Thursday, February 25, 2010

Not Created Equal

One would think that the same workout on different days would be the same. I mean... This time, I added the full twenty minutes at tempo pace. That should, one would think, result in a higher TRIMP score. It did not. Last week, on the track in Canton, I went over 100 on my workout. Last night, at the gym, I barely made it into the 80s. Waz up wit dat? I believe I ran more and a little faster last time at the track, and I have to believe that all this hard work is making my running a little easier. We shall see!

The good news? I did the full twenty. It wasn't easy, per se. It was comfortably hard, and that's a goal worthy of the tempo run. With the right attitude, and the right focus on form and breathing, the time flew by. How exciting! This run will now become a Wednesday staple in my diet. I might change up the intensity a bit and/or swap out intervals for tempo, but Wednesday, I'll be either on the suckmill or at the track trashing my legs. What fun :-)

The only problem with Wednesdays, and any other day of the week for that matter, is squeezing in my first swim of the week (I swim long on Fridays). Right now, its Wednesday or nothing. After my tempo run, I jumped in the pool for my short interval workout. I picked a speed workout from my 2008 training plan and gave it a go. It basically consisted of 4 25s, then 4 50s, then 4 100s, followed by a recovery 100, then repeat :-) With the rest breaks, I swam for 45 minutes. Without rest breaks, I swam for 35. 2100 yards in 35 minutes was quite the workout!

I then went home and passed out :-)


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Operation Repro

All I have to say is: WOW! I bizzy! When you get set into a plan, the first order of business is to get comfortable in your own skin. Set your schedule, get used to it. Figure out what works and does not work. What can and cannot be tweaked. Here are some of the highlights from my first week:
  • Two bike interval sessions and one tempo run in the middle of the week.
  • Nailing my 150's Friday night: 2:14, 2:12, 2:11, 2:10, 2:10 (booyah!)
  • My first outdoor ride on Saturday with Dee Dee at Columns Drive.
  • Hitting the perfect distance (8 miles) on my 1:25:00 LSD run Sunday.
I always find it amusing how things just seem to fit, and when it does, it feels right. With a late November Ironman, I have/had the luxury of waffling a bit and changing my mind on my training plan without having to worry too much about the cost.

Short term? After my first week, my body was trashed. When I feel like that, I try to put it into perspective with my past experiences. I would roughly equate it to being at the middle of Ironman training or somewhere towards the end of Ironman Augusta 70.3 training. I was so ready and thankful for my rest day on Monday.

When Tuesday rolled around, I was a bit concerned about how my body would react to another round of the same type of stuff. The ultimate test of any training plan is reproducible results. My goal for my Tuesday interval session is to get to 3x8 minute intervals in Zone 4. I have been steadily progressing up the 4 minute interval chain, doing 3, 4, and 5 intervals respectively over the last three weeks. This week, I upped the interval time to 5 minutes and reduced the reps to 4. My body performed beautifully.

After my ride, I had dinner before heading out the door for my 30 minute brick run. It was 8:30 PM at night, dark and cold. The hills around my house added another dimension, and I worked hard to keep it a Zone 2 effort.

The training load graph, as expected showed this bike interval session to be easier than the one from last week, but the run outside more than made up the difference. Having some measure of stress from my workouts is giving training a whole new perspective. I've also been dialing in my nutrition during this off season, and it shows. I can't wait for the weather to warm up so I can shed some of this winter poundage!

Happy hump day, y'all!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Numbers don't lie

but they can be deceptive :-)

Ch-ch-ch-changes... I've finally settled on my plan for the year. The strength training sessions are out. While I've enjoyed packing on the muscle, they've had too much of a negative effect on my workouts. Next year, I hit the weights hard in the off season, then go into maintenance mode. Also out is the May half IM as an "A" race. I'm still going to race it, but going sub-6 there is out. If it happens, it happens, but its not my focus.

