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Stuck in Neutral

April 1, 2013 Leave a comment
okay... it's not that bad...

okay… it’s not that bad, for the most part…

I’m sure this image originated from The Simpsons at some point, so I’ll give them credit

It’s now been 8 days since Around The Bay.  I’m kinda stuck in neutral.  I fully intended to give myself a few days off after the race day to recover (and to mentally take time off from training – the mental break is as important as the physical break).  The funny thing about getting off the horse is how tough it can be to get back on.

And that’s not to say I haven’t had any training sessions in the past week – on Wednesday last week I got a good session of swim drills in.  And on Friday last week I did a 5k “fun run” with my wife at a surprisingly brisk pace (aka “her pace”, which is much faster than mine).  That’s nice… but it hasn’t gotten me back into my routine.  Getting off the couch for a workout is easy.  Getting off the couch a second, and third, and fourth time until it becomes routine is tough.

I need a little help getting going – sometimes the best way to do that is to put your plans out in public.  Keeps you accountable (so they tell me).  So that’s what I’m going to do… in case you hadn’t gotten there yet…

Tomorrow’s possibly overly ambitious training plan:

  • 60 second plank first thing in the morning.  Get the heart rate going.  #PlankADay
  • Swim drill before work.  200m warm up; 5 x 100m 2:00 sprints; 100m kick board; 5 x 100m 1:45 sprints; 200m cool down; 5min hot tub
  • Stationary bike session at the gym after work.  2km warm up; 4 x [3km race pace 1km sprint]; 2km cool down
  • Strength Work.  Iron Workout #1 from The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies after my bike work… or at least most of it
  • Stretch after my session.  Must remember to stretch.  Must remember to stretch.  Must not race home…
  • Get home from my day in time for the Blue Jays season opener tomorrow night at 7:00 (Not missing that!! Got the beer in the fridge and the jersey out of the closet already.  Let’s Go Blue Jays!!!)

Wednesday and Thursday my wife and I are taking a little mini vacation to celebrate almost 11 months of marriage (What?  Doesn’t everybody celebrate their 10 3/4 month anniversary with a mid-week vacation?  This seems normal to me).  So my follow up training session is going to have to wait until Friday.  Not sure yet what I’m going to do then – maybe my first brick of the season (can’t believe I’m actually excited about that).  Regardless, it says here I’ll do another post on Friday to keep myself accountable.

Until then, have a great week everybody!  Get up and off the couch!

– DO’G

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Is February the toughest month?

February 15, 2013 1 comment

FebruaryAlarmimage: Training Peaks

Happy Friday everyone!  Hope you all had a happy Arbitrary-Overly-Commercial-Tell-People-You-Love-Them-Day Valentine’s Day and a great Get-Drunk-and-Eat-Pancakes-Day Mardi Gras!  What a fun week for holidays!

I’m on an email distribution list from a company called Training Peaks (Note: Seriously fantastic training software IMO, if you don’t mind a little cost and an overload of options and information).  They sent me an email titled “Is February the toughest month for athletes?” with the above picture.  I don’t know that I got any further into the email than the title and picture, but it sure got me thinking about how tough February is – in a lot of ways, not just for athletes (although that’s sure where I notice it).

Yesterday I got my morning run in – it was tough as hell, I blame the icy sidewalks and not being 100% recovered from the flu.  Tomorrow I have my long run scheduled.  I went to bed last night thinking I would get up this morning and do a  lazy Active Recovery 5k run this morning.

The picture above reminded me of my morning, as I slapped the alarm off at 6:00am and rolled right over.

February is a funny month – we all come out of the holidays and into the new year with fantastic intentions.  Gym Membership enrollments spike in January – people are determined to keep their resolutions, make changes, get healthy… whatever they resolved to do.  And they even stick to it for a few weeks.

Then February rolls around.  It’s cold.  It’s dark.  We slip into bad habits.  Our resolution-inspired self starts to disappear (along with the money we’re now paying the gym) and laziness starts creeping back.

Sucks, doesn’t it?

