Posts Tagged ‘The Suck’

Okay, so to quote one Private William Hudson: it’s time to “quit your grinnin’ and drop your linen people”. What I’m ever so eloquently trying to say is, that’s it’s finally time to get things revved up into full gear.  No more idle “conditioning”, no more fancy catch phrases like “training to train”…it’s time to get serious.  The Welland Half Iron is only seven weeks away and the off-season is officially over.  It’s time to crawl into the hurt locker for good and make myself cozy as it’s going to be a very exhausting four months.

Now, before reviewing my weekly schedule in detail, it’s important to understand that I am basing my training schedule on a four-week periodization plan with the fourth week being an easy recovery week.  The point of periodization is to gradually build your endurance level (not to mention your threshold for pain and discomfort) without over-taxing your body in the process and thereby damaging or injuring it.  The ultimate goal here is to arrive at your peak physical conditioning or at your “race best” on the day of your actual event – in my case, Cancun 70.3 on September 18th, 2011 (154 days).  I followed the same periodization process with my run training this past winter leading up to my Around the Bay race in March and that turned out pretty well, right?

Now all I have to is do the exact same thing one more time.  Except, this time, I have to do it with all three disciplines and ready to do them consecutively one after the other.  Seem daunting?  Tell me about it.  So without further adieu, I present to you my new and improved outdoor summer training schedule (for my previous training schedule click here).

I give you the ‘Big Suck: Part 2’.

Monday:  Swim / Weights

The week starts off in the pool.  I am now beginning to build my swim workouts from the current 2.5k mark to more around the 3k mark and beyond.  I really want to maintain having a strong opening swim so I just don’t want to be comfortable at the 2k distance; I want to rock it.  Remember, one of the fitness goals this year is to complete a sub-30 minute 2k open water swim so it’s time to up the ante in the pool a little bit.  I still plan to off-set my upper body strength training with either a light weights sessions before and/or a light yoga afterwards to keep my all-important core strong and developing.  If all goes well, these weights sessions will be the only indoor workout (apart from the pool that is) that I see all summer.

Tuesday:  Bike / Yoga

Looking to get some good tempo rides in on Tuesdays.  I had good luck weather-wise on Tuesdays last year so I’m following the same plan this year.  Worse comes to worse I can swop this day with either Monday’s or Wednesday’s swim workout instead.  These are also the workouts where I will try to scout out some hills, practice some one-legged pedaling drills, wind sprints, etc.  I like to head east towards the country routes of Niagara-on-the-Lake so you can look forward to many vineyard photos in the future.  Of course, what better way to round out a bike workout with some light yoga in my new YOGA GARDEN!!

Wednesday:  Run / Yoga

Wednesdays are Run Day.  In most cases, I’m simply going to begin putting some mileage on the sneakers and burn some calories at a slow, steady pace.  Nothing too strenuous or challenging, just focusing on my form, my breathing, and having an otherwise good time; a perfect Brussel Sprout Philosophy kind of day.  I plan on listening to and getting reacquainted with some old forgotten CD’s I discovered the other day in a box under my bed.  Occasionally, however, just for shits and giggles, I’m going to through in the odd speedy tempo run or Fartlek just to keep things interesting.  As well, more time in the yoga garden will be no doubt be appreciated and looked forward to as well.

Thursday: Swim / (Easy) Bike / Core

Thursday’s are the first of my “Double Duty” days.  I will be up early swimming in the pool before work and reeking of chlorine around the office.  Same as Mondays, I’m building my distance and speed, but I’d also like to make this Thursday sessions more focused around my kicking and kicking drills. Later, after work I want to begin working those tired legs on the bike again with some easy pedaling for 90 minutes or so around the neighborhood; nothing too fast or difficult, just running more on brussel sprout power and burning those evil, evil calories.  I’ll inevitably do some added core work or light yoga in the garden when I get back.

Friday:  (Easy) Run

It’s the same idea as Wednesday; nothing too strenuous or difficult or 60 minutes or so (approximately 10-12k).  I’ll just be going for a light trot around the neighborhood to listen to my phat tunes or Audiobooks and simply see wassup – total brussel sprout day.  Maybe I can even coax somebody into joining me perhaps.

