Sunday, August 28, 2011

Triathlon Training Third Week

Two weeks to go until my first sprint triathlon and I am much more confident than I was at the start of my journey.    This past week was hard hitting and marked the completion of my fourth full week of triathlon training following my running injury and change of plans.  Emphasis was placed on running and swimming.  Bike mileage was higher than it has been but intensity was low.  The coming two weeks I will taper into the event.  Going forward I will need to make sleep a priority.  Activity for the week of 21 Aug 2011 is shown below:

Sunday:  7 mile run – 6x 800m (2:50 average) intervals w/1:30 rest
Monday:  1 hour swim (1500 yd + drills) 
Tuesday:  Bike run brick, 15 mile bike (45:55), 3 min transition, 5 mile tempo run (6:39 pace)
Wednesday:  1 hour swim (1500 yd + drills) 
Thursday:  2+ hour bike to work, 13.5 mile bike, 18.5 mile bike
Friday:  1 hour swim (500 yd + drills)
Saturday:  10 mile recovery bike, 10 mile long run (6:56 pace)

Swim:  3 hours, 3500 yd + drills
Bike:  4 hours, 58 miles
Run:  3 hours, 22 miles      

I feel much more confident in the water these days.  I have had success with adjusting my pacing, breathing, and swimming longer distances.  This week I managed to swim 250 yards continuously and not end up panicked and out of breath.  Just 4 weeks ago 25 and 50 yards were my upper limit.  At 6:29 or 39 seconds per 25 yard I am not the fastest but speed will come in due time.  I can push this pace much faster but end up out of breath, and exhausted– not good feelings in the water.   This week I will get some open water swim in Lake Superior in my new wetsuit and continue to build endurance.    

Bike volume was much higher than it has been.  I got one intense ride in on my road bike as part of a bike run brick.  The rest were more casual trips on my hybrid bike.  I biked to work and biked with my dog as my wife ran.  I don’t know how much my company was appreciated but the dog had fun.  I can see more recreational biking in my future, it is a good recovery workout and the weather has been perfect.  As I taper running I might add some more bike intensity in the next two weeks.     

I finally got in all three of the key runs I was planning, intervals, tempo, and distance.  Like I mentioned earlier the weather has been perfect.  My 10 mile long run went great.  It seems I have rapidly recovered some the running specific fitness I lost following my foot injury. 

6:44, 6:50, 7:03, 6:54, 7:06, 7:02, 7:00, 6:53, 6:56, 6:49

I didn’t know what to expect out of my 5 mile tempo run since it was the second part of a bike run brick.  I felt stronger than my first brick and my pacing was more consistent.  There was a 100 foot climb the third mile I swear.  I felt stronger as the run went on.

6:48, 6:33, 6:51, 6:32, 6:36  

Intervals were a good time.  Come to think of it intervals were the only workout I got an honest warm up and cool down in for.  I find intervals go beyond running as they take on a strength training like quality, much the same way hill repeats do.  6x 800m repeats with a 1:30 rest interval were sandwiched between a 2.5 mile warm up and a 1 mile cool down.

2:48, 2:49, 2:48, 2:53, 2:52, 2:52

Next week’s distance and tempo runs will be shorter but intervals will push the envelope with mile repeats.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Uniformed Take on Paleolithic Nutrition

I Love, love, love training and all things food.  These two basic human activities cannot be untangled, they are one.  These lifetime endeavors stagnate and die without an accompanying intellectual pursuit.  That is why I also love, love, love exploring training and nutrition theory.  It gives me direction, understanding, and avenues for improvement.  I applaud everyone that came before me and unselfishly passed down their knowledge for my study.  Striking out on my own has its place but with so much material out there why reinvent the wheel?

My youngest sister sent me the book The Paleolithic Solution by Robb Wolf.  Yes, I have an established way of eating, but that is not going to stop me from learning about this and giving it a try for a month.  I am not above mixing things up, last year I was Vegan for a week as part nutrition and social experiments.  I never became vegan but did incorporate some of what I learned in my eating rituals.  That is for another post, back on topic.  My sister is very into fitness, eating healthy, and has social abilities that far exceed my own.  It seems simple enough to send someone a book to read and apply its message in life while doing the same thing, but it is a thought that never occurred to me.  I am blessed to have her as it is nice to have someone taking a similar path to discuss these things with.
So I want to get out my uniformed take on Paleolithic nutrition and associated concerns.  I refrain from using the word “diet” as a function of its rampant abuse.  After I am better researched and have given Paleo a fair try I will have to revisit these things.  Please keep in mind these ramblings could be completely false and not representative of what Paleolithic nutrition is.  This is the beginning of my journey.