I don’t know that I’ve found a good way to fight it yet.  This morning I sure didn’t want to get out of bed to run.  And once I’m out of the training habit – as last week’s vacation led to – getting back in the habit, in February is TOUGH.  I think the trick is to relax a bit – stress less about the downs and take some pride in the ups.  Allow myself to enjoy the breaks when I take them, not feel guilty for missing a workout, but let it refresh me and get at it for the next one.  That doesn’t mean planning extra days off, but listening to the body and taking them when I need them.  Rest days are like “Mental Health” Days Off at work – every now and then you wake up and just need one.  It helps you stay strong in the long run… right?

Have a great long weekend everyone!  Happy Arbitrary-Statutory-Holiday-Because-Holy-Crap-Do-We-Ever-Need-A-Day-Off-In-February-Day Family Day (or for my American Friends, Happy President’s Day, which is a lot less weird than our Family Day)

Is February a tough month for you?  How do you fight it?

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?

C is for 2013

January 1, 2013 2 comments
New-Years-Resolutions-480x256

Image courtesy of blog.peertransfer.com

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve been of mixed opinions lately on the topic of New Year’s Resolutions.  I’ve heard a lot of arguments that people can make positive change in their lives at any time – why should we do so only at a prescribed date and time, such as New Year’s Eve?  However, I’m also of the theory that if a person has positive change they want to make, and haven’t made yet, sometimes all they need is an arbitrary deadline to start.  And there’s no better time than the New Year.

I like the picture above – apart from the “quite smoking” item, it’s pretty much my exact list of resolutions this year.  Usually when asked about my New Year’s Resolutions, I try to avoid the cliché responses – “Lose Weight”, “Exercise”, “Eat Healthier” etc.  This year, that’s exactly I want to focus on.

But I still want to make my goals mine.  I want to own them.

I was inspired by an idea my Mother-in-law has, which she writes about in her own blog Faith from the Edges.  Every year she comes up with 3 words to give her direction for the year.  I like this idea.  So, with props to her, I give you my 3 words for 2013 – brought to you by the letter “C”.

Control – 2013 is going to be focused on controlling the things in my power.  I am in control of my life – I am the captain that steers this ship.  In relation to Losing Weight: I control what and how much I eat.  In relation to Training: I control how many times I hit or miss a planned training session.  Nobody is responsible for these but me.  I am the owner of decisions that I make, and I can make any decisions I choose.  In 2013 I want results, and I will take control of this ship to steer towards the results that I want.

Courage – 2013 is going to be about pushing my limits.  This is the Yin to the Yang that is Control.  Courage to push myself beyond boundaries I didn’t think I could break through.  Courage to try what I don’t think I can do.  Courage to take calculated risks to see how far I can grow.  In 2013 I want results, and I will have courage to push myself to results I previously didn’t think possible.

Calm – 2013 is going to be about maintaining an inner calm – an even keel to the things that I can’t control.  It is about relaxing and letting go – not taking myself so seriously, and rolling with the punches that come my way (shit, we all gotta laugh, right?).  Calm to be flexible with the unexpected and enjoy the simple side of life.  I want to stop taking life – and myself – so seriously and learn to relax and enjoy everything that comes my way.  In 2013 I will have the inner Calm to enjoy life and it’s results, whatever they may be.

These are my goals – my words – for 2013.  I feel like I’m ready to get this year started!

What are your words for 2013?

2013: The Plan

November 25, 2012 3 comments

Fun with lists…

Okay folks, the moment you’ve all been waiting for is here.  It’s time for 2013: The Plan!

(aka What I did on my Sunday afternoon when I should have been working or doing other productive things)

First off, let’s acknowledge that I’m diving into the deep end here.  I think, looking back on 2012, I’ve turned the corner.  Last spring I would set out for a 5km run with hopes of running sub 8:00/km.  Now, I can almost count on running sub 7:00/km.  Last spring I would start to feel restless if it had been more than 10 days since my last run.  Now I’m writing down training plans and sticking to them – rarely going more than 2 days between training sessions.  Last spring I was actively considering what I was getting out of triathlon – if I enjoyed it, or merely was running to lose weight.  Now I introduce myself to people as an age-group triathlete (who just happens to have lost over 15lbs this training season).

