When You Fail to Plan...

I probably don't have to tell you how the rest of the saying goes. And oh did I find out how true that is this weekend. 

My biggest hesitation about 70.3 has always been the 56-mile bike. I've just never been that comfortable on the bike and therefore it has always been my worst of the 3 disciplines. I've put in a lot of time in the saddle over the last few months, and I've noticed that my biking capability has consequently gotten a lot better, but I'm still not confident about long rides. Before I started training I had only made it past 30 miles a handful of times, and I've since made it up to a personal distance record of 51 miles. Getting to 50+ mile territory (and feeling good doing so) was pretty major, but that was my last long ride. That was 2 weeks ago, and now it's only 4 weeks from race day. Cue freak out.

I've dropped the ball on my last two planned long rides. For scheduling reasons, one of them was supposed to be only 3 days after that 51-miler. I got up, got myself on the trail, but overwhelming guilt about prioritizing training over a time-sensitive project that really needed my attention eventually led to me cutting it 25 miles short. 

And then this weekend happened. All week I knew I had a 50-mile ride with a 3-mile run afterward planned for Saturday. All week I neglected to act like I knew this information. I was all excited because I finally got the info from my chiropractor about a new place to ride; it's about a 30-minute drive in an area I've never been, so I planned to drive out here on Friday night to scope it out, especially since it's on public roads and that scares me. But when Friday evening rolled around...I went to the movies instead. Without eating dinner first, so I did that when I got home at 10pm. Then I stayed up until midnight even though I had a 6am alarm set. Needless to say, things didn't go well for my ride. I chickened out on riding the new route site unseen so I decided to stay local and ride my normal route, which I don't really care for because I have to ride it several times to get in my full distance. And, my wishing for fall bit me in the ass because it was barely 60* and in the shade the whole time and I was FREEZING. After 12.5 miles, only a quarter into my planned 50, I threw in the towel and called Ben to come pick me up.

I threw myself a little pity party at first, I'll admit that, but then I decided to make the most out of this opportunity. Quitting early bought me 3 extra hours of time to work on the non-training parts of training and things I need to take care of as I head into my last big peak week before starting to taper.

I know that I was physically capable of riding more than 12.5 miles on Saturday, but my mind just wasn't having it. Maybe things would have improved if I had just kept going, but the thought of spending another 2.5 hours on my bike was just unbearable at that moment. I couldn't stay mentally down for too long though, because whether I finished that ride or not, I still had a half marathon to run the next day! I couldn't change my botched ride, but I could get ready for my run the next day. Before I went to bed I got in the yoga my body and mind have been craving lately, and I started reading Sage Rountree's Racing Wisely (free if you have Amazon Prime!). I plan to talk about the book more for next Tuesday's first NON-SUMMER EDITION(!!!!!!!!!!!!) of Training for Tuesday, specifically her race plan outline, but so far I've enjoyed her unique approach as both an experienced endurance athlete and yoga teacher. 

Eat well.
Eating the right foods and enough of them has always one of my biggest training struggles. A few weeks ago I bought the most perfect cookbook, co-written by a well-known triathlete and a chef, specifically for triathletes (and there even a section for triathletes who hate to cook! Praise). Of course for the first week I was all gung ho about grocery shopping and trying out he recipes, but after I found s couple I liked I stopped trying other ones and may or may not have eaten the same thing for lunch majority of the last two weeks. But this week I decided to actually put some effort into what I eat. I grabbed some new recipes and some I've been meaning to make, and headed off to the grocery store to stock up on healthy fuel for the week. I even made a meal plan for the first time ages, that way when I get busy this week I won't have to waste any mental energy trying to remember my meals (and, let's be honest, then giving up and getting Chipotle). 

Get enough sleep.
I have done a horrible job at this throughout this entire training cycle. I don't go to bed nearly early enough for how early I get up. I might sleep in once a month, if that. Sleep hasn't been my priority because I just want to cram in as much as I can every day (not just the necessary stuff but fun stuff too). I made sure to get a good night's sleep before my race on Sunday and plan to make it a point to start getting to bed a little earlier in the next few weeks leading up to the race.

Take care of small tasks before they pile up.
One of the things that stresses me out during training is how little time and energy I have to do other things, like, say, clean my house. I'm not going to pretend that even in non-training times I have the world's tidiest house, but during training cycles, it gets really neglected. The problem is that clutter makes me anxious so when I'm already high-stress due to training, I really need a clean, clear environment to be able to focus and relax. We moved back into our apartment just about a month ago but honestly haven't managed to unpack and put everything back in its place yet (being out of town 2 out of the 4 weekends we've been back really hasn't helped). So this weekend I made it a point to clean up a few key areas that needed some attention, like my desk and the kitchen. I also took care of some laundry and tidied up our living room in hopes that this week it will be easier to take care of those spaces now that I've gotten a jumpstart on them.