Paleolithic nutrition is rejection of the agricultural revolution that brought us grains and legumes.  What happens when a cow or chicken eats grains and I eat them?  How many degrees of separation from modern agriculture are required?  Will the Paleolithic gods frown on my stray from ideology or is it more of a do the best you can?

Dairy is out of play.  This is what makes dairy consuming vegetarians and no animal products ever vegans worlds apart.  At least paleo includes meat consumption.

Meat and Vegetables seem to be the only things in play.  Fruits are on a case by case basis.  Entire food preparation methods are also excluded, deep frying is probably one of them.

No alcohol.                          

How will I meet the calorie needs of training without grains?  I will need to give up my favorite oatmeal, peanut butter, and berries breakfast.  Grains are much cheaper than meat and vegetables per calorie.  Maybe the money I save on beer will offset the cost?  Do I need to pawn my mama's TV for extra cash?  

Steel cut oats, peanut butter, blueberries and strawberries.  Oats are not paleolithic and it breaks my heart.

I will make the transition to Paleo after the sprint triathlon I have planned in early September.  My training leading up to the Men’s Health Urbanathlon will use the Paleo solution and I will report my findings then.  As I will be in Chicago deep dish pizza will be a must so I expect that weekend may also mark a lapse or end to the paleolithic experiment.  Exploring new ideas and learning are noble lifetime engagements.  In this journey it is important to apply critical thought and research something for you rather than to take anothers conclusions on the subject.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Triathlon Training Second Week

Time is getting short for what will be my first Sprint Triathlon in 3 weeks.  This past week marked the completion of my third full week of training for it.  I spent the beginning of the week recovering from a stomach bug.  In the little time I made for training I focused on building swim and run endurance.  I am hoping for better weeks ahead.  Activity for the week of 14 Aug 2011 is shown below:

Sunday:  sick
Monday:  8 mile long run (7:12 pace) 
Tuesday:  10 mile bike (1 hour)
Wednesday:  day of rest
Thursday:  45 min swim (750 yd + drills)
Friday:  9 mile long run (7:01 pace)
Saturday:  45 min swim (750 yd + drills)

Swim:  1.5 hours, 1500 yd + drills
Bike:  1 hour, 10 miles
Run:  2  hours, 17 miles      

I finally traded in board shorts for jammers and found them far better suited for the task at hand.  I read up on swimming and watched a lot of video this past week.  I have re-read some of the same materials a few times now, each pass more meaningful then the last.  Applying what I learned and focusing on streamlining got my stroke count per 25 yd down to 13-15, a noticeable improvement from last week.  This week I will focus on more controlled breathing while I build endurance.    

Bike volume was unfortunately low for a third week in a row.  I got one recovery ride in on my upright bike.  I was sick that day and this ride was the easiest I have taken it in recent memory.  My plans to cycle were called off for lengthy Baseball game that proved to be a good time.  After 3 weeks of low cycling volume I suspect this upcoming week may be the week I compensate for the recent past. 

My dog has been performing poorly as of late so I gave him a bath, brush, clipped nails, and cleaned ears in hopes it would make him faster.  I had mixed results but think it takes him longer to recover at his ripe old age of 5 years than when he was younger and less stubborn.  Run mileage was the highest it has been since I hurt my foot.  My plans to get in an interval, tempo, and distance run were changed because I was sick.  Monday’s run made me sick longer then I had to be.  I have lost some run fitness since my injury as my long run pace is close to 15 seconds off from where it was but the future looks promising.  This week I should be able to get in all three runs.                      

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recovering from Illness by Training Nonsense

I like to think of myself as a fine example of a durable, disease resistant, high performing human specimen - largely owed to my athletic training and focus on quality food.  These past few days have left me feeling more like a high maintenance, needy, frail example of the same.  Training tears down our bodies and building them back up is no trivial task.  I suspect I am guilty of overtraining by way of too much intensity and a lapse in nutrition. 
I joke that when my dog runs with me he will push himself to death with no consideration for himself.  He does this to stay with his pack.  Turns out me and my pup share this common trait, though his motivations are nobler than mine of race times.  I will learn from this experience.  Some of my anecdotal observations follow.                 

Can physical exertion - say running or swimming, ward off cold and flu when we feel them coming on?  Hell no.  My tale of woe goes like this.  I had a touch of body aches and upset stomach Friday and felt like death later that night after a 45 minute swim.  I hurt on the inside and out with stomach pains, fever, shortness of breath, and general muscle fatigue.  Sleep was elusive.  I got desperate and even tried to sleep on the floor with my dog.  I suspect I had a genuine stomach bug combined with fatigue from overtraining.
Can high intensity activity aide in recovery coming out of cold and flu?  No, again.  Monday I saw a doctor who must have subscribed to a three day philosophy.  He said my stomach was active but since it was the third day I should be coming out of it.  I should see him Wednesday if I was not better.  Really this is what I pay money for?  Back on topic, Monday night I felt better and ran my distance run I had been putting off.  Definitely a bad idea, I woke up sick again the next day.  The stress and drop in hydration was too much.      

