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What’s Next?

July 7, 2015 2 comments

Never give up on your dreams

It’s been over two weeks now since I raced Toronto Triathlon Festival.  A very lazy 2 weeks.  Which isn’t to say I’ve done nothing: I’ve gotten out and ran (lightly) a few times, but it really has been lazy.  And I don’t like that.  It impacts my mood, my sleep, my appetite.  One of the big reasons I race is to motivate myself to train, and one of the big reasons I train is to keep my life (and my health) balanced the way I want it.

Post TTF I’ve really been waffling on where to go next.  There are lots of options, ranging from racing shorter distances, longer distances (or calling it “done” for the summer).  All of these options have pros and cons.  It seems though, without deciding on a direction I’m having trouble writing a training plan.  Without a training plan I’m having trouble kicking my ass out the door to train.  And the less I get out the door, the less I feel like getting out the door.  Lazy begets lazy, and I’m caught in that spin cycle!

On one hand, I want to race long.  I’m really tempted to try to stretch myself out and see if I can tackle the 70.3 distance.  It would be with a goal to finish and an expectation of bringing up the rear in the race (though truthfully, this is what I do in most races anyway).  It would mean a lot of work – a lot of time and commitment to training this summer.  A commitment I was ready to make, until I raced TTF – or more aptly, until I ran in TTF.  The swim and the bike went well enough, but as soon as I set out to run I felt over my head.  I had to talk myself through the first kilometer of the run and barely ran/walked 10k.  How the hell would I have done 21.1k?!?

I remember sitting under a tree with my wife right after I crossed the finish line, a sweaty, tired, and hungry pile of hot mess, and telling her that racing long was off the table for 2015.  She helped me see it from a great perspective: there were many amazing age group racers in their 40s, 50s, 60s (and even older!) kicking ass in this race.  I have a lot of years left ahead of me in racing if I want them, and there’s no reason I need to rush to try the next distance.  I walked away from that happy to back off, enjoy more of my summer on the patio, and stress less about training.  I signed up to race the Wasaga Beach Sprint Triathlon at the end of August.  I wrote myself an 8 week training plan leading up to a Sprint distance race.  I’m looking forward to it, as it’ll then be 5 years from my first ever triathlon, which happened to be this same race 5 years ago.  How awesome is that?!?

Except it doesn’t feel awesome.  Don’t get me wrong – it will be really cool to go back to where it all started 5 years later (and should make for a great “then and now” blog post in about 8 weeks), but it’s not scratching the itch.  There’s still a voice in the back of my head that wants to try a 70.3 race.  I know how bad it felt trying to run the Olympic distance race two weeks ago, and how easy it would be to decide I’m not ready to race longer.  And maybe I’m not.  But it doesn’t sit right with me to make this decision without giving it a shot.

So I’ve chosen a race, the Barrelman, which runs on September 20th.  I’ve written an 11 week training plan and circled a key date on it: Thursday August 6th.  4 weeks away.  That’s the date when the registration price next increases.  Until then I give what I’ve got to this plan, stretch out my distance, and reassess after 4 weeks to see if I’m on track or not.  If I’m not, it’s no loss.  I’ve got lots of time left in this sport.  But at least I’ll make the decision based on trying, not based on it seeming too hard.

Epilogue: Last night, all excited and energized with my new training plan, I went to my cycling group.  My first training session of the new plan called for a group ride, followed by a 4km brick run.  Usually the Monday night route is 43kms long, but the group decided to take an extra turn and lengthen to 50km.  Perfect!  And this group is stronger than me, often dropping me to the chase pack in the first half of the ride.  But this time I kept up with the main pack for at least 80% of the ride.  I rode long, and strong, and I felt great.  Then I got off the bike and tried to run.  What a wobbly shit show that was!  I only managed to run 2.2km (walking at least half of it).  I’ve got a lot of work to do over the next 11 weeks…

Today’s a Couch kinda day

April 5, 2014 Leave a comment
Not Today!!

Not Today!!

Today is a Couch kinda day!

weather140405

I appreciate that my training plan has a long run scheduled for today.  That’s nice.  But it’s not gonna happen.  Winter just doesn’t seem to want to go away.  It’s cold outside again today, and there’s a new dusting of snow on the ground.  Plus, I have the house to myself.  If ever there was a day to sit on the couch in my sweatpants, with a blanket and a Harry Potter book, this is it!  Especially since the rest of the week looks so much better:

weather140405b

That’s right.  Tomorrow is going to feel 19° warmer than today.  19 whole degrees!  And be sunny!  I think my long run can wait a day, don’t you?

