Triathlon tips is a segment that I am going to implement on a quarterly basis.  Now that I am not training 18-20 hours per week I am able to do quite a bit of reflection of what my training has consisted of, what it will include and topics of discussion between Maria and John of No Limits Endurance Coaching and I. Triathlon is a sport consisting of 3 disciplines and each one plays into the next.  With having to 'master' all three of these events there is a lot of opportunity to leave time on the course and whether you are a World Champion, an Age-Group Elite or just getting ready for your first Sprint Triathlon then these simple steps will help you get faster.  Keep in mind that these triathlon tips do not involve gadgets such as disc wheels, aero helmets or power meters.  These triathlon tips are ones that anybody can employ to get faster and these are all tips that I have either been practicing or have implemented in training and races and have seen the benefits.

5 Simple Triathlon Tips To A Faster Finish

1- Recover / Taper Properly.

This may seem like the most obvious of triathlon tips but it is one that I realize I failed to execute properly over the past 18 months.  Since I started my journey to Ironman I have been training and or racing for 18 months straight.  This schedule included 2 Ironman, 4 Half-Ironman, and 2 Olympic  distance races amongst other events mixed into hours and hours of training.  How much recovery could I be doing from these events when there was another one coming up.  As much as I believed I was recovering I wasn't truly recovering as I had another block of training just waiting for me. In the past 5 weeks I have done a lot of whatever I want in terms of training.  I would get on my bike for 30 minutes and call it a day. I might plan a 40 minute run and stop after 15.  This past week I had my first 'structured' block of training but no workout exceeded 2 hours straight.  These were all done in Zone 1 or Zone 2 with nothing being in a steady Zone 3.  You know what has happened?  I have gotten faster at the same exertion level. The bike route I have been doing for the past 6 months I know like the back of my hand.  It takes me 28-30 minutes to reach checkpoint #1, that is until it took me 23 minutes.  The second checkpoint took me 42 minutes one week ago and this past weekend I was there in 38 minutes.  My heart rate has stayed at the same level and is proof that I am more efficient than I used to be.  As for running I am putting down sub-9:00 miles and barely touching Zone 2 when that time used to be Zone 3.  I have fully recovered and the data is showing so.

2- Train In Race Conditions.

At Ironman Texas I ran the 15th fastest marathon of M40-44 and I didn't have any special secret. I did not have a fan cooling me off as I ran.  I did not have an electrolyte IV running through my system.  What I had was experience.  Ironman Texas takes place in mid-May and for a large part of the country, including Texas, the peak training volume is in January and February and the weather is not always conducive to heat acclimation training, but there is a simple solution for that. Get into your garage or an enclosed room and wear plenty of layers.  I would wear anywhere from 5-6 shirts plus a sweatshirt and peddle and peddle and peddle.  I would be a sweaty mess when all was said and done but it helped me get ready for the 90*+ day that we would face at Ironman Texas.  When others were faltering I kept a strong and steady pace that allowed me to execute the race strategy that was laid out before me.

3- Know Your Race Strategy Inside And Out.

I cannot stress this enough.  Your race strategy is your go to spot when all hell is breaking loose and trust me all hell will break loose.  You will forget something or you may drop your nutrition on the run.  Something is going to happen but having your race strategy either memorized or written down on your hands will help center you. When I raced 70.3 Puerto Rico I wrote down the zones that I was to race in for the bike on my left hand and for the run on my right hand.  When the skies opened up and the rains started coming down the anxiety of the race changing went up.  I simply looked at my left hand, while in aero, to see where I was supposed to be and where I was by looking at my watch.  An adjustment and I was back in the race mentally and the rain did not affect me. At each point of the run (there are 4 since it is a 2 loop out and back) I would look down and see where I was supposed to be in terms of running zones and where I actually was.  At one point as I passed my wife I yelled to her to text Maria that I was executing the sh*t out of the race.  I was hitting every zone that was laid out before me and holding true to my race strategy.  As the heat/humidity climbed I was undeterred because I knew where I was supposed to be and when. This might be my favorite of all the triathlon tips I have seen or written because it takes away the guessing and allows you to focus.  There is no where should I be and what should I be doing.  You have put in hours and hours of training so you know what you are capable of and this simple reinforcement of that will let you enjoy the race knowing that you are going to execute a race strategy that you trained for.

4- Shut Out The Outside And Focus On Yourself.

Racing triathlon is certainly one time where you are going to be selfish and it is ok and acceptable.  In this world of the constant connection we may have our minds wander to what Twitter or Facebook may think if I am not executing and racing as fast as I had projected.  What are my coach's thinking of my performance?  All of these things add anxiety and anxiety will cause your ability to race to your potential to change.  You will lose focus of what you are supposed to be doing at that moment of the race.  The moment you lose focus, you lose form and when you lose form you lose speed. Next time you go to the pool instead of thinking about your form think about what you are making for dinner and keep that thought process for 100 meters or yards.  Was it as fast as the 100 meters you swam when you thought about high elbow, proper catch, breathing?    Try the same test on the bike or the run.  What happened? Did your loss of focus force you to push harder once you realized where you were?  That extra expenditure of energy will cost you.  Triathlon can be a long day if your focus wanders for just a bit so staying in the moment (one of the 22 Tips I Wrote For No Meat Athlete) will allow you to reach that finish line faster. [caption id="attachment_8382" align="alignright" width="275"]triathlon tips - racing - ironman Knowing How To Legally Draft Can Save You Precious Time And Energy[/caption]

5- Legal Drafting

Nobody likes seeing the pack of riders go by or that one rider who just sucks the wheel of the person in front of them for miles on end.  You see them and hope that there is a referee near by to flag them down and hand out a penalty.  That doesn't mean that you cannot legally draft though and legally drafting can be the difference between setting a PR and missing by a few seconds. What is legal drafting?  How about getting on the feet of a faster swimmer and swimming in their wake?  You can get in right behind them or have your head placed near their hip and enjoy the benefits of them setting the tone for you and allowing you to swim faster than you normally would on your own.  Legal drafting in the water is a tricky scenario to play as you don't want to be drafting off of a slower swimmer than you nor off the feet of a person that is exponentially faster than you.  If you find yourself not holding a steady pace but instead an easy one chances are that person you are drafting off of is slower than you. If you are really pushing it and don't think that you can hold the pace for 2.4 miles or whatever distance you are racing then let those feet go and find another pair.  Going anaerobic to hold feet isn't going to help you. On the bike you can legally draft as well.  Each race will have a different rule regarding passing but each race allows you a certain amount of time to do so and you should take advantage of that.  You may not think that 10-15 seconds of drafting is going to help but if you do it enough your legs and your PR will thank you.  Executing the proper legal draft pass takes some experience but once you have it you will be thrilled with those precious seconds.  If you have 20 seconds to pass and it takes you 5 seconds to get to the wheel in front of you once you enter the passing zone then spend 10 seconds drafting and getting pulled. After 10 seconds go around them using the slingshot effect that is created and pass them within that 20 second passing zone. Easy peasy but know the rules of your race before attempting. The same can be said for the run.  Now you may not gain speed the way you would with the bike or the swim but you can certainly aid yourself in terms of blocking from the wind as well as gaining confidence that you can hold a pace.  At Ironman Texas there was no wind on the run but I drafted off of Chelsea Tiner who is an elite age group triathlete in the Dallas area.  I stuck with Chelsea for a mile or two and I found myself comfortable and knowing that I could handle that pace for the remainder of the race. None of these triathlon tips require you to have a Black American Express card but they do take time to get comfortable with.  Knowing how to train and recover properly, knowing how to legally draft takes time and experience but once you have understood how to execute them you will see the times of your races come down.  Then you can invest in a great set of race wheels, an aero helmet and the most expensive power meter you can find.

