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

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

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

What Has Been Your Experience With Sport Specific Training?

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

Published in Train
Thursday, 19 June 2014 12:24

3:56 versus 4:06. What Is The Difference?

[caption id="attachment_9613" align="alignright" width="225"]3:56 marathon - ironman - goal - running Finishing the marathon at IMTX 2013.[/caption] 3:56.  This is an arbitrary number but it made so much sense to me during my run in Myrtle Beach while on vacation.  I kept repeating this number over and over.  I was essentially cheering myself on to a 3:56 and all the while I was comparing it to 4:06.  The chant in my head eventually became 3:56 versus 4:06, 3:56 versus 4:06.  Every time I felt like I could not take another step in the pea soup humidity I heard those words and was able to keep moving until the run was finally over and I doubled over in a pool of sweat and exhaustion.  Deep down I knew I could do it but it took a simple and somewhat silly mantra to push me to that level. Now, what does 3:56 mean?  As I mentioned previously, this number is arbitrary but at the same time it is also a number that is below 4 hours.  A sub-4 hour marathon is my goal, and has been, for the Ironman marathon.  For some reason this is the holy grail for me.  I could take 2:20 in the water and ride for 7 hours but if I broke 4 hours in the marathon I would be smiling from ear to ear.  Why? No clue, but it is what it is. When you break down the 4:06 pace versus the 3:56 pace you get a difference of :23/mile.  That may or may not seem like much but to me it looks like they are worlds apart.  Why? The reason is that in the three Ironman races I have competed in my times have looked like this:  4:09, 4:06, 4:06.  Yes the last two are identical and both have their own stories.  The first 4:06 happened at IMAZ 2012 after a bike wreck where my hip was throbbing and making a running motion with my right arm was difficult.  The second 4:06 happened at IMTX 2013 where we were racing on the surface of the sun with lava running over the ground.  I believe the heat index that day was 110*.  Honestly, it felt like 1,010* but I managed a 4:06 and the 15th fastest marathon for M40-44. When I look back at those two races I could come up with the excuse that had this not happened or that not happened I would have run that sub-4, but ifs do not help you accomplish your goals.  Training hard and focusing will help me accomplish my goals.  Do I have a 3:56 in me?  Sure I do.  When you look at my stand-alone marathon PR time of 3:31 and add 10%-12% for it being an Ironman marathon you get times of 3:52-3:56.  Maybe I am cheating myself by looking at 3:56 and should be targeting 3:52, but that mantra does not roll of the tongue the way 3:56 versus 4:06 does. [caption id="attachment_9614" align="alignright" width="276"]3:56 marathon - ironman - goal - running The bike wreck at IMAZ most likely wrecked my chances at a sub-4 hour marathon that day.[/caption] The numbers tell me that I am capable.  The fact that I am fairly well recovered from Lake Martin 100 and have not been training for 3 Ironman races in 12 months is an indication that I should be going into IMTN as fresh as I can possibly be.  When I review my per mile paces for the 3 loops at IMTX they look like this:  9:09/mile, 9:27/mile, 9:40/mile.  The slowing down is expected but what does that translate into when the goal is 3:56 or a 9:00/mile pace. If my math is correct then the first 8.9 miles have to be run at a pace of 8:47/mi and then the degeneration to 9:07/mi for the next 8.9 miles and finally down to 9:28/mi.  These are not impossible paces but it also fails to take into account that this bike ride, weather, time of year and a million other variables are going to be different in Chattanooga in comparison to The Woodlands. These sorts of things are out of my control but what is in my control is my mental approach to breaking 4 hours.  Training hard and smart, recovering well and preparing my body for the rigors of the race will be done, but in those moments when it is me versus my mind I have to be able to continue to repeat the mantra 3:56 versus 4:06.

Will Ironman Chattanooga Be The Race I Break 4 Hours?

