Saturday, March 26, 2011

Papa John's 10 Miler Results

 Official Time - 1:14:00 (7:24 min/mile pace)
Overall Place - 346 out of 7013
Gender Place - 303 out of 3208
Age Group (30-34) Place - 65 out of 474

My primary goal was to set a PR - check. My secondary goal was to finish in 1:14 - check (barely!).
I'm happy with the results. My legs felt heavy until mile 4 or so, but after that I got loose and felt good the rest of the way. My mile splits show that I struggled through miles 3-5, but then I felt good and picked the pace up to finished strong.

Nice negative split!
First 5 miles - 37:19
Second 5 miles - 36:40

Friday, March 25, 2011

Papa John's 10 Miler Preview

This is going to be an interesting race. Our family was blessed with the birth of our son, Adrian this past Tuesday night. Needless to say, this past week hasn't been ideal for race prep. Not being ready for a race is a small price to pay for all the memories I've made in these last few days!

My goal is to set a PR. I've run this race three previous times. In 2001, 2009 and 2010. My best time was last year with a pace of 7:45 per mile and a time of 1:17:35. I think I can get this closer to 1:14:00 tomorrow morning, but considering how tired I'm feeling as I type this, I'll be happy with just setting a PR!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Training For Endurance

As my races have progressed from Sprint Triathlons to now full Ironman distance, I've focused on training smarter. I knew that I didn't have the time to put in 15-20 hours a week of training like most people gearing up for an Ironman do, so I had to figure out the smartest way to train...making the most of every training session.

One of the key components to training for a long distance race, such as Ironman, or even a marathon is to build endurance - making your body an aerobic machine! Last season I based my training plan on a book by Joe Friel. This season, I'm training under the guide offered by Ben Greenfield. Both of these triathlon coaches focus on using your heart rate as a tool to train smart. With the exception of swimming, I have my heart rate monitor on during every training session. Monitoring my heart rate is critical during some workouts, and not important during others.

About once every six weeks, I do a test to determine my heart rate zones. The tests consists of finding my Lactate Threshold heart rate while running and biking. This test is not fun! It's basically going all-out for 30-40 minutes...which seems like an eternity when your lungs and legs are burning! Based on what my LT heart rate is during this test, I find all of my heart rate training zones. During my last running test, my Lactate Threshold HR was 167 bpm. Based on Ben Greenfield's method, to find my aerobic (endurance) training heart rate, I subtract 20 bpm from this number. So my endurance training should take place at 147 bpm (+/- 5 bpm).

Once every week or so, I do a long run (or ride) in my endurance heart rate zone. For instance, this past weekend, I did a 14 mile run with an average heart rate of 151 bpm. This translated to a pace of 8:09 min/mile. The pace wasn't my concern - the heart rate was. I kept a constant eye on it. If it jumped above 152, I would slow down. If it dropped below 142, I'd speed up. This isn't easy to do on hills, but I try. Here's my heart rate data from that run:

So why train this way? To condition your body to use fat as fuel. At higher heart rates, your body uses glycogen (carbohydrates) as fuel. The problem with this is that your body can only store small amounts of glycogen that is available for burning as fuel. Once you've used this "hit the wall". The good news is that we can store lots of fat for fuel. This burning of fat storage is what gives us the energy to make it through endurance events.

So based on this knowledge, I'm always trying to make sure that I'm training in my aerobic zone so that my body becomes efficient at burning fat instead of glycogen. While the method of testing and finding my aerobic heart rate based on my LT heart rate is pretty accurate, I always like to double-check this number. I recently came across an author that wrote the book called "The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing". His name is Dr. Phil Maffetone and he has developed an alternative method to finding your aerobic heart rate.

The "220 minus your age and use 70%-80% of this number" formula has been used for years, but I can tell you that it's not accurate. For me, this would put my aerobic zone between 130 and 149 bpm. While that get's me close on the high side, running at 130 bpm would be too low and would offer me very little benefit.

Dr. Maffetone's formula involves taking 180 and subtracting your age. This number by itself is not useful. You must then make adjustments based on your current state of fitness and health.
A) If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or medical condition), subtract an additional 10 bpm from your number.
B) If you are currently injured or have taken time off from training, have a cold or the flu, or train inconsistantly, subtract another 5 bpm.
C) If your have been training consistantly (4 times a week) for up to two years without any of the above mentioned problems, keep the number (180 minus age) the same.
D) If you have been training for more than two years without an of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5 bpm.

