Posts Tagged ‘Gym’

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.


What’s on YOUR iPod?

January 22, 2014 11 comments

My cousin sent me a text this morning: “I found a song that is exactly the beat that I run and I love the song too: Unbelievers, by Vampire Weekend”.  For those of you (like me, until a few minutes ago) who don’t know this song:

Great song (which I had heard before, just never caught the name of).  It does have a great beat for running.  And it’s reminded me to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while now… uh… this one…

What’s on YOUR iPod?

See, it’s shitty cold here these days, and I really don’t want to run outside.  So I’m stuck on the treadmill.  Which means I’m super dependent on the tunes in my pocket to get me through my run (then again, I’m super dependent on tunes pretty much all the time).  There’s currently 908 songs on my phone – rock, country, hip hop, musicals… all kinds of things.  I have songs for every mood.  But only the right songs get me through those 6:00am treadmill sessions.

People choose music for working out based on a variety of factors – some like a particular tempo, others like lyrically inspiring songs.  Others just want something they grew up with.  My wife listens to podcasts when she runs… I need something with energy!

I have two playlists I use for training.  One has about 150 songs in it, with a mix of all the reasons for inclusion above.  I throw that list on random each session and get a different mix each time.  The other I call my ‘Race Day’ mix.  This is the cream of the crop folks – 6 songs to get me fired up once my bike is set up in the transition area and I’m pacing around trying to stay lose:

Because seriously – what ‘get pumped’ playlist doesn’t have this song?!

Too cliche?  Too bad!

Shout out to my brother-in-law for introducing me to this one.  It’s the lyrics.  It’s the beat.  It’s the whole package!

My brother-in-law introduced me to this one too.  It helps to have people who follow new music more than I do (otherwise I’d still be listening to Eye of the Tiger)

I grew up with this movie.  It’s The Shit!  This whole soundtrack gets me going, but this song is King!

Honestly, apart from my love for this band, and my love for anything 90’s rock, this song has the perfect beat for running.  I can’t stop air drumming, even on the treadmill (I must look like an idiot at the gym.  m’ohwell).

So there you go folks.  I’m nothing without my tunes, and those are my tunes!  But I’m always looking for new material.  So I’d love to hear your suggestions – any genre, any reason:

What’s on YOUR iPod?

Being Realistic

January 2, 2014 9 comments

worn out

I’m pooped!

So many people make New Years resolutions to ‘get healthy’ or ‘work out’ or ‘lose weight’.  And they all show up to the gym on January 2nd.  And I was right there with them this morning.

The alarm went off at 5:15, like it does every training morning, and my wife and I were at the gym by the time it opened at 6:00.  #Proud!

After changing, the first thing I did at the gym was step on the scale.  It was then that the full impact of the Christmas break hit me: I’m 6lbs heavier than when I last went to the gym, only 2.5 weeks ago.  That’s 6lbs of Christmas cookies, turkey and gravy, chocolates, and beer.  That’s 2.5 weeks of largely sitting on my ass (okay – I did spend 1 day skiing at Mt. Tremblant… and I had a pretty nasty head cold for half of that time… but after that I’m running out of excuses).

I’ve got a lot of work to do!!!


The problem is – it’s the new year.  It’s 2014.  I’m Gung-Ho!  I’m determined to start the new year strong!  I’ve got my 2-a-day training plan all mapped out.  I’ve got my new words for 2014 to inspire me.  I’ve got my new copies of The Time Crunched Triathlete and One Hour Workouts by my bedside (both Christmas gifts from my Mother-In-Law – will have to do a review post at some point soon).  I’m ready to hit it harder than ever before!!

… but my body isn’t.  My body remembers the 2.5 weeks off.  My body remembers all those cookies and gravy (not together though… gross).  My body hit it hard this morning, and is now in complete revolt!  Ouch!!!

One of my words for 2014 is Consistency.  And if I’m going to consistently hit my training plan, I need to be realistic in my planning.  I can’t do a 2-a-day, mid-season-intensity plan right now (nor should I, probably).  I’ve sat on my ass for the past few weeks!  I can’t jump back in and dial up the tempo on the treadmill.  I’m carrying an extra 6lbs of cookies!!

The fitness will come back.  The couch and junk food holiday is over now, but I can’t fix it all in one day.  And if I want to be consistent – and I do – I need to be a bit more realistic about my plan.  That extravagant training plan is going to need some… adjustments.  Maybe I won’t try to dive straight into 2-a-days (and maybe also I’ll have a salad for lunch today).  The alarm is going off at 5:15 again tomorrow morning – I’ll be back at it.  Consistently training, albeit a bit more realistic about the intensity 😉

But first, a nap might be in order when I get home tonight…

How is your 2014 starting out?

Back to Basics (or “I Still Hate Mornings”)

November 19, 2013 1 comment


It’s the off season.  Right in the thick of it.  Which means there isn’t much story telling to do (which means there isn’t much blogging to do).  There’s no races to recap.  There’s no new gear to report on.  There’s nothing really exciting to share.

