... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mastering the Master Schedule

After struggling with sticking to my workout schedule for the past month, I finally gave in to reality and admitted that with my current work schedule, a 3x/week schedule in which I do three workouts per discipline per week (for a total of nine) is just straight up unrealistic. I start at 7:30am and three days per week I work a 9-10 hour shift, leaving only about an hour after I get off before the sun goes down. As much I I keep trying, fitting a "short" ride (which are now 18+ miles) in on those days before it gets dark is impossible. I knew when I started training that it may become necessary to switch to a training schedule in which I do each sport two times per week rather than three, but that didn't make admitting it any easier.

The other issue I had been having was a mental game. In the training schedule for the sprint triathlon, swim and bike workouts were listed in distances -- for example, 10 miles for the bike or 750 meters for the swim. The run workouts were the only thing listed in minutes. On the training schedule I've been using for the olympic-length, all three were listed in minutes. Now, much as I enjoy swimming and biking, I quickly found that looking forward to a 48-minute swim and 115-minute bike is not easy. It just sounds tedious, and it doesn't give the same kind of goal to look forward to as when you have a distance to aim for. For whatever reason, thinking about running in minutes doesn't bother me.

I had been thinking about this for a few weeks (or every time I was facing down a triple-digit long bike ride), the only thing keeping me from fixing the problem being the prospect of guessing and doing a lot of number crunching to make the time/distance conversion. Finally, I bit the bullet and broke out my calculator.

I followed the template laid out by the schedule I've been using: three weeks of increasing intensity by 10%, then a week of 40% reduced intensity for recuperation. The next week returns to the same intensity as the week before the -40% week and the cycle begins again. I started at the peak week with 40 miles (because I want the 25-mile ride in the race to feel like eating cake while relaxing at the beach) and go backward from there. As you can see to the left, it took a couple of tries to come up with numbers that made sense. The numbers on the far left are in month-week format showing the training month and week, the "S" column is the short ride, the "L" is the long ride, and the "+X" is the difference in intensity from week to week. I hate crunching numbers and I was really, really mad when the first round of calculations yielded numbers that were absurdly high and I had to start over, but the end result was a much more motivating and satisfying schedule, one that I look forward to completing rather than dreading. It's all mental, I know, but whatever makes it happen is worth doing. When I re-did the swim schedule in the same manner, it made me realize that I'm way ahead of schedule distance-wise on the swim training. An added bonus!

After doing this I could get around to putting together a 2x/sport/week schedule together. The long ride, of course, had to be on a weekend, and I put the short swim on Friday because every other Friday I go to ballet (gotta upkeep that skill, too!) and I can add it on to Saturday if I need to.
This is what I came up with -->
After a week, I am quickly realizing that putting a bike ride on a Tuesday was a huge mistake, because I tried to fit it in and I only made it 7.35 miles before it got dark. I am trying to decide how to switch things around to fix that issue, but I can already tell that doing each sport two times per week rather than three is much more realistic and doesn't leave me feeling frustrated and disappointed at missing workouts each week. Swim and bike workouts are in distances, runs are in minutes, and I feel motivated and empowered. It was worth all of the math.

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