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
Thursday, 22 December 2011 14:55

The Sufferfest - Cycling Video Review

It was just a couple of days ago that I wrote about the Pain Community that Mr Atkinson refers to in terms of triathletes.  He believes that we will push ourselves past a point of suffering because we want to feel alive in today's world.  We will endure suffering that the average person will not work their way through and it was just yesterday when I became the Mayor of this Pain Community if for only 2 hours.  It was during the second hour of my trainer ride while watching The Sufferfest - A Very Dark Place that I could feel a small tear start to trickle down my cheek as my legs and lungs burned like never before. It wasn't too long ago that Shannon of IronTexas Mommy, Mandy of Caratunk Girl and Rebecca of She Becca Try to Tri were talking about this video series and how much they loved it.  At the time I was in the midst of marathon training and not overly concerned with cycling since at the time riding was on the trainer and for recovery from a long run.  Once the marathon ended I knew that I need to pick up the slack on the bike and that I would be doing quite a bit of riding on the trainer in The Humidor.  I also knew that I need to really push myself on the bike if I want to go faster than what I did for 70.3 Austin and I reflected on my winter training for 70.3 California.  Last winter I rode the trainer but in retrospect I was really just spinning on the trainer.  It wasn't until a conversation with BDD, Jeff, Patrick and Jon that I learned the concept of embrace the pain.  That later became embrace the suck after reading Macca's Book: I'm Here To Win.  After that conversation my riding became more intense. Learning from last year I planned on going into this winter training session with the notion that I was going to try to improve as much as I could on the bike and that is where The Sufferfest began to surface.  I asked which was the best video to get and was told that I should get Downward Spiral, and then I had an interval session and figured that A Very Dark Place would work for that session.  Shannon wrote a review of Fight Club and so I decided to get that one as well.  To date I have used Downward Spiral and A Very Dark Place but not Fight Club.  I will review the two videos that I have used and you can go [HERE] to read Shannon's review of Fight Club.

Downward Spiral

Workout details from the website: The Downward Spiral workout was designed to work you at your maximum level, in sustainable, decreasing time periods. And to make you beg for mercy. But that’s a side effect of The Sufferfest, you know. Here’s what you’ll get over the 60 minutes. My thoughts of the video:  Yeah this is hard.  You start out with a nice 10 minute warm-up that scares me.  It is a first person view of a mountain bike course and the rider is going over rocks, trees, jumps, etc and I feel much safer on my tri bike than doing this warm-up but the music is great and gets you going.  From there you enter into pack riding and again it is in first person and also includes some attacks which really gets the legs ready for the Downward Spiral. The Downward Spiral is a set of intervals starting at 2 minutes and working your way down by 15 second increments and the hard work (9.5 or 10 out of 10 on the RPE scale) is followed by the same time frame of recovery.  For me the recovery is great at the start but then you always see a rider (#35 in 2XU gear) passing you and my recovery goes from 3/10 to more of a 5/10 as I can't stand when he passes me, and you don't have to tell me I know it's not real but it still irks me and it must irk the guy who had the camera on his helmet because he looks right at the guy after he gets passed. So that you know when it is time to pick up the pace or slow down into recovery the video plays a horse's neigh.  The first couple of times you are ok with it and by the time the 1st set is nearing its end you never want to see another horse ever again.  Did you pick up that I said 1st set?  That's right because after you do it once you get 5 minutes recovery and you get to do it again except its harder.  