Published in Race

This week's version of Triathlete Tales involves a different type of endurance, and how my life outside of the office helped me with my life in the office.  As many of you know I work for DMNmedia which is the marketing solutions provider for The Dallas Morning News.  My role is to work with companies, both local and national, with marketing to their target market.  We have over 80 different solutions ranging from hyper-local print publications all the way through to guaranteed hires for recruiting services.  I tell you this because last week I had to be on my A game and know how every one of these solutions could work for a company trying to brand, sell widgets or hire their VP of Finance. Last week was the DMNmedia Works Print and Online Expo.  This is a one week expo that we prepared a month for.  We spent the better part of that month calling current clients, past clients and possible clients to invite them to the expo.  At the expo we meet and greet the attendees and talk to them about their business and what environments would work best for them in terms of targeting their best customer, be that in print or digital.  Once that portion was over we watched a video that contained client testimonials and then we entered into negotiations.  All of this takes place in the matter of approximately one hour.  Endurance needs to be at a high level, not to mention being able to think on your feet.  Let's compare this to an Ironman.

Endurance Sports In The Real World

Training. The month leading up to the event I spent as much time learning about our real estate section as I did with our hyper-local publications.  Let us not forget the automotive section, sports, news, business, home and garden, travel, women's lifestyle and many more.  This is just like the months you spend swimming 2500 yards in the morning and then a 2 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run in the evening.  You wake up the next morning and you go strength training.  This time after learning about real estate and how it pertains to commercial realty I would then move over to businesses that operate in the food industry.  How does our Guide publication work and who is reading it?  SO MUCH INFORMATION!!!!!  It was tiring yet simultaneously invigorating as I was learning so much that I could go to current clients and talk about how we could help them sell more, brand more and be sure to not waste their marketing dollar.  Efficiency......sound familiar triathletes? Nutrition. Don't think that nutrition is important for a week-long event?  Guess again.  I knew that I needed to eat a proper breakfast before heading off to the conference center where there would be loads of cookies, cake, candy and whatever other simple sugars people could consume just to keep their energy level up so that the negotiations could be conducted with a coherent person.  Obviously, with triathlon training and racing you do not get from the start line to the finish line without proper fueling.  What I learned throughout my years of endurance sports I applied and not only did I have a big breakfast before I brought my own lunch as well.  Yes, I was made fun of and even the CRO of the entire company laughed at me as I was eating my PB&J but I knew what worked for me and how I would be able to maintain my stamina through 10-12 hour days. Pacing and Rest. This was beyond important.  Each day we had 6 sessions starting at 9:30a and had to be at the conference center by 8:30a.  Most days I would not leave until close to 6:00pm and some beyond that.  Long days were in the mix so I had to make sure that I did not come out of the gate on fire.  I had to control myself but still be able to plug away and give the attention that each client was owed as they graciously gave of their time to us.  Not only did I have to stay well hydrated but I needed to also ensure that when the day was over I got in a good dinner and went to bed at a decent hour.  Not being rested and having to be on your A game for 10 hours does not mesh well just like trying to get in back to back long days on the weekend and only sleeping for 4 hours.  That is a recipe for disaster. This expo was unlike the television upfront negotiations I was accustomed to performing in.  During those negotiations we would present plans to our client after having reviewed them with our management.  Negotiations would sometimes take a week and be done but it was never a constant stream of negotiations with clients from business varying from non-profits to $4.5M per annum plastic surgeons.  It was all an amazing experience and one that I will lean on when the idea of doing a 2 hour and 30 minute brick seems impossible.

How Have You Applied Endurance Sports To Real Life?

