Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Hardest Week

I believe it's fair to say that the current school of thought when it comes to hard core training of any kind with endurance sports, e.g. running, cycling, triathlon, etc..., is that the body, and thus the athlete, performs better when on a cyclical training schedule. I don't know who is responsible for inventing the concept, but I first noticed it when I used CTS as my coaching provider. I suspect it came from Chris Carmichael's training program with Lance.

Don't consider this a ringing endorsement of CTS as a coaching provider. To be fair, I've had rather mixed results in my tenure there. Turnover is a problem and it felt like the coaches never really had a vested interest in my training or results. Whether that was due to the sheer number of athletes allocated to each coach (I recall once my coach at the time remarked that he had 15 Adam's, so god only knows how many athletes he was actually coaching at the time), or they genuinely didn't care about my results because I was never a rock star.

Anyway, I digress. My training plan is on 3-week cycles, two weeks on, one week "off." And here, "off" does not mean no workouts, it simply means lower volume and lower intensity volume. The theory is that the recovery week allows the body to, well, recover, and get stronger. With my 3-week cycle, and it may be this way for all cyclical training programs, I don't know, my hardest week is always the week prior to the recovery week. It is the week with the most volume and the most intensity. Consider this week: almost 10K meters swimming, 165 miles cycling, and 29 miles running, and my day off was Wednesday when I got a much needed 90-minute massage. There are 5 days of running, 4 of cycling with one being a 96-mile ride, and 3 days of swimming.

I already missed my 7-mile tempo run on Tuesday due to a run and power class the night before, and the legs still recovering from a late brick on Saturday evening. And tonight, I finished 2-hour trainer ride just after 10pm. Tomorrow is relatively easy with only a 3.5 mile run at lunch and Master's swim tomorrow evening.

The training is going well and my running, which has long since been my weakest link, has improved significantly over the last two seasons. I just wish I wasn't tired all the time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Perpetual Tired

I'm tired. No seriously, I'm really tired. I still have 4 months to go before Ironman CDA all but 3 weeks of which will be training weeks. I hope I make it.

After tomorrow's tempo run I'll have run 37 miles since last Thursday. After tonight's ride, I've ridden the equivalent of 111 miles since Saturday. After tomorrow night's swim, I'll have swam over 10,000 meters since last Wednesday. My longest ride will be 130 miles, my longest run as part of a brick will be 16-miles (after an 80-mile ride). My longest swim will probably be in the neighborhood of 4000 meters. That's a LOT of training time.

Maybe it's just normal for Ironman athletes to be this way. I wonder if the pros sleep normally and then take mid-day naps between workouts. I just know that working 40+ hours/week along with 13-20 hours training doesn't leave time for much else when you factor in the 60+ hours of sleeping (there's 168 hours in a week).

I have a 90-minute massage on Wednesday...I can't wait.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Good Brick

So it was snowing last night when I was blogging and much of it was still on the ground when I made the decision that I wasn't going to ride outside today. It turns out I could have as the roads were mostly clear and dry. But, I had errands to run with the wife and didn't get started until after 1:30. Not good if you have a 61-mile brick to do.

Neal Henderson at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine says that riding on a trainer is like 1.5 times what you would do outside. So the math goes something like this. Assuming an average speed of 17 mph, it would take me 3 hours to do a 51-mile ride outside. The inverse of 1.5 is 2/3 so 2/3 of 3 hours is 2 hours. So theoretically, riding on the trainer for 2 hours is like riding your bike for 3 outside. Not sure if this is accurate or what, but if Neal says it's true, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The man coaches some world class athletes and knows his shit cold.

So, 2 hours on the trainer followed by a 10-mile run outside (oh hell no, I'm SO not running 10 miles on a fucking treadmill - I don't care how much money you pay me...$1000? Seriously? Ok, I'll do it). Sadly, no one paid me to run on a treadmill today so I ran outside and had a great run. My running has come so far in two years it's crazy. My legs used to be absolutely DEAD for the run after a ride. Maybe it's just something your body needs to get used to and that's why most of the world class triathletes are in their 30s. It just takes that long for the body to get used to all that punishment - slowly ramping up your speed on the bike and run while your HR zone stays the same.

T-minus 4 months and counting for Ironman CDA. I think my training is on target and I like how I'm feeling.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Better Half

The state of Colorado proudly boasts about it's 300+ days of sunshine a year. And to be sure, Colorado receives a ton of sunshine. Unfortunately, the mere presence of sunshine doesn't consider whatever else the weather might be doing at the time. It could be 10 degrees and sunny. It could be 50 degrees and sunny but there's sustained winds of 25 mph gusting to 75.

