Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tri training: a grab bag of thoughts

- You know how marathon training plans are full of those easy runs in which you are explicitly warned not to go too fast? And how the bread and butter (mm, bread... mm, butter) of a marathoner is zoning out and running for an hour? Tri training is a whole different kettle of fish (mm, fish and chips). There is no such thing as an easy workout in tri training, you guys. NO EASY DAYS. It's either long something or intense something. Long bike ride, long run, tempo run, speed intervals at the track, hill reps on the bike, tempo swim. Every workout *does* something. No more 'zone out and run for an hour, there's chwee kueh at the end' (mm, chwee kueh). It's ALL key workouts.  I know I said one of my training mantras was 'DON'T THINK - JUST GO' but even if I don't overthink so much that I fail to get out the brain is tired. 

This post is brought to you by post-long-runger. Gosh, what gave it away?... 
- Top of my to-do list now, training-wise, is figuring out when to do my glute/ hip strength exercises. I do most of my training outdoors - pool, run, bike - so it's not like I can just lie down in the middle of the road for clamshells (mm...clam chowder, but only the New England kind) and leg lifts. This week I've done the exercises whenever I've been at the gym (I sit down and immediately soak a gym towel because I ran there) - so twice now. It'll have to do for the time being. 

-- This list is here in case I happen to forget it. 
- Clam shells
- Leg lifts 
- Bridge (stability ball optional) 
- Marching bridge
- Donkey kicks
- Plank 
- Back raises 
- Pushups
- Hip hikes 
- Standing bird dog 
- Wall sit 

Was there something else I should be doing? 

- Anyway, the theme of this year's tri is apparently 'do something that scares you'. 
Simply doing my very first OD tri - that's scary enough. 
Riding 40km scares me - so I did it last week. 
Doing a 65km group ride with my super fast tri group* scares the shiznit out of me - so I'm doing it next weekend. Yes, I will get dropped. Yes, I have already pre-emptively asked for a map and my tri group friend's cellphone number. 

*How fast is the tri group? I am not an especially SLOW swimmer, compared to the general population. At training on Wednesday, I was dead last in the last lane - the farthest one right at the edge of the pool. I popped up between sets, already an entire pool length behind everyone else, and looked at the coach plaintively. 'Can I drop down a lane?' 

- I've also discovered that looking for a no-one-gets-dropped, longish group bike ride that caters to total n00bs who don't even clip in (i.e. me) is basically like looking for a unicorn in a tropical rainforest. A pink unicorn. That happens to also be invisible. 

Can we talk for a second about a few things I've read lately? 

1. I went on holiday and my pretty little Google spreadsheet of all the books I've read this year basically spiralled out of control. But I've just finished...
... Charles Stross's Iron Sunrise (I still think Ted Chiang and Geoff Ryman are the world's most underrated sci-fi/ speculative-fic authors, but I'm quite partial to Charles Stross too.) 
...the Brownlee brothers' Swim Bike Run (I don't usually go in for athlete biographies but this is honest and quite funny and they have an interesting sibling dynamic) 
...Gregory Maguire's Wicked (probably better than the musical? quite drastically different?) and its sequel, Son of a Witch. 

It disturbs me that in lists like this the author always feels the need to make it about being attractive to men. Or, alternatively, 'chicking' them (mm...did someone say chicken?). Why do we need to define ourselves in relation to other people and other genders? Can't it just be 'run times get faster, fewer injuries, yay; pants don't fit, boo'? Oh but that would make for such a boring list and then no one would read it. 

Everyday Sexism, via the Guardian, on the sort of bizarrely rude, busybody food-policing that appears to go on in less civilised countries. 
So, oddly, I've never experienced it in Singapore (my Caucasian friend from Australia who posted it on Facebook says 'It's an ang moh thing'...Singapore friends, can you corroborate please?) I don't know why, and I could be wrong and am plucking this theory out of my rungry ass, but honestly, most people in Singapore live to eat and understand what it is to really enjoy your food. Plus traditional foods and the act of enjoying food are deeply embedded in my cultural identity - so criticise my food and you criticise my culture, and you wouldn't want to do that now would you? 

4. Here is an excellent response to food-policing, body-commenting and general backhanded complimenting. Look them in the eye. And say: 'I don't fucking care if you like it.'


  1. No one ever comments about what I eat. Maybe I'm just that intimidating.

    1. Ooh, I have got to work on cultivating the intimidating glare.

  2. I need to read more Charles Stross! I think the Culture series might be too hard core SF for me, but I really enjoyed Glass House.

    1. Yes indeed and thank you for the original recommendation! Good lord, how is he so productive?!

  3. No easy days?!??! Go back to running, triathlons aren't worth it!

    1. Haha, tell me about it! I do kind of like the way tri training makes me feel though. Solid all over and never overly achy in one spot (just a general dull pleasant soreness)...good thing this is a running blog so I don't sound like a total lunatic to my readers.

  4. I'm just starting to think about doing triathlons, but I'm so intimidated because of my uber-n00b status. :/ Good thing there's a bunch of super short intro tri's around here... plus my friend D, who just completed her first Ironman, is totally patient and willing to help me out. But I guess what I'm saying is... I can relate, sort of. I mean, I bet even though you *say* your a n00b, you're still less of a n00b than I am.

    Loved all of the runger-inspired food references, btw. :)

    1. The trick is to be surrounded by a bunch of triathletes of varying hardcore-ness; thanks to the group I train with, my starting-point and expectations of what is 'normal' were pretty intense, and so I pretty much raced all-out for my first sprint tri!

  5. Have we really never discussed this food thing? The fact that one I ADORE eating in Singapore, with Singaporeans: It is absolutely and completely expected that I jump in the moment the food hits the table, that I take as much as I want, and that if I'm fast enough to grab the last bite of a tasty dish, I darn well better take the chance and thank the lucky stars for my fast reflexes. [Elder deference at family dinners aside.] Singaporeans, in general, of both genders, positively adore food and don't feel ashamed about that. They will order extra dishes, eat more, and encourage each other to do the same. It's AMAZING.

    In the US, among many groups, there's still this female habit of not eating first, not seeming too eager, and DEFINITELY not taking the last bite (in fact, people will let the server clear a tray of even the most delicious dish with one final bit on because no one wants to appear too greedy and take the last bit). Women are more likely to eat salads, nibble around the edges, and steal a french fry here and there. And if you eat a big meal, it's because you had a small breakfast/did a huge workout/won't get dinner until late - and people (women, usually) make that fact clear to their companions when ordering. They will eat, while bemoaning how damaging what they are eating is for their figure/diet. Women feel pressured/expected not to eat too much (usually from each other, but possibly also from men - there is actual discussion over what is/isn't an appropriate amount/item to eat when going out on dates), and too much zeal for eating is "unladylike".

    Of course, this isn't the case in every group - and the degree/level varies. But even as someone with almost no food "issues", I have felt the unspoken (and spoken) pressures in the US. And I really, REALLY hope I can carry the devil-may-care attitude I've been able to freely cultivate in Singapore when I'm back in the US. In short, the Singaporean love for/appreciation of food is incredibly refreshing, and I absolutely LOVE to eat with locals. /end rant