Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A little R & R

Every 4th week during the Base and Build phases of my training is reserved for rest and recovery. It's desperitly needed after the fatigue accumulated over the three previuos weeks. Without this regular rest, my fitness won't progress as required. The idea is to let the muscles recover and for my body to feel rested come the end of the week, but still maintain the endurance that I've built up until now.

Total training hours for this week is only 7 (compared to 10, 12 and 13.5 over the last three weeks). This worked out nicely since I'm only working intermittently this week; I can get me workouts in early and be back home before Kate wakes up. Lots of good and needed family time this week!

Ran 7.11 miles in 56:23 (7:55 min.mile pace). I'm still doing attempting to do all workouts in heart rate Zone 2. I say attempting, because it's getting harder for me to not drop down in to Zone 1...especially the first few miles of my runs. This means that my aerobic endurance is improving, but I'm going to have to speed it up to stay in Zone 2. Maybe a longer warm-up period is needed. Not sure.
Avg HR was 152 (Zone 2 is from 154-162)
Max HR was 160

Swam for 18 minutes. Did a few laps to warm-up, then 10 minutes at a comfortable pace, followed by some speed work:
4 x 48 (2 lengths) intervals:
(1) - 42.5
(2) - 41.3
(3) - 40.9
(4) - 41.6
Finally a few laps to cool down.

Ran some Ladder Intervals.
1 mile warm-up
5 minutes of drills
Ladder intervals consisted of 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10 laps around the track
I don't have my new watch completely figured out yet, so I don' t have my split times for the intervals - sorry, I know everyone is going to be real upset by this. I'll get it figured out by next week. 
1/2 mile cool down
Total run time was 36:40

Weights - 30 minutes of shoulders and abs

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pure Fit Radio

A little over a month ago, I was asked if I would be interested in becoming a reporter for Pure Fit Radio. It is a national radio/podcast program all about endurance sports. The Pure Fit Radio website, found here, contains lists of events (road races, triathlons, etc.), a great list of links (running, cycling, triathlon, nutrition websites), as well as podcasts (a weekly show and state reports). The weekly state reports is where I come in. This is the opportunity for individuals in Kentucky to listen to my recommendations on events and happenings that effect those in the running, swimming, cycling and multi-sport community.

I am now the official Endurance State Reporter (ESR) for the state of Kentucky. Each week I will record a 2 minute segment describing some upcoming events in the state and telling people where to go to register. I recorded my first report last week and it began airing yesterday. 

The first weekly show is now also available for listening. Craig Alexander (back-to-back Ironman World Champion) is on the show, as well as Diana Bertch from Kona and Kerry Gilia, who is stationed in Afghanistan and is a heavy marathoner. Plus, reports from Physical Therapist Terence Reuben, Ben Pickel, who speaks about workout tracking technology, and award winning author and Chief Running Officer of Runner's World Magazine, Bart Yasso! Check out the show here.

I'm really excited to be part of Pure Fit Radio and although it's just in it's infancy, I know that it will become huge! Bookmark the website and check back weekly for new shows and my new report!

1hr 15min on the bike in Zone 2
Avg HR 138
Max HR 146
30 minutes of weights (chest, arms, abs)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New shoe smell

Anyone else LOVE the smell of new shoes? As I pulled mine out of the box this morning, I took a good long sniff...mmmmm. If I'm alone on this one, so be it. I'm not ashamed. Some people love to smell coffee in the mornings to get them going, I think that new shoe smell is my new morning pick-me-up. Think I can find a car air freshener in this scent??

I think the new shoe sniffing got my adrenaline going becuase I felt really good on my run this morning. I went for a little bit flatter course this morning. Total climb was still 427 ft. (compared to 571 ft. on Thursday). Legs were feeling pretty strong and I got into a good rhythm after a few miles.
Covered 11.36 miles in 1:31:31 (8:03 min/mile pace).
Here's my splits:

Note that mile 6 was pretty slow. I attribute this to me trying to eat some raisins. I normally take a gel pack on longer runs, but I'm out of them, so I threw some raisins in a baggie. FYI - it's not easy to eat raisins out of a baggie and run at the same time. It takes two hands and a decent amount of concentration to get the raisins from the bag to your mouth. Not to mention that my fingers were half frozen. Either way, take that slow mile out and I'm probably just under 8 minute miles for the run. This is my fastest zone 2 run yet.
Average HR was 153 bpm (this is actually about 4-5 bpm lower than I want)
Max HR was 164
If nothing else, this proves that I'm successfully building my aerobic engine. During my first Base Phase, Zone 2 Run 4 weeks ago, my pace was 8:21 min/mile on a flat route.

Totals for Base Phase 1, Week 4:
Swim - 1:24 (2.4 miles)
Bike - 6:55 (119 miles)
Run - 4:28 (30.46 miles)
TOTAL - 12:51 (151.86 miles)
The goal for the week was 13.5 hours of training. I came up a little short on that, but with Christmas thrown in, I'll consider this good enough!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I must have been a good boy...

because Santa brought me lots of good gear! My beautiful wife must have sent Santa the specs because he brought me the exact watch that what I wanted. It's the Timex Ironman Race Trainer/Digital Heart Rate Monitor. Isn't it beautiful?

Just a Few of the Watch Features
  • 10 Workout Memory - Automatically saves latest workout; lock past workouts to prevent deletion
  • Target Heart Rate Zones
  • Time in Zone - Amount of time spent within one of six selected heart rate target zones
  • %-of-Max Heart Rate Display
  • Calories Burned
  • Five Linked Interval Timers - Each interval can be assigned its own target zone 
  • Recovery Heart Rate Timer - Measures your heart rate after a timed recovery during or after your workout
  • 5 Variable intensity interval timers
  • 100-hour chronograph with lap and split, either in large or small digits
  • 50-lap memory for each workout with average, min and max heart rate per lap
  • Polyurethane integrated chest strap
  • Water-resistant 100m
  • Activate INDIGLO night-light with the press of any button using NIGHT-MODE feature 
For those keeping track, now I don't have to wear a heart rate monitor AND a watch, this one does both...with more features that I even know how to use!

Santa (aka my Mother-in-law) also bought me some new running shoes, which I can't wait to hit the pavement with...and some more cold-weather Under Armour (from Mom & Dad). Overall it was a great Christmas and I received way more than I deserve. I am truly blessed!

2hr 10min on the bike in Zone 2. Thanks to my new watch I can now tell you the following info about my heart rate during this workout:
Avg. HR during 5 minute warm-up = 105 bpm
Avg. HR during 2 hour ride = 130 (right in the middle of Zone 2, perfect!)
Avg. HR during 5 minute cool-down = 98
Max HR during workout = 143
After all the Christmas treats I had over the last few days (Mom's famous no-bake cookies, cherry delight, banana pudding, pineapple upside-down cake and even a cinnamon roll for breakfast yesterday), I was eager to get in a good workout. The 130 minutes on the bike flew by!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Will Santa bring new shoes?

Headed out around 7:15 this morning for a long run with lots of hills. It was a great morning for a run, upper 30's with very little wind. It rained over night, but the precip held off long enough for me to get in 13.1 miles. There were actually more hills than flats. Check out the profile:

Some rolling hills and then some monster inclines/declines.  Held my HR in zone 2 for the most part, although it ramped up to 165 or so during some of the long climbs. Total time for 13.1 miles was 1:52:09 (8:33 min/mile).
Here's my splits. Check out the climb column!

Note that on the flat miles (2 & 6), I was able to keep a pace of around 8:00/mile while staying in zone 2. Then on the miles with the large hills (5, 7, 8, 10, 11), the pace was in the upper 8's, closer to 9:00/mile. It's amazing what a difference hills make. Running at the same effort (based on heart rate), but going a lot slower! I also noticed some aches (not pain) in my knees and hips during the run. This, combined with the fact that I have now logged 346 miles on my current pair of shoes, can only mean one thing - Santa needs to bring me a gift card to Swag's. New shoes are needed ASAP!!

Headed back to the gym and did a mile in the pool at an easy pace. Time was 34:09.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kona 09 Review/Run Bonk

I finally found the time last night to sit down and watch the NBC coverage of the Ironman World Championships that aired last Saturday. As always, NBC did a great job. Good interviews and stories on athletes and pretty decent coverage of the actual race...of course, I watched live coverage of the race on when it was happening back in October. Even knowing the outcome, it was still fun and exciting to watch.