Do You Have Any Triathlon Tips You Want To Share?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_8295" align="alignright" width="225"]mind games - control - triathlon - ironman Control The Mind.....Not The Other Way Around[/caption] Mind games are going to happen when you race an Ironman and is, what I believe, to be the difference between people of similar ability.  Your thought process is going to swing all over the place during an Ironman but playing mind games and controlling what you are thinking of will help you tremendously in accomplishing this monstrous feat.  If you think about how many thoughts you have on a typical day at work then add in the pain and struggle of exercising for 10-17 hours straight and you can begin to see where an Ironman race is won or lost.  When I refer to won or lost I am referring to your personal goals and not necessarily an age grouper who can finish in 12 hours coming across one day and beating Craig Alexander.  The race is between you and yourself and always will be.  If you beat yourself you'll beat others. Often, I am asked the question: Do you think anybody can do an Ironman?  My answer is a resounding yes.  I believe anybody can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles consecutively but whether they can brave the training and RACE an Ironman is a different thing.  When you break down the race and the three portions that make it up you do not have to move fast (that is a relative term depending on your ability) to complete the distances.  Here is a break down of the time allotted to each discipline and the average pace at which you have to move to accomplish finishing an Ironman in 17 hours:
  • Swim: You have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim.  I swam what was the worst time of any of the Ironman races I have competed in at Ironman Texas 2013 with a time of 1 hour 48 minutes 59 seconds or a pace of 2:49/100 meters.  If you took up the entire time before they stopped you from racing you would have to swim at a pace of 3:37/100m.  This is not a pace that is unsustainable for a lot of people.  Yes some people don't make the swim cut-off but I don't believe it is because they are not capable of this pace, but more than likely the result of anxiety or an issue in the water that caused them to swim at a pace that would not allow them to continue.
  • Bike: On the bike you have 8 hours to travel 112 miles.  If you break this down into a miles per hour reading you would have to average 13.4 mph to finish in 8 hours.  Again this is not an impossible task if you have trained properly for the race.  If you just decided that you were going to hop on a bike and compete at a 140.6 distance race then yes it would be very difficult.
  • Run: The marathon may be the most daunting portion of this because a stand-alone marathon is hard enough but having to do one after you have swam 2.4 miles and cycled 112 miles makes it seem that much harder.  The difference between a stand-alone marathon and one at the end of an Ironman is that you are not racing in Zone 4 for 3 hours but instead working that steady burn in Zones 2 and 3.  In order to finish before the 17 hour mark you have based on the two scenarios of a 2:20 swim and 8:00 bike with 10 minutes in T1 and T2 combined, you will have 6 hours and 30 minutes.  At a pace of 14:53/mi or what you probably average if you walked the entire course you would be able to cross the finish line and call yourself an Ironman.
When you look at these paces it doesn't seem as daunting does it?  Can you do those things?  I say yes, but the difference between finishing in 17 hours and thinking that you can't is what takes place during training as well as during the race and it isn't in your legs.  The muscle that you are going to work the hardest during training and racing is the brain.  The brain will play mind games and tell you that you can't.  On rainy days, on cold days, on snowy days, on a Tuesday the brain will say stay in bed.  Staying in bed is not an option if you want to be called an Ironman and so you have to fire back and play mind games yourself. Another question I am often asked is why continue to race Ironman Texas or 70.3 Puerto Rico where the temperatures are like being on the sun and the humidity makes breathing seem like you are swallowing pea soup on every breath.  My answer is I am willing to suffer more than the next person.  I enjoy the ability to race in these conditions and it is because I know that others are not willing to do it.  I play mind games with myself that it isn't that bad and that I can push harder especially when I know that the person I am passing is thinking: What the f*ck is that guy doing? This year at IMTX the temps were in the mid-90s with a heat index over 100*.  Throughout the run I was given a you look great.  Awesome pace.  Keep up the great work.  That motivated me to keep going and those comments would get locked into a vault and when I felt like I couldn't take another step I would pull one out and think: what if that same person saw you now?  Get going.  Mind games are that simple to play.  Think about hunting down the next person with a number on their calf that is in your age group.  Nobody within eyesight?  Make them up.  Do whatever it is you need to do to keep moving and avoid walking.  The simples way to do this is to go into the race with a very well-studied strategy.  Since Ironman races don't always go according to your strategy you will have to adjust on the fly and this is where the mind games happen. I remember on the third lap that I was starting to have severe foot pain but I also knew that there was a corner with music playing and people cheering loudly. I made the decision that I was going to dance at that corner if for nothing more than to get a bunch of screams and high-fives.  Those cheers were going to lift me up and move me past the pain in my foot and I was proven correct.  Once I got past that point my paces picked up and the pain in my foot disappeared. The biggest mind game I am playing today is the 'get comfortable with the uncomfortable.'  As you read in my post about meditation I have high anxiety when it comes to the swim.  Swimming the 2.4 miles is not something I am afraid of, but rather the treading of water.  Sitting there waiting and waiting and then the thrashing and thrashing and my heart rate climbs into an anaerobic state.  This has a domino effect on my ability to push on the bike and run and so I am doing what I can to make sure that the anxiety is not negative at the start of the race but instead turned into adrenaline that can be used for good.  Visualizing a calm and efficient start.  Seeing my wife's face so that I can bring my heart rate into a steady zone.  All of these things are going into play because I know I can swim a 1:15 but will my mind allow me to is the question.  My answer is yes and I will overcome my mind by tricking it into believing that the uncomfortable is comfortable. At some point during an Ironman, or any race for that matter, you will have a conversation with yourself.  Your ability to respond and take your game to the next level is what is going to allow you to push to the finish line.  Conquer your fears and fight the demons that will undoubtedly show up.

Do You Play Mind Games?

Are You Willing To Do What Others Won't?