Published in Train

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

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

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

Published in Train
Monday, 17 February 2014 08:48

Ironman Training Recap - Week 15

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

KC's Week 15 - Ironman Training Recap

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

Jason's Ironman Training - Week 15 Recap

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

IMTN Blog Challenge Week #14 Training Recap

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

KC's Week 14 - IMTN Blog Challenge Recap

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

Jason's Week 14 - IMTN Blog Challenge

There is not a lot for me to recap as this week was a super taper week with a total of 14 miles run until race day when Jeff and I went for 50.  There was a lot of lying around and doing everything I could to avoid eating.  Luckily for me there was a lot going on with work as my team continues to grow and develop long-lasting relationships with clients that will allow us to market them in a much more efficient manner. Rather than bore you with all the details of the race in this blog section I will refer you to the race recap for Rocky Raccoon and alert you to the fact that there will be two more pieces to go in this race recap along with an eating/nutrition blog post I have been asked to write for No Meat Athlete. [caption id="attachment_9418" align="aligncenter" width="300"]IMTN Blog Challenge At the drop bag station before heading out on loop 3.[/caption]
Published in Train
IMTN or Ironman Chattanooga challenge has entered week 14 which means that lucky week 13 has passed.  The week brought about separate challenges for KC and I and that proves that no one training cycle is ever going to be perfect.  It also goes to show you that you cannot compare yourself to anybody else while training for an Ironman because while the paths may meet on race day they certainly take their own turns and twists on the way there.  Week 13 In Review.

KC's Lucky Week 13 Challenges And Solutions

[caption id="attachment_9395" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Tackle The Challenge Head On.....Then end the week with a 100 mile bike ride![/caption] This week was interesting in that I had to play a smart time management game. Work is notoriously crazy the first 3-4 months of the year, then it stays busy but settles down with a few ebbs and flows throughout the rest of the year. Anyway ...what I'm trying to say is that there are no excuses. If you  want something bad enough, you will make the time to get it done, no matter what. Needless to say, I worked 6 days this week and about 11 hours of overtime, yet, I still managed to get all of my training in and then some. I snuck an extra day of Xfit in (yay me!). It's pretty simple, I make sure I have several sets of workout clothing with me, toiletries, extra food, and I'm good to go. Thankfully, we have an AWESOME gym set up at work, so I can go down whenever and get an awesome workout in, shower, then get back to work.
I'm still going strong on the century streak. I did my 5th century today, so that is 5 for 5 ...hell yeah!
Other than that, still tame on the training front. Next week looks much the same. I can't believe I'm saying this but I sure do miss swimming! BUT, I have to stay clear of any infection causing bodies of water for another 3 weeks ...meh! I'm ready to hit the pool that's for sure.
That's all I got for ya ...
Upward and Onward!