I've been known to cry like a baby when watching movies. Call me a wuss, sissy, whatever you want...I can't help it. I'm also not ashamed to admit that I had to fight back tears a few times while watching the Ironman Championship. Some of the things that people have gone through just to get to there are amazing.

Check out a short clip here.

Something else that grabbed my attention was the Professional Traithlete's hitting a wall on the run. They showed clips of 2 or 3 pros that had to walk portions of the marathon. These are people that have no other job than to train for triathlons...and sometimes their bodies still can't do it come race day. Makes you think.

2hr20min on the bike in heart rate Zone 2. No spin class today, so it was just me and the bike for 140 minutes. Legs responded pretty good and other getting tired of staring at the wall, it was a good ride.
I might try to get back to the pool this afternoon for a quick swim.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fast Swimmer = Slow Triathlete

I'm not saying that if you are a fast swimmer, you will suck as a triathlete. I'm saying that if you train for speed in the pool, your overall triathlon times will likely decrease. You simply won't have the energy required coming out of the water to succeed on the bike and run.

Occasional speed work, which does consist of hard swimming, is necessary and beneficial to overall improvement. But, the majority of the swim workouts for a triathlete should be long, comfortable, and relatively easy, in your aerobic training zone (just like the bike and run). Therein lies the difference between the swimmer and the triathlete training for the swim.

If you exit the water and your heart rate is high, you will most likely perform the cycling leg with a heart rate considerably higher than the rate at which you typically train on the bike. A physiological factor that can negatively affect the upcoming run and overall racing performance.

I say all of this to help explain my swim workout today...see below:

Run - 1/2 mile repeats with 1 min. rest in between
10 minute warm-up followed by 5 minutes of drills, then 9 repeats
1/2 miles:
1) 3:41
2) 3:49
3) 3:42
4) 3:45
5) 3:38
6) 3:40
7) 3:38
8) 3:40
9) 3:37
10 minute cool-down
Overall run workout was 6.0 miles in 1:05:12

Swim - 50 minutes of swimming at an easy pace. This is the longest swim that I've done in a pool. It did get a little boring, but it gave me some time to think about what I wanted to buy my little one for Christmas. After showering I immediately went to Toys 'R' Us and made my purchases!
Total swim = 2400 yards (1.36 miles) in 50:03 (36:41 min/mile pace)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Training alone

Due to when I train (early morning) and how I train (following a pretty strict plan), I train alone. I've been on rides and runs with other people before and it's a nice change of pace, but I actually prefer to train alone. Some triathlete's have training partners or groups that they run and ride with several times a week. I always wonder when training with others, am I keeping up with their pace, or are they keeping up with mine? It's really impossible to tell.

For the most part triathlons are race's against the clock and the elements, not often are you toe to toe with another athlete (especially in long races). Pacing thus becomes the most important issue. I find that the best way to learn pace is by training alone. Training alone forces you to look within to find the right pace and it also forces you to concentrate. These are two aspects that will come in handy on race day.

Training alone can be boring; especially on 4 hour rides, 2 hour runs, or 1 hour swims. But if you can master this aspect of training and live to tell about it you will be very tough mentally. It truly is a case of mind over matter.

2h25min on the bike. Exactly 12 hours after completing my 12+ mile run on hills I was in the saddle for 145 minutes of Zone 2 riding. My legs were tired and it showed. It was really about 30 minutes into the ride before my legs felt good...then the last 45 minutes or so, keeping a good enough pace to stay in Zone 2 was a struggle! Probably covered around 40-45 miles.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Base Phase week 2 complete

It took me an extra day, but the weather finally cleared up and I was able to get in a long run today to complete Base Phase 1, Week 2. I ran lots of good hills today and was able to stay in Zone 2 for most of the run. I actually had a problem keeping my heart rate high enough towards the end of my run. My zone 2 is from 154-162 beats per minute. Several times, I looked down and noticed my HR dipping into the high 140's. I was slowing down, not because I was out of juice, but my legs were just tired! I can definitely tell that I'm getting a stronger aerobic engine, I'm having trouble running a fast enough pace to keep my HR in Zone 2!

Check out the hills!

Here's my split times for each mile (also courtesy of RunKeeper):

Total distance was 12.16 miles in 1:42:01 (8:23 min/mile pace). I'm happy with this pace considering the changes in elevation.

Goal for the week was 12 hours of training, I ended up with 11:57...close enough for me!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Swim Drills

I had about 15 minutes of my required swim time for the week left heading into yesterday. I decided to incorporate some drills into my workout. I learned these drills while meeting with swim coaches in the past. Here's a list of the drills that I did and how each one can make you a more efficient swimmer:

Single arm: Keep one arm in front while you stroke with the other. This drill helps you focus on each arm throughout the complete range of a stroke.

Fist: Swim with your fingers closed into a fist. This drill helps promote elbow bending in the beginning of the pull. You use your forearms just as much (if not more) than your hands to pull your body through the water. This drill forces your to pull with your forearms.

Catch-up: This is an alternating single-arm drill. Wait for your hand to meet the other in front before pulling (touch and go) with the other arm. This drill works on your pull and body rotation.

Crossover:Crossover: When your hand enters the water at the beginning of each stroke, you must ensure it doesn't cross your body's imaginary midline running from head to toe. Crossing over puts a tremendous amount of strain on the shoulder joint and makes your body fishtail or swing from side to side, increasing drag. I hold a kick board with one arm and swim with the other...making sure my hand enters the water to the side of the kick board.

2hr on the bike with a 45min swim class sandwiched in the middle. Once again I was in Zone 2 for the majority of the ride.

15min of the above described drills in the pool

2h20m on the bike. No spin class today, so it was just me and the bike...and Pandora radio on my iPhone. 140 minutes on the bike in a room with nothing to look at is a long time. Just to be clear, these workouts in Zone 2 are not easy. Zone 1 is for easy riding. Keeping my heart rate between 125 and 137 takes some effort. I'm breathing heavy and sweating pretty good despite the fact that the spin room is kept the same temperature as a meat locker! It was a long, though workout, but as my man Teddy Roosevelt said "Nothing worth gaining was ever gained without effort."

I have a long run planned for tomorrow morning...forecast calls for 70% chance of rain/snow. Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shelbyville Sprint Triathlon Series

Registration opened yesterday for the first Triathlon I plan to participate in during 2010. There are a total of 4 races, all sprint distances. They are held at the Clear Creek Park in Shelbyville, KY. If you are new to triathlon or have thought about doing a race, this would be a great starting point. Swim is indoors in a pool and none of the distances are too daunting (unless you are reading this from your couch...where you've been since Thanksgiving). I'm using this race as part of my training and to practice my transitions. Hoping to destroy last year's time.

Race #1 January 31
3K Run/6 Mile Bike/400 yd Swim

Race #2 February 21
5K Run/12 Mile Bike/400 yd Swim

400 yd Swim/12 Mile Bike/5K Run

Race #4 May 2
400 yd Swim/16 Mile Bike/5K Run

Running intervals, exact same workout as this one. One mile warm-up, 10 minutes of drills, then the intervals. Total time was 57:52 including the rest between each interval.

As you may have noticed, the swim distance for the Shelbyville Tri that I'm racing is only 400 yards. So after a quick warm-up, I wanted to see what my time would be for this distance. I swam 17 lengths (408yd) in 7:25. I did this race last year and my swim time was 8:14. So I'm pleased with the increased speed...and I wasn't even going at 100% like I will on race day. After the 400yd swim, I swam 888yd (1/2 mile) at a steady, comfortable pace. Time for the 1/2 was 16:29

For those keeping track, I've completed 5hr 40min of my planned 12hrs for this week. The week is half far, so good!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend." - Theophrastus

I'm doing my best to follow the training plan outlined in Joe Friel's "The Triathlete's Training Bible". The plan is for a half-ironman triathlon, which I hope to compete in during 2010. As I've mentioned before, I'm currently in the Base Phase of the training plan. This phase involves high volumes of training at low intensity (HR zone 2). The problem with high volumes is that they take something I can't find more of...time.