Published in Race
IMTX is 10 days away and that means.....well that means a lot.  It tells me that I am officially in taper mode.  It tells me that I survived overload weeks.  It tells me that the third chapter of Ironman races is coming to a close.  Having raced IMTX in 2012 and finishing off 12+ months of training for the 140.6 distance at IMTX 2013 means the world to me.  My body has survived the rigors of training.  My marriage has survived (sometimes barely) the stress that Ironman training can put on it.  Along this road I have found a lot of support as well as lost some friends and their support.  Life has changed, for the better, since the day I decided to do the first and it certainly has changed and will have changed when May 18, 2013 rolls around and IMTX is in the books. As of right now I have no races on my schedule for after IMTX and I like it this way.  I have no pressure to get back into training.  I have nothing to look forward to which means that my sole focus is to race IMTX 2013 as hard as I possibly can because there is no tomorrow.  I purposely setup my race schedule for this year in this manner because I think that the heavy race schedule of 2012 allowed me an out.  The mindset was oh, you raced IMTX 2012 in 11:59 but you can do better at IMAZ.  Oh you crashed and finished in 11:53 you still have IMTX 2013.  Same can be said for the 70.3 races I did.  There was always a tomorrow, but not this time.  This time there is no tomorrow and everything I have done for the past 5 months will be on the line and I like it that way. Some people will ask me what my goals are and to be honest with you there is only one goal because there is only one race.  Yes triathlon is a combination of three sports, but in the end it is one race and that is the only time that matters.  I have not finalized my race strategy with Maria and John but I can tell you that our goal for this years version of IMTX has been 11:15 or better.  How I get there I don't really care.  If I swim 1:15 then I have 10 hours to bike, run and transition between the sports.  If I swim 1:30 then I have 9h45m to do those activities.  My training has me pointed in that direction but no one knows what race day will bring and so I will go into this race knowing I have done everything I can to get to 11:15. Swimming: Swimming has been going extremely well.  I am very pleased with where I started and where I am today.  This is the one sport that could have been dramatically improved and it has.  When I started with Maria and John my 800 TT time was 14:50.  A few months later we did another because I could feel myself getting faster and I finished in 13:56.  The last 800 TT we did was a few weeks ago and I was down to 13:22.  That is nearly a 1m30s improvement since December over 800y.  Doesn't seem like much but if you break it down to an Ironman 2.4 mi course that would look something like this: 1:18:30 down to 1:10:30.  Also, keep in mind that when I finished that TT in December I was huffing and puffing and could have starred as the Wolf in Three Little Pigs.  When I finished the 3rd TT I was gassed but I could have gotten on my bike and put in a good start.  Can I swim a 1:10:30 at IMTX?  I have no idea but what I do know is that even if I swim that 1:18:30 I would have improved my time by 18 minutes over IMTX 2012.  I'll take that any day. Biking: This was the second discipline that the majority of the work we did in this training cycle went into.  There were days where I did not think I could get to 145bpm and hold it for an extended period of time.  There were days where I would go slightly above my target heart rate (John approved this!) and there were days where I just wished that I had a run instead of a bike session scheduled.  All the while the improvements were there.  Getting into specific heart rate zones got easier and easier and it made the confidence meter go up.  My last long bike ride I averaged 18 mph and that is with all the stops and starts that you get with riding outdoors in the Metroplex along with using stock wheels instead of race wheels.  The last component that cannot be ignored is adrenaline, which doesn't exist on those long rides by yourself but will certainly be there come race day.  I think that an increase of 1 to 1.5 mph is possible given the factors and having fresh legs for a race after a good solid taper.  At IMTX 2012 I averaged 18.4 mph and I do believe that 19.0 to 19.5 mph is something I am capable of but there are circumstances beyond my control that make this impossible to guess at.  If I finish at 19.0 mph I will be one happy athlete as I would go from 6:05 to 5:54.  I also can gain confidence in the fact that I raced a 6:02 after a wreck at IMAZ that probably caused me to lose 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep the rubber side down this time Jason! Running: The one discipline we did not focus on and yet the improvements have been drastic and quite scary.  I remember the day I hit 8:30/mi and was sitting at the bottom of Z2 and thinking to myself:  Is this for f'n real?  Am I really going nearly :30/mi faster than I would normally be for this HR?  It was bonkers to me because our focus has not been on the run but lo and behold with the fitness gains since December running gained as well.  I am really psyched about this because all along I have felt that a sub 4-hour marathon at the end of an Ironman was possible.  I believe the hardest part is going to be holding myself back from jumping off the bike and running as if my name were Roger Bannister (for you young'uns to the sport of running click here).   At IMTX 2012 I ran to a 4:09 and that was without a strategy.  IMAZ produced a 4:06 with a hanging arm so a sub-4 hour marathon is something I am certainly capable of.  My familiarity with the course and the total elevation gain of ~250 ft plays right into my strengths.  There will be pain on this run for sure as that last lap will be the bell lap and I'll be running and chasing down that 11:15 regardless of where I am after the swim and bike.  Embrace the pain for 8 miles and gloat forever about breaking 4 hours at the marathon of an Ironman......that is the dream. Outside Life: This has been beyond stressful.  I posted the other day on Twitter that if I decided to make lemonade out of all the lemons I had I could put Minute Maid out of business.  It just seems that one thing got piled onto the next and Karen and I are doing all we can to keep our heads above water.  The problem is that it is all the little stuff that drives you crazy.  We purchased new appliances for the house in the hopes of luring a buyer.  Since then we have had no showings, and about 10 minutes after the installation was done the power went out.  Karen thought it was the house but it turned out to be the neighborhood.  I then went to use the garbage disposal the next day and it wasn't working.  I went to Home Depot to get a handful of stuff but then Karen just pressed the reset button and voila the garbage disposal was working.  Little things always add up don't they. Some of the projects I have been working on professionally and personally have fallen through but because of triathlon I have been able to keep my chin up fight through it and figure out alternatives to getting those projects back.  I have to give credit to Karen for keeping me focused on IMTX as we get closer and keeping my arousal level to a 4.  Anything above that and I am putting undue stress on my body and mind and it just isn't necessary.  If anybody want to hire Karen to be their guide through taper let me know and we can figure out an hourly rate because her service has been priceless. [caption id="attachment_8096" align="aligncenter" width="553"]imtx - ironman - triathlon - texas - 140.6 IMTX Training Peaks Volume[/caption]

Are You Racing IMTX 2013?  If So, Leave Your Bib Number In Comments So We Can Track You (By We I Mean Karen!)

Published in Race
Swimming was the bane of my existence when I entered the world of triathlon.  I can recall my first 'training' days where I would go to the gym, jump in the pool and swim a few laps with lots of water swallowed and exhaustion setting in after 25 yards.  Swimming was what I had to do to complete a triathlon but I had really wished it was just bike, run and left the swimming for somebody else.  Over the past three years I have made a weakness into what can conceivably be a strength for me. I have been swimming 4 times per week since I started with Maria and John and when we entered build phase and the number of swims would decrease I can say that I was a little upset.  I have been enjoying my time swimming and seeing the improvements that I have been making.  Of course getting in the water as often as possible has been a huge help to my form and ability to swim faster but so are the functional strength exercises that Maria has been putting into Training Peaks. I decided that I wanted to provide you with my 5 favorite strength workouts that have an impact on my swimming ability and hopefully they will help you out as well.

