Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A quick wrap-up of the wild ride that was 2020

It "feels like" 13 degrees outside and we have a new president being sworn in within the hour as I'm starting this post, so I'm home drinking coffee and watching the news on my furlough day rather than freeze on a run or go grocery shopping. That's OK; it is a historic day and all.

Even though we're most of the way through January I figured I'd do a quick look back at the year, just because SO much happened and I like to have these reviews to look back on, reminisce, and remember what worked and what didn't.

January: I got back in the pool and ran on the treadmill.

January: Everything started off normally. I was in a bike trainer routine, and running regularly on a treadmill at the gym. I got in the pool a few times to prepare for an indoor tri, and actually remembered how to swim. I did weights, pre-hab, and yoga occasionally. I didn't see the sun for a while. I tweaked my knee and took some time off running.

February was the only month I raced.

February: It was the only month I raced: I did a fun 5K on Super Bowl Sunday, and I did a super fun indoor tri a few weeks later. I got sick with a hard and fast flu and had to take about a week off. (I really don't think it was COVID; I don't ever remember losing my sense of smell or having trouble breathing, no one around me got sick, and I was back to normal within a week.) I did less of everything but kept an overall training plan going well enough.

This was my view for a lot of March.

March: This was when everything changed. Not only did I change jobs early in the month, I only spent 8 days in the office before being sent home with a laptop. My commute went from 25 minutes to 5 minutes — which I was thrilled about — to zero. My gyms closed. Everything closed. I tried to pivot as best I could and threw myself into riding the trainer and running outdoors. I did a bit more PT, weights, and yoga. I tried dryland swim training.

I ran a bit more and started running a bit longer in April.

April: If we didn't know what kind of mess we were in before, we definitely knew by April. The weather mostly cooperated, so I added in an extra day of running when I could. I put in decent time on the trainer. I had more time to add in more PT, weights, and yoga. My dogs got used to me being home all day. I started taking my one hyperactive dog on 2-mile walks most mornings. I was furloughed one day a week and tried to make the most of it by making it a dedicated training day.

May was my highest-volume month of the year, but I still stopped for pretty pictures.

May: May was my highest-volume training month of the year and probably for many years. I ran a lot; it was my second 120+ mile month in a row. I biked on the trainer a lot. I got deeper into a weightlifting routine and dedicated myself to doing more PT and prehab, and more yoga. I tried to get into a dryland routine.

My hip was giving me issues in June so I bumped up the weight training.

June: I cut back on the running for a while after a mild hamstring strain. I tried to maintain my other routines, but some of that suffered a bit as I enjoyed other outdoor activities like pretending I know how to garden. I got back into an outdoor pool. I rode my bike outside.

July: The dog days of summer.

July: I ran and swam exclusively outside and took my bike out on the roads a couple times as well. I spent a good amount of time on the bike trainer. I lifted weights. I suffered through a Michigan summer. I took the dogs on long walks and ate outside safely with my friends.

I had good bike volume in August, and bought some new gloves and bar wrap.

August: I swam more in August than any other month. I cut back on the biking and running a bit, but still rode outside a few times and logged some solid running. I did my usual PT and yoga routines. I got outside and enjoyed summer sunsets and early mornings.

Biking was a bummer in September: I flatted on both my outdoor rides.

September: I bumped up the running a bit and spent almost exactly the same amount of time in my running shoes and in the bike saddle, 17 hours each. Weights took a bit of a back seat but I started working a short mobility routine into my PT rotation and feeling the effect from that. I swam my last laps of the year before my outdoor pool closed. Things took on a very "back to school" feeling.

I ran a lot, and enjoyed the fall scenery, in October.

October: I bumped up the training hours almost 10 more from September, even without swimming and only getting outside on my bike for one last time this season. I ran my highest volume month in years. I rode the bike trainer a lot. I lifted a lot and did a good amount of yoga. October was the month I got REALLY serious about PT, doubling the number of sessions from even the previous highest month.

... and a birthday run with my four-legged partner.

November included a trail run...

November: I cut back the running a bit to focus more on the bike trainer. I did a ton of PT and even more weights and yoga. The weather cooperated enough for me to continue running outside. I tried to settle into my indoor routines. I celebrated my husband's and then my birthday, and Thanksgiving, by not going anywhere or doing anything. We started to gear up for a long winter.

One December highlight was fun new leggings!

December: I logged a monster month on the bike trainer. I cut back on running a bit more to make room for that and also because the weather got colder. I did a strength challenge and realized I needed to start working core-specific exercises into my rotation. I did more PT, mobility, and yoga than I have all year. December was the only month I logged more than 74 sessions, even though many of them were short; May was still my highest volume month, but December was only behind by 20 minutes or so.

