As I mentioned in my last blog, I recently started a base-building training plan I purchased on Training Peaks. Former Olympic Cycling and Triathlon Coach Gale Bernhardt is the creator (and possible evil genius) behind this plan. Every week for the duration of the training I will be reviewing my progress and my thoughts on the plan itself. So without further adieu, I give you week #1.
Before the first workout: The plan I purchased is the 12-week Base Period (Winter, Off-Season) Training Plan which will begin with 3.55 hours of total workout time a week and build up to 9. Each week consists of 6 days of training with Fridays off to rest. I spent about 2 hours or so going through the supplemental materials that can be downloaded directly from Gale’s page on Training Peaks. The materials cover the terminology, the abbreviations, the names of the strength exercise, the instructions for workouts, and other helpful information such as what to eat the day before a race, how to effectively train using a heart rage monitor, etc. I printed off these materials and put them in a binder. I found it was easier to read them this way and to make notes. I’m also a giant organization nerd, so there’s that.
Monday: warm-up run and strength training
When I mentioned above that I had spent about 2 hours reading the materials above, I forgot to mention that I didn’t pay close attention to the strength training all that well. It quickly dawned on me that a lot of the strength exercises require a well-equipped home gym or an actual gym. All I have at home are dumbbell sets and a weight bench. Not only did I look up what each exercise was and how to do it properly (thank you, YouTube), but I also had to figure out some alternatives for some of the exercises (up-right row with dumbbells in lieu of the seated row, for example). After my 20 minute warmup on the treadmill, I immediately began my strength training, which took me exactly 45 minutes, the allotted time for which the plan requested.
I discovered during this workout that I have absolutely no upper body strength. Within an hour my triceps and biceps were tight and sore, but like any athlete, I welcomed the pain since it typically equates to a job well-done.
Holy crap, was I sore when I woke up the following morning! I was both dreading and looking forward to my swim later that evening. This workout consisted of endurance 50s. I had to swim a little over the required amount of yards in order to ensure I was swimming for 20 minutes, the length of my allotted workout time. It’s clear that Bernhardt has planned this workout for a true beginner in the triathlete world, which I am not in certain regards. I am certainly not a beginning swimmer, and my swimming endurance level (not my technique; we all know that needs lots of work) is more developed than a beginner’s. I made sure to adjust for this the next time I entered the pool.
Wednesday: day off
This was supposed to be a bike warm-up followed by strength training. However, due to a snow storm, I instead decided to head home after work and remove from my driveway the eight inches of snow that had accumulated throughout the day. After that, it was time for dinner, grading, and bed.
Thursday: warm-up bike and lift
I decided to wake up early and hit the gym. I was relived to be lifting in the morning where I knew it wouldn’t be as crowded. I don’t get embarrassed easily, but I absolutely hate trying to figure out how to use equipment at a gym when there are people who know what they’re doing watching me and wishing I would just get out of their way. Too much pressure! I warmed up by riding on a stationary bike at a steady 90 RPM for twenty minutes. I decided to do the first 6 required exercises followed by the additional non-required hamstring curls. I got through the leg presses and, surprisingly, the standing bent-arm lat pull downs with relative ease. Then came the chest press. Seeing as though I was not about to ask for a spot on something I’ve never tried before, I opted for the machine. I quickly discovered that I abhor chest presses. I didn’t feel as though I was exercising so much as I was trapped in a medieval torture device. After eking out a pitiful 16th press (accompanied by abundant amounts of squeaking and labored breathing), I gave up. There was no way I was going to be able to do the required 2-3 sets of 15-20 each.
I walked away from the machine feeling a little defeated, but reminded myself that I was very much a beginner in the world of upper-body strength training. I continued through the exercises, and once more I was not able to fully complete one: the back extension. They always looked easy to me, but they are much more challenging than they appear to be. I struggled to hit 15 reps, and then I slumped over for a break, no doubt causing a bit of alarm in the gentleman on the bench next to me.
I left the gym feeling very sore, and as the day progressed, that soreness grew immensely. I could no longer lift my arms without cringing in pain. When my husband called me later in the evening, I had to put him on speaker: it hurt to hold the phone up to my ear. Success!
This was the exact same workout from Tuesday. I of course made sure that I swam for 20 minutes, but I was no longer concerned with only doing the required 500. I maintained the required Zone 1 breathing and heart rate and put in 700 yards. I used the slow-paced swimming to work on my TI (Total Immersion) technique. After my swim, my soreness from the previous day subsided quite a bit. I could once more hold a phone up to my head without wanting to cry.
Saturday: running on the ‘mill
I was really looking forward to doing a longer run. The workout called for a 30 minute run in Zones 1-2. I was to also work my way up to a 4% incline. I used an already programmed video to run on the road to Hana in Maui. The incline was supposed to take me up to 6% at certain points, but I decided to control the incline myself. I ramped up to 4% several times, trying to simulate that I was running on a rolling track of land. I started by warming up for 5 minutes at 4.0 mph, ran for 30 minutes between 5-5.3 mph, and cooled down with another 5-minute walk. I stretched for another 15 minutes and voila! My workout was complete.
Sunday: bike ride on the trainer
This was the longest ride on my bike that I’ve done in a while. While the bike is my least favorite portion of the triathlon, I’ve spent lots of time right before my hip surgery getting to know the sport a little better. I swore that after my surgery I would utilize the trainer and improve even more in this area of weakness. This being said, I’m happy that the training plan involves a healthy amount of cycling. Today’s ride was 45 minutes long, but I added two minutes at the end for a cool down. I was to maintain 90 RPM, but since I don’t have a bike computer, I had to feel it out using my breathing (Zones 1-2).
W1 Planned Duration: 3:55
W1 Completed Duration: 4:12
After the first week, I can easily say that I am pleased with this plan. Not having to schedule my own workouts each day is a definite added bonus. Additionally, the plan’s accountability factor is exceedingly valuable. Knowing that the workouts are populated on my Training Peaks page helps to motivate me to reach the workout goals and fill in the “completed” time box. I’m already looking forward to week two, where my total workout time jumps up to 4:55…but I am not looking forward to feeling as sore as I did earlier in the week.