Archive for January, 2013

Schedule Jenga

January 31, 2013 2 comments
Great game, with a strange name!

Great game, with a strange name!

I’m tired.

The past week has conspired against me, or more specifically, against my training plan.

Triathlon training schedules are kinda crazy – you have 3 different sports you’re trying to train in at the same time, plus getting in time for strength training… and of course always leave time to stretch at each session.  My gym sessions are averaging about 90-120 minutes at this point (let alone my long runs which, obviously, take longer).  Try to fit this in around work, and family, and socializing, and house chores… and… and… and…

…all it takes is one piece slightly out of place, and the whole tower starts to topple.

I missed my long run this past weekend due to a bad case of the hangovers (terrible ailment – I don’t wish it upon anybody).  Seriously, who was I kidding planning to do a 20k run the day after a night of Southern BBQ and plentiful tasty beers?!  Some how that didn’t seem like a problem I had to worry about at the time – that was a problem for Future Me…

Well Future Me is a bit grumpy at Past Me right now.  I managed to get medium length runs of 10k and 6.5k in on Monday and Tuesday after work, which meant I got no chores done around the house.  Wednesday turned into a 17 hour day (had an A M A Z I N G dinner out with my cousin – more great food, more great beer, more great company… more not keeping on top of my house chores.  There’s always a trade off).  This morning’s workout had to be scrapped in favour of week’s worth of dishes that needed washing.

I had a solid training plan, but I keep taking pieces out of their spot and trying to add them on top.  My schedule Jenga… it’s all about to crash down.

So here I am, Thursday evening, still not having done last weekend’s long run yet.  Normally I wouldn’t stress about that, except Saturday morning I get to jump on a plane and jet off to Florida for a week cruising around the Caribbean Sea.  Not like I’m going to get a lot of long runs in next week.  I can’t go two weeks in a row without a long run.

2 more sleeps...

Only 2 more sleeps…

So when do I get my long run in?  I owe myself a 20k run (side note: holy shit that’s long!).  I promised my wife I’d spend tonight with her, so that’s out.  We have dinner plans for tomorrow after work, so that’s out.  That leaves tomorrow morning.  I’d have to start my run by 6:00am at the latest to be done in time to start work by 9:00.  Current forecast for tomorrow morning: -8°C, feels like -16°C with the windchill, and a snow squall warning in effect overnight tonight.

Fuck.  This is really gonna suck.

I really have to stop skipping training sessions to go out for beers with friends and family… (as if that’s ever going to happen… guess I’d better get used to crappy cold morning runs instead).

What do you do when you miss a training session?  Do you make it up, or do you skip it and move on?  Do you rearrange your work out schedule when social events pop up?


Blue Monday

January 21, 2013 2 comments
Not a good way to start the day...

Not a good way to start the day…

Happy Blue Monday everybody.  I know it’s completely baseless pseudoscience crap, but why not take any excuse to get out and do something extra fun and uplifting?!

My day started off on the wrong foot, but the ship righted pretty quickly.  I got up this morning at quarter past stupid o’clock and drove 70 kilometers from home in Hamilton to Waterloo to meet my sister for a pre-work swim.  When we arrived at the pool…

Girl at the ticket wicket desk “Are you here to use the pool?”

Us, carrying our bathing suits and towels and swimming goggles “… yes”

Girl at the ticket wicket desk “Oh.  Well the pool is closed today.  There’s a leak in the floor, so we had to drain it.  It’s expected to open again in about two weeks.”

(… and I thought to myself, “if there’s a leak in the floor, won’t it drain itself?”  amiright?)

The reasonable response would have been to turn to my sister and ask if I could go back to her place to use the shower before driving into work.  Instead, I turned to her and said “Wanna go for breakfast?”

Yep, what started out as an empty swimming pool and cancelled swim training session quickly turned into Monday morning breakfast plans and a visit with my sister.  Win!  (And yes, I showered once I got to work – hooray for new office buildings with showers in them).  I’ll make it up to myself in my after work training session.  That was a good start to today!

What have you done (or will you do) today to beat Blue Monday?

A Saturated Sponge

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment


This week:

Swam: 1,000m in 15:00 (1 session)

Biked: 37.3km in 1:20:22 (2 sessions)

Ran: 34.19km in 4:16:30 (4 sessions)

Strength Training: 3 x 20 minutes

Overall, it’s been a good week.  I was able to get on the stationary bike twice, and did strength training 3 times – both of those are confirmation that I’ve stuck to the plan and hit my sessions this week, which I’m really happy with.