Overall: I ended the year feeling strong, good about where my training is, and proud of the gains I'd made. I was able to pivot and funnel a lot of time gained back into something for myself. Part of me thinks, Why bother if there aren't any races, or group training, or much of anything coming up? But I still like to challenge myself, to see what I can do, and to try new things. An hour or two of training most days has kept me sane and grounded throughout this whole debacle.

And, to look ahead to 2021: I'm probably months away from getting vaccinated, and might not get to race in 2021 at all, but that's OK. I'll continue to do my own thing and take advantage of pools and gyms opening up when it's safe. I'll continue to put time in on the bike trainer and run outside when I can. I'll challenge myself to discover new weaknesses, and then work on those.

When the weather warms up I'll go on 2-mile walks in the morning again. Maybe I'll get back on the tennis court. I want to work on the bike trainer all winter and spring, and then take that leg strength into some fun road rides. Maybe there will be gravel rides or group rides this year. Maybe there will be a 5K or a sprint tri this year.

But maybe not. And even if there aren't any races, there's still lots to do and try. I hope I can stay motivated and focused no matter what the next few months bring.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Week in review January 11-17: A bit of redemption and a lot of solid training

I still don't really know what I'm training for — life? A solid base? Sanity? To jump into a race at a moment's notice once this stupid pandemic is over? — But last week was just about as good as it gets at this stage of life, except for the swimming.

I really meant to get over here and post at least once last week, especially since I still haven't taken a look at 2020 as a whole. But I kept myself pretty busy, as my training totals suggest. There was also the requisite errand-running and market-going, and NOT being too exhausted on Saturday to do anything. So, that was nice. I also managed to hop on a video chat with some friends (yay!), eat non-ordered-in food every night (even if I was just reheating leftovers), and finish watching Fargo with my husband. Last week was a nice mix of training and other wins.

My biggest training win was probably my successful FTP test on Saturday. I was feeling pretty good after a decent night's sleep and a peppy but not too fast run the evening before. I dug out my iPod for some upbeat music and pedaled my heart out for as long as I could. I lasted 20 minutes and ended up adding 7 watts to my FTP. I was thrilled to see this; riding more often during the week makes you stronger, who knew? I'm sure I'll be regretting it at my next regular ride but I was pretty proud of myself for putting in the hard work.

I'm still not getting in the pool but that's OK. I'm not comfortable swimming inside right now and it's not like there are any races happening in January in Michigan. I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy.
A great week for me volume-wise, even without the swimming.
Last week was:

Bike: Four times, all on the trainer for 77 lucky trainer "miles" in almost exactly 5 hours. Whew! This was a lot of pedaling. And, Santa did make his late delivery of a couple pairs of bike shorts, which has been making the four-times-per-week bike schedule a little easier to handle laundry-wise.

PT/Pre-hab: Six times, three running PT and three mobility sessions, for about 3:45. In the new year, I'm keeping closer track of how much time I'm spending doing PT. Since I'm well into my 40s now, I'm easily spending as much time doing PT as I am running, which, sigh, is probably the new normal.

Run: Three times, all on the road, for 21.5 miles in about 3:35. This was a long run of 10 miles on a 40-degree furlough day and two shorter, easy runs. Nothing special here, just a few miles in the legs to keep them guessing and to get out and enjoy the weather when it wasn't TOO bad.

Weights: Three times of a core, a barre app, and a heavy/body routine, for about 2:45. I'm still trying different mid-week core routines, and this week I tried a free barre app instead of my usual online class. It was OK, but randomly didn't include any arm exercises??? I don't know that I would do it again, but it was nice to try something new.

Yoga: Three times, all via the Down Dog app, for 45 minutes. I have been doing well with my goal of doing yoga on every day I run, and doing the app has definitely shaken it up a bit.

Total: 19 sessions, which is a LOT for me, in almost 16 hours, which is a LOT for me as well. Wow, what a great week!

This isn't really an exciting update. I stayed home and trained a lot. What else is there to do these days? I'm trying to run as long as the weather allows, ride the bike trainer a lot, and supplement with weights, PT, and yoga. Repeat. There just isn't anything else going on.

Here's to safe, healthy weeks filled with as much training as we want and both training and non-training wins.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Week in review Jan. 4-10: Ugh.

There really is no better word to describe last week other than "ugh."

I had to go back to work after a long holiday. Ugh. And to add insult to injury, there was a mad scramble starting Wednesday that led to me working late Thursday, very late Friday, and Saturday morning. Ugh.

