Friday, October 05, 2007

the training log

i used to think that a training log was something reserved for professional or elite athletes. since i was neither, i figured that a training log represented an exorbitant amount of record-keeping out of proportion to any value gained from knowing workout patterns. if anything, it seemed more like an act of obsessive-compulsive neurosis.

to me, i always trusted to simply find and follow whatever available training schedules were available (or that i could find). to that end, i borrowed plans from sources like Slowtwitch, Trifuel, Joe Friel's Going Long, or Gail Bernhardt's Training Plans for Multi-Sport Athletes (all of which, by the way, i highly recommend, not just for training plans, but for training and racing in general).

but as went further into this sport, i ran across a number of issues:
  • lifestyle--training plans assume a certain allocation of time, and my lifestyle just simply did not allow for those kinds of allocations. specifically, i found myself juggling doctoral research, teaching classes, working 2 on-campus jobs, sitting on university committees, holding a leadership position with USC Triathlon, and pursuing my own writing career (of which, by the way, this blog is a part). between all this, i found it difficult to find the blocks of time prescribed by the training plans i was finding.
  • body--my body just simply did not respond to training plans. training plans are meant to be universal. but people's bodies are not. i'd received warnings from coaches and fellow athletes about the nature of following generic plans made without any personal (i.e., individual) athlete-coach interaction, but i'd ignored them. i ended up learning the hard way that my body doesn't recover or progress in ways compatible with so many training plans on the market.
  • interests--triathlon was never my only physical avocation. swimming, biking, and running may seem like a full plate of physical activity for most people, but there were other things i wanted to do. in particular, i enjoy surfing, and i also enjoy kung fu. yeah, i know, they're the kind of activities that most people would snigger about as being a California thing. but whatever. they were things i wanted to give time to, and that meant taking time away from triathlon.
because of these problems, i've ended up having to abandon any notion of following generic training plans, instead tailoring my own. i've cobbled together schedules using input from coaches, athletes, books, videos, magazines, and websites. i've also had to do quite a bit of experimentation, trying to figure out just how i can fit in triathlon training with everything in my life.

i have to say it's been quite an adventure, and i'm still in the process of figuring it out. the results so far have been mixed--i've accomplished my goal of becoming an Ironman, but not with the times i had hoped for...or which other people had predicted for me based on my training. in addition, training isn't quite as smooth as it is for so many other people i talk to, and it seems that i have to struggle quite a bit more than most with issues of soreness and exhaustion.

designing your own training plan requires a lot of work. sure, you can know principles about training (periodization, base v build, recovery, nutrition, etc.), but it's another thing entirely trying to incorporate everything into a logical schedule progressing to Ironman performance. it requires diligence, and so mandates use of a detailed training log to lay out--and then track--workouts to ensure that the training is fulfills its objectives...and avoids mistakes.

to this end, i've become quite a bit more dedicated to maintaining a training log than i did just a few years ago. i'm putting in more detail, putting in time, intensity, nature of terrain (i.e., pool v ocean, road v path, track v trail) and specific workout plan (i.e., steady v intervals, what kind of steady, what kind of intervals, etc.), whereas before i would have just put in time and intensity.

i'm using Google Calendar. there are alternatives, but they either didn't have the flexibility i was seeking or they charged money that i don't have as a student. Google Calendar isn't fancy, but it lets me do what i want: mark out my workouts in a quick, easy-to-read format, with the option of readily accessible details for further information.

i haven't gotten so far as to inputting calories and nutritional breakdown, or creating graphs, but i figured that (so far) i don't really need them--although i know that if i do, i'll have to find another method.

you can see my training log by clicking on the "Google Training" button--there is no such thing, but i "modified" the Google Calendar button to better reflect that i'm using it as a training log. you can also reference:

you can see how i'm integrating all my physical avocations. i haven't been doing much surfing lately (i hate to go surfing alone, but so far just haven't been able to find anybody else to go with me at the times i have available). but you can see my training plan, complete with swim, bike, and run workouts fitted in with kung fu classes and practice sessions.

not that this will be anybody's motivation for checking in this blog. but at least you can follow along with my training, and see how the posts relate to my training schedule.

in addition, i've "officially" (at least in my own training calendar) started training for Ironman New Zealand 2008 as of October 1, so you can now see how i'm progressing from the very beginning. the plan, as it is with every Ironman i do, is to write up a weekly report (usually every weekend) of notes and thoughts about training over the previous week. you can reference the Google Training calendar to match up my weekly reports with the workouts in my training log.

feel free to offer up comments or advice.

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