughter named after an engine used in WWII planes.  And if I get my way, Chris has informed me that she’ll be named after a brand of paper. 

Is that really a problem? 

All of this will be worth it, something I was reminded of as I held my 8 week old nephew last night.  He was adorable!  But reality set in as my sister in law explained to me (with crazy eyes, a beer in her hand and in her words "high on adrenaline") that she has been up all hours of the day because he sleeps in 45 minute spurts.  I remember that feeling – though distant, still tangible and a preview of what’s to come.  Somehow, you soldier through it – weary, disheveled and when you don’t think you can hang on one day longer, they start sleeping 60 minutes at a time.  

Baby steps.    


Monday, March 10, 2014

Lydiard Learning Weekend

This past weekend, I escaped to Florida for a little sun and learning at the Lydiard coaching certification program in Tallahassee.

If you don’t know who Lydiard is, chances are at some point you’ve been following his approach with your training.  Originated in New Zealand, this legendary approach is built upon five principles; aerobic base development, response regulated training, feeling based training, sequential program and correct timing.  It's all about maximizing your aerobic capacity by building a “base” and then moving through a sequential progression of training to improve your fitness and speed just in time for race day.  Time and again, the presenter reiterated that while there are quicker ways you make yourself faster – the Lydiard approach seems to be the most safely managed and predictable way to time your peak performance for when it matters most.   

The certification program was put together by the Lydiard Foundation, clearly staffed by those who are passionate not just about Lydiard but about sharing their joy for running. Part basic physiology, part program design, part application – it was a quick and informative way for coaches and athletes to learn about a longstanding and logical way to train.  We were a group of 20 – some new coaches, some who coach beginners, some who coach high school teams, some were just recreational runners.  The information was presented by way of lecture, video, discussion as well as hands on learning in actual workouts.   

While most of the program was information that I’ve heard before, it makes sense to revisit the basics of training.  Often it seems that coaches forget basic physiology and how it pertains to the demands of triathlon performance.  Lydiard’s principles seem especially relevant in today’s world of triathlon as many coaches have fallen prey to what I call the “McDonaldization” of training – faster for less (but it doesn’t always take you very far).  Let’s make one thing clear: even at the shortest distance, triathlon is an aerobic event.  Even an 800 meter race on the track is predominantly aerobic.  It's important to note that any speed of training (fast or slow) will indeed improve your aerobic fitness.  But what most athletes lack is not speed, its stamina (or strength).  

Lacking stamina or strength is especially true of adult-onset athletes.  They simply do not have the endurance, strength or durability it takes to excel at triathlon.  The longer the distance, the more this holds true.  Coaches must remember that these adult-onset athletes were not athletes when younger (and let's face it - these athletes make up the bulk of our rosters).  And they, like most of us, lead otherwise sedentary lives (unfortunately, doing 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day while sitting another 8 to 12 hours a day does not make for an active lifestyle!)  For those reasons (and more), taking the time to properly develop your aerobic capacity, strength, some call it fatigue resistance, will go a lot further than rushing into working on your speed – and likely keep you much healthier and longer involved in the sport.  Keep in mind this doesn’t mean there is no place for speed in training.  This just means that before you get there, you need the basic fitness or foundation to benefit from it.  You also need the capacity, skills and coordination to benefit.  Benefit means you can gain from it without it setting you back due to illness, injury or fatigue.  

Now, the best athletes and coaches know that we indeed do “speed work” all year round but it comes in different disguises.  Early in the year, it might be drills.  It might then progress to strides where you focus on what Lydiard calls “feeling fast, feeling good.”  From there it progresses to plyomteric work through hill resistance.  Next, interval training.  For many of you, this is a progression you’ve followed and one that you know takes time.  For others, you’ve followed the “give ‘em what they want approach.”  Fast training is fun, sexy and much more interesting to post on social media than “I spent time on my feet improving mitochondria.”  But the problem with fast training is that often you’ve gone too fast too soon and while you might be fast for a month or two, at some point you breakdown or regress to the norm by falling injured or flat in your performance.  Even worse, by doing too much, too fast, too often you can actually lose your fitness.

The Lydiard approach emphasizes doing the right workout, not necessarily the most impressive workout.  Triathlon is filled with a lot of senseless boasting about impressive workouts from what I call flash in the pan athletes – they might excel for a season or two but before long they ether injure themselves, blow out their thyroids or burn out.  To me, the point of hiring a coach or following a plan is to protect your investment in the sport – your body, your time, your longevity to be active and healthy for as long as life allows. The most impressive training doesn’t allow that.  Instead view impressive as consistency, repeatability of progress (or greatness) year after year.  This comes from doing the right workouts at the right time.  Not the workouts to make you fit right nowBig difference.  The right workout also means finishing the workout always saying “I could do one more” or “I could do that again tomorrow.”  Never empty the tank. Never test yourself in training.  Never leave your race in a training session just to build confidence.  In those instances, you don’t need confidence, Lydiard says you need faith and discipline in your training program.