Last week, I began the transition to the new format. The graph of my training load shows a sharp spike both in fitness and fatigue. Right now, my basic week is going to look like this:

Swim: 1 speed session (optional), 1 long interval (endurance)
Bike: 2 quality sessions, 1 long
Run: 2 short (brick, optional), 1 quality, 1 long

Tuesday night was my third (of the season) jam session on the bike. I added one extra 4 minute interval in Zone 4 for a total of 5. My goal here is to get to six, then increase the amount of time per interval while decreasing the number of intervals. I followed this up with a tempo run on Wednesday. I was reading some info from Daniels' Running Formula, and he said that a tempo run should take up no more than 8-10% of your weekly volume. That would be about 1.5 miles for me at the moment. I hit the track in sub-40 degree weather and did a 10 minute warm up, 1.5 miles at a sub-9 minute pace, then cooled down for the remainder of my 45 minutes. As the sun went down, it started to get very very cold.

Last night, I was in a bit of a quandary. I had to get home from work, pick Matthew up, and get back to Alpharetta for his 3 hour ref class. This didn't leave me much time to get in my second bike session and 30 minute run. I checked the class schedule for the local LA Fitness, and they had a spin class at 6:45 PM, which fit perfectly into my schedule. I dropped Matthew off at his class and headed over to the gym. I got there early and was surprised to see a 5:30 PM spin class already in session. Our gym is not quite that busy yet.

After the previous class ended, I mosied in and saddled up a bike. They were a little different from the ones I was used to, but I was pretty sure they would kick my butt. The class was about half full. With about 10 minutes before class time, the instructor shows up. He was all of about 5'2", really muscular on top with pencil legs, and shoulder length black curly hair. The country accent made his aura... perfect. As the class got going, it became apparent that this instructor had two themes: standing intervals, and staying south of "just a little bit uncomfortable". Thirty minutes into the class, I was like, "Dude! I'm so freakin far past uncomfortable I'm gonna hop off this bike and throttle you!" LOL... By the end of the class, I was melted man mush, but I made it. Surprisingly, my thirty minute run off went well.

When I got home, I downloaded the Garmin data into the lap top. I was curious as to how this workout compared to the one I did Tuesday night. This is the beauty of having a single number generated from the workout. Sports Tracks said I registered an 88 for my score from the spin session. I hit the very bottom of Zone 4 four times. My workout on Tuesday generated an 80, despite staying in Zone 4 for almost 20 minutes. That my friends is food for thought! I now know that a decent spin class is roughly equivalent to a 50 minute or so muscular endurance session on the trainer. I had wanted this spin session to be "easier", but that didn't happen (by necessity). Now, I can adjust my training for the rest of the week to recover mo better.

Yes, I'm excited about the numbers, the potential! I'm excited about the new schedule and managing something that works for me, and with some pretty exciting potentially positive changes in my professional career, 2010 is starting off with bang.

Have a great week end y'all!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Awww shucks... It were Easy!

This training cycle is proving much much more challenging from a logistics stand point. Gone are the two days I got to work from home. Cold weather and limited daylight hours are limiting my training options! I'm sure you guys understand. I've never been much of a morning person, and besides, riding the bike downstairs early in the morning is a sure fire way to piss off a sleeping fam!

Over the weekend, I had some good training sessions. I upped my yardage on my Saturday swim to 2550. That's pretty close to the max yardage I would like for the first half of triathlon season. I figure two sessions a week will keep me pretty much near my top form from last year, and my numbers agree with this. I hit a solid hour on the trainer. This early in the season, an hour of indoor cycling is pretty much all I can stand. I'm sure the time is coming when I will need to HTFU and go longer, but I ain't lookin that far ahead :-)

Speaking of numbers... I have discovered (albeit a little late) that there is this number called a Training Stress Score (TSS). Used primarily by power meters, it is a single number that gauges the stress of a particular workout. They have a variation called TRIMPS (training impulses) that goes strictly by heart rate, and Sports Tracks has a plugin for it. Using TSS, you can calculate your current fitness (CTL) and your fatigue(ATL). The difference between these two numbers is your training balance (TB). By careful managing these numbers, I know how much to increase the level of my workouts each week (stress), at what point in the training cycle to maximize my work load (target date), and how to taper effectively to bring my training balance into focus for optimum performance. This is the kind of thing that makes us number mongers giddy! If you are interested in this kind of thing, you can find a really good article as it pertains to cycling here.

