The Next Phase

April 27, 2015 3 comments


I love vacation!  I spent last week in sunny Cuba with 14 great friends, weather almost 30°C warmer than it is here now at home, with a Rum Punch in my hand the whole week, and not a cloud in the sky.  That was the life for 8 days.  I did a pair of token 20 minute sessions in the gym at the resort, but we’re not fooling anyone here: I did absolutely zero training last week.  And I loved it!

This trip was on the calendar for months, and I always viewed it as a line in the sand (pun intended).  Up until now I’ve been going through the motions of winter off-season training: hour-long sessions on the spin bikes at the gym, morning treadmill runs watching whatever the gym televisions had to offer as distraction.  Winter base training, mostly done indoors, and sporadically adhering to my training schedule.

But Cuba has come and gone – amazing a trip as it was – and now it’s time to ramp this shit into gear.  Off-season training is over.  May rolls in at the end of this week, so I’m officially declaring it race season!  And I’m really excited.

So, only 4 days back from vacation I kicked off this morning with a 4:15am alarm clock and drove in to Guelph for my swim with The Guelph Marlins masters swimming program.  I’ve swam with them a few times over the past few weeks (again: sporadically), but it’s time to start making this a regular thing.  3,600m swims first thing in the morning are a great way to get the day started (and to make you want to eat all-the-things all day long).

My bike is packed in the car for my after work ride with the Grand River Cycling Club, another group I’ve just recently joined.  Like The Marlins, I’m hoping cycling with a group will help me stick to a schedule, and help me push my training by getting out there with much stronger riders.  Tonight’s planned ride is an “easy recovery” 43km – I guess “easy recovery” is a relative term, and seeing as this will be my second time out on the bike this year it might not be so easy.  That being said, looking back at my data from last year, I didn’t get to my second training ride for the year until… never (yep, excluding races and lots of bicycle commuting, I only went for one single training ride in all of 2014.  Yikes!!!  No wonder my cycling last year was rough!).  I don’t care if it currently feels like 5°C out there – I’m looking forward to this one!

I haven’t joined a running group this summer, and I don’t intend to.  I enjoy the solitude of running alone (or the occasional LSD run with my wife), and frankly scheduling a third group around 3 weekly swims and 3 weekly rides would be a nightmare!

I’m 13 days away from my first race of the year, a fun tune-up 10k run at The Sporting Life 10K.  I do this run annually with a cousin of mine, but it also serves as a gut-check reminder that race season is here and real!  My goal for this race is 59:59 – after last year’s 1:00:07 frustration, I want so badly to run my first ever sub 1hr 10K.  After that, I start to focus on the Toronto Triathlon Festival (Olympic Distance), only 9 weeks away.

It’s coming on fast and furious – summer is here (even if the weather doesn’t know it yet) and race season is right around the corner.  Time to start the next phase of my training.  Time to get to work!!


Swimming Like a Boss… err… Master

March 23, 2015 Leave a comment


This morning I did a silly thing.  A wonderful amazing stupid silly thing.  I swam with a Master’s swim club.  I paid money to join a Master’s swim club.  I hauled my ass out of bed at 4:30 this morning to swim with a Master’s swim club.  I swam for 90 minutes with a Master’s swim club, and I kinda held my own.  Granted, I think my shoulders are about to fall off, and I want to eat All The Things, and the coach kept putting me on the rookie program (where everybody else was swimming a 5×100 on the 2:00, for example, I would do a 4×100 on the 2:30).  But all in all, I think I held my own.

I figure I swam about 3,050m this morning (I wasn’t really keeping count, just following the routine written on the white board and trying not to drown).  An amazing workout to start the day.  Can’t wait to do it again on Wednesday!

And now to go fall asleep at my desk…

Month in Review

March 2, 2015 1 comment


Looking Back, February 2015:


What do you call something that was less than what you hoped, but better than what you did last time?  An improvement?  A poor expectation?