Jason's Week 13 Challenge And Solutions

Many of you know that I am racing the Rocky Raccoon 50 Ultra trail run this coming Saturday and that means that I have been in taper mode since last Sunday.  While there are runs on the schedule they are not long, at least not long in comparison to the overload weeks where 70+ mile weeks were the norm. Taper usually brings with it the crazy feeling that I have not done enough.  I call it crazy because if you have been following a well-thought out plan and did the work then you have done enough.  Period.  This time I decided to take taper very seriously and not do anything but taper.  I had 5 runs schedule for the week and I did 5 runs.  I did not go to the pool.  I did not get on the bike.  I ate wisely and did what I needed to do to bring a spring back to my legs and it was there when I went and did a 10 mile race. [caption id="attachment_9393" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Fort Worth Running Company Chocolate Chip 10 Miler Data Points[/caption] This 10 miler was not going to be a race where I take off and hope to hang on.  As a matter of fact it was a race to get the 10 miles in without being bored by myself.  As the gun went off and we were cruising at a very manageable pace I decided that my legs felt good enough that I should negative split the entire race.  Add in the fact that it was cold out and finishing as quickly as possible certainly enough of a reason.  At the turn around point I dropped a gear and ran faster with each passing mile and my legs felt springy.  They had life in them and I knew right then and there that the taper, as hard as it was to not swim and bike, was working.  I finished 11th overall.  Part of me says:  Had I run hard out of the gate I could have finished Top 5, but this was not an important race as much as it was an important brick in the ultra trail run wall. This upcoming week is more of the same.  Lots of do nothing.  Lots of pay attention to sleep.  Lots of pay attention to food intake.  Lots of mental prep.  The taper challenge will continue but the light at the end of the tunnel is right there and come Saturday when the gun goes off all of it will have been well worth it.  Oh, and check out the forecast for Saturday.  Running in the woods in the mud.....just like being a kid.   [caption id="attachment_9391" align="aligncenter" width="200"]ironman - training - endurance sports - triathlon Rain = Mud. Mud = Fun. Let's Do This![/caption]
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_9352" align="alignright" width="300"]doping - ironman - triathlon Source: EverymanTri[/caption] Doping is a topic that I have discussed a number of times on this blog.  It is no secret that I do not have any sympathy for those that dope, nor do I have any empathy when they get caught.  If you are going to break the rules and you get with it.  It was a decision, conscious decision, that you made to go down that path and when you get caught you have to deal with it. Yes, there are false positives and the off-chance that a prescription drug trips the meter and says that it was something illegal.  All of that still does not tell me to give them leeway.  Not today.  Not when all it takes is a phone call to inquire about whether a certain prescription contains something that may be deemed against the rules.  Not when you can read the label on a canister of protein powder.  There are just too many safeguards to avoid having a positive drug test.  You get caught you deal with the punishment. Yesterday, Jeff posted a link to an article in Irish Triathlon that concluded that 1 in 7 dope at Ironman Triathlon.  1 IN 7.  That is an absurd number when you think about it.  Let's assume that there are 2100 athletes wading in the water with you before the cannon goes off.  That means that 300 of those people are doping.  Think about that.  It is perplexing considering that the number of athletes from any given race going to Kona is minimal at best.  What are these people thinking when they make the decision to take a drug that is going to improve their performance. If they stopped to think about it I can imagine that they would not do it.  Look at it from a numbers perspective.  At Ironman Texas 2013 I finished in 12:03:58 which was good for 80th place in my Age Group.  Assume that the drugs improve my performance by 5% and that would make my final finishing time approximately 11:28.  That finish time would put me at 39th place in the M40-44 AG.  That is still nowhere near a Kona qualifying time so why dope?  Before you say to me that those that are close to qualifying for Kona are probably the ones that are doping, the facts from the study are that they are not. The study points out that those that are physically doping are training for 14 hours per week and those that are cognitive doping (antidepressants, beta-blockers, modafinil, methylphenidate) are training for 15 hours per week.  During my overload weeks for Ironman Texas I was regularly putting in 18-21 hours per week.  During base building weeks the amount of training volume equaled ~17 hours.  That is far above what the average from this study is and yet I am over an hour away from Kona.  How far away are these athletes training for 14-15 hours per week? And this gets me to my point about doping.  I am very competitive.  I want to be better than myself from race to race.  I want to beat you, you and you.  That is no secret but I also know what I am capable of.  I am a 12 hour Ironman as defined by my 3 finishes.  Maybe at IMTN I can get closer to 11 than I am to 12 but the breakthrough I would need to get to Kona is enormous and I cannot see that happening.  Would I love to qualify?  Of course, but it looks like this is more of a legacy slot than qualifying slot and I am ok with that.  I once had aspirations of qualifying for Boston as well as Kona.  Today I am having thoughts of qualifying for Western States but in the end should I qualify it will be because I did it on my own ability and not a synthetic.  To me that is not qualifying, that is cheating.  Doping is cheating and anybody who dopes is a cheater.  There is no room in sport or life for cheaters.  Period, End of Story.

What Are Your Thoughts On Doping?

Published in Train
Monday, 27 January 2014 08:44

Ironman Chattanooga Week 12 - The Doldrums!

The ups and downs of training for an Ironman, or any event, can take a toll on a person's psyche.  Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away for a day or two.  Get away from it all and allow the universe to take control.  As endurance athletes we are Type A meaning that we want to have all the control, but at times that can wear you down and the effects can be seen in your performance, your diet, your sleep patterns and just about anything that takes place in your life.  This week seems to have been the doldrums for both KC and I but for different reasons.