Sunday, I went to Red Top Mountain for an hour fifteen trail run. I actually enjoyed turning up the intensity a bit and wracked up 7.25 miles (including 10 minutes of walking), wracking up a TSS of 180. I probably should have dialed this down a bit and not allowed my HR to drift up into Zone 3, but it was fun! and yes, fun can get you in trouble if its not part of the plan :-)

Monday was my day off, and Tuesday it was back onto the bike for intervals and my first brick of the season. I added one extra 4 minute interval in Zone 4 onto last weeks workout, resulting in 20 minutes in Zone 4 out of the 51 minutes I was on the trainer! I wrapped this up with a 30 minute run off on the treadmill at the gym. I was pleasantly surprised how easy this run went and how strong my legs felt. It just felt so easy!

The extra interval added twenty points to my TSS from last week, about a 30% increase. I'm not sure how this correlates to the 10% rule we follow for time and distance, but by carefully monitoring the increase in time and stress, I should be able to carefully ramp up my training, while avoiding injury. This is gonna be fun! :-)


EDIT: Please not that my scores are TRIMPS not TSS. Using them interchangeably is probably not a good idea! I will take note of this in the future!

Friday, February 12, 2010


The office is rapidly deserting as the snow falls from the sky. It's not sticking yet, but temperatures will soon fall below freezing and most fear that the roads will begin to ice. This is a special concern for me, as I take the back roads of Forsyth, Fulton, and Cherokee counties to get to and from work. I won't to be on roads more traveled by the time that happens.

I made it to the gym last night to get in my medium run before dinner. After careful thought, I opted to do a tempo-ish run, keeping with my motto of "intensity" this base period. I was careful not to start out too hard. I warmed up for the first ten minutes with walking, slow running, and strides. At the point is was time to start my intervals, I was warmed up and ready.

Funny. The first interval wasn't all that hard. It took a while for my HR to climb up to 160, and for the longest time, it stayed in my ET pace zone. I was surprised and happy to see that. As a matter of fact, it was almost the end of the first mile interval that I reached 160. I haven't run at a sub-9 minute pace in a while. It felt good.

The second interval was tougher, as to be expected. My HR climbed rapidly to the top of Zone 3 and pretty much stayed there. After the second interval, I ran for 5 minutes each at 6 and 5.3 miles per hour respectively, and wrapped it all up with 5 minutes of walking to cool down.

I'm liking this intensity. I'm going to keep it short, sweet, and quality.

Y'all have a great weekend out there! Stay safe for me...


Thursday, February 11, 2010


So, I'm shifting gears a bit here and adding some intensity into my workouts. Good thing its early in the season! Thanks to my double on Monday, I had but one workout to get done last night, a forty-five minute ride. Unlike Monday night, I was able to get on the trainer by 8:30 PM :-)

I thumbed through the list of workouts in my cycle workout book, looking for one that would fit my needs. I thumbed through the force workouts, skipped past the speed skill workouts, and settled in to the muscular endurance workouts. For some reason, I had it in my mind that I needed to do intervals. Evidently, my TT on Sunday was not enough.

The workout I chose called for 5 or 6 intervals of 6 minutes each with 2 minutes of recovery. The suggested intensity was zone 3. I had read recently that Zone 3 wasn't a great intensity at this stage of the game. It was either zones 1/2 or zones 4/5. After looking the workout over, I decided that I would die if I did 6 minute intervals, and I would die twice if I did 5 or 6. I settled on 4 four minute intervals with 2 minute recovery intervals.

After a 16 minute warm up, I kicked off the first interval. It took forever, but my HR managed to slowly climb through zones 2 and 3 and peter out in low zone 4. The good news was that I was a leetle more comfortable than in my TT. The subsequent intervals worked me over really well, and it was a lot easier and faster to get my HR up into zone 4. I wrapped up with five minute cool down, allowing the sweat to flow from my body as I cooled down.

I was very pleased with this workout. Pleased I had done it. Pleased that it was over. Pleased to have more time to do other things. Not really sure if such intensity is "normal" or not this early in the season, but as long as I keep it short, recover smart, and not get burned out, I think it will be just fine.


Guest Post

I am a guest blogger over at Jess' space today! She managed to avoid Snowmageddon by going on a cruise! Brilliant!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quarter Exams are Over!

