Doing More With Less Since 1972

Tag: training (Page 2 of 7)

Daily Reading List — August 6th

Monotasking Is The New Multitasking – In other words, turn off email and Twitter and only check them on a schedule.

The Case for Replacing Family Dinners with Family Breakfasts – We do both. Plus lunch too on lots of days. Then there's the afternoon communal green smoothie. Studies would predict that my kids will all win Nobel prizes. Me…not so sure about that. ūüôā

How To Tap Into Fat For Your Fuel – Working the program, taking a lot of trust. I bought a case of Gu a couple of weeks ago and haven't touched it yet.

Working From Home? Boss May Be Peeking Over Your Shoulder – Shoutout to @simplysql. ūüôā

Now I’m Afraid of Trainerroad

If you’ve been following along, and my sources indicate you probably haven’t been, I started the Trainerroad program a few weeks ago as a sign of my commitment to making big gains on the bike this year.

The first order of business on the Trainerroad program is to take an FTP test. I did that, and I scored 252 watts the first time around. That’s decent power, but for a guy my size, not all that impressive. I was coming into the program with a pretty dang good aerobic base, but I’d definitely let my cycling fall off.

I won’t lie–those few extra pounds I was carrying also hindered my bike speed a little. My FTP/kg was at about 2.8.

After following their six week base building program (with a little vacation built in), I took the test again on Tuesday, hoping my dedication to the schedule would give me an FTP of at least 270, maybe even 280.

Well, the number I actually rode missed that mark by quite a bit. I ended up with a new FTP of 305.



Rides - TrainerRoad

That’s an increase of 21%. And with a concurrent drop in weight, that puts my FTP/kg at 3.5. That’s an increase of 25%!!!!

I’m not sure how that would factor in time wise, but I’m guessing that means a 40k time trial improvement of a few minutes. Minutes…not seconds. Minutes! I haven’t ridden on the road since starting the program, and honestly, I’m not too keen to get out there for a while because I’m getting unbelievable results on the trainer.

But I’m jumping right into the middle of a 40k time trial program as my cycling training for an Olympic distance race at the end of September. I’ll be flowing straight to a marathon training plan from there, so there’s going to be a focus on the run as well, at least in volume.¬†I think after some big swims this summer I’m ok putting that on auto-pilot for a while. That doesn’t mean no swimming, but I’m not looking for gains.

But here’s the problem…

With that nice, shiny new (and big) FTP, these Trainerroad rides are going to be VERY challenging over the next few weeks. I’m pretty sure that means I’m going to be finishing a little earlier than usual on race day.


Never Again. After This Time.

Looks like a ton of people took my advice and registered for the Space Coast Marathon/Half this year because both races are completely full–nice to get some affirmation that this blog has so much influence! ūüėČ

I’m registered and running the full in support of Miles of Love, which is my favorite local charity. Seriously thinking of trying something new this year. Considering running with no watch and no HRM. I’ll just run on feel and I’ll get what I get time wise. The only thing giving me pause is a nutrition plan, but I can probably base that on mileage instead of time. There’s no way to avoid knowing how deep into the race you are on such a well-marked course.

Testing this out at Battle of the Bridges Triathlon in September. I should be able to manage 2.5 hours of racing without electronic feedback. I don’t ever know where I am time/HR wish in the swim anyway. And I’m doing a lot of biking in the 1-1.5 hour range, so I should be used to doing that on feel too. For the run, I’ll just have to let it all go when I feel like I can do so and still hang on.

This is all part of the giant scheme of “untraining” I”ve been experimenting with. I don’t do anything according to schedules other than following what Trainerroad says to do when I decide to bike.

I swim when I feel like I should. That means not much.

I run when I feel like I should, for as much as I feel like I should).

I bike when I feel like I should.

I do intervals when I feel like I should, probably not often enough.

Most importantly, I rest when I feel like I should.

Volume for everything is up in general. I think I’m a volume guy in general, and I think training plans hold me back. The important thing is that I’m having fun…my chances of setting world records are diminishing.