It's gloomy and cold out. Ugh.

Have you watched the news lately? Ugh.

It was all I could do to get through the week in one piece. My brain was completely fried by Friday and I logged off way too late to squeeze in a run, anyway. I was so exhausted on Saturday that even after sleeping in I didn't do much else all day other than go the market, lounge around in bed, and fart around on the computer.

By Sunday I was feeling a little more like myself and was able to wrap up the week with a run and weights video, since I hadn't done my usual heavy/body routine that Saturday. The sun even came out for a bit during my run. It was cold but it was nice to get outside and move my body for a bit.

Every discipline was below average this week and ... I kind of don't care. Rarely do I take two days in a row off from training but, if there ever was a time to do it, it was this past week. It was disastrous all around and I was glad to get it in the rearview mirror.

It ended up as:
Considering the crappiness of the last week, I'll take this as a success.
Bike: Three times, all on the trainer, for 49 fake trainer miles in 3:12 exactly. Nothing special here, just trying to build up that base.

Run: Twice, both on the road, for 14 miles in about 2:17. I had every intention to get out for a run in the afternoon Wednesday, but I ended up having to take a work call even though it was my furlough day. Of course it ran long and I didn't get out until later than I would have liked. But, I adapted and made it a bit of a speed run, which was nice. The only other day I ran was Sunday, another 7-miler but much easier. Eh, I'm getting out there when I can.

Weights: Three times of one core session, one online barre, and one video for about 2:15. I'm still trying to find a Monday core routine that works, and I did a video Sunday since I was too fried for my regular Saturday weight session.

PT/Pre-hab: This really suffered last week and I only did two mobility sessions and one running PT session for about 1:30. I was feeling pretty stiff by the end of the week and I'm sure this didn't help.

Yoga: Twice on the Down Dog app for 30 minutes total. Well, this was one goal I did meet: Doing yoga on every day I run.

Total: 13 sessions for about 9:44. Eh, considering the week, I'm not going to beat myself up over a less-than-usual-volume week.

There's not much else to do but regroup, refocus, and work on making next week just a bit better. I've got my bike workouts, the weather is cooperating just enough that I can get outside a few times per week for a run, and I have plenty of supplemental workouts to keep me busy. Plus, I'm WAY behind on personal projects, and that includes totaling up my 2020 numbers. I really want to wrap that up and close the book on the year, for good.

I hope your week was less stressful than mine was and that you're already off to a good start for this week. Stay healthy and safe out there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Dec. 28-Jan. 3 Week in review: Making a staycation into a great week of training

A GREAT week of biking for me and not too shabby for everything else.
This holiday season was sad, especially last week when I didn't even see my parents from a distance, but I'd be lying if I said I missed the crowds, the going out, the waiting in line, the spending money, and all that jazz. The two best things about not going anywhere or doing anything was that I took the time off work and I got to spend the extra hours training and relaxing.

I was able to finish December and 2020 strong (year in review coming soon; I have been putting off compiling my numbers and I am behind) and get in some decent trainer riding and running outside, even in the snow and slush. If there's one silver lining to all this, I've discovered that I am made of tougher stuff than previously thought, and can run outside in conditions a bit harsher than I would have last year.

I spent a lot of extra time on the bike trainer, which led to my best trainer week probably ever. One monkey wrench in the week was one of my dumb dogs getting sick. We've had her for 13 years and fed her twice a day during all that time, and she still eats crap off the ground, sometimes literal crap, even though it makes her sick. After many trips outside she recovered relatively quickly and although I didn't start training until later in the day those few days, neither of us were worse for the wear.

One non-training victory was taking our New Year's Eve party budget and spending it all on seafood. I cooked a feast of crab legs, shrimp, and lobster for dinner that night and it was all amazing. I actually cooked a lot over break, which hopefully helped mitigate some of the extra booze and sweets I happily ate to celebrate our holidays at home. XD

Anyway, training was:

Bike: Four times, all on the trainer, for 85 fake trainer miles in about 5:32. I am 99.9% certain this is my best trainer week ever and the most time I've spent in the saddle since I was 70.3 training and doing four-hour rides on the weekend. And, it all felt pretty good! I am definitely working during my rides, but I haven't had to bail on a workout yet.

Run: Three times, all on the road, for 17.8 miles in about 3:03. This was one run in between rain squalls to hit an even number for the year, one early (well, "early") run on New Year's Day ahead of a snowstorm, and one easy run trying to dodge slush puddles. None of these were really pleasant, but I kept them short enough that the cold or wet didn't make me miserable, and I felt pretty good afterward for all.