Monday was one of those mini-epic days. I started my Super Bowl partying on Saturday, and as a direct result of that, I was a total mess by Monday. If you want a precursor to what an Ironman marathon feels like, treat your body like shit for two days then do 1.5 to 2 hours of intense training.

Morning came early, and as is often the case when I am not quite yet sober, I did not want to get out of bed. I, however, fully realized that I had commitments. I don't know what dumb ass decided to book two workouts for the first time on (on a Monday) the Monday after the Super Bowl. When I find out, I'm going to Rochambeau him (as long as I get to go first).

All day at work, I was struggling to find any sense of a normal energy level. Copious amounts of coffee helped the morning fly by, but by the afternoon, I was toast. By close of business, I had leveled off at blah.

I drove to the gym straight from work. I had decided to make Monday a "real" training day and take Friday off as usual this week. That would make scheduling much easier. When I arrived, I was a bit peeved to see the Aqua Aerobics class using the pool. Come on, ole peeps! Isn't three times a week at 9AM enough? Against my better judgment, I opted to do my strength training first. Time is precious, ya know. Did I mention this was the first strength session where I moved up to two sets of each exercise? Ouch! By the time I made it into the pool, my entire body was busted, even though I intentionally held back. It made for a most interesting mediocre swim set.

Tuesday arrived: the final test. I had read my plan wrong. I was scheduled for an ET test (Effort Test) and not an EP test (Effort Pace, more like a TT). I was delighted to see this technical change. Also, I had the format of the test wrong. It goes some thing like this. Warm up, then raise your HR to 80% of your heart rate reserve (.8 * HRR + resting heart rate). Click go on the timer and record your time when you get to 1.5 miles.

I waited all day to take the test. I mean all day. It wasn't until American Idol was over at 9 PM before I finally made it to the gym. It took me almost a mile to fully warm up. When I hit start on the timer, I was running at 6.7 mph. I haven't run this fast all year (yet). By the time I got to 1.5 miles, I had dropped down to 5.7 mph. It took me 15:06 to go 1.5 miles, for about a 10 minute pace.

At this stage of the game, I am pleased to have these base line numbers. I'm not reading much into them, but it will be interesting to see how they change as I progress this season. Once it warms up outside, I am going to gear up for a 5K and a 10K time trial.

One notch up on the HTFU meter :-)


Monday, February 08, 2010

In the Depths of Testing Hell

Triathletes are peculiar lot.  I say that with the utmost affection.  I am, after all a triathlete, but we do have our peculiarities.  Some that quickly come to mind are "active" recovery and race tapers involving 60% of normal volume. I have managed to wrap my mind around most of these things over the last three years, but the one I am struggling with is this concept of the physical tests during recovery week.

Say what?

I said RECOVERY WEEK...  You know.  When you're supposed to freakin recover.

Evidently, my idea of recovering still hasn't caught up to standards.  During the base phase (and perhaps build), its a good idea to do the physical tests to see how your training is coming along.  Since I'm working on my HTFU, I decided to follow this advice and just do the dayum tests.

Saturday, I got up early and ran with the running group at Boling Park.  Most of those guys are training for the marathon.  Me, not so much.  I did 4.6 miles before calling it a day.  That afternoon, I wandered to the pool to do my swim test.  One of the things I am really enjoying about these tests is that I am giving it my all.  I am committed.  I did 3x300 all out with thirty seconds rest.  My times came in at 4:30 (ouch!), 4:44, and 4:45.  That gives me a T-pace of 1:33, one second better than my last test.  It's not much, but I'll take it.  That's slightly better than my last swim test before Augusta last year.

Sunday morning, I actually slept in a little bit.  I had breakfast and some coffee while I watched Chelsea dismantle Arsenal in the Premier League.  After the game was over, I set my bike up on the trainer and downloaded the workout for the 6 mile time trial from Training Center to my Garmin XT.  Well, it was the 5 mile TT workout, but I modified it to make it longer.  The workout starts out with a build up:  5 minutes in Zone 1, 5 minutes in Zone 2, 5 minutes in Zone 3, then some kind of 2 minute recovery followed by the time trial.  I wasn't expecting those 5 minutes in Zone 3, so it caught me by surprise, but I did what I was supposed to do and sucked it up.

