Sunday Funday (a day in the life)

8:23 am??Yesterday started with a swim in the Pacific. My first race is Escape from Alcatraz, exactly one week away, and the water will be cold. This was just a little preview of what’s to come in San Francisco.

Eric Lagerstrom, me, and Joe Maloy
Eric Lagerstrom, me, and Joe Maloy

10:43 am??We met Coach Paulo at Lake Miramar for a run workout. Upon arrival, we were told 30 minutes warm up, 10 km tempo, and 10 minutes cool down. We ended up with a sub 33:00 10k.

Lake Miramar 10k tempo

2:36 pm Lunch and lots of snacks ate up the couple of hours we had before heading out on a 2 hour cruise around Poway. Nothing crazy, just getting the work done.

Feb 24th ride

5:21 pm Snack, change, and out the door to Rancho Penasquitos. 40 minute cruise run for me and Joe. Eric joined on his mountain bike for some active-recovering and GoPRO action. We often see the sunset from the trails (last night’s was the fifth day in a row), so it seems fitting that we now have a video documenting it.

I don’t often blog about my training days, because they are all pretty much the same thing. We swim; we bike; we run. Everyday is hard work, and each session is an opportunity to improve. Coach Paulo stresses being completely engaged in every interval, session, and the entire process. We all have big dreams in this sport, and it is with these dreams in mind that we face each challenge.

The Triathlon Squad is launching a fundraising drive this week. If you support the work we do everyday, and our commitments to fulfilling life long dreams, you should consider making a donation. Every little bit helps (e.g. $10 covers the costs for one swim lane for one hour). Please go to The Triathlon Squad’s website for further details.

When are we going to start to work hard?

Every week, twice a week, for the last four weeks we have gone to a climb called “Bandy Canyon” for some 5 minute intervals on the bike. The consensus among the Squad is that this workout sucks. What makes it so loathsome is that we have to keep our cadence below 60 rpm’s. At that cadence, it feels more like doing squats than riding a bike. This begs the question why don’t we just go to a gym for a “weight session” and do some squats? And the answer to that question is we are professional triathletes — we get paid to ride our bikes fast, not for having toned quads.

Since Coach Paulo had already made a couple videos of the other pieces to the money maker puzzle (i.e. swimming and running), it was time for a bike video. Below is a video from today’s Bandy Canyon hill repeats, where we work (play) hard.

Hillin’ from Paulo Sousa on Vimeo.

The Triathlon Squad

One year ago I wrote a post titled “Overcoming my barrier to success.” I wrote about my experience at my first ITU race in Myrtle Beach, how I was well off the back on the swim, and how that would motivate my training in the winter months. As I had planned, I swam a lot in those snowy months, and made some real progress. My race results improved, slightly, but were inconsistent and more often than not, unsatisfactory. I often came out of the water too far back to have a meaningful impact on the race at the front, and it is clear that swimming still is my biggest barrier to success.

As this season wound down, I thought about what I will do different than last year.??Swim more. Well that’s one option. Put in more hard yards by myself staring at a black line.??Trials of miles; miles of trials.??Sort of a brute force option. I believe in the value of all those high mileage weeks I put in as a runner, perhaps I just need more of that in swimming?

I then considered what the best in the world are doing. How have they become the best triathletes in the world? Next to hard work, the next most consistent attribute appeared to be a daily training environment that demanded excellence. Much like Alberto Salazar and his group with Galen Rupp and Mo Farah in the running world, the best triathletes in the world are training together and under the scrutiny of talented coaches. Does this exist in triathlon in the US? I looked around and found a couple groups with foreign coaches that occasionally train in the US, like Darren Smith’s and Joel Filliol’s squads. There was also??Paulo Sousa??and his group, called ??The Triathlon Squad, whom train out of the San Diego area. I looked into it more, and even sat down to meet and speak with Paulo, and I like what I heard.

The mission of the Squad is to develop elite triathletes capable of competing successfully at an international level.?? Triathlon is a sport where athletes don???t reach their full potential and race their best until several years after starting to race at the professional level. Therefore, the purpose of this program is to provide a comprehensive, positive and supportive environment that prepares emerging elite triathletes for their highest performance ability in the coming years. Toward that end, the program provides an optimal training environment as well as the guidance necessary to develop the skills required for world-class performances in triathlon.

From l to r: me, Anna Battiata, Joe Maloy, Paulo Sousa, Trevor Wurtele, Heather Wurtele, Eric Lagerstrom and Kevin Ryan
From l to r: me, Anna Battiata, Joe Maloy, Paulo Sousa, Trevor Wurtele, Heather Wurtele, Eric Lagerstrom and Kevin Ryan

How am I going to become a better swimmer and triathlete???I decided to really go for it and begin working with ‘The Squad.’ About three and a half weeks ago I packed up my mini van in Tucson, and headed west for the first Squad camp of 2013. As you may expect, we did lots of training, eating, sleeping, and thinking about training. There was a great mix of athletes to train with, former swimmers, short-course, long-course, new pro’s and seasoned vets. Each of these athletes can push me in swim/bike/run in some capacity, and there is always much to be learnt when you get a group of highly motivated individuals together.

So there’s??that.??Training in a competitive group environment will surely help me progress. Equally important to my development, however, especially at this stage of my triathlon career, is the technical and mental aspects Paulo enforces.??In addition to getting the work in, Paulo puts a large emphasis on “focus” and “engagement” on each session, something that I need to work on. I am great at putting my head down and hammering, which works well for fitness and can be a good skill to have in endurance racing, but can make things difficult when trying to make changes to technique.

Camp ended on Thursday and I am now back in Simi Valley to spend the holidays with my family. After New Year’s I plan to drive back down to San Diego and get back to work with The Squad for at least a few more months until the racing season begins. Lots of work to do before then!

Lake Poway, a common training location for The Triathlon Squad.
Lake Poway, a common training location for The Triathlon Squad.