Of course, this will once again be my last marathon. Unless I have a horrible race and don’t PR…then I’ll consider it again.

Daily Reading List — July 24th

Five Ways To A Faster Run Split – Got my best 70.3 run split doing a lot of this stuff. One of the things I changed was the way I do intervals–just go hard for as long as you can, as many times as you can. I've found I'll push myself much farther than if it was prescribed, and I'll do more reps too.

Will Fuelling Less Boost Your Fitness? – This is my "thing" this year. We'll see…

Man swims 5 hours to save his family – Studly.

People With a Lot of Self-Control Are Happier – Pretty intuitive to me. It's not about denying yourself, it's about avoiding the guilt and the regret that inevitably come from making impulse decisions.

My First Five Weeks On The Trainerroad

I started the Trainerroad program a while back, and I’ve written a couple of posts about it already. I loved it from the get-go, for no other reason than it was a real jolt to my time on the bike. I knew in the back of my mind I hadn’t been pushing like I should on the bike during my last training ramp-up, but I didn’t know how to push the right way to keep focused on my Zone 2 goals while continuing to improve. The result was a pretty weak bike leg in my last race. Granted, I was making a conscious effort to hold back, but I would have liked to been able to go faster while doing so.

I missed a couple of weeks on the trainer due to a vacation, but I’m back on that horse again. That little break gave me some perspective, and I can now tell that the Trainerroad program is making me much stronger!

I’m only doing the Intermediate base build program right now, but I’ve gone from struggling to survive the rides to having a lot of juice in the tank for the last intervals of a ride.


I have a week and half to go until my next FTP Test, but I’m shooting for a pretty big improvement, hopefully making a jump from 252 up to somewhere around 280. That’s about 11% gain.

To top it off, while my power output is going up, my weight is steadily going down. I’m crediting eating habits here, but I’m down 5 pounds in the last month, and if I can hit that 280 FTP and just maintain 193 pounds, I’ll be just over 3.1 FTP/kg.

3.1 is a completely arbitrary magic number I’ve set for myself that seems to be the measure of a “pretty decent weekend warrior”. I’ve never set the goal of trying to be the best cyclist in Brevard or anything like that, but I’m very interested in being a faster triathlete. The weight loss should nicely impact my run as well.


Trainerroad Two Week Update

I’ve been using Trainerroad for two weeks now, so I thought I’d provide an update.

I tell you one thang, Hoss, I tell you one dern thing. And you can write this down…

I fully expect this program to vastly improve my speed/power/endurance/efficiency, but if it doesn’t I’ll at least come out of it mentally tough.

I’m talking about plum mad-dog mean.

At the end of the first week, I did my weekend ride outdoors and a conversational pace. This wasn’t in any way based on the Trainerroad program.

For the second week, I did a 1.5 hour longish ride (Eclipse) on Saturday, and I came out of it feeling like I could chew through leather. If fact, there was so much teeth gritting going on, if I’d leather in my mouth I probably would have chewed through it. There were three 20 minute intervals in the “sweet spot”, which is ~90-100%% of FTP, or the absolute max effort you should be able to maintain for an hour.

Still no puking, but I have a feeling it’s going to happen eventually. ¬†The 3×20 minute ride was especially tough because I was barely hanging on at the end of the 2nd interval, and it was scary knowing there was another one coming.


The mid-week rides have not been nearly as tough…yet. The intensity is about the same, but the intervals so far have been shorter.


ericssonNext month, I’ll be adding heart rate data and The Sufferfest to the mix. I’m a little scared.


Taper Continuum

In a training funk.

Lots of people say this happens to them after races, and the best thing to do is to put another race out there.

I’ve done that, and I’m 19 weeks away. Plenty of time to train and improve, especially give then base I currently have. I actually don’t think it’s completing a race that does this to me. I think it’s the taper and recovery weeks.

I usually get a mid-schedule slump, which I resolved by simply not having a schedule. But I think the post-race slump for me comes from the loss of momentum during taper and recovery.

