Training day failures … or not

In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect.

In preparing for my next 70.3 in Texas later this month, Saturday was my first big brick workout of the season. On the schedule — a two-hour bike ride followed immediately by an 8-10 mile run. The course and the pace could be anything I wanted. The emphasis was to get in the miles and to practice my nutrition. Training days are meant for failure. This is where you learn. This is where you fix things on all levels.

Getting on the bike at 7:30 in the morning the first concern was the wind. It was gusty. It was strong. Oh, this might be ugly and make me cry.

My biggest challenge on the bike is to hold back. I love my bike (regular readers of this blog may have gathered such information) and would be perfectly happy trashing myself on long, challenging rides. But I had to run at least eight miles after this, so trashing my legs would not bode well for the rest of the workout.

I picked an out-and-back route and battled the wind in open spots.

“I am a screen. Wind goes through me.”

It became my mantra. But I didn’t need to go to it all that often. The sky was a beautiful shade of blue. The sun was early on the rise. I was in joy — out and free on my bike. I was confident. I was happy to slide into an easier gear to save my legs, saving my mashing up inclines and hills for later in the summer.

Practicing my nutrition strategy seemed to go well. I sipped on Gatorade Endurance (what will be available at my race later this month) and munched on Fig Newtons and half a Clif Bar. I felt hydrated and as if I had consumed enough calories. And while the final two miles of the ride was up a steep hill into a strong head wind (can you say “granny gear”?) and slightly painful, I was pleased with my ride.

After a brief bathroom break (I did say I hydrated well on the bike) came the start of my run. I chose a relatively flat route with a few rolling hills. While most of western New York State basked in the glory of sunshine and 70-degree temperatures, I quickly realized a gross oversight on my part — water for the run.

I had two gels on me, but no water. Nor did I plant any water on my route. So I changed up my plan, ran directly to a municipal building with a water fountain, just a shade under four miles into my run. But by Mile 5, it was getting ugly. I was thirsty. My route had little to no shade. And my legs no longer felt attached to my body.

And yet, I still had to finish the run the same way I finished the bike — up hill into a strong headwind.

At this point, pace and time were of no concern to me. It was only about finishing the eight miles. About 6.5 miles into the run came a walk break to take a gel. Not too proud to walk, I knew it was almost over. I knew there was Gatorade Endurance in my car and I didn’t care how warm it got sitting there.

To make up for the walk break, I ran through 8.25 miles. Then I stopped my watch and took a half mile cool down (into that head wind).

Oh … my …. goodness.

That was hard. That was hard with a few choice expletives deleted thrown in for good measure.

Was this a training day failure?

Well, it wasn’t pretty. Even parts of my beloved bike were difficult as I’m still working to get my road legs back, get used to efficiently shifting up and down hills. The run turned plain ugly as my nutrition plan was, well, not well planned with the weather conditions.

But perhaps the most important thing I learned was that my definitions of “success” and “failure” are changing.

And I am not only having better workouts for it — I’m finding more joy because of it.

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~ by amymoritz on April 4, 2010.

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