I’ve got a long way to go, but I think I’ve turned a corner.

One of my big frustrations last season was waiting until September for my first race.  In the spring I was wondering if I really wanted to do this.  By the fall, I wished I had a race every month.  The further out I was from Race Day, the harder it was to motivate myself to train hard.  So of course, the logical solution: more races spread throughout the year in 2013.  Many more.

It’s time to Sign Up or Shut Up!

(well, I may not actually sign up for most of these for a few months still – race entry fees are expensive – but I’m listing my plan here, in front of each of you, so it’s as good as signed up, I hope)

May 24th: Around The Bay

Kicking off the 2013 Race Season with a 30K running race.  Still a bit nervous about this one, but very excited.  Already signed up.  Already started training.  It’s a very ambitious running distance for me, but should give me a good motivator to keep training through the off season.  Location: Hamilton ON  The Goal: To finish, and feel like I successfully completed the distance.

April 21st: Toronto Yonge St 10K

Following up my 30K race with a 10K running race.  My cousin sent me a link to this race.  I’m hoping to convince her to run this one with me… nudge, nudge.  On the heels of a longer run, this will be my 2nd attempt at this distance.  Hoping for a bit of a time improvement, but really I’m looking to have a little fun here.  This is for sure a B race.  Location: Toronto ON  The Goal: To improve my Personal Best time in the 10K running distance

June 8th: Multi-Sport Canada Binbrook Triathlon

The Home Town race!  I’ve done a lot of running lately (because it’s the easiest of the 3 sports to do in Canada from September to April) but in my heart I’m still a Triathlete first.  I do hope all the extra run training in the 12 months leading up to this event will pay off.  The distances for this race are a bit longer than I’m used to (750m Swim, 30km Bike, 7.5km Run), which is an exciting challenge.  I’m considering this my A1 race for the season – I’m hoping to peak my training towards this race, but post race I’ll be using it as a benchmark for.  Location: Hamilton ON  The Goal: A strong performance in all 3 sports.  PB time would be nice.  I want to come away from this with an idea of where I stand in each sport, given the work put in, and where I need to focus the rest of the season

June 23rd: Tour de Waterloo

In 2012 my focus was on improving my running, which was laughably my worst sport in 2011.  I cut almost 7 minutes off my 5k PB, but did so at the expense of my bike times a bit.  In 2013 I want to re-invest a bit in my bike skills (hopefully without regressing in the run – can’t we be good at both?).  So I’m going to sign up for the Tour de Waterloo – it is a chip timed race, and I’m going to train for it and push through it as a race, but I expect a fun casual atmosphere.  I think I’m going to sign up for their 70km distance (they also have 130km and 40km distances – training for 70km seems about the right motivation.  A good mix of endurance and sprint).  This is another B race.  Location: Waterloo ON  The Goal: To finish the full distance at a race pace (finish strong – sustain race pace for the full distance), and to enjoy the BBQ at the end.

July 21st: Cincinnati Triathlon

Of the 3 triathlons I’ll be doing in 2013, this is my “fun” race.  I want to do a travel destination race, but my budget restricts me to cities in drivable distance.  Cincinnati is about an 8hr drive away, and I’ve heard great things about the city.  I’m looking forward to checking it out.  Plus it has a few places with interesting reviews on BeerAdvocate.com for a post-race celebration (If I’m going to drive down there, might as well make a weekend of it, amiright?).  I’m going to sign up for their “Sprint” race (400m Swim, 20km Bike, 5km Run).  This is for sure a B race.  Location: Cincinnati OH  The Goal:  Have fun, enjoy the trip, but of course, giv’er when the gun goes off!