As I finished up week 1 on the Base Phase last week I looked at my total training for the week. It was 7h21m. My training plan called for 10 hours...hummm. So looking ahead the next couple of weeks consist of 12 hours (this week) and 13.5 hours (next week). So step 1 is to eliminate the majority of the weight lifting. Step 2 was to plan out my week in a way that would allow me to get two disciplines in almost every day. Step 3 was to create about another 30-45min each day. The only way to do this is to roll back the alarm clock to 4:45am. Knowing how important sleep is, this isn't ideal, but I'm not going to cut into my family time in the evenings...and I can't cut back the hours at work.

So most days I will have to get up at 4:45am instead of 5:00am or 5:30am. I'll re-evaluate after this week. Hopefully I won't be falling asleep at work!!

1:14:10 of running in Zone 2. Covered 9.06 miles for a pace of 8:11 min/mile. Legs were a little tight for the first 2 miles or so, but then I settled into a nice pace. I never let my HR get above 162, in fact, several times it was getting too low (going into zone 1). When this happened, I just increased the pace a little to get back into my aerobic endurance zone.

3 x 480yd in the pool with 1min rest between
Times were 9:25, 9:34, 9:28 for a total time of 34:25 (including rest)
Felt good to get in the water and loosen the legs up after two days of long rides and runs.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I love water. Most people have a favorite drink (Coke, tea, coffee, kool-aid, beer, etc.)...but my favorite drink is honestly water. I drink it constantly. Not only when working out, but all day long. When I wake up...water. When I work out...water. With meals...water. Before bed...water. You get the point.

I usually drink water that has been filtered to some degree, but plain ol tap water in Louisville doesn't taste bad. I've been to other cities where the water tastes horrible! This report backs me up.

Good to know that our water is actually safe and ranks pretty high in comparison. So drink up!

2h30m on the bike in zone 2. 45m of this was spin class - the rest was just me and my HR monitor chugging along. I stayed in zone 2 most of the time, moving into zone 3 on some intervals and hills. Legs are tired!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Need Another Reason to Not Eat Fat?

Mice fed a lard-based diet over a long period got worse at fighting bacteria in the blood, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy.

The mice fed the lard-based diet derived 60% of their total calories from fat. They were compared with mice fed a low-fat diet, where no more than 10% of their calories came from fat. As expected, the mice on the high-fat diet got fatter. A more surprising result was that their immune system was less active. The white blood cells got worse at dealing with bacteria in the blood, which could have contributed to many dying of sepsis.

Overweight people are also at a greater risk of acquiring infection, for example in connection with an operation. In mice, the thesis shows that it is fatty food rather than obesity in itself which affects the ability to fight off sepsis caused by bacteria.

Ran 10.02 miles in Zone 2. Included the infamous hills of Iroquois Park and beautiful Southern Parkway. I was able to keep my heart rate in the 155-160 range for the entire run, only moving into the low 160's on the hills. Felt good and my time was great for a Zone 2 run. Total time was 1:19:39 (7:56 min/mile pace)
I was looking forward to posting the chart from RunKeeper, but unfortunately it when haywire and when I got back and looked at my route on the computer, it was completely off...not sure what happened...the changes in elevation would have looked pretty cool. :(

Friday, December 11, 2009

Exercising in the Morning

Getting up early is something that my body has become accustom to over the last 5-6 years. The mornings have become my only option for working out now that there's a little one around. Alarm clock goes off around 5am, and most mornings I hop right up and get going. I feel a little off it I don't workout first thing in the morning. Today was one of the days that it was not easy to get up. I still felt really tired when the alarm went off and I closed my eyes for what felt like 2 minutes (was actually 15 minutes). I ended up running about 20 minutes late. I was still able to get in a good workout, but there are days when I wish I could stay in bed.

Turns out...working out in the morning isn't ideal:

A small group of researchers has studied the question of exercise performance and time of day, even doing studies of heart rates. And not only are performances better in the late afternoon and early evening, but, contrary to what exercise physiologists would predict, heart rates are also higher for the same effort.

One recent study, by the late Thomas Reilly and his colleagues at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University in England, found that people’s maximum heart rates and sub-maximal heart rates were lower in the morning but that their perception of how hard they were working was the same in the morning as it was later in the day.

Dr. Reilly and his colleague Jim Waterhouse, in a review published this year, also noted that athletes’ best performances, including world records, were typically set in the late afternoon or early evening.

Greg Atkinson, also at Liverpool John Moores University, said that some researchers, noticing that heart rates during exercise were lower in the morning, reasoned that people must be more efficient in the morning. It would mean that exercise was easier in the morning. Not really, Dr. Atkinson said. It actually is harder to exercise in the morning.

Most components (strength, power, speed) of athletic performance are worst in the early hours of the morning, ratings of perceived exertion during exercise have generally been found to be highest in the early morning.

Regardless of what these studies show, I will continue to hit the ground running at's my only option!!

1:00 on the bike in Zone 2. Held HR around 135-138 most of the ride, hitting zone 3 a few times on sprints and hills. Probably covered around 18 miles.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More on Food Labels

I wrote a post about how to read food labels a few months ago (read it here). I read an article the other day stating that the there were going to be some changes made to the label design.

Among the suggested changes to the food label:

1. Put calorie and serving size information in larger type at the top of the label so it’s immediately clear how much you are eating.

2. Make the ingredient list easier to read by printing it in regular type instead of all capital letters. Use bullets to separate ingredients rather than allowing them to all run together. - I really like this one!

3. List minor ingredients and allergens separately from the main ingredient list. Highlight allergy information in red.

4. List similar ingredients together and show the percentage by weight. For instance, sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and grape juice concentrate are all forms of sugar and should be listed in parenthesis under the catchall heading “sugars.”

5. Use red labeling and the word “high” when a product has more than 20 percent of the daily recommendation for fats, sugars, sodium or cholesterol.

6. Make it clear which sugars are added to the product versus those that occur naturally.

7. Display prominently the percentage of whole grains contained in a product.

8. List caffeine content.

Check out a comparison of old vs. new here.

Of course, none of this matters if people don't actually read the labels and make choices of what to eat based on the data. I still think that this country is going in the wrong direction as far as eating habits, but changes like this make it easier on people that do actually care about what they eat.

1:15 on the bike (45 of which was spin class). Riding in HR zone 2 as much as possible. Jumped into zone 3 a few times on some larger hills. Class was completely full this morning...why does cold weather make more people get up and come to the gym at 5:30am? Doesn't make any sense to me.
Went straight from the bike to the pool for a 1 mile swim. Hit my watch at the half-mile mark. First half mile was done in 16:45, second half mile was done in 15:53, for a total mile time of 32:38.
It gets kind of hard to keep track of what lap you are on for 32 minutes, but I'm pretty sure I was close to the 74 lengths required for a mile. I may have been a few off...I kind of zone out sometimes in the pool. Either way, it was good to get a mile in again and my time was very fast for me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009



The National Weather Service in Louisville, KY has issued a HIGH WIND WARNING FOR JEFFERSON CO., KY


To emphasize the strong winds that I ran in this morning, I will type the rest of this blog entry in italic. The wind in actually blowing the letters off the page!

Today was the first run of my Base Phase. The goal is to stay in heart rate zone 2 (154-162) for the entire run, regardless of what pace I am running. I knew that it was going to be windy, but it was brutal...especially when I went west, running right into a head wind of 30-40 mph!!

I ran a total of 7.20 miles in 1:00:04, which is a pace of 8:21 min/mile. This is much slower than I want to run, but as I mentioned before, I have to expect this while I'm building my aerobic endurance. I'll blame a little bit on the wind, but I can't complain too much, it was 54F this morning...and it's December 9th!!!

Here's my run profile of this morning's route from RunKeeper:

A few variations in speed when going up and down hills. It's also obvious that my average speed decreased as I ran...this was necessary to stay in zone 2. I was constantly checking my HR monitor and was in the 158-160 range for the whole run.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Breathing technique

17 months ago I could not swim. If I was on a ship that had just hit an iceberg, I could swim enough to save myself...but this is very different than swimming in a triathlon. When I started training for my first triathlon in July of '08, I quickly realized that swimming with my head above water was not actually swimming. My hips were sinking and I was going nowhere fast. So I took some swim lessons and eventually learned how to swim "properly".