Yesterday’s long run was really good (in an I-just-got-my-ass-kicked kinda way).  Stretched my run out to 18k, which I’ve never done before.  Felt really strong through the first 10-12k, and finished with a reasonable amount of fatigue.  But I’m finding the post run recovery really tough.  Today was supposed to be a light 6k run to round out the week, but I don’t have the gas left in the tank to make it happen.  My legs weren’t sore during the run, but they sure are now.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles on lately, and found this particular quote resonated with me (handy isn’t it, when you find support for decisions you’ve already made after the fact):

The best plan is not only the one that addresses the athlete’s individual needs specifically, but one that is also flexible in adjusting volume based on how the athlete is responding…

Think of your body as a sponge. It will continue to absorb training volume until it reaches a saturation point. Once the sponge is saturated, it can no longer soak up volume; you are only wasting your energy, risking injury and further degrading your performance. You must let the sponge dry out before it will soak up more fitness and that will require time and patience.

My running volume was only up 10% relative to the past two weeks, which I understand to be a reasonable amount.  However, my bike and lift volumes were essentially negligible this winter up until this week, and (I assume) that has an impact on overall training volume.  I think my sponge is saturated.

So I’m taking today as an off day.  The key next week is to get right back on the horse.  It starts tomorrow with a 1,000m sprint swim before work, and a 6k run and lower body strength training after work.  I think my goal for this coming week is to stick to the volume/frequency training plan that I’ve developed, but step up the intensity.  See if I can work stronger, not just longer.

What’s your goal for this week (fitness or otherwise)?


Triin’ Ain’t Easy

January 19, 2013 Leave a comment
Think I'm gonna need a bit more...

Think I’m gonna need a bit more…

Today I ran my first 18k long run.  I was happy with it, though I feel like I’ve had the shit kicked out of me physically now.  I seemed to have a headwind against me the whole return leg of my run (which is odd, because my route was sort of crescent shaped).  I addressed the low energy problem a bit by bringing a packet of Gu along with me, though my 24oz water bottle ran dry far earlier than I wanted it to.  I guess that’s the new logistical issue to work out.  Water is good.

Anyway, while I’m sitting here on my couch doing nothing with my legs, I’m reminded last night of a review I was doing of my training schedule and race calendar.

Now that I’ve added the Grimsby Half Marathon to the slate, I’m looking at an 8 race season.  While that’s really exciting and motivating, it’s also kind of expensive.

I’ve signed up and paid up for 3 races so far – the last of which this week, my wife and I paid $73 each for the Half Marathon.  At $75/race, it’s going to be a $600 season.  Yikes.

My big 4 races of the summer have all opened registration at the same time – a June Triathlon in Binbrook, a June Bike Race in Waterloo, a July Triathlon in Cincinnati, and a September Triathlon in Wasaga.  The Binbrook race is going to cost $70, the Waterloo race $70, the Cincinnati race $95, and the Wasaga race $83.  My budget can’t afford to pony up for all of that at once…

… anyone have any suggestions on getting a sponsor?  anyone? Bueller?

My question to anyone with experience signing up for races or events – have you ever missed out on a race you wanted to sign up for because it sold out?  Do you usually sign up early, or wait until the last minute?

Have you ever missed out on an event you wanted because it sold out faster than you expected?

Odds and Ends

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment
My new Mizunos

My new Mizunos

Finally got around to investing in a new pair of running shoes… actually, a few days ago.  It’s been a grind of a week.  I’m sticking to my New And Improved training schedule for the new year, but I’m finding myself really tired and out of energy as a result.  Really hoping this is just a plateau I need to push through – once I get used to the new routine hopefully I’ll have some energy (and a social life) again.

But until then, here’s a mailed in post of odds and ends I’ve thought about writing about this week, but haven’t had the energy or time to sit down and make a full post out of.  Enjoy!

– – – – –

My wife has started making smoothies for breakfast before our 6:30am weekday training session (yep – 6:30!  Have I ever mentioned I’m not a morning person).  She’s been kind enough to make a big enough batch for me to partake, since lord knows I don’t have my wits about me enough at that hour to eat anything nourishing.  She puts bananas, Greek yogurt, mangoes or peaches, spinach, milk, flax seed, and some kind of pixie dust into them I think – there must be pixie dust in there because somehow I drink a glass and I stay full through my training session, but I don’t think there’s any bagels or pancakes or fried eggs or buttered toast or bacon in there, so I don’t really know how I stay full… must be the pixie dust…

– – – – –

I was tidying the house the other day and came across a scrap piece of paper with a quote on it that I’d written down while watching an interview this summer with Simon Whitfield, Canadian Triathlon Olympic Gold Medalist (Sydney 2000) who had an unfortunate DNF in this past summer’s games.  I think I need to have this quote properly mounted or framed, because he hits the nail right on the head (possibly slightly paraphrased – there was a moment between when I was watching his interview on TV and I heard the quote and knew I had to write it down until I was able to find pen and paper…)

The fight is won, not under the lights, but in the gym, in the dark, in the rain

– Simon Whitfield

I’m not generally one for celebrities, but he’s one of the few athletes who I would love to meet and share a beer with someday.  I would love to talk Tri with him!