When the Garmin beeped at me to start the time trial, I took off.  Evidently, I have issues with pacing here as well.  I started out at 25+ mph, only to watch my speed gradually decrease.  Those were the longest six miles of my life.  I had forgotten how much these things hurt.  Again, I was so proud of myself.  I did not look at my heart rate one time. It was just time and distance on the Garmin, and I was silently cheering and applauding as the miles ticked off.  When it was over, I was drenched in sweat, and my eyes were blood shot.  My time came in at 15:59, 22.5 mph average.  After a 10 minute cool down, I hopped over the laptop and downloaded my data.  I was very pleased to see a max HR of 169 and an average HR of 165, right where my numbers were for last year.

Tomorrow, I'm going to conduct an "EP" test.  This basically involves setting the Garmin up in a 3 heart beat range around 80% of my aerobic threshold and seeing how far I can run in a certain amount of time.  As my fitness improves, I should be able to run further during the same amount of time.  I might work myself up to another running lactate hell test, but I doubt it.

I'm not THAT HTFU :-)


Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Race to Empower A Bold Community!

My daughter secured her dream job working with the new women's professional soccer team, the Atlanta Beat. In case you don't remember, the Atlanta Beat was originally a professional team in WUSA from 2001-2003. We went to several of their games. They played most of their games at Georgia Tech, and a few of their games at some other university campus I don't remember. That particular team disbanded when the league went belly up.

Last year, a new association brought professional soccer back to the United States, the Women's Professional Soccer league. First off, I lurves soccer, and I am a big proponent of providing women with professional sporting careers outside of golf and tennis. The Atlanta Beat has partnered with Kennesaw University to build a brand new eight thousand seat stadium behind Town Center Mall. This is truly a special venue befitting both a professional team and a perennially national ranked college team.

On March 13, 2010, the university and the Beat will be sponsoring a 5K to benefit the YWCA. For the price of admission, you will get a free ticket to an Atlanta Beat game, and the opportunity to run with the Atlanta Beat players.

Oh, and I'll be there, and who doesn't want to run with me? LOL... Join me in welcoming the Atlanta Beat to our city and wishing them a bright and prosperous future....

You can find out more info on the race here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Don't Try This at Home

First off, a big warm welcome to REST WEEK! Booyah!

Base One is in the books, and I just completed my third week of 15 miles per week. For most folks, this is probably a little on the low side. For me, it roughly equals where I maxed out at for previous half Iron training.

I went to the book store Friday night. I have a disease, and Dee Dee feeds (or a least acquiesces) to my addiction. I wanted to pick up the Workouts in a Binder for indoor cycling. With the crappy weather we've been having, I see many many more trainer rides in my future. Having a workout to do really makes the time fly. While I was there, I picked up Run Training for Triathletes. I had seen this book on the Velo Press web site, and it caught my eye. It just so happened that the book store by Cumberland Mall had both in stock! What are the ODDS I ask you?

Saturday, I did a speed skill workout on the trainer and kept Dee Dee company while she hammered her 1 hour workout. After dinner, I started reading my book. So far, I am very pleased. It covers a lot of interesting areas of running, including technique (normal, up hill, down hill), planning, workouts, nutrition, and psychology. I started off with the most basic technique work and vowed to try it out on my Sunday run.

Sunday afternoon, I dropped Matthew off at the soccer fields near Columns Drive. I walked for 5 minutes then ran for a minute or two down hill before I reached the river. My metronome was beeping cheerfully at 90 beats per minute. I practiced high turnover with short stride length, landing on the balls of my feet, per the instructions in the book, and it worked beautifully. I was able to run/walk the entire 6.5 miles this way, keeping my cadence at or above 180 steps per minute, AND my heart rate stayed below 146 for 99% of the time. I was even able to turn in some sub-11 minute miles this way. That my friends, is what I call a break through!

Further reading revealed the admonishment not to start out too hot and heavy using this technique. No doubt for us heel thumpers, we would be using muscles that had been under utilized in the past. 6.5 miles may not have been a great way to start (don't try this at home!), and today, my calves are very very sore, but it was totally worth it. At least my ankle doesn't hurt. Right?

Right! :-)