O.K. I’m officially back in the game! The “long course” game that is. After taking a few years off of racing (aright four years to be exact), I’m happy to report that I’ve got a solid race schedule for 2019 that includes a couple of 70.3 half Ironman triathlons, one full distance Ironman triathlon, and countles
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s other road races. Secret to divulge, even though I said I would never race a full open marathon by itself, it was a lot of fun flying out to Chicago to watch Justin race. And so many of our friends and patients crushed it this Fall big thanks to Kim, and her team up at Fleet Feet as well as their coach Cindy. So who knows, next fall I might take advantage of the fitness and try my luck at the NYC or Philly tables if I get in.
So why am I writing about getting back in the saddle? Well, probably because I’m pretty stoked about this and I want to do it the right way. Meaning, no more half-assed workouts, minimal swim training, ignoring my own aches and pains, or pizza three times a day. Yea, you heard me right, I’m cutting back on the pizza. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you… Wait, Justin, can we block Vanessa’s IP address from reading this?
In the past I learned that I could get away with cutting corners on workouts and nutrition and still get decent results. In 2013-2014 I raced two fulls and four halfs, and I didn’t lose a pound! For two years! And I was easily 15 lbs heavier than I should have been for racing. So this time, I really want to circle back to my basics and take care of my body while I’m putting in the miles. Its something that I talk about with my athletes, and its about time I start practicing a bit more of what I preach. Imagine what I could do if I committed to this fully? Thats what Ive been asking myself over and over again.
In order to answer that question, I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid in July 2019. What better way to chase some new goals than with an iconic race in upstate NY sandwiched between two half ironman races in June and then August. I actually raced 70.3 Maine this past August and had a blast. There were some local Beacon Endurance members up there also, and my wife Vanessa was behind me 100% as my sherpa and brains of the operation. With these kind of events, I need another head and another set of eyes on everything I do, and she loves it as long as I pick a fun, warm location, and don’t end up in the med tent. This past August was my test run to see if I missed it as much as I’d hoped, and I was right. I pulled that race off with minimal training. I’m not kidding when I say I rode outside maybe 5 times and swam for about a month. My saving grace was my run fitness prepping for the Dutchess County Classic. So you can see why I didn’t “count” this race in my seasons. As expected though, I paid for it with a couple of foot and knee issues, that I’m still dealing with now. But the seed has been planted. I’m back baby!
Another reason I wanted to write this post was to show people how early training should actually start. We see it all the time, couch to 5k, ten week plan, 6 month plan, etc. And theres nothing wrong with that, especially since none of us are getting paychecks from racing. But my number one priority as a healthcare professional is to do no harm, and I want to send the best message possible if people are listening. Training can, and should offer you more than the minimum if your life can allow it. Ask me how I know. ..remember those foot and knee issues I mentioned?
Training starts now. I’m 9 months out from my “A” race but my planning process has already started, and so has my strength training. My coach will be cracking the whip on November 1st, but I’m already into my strength and mobility routine because I’m going to need to be bullet proof if I want to survive 9 months of 10-15+ hours a week of training.
I think Justin will agree that we notice a growing trend with endurance athletes that have to seek out our help with injuries. Loss of early, key workouts, and a lack of adequate strength training for the race demands. The early phases of training are to build your foundation of fitness. And unfortunately, not all online training plans give more than cookie cutter or generic “cross training” instructions and they don’t help account for missed weeks. Things happen. You will experience a setback, and skipping a week or two isn’t in the cards for a healthy execution come race day or taper weeks. Shameless plug, so far this Fall I’m 5 for 5 getting my injured races to finish their marathons, but they all fell into this category. And I’m starting to coin my new slogan: “start training earlier.”
We would rather you extend your build phase and get a stronger foundation, than to try and cram it in and hope for the best. Most athletes we see don’t give themselves the luxury of cushion weeks. The if something does go wrong, theres the added mental and emotional stress, which doesn’t facilitate recovery. You carry insurance on your car right? Your house? Probably even your phone! So you can see how adding in some extra weeks or even months for training can be a little extra insurance in this game. And it doesn’t have to be high volume training. I’ll be taking advantage of the early low volume phases and adding in plenty of strength work to keep my body stress levels elevated enough to make myself resilient to the heavier training to come. Even with life in the way, three days of 30-45 minutes of body weight resistance training makes all the difference come phase training. I told you, I’m doing it right this time. And you’ll see why.
Alright, I’ve let you read enough thoughtless rambling for one day. But the message is clear, at least in my mind. I’ve got big plans for racing next year, and I’m a lot smarter than I was five years ago, depending on who you ask. I want to do this right, and for me that means proper training, proper nutrition and sleep which is something I’ve struggled with and didn’t respect enough before, and proper recovery and injury management (read this as injury prevention). For anyone who is interested in this journey, let us know! I’d love to share more of my planning process and training logs, as well as some key workouts that I’ve found helpful. It also helps keep me accountable. Its out there now, and I love the pressure!
I do have to give a few special shout outs to bring this initial post home. First goes out to Justin for obvious reasons. He and I have been in this together for almost 5 years now and he’s always one of the first text messages for race stuff, fun gadgets, and injuries. The next one goes out to our friends up at Fleet Feet Poughkeepsie because I’m sure I’ll be earning a lot more store rewards now, you’re welcome, Kim. I also have to give love to our local Beacon Endurance crew who has been a huge help in keeping this fire alive. They’re a bunch of rockstars and are so much fun to be with, especially come race day. Nichole and Rob are two victims that I’ve convinced to race their first 70.3 with me next year and I’ll be keeping my word and helping them along the way! My best friend Daniel has never been more fit and I’ve got some catching up to do before we toe the line together for the first time since 2014. I cant wait for our training sessions, thankfully we’re in different age groups. And finally, to my wife Vanessa, who knows how much I love the racing and is behind me every mile and always the last thing I see before the finish line. I promise I’ll try and not buy too much stuff this year, and maybe one day I’ll race in Hawaii.