It’s been an oddly quiet month for me, but very productive. I feel like I haven’t been thinking about triathlon so much, particularly since I started my half-marathon training plan this month and have been focused on running strategy (and running shoes), but also because my next tri is still two months away.
But that hasn’t stopped me from being excited about my workouts. It’s not that I’m not thinking about triathlon altogether, just not in a very specific way. Without the stress of having an imminent race, I found myself just cranking through the workouts and moving on to the next one. In fact, I’ve had some of my strongest workouts of the season in all three disciplines. Maybe the freedom to just train is giving me a mental boost in addition to some of the physical gains I’ve been making recently.
While my swimming distance continues to be relatively low, I’ve been working hard on my form using new drills, and also working on my distance. I actually only swam three times this month – two 3,000-meter sessions and one 2,500m. In my latest session I squeaked by the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the month – to swim 1,500m in less than 30 minutes. Last week I did it in 29:36. It was a very hard effort for me, and it makes me happy to have reached it but shows me how much improvement I still need to make.
In June I rode the most miles of any month this year other than April, which was the #30daysofbiking challenge in which I rode every day (it’s going to be hard to top that one). I was only about 4 miles away from 200 total in June. Three of those rides were longer than 30 miles, and two of those were followed by brick runs. These were some of the most rewarding workouts for me because I know they’re targeting my specific fitness for the Olympic tri in September. Two of those 30+ milers averaged over 19 mph. And speaking of speed, this month I finally hit the target I’ve been aiming for all year when I rode 20 miles at a 20mph pace – my first ride of any distance to average 20 or above.
My running has been on a new level this month, thanks to the training plan I started. Not only am I closing in on 100 miles for the month for the first time in years, but my paces have been dropping along the way. Three- to five-mile runs in the 6:45-7:00 range and long runs in the low- to mid-7s are becoming more of the norm as I focus on speedwork and overall intensity. And it’s been one of the hottest months in recent memory. I can only wonder what running is going to feel like as fall arrives and the humidity and heat begin to dissipate.
I also had a very tough run this month that I never mentioned on the blog. Last weekend my training plan called for 10 miles at a relaxed pace – the only run of the entire 18-week plan with that description. I guessed this was intended to be a recovery run after an intense first three weeks of training. Since I knew I would probably run too fast on the road, I headed to the trails to help moderate my speed. And while my speed was certainly slower, my effort on the hilly trails was probably a lot higher than a simple road run would have been. It was a very tough run with terrible humidity, big climbs and swarming bugs. But I got it done, and I came away with more respect for myself for seeing it through even though thoughts of quitting after the first of two loops passed through my mind.
One thing to note about this month is the existence of “recovery” weeks in my training, however inadvertent they are. My daughter has been on a rotating summer preschool schedule with two weeks on and two weeks off, so on the weeks she’s in school I can hammer the training and then take it easier on the weeks she’s out. Not that I want to take it easy, but I just have less time those weeks to get in longer workouts. So although I’m not necessarily choosing to take it easy every few weeks, I wonder if that rest is playing a role in some of the improvement I’ve seen across the board this summer.
I’ve really had nothing to be disappointed about in July, and I hope to continue that in August. My only goals are to continue focusing on longer brick workouts, working speed intervals into my rides, and sticking to the half-marathon training plan. And some more 20mph rides wouldn’t be so bad, either.
Here are this distances I covered in July:
Swim: 8,500m (5.3 miles)
Bike: 195.7 miles
Run: 89.5 miles