I have to get my mo back.

Daily Reading List — May 13th

Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans – One of the things I've learned from triathlon training. Stress is stress. Traveling makes you tired too…maybe not as tired in the exact same way as a long run, but your body takes the stress regardless. It can't be discounted.

IronMan SwimSmart Initiative – Some great ideas here. Good to see they are coming up with some different ways to keep people safe and comfortable. The rolling start is a cool idea.

Customize the Sharepoint Access Denied Page – People stop reading as soon as they see "Error"

Whataburger spicy ketchup and mustard soon to hit supermarkets – "Whataburger"? Oh…they're talking about "Water-burger".

Swim Start Training

I was the last one in the pool last night and thought about dumping all the kickboards, pull bouys, and whatever that other junk is in the basket next to the pool into my lane and do 200-300 through it with my eyes closed.

Didn’t want to have to clean all that stuff up though.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Brick Workouts


Yesterday’s post started a little bit of an interesting discussion about bricks over on Google+. At the same time, this thread over on Beginner Triathlete was going on talking about the same thing. There seems to be a wide spectrum of opinion out there about the value of bricks for 70.3 distances and beyond. I see the points on all sides, but I think I fall some place in the middle.

What I have to say on the subject is a little long for posting in either of those places. Luckily, I have this venue. Now,¬†I’m by no means telling anyone else what they should do. I’m not a coach, and I’ve probably given out more bad advice than good over the years.

Like everyone else, I used to swear by bricks and ran a 10% run after every bike ride. Why did I swear by them and do them so religiously? Well…because everyone else did. Now I’m not so sure that was a good idea, but it fit into my general training M.O. back then–empty the tank every single time you train. If you aren’t willing to empty the tank, don’t bother training.

Needless to say, I skipped a lot of workouts back then.

Remember, these are just my observations and opinions about what seems to work for me. I’m using “I” and “me” everywhere I can. Feel free to collect your own test data.

The Good

  • For beginners. I think bricks are vital for two reasons when you are first starting out. First of all, you need to know what you’re legs are going to feel like coming off the bike. Secondly, you need to know how long it’s going to last. If you don’t know these two things before your race, you’re in for a really big shock. But really–if you’ve been doing this for a few years, does that feeling freak you out any longer? It’s like a horror movie–really scary the first time, but when you already know what’s coming and have watched it over and over…meh.
  • For sprint training. I get the upside of “learning to run on tired legs” if you are going to need to go hard for the whole race. It kind of goes back to the first point of knowing how long the feeling is going to last and being able to mentally push on through that and keep going hard until it’s gone.
  • For testing a nutrition plan. A run of a few miles after a long bike ride will let you know pretty early on if you ate enough and hydrated right while riding. This can be pretty hard to figure out, and it may take a few sessions to dial it in. I actually think this is a HUGE upside to doing VERY EASY bricks for long distance training. But I don’t do any more of these than I have to.
  • For squeezing in a couple of workouts on limited time. Sometimes I have only one chance to workout on a day, but I need to get two in. This is an effective way to squeeze it in without having to prepare twice. Might as well make it a transition practice while you’re at it.
  • A race rehearsal. Not the entire race, just what you plan on doing out of T2. For me, that means thinking about cadence, form, and keeping the pace down. Yeah…I said keeping the pace down. A one mile run is more than enough distance for me to do this.