September 7th/8th: Multi-Sport Canada Wasaga Beach Triathlon

This is my A race in 2013.  My training schedule will be designed to peak for early September.  This is when we put it all together – all the miles, all the hours, all the lessons learned from 5 prior events in the year.  This is where I go for a Personal Best time.  Here’s the kicker: I’m leaning towards trying my first “Olympic” distance race (1,500m Swim, 40km Bike, 10km Run).  I’ll have stretched out my bike and my run distances earlier in the year.  Why not go for it.  Aggressive goals motivate aggressive training (sure they do… don’t they?).  Location: Wasaga Beach ON  The Goal: Personal Best or bust.  This one is for all the marbles!

November 2nd: Hamilton Road2Hope

Wrapping up the season with a repeat of the Hamilton Road2Hope 10K run that I did this fall.  Had a blast running with family and friends.  Hopefully they’ll all come back also.  We even joked about making our own t-shirts (Go Team “Underachievers”).  This is a gateway race from peak season to off season.  It’ll be good to keep me from completely shutting down after my A race, and get into a good routine heading into next winter.  It’ll give me a benchmark to compare this year’s race against next year’s so I can see just how far I come in 2013.  For sure this is a B race (probably even a C race, if such a thing exists).  Location: Hamilton ON  The Goal:  Have fun.  Get custom t-shirts.  Finish the year strong!

-DO’G

What did I just do…

November 18, 2012 1 comment

I’m signed up! Are you?

Hol-y Shit.  30K!  What the hell am I thinking?!  Too late now – I’m signed up…

Mark it in the calendar: March 24th 2013.  Somehow, I’ll be running the Around the Bay 30K Road Race.  Umm… wasn’t it just 2 weeks ago that I was celebrating having run 10K.  In what world did I think tackling a 30K next was the right idea?  I sure am a sucker for punishment!

Okay, let’s look at this in a little more supportive light.  The race is 18 weeks away.  4 months.  That’s a long time to stretch the legs out (I hope).  Plus, it’ll give me a good training goal for the off season – no time for slacking now!  Also, my wife has signed up, as have 2 of my good friends (room for more if anyone else is crazy and wants to give it a shot… nudge nudge).  Having other people you know in the race adds to the fun, and helps keep you accountable to your training plan.  Although really, they’ll all be done and have time to go for a coffee before I crawl across the finish line.  But whatever – crazy as this might be, I’m kinda looking forward to it.

2013 schedule has now officially kicked off.  Time to start making a training plan.  Time to get my ass off the couch.  Time to keep telling myself “I can do this” (fake it ’till you make it, right?)

Gulp

-DO’G

 

2012 Season Recap

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

A bright summer season now in the rear view mirror… but the open road is still ahead of me

The 2012 race season is behind me.  That’s such a bitter-sweet statement.  It’s weird to be doing an end-of-season recap in November (2012 isn’t over yet), but I won’t be doing any more races this year, and I’m excited to start planning for next year already…

davetriing:  I guess, chronologically, the first big success of 2012 was starting this blog (well, in my opinion at least).  It’s given me a great outlet to reflect on the ups and downs of the year, and connect with other bloggers and interested readers.  Those connections and comments, and suggestions, have really helped my race evolve this year (awww… sappy moment!  Group e-hug!)

Health and Training: A big part of why I do this is as a means to improve my health. To change my lifestyle from the couch potato I have been since my University years to a healthier lifestyle focused on fitness.  Shit, this is hard work!  It’s really hard to overcome sedentary habits.  I struggle to manage food cravings for the crap that made me fat in the first place.  I struggle to differentiate between “fatigued” and “lazy” (both of which make sitting on the couch sound like a great idea).  I struggle to know the difference between the good pain of muscles being pushed, and the bad pain of muscles being hurt.  Mostly I struggle to get into a routine.  There’s always an excuse not to go out for a training session.

That being said, I made a lot of positive strides this year.  My weight is down from 256lbs in May to 240lbs as of yesterday.  That’s a lot less weight to be hauling around every time I go for a run.  And while I have a lot of work to do in terms of adopting (and sticking to) a routine, I did a much better job of committing to a run routine this summer than I did last summer – and it showed, knocking over 5 minutes off my 5k PB time!