KC's Ironman Chattanooga Week 12 Recap

Ok, these weeks lately have been really lame and boring but you know what? I’m okay with that. I feel like I still need the down time for my brain. My mind hasn’t quite wrapped itself around training for another Ironman yet but it will soon. And once the physical and the mental parts come together in harmony, like when the stars, moon, and planets align, it’s game on and full speed ahead. For now, I’m happy with where my training is. [caption id="attachment_9384" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - training - duldrums KC's 'light' Week 12 Training Log.
Not sure a 4th Century Ride in 4 week is light.[/caption] I have a confession to make. I’m a very spontaneous person, so when I get something in my head, I usually just do it. Last Friday was a testament to that spontaneity. I had been thinking about getting my nose pierced for quite some time, so when I woke up last Friday, I decided that it was the day to finally do it. So I did. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know why you will not see any swimming on my calendar snapshot until the beginning of March. No swimming allowed because the puncture could get infected and who has time for an infection? I do have a 70.3 on March 22nd, I haven’t swam since Ironman Florida and I AM NOT ONE BIT WORRIED. I’ve taken long breaks from the swim before, only to come back even stronger within a few sessions. The same cannot be said about long breaks from running and biking. The fitness is lost too quickly on the run and bike, unlike the swim. At least that has been my experience, so I don’t fret over it. This week’s training was good. I got my 4th, 100 mile ride in today, so that makes a century every week for the month of January. Not too shabby, huh? I’m thinking I’ll try to keep that streak going if I can, for a while, maybe through February. My running is coming along nicely. I’m slowly inching up the mileage …slooooowly. I would like to have an average of about 30-35 miles of running per week by mid February. That’s a comfortable range for me. This week’s lesson is practicing setting short-term goals. Not looking too far ahead just yet. It’s too early in the game (the game being IronmanTennessee). So far, it is working very nicely. No burn allowed here! Upward and Onward!

Jason's Ironman Chattanooga Week 12 Recap

Last week was the final week of overload training for the Rocky Raccoon 50.  The week totaled 70.68 miles which is the second consecutive week I have gone over 70 miles and totaled 209+ miles over the three weeks.  Needless to say that final run on Sunday was a sap sucker as well as de-motivator for the upcoming race.  My legs were extremely heavy & I was sore in my lower back which I attribute to two things.  The first being that I was coming down with a bit of a chest cold and having run 26 miles the day before on the road.  The road just trashes your legs and it was evident from step 1 that the run on Sunday was not going to be a pleasant one. When I finally finished slogging through 11+ miles I landed on the couch and spent the rest of the day there.  I had no desire to do anything and the energy was quickly fading as the hours ticked away.  I finally fell asleep for a short nap, which normally energizes me but this time just continued to make me tired.  When I woke up I started questioning my ability to race these 50 miles.  Questions such as:
  • [caption id="attachment_9383" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - training - duldrums Managed three swim sessions and have a goal of a :39/50y on the 4th of 4x50 descending.[/caption] How am I ever going to get through 50 miles if I am this tired after 37 over two days?
  • Should I have started the overload week a bit earlier to get in more miles?
  • What would happen at the Lake Martin 100 if getting to 50 is so hard?
I questioned and questioned and questioned.  I then made the determination that I was not going to get up early Monday and go to the pool or get on the bike.  I was going to sleep in and allow my body to heal.  I was going to sleep in and allow my mind to regain the strength it had lost during those two hours of running on Sunday. Right now I am in taper and the amount of miles I run this week is approximately half of what I have run in the past two weeks and it seems glorious.  I have gone through overload three times in lead up to Ironman races and none of them were as hard as the three weeks for the lead up to Rocky Raccoon.  Getting through those weeks and preparing the mind and body for the race in two weeks is going to be my sole focus.  Nothing else matters and I am okay with that.  Lake Martin 100 training will effectively start the week after RR50 recovery and then and only then will I concern myself with 100 miles of running.
Published in Train
Ultra Trail runner were not words I would have ever used to  describe me when I started down the endurance athlete path.  Like anybody else I started with a half-marathon and that was ok but I wanted more.  I ran a marathon, and probably should have quit then because I couldn't walk afterwards, yet something kept pulling me back in.  I got into triathlon and raced sprint and Olympic distance races at first but again needed more.  When I raced my first Half-Ironman I was already of the belief that an Ironman would not be far behind.  Once that third Ironman was over and the fourth (Ironman Chattanooga) was registered for there seemed to be a void. There was a vacuum where the endorphins, training, food logging and elated exhaustion was missing.  Enter the world of Rocky Racoon 50.  The words ultra trail runner would now become part of the adjective list used to define me.  Somewhere along the way I had the following conversation with myself, and also a little help from my friends:
  • Me: When RR50 is over will you have time to properly train for 70.3 Galveston?
  • Me: Can you race Galveston by winging it?  Do you want to wing it?  Do you want to be great that day or just say you did it?
  • Me: Jeff is running Lake Martin in late March.  Can the 50 miler be a 'training' run for that? You'll have the base.
  • Jeff:  Yeah dude, c'mon and race Lake Martin with me. I have over 24 hours worth of stories for you to listen to.
  • Me: Yes, running a 100 miler makes much more sense than racing a 70.3 triathlon.
[caption id="attachment_9345" align="alignleft" width="300"]ultra trail run - triathlon - observations This Pic Of Denali National Park Looks Awesome
Source: Rob Hammer Photography[/caption] While I have not registered for Lake Martin 100 I have looked at condos.  I have set up a budget to pay for the race and the accommodations.  I have added to the Rocky Raccoon 50 training plan to carry me through March 29.  So it seems like a forgone conclusion that Lake Martin 100 will be my first, and not likely last. attempt at a belt buckle a la my friend Emily - RUN EMZ. And while the idea that running 100 miles seems more sane than that of a 70.3 mile triathlon there is more reason to this decision than meets the eye.  The ultra trail run training has proven to be a great way to train for an Ironman without specifically training for an Ironman.  How?  Here is why:

