Ugh, I am still WORKOUT-IMPAIRED - my short swim the other day made me see why the doctor initially said two weeks of no swimming post-surgery (not painful, but it is impossible to keep the wretched incision area dry, it seems mildly disgusting!), and I am figuring I will wait till Monday for a proper swim, that will be almost two weeks.
(It is mentally painful, as what I was imagining myself doing for these weeks in January was working out for about five hours a day in utter bliss! And instead clearly I am going to have to take things pretty easy for another week or so...)
We went to World Gym for a long treadmill run, and after about 10 minutes it was clear to me that the very tight and constricted nature of my airways made running contraindicated; otherwise, though, I felt pretty much OK, so I raised the incline and lowered the speed for an hour total of moderately strenuous uphill walking (avg HR 140, so it is honestly very similar to an easy run, only easier on the lungs).
Then I made up the rest of the 90 minutes with a very nice 30-minute core workout.
I am taking advantage of the stomach ailment situation of earlier this week to go off caffeine for a while - I have had a caffeine withdrawal headache for the last few days, but it was quickly dispelled by the session at the gym.
I don't think that caffeine is the clincher, but I am a lifelong terrible sleeper who fell over the edge of some truly precipitous insomnia ledge about 3 years ago - I have masked it over the last few years by relying pretty heavily on sleeping pills that give me the ability to mimic a normal sleeper while leaving me feel regularly slightly hungover, but I am determined to go off them, they really are no good!
I've had a few sessions with a cognitive-behavioral therapist to figure out how to get started on a new sleep regimen (it is this sort of thing), and I'm now about to plunge into the first (evil but promising) stage: it involves a sort of controlled sleep deprivation that is designed to improve sleep efficiency.
What this means for now is I have an allotment of 6 hours in bed, I count back from when I want to get up - but there are some very strict rules (things like always getting back up out of bed and going into another room to do some non-stimulating activity like reading a book - i.e. no nighttime internet!).
So if I am getting up at 7, I can't go to bed before 1, even if I feel sleepy - notionally this means that when I do go to bed at 1 I fall asleep pretty quickly, at least after a few weeks of lots of nights of massive tossing and turning!
I think it will be difficult to hew to, even transitionally, but that sabbatical is the ideal time to try it. And I might as well have a month or two without caffeine also in case that has been making even a minor contribution to difficulty falling and staying asleep...
(The plan for the next three weeks is to sleep midnight to 6.)
So that, really, is the most serious project for January, unglamorous as it may be. There is no training priority that is as important as sorting out this sleep business.
I have been thinking a lot, though, about how to have a good training year while enjoying myself and not burning out.
The gist of it (I enjoy making charts, but I think I do better with a more casual and improvisatory plan - I get too hung up on completing every last workout when they are in boxes that can be checked off!) involves breaking the year up into chunks based on where I am and what else I am doing.
The big goal race is IMWI on September 12. (THIS IS SO EXCITING!) I'm doing the Harryman Half on May 22, and basically thinking of it as a long training day, so I need my aerobic conditioning and endurance fueling to be strong enough by that point that that's sensible (I can scale down to the Olympic distance if I have any reservations, but it would be more useful for training purposes for me to do the swim and bike and walk the run than to race the shorter distance at faster speeds, so I think I will indeed be doing the longer distance).
But I won't start my official Ironman training until after that, as this seems to me the most sensible way to avoid burnout. I'll use a somewhat modified version of Gale Bernhardt's Thirteen Weeks to a Sub-13:00 Ironman plan (NB I am not going to be able to go sub-13:00 on my first outing, I have no particular speed in any single discipline and even going barely sub-14:00 would take everything going magically smoothly in training and on race day, but it is a great plan nonetheless); there are actually sixteen weeks between the Harryman Half and IMWI, so that gives me a nice bit of wiggle room to repeat a big training week if it doesn't come off the first time and have a bit of leeway for travel and other misadventures.
I'm in Cayman until Jan. 23; current constraints (aside from health) are no rectangular 25-yard pool access, no bicycle; but I can swim in the sea and do stroke work in Brent's condo pool, I have a spin bike at the condo and spin classes at World Gym, it is not so hot at this time of year that I can't run outside if I can make myself get up early (or do it in the early evening, though this is not always so convenient). So this is block A of training.
My two absolute priorities from now until May are (1) strength training 3x week (aiming for a racing weight in September of 140, and knowledge that it will be difficult to lose weight over the summer with a large volume of aerobic training) and (2) improve fitness and confidence on the bike.
In fact, as I have probably said before, I know that my existing swimming and running skills and fitness are fully up to the demands of basic Ironman racing; it's the bike where I really don't have the experience, and that will be my biggest training focus this entire year.
I'll have my real bicycle here for the summer, but I couldn't quite persuade myself it was worth the trouble of bringing it down for a relatively short trip, especially as the traffic right around where Brent lives is hairy enough that I am leery of getting out on the roads unless at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning - I'm on the lookout for a second bike that I could keep here - until I find that, though, lots of Spinervals for me...