I don’t think I did a great job of balancing my training though.  Going into this year, my run was the weakest part of my race, so I really focused on it.  And while that helped my run time, my bike time took a slight step backwards due to a lot less bike training time than the previous summer.  My resistance training also became inconsistent (read: non-existent) which led to a lot of leg strength and core strength problems late in the season.

So there’s lots to work on over the next 12 months.  The key is balance.  It’s hard to find enough hours to run, bike, swim, lift, and stretch as much as I seem to need to.  Writing a plan that balances all this will be relatively easy – motivating myself to stick to it will be the real challenge (especially when the weather gets cold and the couch is right there calling to me)!

Races: I did 2 races this year – The Wasaga Beach Triathlon Duathlon and The Hamilton Road2Hope 10K.  Both went as well as I could have hoped.

The Wasaga Beach Triathlon Duathlon was an achievement just for finishing.  I had trained for a Triathlon, and found out mere minutes before the race started that the swim was canceled due to crazy rain and wind, and so I would be racing a duathlon (race organizers would later say it was the most rain and wind they’d ever seen on a race day… though that comment seems a bit out of context given the recent storms we’ve endured… but it was still pretty wet).  I had never run more than 5k before race day – running 7.5k was an achievement, let alone racing in the rain.  Yet I still set a 5k PB time.  Very happy with this race.

The unexpected extra running of the Duathlon (and “holy shit I didn’t just die” feeling) led me to tackle a longer run next.  The Hamilton Road2Hope 10k was a great success, as it proved to me that I could go further than 5k.  It was nice to stretch the distance out a bit.  And I was thrilled that I replicated my Wasaga 5k PB pace over a 10k run.  I wasn’t able to replicate that pace even a single time in training, not even over a 5k distance.  There’s something about Race Day that helps you find an extra gear.

(photo credit: My Sports Shooter)

If I had one – regret – about the 2012 race season, it would be the race schedule.  I did 2 races, up from 1 the previous year, but they were both in the fall.  I think motivating myself to stick to a training schedule through the spring and summer would be much easier if I had races to train towards earlier in the season.  A better spread (and possibly more races – ’cause they’re fun) might be in order in 2013.

Gear: A few subtle new additions to my gear collection this year have made a big difference.  My wife hooked me up with birthday gifts this year.  A fantastic new water bottle with a compartment to put my keys, or my work swipe badge when I want to run from the office after work, has been a wonderful little toy.  Not having to worry about pockets for keys = less excuses = more runs.  Win!

(source)

The other great birthday haul from my wife was a copy of The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies.  I think I’ve linked to it on a dozen or so posts already this year, but in case you’ve missed it, here’s another link.  I can’t get enough of this book – injury home remedies, workout plans, performance tips – and all written for the weekend athlete.  Fantastic.  It’s helped give me direction several times this summer!

The other gear addition that really paid off this year was the acquisition of our Race Number Belt.  It seems like such a little thing, but it really helped with my T1 time.  In my 2011 Triathlon, my Swim -> Bike transition (“T1” it’s called in race circles around here at least) had all kinds of issues with my race number pre-pinned to my shirt, and trying to pull my shirt on – pins catching and falling off all over the place – before I could get on the bike.  Not having to fuss with safety pins while the clock is running is a huge time saver and stress relief.  You can buy little water bottles that clip onto it – I think I may make an investment soon on a pouch I can put my phone onto the belt, so I can bring my tunes and GPS with me on training runs even if I don’t have any pockets.

Overall, I’m really happy with my 2012 season – lots of things I want to work on over the next 12 months, but this year was my step forward from simply hoping I could finish a triathlon without embarrassing myself, to making progress.  It’s nice to look back 12 months ago and know that I’m lighter, faster, and fitter – even if I have a lot of work I still want to do.

More than anything, this season has convinced me that I’ve caught “the bug”.  I may still cross the finish line nearly last in my age group, but I love it.  I love race day.  I love proving that I can do it.  I love going faster.   I can’t wait for 2013!

-DO’G

 

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