What happens to Ironman training when life gets in the way?

Last week was one of those training weeks where the wheels came off early and often.

The original plan from my coach was to swim Monday, 2hr bike Tuesday, run Wednesday, 2hr bike Thursday, weights Friday, long ride Saturday, long run Sunday. I already knew my wife and I would be traveling to a conference Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning, so the plan was to move the two weekday rides to earlier in the week. Also, my Shiv is in the shop so I’ve been riding my roadie for a bit.

I got the Monday bike done and pushed hard.

I awoke Tuesday to see the sun rising through smoke to our East: the overnight results of the Thomas fire cutting through Ventura and Ojai. A lot of that smoke made its way up to Santa Barbara and Goleta. So … decided not to bike or swim due to the air quality. I’m kinda picky about riding in smoke as I don’t think it’s healthy, especially for more intense workouts like swimming or the prescribed “go hard on the hills” bike ride.

I got to the pool at 5:30am Wednesday morning, walked out the gym door to the pool and found the pool cover on. The door locked behind me and once I was let back in I saw the sign that said the pool was closed because of the ash in the air.

Mouth closed, smoke from the Thomas Fire

I did go for a ride in the smoke later that morning except for the hills part. Just made it a 2hr low effort ride for time in the saddle and breathed through my nose as much as possible. This has the advantage of turning the day green in TrainingPeaks but it’s a false sense of accomplishment to not have done the actual workout 🙂 I dutifully found a public pool in Santa Cruz where I could swim and packed my swim gear. The remainder of the day was a 4 hour drive up to Santa Cruz for our conference.

Annnnd I didn’t force myself to the pool early on Thursday or Friday as planned. Too comfy in the hotel bed, too whatever, but I didn’t make myself go. I think sometimes my brain struggles to do things outside of what it thinks is on the “normal” schedule.

Did the 1hr Thursday run on the treadmill. Didn’t do any workout on Friday.

Came home Saturday and the smoke was worse. Instead of a 3hr ride Saturday and 90 minute run Sunday I got a 45 minute gym workout in Saturday, 1hr treadmill run on Sunday. Didn’t try and clean up the garage space to put the bike on the trainer.

But! I did eat low carb while I travelled and didn’t bust  – that’s a big win for me. I know I got knocked out of ketosis from having too many carbs but I avoided the breads and granola and pie and cake and tortillas and so on. In the past I have let travel be a license to eat poorly.

So what did I learn from all of this?

  1. I’m not seeing the right commitment level to the process in myself.  I had opportunities to swim during my trip but didn’t take them. I had opportunities to ride on the trainer and didn’t take them. Consistency is key. I need to step back and look at why I let it be OK to not get those workouts in.
  2. I didn’t let the week’s training become a complete wreck. A little planning ahead helped that.
  3. Although it was difficult to not bust on my diet I made that happen. As with training, consistency is also key with diet.


Life always gets in the way of our endurance training and our nutrition plans (although typically not with large forest fires). There is always a short trip, a night out, extra work, a sick kid, whatever. That can create a struggle for willpower and can overwhelm a delicate plan. It can also show us how willing we are to be dedicated and flexible in our pursuits.

Not a green week

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