And right now I kinda like it.

I’m focusing on going back to basics, and probably will until the end of 2013.  And for me, basics start at 5:15am…

(Before anything else, let me state here my complete respect and admiration for everyone out there who has children and manages to juggle their routines as well as their own.  At this point in my life, I simply couldn’t do it.  My hat is off to you!!)

ride alarm

5:15am.  That’s when my alarm goes off.  Every morning.  It’s terrible.  TERRIBLE!!!  It’s still dark, and very cold (and is only going to get colder).  And my bed is warm and soft and I would love to roll over for another 2 hours.  But a wise friend of mine once expressed to me [paraphrased] that “the choices you make reflect the priorities you hold” (I think he actually phrased it as “the places you spend your money reflect the priorities you hold”, which is even more true, but spending is a subset of choice and I think this equally applies).  It took me a few years, but I’m finally starting to understand it (thanks Jeremy, if you’re reading this).  I hate waking up in the morning.  But I’m really eager to see just how good I can be as a triathlete (and how healthy I can be as a person) if I commit to a routine and stick with it.  And being a better triathlete – and a healthier person long term – is worth so much more to me than lazing in bed an extra few hours.  So 5:15 it is.

The first bus comes by my house at 5:56am.  The gym doesn’t open until 6:00am anyway, so there’s no point getting up any earlier than 5:15.  That gives me enough time to throw some clothes on, shovel in some food, and be at the bus stop on time.  (PS – standing outside for the bus before 6:00, in Ontario, in the winter, is miserable.  Seriously why can’t the first bus of the day be on time?!?)

Being at the gym gives me enough time for roughly a 45-60 minute training session before cleaning up and taking the 75 minute bus ride up to work.  Really – I wake up at 5:15 to be at work at 9:00… yuck.  Seriously – how do people do this when they have to manage someone else’s schedule as well?!?

I’m trying to do this every day.  Every.  Day.  This is my routine.  Even the rare day when I get to take the car, I still get up at 5:15 because goal #1 right now is to stick to my routine.

Every.  Day.

Am I successful?  I’m working on it.  Last week I made it 3 out of 5 mornings.  This week so far I’m 2 for 2.  It’s a goal – something to work towards.  It’s actually a big lifestyle switch for me.  The more I look back on this past race season – and the more I’m honest with myself – I realize that while I put a lot of good hard training work in, I didn’t put nearly as much in (or as consistently) as I like to think I did.  I had a lot of great sessions – a lot of strong bricks, a number of great two-a-days.  But I also had a LOT of missed days, and mornings where I rolled over when I was supposed to train.  A lot of evenings where I chose to skip a session for whatever social opportunity came my way.  Granted, it was a lot more training than I’d done the summer before (which was nothing, really), but just think where I could be next season if I actually stuck to a routine?!?  If I actually trained as often as my training plan said I should?

This winter is about putting into it what I want to get out of it.  It starts with basics.  Sure, I have training plans for when I get to the gym (mostly focused on running and strength at this time of year), but really I’m focusing now all the way back to the basics: Getting up with that alarm every morning and putting in the work.

I will never learn to like 5:15am, but it’s worth it!


Not a Morning Person

October 23, 2013 3 comments

ride alarm

I don’t think I’m sharing anything new here… I’m not a morning person.  At all.

I think it’s my single biggest challenge as an Age Group Triathlete.  I hate getting out of bed.  It’s cold, it’s dark, and my bed is warm and comfortable.  Why would anyone want to get out of bed – especially early!  If I could sleep in every day I would…

Sadly, as a 9-5 working adult – let alone a triathlete – that’s not an option (I have no idea how I’m going to cope some day if/when I ever have kids!!)

The age group training community tends towards early morning training.  I used to fight against this – “Why do I need to get up early?” I would always ask myself… I could train at lunch!  I could train after work!  I could train in the evening!  I have so many options available to me that don’t require me to get out of bed early.

They don’t work.

The community, like most communities, has figured out the best way to do it.  Get up and train.  It’s amazing how many planned daytime/evening training sessions just don’t happen – for one reason or another, something gets in the way.  Even with the best of intentions, every time I tell myself “I’ll do it tonight instead”, it doesn’t happen.

No more fighting.  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

This week I’ve started setting my alarm at 5:45am.  I suspect in time that may get shifted earlier still, but that’s enough of a change to the system for now.  That leaves me about 45-60 minutes of time at the gym in the morning before catching the bus to work.  For now, that’s a reasonable compromise.  It’s a stark change from the 7:30am alarm I had become accustomed to over the summer.

How has it been waking up at 5:45?

worn out

I’m making it work…  Surprisingly (or perhaps not), it’s having very little impact on my ability to stay awake at work during the day.  In fact, the morning training is giving me lots of energy, especially in the morning.  Where I notice it the most is at night.  Bed time comes EARLY now.  This old man is starting to fade by 9:00pm most nights.  And to reduce wasted time in the mornings (no need to set the alarm any earlier than necessary) I’m focusing on packing my gym bag, work bag, and lunch at night – which eats into an already shortened evening.  The result is a lot more to do in a lot less time in the evenings.

