01 January 2012

2012 Athletic Goals

After taking a much needed break in October after my last race where I didn't think or care about triathlon for about a month straight, I started thinking about my 2012 race goals. I don't have my race schedule completely mapped out quite yet, but it'll likely be Rumpus in Bumpass Oly in April, a half ironman in May (I hate Kinetic every year, so I'm loathe to sign myself up for that one), either a sprint or Oly in May, depending on what half I decide to do, Rev3 Quassy half ironman in June, Ironman Lake Placid in July, fingers crossed that I qualify for Age Group Nationals held in August, and then I'm signed up for 70.3 Worlds in Vegas in September. We'll see how I feel later in the season, but I'm planning on at least one more half after 70.3 Worlds, I just don't know which one yet. And maybe one or two shorter races mixed in. But those that are mentioned by name, those are the big races. Oh, and besides Vegas, I'm not flying myself or my bike out for any races - 2011 was a little out of control in that respect.

So, the goals, in bulleted form:
- Improve daily nutrition habits
- Consistently strength train and improve functional strength
- Get more sleep
- Do my workouts on the appointed days, at the appointed times of day (i.e., get up out of bed EARLY so I can workout before heading into the office)
- Be competitive in my age group
- Become faster in each discipline (as in: break some pesky time barriers that have been taunting me - sub-35 in the half iron swim; sub-1:15 in the iron swim; sub-2:45 on the half iron bike; sub-6 on the iron bike; sub-1:43 on the half iron run; sub-4 on the iron run).

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my big focuses for 2011 was the mental side of triathlon and racing. I'm still going to work on making strides in that area in 2012, but I'm turning a lot of additional attention to improving my STRENGTH and NUTRITION in the coming year. I recently picked up Matt Fitzgerald's book Racing Weight and though I haven't read all the way through it yet, I am already seeing habits I should adopt to clean up my daily eating. I'm decent at making acceptable food choices 90% of my day, but it's that other 10% that wrecks me (damn you baguettes and chocolate chips hiding out in my pantry) Periodically keeping a food journal would also assist me in eating mindfully, as mindless eating is one of my weaknesses. Oh, and chocolate. Put those two together and you have trouble (case-in-point: yesterday afternoon I went to bake whoopie pies and realized the bag of chocolate chips I was going to use had only 3 chips left in it... whoops). If I know I have to write down everything I eat, chances are pretty good I'll be less likely to stuff half a bag of chocolate chips in my mouth.

Admit it, chances are pretty good most of you out there are just like me that when time is tight, strength training is the first thing that gets pushed off to the side in your weekly training schedule. I never quite understood the importance of consistently doing strength training - you want to swim/bike/run faster, swim/bike/run more often right? How does strength training fit in that picture? In November, I began going to the Team Z Monday AM boot camps on a regular basis and I began to understand WHY strength training needs to have a place in every successful triathlon regiment (OK, I don't understand the scientific specifics nor can I use the scientific lingo to provide an explanation - but it makes your core muscles stronger so you can support your body correctly during training/racing; it builds muscle and strength in your upper and lower body so you can be more powerful on the swim, the bike, and the run. That's it in a nutshell. Oh, and it has the potential to give you great abs). Another weakness of mine: doing strength training on my own - I will actually do a strength workout in a group and I won't wimp out partway through as a result of peer pressure. So, in 2012, I'll be at the boot camps and I will also be conning my friends into using the TRX with me at least one other day of the week.

And so we meet again, Goal of Get More Sleep. Grad school initially ruined me and my pre-2008 early bedtimes, and my unfortunate inability to drag myself off of FB and blogs in the evening has continued the downhill spiral. Getting home from work past 7pm doesn't help matters (because guess who didn't roll out of bed in time to make it to work before 9:30am) and it is just one vicious cycle every day. It. Has. To. Stop. NOW. The goal is to be in bed by 9-something, lights out before 10pm every night. Even the weekends. And the computer is banned from the bedroom.

I think the get-more-sleep goal will help with the goal of doing my appointed workouts on the appointed days and times. I also need to stop procrastinating in the mornings - I've let myself enjoy leisurely paced Saturday and Sunday mornings for the past few months and have found myself not starting workouts until late in the AM, which then throws off the entire rest of the day and I end up feeling like I got nothing substantial done. And getting up early to get workouts in before work NOW, when training is relatively light, will make sticking to that habit during Ironman training (where it really matters) that much easier.

The last two goals - being competitive in my age group and meeting time goals - go hand-in-hand. If I don't meet those time goals, I'm not likely to be placing in my age group. End of story. Some of the best advice I ever got from my coach was to not race the clock, but to instead race the girls in my age group. The times take care of themselves. And she was so, so, so right. I was loathe to actually write time goals on my blog, but I did want to look back at this post at the end of the season and see if I accomplished the times I thought were plausible for the season. Those times I want to break, they've basically been staring me in the face for awhile and it's time they go. Some of them I want to smash by a landslide because I should have the capability to do so (ahem - swimming). And others I know will be much more challenging. If I manage to keep up with my other goals, and continue to follow the plan, train consistently, and make progress on the mental side of the sport, these two goals will take care of themselves. I also need to make myself do some more open water swimming if I'm EVER going to see something besides a 35 on the clock for a 1/2 ironman or a 1:15 on the clock for an Ironman. I am apparently a terrible open water swimmer, even though I love it.

In short, the overall goal for 2012 is to act like an athlete who is serious about her hobby. I've asked myself this question in the past - "is it worth it?" Is getting a faster time, placing in my age group, qualifying for races worth sacrificing things like staying up late, eating whatever I want whenever I want, going out, etc, etc. Will I really accomplish more if I make these kinds of changes to my life? I think the answer is yes. And the 2012 season is the perfect opportunity to get serious, sacrifice, and see what level it takes me to.


Katie said...

ohhhh, steep goals, but I like it! you had a pretty kickass 2011, looking forward to 2012!

Caroline said...

Thanks Katie! I think 2012 will be very good to you as well!

Damon Taaffe said...

Great post, Caroline. I found the strength and nutrition modifications to be central to my progress in 2011 after years of stagnation, so the rewards are there if the discipline is. More broadly, I think progress for an athlete of your caliber requires making periodic changes to shake things up -- training in different ways, eating in different ways, and generally taking a running start toward the glass ceilings that you've been confronting. I think a big thing for you will be talking yourself out of going long, and talking yourself into working very hard for shorter periods. You have the endurance for sure. I'd like to see you racing some 5ks and 10ks in the near future, and maybe coming out to some of the Team Z Time Trials in PWFP!

Caroline said...

Damon - I really enjoyed reading your 2011 recap in your blog and it definitely reinforced to me the importance of strength and nutrition, both of which I have neglected basically since starting triathlon. I have *considered* a year without Ironman, for the opportunity to race shorter, harder, and more often. And I hate 5Ks - but love them at the same time.