What would you do with a sudden day off to yourself?

How do you track your runs?

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

runwatch

Okay – this is pretty much just a glorified re-blog of an article from Canadian Running: How do you track your runs?  Go read their original article.  It’s a great piece (with apologies to anyone born before 1977 – or for that matter anyone born after 1977 who actually knows what a ‘mile’ is 😉 )

(Canadian Running is a great magazine – I actually pay them money to get a physical copy of the magazine sent to me by snail mail every month.  Who does that anymore – read a physical magazine? or use snail mail?!?  But I like what they write and am happy to stand behind them.  And they didn’t ask me to say that either!)

I used to plan/track/run my runs in terms of kilometers.  Now I track them in terms of time instead.  For me the argument (though not perfect, I grant) is thus: it allows for a consistent comparison of effort from session to session, regardless of factors like weather, terrain, perceived effort, or motivation.  I want to manage the training stress I put my body through – I don’t want the amount of time at elevated heart rate or stressed legs to change based on the day’s conditions.  Even leading up to a race, I don’t train for the distance I’ll run, instead I train for my anticipated running time (plus maybe 10% to make sure I can run strong through the finish line).

Oddly enough, I still track my bike training sessions in distance (the plan I follow lists them in miles, but the internet helps me fix that 🙂 ).  And I’m really not sure why the running by time argument hasn’t translated to biking yet…

So what do you do?

Happy Friday Everyone!  Have a Great Weekend!!

2014 Goals

March 13, 2014 2 comments
I can laugh about it, at least...

I can laugh about it, at least…

image from *clean* funny pics

Today I’m working from home – for the 3rd day this week – with a head cold.   I like to joke about the ‘Man Cold‘, but in truth I try hard to keep being a functioning adult as much as I can (though my wife may have some comments to make on that front).  I’m working from home to keep the germs out of the office, and so I can make myself hot beverages more readily, but I’m still working!  Life doesn’t stop because of a head cold…

… except for training.  When my head feels like it’s in a vice, and all breathing is through my mouth, I have zero interest in getting on a treadmill.  Does that make me a lazy triathlete?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Right now, not really.  I’ll get back to training as soon as I can breathe again!

What I can do in the interim is finally start to put some thought towards my 2014 goals.  Better late than never, right?

TTF

2014 is going to be divided in two halves for me.  My “A” race this year is the Toronto Triathlon Festival (Olympic Distance) on Sunday July 13th.  So my year is going to be focused on getting ready for this race, and then staying healthy and fit through the back half of the year.

The Front Half

The Toronto Triathlon Festival, from today, is 17.5 weeks away.  In previous years, my goal has been to simply ‘finish’ races, and hopefully to PB (though nearly each race was a first at the respective race distance, this was almost always a guarantee).  This year, I want some specific goals to shoot for:

  • I want to finish sub 3:05:00.  That’s about a 10% improvement over my Olympic Distance PB of 3:24:44
  • I want to run the 10k leg of the race in sub 1:05:00 off the bike.  My PB straight 10k time is 1:02:41, so I can do this.  But I struggled running off the bike last year, with the run in my Olympic race taking 1:18:19.  If I can shave 13 minutes off my run, I’m well on my way to a sub 3:05:00 time.

How will I get there?  In these next 17+ weeks, I want to:

weight-loss-scale Drop 15lbs.  My current weight is 234lbs.  By race day, I want my race weight to be under 220lbs.  That’s less than 1lb/week to lose.  I can do this.  Through consistent training, and a better focus on eating healthy, whole, and natural foods, this should be manageable.  Why? Because I’ll be able to run and bike a hell of a lot faster with 15lbs less fat weighing me down.  Plus, last year my wetsuit was a tight fit, and I sure as hell am not buying a new one!

