Monday, March 28, 2011

Running Flicks and Metric Bricks

This past Sunday, with six weeks to go before Ironman St. George, I scheduled one of the most important workouts of my Ironman buildup: the metric ironman. I had planned it for four or five weeks out, but the sub-30-degree temperatures this weekend forced me off the roads and out of my long ride and back onto the CompuTrainer.

It was time for Plan B, the metric ironman brick, a.k.a., my longest bike-run workout to date.
I never heard the term "metric ironman" until I read an article by Matt Fitzgerald called How to Nail the Ironman Marathon. In this article, the metric ironman is defined as a 2.4 K swim (optional), a 112 K (69.6 mi) bike and a 26.2 K (16.1 mi) run - all done at close to race intensity.

I thought about it. Doing this metric ironman might very well be the best way to tackle my biggest weakness, the marathon nutrition issue. It would simulate race conditions and I could ultimately gain focus on what happens (read: goes wrong) during my run. The workout would likely involve four hours of biking followed by two hours of running - I only hoped that two hours would be long enough to learn how to fuel properly during the marathon.

This metric ironman would also provide one more opportunity to test myself on the CompuTrainer IMSG Real Course Video. The course video covers just over 67 miles, and I would then have yet another data set to compare against my previous rides on the same course. I would finish the workout with a hilly run to simulate the terrain on the St. George course (or so I'm told).

Now that I've defined the brick, I suppose you're wondering what "Running Flicks" is doing in the title of this article. I'm glad you asked.

I'm always looking for new and engaging movies to watch while I'm stuck on the trainer for two or more hours, and recently, one of my work cohorts walked in and handed me what appeared to be an inspirational running movie. It's a documentary called Running The Sahara. It tells the story of three runners who set out with the goal of running across the entire Sahara Desert - over 4,000 miles through six countries - in 90 days.

It was the perfect movie to watch during my workout - but not for the reasons you might expect. Unlike most documentaries about endurance events, this movie was not so much a story about triumph over adversity as it was a harrowing emotional tale. As expected, the physical trials were there, but they were eclipsed by the emotional drive and mental fatigue of people who were on the edge of keeping their sanity.

To a lesser degree, this movie reminded me of the places I go mentally during some of the more trying times of my training and racing. There are days I just want to curl up in a ball and cry at the pressures of my job, my (almost non-existent) social life, and my training and racing. There are times I just want to walk away (from all of those things) and say "never again!" And although I will probably never face the physical and emotional trials that these Sahara runners faced in their expedition, I can appreciate the moments that were so true - the "I quit" moments. Once you push through such moments, it's much easier to do a second time.

My ironman brick went as well as could be expected. I finished the IMSG bike course in the fastest time yet and was able to force myself out the door in bitter cold to do two very hilly one-hour loops. I fueled as I plan to on race day: with one Gu Roctane every 30 minutes and at least one Thermolyte electrolyte capsule an hour. It worked very well until I was 1:30 into the run. Then the problems began - bloating and sloshing in my stomach and a side stitch. I wanted to stop and walk but I kept telling myself it would be the beginning of the end if it were race day. So I slowed down a bit, controlled my breathing, and before you know it, the problems settled and I started to feel better. And that's one of the things I needed to know - how to combat the stomach issues if and when I get them.

I still want to learn how to avoid getting the stomach problems in the first place. But I'm much closer to understanding the proper fueling strategy after yesterday. And I know a lot more about how to motivate myself now that I was able to push through four hours on the trainer and two hours of race-pace running. Like in the movie, I think that's one of the things that training gives us - we learn to hang tough and overcome the bad moment(s) so that on race day, it's not an issue.

1 comment:

  1. Wait… Ironman Canada isn’t a metric Ironman? I could have sworn that Canada was on the metric system. I should start training….

    I hope you’re ready to kick ass in Utah.

    All the best,