When my mom initially approached the family last year about doing an Alaskan cruise, I said “HELL YEAH!!!”
Last year when I said “hell yeah!” to this vacation I wasn’t nearly as involved in triathlon (I think maybe I hadn’t even done my first one?!), I hadn’t qualified for Nationals, and certainly didn’t know that Nationals was in early August. As the year evolved and all of these circumstances changed, I became more and more apprehensive about leaving my 6-days-a-week training schedule, my bike and bike trainer, and my Masters swim practices all 1 1/2 months before Nationals! But an Alaskan cruise had always been on my bucket list and as I’m getting older I value the priceless opportunities to enjoy family time (especially because mine all live in a different state), and so of course there was no way I was going to miss this trip. So we left on July 1 for 2 weeks for our 5-day train and bus tour through Denali, Talkeetna, Anchorage, and Girdwood and a 7 day cruise through the Inner Passage and I won’t go on about it but I have to say it was ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT! Unbelievably gorgeous land and you all should go see it at some point in your life 🙂 Now to the training.
Luckily I discussed this trip with my coach and he didn’t seem to be nearly as nervous about it as I was. Sometimes I had to get a little creative, but for the most part, it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to being forced to train in certain ways actually gave me some good insights:
This was the easiest of the workouts because you can pretty much slap on a pair of shoes and run anywhere. EXCEPT ON A BOAT! However, there was a good gym and there were also days we were in port and I was able to get up early to get a run in before our excursions or exploring.
INSIGHT #1 : I hate running on treadmills and will avoid them at all costs because I think they’re boring as hell. BUT. Being forced to run on a treadmill worked out tremendously well for my speed workouts because 1) I didn’t have to continuously check my watch to make sure I was at the correct pace 2) because of this, I could focus all my attention on my form at these faster speeds 3) you can’t slow down!! It forced me to make the adjustments to keep up. The first day I didn’t quite hit my mark, but by the next set I nailed it and actually felt much more at ease than I thought. I’m a treadmill believer!
Biking being the weakest for me, I was especially worried about leaving my bike training in limbo. They didn’t have spin bikes on the boat BUT they did have a spin class (so they had the bikes but you had to pay for the class to use them, ugh), so I did 2 spin classes on the boat. That was all I could do, so I resorted to weight training to target those muscles.
INSIGHT #2 : This is less of an insight as it is a reminder that to stay healthy and injury-free, weight lifting/cross-training is a 100% necessity!!! Whenever I would’ve normally had a bike ride, I spent that time doing all sorts of leg work – squats, lunges, calf raises, etc. I had some pretty bad knee pain and leftover pain in both feet from a displaced cuboid in the left and tendinitis in the right and they are all gone (hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself).
INSIGHT #3 : Because I was bored and had the time I also spent more time stretching, which helped my ailments as well….and let’s be real, we could all stretch more.
So. I had a grand idea to buy one of those contraptions that holds you in place while you swim, and in my mind I was going to use it in those pools on the boat. Did that happen? I used the thing once. Could I have used it more? Probably, but I knew that my endurance was going to be fine from running, those pools are disgusting, and I decided to lift weights instead. I looked up some videos on YouTube and went to work targeting my upper body, trying to replicate any motions that were similar to swimming.
And guess what? I’m swimming faster, biking vigorously without knee pain, and have hit every one of my run sets since returning home with no foot pain!
Morals of my Alaskan story : treadmills aren’t the devil and are actually quite useful, it’s OK (and necessary) to take time off, weight-lifting improves all areas of life, all of your hard-earned fitness won’t go away in 2 weeks – really!