Monday, 26 January 2015 13:41

Setting Goals. How Do You Do It?

Setting goals is a topic of conversation that takes place constantly in the endurance world. Make one mention about a race you are doing and the first question is: What is your goal? Participating in endurance sports for the past 8 years I have been setting goals constantly but last night I was asked by Karen what my goals were for Rocky Raccoon 100 on Saturday. It caught me by surprise because I only have one goal. Why any person would be setting goals for one race unless those goals are to finish healthy with a time. If you are asking me about setting goals it is typically about a goal time and for that I can see only one time being set and not multiple times. She made mention of A, B and C goals and as hard as I tried I could not come up with A, B and C goals because my brain works like this: A Goal – the only goal I should have. The only goal I should be reaching for. People refer to this as a stretch goal but I do not understand that. Either I have trained for this time or I have not so setting a 'stretch' goal can only lead to two results:

  1. Failure but with a caveat. The person setting the stretch goal can say: Well I fell short of my stretch goal but……. It is sort of safety net against failure.
  2. Failure with lingering consequences. The person setting a stretch goal that they believe they can achieve can be setting themselves up for a mental beating if they do not come close to this number.

B Goal - This seems to be the most realistic goal when it falls into the scheme of setting A, B and C goals. By setting a B goal a person can say that they accomplished something if they hit this goal but again the question is did you train for this number or did you not train for this number. If you did then, again, this is the only goal that you need. C Goal – This is the everybody gets a trophy mentality. I did not hit the first two goals but I have to feel accomplished so set a THIRD goal and if I hit that I can say that I achieved this goal. Huh? What's the point? I am a competitive person and for me there are only two outcomes: Success or Failure. It is very black and white for me when it comes to racing and so I have one goal and one goal only and sometimes it is not a specific goal. For example, at Ironman Chattanooga my goal was to run a sub-4 hour marathon. I set a 53 minute PR at the Ironman distance and that was a great feeling but I failed to reach the 3:59:59 mark for the marathon and thus I did not achieve my goal. This means that I will be working harder than I did in 2014 when I start Ironman Maryland training because once again the goal for that race will be a sub-4 hour marathon. Back to my goal for Rocky Raccoon 100 on Saturday, I have but one goal to achieve. That goal is to run sub-24 hours. I do not care if it is 19:04 or 23:59:59. I have trained my body and mind to break 24 hours and that is the goal. If somebody were to ask me for a second goal it would be to get home by kickoff of the Super Bowl. Nothing else matters beyond breaking 24 hours. If I fail to break that number then I have failed and when I begin training for Coldwater Rumble 100 in 2016 I will have to work harder so that I can be in a position to break 24 hours. As you can tell I do not look at failure as the end all be all, but rather the start. If I buried my head and took my ball and went home every time I failed then I would not even be attempting these races because I have more failures on my belt than successes. Failure gives me the opportunity to asses and analyze my training and make changes that will help me get stronger. For example, when I trained for Lake Martin 100 I did not include any speed work and just trained in Z1-Z2 the entire 18 weeks and despite the conditions managed to finish in 27:53 despite having a sub-24 hour goal. The Rocky Raccoon 100 training incorporated speed work on a weekly basis along with running on trails plus strength and core training. I also added in flexibility and balance work to help me get stronger so that when the going gets tough and it will my body will not breakdown as quickly as it did a year ago. I do not know what the day will bring when the clock counts down at Rocky Raccoon but I can tell you that I will take every step along that course with one goal and one vision in mind. Break 24 hours and not accept anything else.

What Do You Do When Setting Goals?

Published in Train
IMTN or Ironman Chattanooga challenge has entered week 14 which means that lucky week 13 has passed.  The week brought about separate challenges for KC and I and that proves that no one training cycle is ever going to be perfect.  It also goes to show you that you cannot compare yourself to anybody else while training for an Ironman because while the paths may meet on race day they certainly take their own turns and twists on the way there.  Week 13 In Review.

KC's Lucky Week 13 Challenges And Solutions

[caption id="attachment_9395" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Tackle The Challenge Head On.....Then end the week with a 100 mile bike ride![/caption] This week was interesting in that I had to play a smart time management game. Work is notoriously crazy the first 3-4 months of the year, then it stays busy but settles down with a few ebbs and flows throughout the rest of the year. Anyway ...what I'm trying to say is that there are no excuses. If you  want something bad enough, you will make the time to get it done, no matter what. Needless to say, I worked 6 days this week and about 11 hours of overtime, yet, I still managed to get all of my training in and then some. I snuck an extra day of Xfit in (yay me!). It's pretty simple, I make sure I have several sets of workout clothing with me, toiletries, extra food, and I'm good to go. Thankfully, we have an AWESOME gym set up at work, so I can go down whenever and get an awesome workout in, shower, then get back to work.
I'm still going strong on the century streak. I did my 5th century today, so that is 5 for 5 ...hell yeah!
Other than that, still tame on the training front. Next week looks much the same. I can't believe I'm saying this but I sure do miss swimming! BUT, I have to stay clear of any infection causing bodies of water for another 3 weeks ...meh! I'm ready to hit the pool that's for sure.
That's all I got for ya ...
Upward and Onward!

