I live on a big round ball. I never do dream I may fall.
And even one day if I do, well I'll jump up and smile back at you.
I don't even know where we are. They tell me were circling a star.
Well, I'll take their word, I don't know. But I'm dizzy so it may be so.
Defying Gravity - Jimmy Buffett
Periodization is a concept in sports training of in which you plan a target big event that you want to prepare for and compete in at your top form. Most endurance athletes are familiar with the concepts: base phase, build phase, peak phase and recovery phase. Within a macro cycle, athletes often place micro cycles of base, built, peak and recovery for smaller events as a build up to a major event. If charting fitness over time, the micro cycles end up looking like a series of upward sloping sine waves in which one's fitness level continues to improve over the course of a half year or year long build up toward a major event.
John & I followed this micro/macro periodization in our build up toward IMAZ. I started my build towards the Ironman by starting the year with a series of half marathons in January and February. John was out of action with his snowboard induced calf muscle tear. In March and April, I did 2 Olympic distance triathlons, with John returning to action for the April St. Anthony's event. We then built up towards June's Seattle Marathon. After a short recovery period, we then began our major base build in July and August, checked our progress with the Clermont HIM in September, and built towards our final peak in October, before tapering down for November's peak in Tempe. A pretty flawlessly executed periodization plan if you discount John's snowboard injury and my getting hit by a car in early September. Whether you can say we "peaked" at IMAZ is up to debate, but in my book completing the event was peaking. We both felt good about our training plan and still are proud of sticking to our plans.
As amateur athletes, however, we tend to violate the last step of periodization: recovery and transition. Most of us have no coach sketching out our training schedules and scheduling in rest and recovery periods. This opens the door for the slightly greedy and egotistical move to tack on another event after our major goal race. We hope that we can add one more cycle to that fitness sine wave and squeeze out another good performance without taking the down time to allow the body the rest and recovery it needs before building for another macro cycle. I am as guilty of this phenomena as anyone.
I only bring this up because in the weeks after completing the ironman, I planned to take it easy. I knew this last year was a big build up to the biggest event I had ever attempted. The couple of days after the ironman , I did some serious lounging around as I vacationed in Arizona. It felt good. My body needed the rest and recovery and I planned to give it just that. Then, I came back to Fort Lauderdale and all my training buddies. My first Sunday back, I go for what I plan as a 6 mile easy run with Salome and buddy Tony. Tony is training for the Miami Marathon as his first marathon. He plans to do the Galloway method. I agree to extend my run to 10 miles if we are doing the run/walk method. At about mile 9, Tony suggest that we tack on an additional mile to the run and I end up running 11 miles. Ouch! That was definitely too far to go on my first recovery run.
John e-mails me that he is registering for the Santa 5K run on Saturday. I decline to join in. I can't do a 5K without running it hard, so best to stay away. Then everyone is signing up for a charity century/metric century bike ride. I plan to start riding again, but at shorter distances. Again, I decline. My plan was and still is to take it easy in December, start a base phase in January and do a couple of half marathons in late January and mid February before getting ready for an Olypmic distance tri in March and the Paris Marathon in April.
Saturday morning, I get a race report call from John telling me how he ran a pretty good 5K time and who of our mutual sports friends he met at the race. He informs me that he plans to do the Miami Marathon and shoot for a Boston Qualifying time. He coaxes me out for a 45 minute swim at the pool. As we talk afterward, he mentions a half marathon he wants to do the following weekend. I say I'll consider it.
The next day, I opt for an easy 10 mile run. It feels like more, which tells me my body wants more light workouts and more down time. Afterward, I check my e-mail and find that John has pulled the trigger on the Florida Ironman registration for next November. I don't think he had even one drink in him when he signed up. I lost that bet. I call Tony and John to find out how the ride went. After giving his report, John informs me that he's also thinking about doing the Naples half marathon in mid January. "Tempter be gone!" I say. I tell him he's over scheduling. He rightly points out that I've scheduled events that take me through the end of October, 2010. Touche, dude.
In all fairness to John, last year he ran a half marathon in Fort Lauderdale the weekend after we did the Maimi Man Half Ironman. He ran it well, so I can't criticize his intent to continue the mega cycle and keep getting more fit. He may pull it off. As I said to him as we came across each other during the bike portion of IMAZ: "You are one strong Greek." I just know I can't follow suit. My body is telling me to take it easy for a while. I'm trying to listen to my body and ignore my buddies' tempting calls to get back in the game too soon. Hopefully, I can hold out until the new year.