I just returned home from spending nearly 3 weeks with my new coach (Jesse Kropelnicki) and training group - QT2 Systems.
A few people have asked “What’s different?” “What did you think?” I thought the best way to sum it up would be with 5 lessons I learned from the QT2 Systems Pro Camp in Florida.
1. Heart Rate. In the past, I have always trained on the bike with a power meter (thank you, Quarq) and have used heart rate as a secondary metric. All 16 Ironman marathons I have run? They’ve been off of feel and perceived exertion. With Jesse at the helm now, I have become a slave to the Garmin HR monitor and nearly all of my training is based around using heart rate as the number one metric. This has been a learning curve as I adopt to this new style of training - but the more comfortable I get with it, the more excited I am about using it.
2. The 10 minute mile is the new 7:30 minute mile. The QT2 crew showed me the way of a true recovery run & ride. If one of the fastest female runners in Kona is clipping off 12 minute miles for our easy runs - I guess I will too! It’s taken some getting used to, but luckily having the peer pressure of 30 other athletes around me, I have welcomed with open arms the 10 minute mile jaunt around the block. To a fault, I have always been one to have limited patience and been know to have one speed from the gun (or start of a workout). This new style of training really embraces the “take the easy days EASY, which makes the hard days truly gut busting!” With lesson #1 in effect - using heart rate - I am truly forced to slow the heck down and smell the roses. Towards the end of camp I took great pride in my recovery ride data: a whopping 60 watts and a heart rate well below 100.
3. Humble Pie as a fuel source. I came into camp fairly out of shape. That’s being polite. Within the first few days of camp I coined the term SOTB (Straight - or your choice of words - Off The Back) as I was dished up serving after serving of humble pie. My teammates kicked my hiney into next week. I turned this into a great fuel source - rather than being frustrated or disappointed, I turned my focus towards myself and things that I can control. Slowly as camp went on I got more and more fit. It was amazing to see the power of training with a group. When I heard 30 athletes would be at camp, I was a bit intimidated. Surprisingly, it worked out well. Everyone brought a different quality to the table. With that many athletes training - some of us would excel in certain sessions, some would get pulled from the workout early, and many of us experienced “failures.” Each day everyone showed up, ready to put there hat in the ring, and most of us never complained - just put the head down and got to work.
4. A new nutritional focus. Jesse pays a lot of attention to detail (A LOT) and with that has come a few tweaks in my training and racing nutrition that I think will play a great part in my training and racing. At camp I received daily schooling on the CORE Diet. Personally, there has been an increased focus on the amount of protein I consume. We also are working on the use of caffeine and the timing of caffeine during key sessions (and races).
5. The element of surprise. One thing that was different with the QT2 camp than prior camps I have done is that the workouts remained a surprise. We didn’t know what was coming next or how long it would last. I thought this was helpful on two levels. The first, was that you had to always be fueling correctly as you never really knew if you’d be on the bike for 2, 4, or 6 hours. I think on another level, it helped many of us reach new barriers mentally. One session I completely “drained the tank” in the pool thinking we would be finished. Oh no, it was just the beginning. I noticed that a lot of the time as athletes, we waste so much energy worrying about what’s next or pacing properly for the next hard session. With this format of training I noticed I would give my best effort in the set and take a few more chances - as I truly didn’t know if it was the last thing I’d be doing for the day or not. The element of surprise training was a great reinforcement that the body is capable of much more than we give it credit for.
I had a great time in Clermont and want to say thanks to everyone that made my 3 weeks so memorable: my wonderful sponsors, the QT2 Systems Staff (Jesse, Tim, Tara & John), the QT2 athletes who worked there butts off and kept me laughing the whole time, my housemates - Cindy & Liz, and the veterans: Pat & Vinny - who went above and beyond to help while answering my kazillions of questions. Lastly, a big thanks to Chris who gets an A+ for holding down the fort at home.
Things are looking great and in less than a month I will be toeing the line at Ironman Los Cabos.
Thanks for the read. Catch up soon!