It’s taken me a good 6 months to get back into training after race season ended last year – if you can call what I’m doing right now ‘into training’ – though I do feel I’m starting to turn a corner.  For me it’s all about consistency of routine, and I’m not nearly as consistent as I’d like to be yet, though I’m probably about as consistent as I’ve ever really been at any point in my training past (and certainly more consistent than at any time in the past 6 months).  So maybe that’s good?  I think I’m thinking of it as good, but with a big asterisk.  I know I can do better…

Looking Forward:

… which means March is the time to put up or shut up.  I have 6.5 weeks until a lovely trip down south that I’m very much looking forward to, and is going to wreck all hell and havoc on my training routine, I just know it.  So I’ve got 6.5 weeks to really make that routine solid before I go, and before I come back and right into my first race in early May.  My weekly training routine is pretty standard (the specific intervals, weights, reps change week to week, but the routine is solid):


So what do I need to do to make this happen?

  1. Strength sessions are priority.  Never short change a strength session.  Get strong before you go long!
  2. Saturday Long Run is the most important workout of the week.  Everything else feeds into (or off of) that
  3. Monday evening’s easy spin and Friday morning’s swim are optional.  Hit them when I’m strong.  Take them off when I need rest.  When in doubt, remember points #1 and #2
  4. Get my ass out of bed and hit my morning sessions.  And leave my crap in the gym locker.  I can’t talk myself out of an evening session if I have to go back to pick up my crap anyway.
  5. Laundry must be done Tuesday and Sunday evening.  It is known.  Lack of clean workout clothes is not an excuse.  This should almost be part of my training calendar.
  6. Monday & Thursday am/pm sessions can be swapped if needed, if I get to the gym in the morning and one of the good stationary bikes is free (the ones with the TV that works).  A good stationary bike is key to surviving a 60 minute workout.  Spring can’t come fast enough!!
  7. I think ‘Get my ass out of bed’ needs to go on this list a second time.
  8. Whenever not training (or working, which I’m pretty good about not doing outside of 9-5) spend time with my wife.  This is my time – the rest is her time.

So I guess that’s what I’m focusing on for March.  That’s a pretty big list…

5 Things I Think I Think:

  1. February 2015 was the coldest month in Toronto in the history of ever.  Fuck that shit!
  2. I’m considering joining the Grand River Cycling Club this summer.  I’ve never cycled with a group before.  One of the things I’ve always liked about cycling (and triathlon in general) is the individualistic nature of the sport.  I like team sports – but a 1-2hr cycle is a great chance for some self time.  But perhaps having a group to cycle with would be a good thing, with regular ride times, routes, and paces?  I think it would help with the ‘consistency’ thing I’m going for here
  3. Sports Geek: As I’m typing this, I’m watching a live tweet feed of the Blue Jays intersquad game.  The season hasn’t even started yet.  The preseason hasn’t even started yet.  And. I’m. Already. Geeking. Out.  Opening day is just 5 weeks away.  It’s not just that baseball is awesome (which, it is), but it’s the start of summer.  It’s sitting out in the sun, drinking overpriced crappy beer, and watching a bunch of millionaire grown men play a game.  It’s baseball.  #SoExcited!!
  4. Beer Geek: My wife had a rare weekend off this weekend, so we had a chance to hop across the border for a romp with some American (and international) craft beers.  I got to sample a whole bunch of things, and we brought a whole lot more back with us.  I think my favorite of the night might have been the Allagash Interlude.  Allagash is quickly becoming a favorite brewery of mine.
  5. It’s just started snowing outside my window again as I type this.  *sigh* I’m so ready for spring.

What do you do to make yourself get out and train during the winter?

Friday Stray Thoughts

February 13, 2015 Leave a comment

FridayImage by Glenn McCoy

Happy Friday everyone!  For those of you looking for a little light lunchtime internet distraction to tide you over until quitting time, here’s a few Stray Thoughts for your Friday Afternoon

– – – – –


This week I re-introduced strength training into my routine, for the first time in… well… a lot of months.  And by that I mean I lifted a bunch of weights on Tuesday that were WAY too heavy given how long it’s been since I last lifted weights.  My everything is sore, even still today, 3 days later.  I’m familiar with the general gist of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – I’m not terribly surprised at being really sore after not having lifted in a long time.  But I am surprised at how much I hurt, and how long it’s continued to hurt.  I’ve been walking real funny around the office this week, kinda like an elderly penguin.  Last night I went for a 20 minute hard run, and I could tell near the end when my form started to falter, and my arms started to swing a bit more wildly than normal, because my pectorals started to wince.  I’m clearly broken.

