Saturday, 28 September 2013

Good bye summer, Hello Fall

Only 48 hours left until it's October, and with it colder temps, rainy days, early-onset darkness and depleted motivation.  A lot of training plans are underway but clinging to their summertime ways, which mostly means outside in t-shirts. But soon, most of us will head indoors and start to bundle up until Mother Nature plays nice again (say, late March.....we can dream, right?)  While we wait, here's some suggestions for acclimatizing:

Swimming:  Not much choice here, you've pretty much got to hit the pool.  Finding a pool you like is vital (the quality of the hot tub is how I determine pool worthiness), as is a training plan that is both challenging and fun.  Check out Swimplan for some good plans, it's easy to set up and free.  I print the workouts on an index card and put it in a Ziploc bag for waterproofing on the swim deck.  Throwing in a game or two with your swim buddies keeps it fun too-my favourites are SwimGolf and the 3-5-7-3 challenge.  For SwimGolf, swim 50m and add together your time and number of strokes.  Great for optimizing efficiency and bonus points if you get under 60 which is the lowest score I've ever heard of.  For 3-5-7-3, you breathe every 3rd, then 5th, 7th and 3rd stroke on each 25m over a 100m swim and it's reaaaallly hard!  And fun.  

Cycling:  I'm not sure how many people continue to cycle outside after October, but to those who do: Good on you and please stay safe!  For those of us heading indoors, there is a couple of different ways to keep the legs in shape-the indoor trainer and Spin class.  If you don't have an indoor trainer, get one, they're awesome. Craigslist is a good start for finding one.  If you already have one, I would recommend setting up a TV near by for entertainment.  Depending on goals and time available, some people like movies, some people like Spinervals and some people (me) play a game where my kids get to be the boss-they yell out commands (Sprint! Stand! Slow!) and you follow along.  Just remember, kids are mean.  Alternately, there is Spin class-most local municipalities and gyms offer them in some capacity but another source is local bike stores which usually have good rates and discounts if you bring your own bike trainer (another incentive to get one!)

Running:  Best thing to do here is embrace the cold, wet and dark.  Besides not over-heating, you'll be building endurance on one of your most important running components: Your mental muscle! And we'll all be thankful to have it come race day.  Having the right gear makes a huge difference too including a hat, jacket, reflective vest, and gloves.  Just make sure one of them has a pocket for id and money for that post-run beverage (several of my runs have been completed only because of the beer waiting at the end).  If you really have to run inside, there's always the treadmill.  My friend Allison has hers set up in the garage and runs with the door open so it's kind of like running outside, a great idea except when the raccoons come in to check out what's going on (which really happened!)

That's all for now, good luck staying warm, dry and visible out there!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Back to the grind.....

When I started this post, I expected to be writing about all the great races coming this fall-the Vancouver Eastside 10k?  Yes, sounds great!  The Electrodash?  Never met a 5k fun run I didn't like (but it's on the Friday of a long weekend :( )!  The Seawall Race?  New Balance Fall Classic?  A friend's recent email looking for company in the races she wanted to do had me excited about all of them.  

Then the return of Serious Training happened this week.  So I thought well, there is a lot of training to be done between now and race time-writing about that seems more appropriate.   I expected to be writing about how the return of swim club with Coach T was murder on the shoulders and how much I regretted my lack of swim training this summer.  

But a funny thing happened-swimming didn't kill my shoulders and although I swam for all of about 30 minutes this summer, the return to the pool felt great, maybe even one of my favourite swims yet!  And all of this got me thinking about expectations, particularly the ones we have of ourselves.

We've all got 'em-they keep us coming back for more, season in, season out.  Whether it's hitting that goal you never expected to reach and having your confidence majorly boosted or having that day where you expect first place and land a DNF followed by weeks of rumination, expectations bring something special to sports: the battle between us and our greatest competition, the most private fight of all-the one with ourselves.

I know I've been on the winning, losing, and warring side of expectations (I can do this.  No, I can't.  I've totally got this.  I should go home.  Oh God, was that the start gun?)  How about you?  What have you learned/won/lost from your goals?

Til next time!