Saturday, October 20, 2007

dissertation acclimation expectation paranoia (training notes 10/20/07)

one of the hardest parts about training is holding back. it sounds odd, but a driving rule in training (or so i've been told) is to stick to a plan of building up to race day, and to rein yourself in even thought the temptation is sometimes really strong to ramp up intensity and volume. i've had several coaches stress to me that training is like building a house: the higher you want the house to go (i.e., the greater the performance), the bigger the foundation that has to be laid (i.e., the more expansive the base and build periods).

for me, it's always a struggle with paranoia and expectations. paranoia that i'm not training hard enough, and expectations that i should be meeting or exceeding the physical capabilities i had before. i'm having to constantly remind myself of several things:
  • this is the beginning of the training cycle for Ironman, and that i'm building the groundwork for higher intensity and volume later. which means the workouts shouldn't be brutal. they should just be pushing the envelope a little bit to alert the body's systems that they need to adapt to a higher workload.
  • supposedly, because this stage of training is initiating the body's adaptive mechanisms, it's really an acclimation phase to let you get used to a higher stage in training.
  • acclimation, by definition, involves recovery. without recovery, there's no adaptation...there's just destruction. which is not what you want.
and i think that's what makes it so difficult. because i'm dealing with 2 conflicting things:
  • in the back of my mind i'm very much aware of the big numbers of Ironman: 2.4 + 112 + 26.2 = 140.6 freakin' miles. and i subconsciously (or consciously) compare that to what i'm doing now...which this week, was at best an 8 mile run and 2 hr. stationary bike ride and a modest 2600 yds swim. pitiful.
  • training is telling me to focus on recovery, not just the workout numbers. meaning that even as my mind is racing with anxiety to get those numbers up, the training plan is asking me to hold back and allow rest time. which means inactivity. ugh!
it doesn't help that my stress levels are somewhat elevated right now because of this freakin' doctoral dissertation. not all of you are PhD graduate students, but the way it works is that as a doctoral student you're supposed to spend a number of years creating a mammoth work of research that presumably contributes to human knowledge, and you finish by presenting the research to a committee of professors who then get to pepper you with questions to test your knowledge in something called a "defense"...and for my field (international politics), the dissertations are usually 200-400 pages long and the defenses are generally 2-3 hours.

i'm not running up the walls (yet), but i can still tell this dissertation is weighing on me mentally, and it's already taking time away from training. i'm working on a deadline to finish by the end of October and defend by the end of December. both of which are real soon. meaning hours and hours of time in front of this computer.

i'd call it part of recovery time, but i really wonder.

you see? dissertation. acclimation. expectation. paranoia!


Trihardist said...

If you do any wall-running, be sure to leave adequate time for recovery :-)

Unknown said...

ahh yes... the struggle of holding back. It's all too familiar. Take it from someone who learnt the hard way and follow your plan. Hold back when required, but also do the big work when it needs to be done. You get more training done if you stay healthy.