The hardest thing for me to learn was the breathing. I couldn't get a good rhythm going and could only breath to my left. After practicing all last winter and visiting another swim coach this summer, I was able to perfect breathing to both sides.

Most competitive swimmers can breath every 3 or 5 strokes. I can start with doing every 3, but then I feel like I'm holding my breath...waiting for that third stroke so that I can take a breath. After a few lengths of the pool, I quickly switch to breathing every other stroke to one side...alternating which side I breath to with each length of the pool.

As I swam this morning, I kept feeling like I wasn't using the full capacity of my lungs, my exhale under water wasn't emptying them out completely, so I could only take a partial breath when I turned for air. This will be a big problem if I don't get it fixed. An active exhale will fully clear your lungs and they’ll fill effortlessly on the inhale, since God made your lungs like a vacuum. Using the full capacity of your lungs is vital to being able to swim long distanced. Stuck in between breathing every 2 or 3 strokes is where I am right now...

3 x 480yd (20 lengths) intervals with 1:00 rest in between
1 - 9:18 (34:05 mile pace)
2 - 9:28 (34:42)
3 - 9:33 (35:00)
Average pace = 34:45 min/mile
Still trying to build my endurance back up in the water after 3 weeks off. Shoulder feeling fine so far (fingers crossed!)
25 minutes of weights (chest, triceps, abs)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Set your DRV...

For the 19th consecutive year the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championship broadcast will air on NBC, Dec. 19, 2009, from 4:30 - 6 PM ET (check local listings). The telecast will highlight the physical and emotional journey taken by athletes during the renowned 140.6-mile triathlon. Veteran sports commentator and narrator Al Trautwig will provide the voiceover. Why they can't air this live, I have no idea!!

Athletes profiled in the Emmy-award-winning program range from professionals including Great Britain's three-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington to physically challenged athletes, military veterans, retired professionals and weight loss success stories.

Featured athletes include:
*Decorated professional and 2009 top American finisher Chris Lieto, the former surfer and college water polo player with three top-10 finishes at the Ironman World Championship
*Matt Hoover, season two winner of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” who gave it his best to be an official Ironman finisher, but crossed the finish line mere minutes after the midnight cut-off time
*Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a double-amputee with numerous world records, who completed an impressive swim but narrowly missed the cut-off after biking the 112-mile course
*Four-time Lymphoma survivor and heart transplant recipient Kyle Garlett, who was not able to complete the challenging swim within the allotted timeframe
*Mike Adamle, a former professional football running back and well-known national and Chicago-area sportscaster, who tested his strength and drive for the second time in Kailua-Kona

1:45 on the bike
45 minutes of this ride consisted of spin class. Even though the class consisted of lots of intervals, I did my best to keep my heart rate in zone 2. I jumped up into zone 3 a few times, but for the most part I was able to ride in my aerobic endurance zone (125-137 bpm) for the entire 105 minutes. Riding here felt pretty easy, even for this length of time. I just have to keep telling myself that I'm building my aerobic engine and that what I'm doing now will pay off in the long run!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More on Base Phase

As I mentioned yesterday, the Base Phase of my training starts this coming week. I will focus on building my endurance during this stage. As you've read several times over the last few months, the best way to ensure that I'm working on building endurance is to do my training in the aerobic training zone.

Best way to ensure that I'm in this zone? Anyone know? Come's through my heart rate. This means running, biking and swimming in zone 2...a lot! This will be challenging because it means having to slow things down from my normal training pace to effectively develop my aerobic engine. Keeping a close eye on my heart rate rather than my pace will be tough. It means swimming, cycling and running with my ego checked at the door. But if I'm patient enough to do just that, once my aerobic engine is built, the speedwork during the Build Phase will have a profound positive effect. Remember my bonk on the run portion of the Tri Indy? Building my aerobic engine will keep this from happening again.

1 hour on the bike at the gym (27° F = too cold to ride outside this morning).
Worked in HR Zone 2 for about the first half of the workout, then did intervals for the last half, moving between Zones 3 and 4.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bye, Bye Prep Phase...

Hello Base 1 Phase! Tomorrow is the last day of the Prep Phase of my training. I'm following the phases outlined in Joe Friel's "The Triathlete's Traning Bible". The Prep phase was basically used get my body back into "shape". Over the next 12 weeks, I will be in the Base Phase, which is divided into 3 parts, Base 1, 2 & 3.

According to Joe Friel, training in the Base period has been compared with laying the foundation for the construction of a house. Build a solid foundation and the house will be sound and free of cracked walls and sagging corners. Do a very poor job of constructing the foundation and the house is likely to collapse as it is stressed by harsh conditions.

However you like to think about it, the bottom line is that the Base period is when you construct your season. Everything you do after this period is dependent on what you accomplish now. There are four 'abilities' Joe says that athlete's should strive to improve in the Base period: aerobic endurance, speed skills, muscular force and muscular endurance.

You'll notice a slight change in the type of workouts starting Monday...Base Phase, here I come!

1/2 mile intervals with 1:00 rest in between
First 1/2 mile (warm-up)- 4:07
2 - 3:33
3 - 3:32
4 - 3:34
5 - 3:31
6 - 3:34
7 - 3:33
8 - 3:28
9 - (cool-down) - 4:34
Total workout: 41:30

The track at the gym has a sign telling you to alternate the direction that you run/walk based on what day it is. I'm used to doing my intervals on Tuesday, which is a counter-clockwise day. Today is Friday and was supposed to be a clockwise day, but I ran counter-clockwise without even thinking about it. So my apologizes to anyone that was on the track today and had to run the wrong direction with me. Honestly, if you get upset about something as insignificant as need to re-examine your priorities!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Busy morning

It's days like today that I'm thankful for my gym membership. It was in the low 30's with light way that I could run or bike outside this morning. I made it to the gym in time for the 5:45 spin class. Did a good solid hour on the bike with a few long 3-4 minute hills and some ladder intervals at the end. I kept my HR in the low 140's (zone 3) during the hills and then pushed into the high 150's (zone 5b) during the intervals. Really good workout and legs responded well after yesterdays long-ish run. Covered approximately 20 miles in an hour.

Hopped off the bike and headed to the pool. Fortunately, there were a few other peeps in the water, so I didn't have to worry about sweet talking the girl at the front desk to get a pool key. My shoulder showed no side effects after the short 10 minute swim on Tuesday, so I decided to go for a half mile (or as close as I could get...see here for explanation). I felt good and will probably start upping the volume and adding in some drills again next week...feels good to get back into swimming. I was afraid that my form would go to crap after being stuck on land for 3 weeks, but I actually feel like I'm pretty smooth in the water and my times are pretty good.
Swam 912 yards (38 lengths)/0.518 miles in 17:19 (33:57 min/mile)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How important is sleep?

Even if you don't exercise at all, your body still needs sleep. If you are training for a race and are running/biking/swimming in addition to your normal routine, your body needs MORE sleep. Sleep helps strengthen the immune system, helps the nervous system work properly, and keeps the mind sharp. Too little sleep can leave you drowsy, unable to concentrate, and impairs both memory and physical performance. Sufficient sleep will aid in your body’s ability to properly recover from workouts.

Research shows that 7-8 hours a night is required by active adults...but more than that can help (if you have a baby at home, I hope that you have an awesome wife like I do that allows me to get 6-7 hours most nights).

Athletes who obtain sufficient sleep are more likely to improve their performance, according to research. I follow several professional triathletes through Twitter and their blogs, and most get to take a 1-2 hour nap each day in addition to their 8 hours of sleep at night...must be nice.

One study focused on athletes who maintained their typical sleep-wake patterns for a two-week baseline followed by an extended sleep period in which they obtained extra sleep. The study showed significant improvements in athletic performance, including faster running times an increased endurance in those who obtained extra sleep. Athletes also reported increased energy and improved mood during workouts and races, as well as a decreased level of fatigue. These are all good things! Get your 7-8 hours every night!!

