Wednesday, 03 December 2014 12:56

How Do You Do It? A Question I Get Quite Often

This simple question was asked of me twice in the past week and I answered quite simply as well: Because I love it. Truth be told it is far more complicated than that but in reality it is also that simple. I do the things I do because I love them. I do not have the time or patience to do things just because. When I put my training plan together I do so with a purpose. Each run during ultra training has a meaning whether that is recovery, tempo, trail or just long. Every swim, bike and run session during Ironman training has a reason. The idea of junk miles just bothers me and so I study and analyze the training and figure out what worked and what didn't.  If it worked I keep it in the plan but if I felt that it was nothing more than filler I drop it and fill that space with something I think will work. Obviously I do not just pull training sessions out of thin air so that means that I spend time reading.  Lots of reading.  Reading about training, recovery, nutrition and more all plays a part in how I do it.  I make every attempt to leave nothing to chance but also know that I cannot control everything from beginning to end and somethings will just happen regardless of how well I have planned. Back to the question that was asked and the answer I gave initially became a long conversation about my training and how they could not do it and that there was a difference.  The next question was:  I see your training and I see you working hard but what are you doing when you are not out here training with us?  That was sort of the key question to the getting to the answer of How Do You Do It? Here is the answer I gave him and maybe it can help you tackle your next training cycle for an upcoming race:

  • Understand the goals that you have laid out in front of you. This means that you must make an honest evaluation of yourself and your capabilities.  When I started racing Ironman I thought that I could be fast enough to qualify for Kona.  After the first race I was certain that I could get there because I just finished in 12 hours.  Two more races with finishes around the 12 hour mark proved to me that getting to Kona was not going to be as easy as just showing up.  For Ironman Chattanooga I wanted to PR and if that meant that I finished in 11:52 then so be it but it would be a PR.  This made a huge difference as the stress of having to go fast was removed.  I punished myself during 13 weeks of training and when I crossed the finish line in 11:00:50 in complete shock I realized that the work I put in was setup to establish the realistic goal of setting an Ironman PR.
  • Train properly according to your schedule. We all look at our schedule and see the upcoming session and get ready then head out the door.  The plan may call for an easy 5 miles but you start running and before you know it you are dropping paces only seen during a 5k race.  You are thrilled and you let everybody know by posting your Garmin watch to ALL of your social media platforms.  The next morning you go out for that 10 mile run that includes 4x1 Mile repeats and it feels as if you are running in quick sand.  The problem?  Your easy day was too hard and now that the key hard day is here you cannot perform.  Remember that easy days are easy and hard days are hard.  Stick to that and you can get through the training plan with little to no issue.
  • Proper Nutrition AND Rest AND Sleep.  I cannot stress this enough but this is just as important as nailing that track workout on your schedule. Two quotes that have stuck with me over the years are:
    1. Stress Is Stress.  This comes from my previous coach Maria Simone of No Limits Endurance.  When Maria and I would have our weekly chats in the lead-up to Ironman Texas 2013 I would scoff at this notion but the statement stuck with me and when I feel the stress coming on I focus even harder on eating properly as opposed to turning to Twix and Oreos.  I also will go to sleep at 8pm because I know that my personality is becoming more abrasive than normal and if I am not going to sleep early I am sitting on the couch without electronic devices and just staying in the here and now.
    2. Can You Fill A Car With Half The Amount Of Energy Needed To Travel A Certain Distance And Still Expect To Get There?  Essentially what this question is asking is do you expect to perform at the top of your game if your body is not filled with the energy it needs to get there.  If you do not sleep enough you will not have the energy.  If you do not properly fuel and hydrate your body you will not have the energy.  I am not saying that you cannot have a slice of chocolate cake but I am saying that you cannot have the whole cake and expect to perform at your best.
  • Pay attention to your gear. Your gear will experience wear and tear over time and will not perform in the way it was intended.  What typically happens from there is that we adjust ourselves, rather than our gear, and before long there is a twinge in your calf or a pinch in your hip.  Start by checking your shoes for wear and tear or go for a bike fit.  A millimeter here or a millimeter there can make all the difference.  I use Strava as well as Google Docs to keep track of the miles on my running shoes.  If I feel anything in my legs as I am running I immediately look at the shoe as well as the data on how many miles I have in them.  If the bottom of the shoe looks good then I pull out the insoles and replace it because that will degrade over time faster than the outsole of the shoe.

As you can see it is a bit more than the original answer of I Love It, but each of these pieces and parts allow me to love it.  By paying attention to the little things I can go out and accomplish the big things like Ironman and 100 Mile Ultra Trail runs.

Do You Have Any Tips And Tricks To How You Do It?

