Monday, January 9, 2012

New Years Resolution?

The holidays turned out to be my biggest "hill" to overcome in my training so far.

Common New Years Resolutions for triathletes:

My new years resolution:

Do not kill my triathlon coach and my strength trainer. After all, they are just doing their jobs...

On January 1st, my 'tri- trainer', Mary, sent me a nice little e-mail. First line was, "Happy New Year, Ali. Training is going to pick up to high intensity this week. Push through it. It will be very hard."
... the week after the holidays?! Is she serious?! I think this was a wake up call for me. For a few days there I must have lost track of what I was supposed to still be doing. There are no holidays for triathletes training for a half ironman.


The next day I saw my strength trainer, Steve. He wished me a Happy New Year the second I walked in. Then, reality kicked in yet again when his first question was, "How has your diet been?" ... My answer: "terrible."

Holiday Cookies that we tried to make... but they did not turn out so great!

Usually my answer is, "good."...  Something along the lines of, "I eat X,Y, and Z before workouts, protein after workouts, etc." This time... I listed off a bunch of complex carbs, sweets and different brands of wine and champagne. Not ideal with the race less than three months away, during the week where training was supposed to be almost at it's peak. After that nice little recap of my New Years meals, the workout he punished me with was not too fun.

Although the workouts and reality of this race hit big time last week, "The New Year Weekend" was awesome! The celebrations of my sister Ashley's birthday, New Years Eve and then New Years Day went by quick. In the midst of all this, we (Jackson and I) celebrated his fathers birthday and went to the Alumni Ranger/ Flyers Hockey Game and The Winter Classic... training was the last thing on my mind!! ... And now, I'm paying for it.

When signing up for this race, I did not take into consideration the fact that the bulk of training would fall over the holidays. The holiday dinners, birthdays, potlucks, late nights and alcohol consumptions.... these were all not helpful in sticking to my carefully planned itinerary I had in my head for these upcoming months.
  • Itinerary in my head: Wake up at 5... eat... training workout 1... work/ school/ lunch... workout 2... dinner... sleep by 9.

  • Reality has become:  Wake up at 7am ... eat... training workout 1... work/ school/ lunch... get in a bad mood because I'm tired... workout 2... teach a spin class 2 days out of the week... dinner...  stress over what I have to do the next day.... not be able to fall asleep..... finally sleep around 12.

It seems simple doesn't it? Just role with the punches, suck it up and work through it... find out what works. That's what I said! I am a planner. I plan everything. Some goes my way, some doesn't... that's the fact of life, I guess. With training, when things don't go my way, if my body doesn't feel energized, if I get out of an appointment late... it's a snowball effect... and it makes everything else so much more difficult!

One word to describe what saves me each day:

Calendars. In my case... I have 2.

Calendar #1 

Everything NOT in red is triathlon related. Not workouts, but rather appointments. Appointments such as: Strength trainer, swim technique workshop, meeting with Mary, meeting with sponsors, grocery shop for week (yes... I have a marked time to do this...), sign up for ____ race., etc. Not all people in training are as ridiculous as I am. I must admit this. But my goal is to complete this race, but also complete with as much ease as possible, while my long term goal is to place high in Nationals in August, therefore qualifying for Worlds. This means, I must work harder than ever.

I do not keep my workouts on my own personal calendar. It is assumed that I have workouts in the morning and in the afternoon.

My workouts are posted on Calendar #2:

Training Peaks (AKA- my worst enemy). Mary posts my workouts at the beginning of the week for the upcoming two weeks. This is what I look at: (this is not mine)

This past week was rough in terms of workouts.
  • Monday- Off day.
  • Tuesday- Strength training and an hour run
  • Wednesday- 40 minute bike & an hour swim AND taught a spin class... 
  • Thursday- Hour run & strength training & taught a spin class...
  • Friday- Hour swim &taught a spin class (where my knee was bothering me), so I skipped my strength training...

Rough week. Each of these workouts are very detailed:

So, for instance above, I am told I have to swim... very detailed instructions. X laps/ distances at a certain pace, with a certain recovery time (example: 20 seconds recovery). Runs are the same idea, as are bikes.