Strength Exercises That Benefit Your Swimming Ability

  1. [caption id="attachment_7773" align="alignright" width="209"]swimming - triathlon - strength training - dumbbell kickback - muscles Dumbbell Kickback

    Dumbbell Kickback

    • How:
      • Lean on a weight bench with a dumbbell in the opposite arm from the leg on the bench.
      • Keep back straight and head in a neutral position.
      • From here raise the dumbbell back toward your feet until straight and then return to a 90* angle to your body.
    • Tips:
      • Focusing on good form is important because you can try to use a weight where you are just throwing it back and not using the triceps to generate the force to move the weight.
      • Use a weight that will allow you to take a 2 or 3 count to kickback and a 2 or 3 count to return.
    • Why:
      • This is a simple exercise that works your triceps which is important on the final phase of your stroke.
  2. Upright Row
    • How:
      • Stand with feet shoulder width apart and holding a barbell in front of you.
      • Pull weight up toward your chin and focus on keeping your elbows high and feeling the weight in your shoulders.
      • Lower weight back down and repeat.
    • Tips:
      • Use a weight that you can handle multiple reps on until the end of a 12 rep set.
      • Weights do not need to be heavy and just provide enough resistance to know that you are working.
    • Why:
      • Strong shoulders mean strong pull.
      • Strong shoulders mean less fatigue during recovery phase of the stroke.
  3. Push Up
    • How:
      • Do I need to explain how to do a push up?
      • Get on floor and PUSH YOUR BODY UP then lower and repeat.
    • Tip:
      • You can make the exercise different by moving hands closer together or further apart.
      • You can work the chest in a different manner by using a medicine ball under one hand and then switch.
    • Why:
      • The push up strengthens both the chest and the triceps which are key muscle groups to creating greater endurance and power.
  4. [caption id="attachment_7772" align="alignright" width="280"]swimming - triathlon - strength training - flutter kick - muscles Flutter Kick
    Source: Worlds Fittest[/caption] Flutter Kick
    • How:
      • Lay on your back with toes pointed and arms down by your sides.
      • Lift your shoulders and hands slight off the ground so that you can feel your core working.
      • Raise feet up about 1 foot and then kick as if you were swimming
    • Why:
      • Help improve ankle flexibility which is needed with all the run training triathletes do.
      • Helps muscle memory for foot position which will aid the kicking during the freestyle stroke.
  5. Standing Straight Arm Pull Down
    • How:
      • With a straight back facing a pulley machine grab the bar.
      • Lower the bar in an arching motion with elbows flexed a bit until palms reach upper thighs.
      • Return bar to top of machine, slowly.
    • Why:
      • The starting of this exercise mimics the initial pull phase of a freestyle stroke.
      • Mimics the swim stroke to the point that all muscles used in freestyle are used.
I have advocated strength training for triathletes since I started in the sport and my belief that is an aid has not diminished.  As we get older we need to strengthen our tendons to avoid injury and allow us to keep participating in the sport we love.  Should you always strength train?  No, there are times when it is more important than others.  When you are in your build phase or in your off-season then strength training is imperative.  When you are in your build phase then strength training plays a less important role as you are going to be swimming, biking and running longer and harder. Please also keep in mind that when you are strength training that you are not looking to become the winner of the next body building championship.  You are working on muscles that will help you in your swimming, biking and running which are your main focus.  You will also be doing all three sports which are going to help develop the muscles so the resistance training does not need to be done with heavy weights. Swimming is a sport that most triathletes are not happy about seeing on their training plan.  With these strength exercises your form and ability to swim will improve and make swimming a favorite among the three sports.

What Strength Training Exercises Do You Do?

Does Your Strength Training Focus On Swimming, Biking Or Running?

Published in Train
Ironman Texas is coming up Fast And Furious (Karen loves these movies and I think we are slated to see #6 soon) and I am behind on my monthly progress report.  Let's also toss in the fact that the email I got from Maria this week with the subject:  Welcome To Build Phase leads me to believe that the monthly progress reports for Ironman Texas 2013 may not be as prompt as they were during the first two months.  That email kinda scared me if I am being honest. I had every reason to be scared as well when the Training Peaks email for today had the words:  **If it doesn't hurt, you aren't pushing hard enough :)  Well ok then. I knew I was walking, or swimming, into unchartered territory but I also knew that it was an opportunity for me to improve on my Ironman Texas swim of 1:36 from last year as well as the 1:30 swim from Ironman Arizona.  Both times are by no means horrible, but can certainly be improved upon.  During today's swim session I nearly puked which tells me that I followed Maria's advice and pushed hard enough. This build phase comes with the knowledge that I will be going on a lot of solo rides to help build my mental strength.  This is not a big deal as approximately 95% of my rides last year were all solo rides.  The beginning of this year I chose to ride with faster cyclists to help improve my speed and break the monotony of riding alone.  Now that I am going back to solo rides I am sort of excited to just let it all go out there with my own thoughts, speed and understanding of where my heart rate needs to be and not worry about keeping up with the group. Since my last Ironman Texas progress report a lot of things have happened.  I have raced 70.3 San Juan, Karen and I got the flu and now she has pneumonia, we also put our house up for sale, and I have been engaged in starting a project that I have been thinking about for the past two years.  I would love to expand on the project for you but the timing is not right just yet.  Once I have gathered more information and there is more to share I will be sure to let you know.  Until then please hold tight and enjoy the rest of this post regarding my progress toward Ironman Texas 2013.


This was my Achilles heal last year and it reared its ugly head at Puerto Rico.  I swam a 45 minute 1.2 mile race which is 4 minutes slower that last year.  While this year was much choppier the real reason I was that much slower has to do with my sighting.  I probably swam an extra 1/4 mile that day and that cost me time and energy.  At first I was disappointed in my swim but once I got back in the pool I found that my stroke and ability to keep the paces I had before the race were still there and maybe a bit faster. Maria will be putting some open water swims on the schedule so I can work on my sighting, but I will also try to improve my sighting in the pool.  While not the same it will help in the long run.  I believe that I can swim a faster pace than 1:36 for this years race.  If I swim the goal of 1:15 than Ironman Texas 2013 will have been 21 minutes faster and that is a lifetime.  For this month I would give myself a B in the swimming category because I am swimming faster but sighting has to be worked on.  The Ironman Texas swim course is not a straight shot so sighting is going to be imperative.


I found myself enjoying the ride in Puerto Rico immensely even with keeping my HR higher than I have in the past.  Our goal was to maintain a 145 heart rate and I was right there but the best part was that toward the end of the ride when the climbs re-surface I didn't get worried or bothered by them.  Last year I remember thinking that this was the worst possible place to have those climbs so over the course of the year I have improved my cycling.  I told Maria in our bi-weekly chat that I felt like I could have sustained that effort for another 56 miles and that made me happy.  I was not spent and was setup for a good run. This year I finished San Juan in 2:51 which is 5 minutes slower than last year but felt much better and being that this was not the A race of the season puts me i a good position to break 6 hours at Ironman Texas.  If I am able to ride a 5:40-5:50 for the 112 miles I will have knocked off 15 to 25 minutes off of my time.  That is an eternity at the Ironman distance.  For this past month I would give my cycling a B+ as I think I have done well but there is work still left to be done.