Weights: Three times: one core, one video, and one heavy/body routine for about 2:45. My strength challenge last month made it clear I need to do more core work so I'm trying to work it into the rotation. I'll figure out a nice couple of routines, even if it takes some trial and error.

PT/Pre-hab: Five times, three mobility and two running PT, for about 1:55. I ran out of steam on Sunday and needed to do boring adult things like food prep for the week and make sure I was ready to go back to the W word, so I ended up skipping that day.

Yoga: Three times, all via the Down Dog app, for about 45 minutes. I got an email that Down Dog is free for the time being (although I'm also hearing some friends with accounts older than mine are always free) so I'm taking advantage. It's nice to shake it up and do some poses that are outside of my usual rotation. My goal for January is to do yoga on every day I run, and I managed to hit this goal for the first two run days of the year. Yay me!

Total: 18 sessions for a hair longer than 14 hours. Woo hoo! That's a really good week for me. And, it was a good mix of bike/run and the other complementary stuff, that will hopefully help me bike/run for years to come.

I'm back to reality this week but it did feel good to get in a good week while I could. I could have run more, but at what cost? Getting even colder and wetter? No, thanks. I'm very happy with working that extra training into my staycation week. I am hopeful this sets me up for a solid month of bike trainer-ing with plenty of weights, PT, and yoga to keep things moving, and getting outside to run when I can. That's about all I can ask from any January, pandemic or otherwise.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay warm out there!

Friday, January 1, 2021

December in review: Healthy holidays with plenty of training

Lots of trainer riding for December.

December was a good training month. I had some time off work, and squeezed in a few more miles on the road and minutes in the saddle. I was as consistent as I've ever been, maybe more so, with getting into weights and yoga routines. I did a LOT of PT and mobility work. I swapped out a run for more bike trainer time. And I took on a 12-day strength and mobility challenge.

That consistency seemed to the name of the game at a macro level as well, as I only took two days off training: Christmas and the Friday before, when there was a complete work meltdown that led to a complete brain meltdown. As a result, I ended up with the most number of workout sessions I think I've ever done in a month, and the second-highest volume month of the year, only behind May, and by less than 20 minutes.

I did cut way back on running this month. I think my winter training time is better spent on the bike, so I swapped in an extra bike trainer day in place of a running day for December. It's cold and dark, I got snowed and/or rained on multiple times, there aren't any races coming up, and I don't feel comfortable using a public treadmill right now, so ... running's on the back burner for now. But that's OK. I got out when I could and still logged 67 miles. Which, I just realized, is a metric century plus a 5K, so yay me! It's more important to me right now that running is feeling good and I'm not suffering.

My extra strength/mobility challenge was 12 Days of Strengthmas, hosted by a triathlon coach I follow on Instagram. I wrapped up the challenge feeling pretty good about where my weights routines are now, since I had trouble doing very few of the exercises, EXCEPT the day we focused on core work. I was suffering the next day for sure. So, I'm taking that as a sign that I need to work at least one more focused core day into my weights routines.

One other minor victory was that I consistently did yoga twice per week. This is something I know I need to do, yet I have such a hard time making myself do it. But, this month I just got into a Wednesday/Sunday yoga routine and stuck with it. I'm hoping to expand my routine a bit to do yoga every day I run, but, baby steps.

If there was any drawback to December, it was that dog walking went severely down, much to the disappointment of one of my hyperactive mutts. It was just too cold and too dark to get out there for too long safely. Unfortunately, January and February probably won't be much better, so I'll make it up to her in belly rubs and treats.

Disappointed dog or no, December worked out to be:

An excellent trainer riding month for me.

Bike: 18 trainer sessions for 338 fake trainer miles in about 22 hours, 8 minutes. I spent more time on my actual bike while 70.3 training, but I am 99.9% certain this is the most time I've ever spent on the trainer. This was an experiment of riding two days in a row, figuring out which rides worked best on which days, and doing a LOT of laundry. Santa is bringing me a late delivery of more bike shorts, so hopefully I'll be better prepared next month.

PT/Pre-hab: 26 sessions for at least 12 hours, 35 minutes (I am going to better track actual time next year). This is a GREAT amount of sessions for me. I'm not running as much, but I am sure it's not hurting anything.

Still a decent running month through dark, snow, cold ...

Run: 11 runs for 67.05 miles in 11:17. I did the extra 0.05 to end on an even number for the year. These were almost all easy runs — I think I did a tiny bit of speed work during one, and didn't go any longer than 8.5 miles all month — which was fine with me, considering I was often battling rain, snow, cold, and/or lack of daylight.