Sustained winds are a mixed blessing when riding outside. In a crosswind, you ride like you haven't had your V8. In a tailwind you really want to be on your way back home. In a headwind, you scream and curse Mother Nature until you're too tired to bitch anymore and slowly plod along (or maybe this is just me, but I seriously doubt it).

Today was supposed to be an easy 22-mile ride day with Master's swim tonight. Yesterday's 11.5 mile run went really well and while the legs contained some residual tiredness, they were up for the ride. Only, it was windy out. Very windy. And it kept changing directions, or at least it felt like it. It's one of those rides that was supposed to be in Z2 but in order to achieve that you have to ride in a really low gear. I knew the ride was going to take a while, so I only did it by time. It just wasn't worth it to do the full distance. The wind is blowing too strong to really get anything out of the ride other than a lesson in patience and dealing with frustration (something from which I'm sure I could benefit, however, I would rather have sat at my desk and continued to work than deal with that.

It's snowing right now so tomorrows 61-mile brick will be done mostly indoors. I won't run 10 miles on the treadmill so I'm hoping the cold front doesn't make it so cold that it's just not worth it to run outside. I'm pretty motivated though, we'll see if that holds true tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Riding like into the Wind

I'm not sure anyone actually enjoys riding in the wind unless it's a tailwind and you're on your way home.  Today was not such a day.  When the wind blows in Denver, it's generally pretty predictable.  Predictable in direction and strength.  It blows anywhere from the West to the North and it usually blows hard (double entendre intended).

So rather than do my normal lunchtime cycling route which consist of riding South on the Platt River bike path until it's time to turn around I decided to head ESE on the Cherry Creek bike path thus avoiding the cement recycling plant and various junkyards around mile 10 and the very stinky garbage plant at mile 11.  In return, I enjoyed a very nice 11-mile ride out to Cherry Creek Reservoir (it's very scenic, no garbage plants or junkyards) and a not very nice 11-mile ride back in a pretty nasty headwind.  It was manageable until just West of the Cherry Creek Country Club when the bike path and Platt River dip down into this channel that runs in between the two sides of Speer Blvd.  This channel becomes a wind tunnel when the wind blows and it flat out sucks if you have a headwind.  This last section of the path is not long; it was the last 3 miles of my ride and was supposed to be my cool down.  But trying to ride in Z2 in a nasty headwind is like trying to stay in Z2 while climbing Old Stage - you can do it, but it either involves walking your bike or riding so slowly that pedestrians pass you and give you the eye.

I get frustrated very easy in such situations and can go from patiently plodding along at some ungodly slow speed to a Z5 hammerfest in order to get the damn ride over with.  Today was no exception.  I just hope that combined with this evening's Master's swim workout, I didn't tank my legs for tomorrows 11.5-mile run.

You may recall that two weeks ago my long run didn't turn out so nice.  This time I'm bringing my fuel belt, a pouch for my iPod, and will damn sure eat a larger breakfast.  There will be no bonking.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Good End to Week 23

Normally, it's hard to finish the training week strong because by the time it's over, I'm usually so exhausted that getting above average quality workouts in is more rare than the norm.

So, I'm very pleased with how training week 23 ended and I suspect it is due to my doing Saturday's ride on the trainer rather than outside. My 9-mile long run on Sunday (with 1.25 mile Z3 intervals) was very good and my 3000m swim afterward was reasonably effective. Additionally, my light Z2 run yesterday contained very decent pacing for such a low effort workout and my performance in power class last night was just awesome - indeed, the best in quite some time. We did 4 blocks of 5 1-1:15 intervals with increasing rest in between each interval. Prior to the penultimate block of 5, I bumped my wattage up to 250 (from 240) and for each of the last five intervals, bumped the wattage up by 10 so that I finished at 300.

Honestly, the only difference I felt in my legs was that the lactic acid built up quicker but it wasn't that much harder. Even my coach said I looked really strong.

Yay for weeks ending on an up-tick.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everybody's Working on the Weekend

Living in Colorado has its advantages.  If you're an athlete, the training at altitude allows you to excel at sea level.  If you're an outdoorsy type person, guaranteed there's something here for you.

However, if you're a cyclist or triathlete (or duathlete) when it snows and you have a ride to do it usually means you're relegated to the trainer.  Just like when training outside, training inside can be great or can really suck.