So for myself, I took my age (soon to be 33) from 180. This gave me 147.
Looking at the categories listed, I think that "C" is the most accurate for my current fitness and health. So, I left my number at 147 bpm.

This is very encouraging since it's the EXACT same number that I came up with after subtracting 20 bpm from my most recent LT heart rate test. It's always a good feeling when you confirm that you are doing the right thing!

3/19/11: Run - Long Aerobic Run (14.00 miles in 1:54:08 - Avg HR = 151)
3/20/11: Bike- Long Aerobic Ride (40.13 miles in 2:00:51 - Avg HR = 132)
3/21/11: Run - Cadence counting intervals (5.09 miles in 40:28)
3/21/11: Weights - Dry Land Superset for swim strength x 4

Friday, March 18, 2011

Foods to eat EVERY day

I've eaten what I consider a healthy diet for a long time now, but as part of my Ironman training this year I've we've taken it up a notch. As I described in this post, we (my wife and daughter included) have gone to a more holistic approach to eating over the last three months.

My wife is an awesome cook. There's no other way to say it. She can take the limited ingredients that I've given her to use and come up with some fabulous meals! I've been doing our grocery shopping lately and it seems like every week the cart is full of the exact same stuff. Lots of these foods that we stock up on weekly are known as "superfoods". These are nutrient-dense foods that in their natural form have some superpowers!

So here's a list of some superfoods that I would recommend be part of your diet on a daily basis:

BLUEBERRIES - This is one of my daughter Kate's favorite foods. She would literally sit down and eat a whole carton if we let her. I have no problem with her downing these little guys because they contain high levels of antioxidants and have been shown to increase brain activity.

NUTS - I go to Whole Foods and hit up the bins of nuts and seeds. Every Sunday I combine all these into a large back to snack on during the week. I pack this mix full of nuts such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc. These nuts are also a good source of antioxidants and are rich in those healthy fats that it's hard to get enough of. Notice that I didn't mention peanuts. Peanuts are not a nut. Often mistaken for a nut (probably because it's in it's name), peanuts are actually a legume. They do not contain the same nutrients as the nuts I listed.

QUINOA (picture to right) - This is also something that I cook in bulk on the weekends and eat for breakfast post-workout some days. It's a grain-like seed that's high in protein, fiber and iron. The protein found in quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids (very hard to find a food that is this complete). It's also a good source of lots of vitamins. It sprouts when you cook it and it's kind of weird. You can find it in a box next to the rice at the grocery.

BROCCOLI - Another one of Kate's favs. Broccoli, along with kale, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower and some other cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of compounds that help prevent several types of cancer according to recent studies.

SALMON - This superfood contains a large supply of omega-3 fatty acids and essential fats that lower the risk of heart disease.

DARK CHOCOLATE - I've actually started to mix some dark chocolate powder (used for baking) into my oatmeal so that I can get it in my diet. It has a very high percentage of cacao and is just as high in antioxidants as many fruits and veggies. Milk chocolate doesn't offer the same antioxidants. Look for

SWEET POTATOES - Jessica bakes me 3-4 each week that I use as a morning or afternoon snack. One sweet potato provides twice the daily requirement of vitamin A and half of the vitamin C you need in a day. They are a great complex carbohydrate and for this reason I've also started using them as a pre-race fuel.

SPINACH (picture to left)- We eat a salad loaded with spinach at least once a week for dinner and I often take leftovers to work to eat for lunch. Pound for pound, spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. Overwhelming research has demonstrated a lowering of cardiovascular disease, cancer, macular degeneration and cataracts from eating spinach. I recommend buying it in plastic containers so that you can take them to work and mix in fruit and nuts for an awesome lunch!

ACTIVE YOGURT (picture below) - It's key to read the whole has to be active because active bacteria strengthens your digestive process. Look for the word "active" on your yogurt label. I can eat a lot of things, but plain yogurt (no sugar or sweeteners is where I draw the line - it's nasty). I personally eat Stonyfield OIKOS Organic Greek yogurt, either blueberry or strawberry flavor. They add some organic sugar to it, but it's a small amount. This yogurt contains six active cultures with twice the protein of regular yogurt. I eat one of these 5.3oz cups most days after my morning workout.

3/15/11: Swim - 4 x 500yd intervals (2592 yd in 52:33) 
3/15/11: Weights - Superset Series II Set x 4

3/16/11: Run - Hills in Aerobic HR zone (6.00 miles in 47:44)
3/16/11: Swim - TrainSmart Swim Group - 3150 yd in 1:07:29)
3/17/11: Bike- Big Gear Climbs (17 miles in 1:00:00)
3/17/11: Swim - 3 x circuit with accessories (1806 yd in 35:37)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Finding Your Race Pace

As part of my volunteer effort for The KIDS Center, I've been helping a group of runners train for the upcoming Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon. Most of the people in this group are tackling the 13.1 mile (or 26.2 for some) distance for the first time.

