The finish line, the sweet reward for the relentless grind in the days, weeks, and months leading to race day. But the path to celebration is rarely a smooth one. These training cycles are filled with unique challenges that test an athlete’s mettle. Can you confront challenges to chase your dreams? This is a question we ponder daily at Run Tri Bike. More often than not, the answer is yes, but it’s a journey far from guaranteed.
In this “Enjoying The Journey” series, I want you to join me in this training cycle as I am aiming for redemption at the Lake Sonoma 50 event. In the initial segment, I shared the reasons behind my return and the ultimate goal driving me forward. Today, I am sharing with you the unique challenges I’ve encountered in the past month. How am I confronting challenges in the pursuit of my dreams?
Beyond facing those unique challenges I am providing my initial reflections on gear, nutrition, and the invaluable support you’ve provided.
Navigating Uncharted Territory: Facing Unique Challenges
Over my 17-year journey, particularly the last decade in the dirt, I’ve encountered my fair share of unique training challenges. Much like you, I’ve had to adapt and overcome to keep moving forward towards my goals.
This past month has thrown challenges my way like never before. Unlike my initial Lake Sonoma 50 training, I now find myself in the midst of creating three magazines in three months and interviewing 4-5 athletes weekly for our How It All Started or Enjoying the Journey series.
The growth of the Run Tri Bike platform in the past year has added another layer of complexity to my training schedule. One of the challenges I’m confronting is navigating where training fits into this evolving landscape. It’s not just about the workout day but also within the day. I typically run later, around 12 pm – 3 pm, but there are days when running seems daunting due to mental fatigue.
In those moments, I step away from my laptop, reflecting on the race, visualizing its unfolding, and contemplating where I want to be when faced with a challenge on the course. This self-reflection gets me to put on my shoes and head for a run, often on the treadmill. Incorporating the treadmill into my weekly runs helps me maximize my training but also adds yet another layer of unique challenges.
Mastering the Mental Game: Treadmill Adventures
The treadmill has become an indispensable part of my training given the time constraints I face. While it doesn’t hinder my training, it introduces novel ways to explore the mental toughness needed to endure workouts. These mental techniques are pivotal in my pursuit of the sub-11-hour goal on race day. Confronting challenges of physical and mental aspects on the treadmill is going to be the ‘secret’ to success on race day.
A couple of weeks ago, I researched my Training Peaks account, looking for my previous Lake Sonoma race. A 7% climb for 1 mile, an 11% climb for 1 mile, and a 5% climb for two miles loom ahead on race day. To prepare, I’ve utilized treadmill inclines to simulate these challenges, performing consecutive climbs and pushing my efforts.
My latest treadmill incline workout:
- Warm-Up: 1 mile at 0% and an easy pace
- Main Set:
- 1 mile at 7% incline, starting at 15:00/mi. Speed increases every 0.25 mi
- 1 mile at 11% incline, starting at 20:00/mi. Speed increases every 0.25 mi
- 2 miles at 5% incline, starting at 13:00/mi and getting faster until Zone 4, then slowing to a hike. HR brought back down to Zone 2 before starting again
- Cool-Down: 1 mile at 0% and an easy pace
During challenging moments on the treadmill, as my breath quickens and legs tire, I start counting seconds backward until the next speed increase. This shift in focus from the physical to counting helps time pass faster. When I confront climbs on the course, I’ll remember these treadmill days, knowing I can conquer them en route to the finish line.
Fueling the Journey: Nutrition Beyond the Course
Nutrition is as crucial to success as training, extending beyond on-course fueling to post-workout recovery. During the week, recovering from treadmill workouts is relatively easy as I go from the gym to my kitchen. Water and a meal at dinner time are my go-to recovery aids.
On weekends, navigating recovery becomes trickier because I’m running mountain trails. After a run, I typically indulge in a Lenny and Larry’s protein cookie bar and a pit stop at Starbucks. Enjoying a coffee and a bagel curbs hunger until I can reach home for a more substantial meal.
As trail miles and time lengthen, a shift in caloric intake is going to occur. With weekday runs lasting 45 minutes to an hour and trail time extending to 1.5 to 2 hours, nutritional recovery is manageable. However, the unique challenge of recovering from longer runs in on the horizon. I’ll have to prepare meals to take with me to the trail to fight off hunger and keep the chance injury close to 0%.
Navigating Gear Choices: Testing the Terrain
As of now, no gear decisions have been finalized, as I continue testing different shoes. Over the past month, I’ve run in the Nike Wildhorse 7 and Merrell Agility Peak 5, with the Topo Ultraverse shoe soon joining the rotation. The choice of shoe for the event may likely come from these three, although another contender might emerge before race day.
For hydration, I’ll rely on the Adidas Terrex vest used during training. The vest features two flask spots up front and a back pocket for additional flasks or gear. While it offers compartments for nutrition, I’ll still opt for the Naked belt to help keep nutrition accessible plus be able to hold garbage from during the run.
Given the regulations of Lake Sonoma 50, trekking poles won’t be necessary, eliminating concerns about that type of gear.
Community Connection: Power in Unity
Despite the challenges of interviews and generating multiple magazines, the community connection that has been forged has been instrumental in navigating this past month.
On our social media platforms, seeing fellow athletes putting in the time and work to achieve their goals serves as a powerful motivator. Their enjoyment of the journey puts a smile on my face and inspires me to enjoy my own path.
As I write this update in the Enjoying The Journey series, athletes like Tim Reitz, engaging in non-standard races, and John Windsor and Andrew Marmion, generously sharing their journeys, come to mind. Each person in our community contributes a unique story and distinct goals, fueling my determination to show up, even when challenges seem impossible.
It Isn’t Easy But It Will Be Worth It
The phrase “It isn’t easy, but it will be worth it” rings loudly. I acknowledge that training won’t be a walk in the park, and race day will be anything but easy. Despite this knowledge, I continue because the reward waiting at the finish line is worth every ounce of effort.
Will I achieve my sub-11 goal? I don’t know, but the pursuit is an indispensable part of the journey. If I don’t try, I’ll never uncover the limits of my capabilities.
Join me in this journey, where challenges are confronted, embraced, triumphs celebrated, and redemption pursued with unwavering determination.