Ran a route from the gym this morning that included a little bit of my normal "mall" route as well as some additional roads that totaled 5.35 miles (according to RunKeeper). Route was pretty flat, so I was able to run at a pretty good pace. Time was 41:38 (7:46 min/mile pace).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back in the water

For various reasons, it's been 3 weeks since I put on the swimmies and hit the water. I waited around for someone else to get in the pool (see here for explanation), then hopped in for a quick slash. I didn't want to push things too much, so I just did 10 minutes of laps at a pretty good pace. I didn't count my laps, but I probably covered around 20-24 lengths of the pool (576 yards / .323 miles). I'm going to slowly work my way back up to doing at least a mile twice a week with a shorter drill-based workout once a week.

1 hour on the bike at the gym. Lots of good intervals, kept the HR in the upper 130's, moving into the low 150's during the intervals.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Yes, I made that word up. It's what happens when an Engineer becomes a Triathlete. I have way too much "gear" on every time I go for a run. I decided to count the items that I wear every time I head out (excluding clothes and shoes):

1. RoadID strap on my ankle
2. Watch (for timing my run/laps)
3. Heart Rate chest strap
4. Heart Rate watch
5. XM Radio receiver (I have music stored on this, like an iPod)
6. XM Radio receiver arm strap
7. Ear buds
8. iPhone (so that I can use RunKeeper)
9. iPhone arm strap

This is entirely too much stuff, and I'm sure that I look ridiculous out running with equipment strapped all over my body...but I need all of it. I like all the data that I get after each run, so I'm not about to leave off any of these items on my next run.

60 minutes on the bike at the gym. I worked really hard all 60 minutes, making sure my HR never dropped below 140, keeping me in zones 3 & 4 most of the time. Jumped up to zone 5a & 5b during a 2 minute push at the end of the workout.

6.05 mile run - hills - in the cold (30F). I've run this route before, it's almost all hills. It's the beginning (and end) of my bike route when I leave from home. These hills are much easier on wheels! Did the 6.05 miles in 47:45 (7:53 min/mile pace).

Run Profile:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Look Back

It was about a year ago this time that I decided to start training specifically for triathlons. I began to plan out my workout schedule to include several sessions of swimming, biking and running each week.

Thanks to, my training log is saved going all the way back to December 15, 2008. I decided to go back and take a look at what I was doing approximately a year ago and see how my training has changed/improved. After all, there's no better way to prepare for the future than to look at the past!

Totals for the month of 12/15/08 - 1/15/09:
Swim: 4.69 miles at a pace of 46:17 min/mile
Bike: 106.1 miles at a pace of 15.3 mph
Run: 29.84 miles at a pace of 8:18 min/mile

Fast forward to the month of 10/9/09 - 11/9/09 (last week that I was able to swim):
Swim: 2.26 miles at a pace of 35:47 min/mile
Bike: 166.09 miles at a pace of 19.4 mph
Run: 57.26 miles at a pace of 7:54 min/mile

So it's not hard to see the improvement from less than a year ago. I'm much faster in all three disciplines...great motivation to get up every morning and try to improve even more!

4 laps around the mall
Lap 1 - 9:33 (7:53/mile pace)
Lap 2 - 9:35 (7:55)
Lap 3 - 9:40 (7:59)
Lap 4 - 9:21 (7:43)
Total: 4.84 miles in 38:08 (7:52 min/mile)

HR was in the 154-156 range (zone 2: extensive endurance) during laps 1-3, and then moved up to 162-165 when I picked up the pace during the last lap (zone 3: intensive endurance). It's good that I can run a pretty consistent, comfortable pace with my HR around 155. I wasn't able to do this a few months ago.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eat right....even on Thanksgiving

Here's some tips to make sure that you don't blow your healthy eating habits over the holidays.

1. Eat slow...enjoy the food. You can go back for seconds later in the day.
2. Eat lots of turkey! It's lean, low in calories and delicious!
3. Load up on sweet potatoes, green beans and spinach...take small portions of casseroles.
4. The holidays are a fun time to enjoy holiday-specific foods, like pumpkin pie and stuffing, so avoid foods that you can have any time of year, like bread with butter, cheese and crackers, high calorie cocktails, and box-mix brownies or cookies.
5. If the weather allows, do something outside after the meal. Take a walk, throw some football, etc.

Did some pyramid intervals at the track in the gym. I call this workout "Twin Peaks"...for obvious reasons. Lap count was 2,4,6,8,6,4,2,4,6,8,6,4,2 with a minute rest between each interval. Here's a chart of my distance and pace.

Total time for 13 intervals (including rest periods) was 43:56. Not included in this time is a 10 minute warm-up, 5 minute cool-down and 10 minutes of stretching. As you can see, my pace increased (I slowed down) on the last few long intervals. Pretty tough workout, I'll definitely keep this one around.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Triathlon Related Terms

I saw a post on this morning with a list of Triathlon terms. I thought that it was a good list, so I'm going to use some of their list with a few additions of my own:

70.3; 1/2 IM, HIM - This term is used to describe a Half Ironman race distance, which is a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike an 13.1 mile run.

140.6; IM – This term is used to describe an Ironman distance, which is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.

1/2 Mary – This term describes a half marathon, or a 13.1 mile run.

Aero Bars - These are handlebars on a bicycle that face forward and that have places where you can place your elbows. These aero bars make it possible for triathletes to maintain a more comfortable and more aerodynamic position on the bike.

AG - This is an acronym for Age Group. Age-Groupers are athletes that are not professionals or Elite. Basically the people that have real jobs and do triathlons as a hobby.

AHR – This is an acronym for Average Heart Rate.

Anaerobic Exercise – This is an initial phase of exercise, or it can be used to describe short, intense bursts of exertion such as in jumping, sprinting and weight lifting.

Anaerobic Threshold (AT)– This is the exercise intensity level at which lactic acid is being produced more quickly than it is capable of being metabolized, meaning that it begins to accumulate within the blood stream.

Aquabike - This is the swimming stage followed by the biking stage without a running stage.

Base Period – Training phase which the solid foundation for fitness that you use to build speed and power is established.

Bonk - A state of extreme exhaustion mainly caused by the depletion of glycogen on the muscles. As expected, this usually happens someone on the run portion of a tri.

Build Period - Training phase which high-intensity training in the form of muscular, speed, and power endurance's are emphasized.

Duathlon - This is the running stage followed by a biking stage, then another running stage - there is no swimming stage.

Interval Training - A system of high-intensity work marked by short but regularly repeated periods of hard exercise interspersed with periods of recovery.

Peak Period - Training phase which volume of training is reduced and intensity is increased, allowing the athlete to reach high levels of fitness.

Prep Period - Training phase which the athlete begins to train for the coming season; usually marked by the use of cross-training and low workloads.

Race Period - Training phase which in the workload is greatly decreased, allowing the athlete to compete in high-priority races.

Tapering - A reduction in training volume prior to a major competition.

60 minutes of spinning. Mixed in some fast flats with some long hills. Worked hard to keep my HR in zone 3 (138-142), with it moving into zone 4 & 5a (143-158) at the end of each segment.
40 minutes of weights (chest, triceps and abs)

For those keeping track...this marks 2 weeks with no swimming. I wanted to take a week off to help my shoulder heal, but now there's a different problem. A sign at the gym this morning read as follows:

"Attention Members - the pool will be closed until further notice"


Saturday, November 21, 2009

I found the cut off...

for what temperature I will attempt to get out and ride. It's 38 degrees. When I looked at the forecast last night it said that the overnight low was 45F, so I knew that it would be chilly, but not too bad. I bundled up this morning and set out right as the sun came up at 7:30am. About 10 minutes into my ride, I knew that it was really cold! Despite gloves and two pair of socks, my fingers and toes were frozen. The rest of my body stayed fairly warm, thanks to Under Armour and my long-legged cycling pants. When I got back, I pulled up and saw this:

Fingers and toes were literally in pain by the time I got back home. This may have been my last outdoor ride for a while.
I went for one loop of the 19 mile route that I frequented this past summer...lots of good hills! Here's the profile and speed chart from RunKeeper:

Lots of ups and downs on both the speed and elevation. Heart Rate averaged around 145 (lower end of zone 4) most of the ride, moving into the mid 150's (zone 5a) on the hills). I'd like to ride in zone 3 (138-142) on long rides, but with all the hills on this route, it's tough to keep it that low!