As part of the "packet" that we provided for the runners, I put together a training plan and we've had workshops on common injuries, getting the right gear and nutrition. As the "experienced runner" leading the group, I've been asked lots of questions over the last 2 months. One of the most common questions has been, "What pace should I be running?".

For the long, slow, distance building training runs, my answer has always been, "Run at a pace where you can carry on a conversation". Without the aid of a heart rate monitor, this is the best way to make sure that you aren't working your body too hard. If you can carry on a conversation with someone running beside you, then you are running at a good aerobic pace.

So it's fairly easy for someone to figure out what this pace is for them. The more difficult thing to figure out is what your pace should be for shorter races, or workouts focused on speed and not endurance. I personally have struggled with this question over the years as well. Even in a race as short as a 5K, if you take off too fast, you can give-out before the finish line.

Sometime last year, I came across a website called McMillan Running. This website is run by Greg McMillan, who is one of the most recognized distance running coaches in America. On this site, he offers training programs, personal coaching, videos, strength training routines, and much more. The main thing that I use this website for is it's running calculator. The McMillan Running Calculator allows you to put in your time for just about any distance and it will predict your race time and pace at any other distance. I've found this to be a very useful tool when trying to determine at what pace I should run my next 5K or 10K race. It also provides you with expected times for speed workouts.

So, here's an example:
If you are training for a half-marathon and your "conversation" pace is around 10 minutes per mile, your time for a half-marathon (13.1 miles) would be 2 hours and 11 minutes. You can figure this time out by using a pace calculator, such as Once you have this time, plug it into the McMillan Calculator and it will spit out your estimated time and pace for every other distance. So for this example, it predicts that this person would run a 5K in 28:20, a 10K in 58:52, a 10 mile race in 1:38:39 and a full 26.2 mile marathon in 4:36:17.

Knowing what you can run at an upcoming race based on a recent performance can help take the guesswork out of your race planning. You can set attainable goals and know what pace you should try and maintain during the race. These times are a moving target, since with time and hard work, your pace and endurance will increase. So bookmark the McMillan Running Calculator and head back after your next race to see what your new speed and workout paces should be. Note that as soon as you open this website, a video automatically starts and has very loud music. So if you are at work, turn off your sound first!

3/6/11: Run - 4 x 5K (5K warm-up, 5K at LT, 5K at AT, 5K at max effort) - 12.6 miles in 1:36:27
3/7/11: Swim - 1000yd TT (1008 yd in 18:03) 
3/7/11: Weights - Body Weight Only Set x 4
3/8/11: Run - LT test (5.94 miles in 45:10)
3/9/11: Swim - TrainSmart Swim Group - 2700 yd in 1:00:10
3/10/11: BRICK - 65 minute bike (20 miles), 2 min. transition, 15 minute run (2.08 miles) 
3/11/11: Swim - Aerobic Intervals (1550 yd in 35:14)
3/12/11: Run - Rodes City Run (6.2 miles in 44:07)
3/14/11: Run - Acceleration intervals (5.0 miles in 35:51)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rodes City Run Results

Official Time - 44:07 (7:04 min/mile pace)
Overall Place - 325 out of 7951
Gender Place - 290 out of 3520
Age Group (30-34) Place - 53 out of 503

I stayed up watching the Louisville vs. Notre Dame game until after midnight. The game had me so jacked-up that I had trouble falling asleep. So after about 5-1/2 hours of restless sleeping, I was feeling sluggish at the start line.

I felt pretty good at the start of the race, but then I started having some breathing troubles and coughing around mile 4. Whatever this little virus I picked up is, it took a toll on me today. I was cruising along at my planned pace and then when I asked my body for a kick during the last two miles, I had nothing left. So I struggled through, finishing about a minute slower than I wanted. Either way, it's still a PR - on to the next one!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rodes City Run Preview

I've only run two "stand-alone" 10K races in my life. The Rodes City Run in 2000 and 2001. These were some of the very first road races that I ran...and my times make that evident. I clocked a 55:51 in 2000 and a 52:17 in 2001. Since I started triathlons in 2009, I've logged two 10K running portions of tri's in less than 46 minutes. So simply setting a PR in this race isn't a big enough goal. I'm a fighting the early stages of what feels like a cold...and running with a head full of mucus isn't much fun. If I was feeling 100%, I'd shoot for a time of 43 minutes in the morning, so I'm not going to make excuses - 43 minutes it is!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Seeing Results