I've found that as long as I have a goodmovie on TV, then the workout is great.  If there's nothing on, and you can't find a movie to watch, then time can pass excruciatingly slow.  Thankfully, today was not one of those days.  My 2:30 on the trainer went relatively quickly and I even had a break 2 hours in to help clean up the pee our new puppy decided to leave on our new carpet.  (how nice)

The one drawback to the trainer, at least mine anyway, is that I can never make it simulate the resistance of the road, or even the CompuTrainer I use in the lab.  Thus, it's either too lose and my wheel skips, or it's snug and I can't get too far out of my granny gear or it's like climbing up Magnolia.  If there's a happy medium, I haven't found it yet.  And why someone hasn't designed a trainer that doesn't result in you actually destroying your rear tire over time is beyond me.  It doesn't seem like it'd be hard.  Have some type of drum on which you can mount a rear cassette and have that drum connected (either via a chain or a belt) to a resistance unit.  This way, the resistance is constant and one can shift normally.  The rear stay on the bike would simply mount to the drum like it would to a normal rear tire: rear derailleur around the cassette and the dropouts on to some small studs.  A normal quick release skewer could be used to keep the bike from disengaging.

If anyone out there hasn't patented this yet, do it and build it.  I'll gladly be a guinea pig.

*here, the definition of good will certainly vary greatly amongst everyone I know.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Attention Ladies

Ok men, now that I have your attention I'd like to address a problem we guys have when it's really cold outside yet we go out riding anyway. If we under dress downstairs those that have fallen victim to what I can only describe as FPS, or Frozen Penis Syndrome, know just how ungodly uncomfortable and painful it is. For everyone else, basically what happens is that when your body gets cold, it pulls blood away from the extremities into to the core to keep all the vital organs warm and fully functional. (I'm sorry, but according to the body, the penis is NOT a vital organ - though I know plenty of men who would beg to differ).

My weather feature in my taskbar told me that it was a balmy 37 degrees when I left for my ride. Fine. I dressed accordingly, or so I thought. The ride out was great. It was into the sun and while my toes were a little cold, the wool socks did their job. The problem occurred when I had to turn around and head back...into a headwind and with the sun at my back. Suddenly, the cold toes were a problem and FPS started setting in, and yes, it was VERY uncomfortable. So, with about 3-4 miles left in what was supposed to be an only Z2 ride, I cranked it into Z4 to try and get warm, or more specifically, thaw my privates. It kind of worked, but not to the degree that I was hoping and I wound up having to warm it up with my hands before blasting it with hot shower water. If you think it hurts just being cold, try blasting it with hot shower water first without trying to slightly warm it up first. I guarantee that you have not yet experienced pain quite like that. Warming up first is incredibly important. You have been warned.

Naturally, holding one's groin in one's office is bound to draw attention (because of course strutting around in Lycra and cycling shoes doesn't) and sure enough, one of my (male) coworkers noticed and knew exactly what happened (he's a cyclist) and mentioned he uses a wash cloth for extra insulation. Genius, sheer genius.

Who knew a wash cloth could actually be useful. So, be safe out there men, wear protection. Aka, a washcloth.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recovery Week? Uh, Don't Think So

So the 2.5-mile recovery run at lunch was awesome.  It took longer to get dressed for the run and re-dressed back for work than the run.  What a great way to spend a recovery week....and then I went to Master's swim...

~500m warm up before Wolfgang strolls in fashionably late as he seems wont to do lately.  16x25m blah blah blah....2x[7x100m] (wtf?) first 7 steady on 1:35, second 7 fast on 1:40 (again, wtf?).  More 25s.  6x100m on 1:35 (more ouch).  Some more 25s and pull the cover.

So much for a recovery week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rest Day!

Ah, c'est merrie.  After last nights devastating power class in which our workout profile suspiciously resembled the side view of a saw blade (and not the simple /\/\/\/\ saw blade either this was a sadistic looking one with vertical walls instead of peaks and valleys.  I'd draw a picture, but this thing doesn't support that feature.

My legs were so tired, I had to lower the LT wattage from 240 to 180 after the first main interval block.  I just had no power.  Add to that the nasty stomach bug I got suspiciously after eating lunch with my sister at Tokyo Joe's where I couldn't keep any food inside me (no, I wasn't throwing up...use your imagination) causing me to be what I can only assume to be SEVERELY dehydrated.

I'm all better now, which seems to reinforce the idea that something was in the beef bowl at Mr. Joe's.  Suffice it to say I will refrain from visiting their establishment for a while.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Today's Workout -Training Tired

Swim (
22-mile ride (yes, on top of the long-ass one yesterday)

I know, I know, it's usually always the case when you're training twice a day, but there's something to be said for training tired.  Not in a "way to go" kind of way, but in a "I actually managed to workout" way.

Let's face it, motivation is usually low and it's VERY easy to find distractions - say, if the spouse gives you permission to purchase an Apple TV on your quest to set up a media server in the house (even if your ultimate goal is to have two, one for each HDTV).  I am proud to say, however, that I was able to resist the temptation of setting it up until after my swim, but before my ride.  I only swam and rode for 30-minutes each because next week is my recovery week and I still have power class tomorrow night and I need some legs for that class.