Oh, running how I have missed thee.  Not really but the miles are not piling up the way they have in the past and that is deliberate.  Our focus has been on swim and bike and I have seen positive gains there.  That doesn't mean I haven't seen positive gains on the run though.  This week after being recovered from San Juan I went out and ran a Z2 20 minutes off the bike and my pace was down near 9:00/mile.  Typically at the HR I maintained I would have been near a 9:30/mi pace.  That improvement tells me that I am more efficient on the bike and capable of putting forth a good effort on the run. At San Juan I was able to execute the race plan of picking up my heart rate/pace over the course of the 13.1 miles and while I was tired at the end I was not fully spent as I was a year ago.  I managed to come in only 2 minutes off my time from last year and was able to pick it up as the race went along.  Last year I did not have that effort or plan and blew up half-way through the race and just wanted to end.  Over the course of the last month I have seen improvement in my efficiency which leads me to believe that a sub-4 hour marathon is feasible at Ironman Texas.  A 3:55 marathon will have shaved 15 minutes off my time from last year.  Feeling strong to date I think my running has been on par and would say that I earned a B in this past month.  Again, nothing to be ashamed of but also know that there are improvements to be made.

Ironman Texas Is In 50 Days

If somebody were to ask me today how I would do at Ironman Texas this year I would tell them that I could race and finish at or around the same time as my Ironman Arizona race which was 11:53.  Knowing that I have 50 days to hone my skills and sharpen my ability gives me faith that the 11:15 goal that I have as a target is more than feasible.  With a 25 minute improvement on the bike and a 15 minute improvement on the run and nothing else changing the end result would be 11:19 based on Ironman Texas last year or 11:13 based on Ironman Arizona. My confidence in my ability continues to grow even as the muscles get more sore, the hunger pains grow sharper and my sleeps get more deep.  The build phase is upon us and unlike build phases of the past I am fearful but excited simultaneously as I know these are pennies in the bank to the results I want at Ironman Texas.  As John is fond of saying: stay in the moment.  That means that when I am swimming that is my concern  When I am cycling that is the only thing I need to think about and when I am running the only sound i my head is the pitter-patter of my feet.

Ironman Texas - I Got Your Number !

[caption id="attachment_7756" align="aligncenter" width="553"]Ironman Texas - monthly progress report - triathlon - training Hours decreased as we headed into taper and recovery for 70.3 San Juan[/caption]
Published in Train

Triathlon Anatomy by Mark Klion,MD and Troy Jacobson Book Review

  [caption id="attachment_7703" align="alignright" width="301"]triathlon - book review - troy jacobson - mark klion Troy Jacobson - Triathlon Coach[/caption] Triathlon Anatomy has a great title and authors.  The lure was cast and the hook went in deep and I purchased as soon as I could based on these two items.  Unfortunately I could not wiggle off the line and finished the book more disappointed than happy to have purchased it.  The book has terrific illustrations and great ideas but there is nothing new in the book that is eye-opening.  Knowing Troy Jacobson from the Spinervals DVD set and reading article he has written I was very excited to read some new insight into the sport of triathlon but that was lacking and was the source of my frustration with the book. If you are new to the sport this book is worth it as you can get terrific insight into what certain exercises should be done and why.  The book is terrific with illustrations as well to showcase what muscles are impacted by a certain workout as well as how it affects each specific sport.  I enjoyed reading this section but after a while the phrase (I am para-phrasing):  This is good to help with swim efficiency while building swim-specific strength and endurance.  The other exercises that are pointed out display how they affect the body for the bike and the run and the same type of catch-phrase is repeated in terms of how it benefits the body for that sport.  I found myself on the plane to and from Puerto Rico flipping the pages faster and faster as I was getting bored and at one point fell asleep mid-sentence. Now, let me say that this book is not all bad.  I think it has its place on a triathlete's book shelf but that triathlete is just getting started.  There is a discussion about triathlon distances, transitions, biomechanics of triathlon and training considerations.  One chapter goes over putting together a customized triathlon training plan and then the exercises and how they benefit triathletes.  All of it makes sense and would be a terrific read for somebody just getting started.  For those that have been involved in the sport and are truly practicing the art of triathlon this book is nothing more than a reminder of what to do but not earth-shattering. Once section that I did find to be beneficial for me was the section titled Stretches for Injury Prevention And Treatment since I am a non-stretcher.  I do my dynamic stretches before my training but when I am finished I am finished.  Essentially the only stretching I do is on Friday's at yoga and I have been fortunate enough to not sustain any injuries but I am going to take the stretches in this book and incorporate them into my evening routine.  Right now I am doing 15 minutes of core work at night so adding in 15 minutes of stretching afterwards means that I am getting in a solid 30 minutes of core/stretching to end the day and relax me before going to bed. I wish there was more good that I could say about this book but it just was not there for me.  As a person who lives the triathlon lifestyle on a daily basis this book was nothing more than a reminder of how and what training workouts benefit a triathlete and why.  For a person who is just getting started in triathlon or has done a Sprint or Olympic and is wondering how far they can go in triathlon this book will enlighten them to the workouts and reason why they should incorporate the workouts into their triathlon training plan.  The preface contains the following sentence which I think may be true for some experienced athletes but if the sport of triathlon is your lifestyle and you aren't dabbling in it then I don't think it makes sense to purchase this book:

The information presented in this book allows both novice and experienced athletes to obtain a better understanding of how the musculoskeletal system functions and responds to triathlon-specific exercises and training.

Have You Read Triathlon Anatomy?  Thoughts?

What Triathlon Books Can You Recommend?

Published in Product Reviews
Fueling an endurance athletes lifestyle is paramount to recovery and being able to get out the door to do the next day's or even the same day's workout.  I am a big proponent of food for fuel and that recovering properly is beyond important.  Fueling or also re-fueling gives your body the nutrients it needs to continue working your training regiment.  This weekend was a story of fueling and re-fueling properly and improperly, but as normal I learned a lot about what I need to do for next weekend's workouts. As I posted in my Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress Report I have entered into the build phase which means two things:
  1. Workouts will get longer.
  2. Workouts will get harder.
Clearly, fueling properly for these workout is going to be the key to executing the workouts so that I get the most out of them.  Ironman Texas is 48 days away and while fueling before and after workouts is important, I am also re-learning to fuel during my workouts.  I say re-learning because I am trying to avoid the HoneyStingers I have grown accustomed to using as I think that lead to some of my weight gain going into and after Ironman Arizona.  HoneyStingers also have wheat and whole wheat flour in them that I have been keeping out of my diet for the past 3 months or so.