Weights: 10 times in a good mix of videos, online barre classes, my usual heavy/body routine, Strengthmas routines, and an extra core session I threw in at the end of the month; it all worked out to be about 9:35.

Yoga: 9 sessions for about 2:15. This was mostly me doing what felt good, with one Down Dog app session at the end of the month. This is a good amount of yoga for me.

Total: 76 sessions for about 57 hours, 50 minutes. This is a LOT for me! It was a good month. I took advantage of the time off and prioritized what time I did have.

I didn't do any other workouts other than dog walking, and I didn't make it to the pool. I'm just not feeling safe enough for me to make it worth the risk right now. But that's OK. Even if I don't do anything other than bike and lift all winter, it'll be enough to keep me busy. I am already looking forward to more daylight in the evenings, even if it's too cold to get outside.

I hope your December was also a healthy holiday and that you finished out the month and year strong.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Week in review Dec. 21-27: Bike, PT, lift, repeat

I had a really good week of training last week. Even taking Christmas Day completely off training, since I only worked two days I had some extra time. I finished a strength/mobility challenge, and I rode a few extra trainer miles. I only got to run twice, but it was cold outside anyway, and twice felt like enough.

I was exhausted early in the week with trying to cram more-stressful-than-usual work days into holiday prep, but I managed two easy trainer rides after work Monday and Tuesday. I did either running PT or mobility every day except Christmas, and finished my Strengthmas challenge. It resulted in one extra strength day after my usual strength day, which I usually never do, but I figured erring on the side of additional strength the day before Christmas was OK.

I skipped a Christmas run because I wanted to relax and because it was FREEZING. I did go out Wednesday and got caught in a random RAIN storm. In December! What the heck! I actually had given up and called my husband for a ride home, but as he was pulling up the skies cleared. I felt bad for making him come out to get me but he had been nearby anyway, and I was able to do an additional 7 miles, so wins all around. It also snowed/iced/hailed on me yesterday, Sunday, during my run. Apparently whenever I go out it starts precipitating something on me. I wanted to do 6 yesterday to hit 15 for the week, but it got colder and windier the longer I was out, and I ended up with 6.25 because I decided I'd rather run the additional 0.25 home than finish early and have to walk longer. Ha!

Overall, it was:
Lots of biking, and good amounts of other stuff.
Bike: Four times, all on the trainer, for 75 fake trainer miles in a hair less than 5 hours. This is feeling good. Santa is bringing me a late delivery of two new pairs of bike shorts, so soon I hope to be able to do laundry a bit less often.

PT/Pre-hab: A bit confusing with some Strengthmas days being more strength and others being more mobility, but I figured this was 6 times total, 3 mobility (1 with Strenghtmas) and 3 PT (1 with Strengthmas), for 3 hours total.

Weights: Again, a little confusing, but I'm counting this as 3 times: 1 online barre + Strengthmas, 1 heavy/body session, and 1 Strengthmas-only session, for about 2:55.

Run: Twice, both on the road, for 15.25 rainy/snowy miles in about 2:35.

Yoga: Two solo sessions for about 30 minutes total.

Total: 17 sessions in a hair less than 14 hours. A great week for me.

I am doing plenty of lazing around, television watching, and coffee drinking this week off, but I am also doing boring adult stuff like cleaning. I'm hoping this strange week between the holidays will be a good mix of a bit more training than usual, a bit more relaxing than usual, getting some sleep, taking care of some home projects, and other stuff I've been putting off.

Hopefully you are celebrating these holidays how you want, whether that's a solo ultra or laying on the couch, or something in between.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A very restful Christmas

I have been in a pretty good routine with riding the trainer and running when I can get outside, but I took Christmas Day completely off.

I spent the day sleeping in, making pancakes and bacon, finally finishing up a crochet project, dropping off presents at both sets of parents (we wore masks and stayed outside, much to the disappointment of our dogs who just wanted to play with THEIR toys and sleep on THEIR couches), cooking, watching Christmas movies, and relaxing. It was pretty awesome.

I wish I could have gotten the leaves to lie flatter, but my mom seemed to like it.

I did a pulled pork in the slow cooker, cabbage braised in the juices, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Everything was delicious.

Daisy enjoyed the snow.
CC had the right idea.
I was back at it yesterday with a nice ride and weights workout, and the weather is a bit warmer today so I'll probably go for a run.

I hope you had a good holiday, whatever you celebrate, and are rested and ready to get back at it... or not. That's fine too.