Last season, I followed a training program outlined by Joe Friel in his book The Triathlete's Training Bible. It followed a basic structure of periodization training. The phases were Prep, Base, Build and Peak. Joe laid out the workouts pretty well in his book and it was easy to follow. During the Base building phase of his program, there were some long weeks - around 15 hours of training...and this was for a half-ironman distance race. Using this same training program for an Ironman distance race would require some weeks in excess of 20 hours of training. I love training and racing, but I do have priorities. Family time and work (until I turn pro) take precedence over triathlon.

As you know, this season I have decided to follow the training program outlined by Ben Greenfield in his "Triathlon Dominator" package. It involves less long, slow, distance workouts and focuses more on high intensity, low volume training. While this training takes less time, it's definitely no less challenging. There's a good amount of research out there supporting the philosophy behind this type of training - even for long distance races.

As part of this training program, every few weeks I do a test. These tests, one in the water, one running and one on the bike tell me how I'm progressing in the build-up to Ironman. I'm on week 11 of the 36 week Triathlon Dominator program, and I'm seeing some good results already.

After a 500yd warm-up, I swim steady for 1000yd. During this 1000yd time trial (TT), I try to keep my pace as constant as possible, swimming at about an 80% effort. If at any point during this 1000yd it becomes difficult to maintain form, I know that I'm going too fast. I record the total time for the TT and then use this to figure out what my average pace is per 100yd. The goal is to see an increase in my average 100 yard speed, while maintaining the same perceived exertion (PE) level.

Test Results:
1/14/11 - Avg. 100yd time = 1:53 (PE = 7)
1/28/11 - Avg. 100yd time = 1:53 (PE = 8)
3/7/11 - Avg. 100yd time = 1:48 (PE =8)

After a 20-30 minute warm-up, I bump up the intensity and time trial for 40 minutes at a cadence around 80-90 rpm. My pace is hard enough that my legs burn and my breathing labors. The key is to maintain the high cadence for the entire 40 minute TT. I record my average heart rate for the final 30 minutes of the TT. This heart rate becomes my lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. The goal here is to see a decrease in heart rate while maintaining the same PE level. Once the weather warms up, I will be able to take my bike on the road and add the distance component into this test.

Test Results:
12/20/10 - Avg. HR = 165 (PE = 8)
1/27/11 - Avg. HR = 161 (PE = 8)
2/22/11 - Avg. HR = 152 (PE = 8)

After a 10-15 minute warm-up, I run a 30 minute TT at my maximum sustainable pace - legs burning, breathing hard, but not slowing down. Maintaining a steady pace throughout is very important. I record my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of the TT. This becomes my lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. The goal here is to see an increase in average pace at the same PE and lower HR.

Test Results:
12/21/10 - Avg. HR = 174 (PE = 9), pace for final 20min of TT = 7:29/mile
2/4/11 - Avg. HR = 167 (PE = 9), pace for final 20min of TT = 7:21/mile
3/8/11 - Avg. HR = 164 (PE = 9), pace for final 20min of TT = 7:16/mile

So the results speak for themselves. I've increased my speed and lowered my LT heart rate on each of the three disciplines. The Triathlon Dominator plan is working! Can't wait to see more improvements to my speed and fitness over the next 25 weeks! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anthem 5K Pictures

Here's some pictures from Saturday's race. The first two are copyright of Brightroom Photography. The third picture is of some of our KIDS Center run team after the race!

For the record, the older guy in these pictures is 60 years old...and fast! I only beat him by 45 seconds. He finished first in his age group.

Pictured here (from left to right) is James, Me, Becca, Bridgette, Bob and Tricia. Congrats on a great race everyone!

2/26/11: Run - Anthem 5K (3.10 miles in 20:03)
2/28/11: Bike - Form Sprints and Spin Class (27 miles in 1:20:01)
3/1/11: Run -Fartlek run (5.87 miles in 42:59)
3/1/11: Weights - Body Weight Superset Series
3/2/11: Run -Mile repeats (4.82 miles in 41:54)
3/2/11: Swim - TrainSmart Swim Group - 2750 yd in 1:05:00
3/3/11: Bike - Big Gear Climbs and Spin Class (15 miles in 50:00)
3/3/11: Swim - 1 mile at 75% effort - 1776 yd in 32:25

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