Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ironman Effect

Today I had a tough, hour plus hill run. I did the run at Highbanks, a local metro park with a hilly, trail terrain. It's about the ONLY place in central Ohio to run with hills. One word to describe this run: HORRIBLE!!! I couldn't breathe, my heart rate was sky-high, my legs just wouldn't move. Ugh! Last year when I was training for the Boston Marathon I kicked Highbanks' a$$ and did 18 miles there. What the heck has happened in a year?

I call it "The Ironman Effect."

I've noticed over the last couple of long runs that things have shifted in my heart rate zones. Last year when I was training for my marathons, I did a lot of work in zone 3. My goal was to increase speed. When I ran in zone 2 last year, I usually only got down around 9:30/mile. But, when I ran in zone 3, I could get the pace down to 8:20/mile. This year because I'm going long (LONG!!!) all my work has been in aerobic zones, mostly zone 2. On my long runs now in zone 2, I've been averaging just under 9:00/mile. IN. ZONE. 2.!!! But, push to zone 3 and I'm only dropping to 8:40/mile. While this is great for the races I'm planning, I am NOT happy with where my running is now. One of my biggest fears of doing triathlon specifically was losing my running abilities. Yes I know running is still my strongest asset and is my most competitive game. But I'm struggling with running so few miles and running such slow miles.

Training for Ironman has been tough. There aren't a whole lot of races on the schedule and it's hard to remember that there's purpose behind EVERY workout. Many days over the last couple of weeks I've turned to Dave and said, "you know what, I just don't want to do this. I want go back to being a runner." But, I'm glad it's spring, workouts have moved outside, and races are on the horizon. I knew things would change by switching to triathlon and physically and mentally it's been tough to handle. But maybe "The Ironman Effect" will be useful in the long run. I just have a few more weeks to wait and see.


SSB said...

I haven't heard Highbanks Park for a long time. We used to go on school picnics there when I was growing up.

Judi said...

hey girl. im training IS hard, especially coming from one sport. i'll send this link to jen, i am sure she will have some wise words for you.

let's get that imlou ride scheduled soon.

jeff said...

i totally hear you, mer. i haven't been on the bike or in the pool once since mooseman last june. hang in there, though!

Jennifer Harrison said...

Meredith, Judi did send me this blog link,, but I do read your blog too! And, OF course you are in the MOST capable hands, in my opinion. Elizabeth is one of the BEST and you know that. Trust the plan.

The IM training does change your pure running. There is not a way around it. Ask how many elite runners bike 100 miles on a weekend and then try to PR or feel good on their hard runs? NONE.

The IM is a tough road...and each workout has a purpose and each workout builds upon another one...and it is the cumulative fatigue issue that you are dealing w/ how....ADD the swimming and strength workout and you are in a constant fog all the time.

Hang in there, though. IF the IM is your goal, then stay focused on the big picture. ONCE the IM is done and you are rested completely, you will come back EVEN stronger and your running will be at an all time high again!


E.L.F. said...

Hang in there. As your coach I read this and can see how people think - oh my gosh what is going on with this girl. You're following the plan and working hard. Sounds like Ironman training to me.

The harder you work though, the harder it is to surrender. When you arrive at Ironman you will be prepared to reach your goal. That makes the journey worth it.

Ironman training is hard. It does change your running, like Jen said. You come to this year with a strong background in running. We are making you into a cyclist who can also run well off the bike. You are doing a great job with the workouts and staying balanced with life and running your own business too.

Like I said yesterday in email, when you return to "just" running, you'll be even stronger than before.

Hang in there, champ!

Colleen said...

Hey Meredith - keep these words in your head...

"If it were easy, everyone would do it"

Ironman training is the hardest thing I've ever done, but the reward is SO darn great! I know you are a bit frustrated with you running, but it will all come together. You are going to do great in Louisville. After that, you can judge whether or not it's for you. I think you'll see improvement in your running too (it might just not be after a hellish IM training week!)

Keep pushing girl! :)

Judi said...

see? jen knows. :) hang tough. YOU chose to do IM. YOU have to tough it out. that's what my boyf told me all thruout my training last summer. :) suck it up and HTFU. i wish i was doing it again this year!