Boot Camp Begins

Posted by on January 5, 2010 in Training

Every year, I engage what I call a “self-imposed boot camp” to kick start the new training season.  It naturally coincides with the beginning of the calendar year, and in concert with those who make new year resolutions to get in shape, I resolve to be faster than last year by being more disciplined with training.  While I get a kick out of seeing my neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc., heading to the gym for their boot camps, classes, and trainer sessions, I realize I’m not terribly different except that I’ve been doing this for ten years.  Egad, has it been that long?

Unlike in previous years, I’m actually entering this year’s self-imposed boot camp (let’s call it SIBC) with a decent base of fitness.  Following the knee surgery, I put in a month’s time worth of workouts at a fairly low intensity to build some muscle and cardio fitness, so I’m now engaging the SIBC without having to first get back into shape.  Trust me, this makes a huge difference.

My thoughts are somewhat scattered for this particular post, so I’ll just throw them out there…

When I finally got back on the horse, I was at 189 lbs.  Are you kidding me?  189?  My best race weight, e.g. lightest, in 2009 was 167 and I felt fast.  Some friends commented that I look better with more meat on my bones, or at least they think that my face looks less gaunt.  F that; lighter is better.  I was able to look into the mirror and finally, at age 38, think that I looked okay.  There was this one time in 1998 when I was unemployed and at the gym lifting weights every day; I thought I looked good then too (the mirror may have been distorted though), but it was muscular-wise; I had just average fitness through basketball.  This year, I felt good on more levels.  For me to have wasted it away following the knee injury was a silly decision, but not a permanent one.  As of this morning, I’m down to 176 in just 5 weeks!  Truly, the number doesn’t matter, but it does reinforce that I’m doing some right things diet and training-wise.

I paid my dues and have officially become a member of the Terrier Triathlon Team.  I will have my first team workout with them in the pool tomorrow night.  I have to admit that I don’t like the winter scheduling they have mostly because there are so few team training sessions and instead, mostly these “drop-in” classes where you have to purchase a credit to participate.  So, I’ll pay for the right to swim with a team in a masters format, and I’ll pay to take the spin classes because both will make me work harder than I do when I’m solo training.

My general plan is to work out 9 times a week:  3 swim, 3 bike, 3 run.  The trick is scheduling.  If you figure that there are 2 potential training periods a day, one in the AM and one in the PM, I’ll have 10 potential opportunities Mon-Fri to train.  Weekends are different because they are generally dedicated to longer sessions and without work, there’s considerable flexibility in scheduling.  So, Mon-Fri, I’ll need to get in something like 6-7 training sessions which means that I can only have 2-3 events or appointments.  This week for instance, I’m bowling one night, and going to Lincoln Center another night, so I’m pretty compressed to get everything in… but I’m committed to do all of it.  Now that I’m on the team, I’ll be psychologically compelled to attend sessions with them, but with other sessions that will be solo, I’ll have the flexibility to potentially get everything in.  Most people don’t realize that the activity that is triathlon is actually quite easy; it’s the time management and scheduling that is difficult.

The Miami Triathlon is just about 10 weeks away.  That seems like a lot, but is really a very short time away.  There’s little chance that I’ll be close to competitive in that event, at least within the context of where I’d be in mid-summer, but it’ll be with Fernando and other friends and so long as I put up some decent times, my ego will be salvaged.  This is a no-holds crew of trash-talkers (I include myself in that group), so you can imagine the pressure that I’m self-imposing.

Back to the SIBC:  The sessions are going well.  My comfort in the water is ever-increasing, and I’m looking forward to being humbled tomorrow night with the team session, my first with them.  Masters swimming is the greatest thing for this sport; you will almost never be the fastest, and you are always forced to work hard, and put in a fair amount of time/distance.  Plus, it burns a gazillion calories which is good for the anticipated weight loss.  My time on the bike trainer is really hard to gauge; I’m able to ride out of the saddle for longer and longer periods, but it’s not clear if I’m generating more power than before.  I really need to get a power meter, but it’s so frickin expensive.  Maybe next year.  The spin sessions will be good as I’ll probably go longer than I do now, but until I get out onto the open road, I won’t really know how far along I am.  I can’t ride outside yet; anything under 30 degrees is somewhat dangerous for the joints.  Hopefully we’ll get a respite from the bitter temps soon.  On the run, every session is increasingly better.  I’m running with lesser intensity (generally) and my times are faster.  The HR still jumps up every time I climb Harlem Hill, but it’s supposed to.  I find it really difficult to scale back the intensity, especially as I play with different run techniques and form.  I’m not too worried about my run this year; I had such a good experience in 2009 and I fully expect to break PRs this year.

Next up is a 5 mile running race in Central Park this Saturday.  Not sure why I’m strongly considering participating, but what the heck.  I love competition even if it’s with myself.  Supposed to be super cold which I love!  Next post will probably be about how awful the cold was, how hard it was to run, and how my previous zeal was so unfortunately misdirected.  I need to get a treadmill.

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