Can moderate activity aide in recovery coming out of cold and flu?  Maybe but it is all pseudo science and anecdotal tales.  I slept for 20 hours Monday night and Tuesday morning, this was likely the real cure.  Sure I got up to hydrate and eat hot meals like cream of wheat and tortilla soup but sleep was number one.  I had a bumping head ache by the time I did get up, thanks to my coffee/caffeine addiction complete with withdrawal symptoms.  Coffee helped but didn’t cure all that ailed me.  The slowest one hour bike ride of my life did, leaving me feeling refreshed and headache free.

I feel as if I was smarter and wiser when I wrote Flexible Training: Coping with Minor Illness and Injury.  Early acknowledgement, sleep, hydration, and hot meals are all good ways to minimize the time we are sick.  Chalk up my recent dumbing down to being blinded by exploring new territory (swim), upcoming races, newbie ambition, and general arrogance.  Every so often I have to relearn the same life lessons the hard way.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Open Water Swim

My swim ability is the turd in the punchbowl of my otherwise respectable triathlon skill set.  I have long confused an ability to survive in the water with an ability to actually swim.  This past year I have learned swimming is a skill and athletic ability that does not come easy.  Laps in a pool are hard; swimming in open water is more challenging.  

Last week Saturday I joined some friends for a day on Okauchee lake.  Everyone pitched in to rent a pontoon boat and I brought along my kayak and swim gear for some open water swim practice.  The day was very enjoyable and I was thoroughly exhausted and sun burnt by the time it was all over.  

It was a hot day and I was surprised to dive in the water and be greeted by balmy 80 – 90 ˚F temps – hardly refreshing.  Lap swimming at my local gym did not fully prepare me for open water.  The open water was unnerving as there was no bottom in sight, occasional chop, and I kept ending up off course.  None of this is unexpected but I was happier to experience it on this day rather than race day.  It took a while before I was comfortable and able to maintain a rhythm.

I am proceeding with cautious optimism that I will be able to get my swim fitness to the level needed to confidently complete the 500 yard swim leg of the 10 Sep 2011 sprint triathlon I would like to do.  I am a big fan of personal responsibility and if I cannot swim further than this distance continuously prior to the event I won’t put myself and others at risk by entering.      

Triathlon Training First Week

This past week was my second full week of training for what will be my first Sprint Triathlon in 4 weeks.  The week started off well but soured with a touch of over training and food borne illness over the weekend.  I placed an emphasis on developing swim endurance.  With two weeks done I have more confidence in my swim and an understanding of where my training needs to go.  Activity for the week of 7 Aug 2011 is shown below:

Sunday:  3 mile run (8:24, 7:50, 5:43)
Monday:  45 min swim 
Tuesday:  16 mile bike (51:11)
Wednesday:  45 min swim, 7 mile run – 10x 400m (1:18 average) intervals w/1:30 rest
Thursday:  Rest
Friday:  45 min swim
Saturday:  Sick


Swim:  2 hours
Bike:  1 hour, 16 miles
Run:  1 ½  hours, 10 miles      


My swim sessions consisted of less drilling and more full stroke with a focus on building endurance and exploring different breathing patterns.  To build endurance I have embraced swimming at a natural pace and incorporating a decreasing rest interval to catch my breath.    I also established some key benchmarks such as strokes per pool length (19-21) and a 100 yd time of 2:06.  At the beginning of my swim journey, about two weeks ago I had trouble completing a 25 yd distance.  I hope I can build to the full 500 yd in the next 4 weeks.  Going forward I will be keeping track of distance and time.


Bike volume was unfortunately low for a second week in a row.  I got one ride in on my road bike.  Oddly, the most time I did spend with any bike was with my upright when I did some routine maintenance.  After a year and a half of use this bike sounded terrible and needed to be cleaned/degreased/lubed.  Now that my commuter bike rides like new again I should be taking it to work more often.

My 2010 Trek 7300 Commuter Bike on a makeshift trailer hitch wall mount maintenance stand.


Run volume was also low, as I missed my key distance workout due to being sick.  The only key workout I did get in was my intervals.  400m repeat day is my favorite followed by 800m and the 1600m repeat day.  I love the sensation of going fast.  I may have taken this workout too fast as I felt over trained afterward – racing heart, low fever.  If I am to accomplish my running goals this year I will need to get my interval, tempo, and distance workouts in every week and properly balance rest and intensity.