The Bad

  • For building aerobic endurance. Maybe there’s no detriment here either, but I don’t see any real value. If that’s the goal of the workout, why not get in the pool and swim instead? I’ll get all the benefits of the aerobic work without any of the pounding I get while running. Not that I recommend that either–swimming after cycling is probably begging for your technique to be destroyed. On second thought, that’s probably a benefit in my case. Aerobic and Anaerobic aren’t the same thing, and that’s important to remember for the second point.
  • “Learning to run on tired legs” for anything longer than an Olympic distance race makes no sense to me. For 70.3 races and up, why not ¬†“learn to ride a bike for a few hours without tearing my legs up” instead? That means staying aerobic on the bike instead of deliberately trashing myself so I can go out and run a bunch of *ahem* shitty miles with bad form and throwing myself into anaerobic zones just to maintain some pre-determined pace I think I ought to do. Not casting stones if you do this. I’ve done it. A lot. I just don’t think it paid off for me.
  • Trashed isn’t just for today. I pay the price for a few days. I have to think of what a long hard brick does to me going forward. If I go out and do a 60m/10m brick on a Sunday and intentionally trash my legs during this workout, I’m sacrificing Monday completely, and probably at least part of my Tuesday, and maybe Wednesday as well. And what do I get out of it really? Maybe I prove to myself that I could do it? I’ve already done that. Again, I do try to get in a couple of long bricks in the middle of my training plan to test my nutrition plan, but I make sure the run is super easy–like “holy crap, I’m embarrassed by this pace and don’t really want to post it to¬†DailyMile” ¬†easy.

The Ugly

  • They take a really long time. I’m lucky to have the best and most supportive girlfriend* in the whole world. She gives me Saturday and Sunday mornings to do what I need to do to train. A 2-3 hour workout means that I’m usually home by 9:30 or 10:00 at the latest on both Saturday and Sunday. She’s never complained once. She’s even ok with me turning that into a 5 hour workout¬†occasionally¬†if it’s a nutrition test day. But I’d feel guilty about leaving her to deal with our three heathens for a whole day every single weekend. She does it all week already…weekends are when she has a chance for some help, and I don’t want to deny her that.
  • “What do you mean ‘all day’? Five hours is not all day!” Well, it would turn into all day if I went out and bricked it hard. Sure, I may be gone for only 5 hours, but I’m definitely going to need a nap that afternoon. And I’d be pretty worthless (bonked) even when I’m awake–basically one more heathen to care for. I know how I end up on the afternoons after a race–not fun for her.

So there you have it. I’ve learned this stuff (for me) mostly by experience and reading what coaches (love Coach Brett) have to say about it.¬†Go ahead and rip it to shreds.

But before you do, consider this one little tidbit…

After tapering, you have ~2,000 calories worth of glycogen in your liver and muscles. You cannot process food fast enough to replace these calories at the rate you’re burning them while racing, no matter how much or what you eat. If you go out and “trash your legs” by going anaerobic, you’re going to be using those calories instead of using your fat stores for energy. Every notice how it seems like so many people¬†hit the wall at mile 20 in a marathon? That’s why. Once those calories are used up, you are bonked.

For me, it’s mile 18, probably because I’m a little bit heavier and much more inefficient, so I burn the same amount of calories to go 18 miles most people do for 20.¬†Another hard lesson (hopefully) learned.

So it makes complete sense to me to stay aerobic in most of my training (with some intense intervals thrown in here and there) and teach my body to burn the fat better. It’s just a simple math problem. In the perfect race, I’d start burning that stored up glycogen about 2,000 calories from the finish. The perfectly executed race plan would see me start my run on legs that aren’t tired and make sure they stay that way so I can finish on strong legs.¬†So even in a brick, there’s no way I want to go hard on a bike and “learn to run on tired legs”.

The only benefit I see there is that you get to bonk. And from that, you learn that you never EVER want to bonk again if you can help it.

*Yes, we’re married, but we still like each other a lot, so I still call her my girlfriend.

[Image Credit]

Realistic 70.3 Expectations



If I learned anything from my last 70.3, it’s…well, actually I learned a lot of things.

