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Posts Tagged ‘Off Season’

A Vacation from Training

December 19, 2013 1 comment

ExcusesFrom a training perspective, December is proving to be a total write-off…

It started with 2 weeks of Total Brain Rest after my concussion playing Hockey Football Bungee Jumping… [sigh] volleyball.  I was worried at the time it would derail the fantastic momentum I had going… and I was right.  But I haven’t exactly gotten back on the horse since then.  Sure, I’ve been to the gym a whole 4 times this month.  I guess that’s better than nothing (marginally).  It’s a far cry though from what I had planned.

I could blame a busy month at work.  I could blame the busy holiday season.  I could blame the cold, or the snow.  But really, the problem is simply that my Give-A-Shit levels are pretty low this month.  And I’m perfectly okay with that.

I left work at 4:00 today and am now officially on VACATION for 11 days (well, for the most part).  Tomorrow we begin our Whirlwind-11-Day-Cross-Country-Family-Visiting-Tour!

2013xmastraveltrip

No, we don’t intend to drive to Edmonton… but I was lazy, and it was easier to do this than to open up photoshop and draw a ‘flight’ line

We’re bringing our running shoes, and I hope to get out for a few casual runs over the break – not because I have a plan to keep, or a race coming up, but for the enjoyment of running.  Simply that.  I have a training plan mapped out for the new year to start working back into a routine, and I’m actually looking forward to getting back into it.  But as much as I need a vacation from work right now, I’m taking a vacation from ‘training’ as well.

How do you know when you need to take a break from your plan?

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

November 19, 2013 1 comment

running

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!

 

Friday Stray Thoughts

November 8, 2013 1 comment

Friday

Image 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 morning I woke to snow on the ground.  We’d had sleet and snow in the air already, but this is the first time any of it has stuck to the ground (or that the car has needed to be brushed off).

Nothing says “Skip your workout and stay inside where it’s warm and dry” like the first time you wake up to snow on the ground.

The Off Season is firmly here.  So I thought I’d throw out a few of my favourite off season training quotes to help anyone fighting to get themselves out in the snow this weekend for a run (I sure will be)…

– – – – –

Via one of my fellow triathlete bloggers stevenburkard.com:

Medals are won in the winter, and picked up in the summer.

– – – – –

Courtesy of another blog I follow, Fit for 365:

FitQuote

– – – – –

And finally, from one of my own posts earlier this year, a quote from one of my Tri Heros, Simon Whitfield:

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

– Simon Whitfield

– – – – –

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

Fun with Spreadsheets

October 29, 2013 3 comments

spreadsheet

It just so happens that I like spreadsheets.  A lot.

So when I decided it was time to step back and look at 2013’s results with a bit of a bird’s eye view, it meant I got to have fun with spreadsheets 🙂

Actually, what kicked this exercise into full gear was a conversation with my wife – as I was telling her I was having trouble finding direction in this sport.  At a quick glance, it’s easy to look back at 2013 and see a lot of last place (or near last place) age group finishes.  But with a deeper look, there are some positives to take away, and some information to focus on going forward.

Are you excited?  I’m excited!!!  Let’s take a look.

2013ResultsRank

First, I wanted to get a summary of how my season went compared to the M30-34 age group I raced in.  We all know I didn’t win many races.  As the purple line depicts, I was a bottom 20% of the pack finisher across the board (though I only came in last once, at Lakeside).  But I’m happy (relatively speaking) with how my swim did this year.  I even managed to be front half of the pack out of the water in one race.  I’d like to get to the point where I’m front half of the pack out of the water in all my races, but for now at least my swim is respectable.

I think the picture this paints here more than anything is the direct parallel between my run results (two thumbs down to those) and my overall results.  And just how much I got my butt kicked on the run this year.  If I want to do better, I need to run better.  Period.  I know what my focus this winter needs to be!

It also shows that I have better results against the field in shorter duration races.  I have the burst speed to race competitively, but not the stamina to keep it up.   But, I suspect, the longer distance races also draw more experienced race fields overall, whereas shorter distances may draw more recreational, novice, and bucket list athletes.  Not really sure what to do with that, but it’s an interesting thought exercise.

The biggest surprise in this picture?  Must be my bike split from Cincinnati.  Had I had to guess (before seeing these results), my gut instinct was that Toronto Island was my best bike race.  And sure enough, Toronto Island was my better time over the 20km distance.  But compared to the field, I did better in Cincinnati.  Again, not really sure what to make of that… but… interesting at least.

2013ResultsTop5

Okay – so here’s a possibly pointless exercise.  If my goal was to finish in the top 5 of my age group (which, sure, I’d love that), how much faster would I have to be in each discipline?  Or, rather, how much faster than me was the 5th place finisher in each of my races?  Because the distances are all different, the results here are in seconds/100m for the swim, in seconds/km for the bike, and in mm:ss/km for the run.

Ultimately, I think it tells the same thing as the first graph.  That the improvement needed in my swim is less than is needed in the bike (and that my run is just crap!!)

And, much like the first graph, I see two (potentially) interesting trends:

  • The difference between my time and the 5th place time is more extreme in the longer durations on the bike.  At Binbrook (30km) and Lakeside (40km) I was not able to keep up, where as I was closer at Cincinnati (20km) and Toronto Island (20km).  I need to work on my bike endurance!!
  • In all 3 distances, I was closest to 5th place at Cincinnati.  What’s unique about Cincinnati?  Well, it’s the only race of the 4 above that isn’t run by Multisport Canada.  I’m starting to wonder if there is a difference in the skill level of the field

2013ResultsTop15

A potentially more useful version of the graph above: instead, lets look at what it would take for me to improve to place in the top 15 of my age group (or top 8 in the case of Lakeside, as there were only 9 of us in my age group at that race).  Top 15 may be a much more realistic goal for 2014 than top 5.

There isn’t much surprise here – similar patterns, just less distance between my own result and the 15th place finisher.  In fact, in 3 of the 4 races, I actually swam a faster split than the 15th place finisher (and even had one faster bike split).  Excluding for Cincinnati, I’m pretty consistently 20 seconds/km off a competitive pace (which, isn’t a negligible amount – that’s 10 minutes to shave off a 20km race… yikes).  But I’m a solid 2:00 – 2:30/km off the pace on my run.  That’s going to be the trickier one to make up.

Okay, so what did we learn from this?

Really, not much that we didn’t already know…

  • I’m a terrible runner
  • I’m not quite as bad at the other two disciplines
  • My swim is mid-pack competitive (Yay!!!)
  • I’m a lot closer to a top 15 finish then a top 5 finish
  • I like spreadsheets way too much

Next up is to figure out what I’m going to do with this information.  Which is good, because this post is long enough as it is.  I’ve got a few ideas, but feel free to send any suggestions my way.

 

Stop the Couch-fest!!

October 9, 2013 Leave a comment

GetOffTheCouch

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!!!

 

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