Training Analysis: August

Overall, my training in the month of August was pretty disappointing. I got sick in the middle of the month (after a mediocre result at Tri for Fun #3) and lost a whole week of training/fitness. Fortunately, I put in just enough time to maintain my fitness, along with a couple small gains in different areas.

Looking ahead, I’ve made a couple major changes in terms of scheduling and time commitments, particularly in that I am putting aside the time to train for 20-25 hours every week through the end of the season (eight weeks). I need to provide a couple big weeks of (relatively) high-volume and high-intensity training to set myself up for a good result come October. Although I’m not much more fit than I was at the start of August, I am better rested, which sets me up very well for a couple weeks of hard training before my A-races: Challenge Rancho Cordova on October 5th, and Lifetime Triathlon Oceanside on October 26th.

Here is summary of my training month:

Swim Total: 24,250 yards (13.8 miles) over 15 sessions
Average: [5470 yards (3.1 miles) over 3-4 sessions] per week
Bike Total: 19 hours (326 miles) over 12 sessions
Average:  [4 hours (74 miles) over 3 sessions] per week
Run Total: 29 miles over 7 sessions
Average: [7 miles over 1-2 sessions] per week
Overall Total: 31 hours over 34 sessions
Average: [7 hours over 8 sessions] per week

Due to the lack of significant training this month, an extensive analysis is rather unnecessary. Thus, I will summarize my current fitness level in each of the sports.

Swimming

Although my overall swim volume was lacking, I made a MAJOR breakthrough with my freestyle technique, and I am already seeing my times improve! Now that I have myself developing a solid pull, I hope to see more steady, measurable gains in fitness as I apply increased doses of training stimulus.

Looking ahead, I’m finishing the rest of my season’s swim training in Lake Anza, a local pool in the hills behind Berkeley. Due to odd circumstances, I don’t have access to a local lap-pool, and thus I will be trying to do open water swimming almost every day of the week. I think this will be extremely beneficial, but also a little inhibiting: although I will develop significant comfort and strength in the open water, it will be difficult to do the same kind of structured/controlled speed work that I do in the pool to improve my times. However, given that I am still VERY new to swimming, I still have lots of areas to improve upon. Additionally, a big block of open-water swimming makes a lot of sense when you consider I plan on racing in the open water and need to be comfortable in that kind of context, and thus it makes sense to build that comfort as soon as I can before focusing on my speed.

Cycling

Despite an embarrassingly low volume of bike training, I found myself increasing my FTP by approximately 10 watts, putting my functional threshold power at 250 watts (or 4.24 watts/kg when you consider the weight I’ve lost). Most sessions in August were at a relatively high intensity, with exactly half of my rides at an intensity factor of at least 0.85. This was largely composed of sub-threshold intervals and long periods of time around my sweet spot (about 88% of FTP). It is important to note that even though I dropped a lot of overall volume, I still kept a lot of my harder sessions, and that is one of the big reasons I think I actually increased my fitness rather than decreased it.

My hardest session of the month was actually done yesterday, on the last day of the month. I was doing hill repeats on a local 2.5 mile climb, which accumulated 600ft of climbing (4.5% grade). I ended up doing the climb five times, each in a time of just over 13 minutes (with a five minute recovery downhill) at 237-238 watts, or 95% of my FTP.

Five repeats up a 600+ ft climb, accumulating 3300 ft of total gain.

Looking into September, I am going to keep focusing on threshold and sweet spot efforts, while also getting in a couple 150-minute rides to get ready for my upcoming long-distance triathlons. Ideally, I want to get my FTP up another 5-10 watts by the end of the month, as I have a big goal of ending the season with an FTP of 265+ watts (4.5+ watts/kg). Aside from these high-intensity efforts, I also want to focus on getting in a short 60-90 minute recovery ride every day between the hard workouts.

Running

I’ve been saying this for more than ten weeks now, but my run training is still well below potential. I am making it a huge effort this week to really start getting into some respectable mileage, as I’m only five weeks out from my first A-race. Although I know I can get my fitness back relatively quickly, I will likely not be in great form until closer to my second A-race, which is in eight weeks. This should give me enough time to start building my speed while taking advantage of the aerobic benefits of swimming and cycling to aid with my endurance.

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