First and foremost, considering my injury just a few months ago, I am still riding high on the idea that I am healthy and able to be out doing what I love pain free. For me this is still pretty huge! Second, life outside of training has been MUCH more balanced than it was this time last year. I'm thankful for the greater work-life balance and overall flexibility in my schedule that makes training hard much more manageable. Third, I continue to be thankful for the supportive network of people around me that, whether they realize it or not, play a huge role in cultivating the happy vibes that keep me consistently moving forward.
So my past month of training has been along the lines of this: 2 weeks of working hard, 1 week of blissful rest, 1 week of "this is nuts why is every workout HARD type training." Having learned a few vital lessons from my training last year, I have been stressing less about the training itself and focusing my efforts on getting in sufficient nutrition and quality sleep. Ironman training can be REALLY overwhelming if you let it be, so I am focusing on one workout at a time while making sure to take care of the little details that will keep me happy and healthy throughout the process (so far, it seems to be working!)
Two weeks ago I enjoyed a much needed down week and was simply elated with the opportunity to goof off a bit, worry less about pushing myself and more about having fun. I've come to recognize that those types of weeks are all too important in the overall big picture of things by allowing the body to rest and recharging mentally while reinforcing a love for the sport. One thing I did do that week was join the hubby for a day trip down to Damascus/Abingdon, VA, where he did a long trail training run in the morning (while I blissfully slept) and we both participated in a 10k race that evening:
Left: Post-family trail run in the pouring rain. It was my first trail run in QUITE a while and I was blessed with a beautiful rain storm to enjoy in all it's glory (I love trail running in the rain and I'm certain I had a huge grin glued to my face the entire 6 mi)
Right: Hanging out in my favorite hammock: I napped while the hubz partook in a 25 mile training run in the mountains two weekends back. Not a bad deal if you ask me!!
Pictured Above: Shots from the CTR Memorial 10k in Abington, VA. Without a doubt one of my worst race performances in quite a while (featuring a beautiful 4 minute positive split from my first to second 5k), but I did walk away as the 3rd overall female and the Hubz took 1st overall (yes, after running 25 miles that morning)
This past week was quite literally my LONGEST training week ever, at least from a Monday-Sunday perspective. When I first saw a 13+ hr training week on my schedule I'm certain my jaw dropped, then I remembered I had "asked for this" (and coach also so kindly reminded me of that :) followed by a smile. I told coach he had a little too much fun writing that week into my training schedule, but truly I was looking forward to the challenge. So 15 hrs of training later, including roughly 8 hrs this past weekend, I am happy to report I am in fact still alive, and sane, and it was (mostly) fun!
Above: The Hubz chased me down early on into my 90 mile ride on Saturday on his way back from running errands. I wasn't quite in need of a pit stop yet but I definitely enjoyed the roadside visit (really, he was checking to make sure that I did in fact get off the couch and leave the house for my ride).
Below: Roughly 80 miles into my ride, I took a moment to recharge and soak in some happy vibes with these roadside sunflowers!
Where the rubber hits the road (trail?): Sunday was about getting things done with a 16 mile trail run, thankfully with the company and support of the Hubz to keep me moving. My legs actually felt decently good, but my body was TIRED and I had to be diligent in ensuring I ate well up until the very end. When I reached this cold creek crossing with about 3 miles to go, I instinctively dove straight for the water and enjoyed a few moments of sweet bliss before being forced back on my feet to continue. It most definitely proved to be my favorite moment of the week!
Back at the parking lot post-run, cue a mini "jump" to celebrate completing my biggest training week ever, followed by "OMG we need to go because I want to eat food NOW."
What's Next? This coming weekend will once again include back-to-back long workouts. Saturday I am participating in the Burke's Garden Century Ride (100 miles), which starts from Narrows, VA and rides out to Burke's Garden (Tazewell), while Sunday will be a low-key 10 mile trail run. School starts back up for our local universities (Virginia Tech 1 week from today, Radford University in 2 weeks) and I am happy to report I am once again gearing up for another year as an adjunct instructor at both VT & Radford! My next race is the Patriot's Half (Sept 12th, just under 4 weeks away) and then it will be a few weeks of more peak ironman training preparing for Beach 2 Battleship Full.
And as for right now? I'm cherishing this day of rest and enjoying an amazing bowl of homemade ice cream!
Happy training & eating in the week ahead!! What fitness goals are you currently working towards?!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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