WaterlooMarathon Race a half marathon.  My run is by far the weak leg of my race.  Last year I did a spring half marathon and training for it helped me focus my training volume on the run, which I think helped my running comfort and endurance.  So I’m going to try that again this year.  I’m looking at the Waterloo Half Marathon on Sunday April 27th.  That’s 6.5 weeks away – enough time that I can stretch out my long runs to get ready.  I’m not setting a finishing time goal for this – though a PB would be nice (and anything faster than 2:38:00 would be sufficient, so the odds are good).  I’m running this because I want to focus on running a volume of miles over the first segment of my training, and having a race on the calendar will help keep me motivated.  Plus, race day is fun!  Also, my wife wants to run too, and any opportunity to run a race with her is always worth it!

Subaru Race a test race.  I’m planning to race the Subaru Triathlon Guelph Lake I (Olympic Distance) race on Saturday June 21st.  That’s 3 weeks prior to my ‘A’ race, and 14.5 weeks from today.  This should give me good feedback before my ‘A’ race.  Plus, the Subaru Triathlon Series is a series I’ve been meaning to try for a few years now, and having grown up in Guelph this is going to feel real comfortable.

I’ve spent some time this week – while stuffed up and not training – realigning my training plan towards these goals.  I’ve split the next 17+ weeks into three phases:

The Build Phase – Really this is just keep on doing what I’ve been doing all winter: Base training.  This phase is all about volume.  I’m sticking primarily to the training plan I have been using, but making some modifications based on what I’ve learned so far this winter works for me: i) Fridays are now rest days.  It is sacred!  ii) Monday mornings are now off mornings.  Not every day needs to be a 2-a-day, and the less times I have to fight my alarm the better!  iii) Monday and Wednesday afternoons are going to be easy bricks.  The goal is still about volume, not about hard training.  But I need to account for the new days off somewhere.

The Build Phase will last for the first 6+ weeks until the Waterloo Half Marathon, then we get into…

The Intensity Phase – The next 8 weeks are my intensity phase.  Here, the volume drops back a bit, and we replace it with more bricks, speed work, and intervals.  Workouts are more intense, but not as long.  The emphasis on running in the first phase (leading up to the half marathon) starts to balance out with time biking and swimming.  Monday mornings and Fridays are no longer sacred, but replaced with easy recovery swim and ride.

The Intensity Phase will last for 7 weeks, plus a taper week leading up to the Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon, then we get into…

The Third Phase (I really need a catchy name for this one.  Thoughts?) – 3 weeks between the Guelph Lake Olympic Triathlon and my ‘A’ Race, the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  3 weeks to focus on anything that I wasn’t happy with, make any adjustments to expectations, and get focused and ready for my ‘A’ race.

The Back Half

I don’t have a definite plan for the second half of 2014 as of yet.  While I’d like to get another race in at some point, for the fun of racing as much as anything, I’m still being flexible about it.  My wife and I are tentatively planning a 2 week vacation in August.  I would bring my running shoes, but not my bike or my wetsuit.  So I’m still weighing the pros and cons of an early September race (possibly the Wasaga Beach Triathlon) or maybe even an early August destination race (possibly the Rev3 Morgantown).  If I don’t race though, I need to look for another mechanism to help me keep focus on training and healthy eating.  I’m coming to realize how easily I slip into old bad habits when I don’t have a race on the horizon.

Now I just need for this head cold to go away.  It’s time to get back to work – there’s a lot to do over the next 17 weeks!!

Summer is coming!

Month In Review (or “why my Give-A-Shit is broken, and that’s ok”)

February 28, 2014 7 comments

badtri

Hmm… over 2 weeks since my last post, huh?  As goes my training, so goes my posting, apparently…

Looking at it purely through the lens of “Triathlon Training”, my February has been shit a bit inconsistent.  I’ve made it to a few training sessions, but have easily missed just as many.  Excuses?  You betcha!  I got loads of ’em:

Excuses

  • It’s cold, and dark, and miserable outside
  • Work is busy.  Not drowning-in-overtime busy, but full-intense-days busy such that all I want to do when I get home is collapse on the couch.  But I can’t, because…
  • This volunteering gig I’ve signed up for is taking a lot of time and energy.  It’s like a second part-time job on top of my day job.  It’s an amazing experience (in fact, probably worthy of it’s own blog post… which I should do…), but it eats into my time

Yep – excuses.  The result of which being that my February sucked as far as training months go!  m’ohwell.