Fueling Build Phase Weekend #1

Here is how I was fueling for the workouts on the docket this weekend and how I felt before, during, and after the workouts.  Keep in mind that this is the high intensity phase or Ironman training and is not typical of what an entire training cycle looks like.  If you have specific questions based on your training please leave them in the comments or use the contact me form and I will do my best to help you out.


  • Training:
    • 4 hour 30 minute bike ride with a progressive increase in heart rate from Zone 1 to finish with 1 hour in Zone 3.
    • 40 minute run while keeping my heart rate in Zone 1
  • Pre-Fueling:
    • A 90 calorie shake with homemade nut butter, honey and banana on corn this.
    • 410 calories, 68g Carbohydrates, 12g Fat, 18g Protein, 11g Fiber consumed two hours prior to the workout.
  • During-Fueling:
    • 1057 calories of sports drink that also had 236g Carbohydrates, 15g Protein, 0g Fat
    • I brought a ziploc bag of dried pineapple and raisins but did not consume any.
  • Post-Fueling:
    • Vegan Banana Bread With 2 Eggs
    • 788 calories, 111g Carbohydrates, 29g Fat, 34g Protein, 19g Fiber.
    • Made sure that I hit the all-important 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio for optimal recovery.
[caption id="attachment_7765" align="aligncenter" width="300"]fuel - triathlon - training - recovery meal Vegan Banana Bread With Homemade Nut Butter, Goji Berries And Blueberries.[/caption] During the ride I felt very strong and felt I had hit the fueling properly.  Of course, at Ironman Texas I will be going harder than this ride and thus the dried pineapple and raisins will come into play and is something I will have to work into my training to make sure that it doesn't cause any GI distress.  Post-training fueling was not only ideal in the carb to protein ratio but it also tasted great and when you can have both you are doing something right.


  • Training:
    • 1 hour 5 minute run with progressive increases in heart rate and finish with a 20 minute tempo run.
    • After a minimum of a 2 hour recovery rode the bike on the trainer for 1 hour with interval sets.
    • 55 minute run immediately after the ride while keeping a steady pace in Zone 2.
  • Pre-Fueling:
    • The same shake but this time with no food as it was only a one hour run.  I drank the shake about 1 hour before I started the run.
    • 90 calories, 14g Carbohydrates, 2g Fat, 10g Protein
  • Post Session #1 Fueling:
    • A whey protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing the run that I would use as a recovery drink and a pre-fueling for the next training sessions.
    • 140 calories, 16g Carbohydrates, 2g Fat, 17g Protein
  • During Fueling of all three sessions:
    • Water as I figured these were shorter sets but didn't think about the cumulative effect of the three hours.
  • Post Session #2 Fueling:
    • A 3:1 Carb:Protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing the workout.
    • Egg Tostadas which had homemade corn tortillas, eggs, sweet potatoes, olives, black beans and jalapeño peppers.
    • 781 calories, 104g Carbohydrates, 20g Fat, 48g Protein, 15g Fiber
[caption id="attachment_7766" align="aligncenter" width="300"]fueling - recovery meal - triathlon - ironman Breakfast / Brunch Egg Tostadas[/caption] The weather in Dallas has gotten warm but the humidity has gone through the roof and this may have caused some dehydration on the second run.  I felt as if my legs had lead in them and I was running in molasses by the end and quickly knew I made a mistake with my fueling both between sets and during the second set.  When I look back at it I would have been smart to have a banana between sets to help my fueling for the 2nd set as well as have an electrolyte based drink with me on the trainer at the very least. Fueling is very individual and even when you think you have it nailed down there could be changes that are needed.  Maybe you live in a cold climate but your race is in a warm (or hot) location and thus your water intake needs to be adjusted.  Maybe the amount of calories needs to be increased to avoid that dreaded bonk.  This is not an exact science, not even refueling is.  I mentioned the 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio as being optimal but I have also read where 4:1 is the perfect combination.  Suffice it to say that getting in at least 3:1 is important, but so is timing.  Typically, your optimal window is between 30 minutes and 45 minutes post workout as your body is ready to take on the nutrients to refuel your body for the next day's workout.

Do You Practice Your Fueling During Your Training?

Have Any Fueling Tips You Want To Share?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_7934" align="alignright" width="300"]overload weeks - ironman - tips - training Cornmeal Pizza With Vegan Pesto And Eggs[/caption] Overload weeks are the time in training where a lot of athletes are broken.  They fear the weeks before they even start and then it quickly goes downhill from there.  The workouts get harder than they should be, the mind breaks, the calories consumption goes from healthy to eat anything and all the base building work can quickly be lost as well as the potential for injury.  I am going through my third set of overload weeks in the past 12 months and have learned quite a bit during that time.  Overload weeks don't have to be as hard on everything around you as the workouts are hard enough. The following overload weeks tips have been learned through trial and error and probably more error than trial.  When I first got started in triathlon the overload weeks for the Half-Ironman distance just seemed like regular training weeks as the bike rides never eclipsed 4 or 5 hours never mind 6.  The runs were never longer than 2 hours and certainly not touching on 15 or 16 miles up to 20 miles long.  The workouts seemed manageable because they were a continuation of what I had been working on the entire time. When the first overload weeks for Ironman Texas 2012 came on the schedule  I got very nervous.  My goal was to hit every workout to a T regardless of how I felt, regardless of what I ate, regardless of how I slept.  It was a test that I needed to pass to prove (to whom I have no idea) that I could be an Ironman.  I wanted to make my coach happy.  I wanted to show those following me on social media that I was capable of doing this but most of all I was scared out of my wits.  If I didn't hit this ride or run to a T what would that mean for the race?  I went hard on each session and what accompanied that (because for every action there is a reaction) was that the world around me seemed to not matter.  I was here to train for an Ironman and come hell or high water that is what I was going to do.  Laundry piled up (it still does but not for as long), dishes were scattered through the kitchen, tension in my relationship with Karen and anything else I touched was affected.  I was the anti-Midas during those first overload weeks.  Since then I have learned and I have put together a list of tips that can help you during your overload weeks.