Published in Train

Ironman Chattanooga training experiment of n=1 has reached the end of the first three-week cycle.  This week is pure recovery as I allow my body to get stronger as well as prepare to tackle the 2nd three week cycle. If you are new to my blog then you are probably asking yourself what are these cycles he is talking about.  Allow me to clarify for a moment.  Starting with Ironman Texas in 2012 I embarked on training for and racing 3 Ironman races over the course of 12 months.  Of course you do not just jump into an Ironman, you have to train for it.  That means that my focus for nearly 18 months was Ironman.  When I crossed the finish line of the final event, Ironman Texas 2013 I was burned out.  I needed to get away from the sport and do other things. It was then that I rode my bike for nearly 1,600 miles over the course of two months and trained for Rocky Raccoon 50 and Lake Martin 100.  Through those endeavors I came to realize that I am a much better cyclist when I focus mostly on cycling and the same would be true for running.  You learn economies of efficiency when that is your focus and I decided to bring that over to Ironman training. Since I was burned out I also realized that I could not go through 6 months of training.  When I combined the idea of a shortened schedule with sport specific focus I came up with a 13 week plan that has two weeks of taper (15 full weeks leading up to Ironman Chattanooga) in which I would be able to train for an Ironman, be focused and yet still be able to have a conversation with my wife past 8:00pm.  It seemed like a win-win for all.  Was it? The training plan breaks down into 4 week cycles with Week 1 being bike focused, Week 2 focuses on swimming, Week 3 is a run week and week 4 is recover y from it all.  I am in Week 4 so I thought now would be a good time to assess the first three weeks from the training as well as my nutrition and outside life.

Bike –

The first week had a schedule of 264 miles of cycling.  The plan called for 60 miles on Saturday and 60 miles on Sunday with the remaining miles being on the trainer during the week.  Getting on the trainer was not going to just be a recovery spin.  These were doing to be intervals, mile repeats, hills, etc to Sufferfest videos. Mother Nature had other ideas and I finished the week with over 200 miles but what happened on my Sunday long ride gave me a boost of confidence that this plan would work.  During the ride I was told by those in the pack that they could tell the difference between my fitness from two weeks prior and that day.  We managed to average 20 mph over the 60 miles and my heart rate average was 144bpm which is Z2 for me. The run off the bike was also a focus and I did 4 mile brick runs for each ride and with each passing day I got stronger to the point that after that 60 mile ride I ran 4 miles at an 8:12/mi pace at a hear rate of 154bpm which is in the middle of Zone 2.

Swim –

The reason that the second week is swim week is to allow me to recover from the heavy bike week and prepare for the upcoming heavy run week.  This worked to a T and I found that my progress along the way in swimming was unprecedented. I make every attempt to get in open water swim practice as much as possible and through that my swims in the pool have also gotten stronger.  Some background information for thought.  My warm-up pace in the past would have been 1:55-2:00/100 yards.  During this week I noticed that my warm-up pace had gotten down to 1:45-1:50/100 yards.  That would have been a great way to start and end this conversation but the real news is what I noticed during my swim speed sets. In those 18 months of training I may have swam sub-1:40/100 yards a total of 2x.  I did all I could to get that low but it never happened.  During a 2500 yard swim set I did a 500 race set that consisted of (100, 2x50, 4x25, 2x50, 100).  The first 100 I finished in 1:30 and the second I finished in 1:36.  My swimming was becoming more efficient. When I jumped into the lake I found that I was gliding more and not getting gassed when I got to the end of the 0.5 mile loop or even on the return leg.  I began to swim the 1.2 mile loop without a wetsuit in an average of 38 minutes.  My wetsuit 1.2 mile PR is ~38 minutes.  Swimming was getting stronger and the confidence has certainly been built.

Run –

This entire theory was built on the ultra-marathon training that Jeff and I did.  I was running 6 days a week back then and finding that I got stronger as the week went on.  Of course, proper recovery and refueling aided in that and this was something I would carry into this week of running 62 miles. I had weaved in easy runs with speed work as well as a long run.  The terrain would vary as would the paces and by the end of the week I found myself running efficiently and with a lower HR than I expected at the end of this three-week cycle. The speed work I did was on back to back days with 2x4x2 one day and the next day a 3x1 mile repeat.  The 4 miles were to be run at what I project to be my IM tempo pace of 8:30-8:45/mile.  I finished those 4 miles at an average pace of 8:10/mile.  The next day I went out and did those mile repeats on a 1 mile stretch of road, not a track since races aren’t run on the track, at an average pace of 7:00/mile.  Yes, the speed was still there despite all the miles I was logging. The Saturday long run of 23 miles averaged out to a 9:13/mi pace with my heart rate barely out of Zone 1.  I was dehydrated by the end of this run but still managed to feel confident with the way the week had unfolded.

Nutrition –

I started this cycle the day after getting back from vacation.  My weight on the Monday this all started was 152 pounds and a body fat % of 10.8%.  This was the heaviest I had been in forever but it allowed me to enjoy myself and perform a reality check in regards to getting back in shape. As of today I am at 145 pounds with a BF% of 8.5%.  My ideal race weight depending on who you talk to is 144 lbs and 10% body fat.  Now that I am right around that number staying there will be paramount, but not hard. In the past I have maintained my weight through IM training because of all the recovery food you consume and thus losing weight has not been something I have been successful at doing despite trying.