Ultra Trail Run Training Observations

  1. Embrace The Pain.  I thought I was a badass for getting through 18 months of Ironman training for 3 Ironman races.  Pfft!!!! That sh*t was nothing compared to this.  I am running upwards of 60 miles per week and capping off each week with a 12-13 mile run through Cedar Ridge Preserve.  For those not in the Dallas area, that MF'er is HARD.  This past week I asked the following questions of myself while 'running' 12 miles with over 1500 feet of elevation gain:
    • Are you sure you want to do this 50 and then 100 mile race?  This seems insane.
    • Are you kidding me?  Aren't you man enough to climb this nearly vertical wall of dirt? Get your ass up there.
    • Really dude?  Really?  You are doing this by choice? You do not have the ability to do this.
  2. My aerobic ability is a good as it has ever been.  I ran a 12 mile warm-up on Saturday followed by a 15k where I managed 7:30-7:40 per mile and finished in 11th place in my Age Group while averaging a Heart Rate that was at the Top End Of Zone 2 Without Going Into Zone 3.
  3. I have swum nearly 50% less in the first two of January 2014 compared to January 2013 (8,900y v 17,150y) and yet I posted a 14:20 800 TT last week (PR is 13:36) and yesterday posted sub 1:40/100y without feeling taxed.  The mindset of hard has changed.  The bar for what is difficult has moved and I am now able to push my body further because the mind is not quitting as early as it used to.
  4. I am becoming more efficient at using fat for fuel.  I am running very early in the morning Monday through Friday (430-5a start times) and thus am not eating breakfast prior to those runs.  These runs are typically 5 - 10 miles in length so there is truly no need to eat anything prior to starting.  By being able to use fat for fuel I am getting leaner but more importantly I do not have the need to carry loads of fuel.  Right now my plan for the 50 miler is to wear a Nathan Pak with ~800 calories along with two flasks of EFS Liquid Shot totaling another 800 calories.  As I run if I feel the need for a banana at an aid station here or there I will take one in.  The plan will put me at approximately 200-250 calories per hour.  Yes, I have been training on that and it has worked and my recovery has been sound as well.
[caption id="attachment_9346" align="alignleft" width="300"]ultra trail run - triathlon - observations Source: Competitor Magazine[/caption] When I put these 4 factors into my head and converse with myself I can see that the ultra trail run training is going to be enormously beneficial to my training and performance at Ironman Chattanooga.  Learning where I can push myself, understanding the use of fat as fuel instead of extra carbs on the bike or run and having an advantage aerobically plays well into Ironman racing. While 2014 is only two weeks old I am already contemplating what happens after Ironman Chattanooga in September.  Take a month off and start training for an earlier in the year 50 miler so I can  race Galveston?  Sounds like a pretty solid plan, but not until I add Ultra Trail Runner to the list of adjectives.

Have You Seen A Benefit To Your Triathlon Performance From Ultra Trail Run Training?

Here is an article from Competitor Magazine on Trail Running Tips For Triathletes.  
Published in Train
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