Rode 19.05 miles in 1:00:39 (18.85 mph average)

Ran 3.0 miles in 21:18 (7:06 min/mile pace)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Running/Riding in the Dark

I haven't been on a treadmill in 6 months and if you work typical business hours like me, it's almost impossible to train outside in the daylight this time of year. So I thought that I would share some "Exercising in the Dark " tips:

1. Move in the right direction! - Bike with traffic, run and walk against traffic. Biking with traffic is the law...running/walking against the flow of traffic is just a good idea. It allows you to watch everything coming your way - cars, buses, bikes, etc. Oncoming traffic can see you from afar and you should have enough reaction time to get out of the path of any oncoming danger. As drivers increasingly text and talk on their cell phones, all it takes is a momentary swerve of the car to cause an impact. Runners with their back to an oncoming swerving vehicle don't have a chance to react.
Unlike running, bike speeds of 15-20 mph and faster create a dangerously short reaction time for drivers headed in the opposite direction. So, riding with the flow of traffic is the safe bet.

2. Wear Reflective clothes - This one is pretty obvious, but anything that helps you stand out in the darkness is a good idea. A reflective vest is probably the best idea, but if nothing else, wear bright colors (yellow, orange, white). Reflective wrist and ankle bands are good because they will be moving as you run/bike and are more likely to get the attention of an unattentive driver.

3. See clearly - Eye protection is necessary when biking, but leave the dark-tented glasses at home if you are riding early or late. Use clear or red tint lenses to enhance your vision in the dark.

4. Move off road - If you can find a trail to run or bike on, you don't have to worry about being seen by cars. These trails are likely to be very dark, so a headlight or flashlight might be necessary. Modern LED flashlights or small mag light flashlights are more compact for the amount of light they provide. Those who do not want to carry anything in their hands can strap a headlamp flashlight onto their foreheads.

5. Go Early - Do what I do...get up early and get out there! Now that the clocks have been set back, getting out before or right at sunrise is the best way to get some sunlight on your workout. It's dark at 5:30pm, so going after work means nothing but darkness! Lay out your clothes the night before and don't hit the snooze!

6. Be Safe! - If crime is an issue where you run/bike, take precautions when exercising in the dark. Avoid unsafe neighborhoods. Walk or run with a companion - of either the human or canine variety.
Carry some mace or pepper spray. Also remember that if you walk or run regularly, you are probably in good enough shape to outrun most thugs that have been out partying all night!

80 minutes on the bike (covered around 26 miles). Got to Spin Class a little late, but we did some good long intervals today...of the 2-4 minute variety. I stayed after class and got in another solid 45 minutes of work in HR zone 2. I also enjoyed listening to some AC/DC Radio on my new iPhone thanks to the free Pandora radio!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lovin' me some fall running!!

4 laps around the mall (45F this morning...perfect weather!!)
Lap 1 (warm-up) - 9:54
Lap 2 - 9:43 (8:01/mile pace)
Lap 3 - 9:37 (7:56)
Lap 4 - 9:26 (7:47)
Total: 4.84 miles in 38:42 (7:59 min/mile)

HR stayed in the 143-145 range during the warm-up lap. Moved into the high 150's (zone 2) during lap 2, and then moved up to 161-163 during the last 2 laps (top end of zone 2/bottom end of zone 3).

Here's the profile from RunKeeper:

Blue line is speed, red line is elevation. Looks like I was running straight up and down hills, but it's really only a 26 foot change in elevation...barely noticeable. I've added the yellow line that shows my average speed for each lap. As you can see, my speed was all over the place during my first half mile or so. Then I settled in and ran a pretty steady pace through the end of lap 2. At the start of lap three, I knew I wanted to speed it up, but I obviously took off way too fast (peaking at 9.5 mph, a pace of 6:18/mile!). I finally got control of the pace and finished out pretty steady. On the final lap, I was very sporadic for the first half, then got into a pretty steady pace before a little push at the end.

Being the engineering geek that I am, I really enjoy all this data that I'm getting from I just have to determine how to use this data to improve my training!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Intervals are getting quicker

Started with 5 minutes of warm-up jogging, then 5 minutes of drills. Intervals were once again 1/2 mile with 1:00 rest in between.

In the past, I've aimed for the 3:40 mark, but after several sub 3:30 times last week, I've moved the goal to 3:30. Here's the results of today's training:

(1) 3:32
(2) 3:30
(3) 3:31
(4) 3:29
(5) 3:29
(6) 3:28

I forgot the HR monitor this morning, so I don't have any HR data...but I'm sure I was in zone 5b on that last interval, based on my breathing. Finished with a 5 minute cool-down and about 10 minutes of stretching.

Looking back at my intervals times from 9/1/09, I'm really encouraged by my increase in speed. Once I get into the next phase of training (Base 1), I will probably up the number of intervals from 6 back to 9.

According to Joe Friel and this new study, speed work, such as these intervals, is the way to become faster...even if you are training for long races!

Monday, November 16, 2009

RunKeeper App

So I'm really glad that I didn't buy a $400 watch that has GPS capabilities. If I knew that I could get all the same data (distance, current pace, overall pace, elevation, time) through a free iPhone Application, I would have bought the phone months ago.

I downloaded "RunKeeper" an used it for the first time yesterday morning on my run. I started it right after I started my watch and stopped it right before I ended my run. Here's what the screen looks like while you are running:

Gives you your current speed and pace, as well as you overall distance and time. I didn't look at the screen while I was running because it was in my pocket. I was happy with the application, but once I saw what info was available on the RunKeeper website after I uploaded my run, I was ecstatic. Here's a screen shot of the website:

It shows your route on a map with mile markers, a chart with your split times and paces for each mile, and my favorite part...a graph showing the elevation changes of your route as well as your speed during the entire run. This is really cool stuff and I'm excited to use this on longer runs and bike rides.

The technology relies on the phone's built-in GPS, so the route may get a little messed up if the signal is lost, but it's still amazingly accurate and close enough for what I'm doing (being off a few hundredths of a mile isn't a big deal when you are running 8-10 miles!)

75 minutes on the bike in Spin class. Mixed in some good negative splits today (2 min. at 70% effort followed by 2 min. at 80% effort). HR was in the low 140's (zone 3) most of the class, getting in to the 150's (zone 4) on the negative splits. HR made it all the way up to 159 (zone 5b) during a 2 min. 90% effort to end the class.
25 minutes of weights (chest, triceps, abs)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Catching up

Haven't had a chance to post anything in the last few here's what I've been up to:

Thursday (11/12):
75 minutes on the bike
15 minute warm-up followed by 5 min. of hills, then 5 min. of fast flats
Repeat the 5x5 five times
10 minute cool-down
Tried to keep HR in zone 3 during the entire 50 minute ride; jumped into zone 4 on the last flat.
20 minutes of weights (shoulders, traps)

3 mile fartlek run
Increased my speed every 4 minutes for 20 seconds...accomplished this by increasing cadence from 29-30 foot strikes per 20 seconds to 32-33 strikes.
Total time was 22:11 (7:23 min./mile pace)
HR stayed in the high 160's (zone 3), moving into zone 4 (173 bpm) during the 20 seconds sprints.

I also used my "Run Keeper" app on my new iPhone for the first time...pretty cool! More on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drafting...tisk, tisk

So if you are a triathlete or follow triathlon's you may have seen a video from last weekend's Ironman Florida that's floating around the internet. It's a video showing about 20 or so athlete's on the bike portion of the race. It's recorded from a camera mounted on a cyclists helmet. They are all very close to one another, and based on their speed and lack of effort (especially those coasting), it's obvious that they are drafting. Riding right behind someone blocks the wind...requiring MUCH less force to maintain the same speed.

Drafting is illegal in USAT (USA Triathlon) sanctioned races...which include all Ironman races and most other reputable tri's in the US.

Directly from the rule book:
Drafting--keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds.
Position--keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel unless passing.
Blocking--riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass.
Overtaken--once passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear, before attempting to pass again.