Look ahead and pace yourself.
This week is my biggest week of training yet, my last push, and it's also going to be a crazy week at school. I know there's no way I'll make it through both if I procrastinate, so I tried to get some things knocked out early to free up as much time as I can this week. It's still going to be a steady push to get through it all but I feel good knowing I've gotten a head start and have planned for the craziness the best I can.

Plan for next time.
I have failed at riding for any longer than 2 hours on my own in Blacksburg. I can ride longer than that by myself when I'm at the beach, because I have a long enough trail, but I don't have that here. I don't know why that makes a difference, but it does. I have 2 long rides left, one of which I'll be home for so I can do it with my dad and tri friends, but that still leaves one. The remaining one is the one I really need to get right, because it will be my longest ride before B2B and is really my last shot at getting in a great long ride. As luck would have it, next weekend there's a "cycling event" (which is apparently a race-but-not-a-race/group ride that you pay for) at that new place I was talking about. I'm all signed up and hope that having other people around will make me more comfortable with my ride. I just hope that doesn't backfire if it's really crowded or something - but at least if it is, I'll get some extra practice with passing people for race day. Making lemonade out of lemons here, people. 

Remind yourself that you've done enough.
This is the hardest one for me but it's the one I so badly want to be good at. I'm struggling to figure out how it adds up that I feel like all I ever do is train for this race, yet I feel so horribly unprepared and like I haven't done nearly enough. I haven't hit every workout every week; I'm not sure if I've hit every workout any week. Sometimes I miss them for a good reason and sometimes not. Was being too cold in 60* weather and not mentally engaged a good reason to quit my bike ride? I don't know. It was enough of a reason at the time but, by the same token, I have put in enough work to be able to make that call. I have done all that I could do - physically, mentally, and emotionally - and that is enough. I haven't done as much as I would have liked to and that sucks. It's frustrating because, like Alyssa told me while we were lamenting our training woes, I needed this training cycle to be my best one, and it just hasn't been. For so many reasons, some in my control and some out of my control, it just hasn't been the best. Not by a long shot. But whether I absolutely nail my training for these last 4 weeks or if they're an utter failure, I've done my best, and my best is going to have to be enough.

If all else fails, try retail therapy.
I need more workout clothes like I need a hole in my head (I grew up with my mom saying that and as I've grown up I've realized how crude it sounds, but I am my mother's daughter...) but sometimes new gear really does the trick. I've been on the fence about getting a new tri kit for this race ever since I signed up...on one hand I want something new and pretty and excited for my OMGBIGGESTRACEEVER but on the other hand, I like the kit I have. I've worn it on countless training rides and runs and in several races and, to top it off, it's super adorable. But lately it's been looking a little worn out since the side panels and piping are white, and it's impossible to get the sweat stains out (trust me, I've tried). I finally decided on a new kit (with a black background so the sweat stains won't be noticeable, hallelujah) and pulled the trigger on it while in a mid-trainer ride boredom sufferfest last week. It will be here tomorrow and I can't wait to start training in it to make sure it's good to go for race day! And of course, once I got the new kit, I needed new shoes to match. Another purchase I've been putting off for a while, mainly because I couldn't decide which of my current styles I wanted to wear for the race. Over the last couple of weeks I've all but decided that Newton Distance will be my race shoes, but my current pair are almost dead so I knew I needed to pony up for some new ones. I love the model I have and would have happily purchased my 3rd pair of them, but Newton has since released a new model and I forked over the extra cash because they come in bright pink and green that will perfectly match my new tri kit. A new pair of matching Lock Laces and I should be good as new. I still don't know if I'm ready for these last 4 weeks of training but at least I'll look trying.

What do you do to get yourself back on track after a bad or botched workout? 


  1. This is a great reminder- and you are so right about food! Just taking care of yourself can makes a huge difference... Now if I could learn this for myself...

  2. This sounds like me, on a much, much smaller scale. I had a slump for about a week and a half where I was just unhappy. For no good reason. I didn't exercise, eat well, or get enough sleep. This weekend I worked out for the first time in 2 weeks and boom! Mood improved instantly. Magic. Isn't is dumb that despite knowing how much better these things make us feel, they're still so hard to do?!