Outside of Triathlon –

On Saturday as I convinced Karen to go get froyo with me I asked her what she thought of the way this plan was unfolding.  How was it impacting her and Chico in terms of me being around, me being irritable and me helping around the house. She responded that the way the plan was unfolding seemed to be working very well.  I was no longer falling asleep on the couch at 8pm.  I was calling her to ask if she wanted to get brunch when training was over instead of focusing on getting in all the naps.  We managed to watch movies, have conversations and the like. At work I find myself more alert and able to handle the responsibilities much better than I did for those 18 months and I am sure my employer is happy, as is my paycheck.

Conclusion –

I am going to withhold the statement that this plan is 100% successful as I still have the months of July and August to go through but so far so good.  The real determining factor will be what unfolds on September 28th at the race but getting there is shaping up to be more enjoyable as well as functional in terms of getting stronger and faster.

Would The Ironman Chattanooga Training Plan Appeal To You?

  [caption id="attachment_9642" align="aligncenter" width="605"]ironman chattanooga training - triathlon - sport focus In order: Bike, Swim, Run weeks followed by overall numbers[/caption]

Published in Train

Cycling was the main focus for the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training and it kicked me in the face.  I struggled more than I expected but I also found out that I can take all those struggles and turn them into victories.  I also learned that the plan I have put together for myself, with its sport specific weeks, proved to be successful. As many of you know I have decided to go without a coach for this next Ironman race.  I have truly enjoyed working with both Claudia and Maria but I needed to hit the reset button while also trying out something new.  In training for the Lake Martin 100 I found out that being sport specific, in terms of training, helped me greatly as I was able to become a better runner and a large part of that was being able to overcome the mental hurdles that would come up. Taking that same approach to triathlon was not easy to do.  For years I have been on the swim 3-4x, bike 3-4x, run 3-4x theory.  That plan seemed to work but in the back of my head I kept wondering if there was something else that could be done.  By changing my routine I have gone outside of the box of triathlon and will be focused on becoming a better cyclist, a better runner and a better swimmer. This past week was Bike Week 1.  My plan was to ride approximately 265 miles while running 24 (all brick runs of 4 miles) and swimming a total of 5000 yards.  I wound up finishing at 80% of my overall plan in terms of hours, but what I noticed at the end of the week was that my cycling was much better than I had expected, and that also translated to faster times running of the bike.  The swimming was nothing more than recovery and to break up the monotony therefore nothing to truly be able to gauge. The cycling wound up at 81% of overall planned time because of a late night meeting on Friday and torrential rain on Sunday that led me to only being able to get through 2 hours on the trainer before the mind decided it had enough.  The majority of the riding in this Bike Week 1 was on the trainer and while I would rather ride outdoors I need to be more efficient with my time. What came out of this week were the following two quotes while on the road with my buddies and these comments not only gave me a confidence boost but also gave me a peek into how well this particular type of training was working for me.

  • Quote 1:  Your fitness on this ride has improved dramatically from the ride we did two weeks ago.
  • Quote 2: Great job on pulling us up that hill at the end of this ride.  I was exhausted but did what I had to do to keep up with you and you did not look like you were struggling.

I cannot tell you if working on the sports instead of triathlon will prove to be the best plan but after a week it looks good.  I was asked why I decided to train this way and my comment back was that as triathletes we are so focused on getting in that number of swim, bike and runs that we lose focus on becoming better at each of the sports.  I think that by being able to focus all your energy on that one sport you will learn to become more efficient and we all know efficiency equals speed. This week is Swim Week 1 with a planned 20,000 yards of swimming over the course of approximately 8 hours.  My running miles will stay about the same, but the number of bike miles drops dramatically this week and will allow my legs to recover as they head into week 3 which is a running week with lots of miles. Can this method be successful?  Only time will tell, but after the first 7 days I feel like a stronger cyclist in comparison to Day 1 which was the main goal of the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training. [caption id="attachment_9619" align="aligncenter" width="300"]cycling - ironman - chattanooga - training 15 hours of workouts with 11 of them in the saddle.
Can sport specific training weeks make me a better triathlete?[/caption]

What Has Been Your Experience With Sport Specific Training?

Have You Done Cycling Specific Week Only In Training For An Ironman?