Now watch this video:

You'll note that some of the guys are staying right with the group without even pedaling! The penalty for drafting is typically a 2 minute penalty, followed by a disqualification on the second offense. It's clear that IM Florida is going to have to work on correcting this! Looking at the wheels and bikes that these guys are pushing, they know the rules...blatant cheating!

4 laps around the mall
Lap 1 (warm-up) - 10:12
Lap 2 - 9:25 (7:46/mile pace)
Lap 3 - 9:25 (7:46)
Lap 4 - 9:23 (7:45)
Total: 4.84 miles in 38:25 (7:56 min/mile)

HR was in the 140-145 range during the warm-up lap. Moved into the high 150's (zone 2) during laps 2 & 3, and then moved up to 161-163 during the last lap (top end of zone 2/bottom end of zone 3). Heart rate is right where I want it to be.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back to Tuesday Intervals

It's been a few weeks since I did any intervals, so after a failed attempt at swimming (see below), I did some 1/2 mile intervals. Started with 10 minutes of warm-up, then went right into my intervals with 1:00 rest in between.

As usual, I wanted to keep them around the 3:40 mark:

(1) 3:28
(2) 3:29
(3) 3:28
(4) 3:33
(5) 3:34
(6) 3:41

I've never worn my HR monitor while doing intervals, so it was interesting to see what was going on with my cardiovascular system as the intervals became harder and harder.
During warm-ups, my HR stayed in the lower 140's (Zone 1). It moved from 140 up to the mid 160's as I ran each interval. During the 1 minute rest periods, it would quickly drop back down into the 130's. During the end of the last two intervals, my HR moved up into the high 170's (Zones 4 & 5a), which is close to my threshold. Highest I ever saw was 178, which is still not quite into Zone 5b (anaerobic endurance), but my level of exertion was about a 9, so I think the running HR zones I established are pretty accurate.

My plan was to swim about a mile before running. There were a few people in the pool when I arrived at the gym, so I immediately headed into the water. I woke up Sunday morning with a little pain in my shoulder. I went for a ride Sunday and then lifted weights yesterday with no problems...never even thought about it again...until I started swimming this morning. There was pain in my left shoulder with every stroke. If I've learned anything in my training, it's not to "work through" an injury. So I immediately stopped swimming. Not sure if this is just a case of sleeping on it wrong or if I've injured it somehow. Time will tell.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ladder Intervals on the Bike

Mixed it up in Spin Class this morning. We did some interval training, which was a good way for me verify my cycling heart rate zones.

After a good 15 minute warm-up we started in with 5 minutes at an easy pace (Zone 1). Then 4 minutes of a little harder work (about 5 beats per minute higher). I was trying to stay around 125 bpm during this interval, which is right on the edge of Zone 2. Next it was 3 minutes of even a little higher intensity, 130 bpm, which is in the middle of my Zone 2. Then, you guessed it...2 minutes at a little harder pace. HR increased into Zone 3 during this interval (138-142 bpm). Then it was 1 minute as hard as I could go. HR made it up to 156, which is in Zone 4. Any more than a minute at this pace and HR would have no doubt made it into the 160's...pushing towards my 175 max heart rate.

We repeated this set one more time, then did a smaller ladder of 3 min., 2 min., and 1 minute before cooling-down. When it was all said and done, I spent and hour on the bike and got in lots of good aerobic (Zone 2) and even some anaerobic (Zone 4) work.

My heart rates during the intervals matched what I thought they should be. Level of exertion was low during the 5 minute and 4 minute intervals, and my HR reflected that. Once I starting pushing it, my HR moved up into Zones 3 & expected. I think I've finally nailed down my HR Zones on the bike!

1 hour on the bike (description above)
45 min. of weights (chest, triceps, abs)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back on the bike

Headed out around 7:30 this morning for a ride. It was about 45F, so I put on the Under Armour gear and long bike pants. I pledge my allegiance to Under Armour...the stuff works! Only part of my body that didn't stay toasty was my toes.

With all of the run-specific training I did over the last two months, I haven't been on my bike in a long time. I knew that I was going to forget something. I remembered everything with the exception of my HR monitor and my Chamois Butt’r. What's is Chamois Butt’r? Well, it keeps my underside from hurting on long rides.

I noticed about 10 miles into my ride that my perineum was hurting. Look it up, it's a real place. It's also the place that usually get's some Chamois Butt'r rubbed on it before I ride. So other than being a little sore, it was a great ride this morning!

19.09 miles on the bike in 1:02:53 (18.24 mph). A little slower than I usually ride, but I made an effort to stay seated on the hills...which there were lots of!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Heart Rate Zones

During my run on Tuesday of this week, I wore my HR monitor and was disappointed to learn that my "comfortable" running pace put my HR in the 155-161 range. According to my HR zones established during my VO2 Max test, this put me in Zone 3-4. In order to train aerobically and increase endurance, I need to train in Zone 2 (139-151).

So this morning, I strapped on the HR monitor and hit the pavement for another run. Keeping a close eye on my HR, I kept it below 151 for my entire run. If it jumped to 152, I would slow the pace. Average was probably around 148. One big problem...keeping my HR in this zone really slowed me down. Lap 1 was done in 9:35 (7:55/mile), Lap 2 was done in 10:15 (8:28/mile) and Lap 3 took me 10:38 (8:47/mile). Would I have to run this slow to build my endurance? I felt like I was barely exerting myself...well below what I would consider a "comfortable" pace.

Something wasn't adding up. While on the bike, I can go all-out and not get my HR much above 160. Why was my running HR so much higher? So I pulled out my "Triathlete's Training Bible" to see what it said about HR zones in running vs. cycling. Sure enough...they are different.

So the zones that I calculated based on my VO2 max test are only accurate for cycling. HR zones for running are 6-10 beats per minute faster. So my target HR for Zone 2 in running is 154-162. What a relief! I can handle running in this zone and my pace won't suffer. I'm not sure how I missed this little bit of information about the different HR zones. It was in the early part of the book, which I read a few months ago. Or I may have been dozing off while reading that page!

Heart Rate Zones for Running
Zone 1 (recovery) 60-73% 134-153
Zone 2 (extensive endurance) 74-81% 154-162
Zone 3 (intensive endurance) 82-84% 163-168
Zones 4 & 5a (threshold) 85-93% 169-180
Zone 5b (anaerobic endurance) 93-95% 181-183
Zone 5c (power) 96-100% 184-189

Ran 3.63 miles in 30:28 (8:23/mile) - it was a little cold. I had my gloves, but could have used something to cover my ears!
30 minutes of weights (shoulders, traps, abs)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trying to eat heathy...

My wife and I have been making an effort to eat at home more often. We've decided to do this for lots of reasons (it's cheaper, we have a 4 month old, it's easier to eat healthy at home). We both try and eat as healthy as possible and it's just tough to find something "healthy" when eating out. Even things that may seem to be a wise choice (salads, wraps, etc.) aren't always.

Found this little handy guide in Men's Health magazine on restaurant survival tips:

- Don't ruin a healthy meal with your drink (we all know soda is bad, but sweet tea isn't much better...stick with water. Add a lemon if you want some flavor)
- Leave the "free" bread alone (anything that's put on the table before your food arrives is usually unhealthy. A couple bread sticks or biscuits can add hundreds on calories)
- Front load with protein (eat an appetizer loaded with protein to start your meal...preferable something that isn't deep-fried or covered in cheese)
- Personalize your order (ask for whole wheat pasta & bread, hold the mayo, leave the bacon get the idea)
- Order just side dishes (2-3 side dishes of veggies and/or fruit can make for a good meal)
- If you are getting pizza, go with thin crust (somewhere around 400 less calories per slice!)
- Don't order combo meals at fast-food spots (go with the entree only)
- Eat slowly (it takes your stomach about 20 minutes to tell us that we're full...give your food time to "settle")
- Don't clean your plate (get a to-go box and eat it for lunch the next day)
- Don't eat dessert (duh!)

1 hour on the bike. Good workout in spin class, lots of long (3-5 min.) hills.
25 minutes in the pool. 5 minute warm-up, then 20 minutes at comfortable pace. Finally felt like I was in a good groove in the water today. Did 48 lengths (1152 yards) in 20:15 (30:56 min/mile pace).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Power Output at VO2 Max

Read this on Joe Friel's blog this morning...regarding VO2 max:

If you want to be an elite athlete you need to have a high VO2max. But that just gets you to the start line. To compete well you also must be economical...and you need an anaerobic/lactate threshold at a high percentage of your VO2max.