Should I be more upset about it?  Maybe.  But my Give-A-Shit is kinda broken right now.  And that’s okay.  I’m really trying to put it in perspective.  What should I be upset about?  About missing a bunch of sessions from a training plan that I took from a website, that isn’t personalized to me whatsoever, and that is almost 100% more intense than the plan I followed last year?  All while I’m working a different job than last year, living in a different city, and dealing with a distinctly colder and snowier winter?

Maybe I should be upset about that.  But I’m not gonna be.

So what lens should I look at it from?  Instead of comparing myself to a random training plan online (or to an ideal I picked up somewhere that all age group triathletes need to be training 7-10 hours per week, regardless of background, goals, or race distances planned), let’s try comparing myself to… myself:

Here’s my training volume so far in 2014 (left), compared to so far in 2013 (right):

MIR 1402to1302

The overall volume this year is a bit lower, though not embarrassingly lower.  Last year at this time I was training for my first half marathon in late February, and a 30km running race in late March.  This year I don’t have running-specific races on the horizon (or any specific races on the horizon), so my training is much more balanced and less urgent.  My bike effort is much improved.  My swim and strength efforts are marginally improved.  My run effort was holding it’s own in January – has slid a little in February, admittedly, but hasn’t fallen off completely.  There’s a base there.  I can still build on that!

(Shout out to one of my favorite blogs: A Promise to Dad, for the inspiration to contrast 2014 YTD vs 2013 YTD.  What a great way to look at my training, rather than solely comparing it to an arbitrary training plan!  Thanks 🙂 )

What other lenses can I look at it through?

  • I’m ~10lbs lighter than I was this time last year
  • My waste size is 4″ smaller than it was last year
  • I’m running at a 6:15/km pace reliably, where last year I was between 7:00/km and 7:30/km

None of those measures are by themselves earth shattering changes over the course of a year.  But progress is progress, and every time I get down on myself that I missed a single training session, I need to remember that over the course of a year I’m trending in the right direction.  It’s all about long term gains, not short term pains!

KeepGoing

image from theBERRY

Happy End-of-February Everybody!  Spring is just around the corner!!!

Is It Snowing Out There (or am I just lazy)?

February 5, 2014 2 comments
backyard140205

My backyard. You can barely see the chairs and table, and wouldn’t know the BBQ was fully shoveled out and used just a few days ago.  There’s an empty wine bottle somewhere in the middle of the yard as a snow barometer… we won’t see it again for another month I figure, at least

I feel like I’m being lazy.  Am I being lazy?!?

This week is supposed to be Week 1 of my new training plan – 19 weeks out from my semi-planned-but-not-yet-registered first race of the season, the Muskoka 5150.  The plan is 18 weeks long, so starting it 19 weeks out is ideal for me – it allows for a do-over week at some point in the program if real life gets in the way.

I didn’t exactly expect my do-over to come in Week 1…

Monday was good.  Monday was an hour of resistance training before work (and a really good hour at that), followed by 20k of intervals on the bike after work.  I pushed hard on Monday.  Monday was good.

Tuesday was a flop because Monday was too good.  Tuesday morning my body reminded me of how hard I pushed on Monday.  My alarm went off at 5:15, I sat up in bed, and immediately knew I wasn’t going for my scheduled swim.  Fuck.  No.  I decided an extra hour of sleep and recovery would do me more good than the swim… but instead I accidentally slept an extra 2.5 hours and was late getting to work (thus late getting out of work, thus I also missed my scheduled run after work.  sigh).

Which brings us to today.  Wednesday.  Where yet again mother nature has dropped a metric fucktonne of snow on us!  I’m seriously done with this winter.  I worked from home today – which seemed a much better idea than braving the bus system.  On dry roads, my daily commute takes me 75-90 minutes each way.  I didn’t have the patience to deal with the bus and the snowy roads this morning.  Which means I missed my morning swim again this morning.

So now my work day is done.  I’m at home.  There’s several feet of snow on the ground (and neither roads nor sidewalks in my neighborhood have been plowed yet… apparently we’re at the bottom of the pecking order).  I supposed I could venture out into the unplowed roads to go to the gym.  Or I could stay home, pull up online yoga videos and cut my losses (shout out to Fit for 365 for pointing me to this series of DoYouYoga videos back in September – seriously recommend them to anyone who’s into free at home yoga).

