Sunday, April 27, 2008

Humble pie (plus ice baths)

It's Sunday, and thank God for that. This past week has been brutal, but at least it is over. My nineteen mile run on Thursday went exceptionally well and I managed to escape Tempe and explore the greater Phoenix area. It is surprising how much you can see when you are foot and not whizzing by things in your SUV at 45 mph. With Thursday's long run out of the way I figured that battle had been won. But Friday's long swim was average at best. And the actualization of Ironman training hit me straight in the kisser on Saturday. I needed to sleep in Saturday morning so I did just that; big mistake. I woke up at nine, did my breakfast routine and got on the road about ten for my hundred-mile bike ride. By that time it was already 90 degrees out and warming up as the hours passed. I stuck religiously to my nutrition plan; 24-ounces of fluid and a little package of fig newtons per hour. Right around 4.5 hours I could see my heart rate start rising, so I backed off the pedals, but it kept rising in to the 160's (my average heart rate during these rides is around 130). So.... this was not good. I decided to head home knowing I still had a six mile run ahead of me. The heat and sun were still beating down, and the notorious May wind was not helping at all! It honestly felt like I was training in Dubai. I got home rather unimpressed with my effort and made the transition into my running clothes and headed out the door. Not 20 minutes later was I huffing and puffing. My swift jog turned into a slow jog, then to a shuffle, then to a walk. I let my heart rate get back to my comfort zone and I took off again, this time it only took ten minutes to get to that huffing and puffing stage. Mind you this was not an all-out sprint, it was just a simple jog like I have done millions of times. But this time was different. I ended up walking home, full......from the humble pie I had just eaten, and bruised..... from the roundhouse kick my ego just took. What was supposed to be a 7-hour brick workout, turned into 5 hours and 45 minutes of piss-poor performance.

At about six that evening I finally got it out of my head. I realized that not every training day can go perfectly. I remembered one of those old quotes my coach told me in high school, "It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up." So I actively focused on recovery and getting my mind right for Sunday's workouts. I will go into more detail about the nutritional aspect of recovery later this week. But for my active recovery I re-hydrated with an electrolyte drink (cytomax, Gatorade works too), and did some stretching for about 45 minutes. I contemplated taking an ice bath but I did not feel like getting off the couch. I have read about ice baths and their benefits for endurance athletes before, and I have heard of Lance Armstrong and Dean Karnazes (ultra marathoner) taking them to help recover after arduous rides and runs. Here is the basic premise of taking an ice bath: when you get into an ice bath for ten to fifteen minutes, the icy cold water causes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your legs. So when you get out of the bath, your legs fill up with 'new' blood that invigorates your muscles with oxygen to help the cells function better.

Today's workouts went much much better. I had a two-hour bike ride followed by the same six-mile run. This time I ran the whole way and it felt great. It was not as hot as Saturday, but much more windy. I think that helped me because when I started to sweat it was instantly cooled by the breeze. I felt rejuvenated knowing it was just a bad showing on Saturday not just a classic episode of being under-trained. So after my workouts today (Sunday) and after I got some food in me I figured I would finally try out the chilly recovery concoction that have been conveniently neglecting. I went to the store and picked up a few bags of ice and threw them in the tub with some cold water. Talk about not wanting to do something. Ice... water... naked... not a good combination and very unappealing. But actually once you get past CTD (Critical Testicle Depth) and sit in their for a few minutes you are in the clear. It did make my body feel more refreshed and I can already tell my legs are not nearly as sore as they have been on past weekends. Although not a pleasant experience, I will keep on doing it. Yet another thing to add to the rigors of training, school, and work and by far the least enjoyable.


"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do."
-Bob Dylan

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