[The winner of the race will be the person] with the highest power output at VO2max. Given the choice of a high VO2max or a high power output at a lower VO2max, always pick power. It should be obvious that the person who can put out the most power when at his top end is the person who is most likely to win. There's a close relationship between power and the results of a race. In the same way, if you know the paces a group of runners can do at VO2max, you have the best indicator of how the race results will come out.

After reading this, I went back to my VO2 Max Test results. My power output at my VO2 max was 400 watts. I've always felt like I have good power on the bike. My thoughts have been confirmed with race results (2nd, 7th & 7th in my age group on the bike leg in my three triathlons). Although, I'm not sure how good 400 watts at VO2 max really is.

A little research shows that Greg LeMond (three-time winner of the Tour de France) had a power output of 450 watts at a VO2 max of 92.5! I found another professional cyclist that had a power output of 390 watts at his VO2 max of 65.2. A quick Google search turned up the results of an amateur cyclist that tested at 350 watts at a VO2 max of 59.

So if power trumps VO2 max, then I'm in good shape on the bike. After reading more on the subject, I've decided the one reason I often "bonk" on the run in my triathlons is because of the leg power/force I use when riding. I tend to hang out in the high gears (smaller rings) and use my leg muscles to get over hills and push it on the flats. I can achieve the same speed and use less energy by changing to a lower gear and increasing cadence. I plan to work on this over the winter....we'll see.

Ran 1.5 miles as fast as I could. This is a new part of my training. This is one of the many "tests" that I will do every month or so to see how things are progressing. Today's run gives me a baseline to start from. I did the distance in 10:13 (6:47 min/mile pace). This isn't very fast, but it was done around the track at the gym...21 laps. There's a lot of slowing down to turn involved in running 21 laps around a small track. Next time I do this test I'll try it on a long, flat stretch of road.
1 hour of weights (back, biceps, abs)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Training zones

Today's workout consisted of a run and a quick swim.
The run was to be a 5 minute warm-up followed by 25-30 minutes of running in zone 2 (extensive endurance zone). My heart rate for zone 2 is between 139 and 151. This is the zone that I need to train in to build my endurance.

After my warm-up, I set out to make 3 loops around the mall (if you follow my blog, you know that this is my preferred route during early morning runs). First lap was done in 9:05 and my heart rate was hanging around 145. So far, so good. During lap 2 I noticed my HR had moved up into the 150-155 range...a little too high. So I slowed down the pace. Lap 2 was done in 9:35. During lap 3 I made an effort to slow down even more (time was 9:45), but my HR was hanging out around 160. Not only is this out of zone 2, it's all the way into zone 4! Zone 4 is supposed to be reserved for short workouts that aim to improve anaerobic threshold...which is not what I need to be doing right now.

I haven't worn a Heart Rate monitor much in the past, so I'm not sure if this is where my HR has been during running all along, or if it was just a little elevated today since I'm still getting over my head cold. I guess time will tell. I'm not that excited about running slow enough to keep my HR below 151 though!

Ran 3.63 miles in 28:42 (7:54/mile)
Swam for 15 minutes. Did intervals 6x96yd (4 lengths - close as I can get to 100 yards in this pool). With 30s recovery between each. Average interval time was 1:44. I intended to do 10 intervals, but the only other person in the pool left, so I had to cut my workout short in order to follow the new rules. Cooled-down with 5 minutes of drills.
I did this swim workout wearing some baggy shorts. This gives the same effect as running with a parachute. It's much harder to swim with baggy basketball shorts on than with a nice sleek pair of swim shorts (take a minute to enjoy the mental image that you now have). This added drag helps directly build the muscles used for swimming. I throw one of these "drag" workouts in once in a while.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Training for 2010 starts today!

Finally getting back into a routine following a few weeks of easy training after the Louisville Half-Marathon.

This phase of my training is called the "Prep" phase. Based on the training plan outlined in Joe Friel's "The Triathlete's Training Bible"; you start with the date of your first "Priority A" race. Then counting backwards, you have race week, 2 weeks in the "Peak" phase, 8 weeks in various stages of the "Build" phase, 12 weeks in various stages of the "Base" phase, and then 5 weeks in the "Prep" phase. My first "Priority A" race will be sometime in mid May (date hasn't been set yet), so counting back 27 weeks...we come to today!

1 hour on the bike (Spin Class) - lots of intervals, some speed, some force (hills) - heart rate was in the 135-150 range most of the time (zone 2). Covered somewhere around 20 miles.
20 minutes in the pool - 5 minutes of drills (single arm, catch-up, finger-tip drag), followed by 15 minutes of swimming at a comfortable pace. I didn't count laps, so I'm not sure exactly how far I swam, guessing somewhere around 40 total lengths (approx. 840 yards or .47 miles). Thanks to the two elderly ladies that were in the pool this morning. If it wasn't for their pool-based cardio workout, I wouldn't have been able to swim...still not happy about this!

Friday, October 30, 2009

At the risk of sounding like a whiner...

I'm going to complain some more about the pool situation at the gym (Urban Active). My first complaint was that the pools are not a standard length. While it makes my training a little more difficult, it's something that I can deal with.

My latest complaint has to do with a recent rule change. The pool used to be open anytime the gym was...with the exception being the time that the Aqua Fitness classes were being held. All of the sudden, starting back on October 1st, the pool hours changed. The pool was no longer open until 8:00am. Well, considering that I do ALL of my swim training in the mornings before work, this poses a problem. I just don't have the time to go back to the gym after work. I can sometimes sneak in a run in the evenings, but going back to the gym for a swim session is not an option.

Apparently, they are now enforcing a law that wasn't previously enforced. After doing a little research, I found the law.


(2) PUBLIC POOL AND SPA DEFINED.—In this subsection,
the term ‘‘public pool and spa’’ means a swimming pool or
spa that is—
(A) open to the public generally, whether for a fee
or free of charge;
(B) open exclusively to—
(i) members of an organization and their guests;
(ii) residents of a multi-unit apartment building,
apartment complex, residential real estate development,
or other multi-family residential area (other than
a municipality, township, or other local government
jurisdiction); or
(iii) patrons of a hotel or other public accommodations
facility; or
(C) operated by the Federal Government

So, according to the law, the gym pool is considered a "public" pool...even though it's considered a "private" club because you have to pay a membership fee. Here's the exact law that's making my life difficult:

When the public swimming pool is without water safety personnel on duty, a locked barrier with a minimum height of 4 ft. shall be present at the pool entrance. In addition, one of the following warning signs shall be placed in plain view with lettering 2 inches in height:




After emailing my complaint to Urban Active "Customer Service" (which I never received a reply to), and encouraging others to do so...they made a slight change to the new rule. You can now use the pool before 8:00am, but only if there are at least two people in the pool. This makes sense based on option (B) in the law stated above (which I will admit is already posted in the pool area). After 8:00am, the gym has two employees "working". One of which could go to the pool and watch a lone swimmer.

While I understand the need for this law in some public pools, I think that the law uses too wide of a brush in determining what constitutes a "public" pool. You sign a waiver when you join the gym freeing them from any liability if you become injured. This doesn't apply to the pool? I also think that the gym should spend the money and have an extra employee present from 5am to 8am. Our gym memberships are not why is the gym management? The gym didn't make this law, but they can abide by it with very little effort.

I've been able to swim a few mornings since the change, but only because I see other people in there and I hurry up and get in while I can. This isn't going to work when I get back on a strict training schedule starting next week. I may have to join the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center to get in my pool training...but why should I have to join an Aquatic Center when my gym has a pool?!?!

1 hour of weights (shoulders, traps, abs)
35 minutes of swimming:
5 minute warm-up followed by pyramid intervals with 1:30 rest in between
8 lengths (3:30)
12 lengths (5:35)
18 lengths (8:25)
12 lengths (5:42)
8 lengths (3:45)
5 minute cool-down

This was a tough workout today. It wasn't all that far (about 0.85 miles) and I didn't even push the pace, but I was gassed after just a few laps. Clearly, my body is still not at 100%.

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