A Very Dark Place

Workout details from the website: A Very Dark Place was created to work you very, very hard. You need to be both physically and mentally ready (or insane) for this one. It was designed to help you improve your top speed over short distances – covering, or making attacks, getting over those steep short hills and powering down the other side or taking a big pull at the front of the breakaway. Of course, we’re here not just to make you suffer, but to entertain you – so we designed each 4:00 interval with a unique, eh, personality: from steady intensity to aggressive climbing to relentless attacks on the cobbles or on the bergs. You will not get bored – guaranteed. A Very Dark Place, which is about 54:00 covers: My thoughts of the video:  I used AVDP after riding to Downward Spiral for an hour so my legs were already filled with lactic acid when I hit the play button.  It was not long before I was shutting my eyes to try to deflect the suffering somewhere else.  I embraced the suck as much as possible and there were a couple of times where I could feel myself whimper and then let out a huge sigh when the gunshot went off.  Yes the gunshot.  In this video that is your queue to pick it up or slow down.  So as I sit here living in Texas I am officially sick of horses and guns......probably need to move now! The video has 5 4:00 all out sessions followed by 3 minute recovery periods and has some great music to keep you involved.  The best part, and what makes this video different from Downward Spiral, is that each of the 5 sessions is completely different from the other.  There are attacks and there are climbing out of the saddle sections as well. In this video as with Downward Spiral the Sufferfesters tease you with comments like your Grandma called or the leader of the pack is talking about you.  Statements like can you keep up and the competitor in me gets annoyed and pedals even harder.  It got so loud in The Humidor (my garage) that I had to ask Karen last night if she could hear the trainer from the bedroom.  Luckily she did not hear it which means that my neighbors don't hear it either. I have a two-hour ride coming up and I can't wait to start with AVDP and finish with Fight Club.  These videos are going to help me reach my goal of getting better on the bike through the winter and set me up for a terrific day at 70.3 San Juan as well as Ironman Texas. Recommendation:  I would highly recommend these videos to those that have to spend anytime on the trainer either due to weather or time.  I used to dislike the trainer as much as the treadmill but these videos do make the time fly by regardless of how much you are suffering.  The music and the scenery are excellent and the price cannot be beat.  You can download the videos for $11.99 for single use or $24.99 for group or class use.  The price cannot be beat. As their slogan says:  I will beat my ass today to kick your's tomorrow

Have You Used Sufferfest?  If so, which video do you like best?

Published in Train
Friday, 04 November 2011 13:40

Indoor Training

[caption id="attachment_4621" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Riding Indoors Can Be Boring But Effective"]bike_trainer_triathlon[/caption] We are about to enter the cold months of winter and that typically means all training will be brought indoors.  I am not a fan of indoor training.  I do not enjoy spending mindless hours on the treadmill or the bike trainer.  Yes, there are very good reasons for using them but I still prefer to be outside and one with nature. If my training calls for speed work running I will head to the track and get it done there.  Very rarely will I ever run on a treadmill.  I find it boring and many people say that you develop mental strength during that but I would argue that as you are running up and down hills or around a track repeatedly you are developing race day mental strength.  At no point during a race will you jump on a treadmill and run mile after mile. How is the mental strength developed on the treadmill going to help you when you have to finally tackle that hill that never seems to end?  If you don't run outside how will you know that feeling? As for the bike trainer I would more than likely get on that in my garage (The Humidor) for speed intervals.  The reason I will do my speed work on the bike trainer as opposed to outside is that it is not very often you can find a one or two mile stretch that has no stop signs or lights.  WIth the road turning and undulating getting the speed work in makes it more difficult than running.  With that being said though I will pack up my bike and drive to Texas Motor Speedway (right Shannon) and ride around the 5 mile track there that has no stop lights and is typically car free. It should come as no surprise that in the past week I have come across two articles about running on the treadmill.  One article points out the psychological factor of getting outside versus training indoors.  The other article is about new technology that can make running on the treadmill more bearable because it allows you to feel as if you are outdoors while running in a climate controlled room. The article discussing the psychological benefits of running outdoors versus running on a treadmill can be found [HERE.]  The author (James Fell) points out that there are a deluge of studies that indicate that there is not much of a difference found in physiological results from running on a treadmill versus running outside.  The difference, according to the author, comes from the psychological.  The whole mental strength on a treadmill theory seems to get debunked in this article.  Here is an excerpt:

Research backs me up on this. A 2004 study from Duke University's department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences found some telling evidence that convinces me that I'm not actually crazy when I lace up my running shoes at minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit. After testing and interviewing 60 runners in different environments, the researchers found that the people who ran outside ran faster than the people who ran on treadmills, yet they had lower perceived exertion and the "highest levels of positive engagement, revitalization, tranquillity, and course satisfaction," according to the study, which was published in Psychology of Sport & Exercise.