Published in Train

Open water swimming has become the go to for my training lately.  In large part I am doing open water swimming as a way to recover from the Lake Martin 100, but at the same time I need to improve in this facet of triathlon otherwise Ironman Chattanooga is going to take longer than it should.  In the past training cycles for Ironman races I have swum every Friday with members of the FWTri Club.  This training was extremely helpful when it comes to not just getting into the open water but also in dealing with panic attacks, which I seem to suffer from at the start of these triathlon. Last week I was a part of two open water swimming meet-ups and had another one this morning.  While having my face buried into the cold water that is both Lake Grapevine and Lake Benbrook I found myself truly focusing on form.  I took stock of where my head was along with where I was pulling from.  I would also ensure that I was swimming with a high elbow.  All of this was being done so that I was getting the full benefit of open water swimming so early in the season. These last two weeks were the first times I was in the lakes of North Texas since September of last year.  This is exactly why I would make the obvious statement that open water swimming is not like riding a bike.  The cliché that it is like riding a bike is because one a skill is learned it is not forgotten.  I can attest to the fact that open water swimming is NOTHING LIKE RIDING A BIKE.  There are so many differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in the open water that not jumping into the lake can certainly lead one to forgetting that skill. During the different open water swimming sessions I noticed the following 3 items which I will have to work on during the lead up to IMTN:

  1. Counting Strokes: In the pool you can play 'golf' and try to lengthen your stroke and be more efficient.  Unfortunately, for me, in the open water there is no wall and so counting strokes becomes even more imperative to setting a rhythm.  Ensuring that I am swimming on a rhythm will help me know when to look up to sight.
  2. Bi-Lateral Breathing: In the pool while swimming I can breathe to both sides but the moment I get into the lake that skill goes out the window and I do not even attempt to breathe to both sides.  Not having this skill in the open water leads to a more difficult time sighting for me as well as making the loop we do always seem longer on the way out and shorter on the way in.  Balancing my breathing will allow me to balance out the feeling of 'WHERE AM I?' while in the water.
  3. Pool Endurance and Open Water Swimming Endurance: Not the same……Swimming in the pool you have the wall to break up the monotony but also to give you a break.  If you swim a 100 yard or meter set fast you typically take a break and then go again.  The endurance that you are working on is not exactly the same and so getting used to pacing in the lake is something that I am working on.  I always feel great the moment I hit start on my watch and then 400 to 500 meters in I am looking for the lifeguard.  Starting out a tad slower and allowing myself to build up the endurance needs to be a focus.

Yes, open water swimming is not like riding a bike at all.  It is also not like swimming in a pool and it in itself a skill that has to be developed then sharpened with repeated trips to the lake.  In order for me to get more efficient at swimming I have to make a concerted effort to get to the lake when the OWS Swim Club decides it is time to go.  As of right now we are planning every Friday morning at 6:30am and maybe if we get a wild hair going on other days as well, but time will tell there. Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook   At the ver least the spots were my open water swimming training takes place are at least gorgeous.  