Jason's Week 13 Challenge And Solutions

Many of you know that I am racing the Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra trail run this coming Saturday and that means that I have been in taper mode since last Sunday.  While there are runs on the schedule they are not long, at least not long in comparison to the overload weeks where 70+ mile weeks were the norm. Taper usually brings with it the crazy feeling that I have not done enough.  I call it crazy because if you have been following a well-thought out plan and did the work then you have done enough.  Period.  This time I decided to take taper very seriously and not do anything but taper.  I had 5 runs schedule for the week and I did 5 runs.  I did not go to the pool.  I did not get on the bike.  I ate wisely and did what I needed to do to bring a spring back to my legs and it was there when I went and did a 10 mile race. [caption id="attachment_9393" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Fort Worth Running Company Chocolate Chip 10 Miler Data Points[/caption] This 10 miler was not going to be a race where I take off and hope to hang on.  As a matter of fact it was a race to get the 10 miles in without being bored by myself.  As the gun went off and we were cruising at a very manageable pace I decided that my legs felt good enough that I should negative split the entire race.  Add in the fact that it was cold out and finishing as quickly as possible certainly enough of a reason.  At the turn around point I dropped a gear and ran faster with each passing mile and my legs felt springy.  They had life in them and I knew right then and there that the taper, as hard as it was to not swim and bike, was working.  I finished 11th overall.  Part of me says:  Had I run hard out of the gate I could have finished Top 5, but this was not an important race as much as it was an important brick in the ultra trail run wall. This upcoming week is more of the same.  Lots of do nothing.  Lots of pay attention to sleep.  Lots of pay attention to food intake.  Lots of mental prep.  The taper challenge will continue but the light at the end of the tunnel is right there and come Saturday when the gun goes off all of it will have been well worth it.  Oh, and check out the forecast for Saturday.  Running in the woods in the mud.....just like being a kid.   [caption id="attachment_9391" align="aligncenter" width="200"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Rain = Mud. Mud = Fun. Let's Do This![/caption]
Published in Train
Monday, 27 January 2014 08:44

Ironman Chattanooga Week 12 - The Doldrums!

The ups and downs of training for an Ironman, or any event, can take a toll on a person's psyche.  Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away for a day or two.  Get away from it all and allow the universe to take control.  As endurance athletes we are Type A meaning that we want to have all the control, but at times that can wear you down and the effects can be seen in your performance, your diet, your sleep patterns and just about anything that takes place in your life.  This week seems to have been the doldrums for both KC and I but for different reasons.

KC's Ironman Chattanooga Week 12 Recap

Ok, these weeks lately have been really lame and boring but you know what? I’m okay with that. I feel like I still need the down time for my brain. My mind hasn’t quite wrapped itself around training for another Ironman yet but it will soon. And once the physical and the mental parts come together in harmony, like when the stars, moon, and planets align, it’s game on and full speed ahead. For now, I’m happy with where my training is. [caption id="attachment_9384" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - training - duldrums KC's 'light' Week 12 Training Log.
Not sure a 4th Century Ride in 4 week is light.[/caption] I have a confession to make. I’m a very spontaneous person, so when I get something in my head, I usually just do it. Last Friday was a testament to that spontaneity. I had been thinking about getting my nose pierced for quite some time, so when I woke up last Friday, I decided that it was the day to finally do it. So I did. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know why you will not see any swimming on my calendar snapshot until the beginning of March. No swimming allowed because the puncture could get infected and who has time for an infection? I do have a 70.3 on March 22nd, I haven’t swam since Ironman Florida and I AM NOT ONE BIT WORRIED. I’ve taken long breaks from the swim before, only to come back even stronger within a few sessions. The same cannot be said about long breaks from running and biking. The fitness is lost too quickly on the run and bike, unlike the swim. At least that has been my experience, so I don’t fret over it. This week’s training was good. I got my 4th, 100 mile ride in today, so that makes a century every week for the month of January. Not too shabby, huh? I’m thinking I’ll try to keep that streak going if I can, for a while, maybe through February. My running is coming along nicely. I’m slowly inching up the mileage …slooooowly. I would like to have an average of about 30-35 miles of running per week by mid February. That’s a comfortable range for me. This week’s lesson is practicing setting short-term goals. Not looking too far ahead just yet. It’s too early in the game (the game being IronmanTennessee). So far, it is working very nicely. No burn allowed here! Upward and Onward!

