I've discovered it will take some creativity to get through this year's Ironman training. Unlike last year, I'm not willing to force everything else in my life to take a backseat to the 140.6 mile mission. Instead I'm experimenting and discovering new ways to arrive at the start sufficiently - albeit slightly less - trained than last year, but hopefully more grounded and balanced.
One such creative approach involves my new weekend "fun/cross-training" day. I worked with my coach to clear my Sunday to allow me to go on a hike, hit the rock climbing gym, ride with a group for fun or simply have brunch with friends. The advantage of this is that my day off from structured tri training is a real day off versus a work day. The disadvantages are that I no longer have a true rest day and I'm obligated to train on all work days. It's a small price to pay for a slice of normalcy and we have designated a weekday I can knock off if I'm feeling exhausted. This isn't the most aggressive approach to Ironman but I'm not planning to KQ anytime soon so I think it will do.
So what sort of fun did I have this weekend? I did a lot of rearranging to allow my fun day to be Saturday and attended an all day backpacking workshop about an hour north of the city. We're already into hiking and have been thinking of backpacking as a fun extension. The workshop was good if a little basic, but mostly it was a pleasure to spend the day thinking about and doing something else. To make this happen I did Saturday's ride Friday and shifted Friday to Sunday. Overall it worked but I did miss a short bike in the mix. It's not the end of the world.
But the highlight of my weekend was a breakthrough run on Sunday. After my speedy session Wednesday I experienced some foot discomfort, mostly cramping and tightness, so I eased up a bit and pushed the next run a couple days out. The added recovery time set me up for my best "long" run yet - 7 pain-free miles at a pace I thought wouldn't be possible this season. I had a few 8:30s in there balanced with some slower miles for an overall average of 9/mile. Having come from being unable to walk just a few months ago and wondering if I would ever really run again, it's an incredible feeling. I'm somewhat afraid to celebrate knowing the road ahead is long, but at least for today I can feel happy and look forward to my continued recovery and return to running.
Today was a bust due to a very long work day so I'm getting some forced rest. Rather than beat myself up about it, I think I'll have a nice dinner, a glass of wine and spend some time on my couch reading. That sounds like perfect rest to me.