Published in Train
Thursday, 20 March 2014 09:09

Running 100 Miles Fears And Thoughts

[caption id="attachment_9530" align="alignright" width="151"]running 100 miles - fear - thoughts Source: Lake Martin Website[/caption] Running 100 miles in a couple of weeks or even one week is daunting.  Running 100 miles in one day can be downright frightening.  When I registered for Lake Martin 100 I was excited to be taking on a challenge that I never saw coming.  It was one of those moments where you think to yourself:  F' It Let's Do This.  After hitting register you think to yourself......what did I just get myself into. I applied all the training mantras and thoughts from going through Ironman cycles to this training yet it always seemed different.  I tried to incorporate swimming and biking when I could but it just seemed to get in the way.  As a matter of fact I have not been in a pool in about 4 weeks and my bike has not seen my a$$ in more than 6 weeks.  The training, especially the overload weeks, did not allow time nor the motivation to do either of the other sports.  There were days were I wanted to go swimming to aid in the recovery process but then thought to myself:  pack bag, get in car, drive, change, swim, change, get in car, drive, unpack bag.  No thanks I'll just sit on this couch and exercise my thumb as I go from channel to channel. Throughout the heavy training I would think about scenarios in which I needed a response for that just in case moment on the course.  Yesterday, I was speaking with co-workers about running 100 miles and they asked me was I worried if I would finish.  My response came quick and with authority:  NO.  I have trained myself to combat the physical fatigue that is going to occur but I wonder where the mind will go when the time ticks closer to 14-15 hours.  I then started to think about other things that give me pause and this brief list is what I came up with.
  1. Temperatures when the sun goes down.  As many of you know I am a cold-weather wuss even though I ran the A-OK in sub-20* temps I am not a fan of cold weather.  I would rather run in heat and humidity like I did at Ironman Texas than to run in anything below 40*.  When the sun goes down we will have been on the course for over 12 hours and thus the mindset then needed to battle the physical fatigue is going to increase because the sun has gone to sleep and the temperatures will get colder.  Making sure that the gloves I start the race with are in my hydration vest so that they are on my person when the time comes.
  2. Weight Loss.  There is not much I can do about this but it is in the back of my head.  When Jeff and I ran Rocky Raccoon 50 back in February I managed to lose nearly 10 pounds despite drinking close to 120 oz of liquid while consuming a Oreo, M&Ms, Potatoes and liquid calories.  My fear is more about the strength needed at the end of the race to carry on.  Dropping that kind of weight may hamper my ability to move on.  The good news is the chance to eat like Michael Phelps the next morning.  Think of all the pancakes, waffles, eggs, toast, hash browns, fruit, oatmeal and coffee one can eat after a running 100 miles. OK, not a fear anymore.
  3. Blisters On My Feet. This is another scenario in which preparation may not be enough.  I will be cutting my toe nails this weekend so that they can grow a bit but not be too long for the race.  I bring this up because I forgot to do just that for RR50 and while diving downhill I felt my toe grab my sock and sure enough a huge blood blister formed.  Regardless of blisters forming I will finish the race but being in discomfort for very long will take a toll on the mind.
  4. Caroline Our Crew Leader. She scares me.  I am not kidding.  She is a 3:05 marathoner and having to deal with three idiots in the middle of the Alabama woods may be more than she can handle and thus turn into the person that just yells at us and crushes our souls.....I am just kidding.  In our exchanges for the past couple of weeks Caroline is the one thing in this race that is going to be constant....other than PAIN!!!!
Ironically, the pain is not something that I fear.  We all know it is coming and we all know we are going to get through it.  It is the unknown that causes the most pause when it comes to running 100 miles.  That being said there is a start line and a finish line that we all will see.  What happens between those lines is going to be an experience and one that I am thrilled to be sharing with Jeff, Dave, Caroline and the GoPro. OK, maybe there should be another fear...... [caption id="attachment_9531" align="aligncenter" width="300"]running 100 miles - fear - thoughts Source: Lake Martin Website[/caption]
Published in Race
Fashion is not one of the qualities that the Hoka One One brings to the party but they certainly bring consistency.  In the grand scheme of things isn't that what we should be aiming for?  Form rather than how good we look as we shuffle around the marathon course at the end of an Ironman because we were not recovered enough to get our training in?  In the most recent past, I have written two blog post reviews for Hoka One One that you can read here and here and the comments were somewhat shocking, but they really shouldn't have been. When Jeff, Kevin and Karen started wearing the Hoka shoe and screaming at me how awesome they were, how awesome they were at allowing me to feel recovered enough to run more and more I laughed. As a matter of fact I called them moon shoes and made a vow that I would never run in them.  True to my word I never did put a pair of these shoes on my feet despite the gallery hollering at me to get a pair and a box of said shoes showing up at my front door on a routine basis.  No way am I ever going to wear that.  How is that going to LOOK?  What kind of fashion statement am I making by wearing these clown shoes? [caption id="attachment_9511" align="aligncenter" width="600"]fashion - hoka - trail running Source: Hoka One One AUS[/caption] Oh, how times have changed.  When Rocky Raccoon 50 training started back on November 25th I did not own a pair.  I was going from riding my bike for 1550 miles over September and October to running miles and miles.  That first week I ran 50 miles (previous week was about 27 - take that 10% increase) but I quickly realized that running 50 miles on a weekly basis was going to take a huge toll on my legs, from my ankles to my hips.  Eventually, that would lead to a breakdown mentally as the idea of running in soreness and pain would be too much.  I ran in the Hoka Mafate first on December 5th and then again on the 11th.  The days then started stringing together and I ordered a second pair.  Before I knew it I was ordering a 3rd pair and now I am like a ravenous dog in front of a piece of meat when I see the shoes on clearance at Running Warehouse.  I am clicking and clicking and putting in discount codes and self-high fiving when the receipt is emailed to me. Once I got past the idea of being a fashion fool and realizing that in order to achieve my goals as an endurance junkie that fashion just did not matter.  My mind and body want to do great things like run across the Gobi Desert but in order to do that I need to train.  Not just train, but train vigorously and keep pushing myself.  For this to occur I need to go out on a regular basis and run and run and run.  For this to take place my fashion sense is best left to what I am wearing to the office and strapping those maximalist shoes to my feet and enjoying the pillow goodness that the Hoka offers. As a matter of fact, it would seem that many people are realizing this as companies like Brooks and New Balance have entered the maximalist market.  Maybe the fact that these shoes seem 'cool' coming from those brands will help them sell and allow people to realize that in order to reach their endurance goals they have to be consistent in their training.  One way to be consistent is to not fall victim to the 'I do not want to run because I am sore' excuse.  Hoka and any other maximalist shoe that comes out is not the end all be all but they sure are a great start. [caption id="attachment_9510" align="alignright" width="300"]fashion - belt buckle - lake martin Source: Lake Martin 100 Mile[/caption] Looking back at my training log I have run 932.29 miles since the start of Lake Martin 100 training.  I can tell you that not one day did I not want to run because my legs were hurting too bad.  Yes there were days of soreness, or days of lack of sleep but nothing from an injury stand point that would keep me from tying my laces and heading out the door.  When the 100 mile endurance event is over I will have accumulated approximately 1100 miles and I will cross the finish line with my arms up thanking my wife, my training and race partners but there will also be a special thank you to the Hoka because in this case consistency will have triumphed over fashion. Let me correct myself.  Form will have led to fashion when I am sporting that belt buckle.

