[092] Longer, stronger

Swim: 4,525 m/88,245 m

Bike: 32/728.1 miles

Run: 9.3/213.8 miles

It shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise to me that I started to run out of gas during the run in last weekend’s triathlon. I’ve mentioned some of the factors that played a part – lingering sickness, twisty off-road course, heat – but there’s more to it than that.

In reality, the run occurred after I had already been exerting myself in a race situation for more than an hour. In my first tri, I was done with the entire race in 68 minutes. A few months ago I finished a 10k in 43 minutes. Last weekend’s triathlon was the first race this year that has stretched substantially over one hour of effort (my final time was 1:34:09). My training up to this point of the season has been geared toward shorter races, and it’s time for my workouts to start reflecting the growing demand of race day.

With the exception of a 9-mile run a couple weeks ago, which I finished in 66 minutes, most of my runs are done in less than 40 minutes. My rides have been hovering in the 50- to 60-minute range, and my swim sessions are usually less than 40 minutes. It’s great that I’m getting quality workouts in the individual disciplines, but I need to start focusing on pushing myself a little farther.

Obviously, my schedule isn’t going to suddenly start allowing 120-minute training sessions every day. But there are maybe a couple days a week where, if I plan ahead, I can turn a single workout into a brick that lasts a little closer to 90 minutes. Even if I add a 15-minute bike ride right before a planned long run, or a short run at the end of a long ride, it’s critical that I start training my body to handle the stresses of multiple sports over a longer period of exertion.

My next major race – the Olympic triathlon in September – will help dictate my planning through the summer. With an overall time of about 3 hours, this tri will be approaching a marathon-type effort. The only way to be ready for that kind of sustained performance will be to lengthen both the duration and intensity of my current workouts.

I’m off to a good start this week. Sunday was race day, and on Monday I spent 45 minutes in the weight room, 30 minutes in the pool and then 20 minutes running, for about 95 minutes of training. On Tuesday I set out for a long ride, but got a flat tire at mile 23. I was forced to run my bike 2 miles back to my car. I wasn’t happy at the time, but the circumstances left me with a solid workout (19.5 mph pace on the bike, 7:46 pace on the run) spanning 85 minutes. And today I spent 80 minutes in the pool for my longest swim workout ever – 3,025 meters including a continuous 1,500m swim at the end. (Thursday update: I rode 9 miles before running my 5-miler at a 7:17 pace, for a total workout of about 70 minutes.)

This week is one of the weeks when my daughter is in summer camp, so I’ve had a little more time to exercise. However, she’ll be home with me for the next two weeks, so I won’t be able to continue these kinds of weekday sessions. But I’ll definitely be thinking of ways to add 15 or 20 more minutes to my workouts whenever I can, so I can start conditioning myself both mentally and physically to stay stronger for longer.

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