Tomorrow is my long run for the week, and while I wouldn’t normally plan to add strength on a long run day, I’m thinking it’s best to pick up a few (moderately less) heavy things tomorrow as well, lest the muscles relax too much again.

– – – – –


I think this came across my Facebook feed this morning – for some random reason – which is totally amazing.  You all need to rush over to and spend all your money on this hoodie.  Do it now, before you forget!

Because Sharks!!

(I have absolutely no affiliation with the people who make or sell this shirt.  I just think it’s totally fantastic and happen to have a birthday coming up… in 5 months… hint hint)

– – – – –


Speaking of amazing crap that I totally need but really shouldn’t spend money on, I came across this cycling jersey on Pinterest by way of a link to an amazon store (where, sadly, the link to the store on Amazon is no longer valid, otherwise I would gladly link it here and encourage you all to go and spend your money there).  Nevertheless, this jersey is still AMAZING and totally reminds me that spring is on it’s way, which means outdoor cycling is on it’s way.  And I’m truly in the mood for an awesome new cycling jersey (or 3) to get me through this summer!

– – – – –

Have a great weekend everybody!  Good Luck to everyone racing or training this weekend!!!

Cross Training: Curling Edition (or why I hurt so damn much this morning!!!)

February 9, 2015 6 comments


Swimming and biking and running over and over and over again can get really tedious sometimes, especially during a Canadian winter.  I’m a big fan of getting other (usually social) forms of sport into the calendar.  I consider them cross training (okay, I’m stretching here a bit sometimes… but they are still active, do use muscles not normally used in my other training, and get me out and off the couch.  All of these are good things).

This winter I’ve decided to give curling a try.  After 3 weeks of Sunday night matches, I’m terrible.  I really stink at this game.  I’m also having an amazingly fun time!

Yesterday was a kinda gross weather day around these parts: grey, freezing drizzle, the kind of weather to make you want to stay inside with a good book or a few rounds of StarCraft.  But I knew I had a curling match planned – and I also owed myself a 60 minute run – so I decided to make a single trip out of the house, hit the treadmill for 60 minutes of 9:1 LSD running (note: the first time I’ve done a 60 minute run since last July!!  Gettin’ back at it!), snarf a granola bar and head straight to the curling rink.  I may have been a bit tired, and a bit hungry, and a bit low sugar for the game.  My teammate singing songs about nachos sure-as-shit didn’t help… nor did my singing along…

I played lead this week, after playing third the first two weeks.  I like lead – a lot more leeway in what constitutes a ‘successful’ shot, and a bit more exercise in sweeping more often.  I had a few successful shots, and one amazing shot with a perfect draw to the button (and if it wasn’t supposed to be a high guard that would have been amazing!!!).  I also managed to do a complete yardsale on the ice while sweeping once – complete face plant superman style, landed on my chest, and the slider that was hanging out in my back pocket ended up 2 sheets over.  I was laughing, but that ice really isn’t too forgiving.  Props to my co-sweeper for finishing the job for me!

In hindsight I should have had a nice hot bath when I got home last night.  My thighs and hamstrings are feeling it from the long run, and my chest and hip feeling it from falling on the ice.  I’m a sorry achy mess today (and I certainly didn’t make it to my morning swim this morning).  But it’s so worth it.  Turns out curling is a pretty fun sport (and having really fun team mates sure doesn’t hurt).  And it’s a great little change of pace from the routine swim, bike, run.


Beginner Triathlete Tricks of the Trade

February 5, 2015 1 comment


I read a lot of articles about triathlon training.  Most of them focus on advice for seasoned triathletes – how to improve power output, functional threshold training, stroke efficiency, etc. etc.  That’s great – I’m sure this is helpful reading to the many triathletes out there who already log 10-15 hours per week and are looking for those extra tips to get them on the podium.

