Reflections on 2016 & Planning for 2017 – 26 November 2016

Overall, 2016 was a good learning year. I powerlifted in the beginning and jacked my strength up. However, I put on a decent amount of weight and lost speed and endurance, so pure powerlifting is not something I can sustain to reach triathlon potential (it was fun though). I’ll need to find something that can give me decent strength but that I can sustain year round in conjunction with triathlon training. However, the technical foundation of performing the lifts is the biggest takeaway I learned – I didn’t realize that squatting and deadlifting were so technical to perform correctly, so that will be very important in the future. I also enjoyed the coaching and people in the gym, so hopefully I can find an environment like that again.

I also raced a lot and did some cool California races, started ocean swimming habitually with a group, and made a lot of new friends.

Total 2016 Races – 17 (2x 5k, 1x 10k, 2x Half Marathon, 1x OWS race, 11x triathlons)

Total 2016 Triathlons – 11 (3x sprints, 6x Olympic, 1x 70.3, 1x IM)

In the future, I plan on focusing more on 70.3 races as I feel I respond better to the increased volume. I can keep intensity close to Olympic training, but the added volume seems to help me with fitness. I don’t plan on racing another full Ironman until 2018. I’ve found that long bike rides wipe me out mentally, and shorter rides keep me fresh and relatively hungry. However, this could all be in my mind so we’ll see how 2017 progresses.

Additionally, I’m going to race far less in 2017 to focus on quality training and the “process.” I think I got sucked into the Kona train too much and I’ve found that wiping out the rest of my life (social, friends, family, etc) and going after strict time goals isn’t something I can sustain. I think that’s a weakness on my part so I need to focus on the process and have fun with the sport, otherwise this entire endeavor becomes unsustainable and exhausting.

Things I did well in 2016:

1. Got strong – I’ve never lifted that heavy before and now I have a foundation on how to do the technical lifts, so that will be useful.

2. Raced a lot – I don’t think I’ve packed that many races into a season before – lots of race experience.

3. Open Water Swimming – I’m pretty comfortable in draft packs, sighting, and tough surf conditions.

4. New Bike Fit – this was probably one of the biggest limiters for me, the 2015 fit I got hosed me but now it’s fixed. Also being able to shift while upright is great after I replaced the front end and got new brakes.

5. Finally put together a decent Ironman – I’m quite happy about IMAZ – it was a textbook perfect race.

6. Nutrition – I think I finally figured this one out thanks to Coach Mike. On his advice, I tried the ebook “Fuel Right, Race Light” written by an endurance athlete and dietitian. There were a few key takeaways:

  • Training Fuel vs. Real Nutriton – Everyday nutrition is the healthy, slow burning foods that fill you up – healthy proteins, lots of veggies, fruits, etc. Training Fuel is the exact opposite that you need specifically during training sessions – lots of sugar and quick energy, like sports drinks, etc.
  • If you’re going to eat grains, do it at breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. This includes rice, quinoa, etc. This helped me cut a ton of weight and body fat relatively quickly. It took me a few days to adapt, but once I did, I had a ton of energy and I could sustain some smoke sessions. If I had some big workouts, I would make sure to eat hearty during the day or the night before, but these were more exceptions than the norm. If I need to get to race weight and race body fat, then this is key and I found that I can sustain this if I cook dinners and still eat out for breakfast and lunch.

Things I need to work on for 2017:

1. Mental – After much personal reflection, I’ve found that this is my biggest weakness. I think I have the physical potential to go far in this sport, but I burn out or get distracted. I’m working on meditation during the holidays to explore that and see if it helps me stay “fresh”. The biggest things I need to work on are consistency, discipline, and work ethic, but it all ties back into staying fresh for me – I just burn out after a few weeks of hard work, so I have to figure this out. This affects everything else for me, namely nutrition, training and work.

2. Back to basics – process. I just want to focus on the process and consistency for 2017 vice crazy race time goals. I’m stubborn as hell and I’ve learned the hard way that this is a process sport, so anything that goes against this is rule is going to give me trouble (again). Staying with the process and understanding that triathlon is a “blue collar” sport, ie – doing the work day in and day out, is key to sustained and improved performance and realizing your potential here. Kudos to Coach Mike for teaching me this lesson. It takes awhile for me to learn sometimes!

2. Swim Mechanics – my engine and OWS skills are there, but my mechanics still need work. I’ve had several private lessons and I’m swimming with a group, so I’ve improved quite nicely. However, this is a multi-year effort, so I’ll take whatever help I can get.

3. Bike Volume – I think I simply need more time on the bike. I’m able to hit some decent watts finally after the fit, but I just need to ride more. I plan on bike commuting to work more often to get more miles in just for base.

4. Using ERG on trainer – I plan on setting this up over the holidays, but I think I can make some good gains here.

5. Run Mechanics – I think I’m hitting a point where my run mechanics are starting to hinder me. I need to shift from running using my quads to using my glutes/calves. I did the run assessment back in June, so I think a combination of those drills and strength training may remedy this. It’s slowly improved over the last few months but it still needs work.

6. Strength / Mobility – Staying consistent with physio/stretching/mobility/strength is important and I let it slip during the second part of 2016. I need to stay on this year-round. I’ll find a good yoga class that meshes with my schedule and needs and stay with it.

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