The drills are easy on paper, but after... all workouts are brutal. 40 minute workout? No problem. I get up, get excited, half way through the drills... "this is terrible" is usually what I say to my brother or Jackson... or the closest pedestrian at the time.

This calendar helps me know what I have to do and do it correctly, but it is harder on the mind in my opinion than just doing your own thing. My mind focuses on the length and time rather than what I am doing. Am I almost done yet? How many more laps? .... it is a very long and strenuous process, not just for my body but for my mind.

After each workout, I log in how many hours it was, plug in my GPS watch (if applicable- and I must admit I have not done in a while), which also stores my heart rate, distances, cadence (if on the bike), etc.

It is all stored on the computer and reads off percentages, outcomes and where progress needs to be made and where I am suffering or excelling most. Then, Mary reads the data and comes to me with what needs to change or where I need to work harder... (usually the swim). Then, I meet with her when necessary to go over certain aspects of improvement or work on my swim stroke, etc.

Alex and Jackson follow my "training peaks" to some extent. They do not log their results and the workouts are based on my personal strengths and weaknesses, but they use this as a guideline for a number of reasons, some being:

1) They will know when to do a lot, and when to do a little.
2) What days they should bike, run or swim.
3) It is important that we are covering the right amount of distance in preparation.

My brother stopped using Mary as a trainer for the reasons I mentioned earlier: no flexibility. You do as your told and it is hard to get in that mental state and not "count down" until the end.

Where do I work out?

  • I bike on my bike trainer in my parents basement, which is ideal (too cold to bike outside most days).
  • I run wherever I can (usually with Alex and/ or Jackson on Kelly Drive in the city)
  • I swim at Philadelphia Sports Club in Radnor, PA. 
  • My strength trainer is in the city.

  • My job is in the city.
  • My spin classes are taught in Bryn Mawr, PA. 
  • In two weeks when school and internships start again, that will be in Radnor, PA also.

... I'm all over the place. 

Balancing the back and forth is tricky... and will get tricker when school starts up again in two weeks and my student teaching! I try to make it work so that if I have to swim or teach spin, this means I am in the suburbs, so I should plan it where I get my bike ride in, with enough time at my parents house in order to shower and go straight to another workout or appointment that I have in the area. I rarely go back and forth from the suburbs to the city. By staying in the suburbs for a full day and plan it out accordingly, this also allows me to stay in touch with my parents and little sister who do not live in the city. I know they love having me around, even if it is just me in the basement blasting crazy music during a long bike ride on my trainer! (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

I have a calendar on my phone, my fridge, my computer and my daily calendar written down on a piece of paper in my purse or backpack... All saying the same thing... obsessive? I like to think organized!

I have noticed that my morning workouts are always more successful. I am eager to get it done, I am energized in the morning and ready to go. It also mimics race day which I like. 5 am wake up (at the latest) for race day... this gets me excited. It reminds me of when I rode horses, too, as I was up anywhere between 3 and 6 am.

The afternoon workouts are much harder due to anticipating the hard work ahead all day long. I try to get swims done in the morning, same with Strength Training. Runs and bikes in the afternoon.

With the new year behind me, its time to get in gear. My training will only get harder, my schedule busier and I can't wait to push my mental capacity and my body. I will stay smart, stay strong and continue to have fun! If I'm not having fun... something must change :)

Never Give Up~


"If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat."
-Herschel Walker

Some notes:

  • I will be posting a lot more shorter posts throughout the week, Sundays, Wednesdays and maybe even Fridays. Shorter, more fun, less "background" and "explanations."
  • Don't forget to "follow!"
  • Leave comments of what you want to know about!!!!!


  1. Such commitment ! I envy your discipline-my training schedule starts @ 4:30 with 45 minutes of free weights followed by 30 minutes on the reclining bike,(weekends it's a 3 mile slog (slow jog) off to the showers and then a full day. I need someone to get my diet in shape !!

    Thanks for the inspiration

  2. Love to see how you organize your workouts! Maybe soon you can let us know what your nutrition charts look like! I am also happy to hear that with all of this really, really hard work, you are having fun!

    1. Nutrition chart coming!!!!! Just for you :)

  3. Those cookies look very unfortunate.
    When you get the recipe right, please give me some.

    1. I will be sure to save you some, Dad...