Archive for July, 2012

The 80% rule

July 27, 2012 1 comment

… they should have made this picture with broccoli, or some other food not often thought of as a “treat”, as the good side. But you get the idea

I was just taking a moment to reflect upon my workout this morning, and my plans for workouts this weekend.  I was thinking how tired my legs are now a few hours back from the training, and wouldn’t it be nice to take a rest day tomorrow.  But tomorrow has a training plan that I have to stick to.

I started thinking a bit more macro scale about my ability to adhere to a training schedule.  I go to efforts to create a balanced training plan, considering all the activities I need to fit into a week, their timing relative to each other, and days with high and low probabilities of time available for training.  And after all this effort, I’m marginally (at best) successful at sticking to these plans.  For the most part, I think, it’s because I allow myself cheat days – days where the social or personal calendar trumps the training schedule and something fun happens instead of training.

I was thinking back to a conversation I had with a really good friend earlier this week about a new diet that she and her doctor were trying for her.  She’s cutting out certain foods to see if it will have a positive impact on her health.  But as she describes it, the doctor told her to follow the 80% rule.  “You’ll have times where you go to a dinner party and the host has made food not on your diet.  Or birthday parties with pizza and cake and ice cream.  Most people fall off a diet because they try to stick to it 100% of the time.  That’s not realistic.  And when they fall off, they fall off completely.  Try to stick to the diet 80% of the time – if you miss a day, or a meal, don’t feel bad and keep at it”

I think this same theory can help me with training.  I don’t have to hit my training plan 100% of the time.  And if I miss a day, the whole week doesn’t have to become a write off.  I think striving to enact my plan 80% of the time is a good goal – it allows for variables such as fatigue and unexpected social plans to an extent.  But if I’m starting to miss more than 20% of my training sessions, it gives me a benchmark to know when I need to work my plans around my training, instead of the other way around.  Doing this will hopefully help me feel less guilty when I miss a session, and get right back on the horse next day.

The trick, is to stop missing more than 20% of my sessions.  I can do this!




July 27, 2012 Leave a comment


brick  (brk)n.

1. pl.bricks or brick A molded rectangular block of clay baked by the sun or in a kiln until hard and used as a building and paving material. (
2. brick an unintelligent person. Derived from “dumb as a brick.” (
3. brick a term used to define training in back to back events. This could describe a variety of events, but for the purposes of Triathlon Prep I would define it as a swim, bike, or run workout immediately following a base workout. For example, a 20k bike after a 1600m swim would be a brick workout. Same thing for a 10k run after a 20k bike.(

The alarm went off this morning at 6:00am – the same time it does most mornings.  But this time, instead of getting ready for work, I headed out for my first brick training of the season.

The important aspect of a brick training session is to simulate the jelly legs that you get when hopping off the bike and going straight into the run.  In an actual race, the T2 transition (from bike to run) is usually sub 2:00.  That’s all the time you get to rest your legs and catch your breath before you head out.  The focus of the training session is not on how good your bike is, or how good your run is, but on burning out your legs on the bike so you can practice starting the run with jelly legs.

So today I did 12k hard on the bike followed by a 3k run.  I’ve done brick sessions in the past, but this was the first one this year.  I know it’s going to be hard.  I know the first 500m of the run are going to be murder.  But you can’t truly understand starting a run on jelly legs until you experience it.  Your mind knows the first 500m of your run route – you know that you’re usually strong here, sometimes starting out too fast, not too sweaty or hard of breath yet.  This morning it was hard to just get to the end of my street.  After 4 minutes and only 500m I had to stop and walk.  My legs had nothing.

But this is why we train – so we can get better.  We hurt, so we can hurt a little less next time.  And over time and repetition it will get better.  After the first 500m and my first (short) walk break, the run got better.  My pace leveled out to my standard running pace, and while my legs still felt like string cheese I was able to run with the endurance I’m used to.  I felt like shit, but a little less like shit with each meter that went by.  And by the time I got home I felt great – exhausted and gross, but great.

Chalk this one up as a victory.  A great first brick of the year.  A fantastic start to a Friday!

… although here’s hoping I can sneak a nap in today on my lunch break


Pain in the glutes!

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

We have a love-hate relationship…

I commute to work each day (thankfully only 3 days per week) – 150km round trip per day, taking over an hour each direction.

I’ve recently noticed that each day when I get out of my car, my legs are sore.  Particularly my hamstrings (or what my non-medical educated self diagnosis perceives to be my hamstrings).  They’re really tired, and often the first few steps away from my car are a bit tentative and wobbly until they loosen up a bit.

I’ve been wondering about the impact this has on my running.  I was trying to do a Google search to find anything about car commuting and hamstring issues – lots about general health impacts of car commuting (note to self: STOP THIS!!!), but nothing specific to hamstrings.  But then I found this site, talking about general sitting impacts to a runner’s health.  Of course, sitting here in my office chair as I read the article – and especially further as I type this post – I’m realizing that my hamstrings and glutes are tight and cranky even now.

I guess that’s the peril of the urban worker.  The human body was not designed for long commutes, office chairs,  and cubicle working.  We were designed to move.  But in today’s world, we don’t do what we were designed to.  We drive cars, sit in hard chairs, in buildings with circulated air.  We eat processed food because it’s convenient, and let’s us get back to our cars and our desk chairs faster.  We jeopardize our bodies – our health – for modern efficiency.

Last night, my wife and I did the escarpment stairs, just like our work out plans called for.  But when we were done, instead of going straight home we both decided impulsively to do a quick 2.5km jog around through the park.  Neither of us had our ipods, or headphones, or GPS devices to track distance or pace.  Neither of us had our usual tools with us.  We just ran as our legs took us.  It was possibly the best run I’ve had in a long time.  It felt amazing!

The body is meant to move.  Not to sit in a car, or an office chair, or a cubicle.  It’s not meant to be shoehorned into modern work schedules, fueled by fast food, or evaluated by hand held devices.  We’re meant to move – to be free – to use our muscles as they need!

… and on that note, I’m getting up from this desk and going for a walk (after this conference call is over, of course)


For want of a plan

July 17, 2012 Leave a comment

This is how I decide what workout to do each night

I feel like I’m in a bit of a funk.  My workout plan is a bit of a train wreck right now.  I had a wonderful plan written down… but somewhere along the line I stopped following it.

The wedding was over 2 weeks ago, and with it gone also went the end of excuses.  But things haven’t really picked up.  In the 2 months since my self-proclaimed arbitrary “start” to the summer training season I’ve done 2 bike sessions, 0 swim sessions, and have seen my running stamina actually decrease.

The largest culprit seems to be my lack of training plan.  Since I stopped following the plan I wrote down, each evening I’ve been deciding on the fly what to train.  Which has resulted in almost exclusive run training (since run training requires the least investment – you don’t have to drive out to a pool, and it’s half the time investment of a bike ride).  But along with deciding each night what to train comes also having to decide to train… or not to train.  A little too often, I’m choosing not to train.

And with the lack of progress, and lack of enthusiasm, so has come the lack of blog posting.

With half the summer gone it’s time to re-evaluate my plan.  I still have over 7 weeks until Race Day – there’s no reason I can’t still make some training progress.  With that in mind, I present a new plan.  And a promise to my readers to stick to it!

+ means that I’ll start at that distance, and plan to increase week over week.  (optional) items put on the calendar recognizing that I’m not a professional triathlete – I have a life, and it’s summer time.  Sometimes the schedule has to be a bit flexible.

Feedback is welcome (and encouraged).  And help me stay accountable… no more deciding what I feel like on any given night!


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