Friday, August 19, 2011

Big rides, some big falls

The summer is beginning to wind down, but you would never know it by the temperatures. We hit 98 this week! I can't complain though, because 98 here feels like 80 with humidity back in PA or NH. The past few weeks have gone fairly well with long endurance training to build back the base aerobic fitness. I've been getting some of the biggest rides of my life in on Saturday's with about 90 miles, 6 hours and 6-7,000 ft of climbing. Long runs around 1.5 hours with 1500-2000 ft of climbing have also been on the schedule. I really enjoy this type of training, as it isn't as mentally tough as pinning it for intervals and trying to keep an intensity at a specific heart rate or power target. This stuff is more go out and work hard, but not too hard, just do it for a long time.

I was supposed to race Xterra Indian Peaks on August 6th. Unfortunately, that race didn't happen for me. I was warming up before the race and somehow managed to wash out my front tire in the parking lot and rip up my hands pretty bad. The worst was my left thumb. This low speed, freak accident actually ripped my entire thumbnail and the tip of my thumb off. I went to the ambulance and they wrapped up my hands, but I started to get nausea and light headed, so I threw in the towel at that point. Very disappointing to say the least.

Next up is Xterra Lory on the 27th. I need to have a good race to get the points I need to qualify for nationals. Hopefully I will get the job done. If not, I don't see the hard work since the Mountain Cup race as a waste. Every training session is a building block for the future.

Keep the rubber down,


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mid-Season Break

5 months ago I was really just getting my training started for the season. That 5 months has gone by pretty fast, and here I am at the halfway point of the season. Actually, it is probably a bit past the halfway point, but the first A race of the season is done.

After the big long buildup to a key race it is great to take a bit of time off to let your body completely recover and more importantly, to give yourself a mental break from the 2 workouts/day routine. It feels good to get caught up on some stuff around the house, and help Jaime out with some things for the clinic that have been put on the back burner. About one week is usually all I can take though before I feel like I need to get back at it. So, that is the plan.

A quick recap of the season so far: I mentioned in a prior post that I had started training with EPC Multisport, and this year I'm being coached by Xterra Pro Cody Waite. I have really enjoyed training with a team, and Cody's coaching has been invaluable. I'm definitely getting faster at a faster rate this year than in years past.

So far I've raced 3 Xterras, and 4 mountain bike races. The Xterra's have had good results despite having moved up into what I believe is the toughest age group. Moab and 4 Corners yielded 4th place finishes in the 30-34 AG. Last Saturday was the Xterra Mountain Cup Regional Championship Race, which draws out the best competition in the ares, and is one of the qualifiers for the World Championships in Maui. I placed 9th in my AG, which is how I placed last year here, but this year I was 6 minutes faster, and that is what it really is all about. This was the first race that I could really compare vs. last year, since 4 corners had the course changed.

After this week's break, my focus is solely on the National Championship in Ogden, UT. I will get back to base training for a few weeks before ramping it up again in preparation for the big race. I didn't race here last year due to a wedding, but 2 years ago I had a 3:06:46. I am hoping to be somewhere in the 2:55:00 neighborhood.

Hopefully I will get better about making a weekly post, and getting some good pictures from epic riding as well. Anything you'd like to read about? Post a reply! Thanks for reading

Train hard

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Base Training Week 1

Week one of the my first block of base training is in the books! This past week was around 11.5 hours of training broken out as follows:

4 swims; main set/focus for each workout respectively: race pace 5x200 yard intervals, 3x400 at medium effort, pulling the last 400, 400-300-200-100 finishing last half of each at race pace, 1,000 straight at medium to low intensity for endurance. 8,200 yards total

3 bikes; main set/focus for each workout respectively: tempo effort for 35 mins followed by endurance effort for 10 mins, 2x10 mins at threshold effort, 2 hour endurance ride with varying intensity. 4.5 hours and about 80 miles - all on the trainer = boring.

3 Runs; mid distance, threshold run and long run. 17.5 miles total.

3 strength training sessions.

All in all it was a good first week. I'm looking forward to an easier day tomorrow with a short recovery ride and recovery run followed by lots of stretching and some foam roll work, then I get back at it on Tuesday. Including Monday's recovery workouts, next week will increase to 13 hours. I will try to increase my time at intensities close to threshold as well. It looks like this coming week has much better weather than last week, so hopefully I can get some of the runs and bikes outside. Jaime also watched some of my swim practice on Saturday and found some key things to fix, which will take some time, but I think will really help improve my swim times, so I'm really excited about that.

As excited as I am about training, I'm even more excited about a big nutritional change I've made. I have been hearing more and more about the Paleo diet from a wide variety of places, so I decided to look into it. I bought the book "The Paleo Diet for Athletes". One of the authors is Joe Friel, whom I've mentioned in this blog a few times. Basically, the diet is to eat only the foods that our stone age ancestors ate. The really means lots of lean animal and fish protein, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Without plagiarising the book here, I will quickly try to sum up the benefits of the diet. First and foremost it is much higher in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein than the typical endurance athlete's diet. It also leads to a much healthier pH balance in your blood. If diet leads to an acidic environment in your boduy, as most non-paleo diets do, then your body has to attack muscle and bone to get the nutrients it needs to balance the pH. The net effect is that you have less energy, recovery is impaired, etc. The diet also has a much lower overall glycemic index due to the absence of all grains.

So, what can and can't you eat? Well, just ask yourself the question, could a caveman eat it, or make it with minimal processing? So, general rules of thumb are that you can't eat any dairy or any grains, no legumes (this includes peanuts - more on that later), nothing processed, minimal sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc, as those would only be available in small quantities at specific times during the year.