  1. Don’t set time goals for these distances. They aren’t anything like running races. The number of variables beyond your control is almost infinite, and you can’t just power through the obstacles you are presented the way you can in a sprint tri.
  2. Managing yourself should be the real goal. It’s one of the few things in the race you do have control over, and (for me anyway) the hardest part to master. If you can control yourself by keeping HR, power, perceived effort, or whatever measurement you use in check, you have a much better chance at getting the best possible time on race day given the conditions you are presented with. We’ll see soon if I’ve actually learned this.
  3. What you can do with these sports individually is almost meaningless. I tested myself at 400 yards all-out yesterday and got a personal non-race best of 6:30. I was very happy with that, but it’s pretty meaningless considering it was in a pool, with a wall, with only one other person in the lane, and with nothing to do afterwards. If you think the time it takes you to bike 56 miles translates to what you can do on race day, you’re probably pretty close to being right. Of course, you’re going to give back all that time and more on the run because of it. Your half marathon time is pretty meaningless as well. Maybe the second half of a full marathon is a little more accurate? Maybe.
  4. Don’t set time goals for these distances. Did I say that already?

I was pretty lucky when I did my first 70.3. I was severely under-trained. My buddies I was racing with liked to joke about my 5-6 week taper. I was scared to death of the distance. I spent most of the Saturday before the race watching the weather and hoping the race would be cancelled. I spent the pre-race time that morning looking at the lightening feeling relieved that the race would be cancelled. The race went on, and I didn’t race it. I did the course, but I didn’t “race” until the last 5k. I was able to go all out for the last mile and came away feeling great and having met my original time goal.

But that was just dumb luck as a result of respecting the distance and knowing I wasn’t trained to go at it hard.

My approach to training has changed quite a bit since then.

My last time out, I was pretty well trained, but not very confident in my run. I hadn’t done much running distance for a few years. I trained for months at a HR that was WAAAAAAAY too high–I practically lived in Zone 3. On race day, I was a little disappointed in my swim, soI took it out on the bike course. I came out of T2 “grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ saw brar”.

But the run course had the last laugh.

The plan was to PR by 15 minutes. The result was missing a PR by 15 seconds.

So there are no time goals this year. I have goals, but they are very different.

Swim: For the first time, I’ve put in good work on the swim. My easy pace is a touch slower than my hard pace, but I’m happy with how the easy pace feels, and form doesn’t fall apart. All I want to do is comfortably complete the course breathing every 3 strokes. If I have to speed up for a bit and breathe every other stroke, that should only go on for 10 breaths. Focus on exhaling and thinking “PULL!”

Bike: Keep the heart rate at ~125 for the first half of the course and ~130 for the second half. Last time out I averaged 145, and I thought that was a good thing. What?!?!?! Take splits every 30 minutes to check the average and be mindful of how it is increasing. The bike computer will not ever display current speed or average speed. Only elapsed time. That’s all. If I feel like doing math, that will give me something to pass the time.

Run: Keep the heart rate below 142 for the first 7 miles, keeping the 30 minute split checks going. At 7 miles, I’ll assess how I’m feeling and possibly let it go up to 150. If still feeling ok at 1o miles, let it rip.

We’ll see how this plays out and what I learn from it. Mistakes will be made…a perfect race is next to impossible. The key will be to realize the mistakes in the moment and try to come up with a work around.



Daily Reading List — March 29th

Bike Trainer Workouts for Every Distance – Been kinda going on my own so far this season. Race in a few weeks, then going to focus on Sprint for a while before ramping up to another 70.3 in the Fall.

Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America | Planet Money – A person on welfare costs a state money. That same resident on disability doesn't cost the state a cent, because the federal government covers the entire bill for people on disability. So states can save money by shifting people from welfare to disability. And the Public Consulting Group is glad to help.

Higher Ed bubble in two charts – Lots of graveyard whistling going on around this topic.

HBO Mulls Making HBO Go Available to Non-Cable Subscribers – Sign us up.

Some Random Training Notes

I went to a running form clinic last night put on by Running Zone and New Balance, and I was both encouraged and surprised. Encouraged because I came away with one thing I can do to help my running immediately–increase cadence. Surprised because I found out my foot strike is actually pretty good. I’m guessing my supination is the culprit for my heel wear? ¬†I mean, my strike definitely is not perfectly mid-foot (working on it), but it’s not too bad.