Lydiard believed that with his training approach, by properly building up, it was quite possible to run many miles per week (and the actual miles for "many" depends on you and your goals).  If you properly build someone up, even a walker to a jogger – by getting them to run at the proper pace, usually much more slowly than they want – they can run more often, run every day and in turn, run more miles.  There are no junk miles.  In fact, that “junk” is often the glue that holds your fitness together.  Lydiard also believes that the training you do today is for next year.  Training needs to be viewed as a long term progression.  It takes time to build up your tendons, muscles and mind to handle more training.  And if you do so slowly, next year you’ll be training faster which means you will be doing more training.  More miles covered in the same time.

Why this sequential approach?  Lydiard recognizes that aerobic capacity takes the longest to develop and the longest to lose.  Speed is quick to develop, especially if you have the strength and skills to coordinate the movement.  In their words, you can’t coordinate something you haven’t developed.  You can’t go fast on the track if you’ve never learned how to properly sprint (or stride).  Spend time building the biggest foundation possible with the skills and fitness to support the highest peak.  You’ve heard this before – we all have.  It’s training theory at its most basic (and long standing).  It works because it’s built on sound principles.  The presenter acknowledged that while there are many ways to get fast – this one has worked over time.  Don’t discount it because it takes time or it forces you to run slow.  Again, most people are not limited by their ability to run fast.  They’re limited by their ability to hold that speed over the distance.  The ability to run a great distance with ease at a steady speed.  Think about that – when was the last time your fitness allowed you to hold your speed for longer periods of time, at ease? 

One part I really appreciated was one of Lydiard’s five basic principles: feelings-based training.  It’s a good point to make for today’s technology obsessed athletes.  In Lydiard’s view, don’t become so reliant on technology that you ignore your inner technology.  In other words, a body’s got a brain so use it.  Learn your body’s response and language.  Understand what you’re doing – the why and when of each workout and how your body responds.   Along those same lines, they propose doing what you can do.  Right now if you can run more miles at a slower pace – do so in order to run more consistently and, in turn, run more.  Don’t force a speed and risk an injury because you’re doing what you want to do or what you think you can do.  Don’t do what you can barely survive.  Don’t base your training on magical numbers.  Base it on current fitness that you’ve demonstrated.    Of course there is value in gathering data to look at your workouts and races to understand your weaknesses – stamina, speed or pace judgment.  Yet also recognize the need to disconnect to enjoy running and develop your inner GPS.  

We got into some specifics of workouts in each phase; hill resistance, interval training, coordination, freshening.  Though I did not participate in the two workouts (hill bounding and 50/50s on the track), I learned the proper form and purpose for each workout.  We did not go into too much detail about individual running form.  The presenter did mention something I’ve heard before: by simply running more, you improve your efficiency.  We briefly watched proper run form in a few elite and non-elite athletes on video, looking for a circular motion in their stride.  But as the presenter said, good form will find any speed.  Just because you’re slower than an elite, doesn’t mean you can’t (or don’t) have good form. 

Like any approach, this one has its critics.  Lydiard has been criticized for running too slow or (in some cases) too much.  Most of Lydiard's athletes were running 100 miles a week and training overdistance for even 800 meter races on the track.  But it goes back to one of his basic principles: aerobic capacity.  Again, run races at 800 meters ore more are increasingly aerobic.  Improve that capacity and you'll improve performance.  This doesn't mean that you, however, need to run 100 mile weeks or run only an easy pace.  You can follow this approach without running big miles and at some point you – of course - progress on from running easy.  The approach includes speed work, track work and intervals.  So the point is not to think that Lydiard means all slow running.  To me, it means following a logical progression with a big picture in mind.  Not sacrificing tomorrow for getting gratification out of what we’re doing today.  It takes patience, trust and time. It’s a way of increase your odds of being ready to go fast when it matters most.  Certainly, it needs to be tweaked for an individual athlete’s physiology and psychology.  And while it may work for many, the art of being a good coach means that for those it doesn’t work for – finding an alternative approach. 

Another criticism is that it’s been around a long time.  It must be outdated!  Just because an approach has been around a long time or seems too simple doesn’t mean it should be abandoned.  This is why simple isn’t always easy to do!  It’s tempting to look for the next greatest, latest thing in training.  Recognize that the basics of human physiology have not changed.  If you can coach from those basics and tweak a program based on our experience and the unique physiology and psychology of an athlete, you will have the foundation of good coaching and deliver your athletes to a higher level of performance. 

Overall this was a beneficial experience.  Not to mention that I got to run outside – in shorts!  But more importantly I learned why I trust what I know – because it works, because it’s stood the test of time.  To me, the Lydiard approach makes sense because it is a lot of common sense.  As a coach, I spend a lot of time telling people things they don’t want to hear; slow down, hold back, warm up, be patient, pace yourself, eat, rest.  Whether this applies to speed, workout details, training approach or performance.  What it all comes down to is that more often or not, people pay me for common sense.  Sure, over the years I’ve learned some tricks but the real magic or “secret” lies in these three things: be consistent, stay healthy, enjoy your training.  If you can combine those three factors in such a way that they resonate – daily – then you have the secret.  It’s that easy.  To me, Lydiard approach has plenty of easy to understand and easy to implement program ideas that allow coaches to coach in such a way that cultivates those three factors. 

Bottom line: if the certification class comes to your area, I recommend it for any coach or athlete.