I’m not them.  And though I’ve been racing for a few years, I’m still effectively a beginner at this sport.  And as a kind-of-beginner, I’m still looking for tricks of the trade to help beginners get their foot in the door, so to speak, in this amazing-yet-insane sport.

Here’s one that I stumbled on myself that I’ve fallen in love with: Hijack a day use locker at your local gym!  It works!

The only way I can get enough sessions of swimming, biking, and running (plus some strength and flexibility training, in a perfect world) in each week is to do 2-a-days.  Get a work out in before work, and another in later in the evening.  It seems like a lot, but the body gets too tired to do the same volume of training in a single session, and my boss wouldn’t like it if I was an hour later getting into work each morning.  The problem is: after a tiring training session in the morning, and a full day at work, I just want to go home – eat, socialize, rest, and get to bed.  How do I make myself go back to the gym for that second session?

The answer: Leave my stuff in the locker.  The gym has all kinds of signs up that tell you that lockers are day use only, and not to leave locks on overnight.  But when I’m there at 6am, why not leave my stuff in the same locker all day and come back to find it at 6pm?  It means the morning’s gym clothes aren’t stinking up my car all day at work, and the afternoon’s gym clothes aren’t freezing cold from sitting in the car all day!  PLUS, if I don’t haul my ass back to the gym in the evening, my lock’s going to get cut over night and all my crap will be stolen (okay – really, are they gonna take dirty gym clothes?!?)

I don’t leave my wallet or phone or anything else so valuable in there that I’d rally be upset if it was stolen – if someone breaks in and steals my sweaty shoes or shorts, well, hopefully they really needed them.  But knowing I have to go back and pick them up forces me to get back to the gym, and not make excuses to skip the second workout.  It works really well – keeps me motivated, keeps me on track, and keeps me training!

So locker 122 at the local YMCA is mine.  They don’t know that, but it is.

Striving For Fitness

January 27, 2015 3 comments


I had a conversation this weekend with a friend of a friend who saw me wearing one of my triathlon race shirts and was impressed “wow – you really do triathlons?”  To me this seemed so odd.  Sure, I sign up for (and finish nearly last in) triathlons all the time.  Anyone can sign up for a race and finish last (that’s easy!!) But I don’t really consider myself a fit person – the prototype we think of as a “triathlete” – so I don’t find it all that impressive.  It’s hard to consider yourself a fit person when your training is inconsistent.  People who actually get to the gym every day, who actually set their alarm – and get out of bed – at 5am every day, who can turn their back on sweet or salty treats in the interest of their overall health, those are the people who impress me.

An article came through my twitter feed today that caught my eye: 10 Things Fit, Healthy People Do Differently Every Day from  It really resonated with me.  This is almost a perfect list of the habits that I am trying (and struggling) to form for myself.  A few highlights that hit home:

Fit, healthy people have grit – I’m really prone to bursts of enthusiasm, that usually last about 4-6 weeks, and often in the weeks immediately leading up to a race.  But I struggle to string these bursts of enthusiasm together for a long-view approach to training.  I know it’s important, but it’s easy to find an excuse when there’s no immanent feedback.  But it takes weeks for fitness to build.

Fit, healthy people rise with the sun – If there’s one habit I could make myself change, this would be it.  I love sleep way too much, and I hate getting out of the bed in the morning.  But I know I train better in the morning – and in fact, I have more energy and a more positive life outlook when I get my ass out of bed.  Somehow, that always seems negotiable while I’m still under the covers.

Fit, healthy people treat themselves – Okay, I’m actually really good at treating myself (and feel really guilty when I do it).  The trick here is to treat myself less often, and feel less guilty when I do.  Make it an actual treat for hitting a goal, and be proud of the goal and enjoy the treat.  Then get back at it (see: “Fit, healthy people have grit”).

I’m going to print this article and post it up on my fridge as a focus reminder to help me hit my goals this year.  It would be nice to weigh less, and to race faster, but more than anything, I really want to be fit and healthy for the long term.  And these are some great habits to focus on!


%d bloggers like this: