Monday, September 26, 2005

My limiters

My previous post itemized the limits of the event that I'll have to complete to become an Ironman. The other side of the coin is my own limiters. It's time for some honest self-assessment.

Right now I think my limiters (where I'll have to spend most of my training time and attention in the next year) are:

  • Body composition: BAH! Of course, I'm hauling around way way too much body fat. This seems to change very slowly for me. :-( But it would cause the greatest improvement in my speed in all legs of a triathlon if it did.
  • Swimming: everything about it - technique, endurance, and confidence. Training will ensure I finish within the swim cutoff, make me more comfortable in the water, and help me not finish the swim leg exhausted, but won't affect my overall time much. If I can stay on course and swim freestyle most of the swim leg, I'll do fine. Every open water swim I can do in the next year is money in the bank.
  • Cycling: both endurance and speed. This is where in training I can make the greatest improvement in finishing time and also be less fatigued for the run. I need to extend dramatically the time I can stay in aero position comfortably, at the same speeds or faster than I'm cycling now. That's quite possible to achieve in a year's time. I could use more practice changing flats, certainly.
  • Running: progress in a year will probably mostly be due to any changes in body composition, not a lot from any additional training. No great gains expected there. I've done four marathons at well under 7 hours, with hopefully 2 or 3 more coming up soon. For this event I just need to maintain my running fitness.

I think my strong points right now are:

  • Hydration, electrolytes, and nutrition: A question mark on the swim, good in transitions, solid on the run, improving on the bike. I'm still working on a solid eat-drink routine and schedule for the bike, and I'm still working on finding a solid food I can eat when I'm hot and working without giving me stomach cramps in aero position.
  • Pacing: I think I have a good grasp on my limits and the effects of going out too fast, and generally don't make that mistake. The trick is picking a pace where it feels easy the first third, comfortable but brisk the second third, and you can just hang on by your fingernails the final third.
  • Experience: I can always use more triathlon practice, but I think the large number of road races that I've done (including ~20 half marathons) is helpful in teaching me to keep going under adverse conditions and to think on my feet during an event.
  • Knowledge: I know the science behind training and performance enhancement. I've taught graduate-level courses and done research in exercise physiology, sports nutrition, and sports biomechanics.
  • Mental toughness: I think I've got that aspect covered. Not just in theory, but in lots and lots of races where I've proven it to myself repeatedly in the line of fire. I won't stop until they make me. I don't DNF unless I'm hurt really badly.

Note: Here's an article about developing an off-season training plan to target your limiters.


'Zilla said...

"I won't stop until they make me." Awesome. That -the mental metal- is IMHO 80% (or more) of the battle. No experience with IM of course, but I know it's true. You're one tough cookie, but I really respect that you are doing this indepth inventory of sorts. :)

Flatman said...

You are so cool. I love that you are so honest with yourself and us. If there is anyone who I believe can finish an Ironman on sheer will and gut determination, it is you!

Besides, your training lately has been rock solid! There is no reason you will not be ready when the time comes...

nancytoby said...

Gosh, shucks, thanks. :-)

I'm hoping it will be - I don't really think I can increase the training TIME much more than I have up until now. I'm hoping that will work.

Ellie said...

I LOVE the photo you chose to go with this post. I just stared at it for a minute. Wish I'd shot it.

As for the IM.... I've been on your side (the "Do It" side) since square one.

Fat Charlie the Archangel said...

Darlin', you've got gumption :)

About the body composition: Actually, you might be surprised - losing body fat might not give you great gains in the swim (trust me - I'm at 8%, and I SINK!)

...but by far it's the biggest part of the run and bike. For the marathon, it's 2 secs/pound/mile for every pound over ideal weight. For the bike - well, ask Lance :)

Comm's said...

such honesty to post this.

I think all of us can relate to what your putting out there.

nancytoby said...

Why thank you!

But .... crap. You mean I can't blame my slow swimming on being FAT? You mean you're going to take my all-purpose excuse away from me?

I guess it's because I'm old and feeble then. Yeah, that works for me. :-)

Thanks for stopping by!!