– – – – –

My wife emailed me yesterday while I was at work and asked if I wanted to run in the Grimsby Half Marathon in 6 weeks.  Of course, I’m a crazy glutton for punishment, so I said yes.  After my initial moment of panic though, I thought about it a bit more: I’m currently 10 weeks out from my 30k race – running a 21.1k Half Marathon 4 weeks before then is not a bad idea (I’m in trouble if I can’t run 21.1k by that time).  My long run is already stretched out to 16k, with an 18k run planned for this weekend.  I’ll treat this as a C race – have a bit of fun and use it to get some feedback about how ready (or not) I am for Around The Bay.

Still… my first Half Marathon… yikes… (I should be anxious, shouldn’t I?)


I Need a New Fueling Strategy

January 10, 2013 2 comments
The 4th sport of triathlon

The 4th sport of triathlon

I’m just back from a 5k run at a 6:45 minute/km pace (which is fantastic by my standards).  I ran strong.  Strong really is the best word for it – a very fast pace by my own standards, and I crossed the finish line without gasping for air.  My lungs got a a great workout.  My legs didn’t hurt at all.  Everything felt strong…

… and then I came home and ate everything in the house.

I’m having an issue with fueling lately.  On Sunday this past weekend I stretched my run up to 16k.  I came home and ate for the rest of the day.  On Tuesday I ran 6k followed by a weight lifting session.  That night I ate two full dinners.  Yesterday stopped in at the gym on my way to work for a quick 1000m swim (ok, it wasn’t very quick at all, which I think is part of the problem here).  At work that day I felt hungry and low on energy all day long.

It seems this year, as my training amount is increasing, my fueling strategy needs to be reviewed.  My “long runs” used to be 10km – now they’re getting longer, and I’m running out of energy fast.  Check out the splits from my 16k run this week…

16k splitsYou can see right around kilometer 13 I started to run out of gas, and by kilometer 15 I’d hit the wall.  I used to eat a Clif Bar roughly 20 minutes before I start training.  Now what do I do?  I know a few folks who run long(ish) distances.  How do you handle fueling?  Do you eat more before a long run?  Do you bring food with you?

I remember a few years back I did a long charity bike ride, and tried bringing gels with me.  Yuck!  The texture was so off putting, I haven’t tried one since.  But I need to think of something to manage my calorie level so I don’t eat everything in the house for the rest of the day after a training session (because inevitably, those aren’t all “good” calories).

How do you fuel for a long session?  How long does a session need to be before you think about fueling?

Y! M,C,A!

January 3, 2013 1 comment
Anyone else singing the Village People song right now?

Anyone else singing the Village People song right now?

I bit the bullet this week and joined the YMCA.  I’ve avoided joining a gym for a while now (mostly because I’m cheap), but really, it needed to happen.  The thought of more running on the icy and not shoveled sidewalks was more than I could bare.  But the thought of not running was even worse.

I joined the Downtown Hamilton YMCA.  It’s in a crazy old building in the middle of old downtown that was never intended to be a gym.  The reception is up a floor from the entrance.  The changing rooms are on different floors – you have to go down a level to get to the cardio machines, and down another to get to the pool and cycling studio.  However, from the change rooms you go up a level to get to the gymnasiums (who builds basketball gymnasiums on the 3rd floor?!?).  I got pretty lost my first visit there, but still managed to get a 5km run in.

One of the nice things about the YMCA in Hamilton is that the membership works at all 5 locations, one of which being just off highway on my way to work.  Score.  And, unlike the downtown location, it’s a new building that was actually built to be a gym.  Double Score!!  This morning on my way to work I went for an early morning swim, and on my way home I stopped back in for a run and a bit of resistance training (that makes 3 workouts in 24 hours after having not worked out in the past 10 days… I’m gonna sleep well tonight).

I’m definitely going to have to get used to running on a treadmill again.  It’s so nice to be running in shorts in January, but a treadmill is so different from running outside.  Everything from the feel underfoot to the feel of the air.

But I think the biggest difference is the technology – running with a TV screen in front of you, and control over speed and incline… and programs.  Do I want to run hills?  Or intervals?  Or “around the world”?  So many options!  And the data – it gave me the distance I’d run, but in Miles (which led to doing math on the run!  Ha!  get it?… pretty bad, huh?)

I’m actually really excited to have a gym membership again, and I like the idea of joining the YMCA.  I like seeing volunteers there, and lots of kids around.  It really has a community feel, which works for me.  And it’s nice to be able to focus on my training again without worrying about the weather.  Now it’s time to get to work…

It’s fun to stay at the Y! M, C, A!…

Do you prefer to run on a treadmill?  Or outside?  Do you notice a difference?

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