Am I being lazy?  I feel like there’s some expectation of a triathlete (even a beginner, amature triathlete like myself) that we persevere and overcome all obstacles to make our training schedule.  Am I really going to miss my 4th training session in 2 days?  And does it really matter in the long run?

Or maybe I’m over thinking the whole thing.  I think I’ve just been cooped up for too long and need a break from this winter.

If you could go on a vacation anywhere in the world, right now, without worry about ‘grown up responsibilities’ like cost or your work schedule, where would you go?

Week In Review

February 2, 2014 1 comment

badtriThis may or may not end up being a recurring feature on this blog, largely dependent on how busy lazy I am on Sundays.  We’ll give it a try for a bit and see how it goes.

Looking Back:

WIR 140202

I love recovery week.  I slept in a few mornings, I went to the gym a few one morning.  It was nice to listen to my body instead of my training plan – push when I felt it, and rest when I didn’t.  The lion’s share of the work this week came from a brick yesterday – 60 minute bike ride followed by a 50 minute run (all indoors – it snowed 20cm yesterday thank you very much).  It was great to do a brick like that – the first I’ve done since the summer.  As my wife told me after: I’m going to be in much better shape this triathlon season than I ever have been before!

January’s now in the books.  I’m really happy with how this month went.  Without a doubt, the most consistent training month I’ve ever had!

MIR 1401

MIR 1401 weekly

Looking Forward:

I’ve decided this year to follow a modified version of a 1/2 Iron training plan I found on trinewbies.com – modified, for the most part, because I’m not training for a 1/2 Iron, but rather primarily Olympic distance races (with a Sprint or two likely to also happen this summer).  In short, where the training plan calls for 20 miles of biking, for example, I’m doing 20kms.  It’s an easy way to keep the structure of the plan, while dialing back to roughly 60% of the volume.

I’m also making a few other adjustments – incorporating some bike and run workouts from One Hour Workouts, a wonderful little training guide my Mother in Law gave me at Christmas; moving a few sessions around to better fit my personal schedule.

Throughout January I repeated week one 4 times over, focusing on consistency and getting used to the every day (and often twice a day) schedule.  Now that it’s February, it’s time to start progressing through the plan.  Ironically enough (and I didn’t realize this until just now), the plan is for 18 weeks leading up to the race day, and this coming week is 19 weeks out from the Toronto Triathlon Festival, which is my A race this year.  How convenient is that?!?

Edit: Turns out I’m 19 weeks out from the Muskoka 5150 that I hope to race in June, but haven’t yet signed up for.  Not from the Toronto Triathlon Festival, which is another 3 weeks after that.  In case that’s important…

So… Week 1 this week, for keeps this time!

56 Things I Think I Think:

  1. I think I’d forgotten how much I love swimming.  I’m a half decent swimmer and cyclist, but a lousy runner.  So I spend a lot of my training effort running.  In fact, in 2013 I almost didn’t swim train at all (a total of 25.3km swam in all of 2013 – including races).  But the more I swim now, the more I remember how much I enjoy swimming.  I’m looking forward to it being a bigger part of my 2014 training.
  2. I think I need to remember that riding a bike machine is different from being on a stair master.  I try to remember to spin full circles, but when I lose focus for a few minutes I fall back into mashing the downward stroke like we were taught to ride bikes as kids.  It’s amazing how my power goes up, while my perceived effort goes down when I remember to spin full circles.  A very simple thing, but one I need to keep working on.
  3. I think Wiarton Willie predicted 6 more weeks of winter.  I think Wiarton Willie’s historical success rate is close to 37% (which is lousy for what is essentially a coin flip).  I think I don’t really believe in this crap anyway.  I think this is one of the lousiest, coldest, snowiest winters in a long time and I’m so ready for it to be done!
  4. I think there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes of organizing a race.  It takes a lot of volunteers, and a lot of planning.  I’ve done volunteer coordination before, but never for a race event.  I think I’m learning a lot, and my brain is kinda pooped.
  5. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  Go Seahawks!!  Though I think my cat wishes the Saints were in it…OlwynSaints
  6. I think this is my 200th post on this blog.  I think that should mean something, but I’m really not sure what.  Thanks to everyone who’s read so many of my random ramblings, and for all the comments and conversations!

That’s my week in a nutshell.  How was your week?

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