I will be honest, it isn't the easiest thing to follow, but you certainly can make excellent meals given the restrictions. It will force you to branch out and add flavor to foods using natural ingredients, and that honestly produces much better flavoring anyways. Peanut butter is the toughest for me to give up, but Almond butter is right there to help out thankfully.

So, have I noticed any difference? Well, it has been about 8 or 9 days, but I do seem to not get ravenously hungry like I did before. I also have recovered better in my first week of hard training than I recall recovering last year. I also have better energy levels, especially after work, which is when I usually would skip a workout due to feeling tired. Most importantly, it helped my shed a pound of fat in the first week. It is still early, but I think I'm a believer and will follow it as closely as possible going forward. As with anything, there will be times when you have to make an exception, such as a dinner out, or a special event, etc. I would encourage anyone to try it if you get upset stomachs often, seem to always be tired, or aren't seeing the results you want from your training.

Hopefully everyone has had a good start to the season, or is getting ready and excited to start their season soon. If you need a little motivation to hop on the bike, check out the videos here.

Happy training!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Prep Phase

Welcome to the coldest day of the year in Denver! I don't think we achieved a positive reading on the thermometer today. Fortunately, that gives me an extra bit of time to update this thing. I will run in almost anything, but at this temperature, it really just kinda hurts to breath if you don't wear a mask. If you do wear a mask, then it is only a matter of time before the moisture in your breath soaks the mask through and it freezes to your face. Best to just hit the treadmill, or take a day to rest your legs.

Luckily, we have had a great winter here in Denver. Lots of snow in the mountains, and hardly any to speak of here in the city. Last week was nice enough to ride outside - like 50's and 60's.

The past few months have been relatively relaxed as far as training goes. As I mentioned in my last post, the focus was on strength and some higher intensity efforts, while trying to bring my weight down to last year's race weight.

Generally, I stuck with that plan until just after the new year. On Jan 3 I switched gears to focus more on aerobic fitness and slightly longer sessions. I wanted to get 5 weeks of basic aerobic training and maintain my strength training before base building begins. Next monday marks the beginning of 12 weeks of base building, where time, distance, mileage will all be increasing from week to week. 90% of the work will be at or below my lactate threshold, with a focus on getting as much work in at the "sweet spot" as possible. The sweet spot is just under your lactate threshold. This is the training zone (either HR, pace, power) that can generate a big boost in increasing your speed at lactate threshold.

How do you know if you are training in the correct zone? Well, you need to perform frequent fitness tests in each sport to determine your new lactate threshold. This is exactly what I just did last week. I wanted to see if I had maintained something close to last year's ending fitness levels, as well as establish my training zones for the next few weeks. The results were positive, which I was pumped about, as that validates the theory that you can really cut back in the offseason, as long as you keep enough hard sessions in there. Here is what my tests look like by sport. You can adapt them to make them work for you, but these distances/times for tests can be extrapolated to establish training zones, as they are fairly standard.

Warm up easy 300-500 yards/meters
drill set 200 yards/meters
1,000 yard/meter time trial. As fast as you can.
Cool down to total 2,000 yards for the workout.

I tested with a time of 15:10, which is actually a little bit faster than my last test in 2010, so my technique work is paying off a little bit in the pool.


Warm up for 20 mins easy, but build intensity
3x1:00 fast pedal intervals at easy resistance but >100 rpms. 1:00 recover between intervals
5 mins easy spinning
4 minute VO2 max test - all out as hard as you can for the 4 mins (don't start too hard, you don't want to fade bad at the end).
11 mins easy spinning
20 minute time trial - all out as hard as you can for 20 mins (obviously slower pace than the 4 min test, again don't start out too hard)
Cool down for 20 mins easy.

My last test last year had 298 watts for the 4 minute test and 258 watts for the 20 minute test. The test I did last week was 296 and 251 respectively. Not too bad. To determine your lactate threshold wattage, take your 20 minute test and multiply by 95%. This is roughly the wattage you should be able to hold for 1 hour.

Run Test:

Usually I run a 5K all out and use Jack Daniels (seems ironic, but really, this Jack Daniels is associated with running as opposed to drinking) running tables to establish my training zones (just google it, you'll find it). This year however, I joined the Endurance Performance Coaching multisport club, so I am following Coach Cody Waite's testing protocol. We warm up for about 2 miles, then run 20-30 minutes at your LT heart rate. Check out this link for some instructions on how to calculate this:

After you cool down. So, I don't really have a comparison for this, but the idea is that you should see your pace at this heart rate get faster. My pace for my 4 miles went 6:31, 7:21, 7:36, 7:38. Clearly I started out too fast, which was a mistake. My heart rate was very low on the first mile, which can happen. If it does happen, you should go by feel until your hear rate reacts appropriately. The more you do this the better of a feel you will get.

So, that is what I have been doing and how training has been progressing. I'm looking forward to base training and building mileage and fitness. I'm really excited to be on the EPC team too. Two things that have not gone my way is getting to my goal weight, and a lingering hip problem. I've knocked off a few pounds, but still have about 6-7 to go. As for the hip, Jaime thinks she knows what it is, so hopefully her amazing PT skills will get rid of the problem. Luckily it hasn't really caused me to miss too many workouts yet.

A lot to digest, but hopefully it makes sense. Please leave a post if you have questions. I'm not a licensed coach, but I have a decent level of experience, and certainly read and study the approaches to training very diligently. Happy training!