Monday, May 5, 2014

IMMT Training Weeks 14 and 15: The meltdown

The rollercoaster ride continues. Two more weeks that taught me new ways of rising and falling, with a huge meltdown in the process. It took a good cocktail of adrenalin and endorphins to get over it, but below is the tale of how it all went down, literally.


The last two weeks have seen some decent swims, whenever I did not skip them. Yes, it did happen twice for various "reasons". I actually had some valid excuses for once, so I won't get much into the "why". Just trust me on this one. The 4 swims that I did had everything I could wish for. Fast intervals, long intervals, bands, pull, paddles, flip turns and non stop bouncing between walls. One even had an underwater camera since I had to test it for our tri club's swim stroke analysis. No, I didn't analyse myself, but I certainly noticed the boob drag and the revealing view all the way down to my navel that I get with my vintage swim suits. Time for a complete wardrobe replacement!!
One of my favorite swims was this one, which I did last weekend after the 5K race/11k run:
200m free
300m pull
Main set:
8x50m (25 fast, 25 ez) on 1:15
100m breast stroke
2x300m pull 30sri
2x200m (150m free, 50m breaststroke) 20sri
4x50m (25 fast, 25 ez)
100m breaststroke
The next Tuesday I did another long, uninterrupted swim, the longest so far with 2500m straight pull, concentrating on THE "perfect stroke". Scored the perfect goggle marks too.
I recently came across this excellent blog post by Mama Simmons (thank you!!) and something "clicked" in my head. The key words were "lead with your wrist". I've always paid attention to have a high elbow and finish my pull with the hand near my thigh, but never really thought about the angle that my arm had under water. And I realized that my elbow was indeed leading, not my wrist. Since I've been paying attention to this, I noticed an increase in speed and overall more water resistance against my arm, which means that my "feel for the water" is now better and my stroke more powerful. I could definitely feel my lats engaging, and that, my friends, is quite an epiphany. One that needs more muscles in these places, alas. It makes for a HARD workout!!

You can definitely see me leading with the elbow in the video below, dating from last October (mostly because I drop it too low).

Now all I need is a new stroke analysis video and hopefully we can see the difference ;-).
Here's before and after the eureka moment. It seems that I managed to save 1 stroke/length and 4sec/100m. Hey, I may not be the fastest swimmer, but progress is progress!

Ahhh, the bike.... Or rather, AAARGH!!! the bike. Whose idea to increase my FTP was anyway? That's how you progress, I know, but damn... I did not get a break at all! I was so looking forward to my "recovery" week and what do I get? more sweet spot and MVO2 intervals!! I had to send my coach an email begging for less intensity during my recovery weeks, at least to have some rest to look forward to. These last 2 weeks broke me. The good news is that I managed to last 10 minutes more than the week before at sweet spot (before crashing and burning again) and that I nailed the MVO2s.
But trying to do a double 20min threshold ride after 7 days of workouts and no rest was a lousy idea. Given my increased tiredness and stress at work which led to having to take a full day off from work for physical (and mental) exhaustion, I obviously failed miserably, even though I managed to break 4 more personal records in the process.
In retrospective, maybe I should just stop saying that I failed, because all these ups and downs are part of the journey, but I can't help it being hard on myself and getting more and more discouraged when it happens week after week. Just like this past weekend. On Thursday I tried kickstarting my strength training (again!) with a few squats and lunges and my legs and glutes were so sore afterwards, despite having the Friday off completely, that I spent most of the Saturday long bike ride on the trainer crying my eyeballs off. I had to step off after 2h15, only to return later in the day to finish the 3h45 workout. Every single pedal stroke was a battle of the guts and pushing through the physical pain was downright infuriating. I knew that it was only muscle soreness, and that sometimes all you need is a good dose of HTFU, but I just didn't have it in me that day. More emails to coach followed, interrupted by endless crying spells. I must have spent as many hours crying on Saturday as I spent on my bike. In the end I was ordered 2 full days of rest and a good dose of protein and carbs after EACH workout. Coach is worried that I do not recover properly afterwards, given how I usually go straight to bed after my workouts and neglect fuelling those aching muscles. We'll see how it goes. Maybe I will see the light sometime in the next few weeks. If it were easy everyone would do it.


I had some challenges in this department also, but hopefully they are not as alarming as they feel. I started getting some post tibial tendon pain, like shin splints above my ankle, on the inside of my leg. They would come after 1km, 8km or not come at all. So random. I tried changing shoes, but the results were not consistent. I even saw a podiatrist who said that it's nothing serious that a bag of frozen peas won't solve. So I've been icing, stretching, massaging and staring at my leg, imploring it to stop bothering me. Not sure whether it heard me, but thankfully it allowed me to do all my long runs, including the Mississauga Half Marathon on Sunday (race report to follow) with little to no pain at all.

Another notable mention goes to the first run of the year in the rain. Hubbs and I went to the track for some speed intervals and surprisingly enough, I enjoyed it.
The proof is in the smiles!!

In a nutshell

Mentally, I've hit rock bottom. I am scared because it's still early in the training cycle and there has to be enough room for crashing even harder. I know I will. Fuelling appropriately and recovery/muscle soreness may be related, and living with the feeling that I already eat a lot, too much maybe, is a constant challenge. I may not be fuelling at the appropriate times or the right stuff. I know little about recovery science and about the foods that I put in my mouth beyond them being healthy or not. I need to make some changes, but they are not guaranteed to work. Maybe I should just believe myself, in the process, in being able to turn my mojo around and enjoy training despite the (occasional) pain (in the ass).

I think it's time for some swimsuit shopping and signing for a race or two. It should help, right?


  1. You are doing great and it's all part of the day at a time. Don't think too far ahead you will get overwhelmed. Just remember what you'll hear "Irina S you are an Ironman"..You don't get to hear that if you don't work hard. You've got t his. Love the pics...

  2. Just remember that it's all part of the journey. Enjoy this process as much as you can and trust in the training. It will get you to that finish line where you will hear those magical words. That feeling you'll get when you first hear that you're an Ironman will stay with you forever. Stick with it, through all the good and the bad. It's all worth it!!

  3. Aw, I'm sorry it's a low point for you right now. It'll get better! I'm quite certain a little bit of shopping can't hurt ;)

  4. Thank you girls!! Trying my best to stay in one piece. But the mind is the most fragile. I'll get through this, thanks to your support and encouragements. One day at a time...