The definition of crazy (or at least one of them) is “senseless, impractical, totally unsound.” This describes my state of mind when I decided to train for half marathon AND an Olympic triathlon at the same time.
The next time I decide to train for two events at the same time I hope I remember this particular experience and decide against it. And, heavy sigh, I hope it’s not like childbirth where you’re miserable for the last few weeks, happy once it’s over and forget the pain long enough to do it all over again.
Originally when I registered for the Rock N Roll Portland half marathon last fall, I never even CONSIDERED that I would also be scheduled to complete my first Olympic Triathlon at the end of June. But, that’s how the chips fell and here I am. Smack dab in the middle of what amounts to a pretty bizarre training plan.
I am VERY thankful to have retained the services of a RRCA running coach and certified personal trainer Dana Andress. And, she’s also a veteran runner and triathlete so I know I’m in good hands. If you DO decide to train for two events at once, I HIGHLY recommend getting a coach and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say Dana is the bomb diggity.
Dana is currently eleventy thousand months pregnant so I do think she gives me harder workouts just because…. But that’s OK, so far I can handle it. What I love is that she also offered to give me workouts either a week, a month, or a season at a time.
I am VERY prone to anxiety and general FREAK OUT SESSIONS so I opted for the week at a time plan. It’s been fantastic. Just as I’m done with my last brick or whatever torture she’s dreamed up for on Sunday, I get a 24 hour mental break before I get my new plan for the week.
So far I’m training five days a week, Mondays and Fridays off (usually) with Tue-Thur and Sat-Sun workouts. I can flex things as needed based on being taxi mom for my beautiful and very understanding children’s sports and activities. However, my friends are getting tired of the “my training plan says 8 miles at race pace so suck it up B’s” mentality, and I’ll admit that I’m ready to be DONE. But, alas, I’m only halfway there. I’ve heard that the sign of a good plan is one where you are sick of training a month before your event, so I’m hoping that since I’m 6 weeks out and I don’t even remember the names of my children or husband that I’m going to kick some a$$ on race day. I will be running the Rock N Roll on May 18th, and I have to say that I am anxious to cross that off my list. Then I can start to focus on my biking and swimming, which have taken a bit of a back seat to the running portion of my plan.
There’s been a steep learning curve for me during the last couple of months so I mostly just want to sum up my learnings to pass along to you. Here they are, in no particular order (except for maybe item #1):
1. Just DON’T Do It. If you want to train for two events at once, DON’T. BUT, if you do, make sure they are both either running, biking, swimming or the COMBO. I don’t recommend training for a running AND a combo event at the same time.
2. Hire a coach. If you completely ignore item #1 (and let’s face it, we’re all crazy enough that this is the more likely option) find yourself a coach to help you along the way. Dana Andress is awesome. I’ll give you her number, just ask me.
3. Don’t freak out. You can do this. I’m not all that mentally tough, so if I can do this so can you. Just take your workouts one day/one week at a time. Baby steps.
4. Your will miss your family. Know that, especially if you are a parent, you’ll have MANY moments where you think you are neglecting your family. And you probably are. But it’s only temporary and they understand. My kids are thrilled to have more time with their Dad since he wrestles with them. He’s more fun, that’s LITERALLY what they said.
5. Be flexible. Life happens. Trust me. It’s OK if you miss ONE workout, or adjust if you’re not feeling it, or rearrange your workouts to make sure you don’t miss something important like your son’s first flag football game.
6. Listen to your body. I’ve already sustained one common injury: runner’s knee. So, I listened to my body (and told my coach) and took a little time to let it rest. It feels great now and the overall goal is still on track: get to the starting line healthy and prepared. That way my family won’t have to see me finish on a stretcher. That’s really my goal, which brings me to my final piece of advice.
7. Set your goals. Adjust. Repeat. Personally, I recommend that you set your goals mid-way through training, not at the very beginning. You don’t know how your body will respond to the rigor for both events. So wait until you see how things are progressing before you set your A and B goals for either event.
And, most importantly, be realistic about what you can accomplish. I remind myself all the time that I’m never going to win the events I enter. I’m a later-in-life competition junkie. I’m too old (and inexperienced) to post 5 minute miles or win a triathlon. And that’s totally OK too.
As long as I don’t take myself too seriously my goals are never unattainable. After all, when I get to the finish line for Rock N Roll, and again for Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon, I want to be able to celebrate with my family, who has been there, supporting me, the whole time. I don’t want to push it to the point I need IV fluids in the end. That’s no way to finish!
So, long story long, training for two events is do-able with the right support, the right attitude and a really good coach. And I swear, I’ll never do this again. (although I said this after my first child was born and now I have two……so yeah, there’s that).