Yesterday's Workout

92-mile bike (ouch)
2-mile run

I'd not ridden the Boulder-Horsetooth and back loop since 2001 and despite misplacing my directions was able to navigate the roads correctly until mile 56 when I found the directions at a gas station stop to refill the water bottles.  I somehow managed to forget to start my watch until about 5.5 miles later and thus wound up not hitting 100 miles on my watch - I was curious as to what would display when that number was hit.  Now I'll have to wait until next time.

My legs felt surprisingly good for the ride - I was tired toward the end, to be sure, but the biggest problem was that my gloves had no padding so my palms were really sore and OMG, my ass was killing me.  The shorts I chose to wear were NOT long distance riding shorts despite ample application of Aquaphor to the chamois pre-ride.

Hitting Loveland I also became rather lucky as the wind did a 180 and shifted from the South to the North, meaning I had a tailwind the whole ride home (SWEET!)

The legs actually felt fine as I hopped off and started the run.  Not wanting to count my chickens before they hatch (did I actually just type that?) but perhaps this is a good omen for Ironman CDA.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today's Workout

3000m swim (various)

Did master's instead.  Main set was 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m on a 1:50 base.  In hindsight, this was probably a little slow and I should have changed lanes because while we descended (time wise) through each block, my last 100 was on 1:27.  Which is very close to my PR which means either I am in way better shape than when I did my PR of 1:23, or I totally slacked off when I did that PR....or I totally slacked off during the main set.

Either way.  It was a good time.

Why Bonking Sucks

Aside from the obvious reasons that bonking is bad is the fact that I become ungodly hungry after a long workout in which I bonk.  I have no idea how many calories I consumed yesterday but it was a ton:

Fig Newtons (far too many), cheese sticks, Triscuits, turkey jerky, chocolate, a can of Hansen's kiwi-strawberry, a bottle of iced tea.  And this was just for lunch.

For dinner I had two slices of homemade cheese pizza with gobs of ground buffalo on it, a leftover crack brownie from the tub my wife made for our Superbowl party, and two Skinny Cows (ice cream sandwich).

And I was still hungry.  Only common sense (and it getting late) kept me from eating more.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today's Workouts

11-mile run
11-mile ride

The run should have been easy. It wasn't. I didn't take food or water with me (or apparently eat enough for breakfast) and started lightly bonking at mile 6. I slogged through the run to just before mile 10 and had to walk. I was so thirsty ate dirty snow. Stay tuned to see whether or not that was a good idea.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Layoffs Suck

No, not those layoffs, though, those really suck too.

If anyone is wondering how bad it hurts to take a month off from doing Master's swimming and then go back and try to pick up where you left hurts...a lot.

On the flip side, I've not felt this good in a really long time.  Must have gotten an extra dose of endorphins.  Suffice it to say, I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight.

The Triathlon Saga

Don't think of it as a career or job, it's a way of life where everyday is a new adventure. A new adventure in fatigue, and the occasional fantastic workout. But mainly fatigue.

It's about how far you can push yourself before your mind takes over and says "enough." It's about bonking so hard on that 40-mile ride you have to stop and fall asleep standing up over your bike on the side of the road still 10 miles from home. It's about the joy of finally getting home and passing out on the floor of the living room with a half-chewed bite of Cliff bar in your mouth and waking up an hour later with it all moist and pasty. It's about the pain when you realize that you have to be at work in an hour and you're not sure you can actually stand up.

But you awaken from your standing coma, you swallow the Cliff bar, stagger to the shower, and still put in an 8-hour shift of standing on your feet behind either the bakery counter.

That, was once a day in the life of this triathlete. I still bonk in workouts. I still pass out on the floor, albeit, without partially masticated food in my mouth. I traded the bakery counter for ultimately a life in Software Engineering. The pay is better.

Today's Workout

6-mile Z2 run with Z4 intervals
3900m swim (various)

As usual, the run was fine - there's always a question of what will happen when I pass the sketchy section on the North section of the Platt River bike path from Confluence Park. If you're not familiar with this section, it's the stretch between the railroad bridge and 31st St. It's sketchy because the path runs next to a warehouse district one of who's buildings is a Salvation Army shelter. The shelter draws all manner of transients many of whom hang out on this stretch of the path.

To be fair, I've never had an incident and they've almost always been courteous in saying hello or moving out of my way when I run by. But there's still the feeling of uneasiness because it's very clear from how some of them dress that they have nothing left to lose.

The legs are still a little tired from Monday's power lab workout blasting through my sadistic coach's CompuTrainer power profile that looks like Bart Simpson's hair only the peaks are at 110% of LT.

Tonight's swim will most likely consist of slogging through Wolfgang's master's swim class and hoping I don't embarrass myself too much because I've not attended class in at least a month.