Has The Hoka Lack of Fashion Prevented You From Buying A Pair?

    * Cover Photo Credit: Run Blogger
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_9476" align="alignright" width="300"]physical mental adaptation - endurance sports - training Source: Steve Ingham Blog[/caption] Physical and mental adaptations are taking place during these training stressors that I am under-going during what can be described as Cycle III of the Lake Martin 100 training.  When I first thought about training for a 100 mile race I was inclined to say to myself:  I will never get through this.  As the days and weeks have passed I have seen my body and my mind adapt to the training and this isn't the first time.  During the three training cycles for the various Ironman races the ability to adapt to the training stressors became more and more evident. Yesterday I was at the chiropractor and we were discussing the training for Lake Martin as well as the events that took place on Sunday at The Cowtown Ultra-Marathon.  During that conversation I uttered the words:  the physical and mental adaptation is quite evident.  The look was peculiar but I went on to explain the following:
  • Running 15 miles is no longer a chore.  It is ~2 hours of training and not 15 miles.  Mental adaptation.
  • Running faster at a lower heart rate has become the norm.  Physical adaptation.
The miles I am covering have all been around the 145-148 bpm range.  This for me is the low-end of Z2 and my body has been able to adapt to this range and along the way I have gotten faster.  This past Sunday I ran 31.25 miles and was able to run the last 10k of that distance at an 8:25/mi pace.  I was able to do this because I kept to around 10:00/mi for the first 25 miles (paced Karen to a 10 minute marathon PR) and my heart rate was barely into Z1.  My energy sources were not tapped and I had physically adapted to burning fat for fuel.  My glycogen levels were not depleted and this allowed me to pick up the pace like I did for the final 6.25 miles. Had I not been training at a slower than capable pace then running those first 25 miles would have been a chore.  Mentally I have been able to accept the fact that in order to keep the motor running for 50 or 100 miles, even 30 miles, I cannot go out and run it as if I am trying to qualify for Boston.  Laying out a race strategy for Lake Martin means that I will have to be able to go slow out of the gate.  Walk the uphill from the start, run the flats and cascade the downhills.  Mentally this would have been nearly impossible a year ago as I would say:  In order to get faster I have to go faster.  The difference is that this year it is about going longer.  In order for me to go longer I need to start out slower. [caption id="attachment_9475" align="alignright" width="300"]physical mental adaptation - endurance sports - training Source: Heather Hagen Blog[/caption] The physical and mental adaptions that is occurring during these training stressors will carry over when Ironman specific training begins.  Matter of fact I saw that happening when I went on a biking binge in September and October.  During those two months I cycled 750 and 800 miles respectively.  As the miles piled on my speeds picked up and when I combine that with what I am seeing from these huge running blocks leads me to believe that the same can be done for swimming.  Of course, I would have to actually go to the pool in order for that to happen.

Do You Experience Physical And Mental Adaptation When In The Midst Of Large Training Blocks?

Published in Train
Monday, 17 February 2014 08:48

Ironman Training Recap - Week 15

Ironman training is a beat down.  All the mornings of waking up before the sun and chickens and sometimes getting done with a workout after the sun has settled in for the night.  It is repetitive.  It is exhausting.  It is soul crushing.  It is awesome.  When you realize that these things are not going to kill you then you begin to embrace them.  You look forward to the wake-up call.  You look forward to meeting your tri-buddies at the crack of dawn to ride your bike for 3-4 hours or run 1-2 hours.  You relish that trip to the diner or cafe for the post-workout meal and to laugh despite the pain and smell that emanates from your body.  This is Ironman training.  This is a recap of Week 15 for IMTN training for KC and I.

KC's Week 15 - Ironman Training Recap

ironman training - IMTN - triathlonTime is of the essence lately it seems. Prioritizing is the key to weeks like this and that's exactly what I did. Lots of work but despite that minor inconvenience, I was able to fit in the training. This week I opted to end my biking a century streak. So it ended at 6 centuries in a row to start the year off right. I thought I'd be a little bummed about it but I'm not. While my foot healed, I got a good boost on the bike, so all was not lost. Speaking of my foot, the left one to be exact, the one that had given me issues recently, acted up again earlier in the week. Upon inspection, I realized there was something dark lodged deep in the skin right near my big toe ...and it HURT! I waited until I got home from work to mess with it. As you know, I am a WebMD doctor, so I pull out all of my surgical tools, sterilize them and get to performing surgery right away. It hurt but I ended up digging something dark out of the abyss I had just created. Not sure I got it all but that's all I could handle without making myself pass out. I bandaged it all up and left it alone for a few days. It does feel better but I don't think surgery was complete, so I may need to go back in. I was able to run the last 3 days in a row and not to shabby a pace either, so I'm hopeful that I got most of whatever it was that was causing the foot pain.
These last few weeks have felt like limbo. I'm dying to get back to the pool already. I may disobey the piercer's orders and hit the pool in week 5. I love my running, biking and Xfit but I need my swim back. There is something calming and peaceful about it and I think that's what I miss the most. I need it back now more than ever. Bring on week 16 ...
Upward and Onward!
ironman training - priorities - triathlon