Tips For Surviving Overload Weeks

Forget The 'Diet' And Focus On Recovery Your weight during the overload weeks is going to be all over the map.  You are going to have days when you are not hungry but need to eat to fuel and you are going to have days where you are always hungry.  Ignore the scale to the point that you aren't going so far out of your weight range but not so focused that you are skipping meals.  You will need all the carbs, fat and protein plus micro-nutrients you can handle during these weeks.  It is imperative to use food as your fuel to get you out the door the next day to execute the training plan you have laid out before you. If your goal weight is 140 pounds and you are at 140.5 pounds in the morning and know that you have a 6 hour bike and a 30 minute run brick that day do not come home after all of that and eat lettuce.  Fuel up with the proper 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio smoothie/meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours and get the glycogen back into your muscles.  Don't think that you just burned all those calories so if you don't eat you will be at 140 pounds the next morning.  What will happen is your body will not be able to function and that great workout you had will be lost.   [caption id="attachment_7935" align="alignright" width="300"]overload weeks - training - tips - ironman Red Velvet Cake Waffles[/caption] Let Your Family, Friends, Co-Workers Know When These Weeks Are Two weeks ago I informed Karen that my thought making process was going to be taxed in the upcoming overload weeks so she would have to take on some responsibilities I had been covering.  I had to do this because in the past I tried to do the overload weeks training and handle certain responsibilities and something had to give on certain days and more times than not it was the responsibilities and that led to tension in the house.  This way I let her know upfront as well as my business partner that these were coming so we could make arrangements.  Karen picked up the slack on these I was sure to forget and I took on other items.  My partner took over the blog writing I do for our company for two weeks so that I could get through this. It may not seem like a big deal but if those around you know that you are going to be going through these hard training weeks they are more likely to lend a hand and help you out.  Don't worry you can return the favor once the race is over and pick up more of the slack that you left behind. Get Plenty Of Rest / Sleep Rest is not the same as sleep but it is just as important.  We all know the benefits of sleeping and how it allows our bodies to get put back together but resting is just as important.  Sitting on the couch while watching nothing on television means your body is in a state of relaxation and not stressing.  This is key to allowing the tissues, organs and muscles to recuperate and prepare themselves for what is coming later that day or the next day. As we go through overload weeks we are stressing the body and one way the body deals with those stresses is to swell to protect the 'injured' area and by resting you are allowing the swelling to go down and return to normal.  You should also include anti-inflammatory spices in your dishes to aid in the reduction of swelling.  Spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric are all very important and are items I include in my diet on a daily basis.  The combination of relaxing with my feet up and anti-inflammatory foods allows me to wake up the next morning and get going again so that I am getting the work in that is necessary for a successful Ironman. Do Something Other Than Swim/Bike/Run/Sleep My first two rounds with overload weeks were only training.  I focused on swim/bike/run/eat/sleep/eat/sleep/swim/bike/run so much that I forgot that there were other hours in the day to do things with.  Last week I went to an amusement park with Karen the little one and his friend.  We were there for a few hours and I had a blast.  I was not the fastest at walking from one ride to the next but I certainly had more fun than anybody else.  Why?  I wasn't so focused on fueling properly for the go-kart rides or the mini-golf.  I was focused on making sure that everybody else had a good time and in combination I had a blast. We started with a visit to iHop where we had breakfast then headed to ride go-karts, play mini-golf and watch the kids jump around in the bounce houses.  While the kids were doing that Karen and I actually had an opportunity to talk to each other about the things going on in our lives with our (my) eyes open as opposed to half-open while falling asleep on the couch. Relish In The Moment Understand that not every training session is going to go as planned.  You are taxing your body to its limits and pushing the envelope the entire time during the overload weeks and if you are not getting the right amount of rest or re-fueling properly then you will pay for it on the next session and you are better off backing down instead of pushing it too hard and risking injury.  There is always tomorrow to get that workout that you 'need' in.  See how I put 'need' in quotes?  It is because we have this mindset that if we don't do it as scheduled that all is lost and this just isn't the case.  The overload weeks are not where you are going to gain a tremendous amount of fitness from a physical standpoint.  Your physical gains are done during base building and overload weeks are the sharpening of the sword.  The big gains are made mentally about what you can do but if you are laid up on the couch because of injury your mental fitness will get taxed. Drink Water And Lots Of It [caption id="attachment_7918" align="alignright" width="300"]Overload Weeks - Diet - Lifestyle - Healthy - Tips Falafel Waffle[/caption] I have a goal of drinking 100 oz of water before lunch on a daily basis and then another 65-80oz of water after lunch.  This keeps me hydrated and helps me to regulate my eating.  In addition to that it allows my muscles to function properly because I am flushing the lactic acid out of them.  The water is not always plain though as I will have a cup with lemons in it for at least 50% of the water consumption but also I will put Herbalife24 Hydrate Sticks in about 30-40oz of the water that I consume to make sure that I am getting the magnesium, potassium, sodium and other electrolytes into my system. Following these tips is easier than you think it is and it will set you up to enjoy the overload weeks as much as you can.  Not only that but you will get through with as little stress as possible while maintaining the ability to have a life outside of wake/train/eat/sleep.  I have also found that by following these tips that the taper weeks are not as maddening as they used to be.  Instead of having these huge hills and valleys created by overload weeks I manage to keep them fairly steady so when taper starts I am neither in desperate need of them but also not wishing I could keep riding for 5 or 6 hours because I need them.  I know the work has been done and I actually got to enjoy the work.

Have Any Overload Weeks Training Tips You Would Like To Share?

Published in Train
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 13:44

Ironman Texas - The Monthly Progress Report

Ironman Texas Is In 95 Days......what?

Ironman Texas is now officially less than 100 days away and I am not sure where the time went or what that means in regards to my training.  The day snuck up on me and shocked me when there was a post in the Ironman Texas 2013 Group on Facebook last week that it was 100 days away.  Does my lack of knowledge as to when the race is mean that I am so focused on my training and outside life that I failed to pay attention?  Does it mean that I am being cavalier toward the race seeing as it will be my third full Ironman in a calendar year? I thought long and hard about what my lack of focus about the day that Ironman Texas will take place and have come to a single conclusion.  I am having a blast in this training cycle that the race does not faze me.  In the lead up to Ironman Texas and Ironman Arizona in 2012 I was so focused on my performance in the race that I lost sight of the fun that training brings.  This cycle has been quite the opposite and there are a few reasons:
  • Coaching change.  Just after Ironman Arizona was over I switched over from Claudia to Maria and John of No Limits Endurance coaching.  The switch brought with it an excitement and renewed passion for training.
  • I have been doing all of my long weekend rides with two different groups.  Both groups bring a great sense of camaraderie at different speeds.  There is the Dallas Athletes Racing group which is very fast and forces me to chase them all over North Texas thus elevating my heart rate beyond Z3 sometimes.  The other group is a bunch of friends I swam with last summer that is at a little bit (not much) more casual in terms of the banter back and forth and allows me to pull every now and again.  Both groups have been beneficial to my cycling.
  • Diet change.  I have been fueling my workouts and then tapering off throughout the day.  I haven noticed an uptick in energy and my workouts are not at all sluggish.  That, and Instagram provides a lot of inspiration and motivation for creating good-looking, great tasting dishes.
Here is how I would evaluate my Ironman Texas 2013 Month of January 10-February 10: [caption id="attachment_7302" align="alignright" width="283"]Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress Report - Planned - Triathlon Lots of different activities keeps the mind and body fresh for training[/caption]


I couldn't be happier with the progress that has been made.  If you recall from last month's post Maria, John and I have a goal for the Ironman Texas swim of 1:15.  Fearful at first of what that meant I can now say that it is more than feasible. Yesterday I had a swim set that was supposed to be in the steady range based on the last 800 yard TT I had done.  That time was anywhere from 1:55-2:00/100y.  The main set finished with an average of ~ 1:45/100y and I wound up negative splitting the set and to my wonder I was not fatigued in the slightest during the swim.  There will have to be a new 800 yard TT to re-evaluate my zones since my EZ and cool down swims are now bordering on what was once steady to mod-hard.