Jason's Ironman Chattanooga Week 12 Recap

Last week was the final week of overload training for the Rocky Raccoon 50.  The week totaled 70.68 miles which is the second consecutive week I have gone over 70 miles and totaled 209+ miles over the three weeks.  Needless to say that final run on Sunday was a sap sucker as well as de-motivator for the upcoming race.  My legs were extremely heavy & I was sore in my lower back which I attribute to two things.  The first being that I was coming down with a bit of a chest cold and having run 26 miles the day before on the road.  The road just trashes your legs and it was evident from step 1 that the run on Sunday was not going to be a pleasant one. When I finally finished slogging through 11+ miles I landed on the couch and spent the rest of the day there.  I had no desire to do anything and the energy was quickly fading as the hours ticked away.  I finally fell asleep for a short nap, which normally energizes me but this time just continued to make me tired.  When I woke up I started questioning my ability to race these 50 miles.  Questions such as:
  • [caption id="attachment_9383" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - training - duldrums Managed three swim sessions and have a goal of a :39/50y on the 4th of 4x50 descending.[/caption] How am I ever going to get through 50 miles if I am this tired after 37 over two days?
  • Should I have started the overload week a bit earlier to get in more miles?
  • What would happen at the Lake Martin 100 if getting to 50 is so hard?
I questioned and questioned and questioned.  I then made the determination that I was not going to get up early Monday and go to the pool or get on the bike.  I was going to sleep in and allow my body to heal.  I was going to sleep in and allow my mind to regain the strength it had lost during those two hours of running on Sunday. Right now I am in taper and the amount of miles I run this week is approximately half of what I have run in the past two weeks and it seems glorious.  I have gone through overload three times in lead up to Ironman races and none of them were as hard as the three weeks for the lead up to Rocky Raccoon.  Getting through those weeks and preparing the mind and body for the race in two weeks is going to be my sole focus.  Nothing else matters and I am okay with that.  Lake Martin 100 training will effectively start the week after RR50 recovery and then and only then will I concern myself with 100 miles of running.
Published in Train
Rocky Racoon 50 Mile Ultra Trail Run is a bit more than a month away.  That means that I have survived the base month buildup and after this week of pull back will be heading into overload weeks.  Those overload weeks once seemed like a complete and total joke but now I am excited about going after them.  Especially after the base building weeks have shown that I have the ability to run for a long time and recover properly. Here is an idea of how the weeks were going to be completed in the different cycles:
  • Base Building for 5 weeks totaling 279 miles in Z1 / Z2.  I ran 285.3 miles at an average HR of 142 which is at the high-end of Z1 which for me is 143.
  • Pull Back week (this week) total 29 miles.
  • Overload weeks starting on Tuesday January 7th and weekly totals of 67, 69 and 71 miles.
  • Taper week with a total of 34 miles.
  • Race week will be 64 miles with 50 of those in the race.
As of the typing of this blog post I am very happy with where I am from a fitness and mental perspective.  As the training started I thought that these types of miles would be impossible to get to and worse yet recover from.  I also feared that I would be hitting a plateau and that it would be nearly impossible to breakthrough.  What has actually happened is the opposite and I place credit on adaptation and mental awareness of where my body is for this result. The way my weeks break out are as follows:
  • [caption id="attachment_9305" align="alignright" width="300"]rocky raccoon 50 - ultra trail run - training The color coding is for the shoes that I wore on that run. This helps me keep track of miles[/caption] Monday - Rest Day.  Usually a recovery bike trainer ride and/or swim.
  • Tuesday, Thursday, Friday - Low mileage days (5 - 10 miles)
  • Wednesday - Long Mid-Week Run (8-10 miles)
  • Saturday - Long Run Day (15 - 25 miles)
  • Sunday - Long Recovery Run Day (12 - 13 miles)
I have added in some strength training at least 1x per week along with swimming on Friday evening to prepare the body for the upcoming weekend.  In addition to that I have been visiting the chiropractor 1x per week.  Starting on January 6th with the overload weeks starting I will be visiting twice per week. Lastly, the addition of the Hoka Mafate and Stinson to my running shoe collection has truly helped.  The key to surviving and excelling at this type of training is to make sure that you are recovering and ensuring that you are able to go back out the next day for another run in the cold and windy conditions. As I progress through the weeks and miles of training an idea about how I think I should perform at the race is being formed.  I originally started out thinking that if I took my time from the Wee-Chi-Ta 13 mile trail run back in August I could use that as a gauge.  That race was broiling hot and run the day after a 100+ mile bike ride in 100+* temps meaning regardless of how much water I drank I was dehydrated.  I finished that race in 2 hours.  If we multiply by 4 to get the mileage that would be 8 hours.  Sounded good but running 13 miles and then using that as a gauge is near impossible not to mention the idea that the temperatures are going to be much different. Last weekend Jeff, Dave and I ran 23 miles on the Rocky Raccoon 50 course and covered 23 miles in 4 hours.  We didn't take it easy but we sure weren't pushing the pace either.  If you double that you end up in the 8 hour range also.  Does 8 hours make sense?  That would be fast for a distance on a course that I have never done.  I am guessing that 9 - 9.5 hours is probably a good guess but as I sit here thinking about that I almost do not care.  This first 50 mile ultra trail race is my barometer for the next one, and yes there will be a next one.  Never thought I would say that. This race is similar to Ironman Texas 2012 where I raced it but knew that there would be more and that I needed to use the race as a gauge for nutrition, body signals and everything in between so that I could race the next one faster.  Right now the notion of a second 50 mile race is closer to reality and there could certainly be a 100 mile trail race in my future as well.

How Is The Training For Your Next Race Going? Lessons Learned?

Published in Train