Jason's Ironman Training - Week 15 Recap

ironman training - IMTN - triathlon - training peaks While I did not perform any surgery on myself my body is in pure recovery stage and I have contemplated replacing my IT band with one of those bands that they use on the Bowflex machine.  If you read my Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra race recap you will remember that I slammed my leg on a root or rock and it sent a jolt up my leg and specifically through my IT Band. While I took Monday and Tuesday off completely I went out Wednesday with the hopes that my legs would feel refreshed, as much as possible, having been off of them for a total of 3 days.  The run started out well but half-way through the 5 miler I felt like I just could not move another inch.  My heart rate was extremely high for a run that as at a 9:30/mi pace.  This told me I was not recovered and when I finished the run I thought about bagging the rest of the week.  Of course that did not happen and I went back out Thursday and while the run felt better and I was able to put in 6 miles at a faster pace I was not fully recovered and took Friday off. Saturday rolled around and a 'heat' wave had hit the area.  I started my 14 mile run and it was slow and again with a high HR.  I was getting frustrated and when the run was over that frustration was now unbearable as walking became a chore.  Aches and pains everywhere.  I woke up Sunday ready to get a run in but also knew that if the pain was there the 12 miler would become a 6 miler or a 3 miler or less.  I am not going to take many chances with this especially with the Lake Martin 100 coming up.  As it turns out the first 3-4 miles of the run were horrible and I considered bagging it when my legs responded.  I was able to run and after 6 miles I opened it up a bit while still maintaining a Z1-Z2 HR and managed to knock off 6 miles with ease.  The rest of the day Sunday was great because I had no pain or issues in my legs.  Success.  Chiropractor visits and stretching are on the agenda and I plan to follow-thru on the stretching this time.
 
Published in Train
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 08:32

IMTN Blog Challenge Week #14 Training Recap

So here we are at the start of Week 15 of this IMTN Blog Challenge and over the past 14 weeks you have seen how KC and I have managed to meander around the training world with our eyes on different prizes.  This week brought the realization of a race for KC on March 22nd and the end of the 11 week training cycle for Rocky Raccoon 50 for me.  Here are our Week 14 stories:

KC's Week 14 - IMTN Blog Challenge Recap

I like to call these last 14 weeks foundation building kind of weeks. My next race is a 70.3 on March 22, and although it is not what I would label an A race and I have not been following a specific training plan this time around, I do feel that my base is super strong and that when race day arrives, I will be more than ready to go and do very well. I had a good week overall. The only thing I would have liked to have done was 1 more day of Xfit but I will try to fit that extra day in this week for sure. I’m super stoked I got my 6th century of the year done today. The hub’s asked me how long I planned on keeping up this century a week streak. My answer, “I don’t know.” I’m enjoying it a lot. Today’s century was 60/40. 60 miles outside and 40 inside. Still can’t ever imagine doing a century all indoors. I would probably die. There’s only so much netflix and iheart radio I can listen to, then I begin to shut down. That’s the beauty of Florida living. There’s no need to ride a long ride indoors. For the most part, year round, we can ride outside. For the record, I will NEVER, EVER move to a state where it snows. I like my sunshine and warmth way too much. One last thing, big props to my Texas friends, Jason and Jeff who did the Rocky Raccoon 50 mile trail run. It was Jason’s first and I think it was Jeff’s 2nd time. Way to go guys! On to week 15! Upward and Onward! [caption id="attachment_9437" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMTN Blog Challenge KC's Week 14 Training[/caption]

Jason's Week 14 - IMTN Blog Challenge

There is not a lot for me to recap as this week was a super taper week with a total of 14 miles run until race day when Jeff and I went for 50.  There was a lot of lying around and doing everything I could to avoid eating.  Luckily for me there was a lot going on with work as my team continues to grow and develop long-lasting relationships with clients that will allow us to market them in a much more efficient manner. Rather than bore you with all the details of the race in this blog section I will refer you to the race recap for Rocky Raccoon and alert you to the fact that there will be two more pieces to go in this race recap along with an eating/nutrition blog post I have been asked to write for No Meat Athlete. [caption id="attachment_9418" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMTN Blog Challenge At the drop bag station before heading out on loop 3.[/caption]
Published in Train
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 09:29