In other words, the people outside like it more and work harder without realizing it. I should note that the tests were conducted during warm weather, but I'm confident that similar results could be expected once a person has become acclimatized to all-weather running. Then I read this article [click here] on the 3GO Magazine website.  This is a great idea and comes on the heels of having looked into Trainer Road.  These two products look great, but for me will not be a substitute for riding or running outside. What are these products you are asking yourself.  They are interactive ways to run on a treadmill or ride on the trainer that are meant to mimic the outdoor experience and provide you with data on your heart rate (running) or power (riding.)  These are terrific ways to judge where you are at in your fitness. Both systems will give you instant feedback of your training session along with the view of a specific course, or you can watch a movie and still get the results posted on the screen.  It seems like this is a great way to get your training in, especially if you live in the North when there is ice and snow on the road, and find out where you are. Those boring days may be gone, but they will never replicate the feeling of being outside with nature and hearing the sounds that come from the birds or the wind.  

How Often Do You Train On The Treadmill or Bike Trainer?

What Do You Think Of These New Interactive Options?

Published in Train
Monday, 17 January 2011 01:54

I did it! I did it!

Today was going to be an epic training day and of course there were two one big football game that I had to watch. My training called for a full SBR today.  3400y of swimming, 3 hours on the bike and a 30 minute run.  This was going to be the mother of all training.  Added all up we were looking at about 5 hours of training today and this is on the heels of one of the biggest days of my life. This morning the alarm went off at 4:18am as usual.  As usual I hit snooze until Karen said to me are you getting up to go swimming.  She had a running date with her friend at 7:30am.  So with that little nudge I got up and got myself ready to hit the water.  Toast with some peanut butter and coffee and out the door to the gym.  The parking lot had a total of 5 cars.  Do people not work out on Sunday at 5am? Before I hit the water I have a visit to the toilet.  Get in the water and it is cold but quickly warms up during my 400y warm-up.  After 400y the stomach says its time for the bathroom.  Out of the water and freezing run to the bathroom.  This doesn't happen just this time, it happens a total of 4x.  4x in an 1.5 hours.  I believe all the fruits and vegetables that I have been consuming since switching to a plant based diet finally revolted. All in all the swim was awesome.  I had that 400y warm-up, then a ton of drills followed by a main set of 10x100s and 10x50s.  The 100s went very well and I was at a pace of 1:57 to 2:04 which I was very proud of.  Each of the 50s were less than 1:00.  My cool-down was to be 400y but I only did 200y because I had to get home for Karen.  Well I got home late but you know all those trips to the hopper were the cause and that was not something I could help. Spent the morning with chico having breakfast and grocery shopping and then during lunch he practically fell asleep at the table.  I put him down for a nap, Karen came home from her run and I was on the trainer. Perfect timing for the trainer because that first football I had no interest in and figured I could use turnovers or 3 and outs for a timing of sprints or hill climbs. The first hour went by so fast and I was feeling strong.  I had planned to do some sprints for 1 minutes followed by standing climbs, then seated climbs then flats and recovery and back and forth and kept changing it up.  The 2nd hour was just as good.  I looked at my distance at the 1:45 mark to compare to my earlier ride in the week and I was almost 4 miles past that and feeling strong.  The third hour kicked in and again I felt great until the 2:38 mark.  My legs started to feel like concrete all of a sudden.  At this point Karen and Chico woke up from their nap to find me pouring sweat and spitting and grimacing and cussing under my breathe.  I was thinking to myself this is the hardest thing I have ever done and not from a leg strength stand point but from a mental standpoint.  