It is hard for me to gauge my progress here because more than anything else I had an epiphany during a 4 hour ride that the long rides should be treated like long runs.  On your weekend long run you don't run them as if they are at race pace.  Maybe an interval here and there but not the entire run.  Last year for both Ironman Texas and Arizona nearly all the rides were trying to mimic race pace.  In hindsight that was foolish and didn't help my chances of having great rides for the races. This go around I am pulling back more on the heart rate and following Maria's plan to a T (except for 1 ride where she gave me a talking too!) and I feel good about it.  Instead of getting off the bike and feeling wiped out to the point that a 30 minute transition run seemed like it would take forever I now have a good idea of what my legs are going to feel like for the first two miles of the run and those times are in sync with where my easy runs have been in terms of pace and heart rate.


As mentioned previously I am not running as much in this cycle as I have in the past but there is still progress being made.  My plan has moved my long runs to Wednesday and I have noticed that my HR is staying the same and there are some increases in speed.  This could be because of the variation or the improved efficiency of my body from cycling as much as I am meaning less wear and tear from running.  Either way I will take it. There is a goal to run a sub-4 hour marathon at Ironman Texas and I know I have it in me but this training cycle is giving me heightened confidence that it can be done. [caption id="attachment_7301" align="alignright" width="281"]Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress - Completed - Triathlon Completed Duration Looks A Lot Like Planned Duration. Hitting the schedule is more than a check box routine.[/caption]


As of yesterday morning I am down 13 pounds and 3.5% body fat from my return home from Ironman Arizona.  In the past month I have lost nearly 7 pounds and approximately 0.5% body fat.  With about 5 weeks to go before 70.3 San Juan I am near what I had previously perceived to be my ideal race weight.  I say perceived because in reading Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight book (if I did the math correctly) I would be at my optimal race weight at 139 pounds. This process of getting leaner has been 'easy' because of the fact that I am eating very, very, very clean.  I thank Instagram for that in part but also have been living by my three tips for a healthy lifestyle: consistency, change and cheat.

Life Outside Of Triathlon:

I am happy with where I am at outside of triathlon.  I have been going out to meet friends for dinner, riding with new friends has created some great memories and the fact that Karen and I are about to put our house up for sale does not have me a nervous wreck like in the past. I am a creature of habit and Karen and I have found our footing when it comes to training for Ironman (me) and ultra-marathons (her).  Our routine consists of me early morning training and home in time to take the little one to school with Karen picking him up.  On the weekends when the little guy is with us Karen runs on Saturday and I watch him and will take him to the gym while I swim and then I ride long on Sunday and Karen has time with him.  On weekend's we don't have him we both train long on Saturday morning and have the evening to spend time with each other.  We have finally figured this whole thing out. In the past month training has intensified but it has been gradual and not to the point of breaking me and I like that.  I have been able to find time to focus on growing my web design and digital marketing agency while also building a bigger and better Cook Train Eat Race brand.  In addition to that I have been able to take on a monthly blog writing opportunity with TriDigest as well as adding another monthly writing for Fitblogger.  I have been asked to do a couple of other articles for which I am grateful. Ironman Texas is less than 100 days away and I am comfortable with that.

How Far Away Is Your A Race And How Is Your Progress Coming Along?

Published in Train

Embrace The Suck.

Embrace The Suck

Embrace The Suck

If you repeat the phrase Embrace The Suck enough it soon begins to get easier.  What am I talking about?  I could be talking about life, but I am referring to riding the trainer.  Putting your bike on the trainer for 1 or even 2 hours is not a big deal, but once you go past that point you have to begin to embrace the suck.  The trainer, like the treadmill, is all mental.  You know it is not going to be fun but you also know the benefits of riding the trainer. I bring this up because this weekend the weather was going to be brutally cold, and not just for Texas.  The temperature at 8am on Saturday was going to be 32* with a feels like temp of 29*.  For me if it is below 45* at the start of the ride I am contemplating riding the trainer because my hands and feet get so cold that there is no benefit to me being outside since I will not be focused on the ride but instead I will be focused on warming up.  Knowing that I was getting on the trainer I asked Maria to set me up with a trainer ride that will make the time go by.  4 hours is not a big deal to me as I have done 6 hours on the trainer before but if I have the opportunity to shake up the work out I will. The program that Maria sent off included easy sets, progressive sets and a Sufferfest video.  There was a rhythm to the workout but there were times where I muttered embrace the suck and by doing that the time flew by and I was ready to start running before I knew it.  As a person, similar to Emily and the treadmill, who enjoys the trainer there are still times I wonder what the benefits are.

Embrace The Suck Benefits:

  • No Stopping or Coasting.  As any cyclist knows there are times where you will coast or have to stop for traffic or stop lights.  On the trainer there is neither and thus you are working from the first pedal stroke until the last.
  • Workouts Done To Perfection. Since there is no stopping if your workout calls for 20 minutes at Ironman pace you know that you will get that in without being interrupted.  You can also include interval sets that will be completed without hesitation.
  • It Takes Less Time. Maria cut 30 minutes off of my overall time for the ride because of the trainer.  Theory holds that the trainer can be 20% less than the road because it is non-stop so if you ride the trainer you are going to spend 'less' time riding.
  • Weather Is Not An Issue. Neither Is Daylight. Just like the benefit of less time, there is the added benefit of doing it whenever you want.  Setup your trainer in front of the TV or the laptop and start.  No need to worry for sun rise or if the weather will hold up.
Riding the trainer is not all unicorns and rainbows though as there are a few drawbacks as well.

Embrace The Suck Disadvantages:

  • No Hills. There are no hills when it comes to riding on the trainer so if you are looking for a 'hilly' ride this is not going to benefit you.
  • Bike Handling. Bike handling is important, especially if you are racing a criterium.  Being able to handle the bike in any situation will give you confidence when riding and there is no bike handling during a trainer ride.
  • Boredom. It is easy to get board and then have your mind sway and lose focus on the sets that you have laid out for yourself.  When you are not focused your cadence can drop and the workout can suffer.
Is riding the trainer a substitute for riding outdoors?  No, but it should be included in your routine.  Why?  Besides the benefits listed above remember that change is the key to consistency and muscle adaptation.  During the week my bike can be found on the trainer as I crank away 1-2 hour sessions with 5-6 layers of clothes on working up a tremendous sweat so that I can mimic the weather that I will face in San Juan at IMTX. [caption id="attachment_7366" align="aligncenter" width="300"]embrace the suck - bike trainer - triathlon - ironman Embrace The Suck But Make It As Enjoyable As Possible.[/caption]

How Do You Embrace The Suck?

Published in Train
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