Ultra Trail Run Training - The Survival Post

Ultra trail run or ultra trail runner was not a part of my vocabulary as of 11 weeks ago.  The idea and notion of running that far made any sense.  I would laugh at Jeff when he brought it up.  I called it crazy and just a dumb idea.  I would look at the training and think to myself:  70+ mile weeks is just ridiculous.  Why would anybody do that?  Then I started to think more about it and slowly my mindset began to change.  Why not do it?  Why not push myself further than I had in the past?  Why not go out on the limb and should it break it would only be because I tried. Along the course of these 11 weeks I learned a lot about training for an ultra trail run that I can use for the remainder of my training leading up to the Lake Martin 100.  I look at the overload weeks and think 85-95 miles in a week.....that sounds crazy enough to be awesome.  Mindset is one thing that you need to have going into long distance endurance sports training especially if the sport is specific like cycling or running.  When there is a combination of sports the mindset is a bit easier to get to because the monotony is broken up.  One way to think about this is your job.  When you are tasked with pulling the same report on a weekly or daily basis you find that report to be a pain in the ass but when asked to work on a project rather than pulling that report you get excited.  Ultra trail run training is that report.  Triathlon, for me, is that project. Here are a few tips I learned along the way to this point.  This is not a comprehensive list but I believe that following these tips will allow you to not only survive but to thrive on your way to your first ultra trail run whether that is 50k, 100k, 50 miles or 100 miles.

Ultra Trail Run Training Tips

  1.  Eat The Elephant One Bite At A Time. As a vegetarian I could have put something more plant friendly but the point is that the entire training plan is so big that it seems overwhelming.  Focus on that day's training and not the next day's or the upcoming weekends.  Live in the moment and focus on what you are setting out to accomplish.  This means that if it is a 4 mile run that you focus on those 4 miles and not think about the 25 mile run you have coming up in 4 days.  Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will your ability to cover these distances.  Instead it is all bricks in the wall to getting you to the starting line.
  2. [caption id="attachment_9402" align="alignright" width="300"]ultra trail run - tips - training Source: Outside Online[/caption] Recover Properly. Recovery is not just the time you spend doing nothing sitting on the couch.  That is important but so is the amount of sleep you get.  In addition to that it is the right food that you put into your system.  Let us also not forget about stretching.  Now, I can tell you that I do not stretch.  I stop running and head right for the kitchen but never once do I stop to lay on my back and stretch out my hamstrings.  Instead I go to my chiropractor on a weekly basis (2x per week during overload weeks) and allow him to stretch me out as well as adjusting me.  I also get a massage at least every other week.  This allows my body and, just as importantly, my mind to relax and get away.
  3. Take Taper Seriously. In the past I would have found ways to sneak in a few extra minutes of swimming or cycling or running during taper week thinking that it could not hurt.  For this training cycle I am taking taper so seriously that I am not doing anything not on my training plan.  If it isn't there I am not doing it.  I am focusing on my nutrition and getting as much sleep as possible.  I am running these last few miles at a Z1 HR and not going above that one bit.  I am truly paying attention to taper and when I go out on these short runs I feel a spring in my step, a faster pace and the confidence is building.  In taper weeks prior to this one I would go for a short run and feel either fatigued or playing mind-games with myself that my legs were not sore.  That is not the case this time.  I have not felt stronger the week before a race as I do today.
  4. Figure Out Your Nutrition During Long Runs. I have run the equivalent of 12 half-marathons plus over the course of these 11 weeks.  On those runs I have run with the nutrition I plan on using on the course with what would be the equivalent of 225 calories per hour.  By testing and testing and testing the taste, cal/hr, electrolytes, carbs and protein mix I am confident in what I need to bring with me to the course on Saturday morning.  In addition to figuring out exactly what you are going to use you must use these long runs to figure out exactly how you are going to carry these calories.  I have done the runs with my running vest and a flask, even during 'short' runs of less than 10 miles.  Why?  To get comfortable with the extra weight.  To get comfortable with drinking while running.  To get comfortable with the vest and how to fix/adjust in case of anything happening.
  5. [caption id="attachment_9403" align="alignright" width="300"]ultra trail run - tips - training Source: (a href="/chrisultra.blogspot.com/">Chris Ultra Blogl[/caption] Run At All Different Times Of The Day And On Different Surfaces In Different Weather. An ultra trail run is going to take a long time.  This means that you are going to start before the sun comes up and in some cases finish after the sun goes down.  That is a lot of hours to cover while on your feet and different things are going to happen.  Running in the dark is different from running during the day.  Running on trails is different from running on the road.  Running in the rain is different from running in the heat and humidity. As you can see all of these items are different and you need to be prepared for these changes as much as possible.  The only way to do that is to train in those elements.
I will repeat that these tips are not exhaustive.  There is much more that goes into training for an ultra trail run but these will get you started.  I will be 100% honest and tell you, the reader, that this training is harder than Ironman training.  From a physical perspective there isn't much difference but rather in the mental fortitude that it takes.  Running 26 miles on Saturday is hard.  Running 13 miles the following day is harder and I think that is why ultra trail run training is harder than Ironman training.  I can ride my bike for 6 hours on Saturday and then run for 2 hours on Sunday because they are completely different.  I had a hard time psyching myself up to go out for a long run on Sunday after having done a long(er) run on Sunday.

What Are Your Tips For Surviving An Ultra Trail Run Training Program?

Published in Train
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