I had checked out of the football game so much earlier that the only thing getting me through were articles sent to me by BDD, Emails from Carrot, Comments from Jon and Patrick's blog about his epic ride.  I want to ride like these guys and they all have pushed me to get better.  I kept on pushing and pushing and pushing.  When that clock on the Cateye struck 3:00 I jumped off and got my sneakers on, switched shirts from the sweaty soaking mess and out the door for a 30 minute run.  I did three hours on the trainer and I am fired up about that.  The mind was stronger than the legs today and kept on pushing me. Out on the road and it took about 20 steps before my legs were comfortable at my pace.  I looked down and I was at a pace of 8:09, but no distance.  I thought I had hit the start button but must have forgotten.  I had to do 30 minutes and had already run nearly a full mile so my first thought was to go 24 minutes and that would certainly be 30 minutes.  I hit the start button (again) and got going.  The pace was great.  I never felt fatigue in my legs, no soreness and my breathing was spot on. By the way I am a mouth breather, so I catch a lot of flies when I run.  Recently I started using the term sopapilla cheesecake to regulate my breathing.  Sopapilla on the way in and cheesecake on the way out.  If I can get that then I know I am going to fast.  So sopapilla cheesecake was going perfectly.  I was on fire and I wound up running 27 minutes and I know for a fact that I was passed my 30 minutes total. All in all I got in 3.9 miles in that time for a pace of 8:24/mile and that was my finishing time for the marathon.  I am excited about that because I know I could have held that pace for another 2 plus miles and then negative split the back 6.5 miles.  What that means to me is that I am in great shape for the run off the bike. When I got home I saw the mileage on the cateye and it totaled out to 46.5 miles.  I was thrilled because I know that I will get those 56 miles in 3 hours or less because I did a lot of climbing on the trainer and never kept it in a spot where I could turn the crank at a pace of 18-19mph.  The last time I did a 3 hour ride outdoors I covered approximately 54 miles in that time and I am much more prepared now than then. One issue I faced was during the end of the run I got hungry.  Jon had given me advice to work on my nutrition on the bike and I have been.  Today I took 3 Powerbar Energy Gels at the 30 minute mark, then a honey stinger at the 1 hr mark, gels again at 1:30, then honey stinger at 2:00 and 2:30.  At the 3:00 mark I took more gels and ran.  The issue I believe is I ran without a gel flask.  Had I had my gel flask I believe that my hunger would not have been there.  This seemed to work but will still be a work in progress.  The best part is I get to do it again next Sunday.  Now I have a 46.5 mile base to compare it to I am going to beat that number for sure. Here are some numbers to chew on for the month of January so far, then broken down by week: January 1-16 Swim: 17,159 yards in 7:00:01 or a pace of 2:27/200y which includes rest time Bike: 197.31 miles in 11:42:36 or a pace of 16.85 mph (all but one ride on the trainer) Run: 65 miles in 8:39:12 or a pace of 7:59/mile Calories burned:  22,941 January 1-8 Swim: 6,050 yards in 2:30:45 or a pace of 2:30/200y which includes rest time Bike: 68.97 miles in 4:17:36 or a pace of 16.06 mph (all but one ride on the trainer) Run: 36.74 miles in 4:52:27 or a pace of 7:59/mile Calories burned: 9,846 January 9-16 Swim: 11,100 yards in 4:29:17 or a pace of 2:26/200y which includes rest time Bike: 128.34 miles in 7:25:00 or a pace of 17.30 mph (all on the trainer) Run: 28.26 miles in 3:46:45 or a pace of 8:01/mile Calories burned: 13,095 My training is in high gear with the first two weeks of January totaling over 25 hours already.  I am at a perfect spot in my training and have my eyes set on a goal time that I was told to keep to myself by my coach but you can figure out what it is based on my splits so far. =================== Thank you to everybody for your kind words on my post from yesterday.  I have fielded one call from a woman who will most likely be joining as well as already having another sign-up.  I believe that the team will be at 20 people when all is said and done for North Dallas.  Great, great start for this venture which will only keep getting bigger, better and stronger.
Published in Train