    I'm glad you've figured out ways to combat that, and to make yourself feel better about a low point in training. You're going to kick butt! And no matter what happens, it'll be a PR, because it's a first. (I told myself this about my first half a lot!)

  3. This is crude, but my favorite saying is "chuck it in the 'fuck it' bucket and move on". Bad training sessions happen, and while they are super depressing and discouraging when it happens, tomorrow is always a new day. Easier said than done, but I try to remind myself of this when it happens.

    I need to be better about my eating, so you're not alone in that. I even have a Runner's World cookbook! But I just can't get into it. The recipes are either intimidating, complicated, or just don't sound good. I have been getting plenty of sleep though, which is almost like a job right now. My bedtime many, many nights of the week is before 8pm, so that 4:15am alarm doesn't hurt so much.

    But when it's all said and done, on race day you can be assured that "the hay is in the barn" and you've done the best you could for this training cycle. Then go rock it!

  4. Keep on pushing forward lady, it happens to the best of us! I've always told myself progress, not perfection, because the road is always filled with unexpected potholes and detours meant to test our diligence and forming us into mentally stronger athletes in the long run. I've had my share of workouts where anxiety got the best of me and I shut it down and opted to curl up on the couch instead. Never fun in the moment, but all too important to keep our eye on the prize, pull confidence from the positive days and let the bad workouts go!

  5. I feel like we all go up and down with working out and training for whatever it is that we are doing. I know I for one am the biggest follower of the gung ho eat healthy for a week or two and start to fall off wagon too many time to talk about. At the end of the day, all you can do is keep going and not worry about the down days :) You got this!

  6. a bad sparring session always used to piss me right off but i've learned that in order to move forward, i need to understand what i need to work on and then delete the bad session from my brain. the more you think about the bad stuff, the more it'll just bring you down so i face each new session with positivity. after numerous ass-sucking sparring, my last one was amazing and i walked away knowing i did well. small steps in goals is what we all need to work on!

    you know what you need to work on so that right there is half the battle! we all fall off the wagon but the important thing is that we get right back up. YOU GOT THIS!

  7. My LIFE is a botched workout. I just need to get STARTED. With being unemployed now, I think it's the perfect opportunity to get my shit in gear.

  8. hahahaha i need new workout clothes like i need a hole in the head. very true, except you could remove workout for me and it's just clothes. sigh. retail therapy fixes everything for me.. for like a day, then i need another fix.
    i wish i had something motivating to say - i'm sure you will rock the next 4 weeks and your big race. i am sure of it! my bestie did one when she was like 8 weeks pregnant. you can do it! but as for offering wisdom for what i do after a botched workout.. i agree with Amanda. my life (especially lately) is a botched workout. I have no idea what I am going to post next Tuesday, more shit about how I'm not doing anything and not meeting any goals, eh I'm over that broken record lol. anyway - i reaaaaally hope the next 4 weeks go fabulously for you!

  9. This list is great! Take care of small tasks before they pile up definitely resonates with me. Every week my room looks like its been clothing bombed (work clothes, workout gear, shoes etc). Someone else wrote, try taking 10 minutes to take care of one small task and definitely makes you feel more productive. Its hard.. I definitely get anxiety over how messy I've become.

  10. I seriously hear you on being a short distance into a run/ride and not being able to even stomach the thought of completing the distance. Weirdly, that doesn't really happen to me on a long run, but mid-week mid-distance runs. Which I then remind myself used to be my long runs when I was training for the half. Life is funny, innit?
    And this is a great list. Planning for training around life—and life around training—is so much harder in marathon mode than half marathon mode. Last year, an hour and a half or so... eh, I could squeeze it in before whatever else I had to do on a Saturday. Now? 3+ hours? it needs to be scheduled, and I need to prioritize, and I need to sleep. Sleeping and eating are the two things I probably do the least to prepare, and i know that's not good. Might be hitting you up for some of those recipes!

  11. Great tips! I hope you had a good race at the half!

    When I have a bad or botched workout, I usually try not to dwell on it. I like to just let it go and move on. As for training, I typically prefer to focus on the week and day of training I'm in, and not on everything I have to tackle. And when all else fails, I try and remember why I'm doing the training and what a reward race day will be. You have to put in the work to reap the rewards on race day.

  12. Awesome tips Tracy and what a good reminder. How sad is it that the retail therapy one had me going "yup" the entire time. Nothing like new workout clothes to get you in gear!


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