Cadence is the big thing I can change.

Purchased this month: Loving the Ninja BL660 Blender¬†we bought this month. The best feature is the single serving cup…you can blend right into the cup you’re going to drink out of. Smoothie consumption is at an all-time high in our house, and I’m getting a much bigger daily dose of green veggies because of it. Oh yeah…much cheaper than the Vitamix too!

Planned purchase for next month: Roku 3. We already own a first generation Roku that’s still going strong. So why upgrade now? One really cool feature–the remote has a headphone jack. I’ve been using the tablet to watch movies while I’m on the spin bike because I ride at night a lot while everyone else is asleep. I can’t really use the TV because I’d have to turn it up so loud to overcome the noise of the bike. Roku 3 will let me watch the TV while I train, keep things quiet for everyone else, and not have to worry about keeping the tablet charged or plugged in.

Racing in the heat suggestions. Thanks to Coach Brett and the ZenTri podcast for these tips:

  1. Try to train in the hottest weather you can. Avoid cold conditions. CHECK
  2. Lose as much weight as you can to minimize your insulation. CHECK
  3. Baseball-style cap instead of visor for the run. You can put ice in the hat–can’t do that with a visor. Learned this one last year.
  4. Arm Coolers–put ice sponges from the aid stations into the tops. Need to get arm coolers Picked up some of these…wow, they work GREAT!
  5. If you’re coming from a cooler climate, assume you are going to need a lot more water than you’re used to. Not a problem for me.


Full Taper Mode

Received this email from a friend who’s coming to do Rocketman 70.3.

He isn’t training…he’s just going to show up and do the race.

I am in full taper and playing with a very cutting edge technique….I imagine my full workouts and “trick” my body into feeling as though it has properly trained. This takes a very strong mind to be effective and an even stronger imagination. ¬†Real JEDI shit, not for beginners! ¬†I fully expect to be in top form come race day….my results will talk for me.
Good luck, Suckuz!

As I explained to him, when he can only beat me by 30-45 minutes, he’s going to wish he’d taken this more seriously.

A Reason To Race – Annabelle’s Dad – Eleonore Rocks

I have some friends coming in to race Rocketman 70.3 with me–one from California, one from Tennessee, and two from North Carolina. Actually, I’ve never met one of the guys from NC, Adam.

Adam is coming down with Dirty Matt.¬†And a friend of Dirty Matt’s is a friend of mine.

Just to stir the pot, I sent out an email asking how everyone’s training was going and where everyone logged/shared their workouts. Obviously, my only intention here was to get some trash talk and good-natured insults started.

Adam was the first to respond. Like just about every other triathlete, he has a blog.

But his blog is different. A lot different.

On October 31st, 2010 my beautiful wife and I became parents for the first time. That’s the day I became Annabelle’s dad. Annabelle was a beautiful, delicate, incredibly tough little girl. She was born with a neural tube defect called anencephaly, cutting her short life to a beautiful 41 minutes.

I had to stop right there the first time I read it. I’ve re-read it several times since, and it gets me every time.


That’s simply unfathomable.

Now Adam races to honor the memory of Annabelle. The charity he supports, Eleonore Rocks, provides rocking chairs to parents of terminally ill children. They aren’t engaged in a multi-year effort to cure anything. They just want to bring a little bit of comfort to families who have limited time with their kids.

Adam isn’t raising money for a free race entry or to win a new bike. His goal is to raise $4,100–$1 for each of Annabelle’s heartbeats he and his wife got to share with her.

Please consider sponsoring “One Minute” to honor Annabelle’s memory–more if you can. Adam is committing hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears.

I know not everyone has the means to make a contribution. But you can still help:

  • Share Adam’s story with your friends and family using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email, fax machine, whatever
  • If you have healthy children of your own, never forget how fortunate you are.
  • If you are physically active, take a minute during your next swim/bike/run to appreciate your own health.
  • If you aren’t physically active but have been thinking about getting started, do it. Today.


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