I’m still in the off-season, so I’m trying to work in shorter bike rides with higher intensity. This is where Sufferfest and TrainerRoad come in. If you’re not familiar, Sufferfest’s website proclaims that it is, “Widely known as the most exciting cycling training videos in the world. Our videos have structured high-intensity interval workouts, killer soundtracks, great storylines and the best professional races in the world. Suitable for beginners to professional cyclists.” TrainerRoad is a website that uses an ANT+ USB stick and your computer to provide a virtual power meter for your bike. (You can find out more about riding with power here.)
Today, I tried out Sufferfest’s Downward Spiral, and it basically wrecked me! The video starts out telling you that the hour-long workout is comprised of two all-out intervals, with alternating difficult and easy sets. Basically, go all-out for 90 seconds, then easy…then repeat for a smaller amount of time each set. Hence, the Downward Spiral.
Well, I got through the first set…barely.
Once the second set started, my legs were about to fall off! Sweat was pouring everywhere, my HR was skyrocketing, and my legs felt like chunks of oak. Big, stupid blocks of wood that had nothing. After the second workout, I called it…admitting defeat.
But there will be a Round Two…this thing’s not over!
Here’s a link to the workout if you want to see the exact point where I was humbled!
Sufferfest – Downward Spiral
I haven’t tried this yet, but it sure seemed to work for these guys!
I love The Oatmeal, and I loved this post most of all. It’s a great explanation of why long-distance sport is great. Read and enjoy!
Best Captions for this Bed:
- Stay out of my lane, I have a a headache tonight.
- How many laps have we done?
- I think you were doing 25m sprints while I was doing 800s.
- Have you seen my goggles?
- I think your bathing suit came off…
- Don’t forget to put on your swim cap!
- Would flip turns make me faster?
- Your swim stroke could really use a little work…
Anyone else have a good caption?
If this doesn’t inspire you, nothing will!
When I first got the idea to train for a triathlon, I remember being terrified of so many possibilities: What if I can’t finish? What if I get into the middle of the swim (it was open water) and just panic? What if I’m just terrible? Luckily, I was communicating with some people online at BeginnerTriathlete, which is a great resource if you haven’t checked it out, and a mentor there told me something I’ll always remember, “No matter how you do in your race, when you get done, you’ll be a triathlete.” This had a real impact on me, since I’d never considered myself any kind of an athlete before I started running. Well, I did the race, and I’ve done quite a few since, which makes me a triathlete.
I am a triathlete!
I heard a theory once that people are impressed when you run a 5K, start to look at you funny if you run a half marathon, and then think you’re insane if you ever work up to a marathon. So, when people hear that I’m training for multiple triathlons, and that it’s a regular routine, they naturally ask one thing: Why do you do this to yourself?
Why are you running?
- I don’t have to wonder what I’m capable of. To get ready for Ironman Louisville, I trained six days a week, for just under 9 months, from January 1 to early August. I woke up before 5am two or three days a week to go swim thousands of yards. I biked hundreds of miles a month, and ran almost 200 miles during the month of July alone. To cap that off, I went and did an Ironman: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, followed by 26.2 miles of running. And my race was a near-disaster, even after all that training. I got dizzy around mile 16, sat down, passed out, woke up, and then finished the race. It wasn’t the race I’d wanted, but I was an Ironman. After all that, I don’t need to wonder what I can do if I put my mind to something: I just think back on what I’ve actually done, and then I realize what I’m capable of. Next year, I’ll start training for second Ironman…and I know that I can do it.
- It focuses life. Once I really thew myself into triathlon, it focused life. I won’t say that everything I do revolves around my training and racing, but everything is influenced by it. I don’t follow a specific diet, but I consider what I eat. I know what it takes to burn off a Coke. I plan my days around my S/B/R workouts. I go to bed early if I need, or get up early to get in a workout before I head into work, or I might sleep later because I know I need it.
Most triathletes plan their seasons far in advance; I signed up for my next Ironman over a year before the race will actually take place (it sold out in about three minutes), which means I definitely know what I’m doing a year from now. Triathlon really touches every part of my life, for the better.
- It gives me an identity of my own. I’m a high school English teacher, and I really enjoy my job. However, it’s my job; it’s not who or what I am. I think that’s an important lesson: You don’t have to be your job.
In the words of the great Tyler Durden.
Some people love their jobs and can’t separate themselves from it, but, for me, it’s important that there are times when I’m not a teacher. The kids I teach will graduate and move on with their lives; I keep in touch with some, but not many. A few weeks ago, I was returning late from a field trip and there was a teacher there at 9:45pm working in her classroom…on a Friday. Now, some might call that admirable, and it is, but I just felt sad for her. For me, there has to be life outside of work. Being able to call myself a triathlete means that I can define myself; I get to choose who I am. And, importantly, I am defining myself by what I do, which is something I can control.
Yeah, I know the video above is a little heavy-handed, but it totally made my point!
- Every day, and every season, can be a milestone. One day, after leaving the gym, I stopped by the grocery store. The cashier in the checkout line saw my 5K race shirt (if you’re like most triathletes, you own about 30 million race shirts, or so) and said she’d love to do one of those one day…I was stunned. I’d just finished up a 5-mile run, which was just a Wednesday for me. She considered 3 miles of running a huge accomplishment. I told her, trying to not to sound haughty, that she could definitely do one with a little training, and that she’d really enjoy it. When I first started running, I wanted to break 30 minutes for a 5K; I remember that being my first goal. I beat it, and then beat it again…and again…and again. This upcoming season, I’d love to break 20 minutes. I might not be able to do it, but everyday I get the chance to work toward that goal, or a hundred others. Every training session is a chance to go faster, or longer, or harder. Even if that individual session isn’t about pushing yourself, it’s part of a long range plan to exceed your own, or possibly others’, expectations. My first race was a half marathon, and I was enormously impressed with myself when I accomplished that goal. This year, I just call a 13-mile run Sunday.
- I’m the best version of myself. Let’s face it, even if you’re the least vain person in the world, you check the mirror every once in awhile. When I do, I’m pretty happy. I look better, and feel better, than I ever did before I was a triathlete. Hell, even my dog is in better shape! And, it’s not just physical; I feel capable and in control of my health. If I have a bad day, I know that a good bike, run, or swim can be a healthy way to let off some steam. If the before-triathlon Me met the triathlete Me, he’d be pretty impressed.
If Barney says it, it must be true…
So, that’s why I do triathlons. Well, that and the fact that it totally justifies how much I love, and consume Nutella!