"The Training Diaries" is a monthly series of posts by Lindsey Jerdonek, a DC Tri Club member, and third-year professional triathlete. In January 2012 Lindsey quit her day job and made the move to racing as a full-time pro triathlete. You can follow Lindsey's Blog where she documents this new endeavor or follow her on twitter.
I am a couple months into my vagabond life and am making changes with my day to day to become a fulltime professional triathlete. One of my main goals is to simplify my life as much as possible, and I do this by limiting the number of responsibilities and commitments I have to things other than training. Along with my unconventional living arrangements, I’m adjusting the way I sleep and fuel to handle a heavier training load.
For my chosen training locations, I wanted to follow the sunshine but didn’t know where I wanted to base myself permanently, and am living out of my car as a result. I spent 5 weeks in Florida before making a week-long drive along I-10 to California. I chose my overnight locations based on where I could spend a night with a friend, or picked a cheap hotel near a pool. I learned that driving and training do NOT mix well and by the last day of that drive, all the life had been sucked out of me. The glaring success of this drive was making it through El Paso without an unplanned detour to Mexico. I spent a few weeks in the beautiful San Francisco bay area and have hunkered down at a homestay in San Diego until the ITU World Triathlon Series event in May.
My sleep habits, and thus recovery, are improving dramatically. Like anyone who squeezes in a workout before the workday, I used to get 6-7 hours/night, largely due to an over-active mind that would not let me relax at night. I used to look at the clock when I went to bed and would tell myself, “If I fall asleep right now I will only get 6 hours and 38 minutes of sleep…” No pressure. I met Andy Potts at a race in South America last fall and he told me he sleeps something like 11 hours each night. Clearly he is not a worrier. Now, I routinely get between 8-9 hours a night and want to build up to over 9 hours. In addition, I nap a few days a week. My coach stresses the importance of napping for 40 minutes minimum, after which human growth hormone is released in your body to aid recovery. It’s much more relaxing to do this in bed than to sneak away to the shower room at work and lock yourself inside for 5 minutes of shut eye on a small, wooden changing bench.
My nutrition continues to be a work in progress. I am good at eating a varied and colorful diet, though environmental changes helps me limit the treats and to not go overboard on daily fueling. I recommend the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink if you’re interested in learning more. He sheds light on how strongly our environment influences what and how much we eat. A big change I made is to finish eating for the day around 8pm. Observing the cut-off eliminates the temptation to snack later in the night and also helps the body get ready for sleepy time as you wind down. The reality is that I need to be light if I want to be competitive. The running injury I had over the winter stalled the natural weight-loss process that occurs with normal training so I must be aware of my intake, and patient as my training picks up. My love/hate relationship with nut butters persists.
As you might guess, I am handling a heavier load than last year at this time. The run volume isn’t where it was as I build back from injury, but it’s much higher than a month ago! My swims and rides are consistent—this week I’ll swim ~25km and bike 8+ hours, which includes a 3 hour long ride. My coach and I are laying a foundation that will allow me to handle the demands of track sessions and hard bike rides (or “death rides” as I call them) later this year.
I am looking forward to real race feedback on all the changes I have made over the past couple months. My first race is coming up on April 29 in Florida, the St. Anthony’s Triathlon.