Tag Archives: interval training

Listening to the Body and the Spirit

I was so excited about last night.  My coach’s group here in the Bay area meets on Thursdays for track workouts.  Pete and I even incorporated this workout into this week’s training plan.  I went ahead and completed my assigned strength training first thing in the morning and planned the day around the fact that I’d need to head down to track workouts at 5:30 pm.  I packed sunscreen, Nuun, water bottles, sun glasses, and chocolate milk (a great recovery drink).  I changed into my running clothes, put on my Garmin heart rate monitor and pulled my hair back.  I fed Abigail and Madeleine their dinner.   Then I headed out.

I didn’t make it very far.  I think I was on the road for less than five minutes when I felt this strong urge to NOT go.  I wanted to stop my car right where I was in the midst of heavy traffic and turn around right there – I wanted a large hand to come down from the sky and pick up my car and turn it 180 degrees, like I was a little Hot Wheels car or something.  Part of me kept thinking, “Go, silly.  You need your interval training and it’ll be good to join this new group.”  But a bigger part of me wanted to return home.  The bigger part won.

Perhaps joining a new group during the first week of my cross-country move was too much for me to handle.  (I still don’t like meeting new people, and I find I need to continue giving myself a good amount of down time after being social.)  Perhaps I was over tired.  Perhaps I was nervous about running with a new group of accomplished athletes.  Perhaps my body just needed a break. Perhaps I was feeling a combination of all of this.

I’ve been trying to listen to my body AND spirit a bit more these days.  I experienced something similar about a month ago.  One Sunday I was getting ready for my long ride — I flipped my long workouts around that weekend —  but as I pumped air into my tires, I experienced the same feelings I had last night.  And I quickly felt sad and disappointed about those feelings.  I decided to turn that day into a recovery day and do my long ride the next day, Monday, (which is my usual recovery day).  I was worried I grew tired of training but as I rode on Monday that concern disappeared.  I felt amazing on the road.  I had a solid ride and felt really strong on the bike.

What I’ve learned since that Sunday (from my grief counselor) is the body which includes one’s spirit knows what’s best and will react accordingly if one doesn’t listen to it.  I’m familiar with my body physically breaking down (e.g. injuries, sickness, etc.) to tell me it needs a break.  But what I experienced on that Sunday and last night is my spirit telling me to listen to it; not over do it; and be kind to myself by taking a little break.  I do believe there’s a difference between this and lacking commitment/discipline or simply feeling lazy.  Believe me there’s been times when I’ve briefly thought about completing only half of my training session but I always ignored such thoughts and powered through.  (In some cases I found myself working even harder afterwards.)    What I felt last night and that Sunday were completely different, and the thoughts and emotions were so strong they felt truly physical.  I will tell you tears were involved both times.

I am somewhat disappointed in myself for not completing my interval training and joining the group last night.   Clearly I’m just learning about listening to my spirit and improving my self-care as I train.  At this point, I think it’s best to learn as much as possible from this and focus on today’s training session – a 1.8 mile swim and an hour on the bike.

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Interval Training Raises the Question – Am I Strong Enough?

Bike Interval Training sessions include drills such as:

  • Work in 4 x 3:00 up-tempo efforts at 80-85% effort and 85-90 RPM’s. Spin easy for 3:00 between efforts.
  • Work in 4 x 2:00 efforts at 80-85% effort and 85-90 RPM’s. Spin easy for 2:00 between efforts.

Interval Training for Running includes drills such as:

  • 4 x 400 – descend 1-4 – run at 80-85% effort – easy 400 jog between. (3:00); 1 x 1/2 mile – Run at 80-85% effort! Work it and negative split! Finish strong! Easy jog for 400 after effort. 2 x 400 – descend 1-2 – run at 85%+ – easy 400 jog between (3:00).
  • descending ladder, 40 minutes total.  All intervals are vo2 max, 98% max heart rate. 5 minutes (4 min Active Recovery); 5 minutes (4 min Active Recovery); 4 min (3 min); 4 min (3 min); 3 min (2 min); 3 min.

Interval training is an effective way to improve speed, endurance, cadence and lactate threshold. Midway through my triathlon season last year I incorporated it into my training plan when I joined my local tri-club’s track workouts which focus solely on interval training.  At Nation’s I ended up shaving almost 90 seconds off my running pace.  I know this major improvement is from all of these workouts.  (Training with others helped as well.)

I continue to participate in group track workouts this season.  I also incorporate interval training into my other disciplines.  During these specific workouts, especially on the bike and my runs I connect with Noah on a somewhat different level.  I obtain an unbelievable amount of strength, inspiration and comfort from him which enables me to push myself so much harder during these sessions.

Interestingly, though, just over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced something very different. During these particular sessions (mainly on the bike), I’ve found myself crying.  Tears just flow, and at least once during each session, my cries turn into flat-out heavy sobbing.  Sometimes they’re like bursts of emotions quickly flowing out and other times they outlast the drill.  Oddly I don’t stop my workout; somehow I just keep going.  I’ve noticed that as I push myself sadness, disappointment and guilt strongly and quickly emerge all at once.  I feel as though I could never push myself hard enough to go fast enough, far enough or move my heart rate high enough.  And I can’t even articulate what “enough” is!  It’s almost like I realize I will never be as strong as Noah. I won’t ever be as courageous as my sweet, beautiful son.  No matter how hard and deep I dig down – and oh my goodness I really do work at this! –  my strength and courage are mere specks compared to what he embodies.  And if this is the case am I good enough for him?  Am I worthy enough to be the mother of a 32 day old boy who had the amazing strength and courage to deal with numerous cardiac arrests, open heart surgery, ECMO, other major procedures and way too much poking and sticking?  Do I deserve the love he’s brought into my little life?

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe I am much stronger now than I was before God blessed me and MLH with Noah.  I’m much stronger physically.  I’m much stronger mentally.  I’m much stronger spiritually.  And I have to believe someday I’ll be much stronger emotionally.  I may not be as strong as him and perhaps I never will be.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok with this reality; will the guilt, disappointment and sadness from this ever go away?  I guess all I can do is continue to find strength, courage and inspiration from him and the short life he lived.

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