But, from a training perspective, it’s great!  It’s paying huge dividends, even just a half-week into the new routine.  I’m hitting my training sessions reliably and with a dedicated block of time, not squeezing them in when I can.  I feel more focused – like I can plan my work better instead of being happy with whatever work I can do.  It feels more like training (a rewarding activity) instead of working out (a burdensome activity), if that makes sense.

I’m not going to claim that I like waking up early – I don’t think I ever will.  But I’ve seen the light of early morning training.  An off season of a better training routine can only help me next year… so long as I keep getting out of bed!

Stop the Couch-fest!!

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment


It’s been nearly a month now since my race season ended.  It’s been a really sluggish month.  What started out as great R&R time quickly turned into laziness.  Time spent on the couch, watching TV, eating crap.  And I quickly discovered something about myself: I’m not in my 20s anymore.

Seriously – that’s not as dumb a statement as it sounds.  My body can’t take laying on the couch for hours days anymore.  My body can’t eat cafeteria crap and drink beer like it did back in my University days anymore.  My mind still remembers these things as being fun and relaxing, and rewarding.  The mind can stay young, but the body still grows up.  And I have to take care of it differently now than I did a decade ago.

And that’s really why I got into Triathlon in the first place.  Because I sure as shit didn’t get into it to win races!  I got into it as a motivator to get my life in shape – get my body in shape.  To be a healthier me for myself, my wife, and my family and friends.

Last week my wife and I bought gym memberships at the local YMCA.  One of the first things I did on my first trip to the gym was to step on the scale.  I haven’t stepped on a scale in months.  234.5 lbs.  Holy shit.  I haven’t seen a number that low since high school (probably early high school at that)!  It’s easy for me to trumpet about improved running, biking, or swimming times – because I have gotten faster over this past year.  But that’s the number that sticks with me.  That’s the number that I choose to define my race season.  I know weight isn’t the end-all metric of a person’s health, but it’s a metric.  It’s an easy metric.  And it’s improved.

But it won’t continue to improve if I don’t continue to work.  The post race season couch-fest has got to stop.  It’s time to get back to work.  And sometimes it takes a number like this to remind me how far I’ve come, and to keep working.

I’ve added one last race to my 2013 schedule – I’m going to be running the Hamilton Road2Hope 10K with my cousin (and possibly my wife, and a few friends of ours) in a couple of weeks.  On one hand, after the magnitude of some of the races I’ve done this summer, it’s easy to say “oh, it’s just a 10K run”.  On the other hand, it’s so much more to me than that.  It’s symbolic of everything I’ve worked for, and why I do this:

  • It’s the second year we’ve run this race together (that makes it a tradition, doesn’t it?)
  • It’s a run with family and friends, and a chance to share this activity with them
  • It’s a race where cheering each other across the finish line is just as important as the PB time we’re running for

What better reason is there to get off the couch than that!!!


Dear Body

May 1, 2013 Leave a comment


image credit

Dear Body:

I know I hurt you yesterday.  I didn’t mean to, and I’m really sorry.  I hope you can forgive me.

I know it’s been a while since I last did any resistance training.  I know you don’t like it when I take long breaks from lifting – truth be told, I don’t like it either.  I didn’t really mean to take such a long break…

It all started with my long runs this winter.  At first I was doing really good, balancing my LSD running (Long Slow Distance… sheesh, silly minded body!) and my lifting schedules.  But over time the distances got longer, and took more of my time.  I didn’t manage it well at all.  And slowly, week by week, the lifting happened less and less.

I thought I would get back to it after Around The Bay.  I thought for sure things would change.  But they didn’t.  I wanted to, I really did.  First I took a recovery week, and then slowly started getting back into training.  But I got busy – I know that’s a lame excuse, but it’s the truth!  I found time for running, and biking, and swimming – but not for lifting.  I know you needed me to find time for lifting.  I know that hurt you deep inside.  I’m really sorry, Body.

But I’m back now!  Isn’t that wonderful news?! There’s a great new little gym in my new building.  I have no excuses any more.  I’ll change this time – I promise, I will.  If you could just find it in your heart to forgive me.  Please just give me a chance.

Please don’t be so mad at me for jumping right in my first time back yesterday morning.  I just got so excited to be back, I lifted like I hadn’t taken any time off at all.  That wasn’t fair – I know now.  I like being able to turn my head.  I like being able to lift my arms.  I like being able to walk.  I miss being able to walk – even if just 2 steps to the other side of my cubicle.  Just 2 little steps, is all I ask.  If you could just let me walk like I used to – like nothing was ever wrong – I swear… I’ll never neglect you like this again.

So whadda ya say?  Can we be buddies again, Body?  Please?

(I really hope so, ’cause we’re back at it tomorrow morning, and we’ve got Burpees coming our way… we’re only going to get through this if we work together)

Yours Truly

– Me

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