Saturday:  Off

I really enjoyed having Saturdays as my designated recovery day last year. It was a whole day to myself to lie around doing nothing if I so choose; nada…buttkiss…el Zilcho.  It’s true; I’m not planning on doing much these days apart from buying groceries and maybe going out for breakfast.  I may go visit with family, do some laundry, go for a massage, or just read outside on the porch instead.  Hell, I may even have a beer, whatever.  If my heart rate spikes over, say, 85 bpm, then it won’t have been an entirely successful day in my mind.

Sunday: Brick (Bike/Run)

And on the Seventh Day, the Coach brought forth the pain with a capital P.  Sundays are designated “Brick Day”, meaning a long ride immediately followed by a long run so, really, we’re talking about 4-5 hours plus spend in continued perpetual motion.  Ho-lee shit.  If I want a break from these long bricks I can alter my schedule slightly to do a shorter, faster Interval brick offered through my TryForce (see link on left of screen) training group and then just use Sunday for a long ride and coffee with the gang instead.  However, I have it in mind now that I want to get comfortable at these distances and exertion level so I anticipate trying to stick to the prescribed Sunday brick schedule as often as possible.

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Ace the Base

Posted: April 27, 2011 in In Transition
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I have mentioned a few times in recent posts that I am currently beginning to transition into my second ‘Base’ training period or, what I know as the Big Suck: Part 2, with my first Half Iron (training) event being only three months off.  What’s the difference between this particular base period and what I’ve been doing already so far you ask?  Well, really, it’s the difference between “training to train” and “training to race” which are two very different things.

Up until this point, I’ve been merely focused on ‘training to train’, believe it or not.  This isn’t to indicate that I’ve been somehow dogging it all this time – far from it actually – but, really, I’ve been conditioning my body simply to take on and endure the rigors of Ironman training which, in all respect to the shorter distance triathletes, is considerably more taxing than training for Sprint or Olympic distances (and I speak from experience).  The initial base period is where you begin to strength build and improve your skills on the bike, in the pool and on foot.  To affectively accomplish this, I took up yoga which is still something I swear by and look forward to, have been participating in Thursday night Interval brick sessions, joined a Masters swim class on Sunday mornings and have spend 4 days a week running my fat ass off.  I used the ‘Around the Bay’ race to focus my run training around and then set little benchmark goals for my swims and bikes.  Through this period, I’ve dropped nearly 25 lbs since the New Year, cut whole minutes off my run times at all distances, made peace with going fast, ran hills until I puked, and spent more hours on a stationary bike staring at my sweaty reflection in a studio mirror than I care to recall.  Basically, I’ve spent a lot of time going long and slow for the purpose of burning calories and conditioning my body to burn fat as a source of fuel instead of relying on the fast-burning stores of protein and carbohydrates.

The first (and most crucial) part of developing a good Base training plan is to determine the upper limits of my aerobic threshold, or the maximum effort that you can sustain for any period of time to develop your aerobic conditioning (not to be confused with anaerobic conditioning).  Here is an easy-to-follow formula for determining this upper limit for your aerobic training zone:

  1. Take 180
  2. Subtract your age
  3. Take this number and correct it by the following:
  • If you do not workout, subtract another 5 beats
  • If you workout only 1-2 days a week, only subtract 2 or 3 beats
  • If you workout 3-4 times a week keep the number where it is
  • If you workout 5-6 times a week keep the number where it is
  • If you workout 7 or more times a week and have done so for over a year, add 5 beats to the number
  • If you are over about 55 years old or younger than about 25 years old, add another 5 beats to whatever number you now have
  • If you are about 60 years old or older OR if you are about 20 years old or younger, add an additional 5 beats to the corrected number you now have

Using this formula I’ve determined that my ideal upper limit is 146 bpm.

So up until this point my workouts have all been at or below this heart rate zone (something I was never very good at truthfully).  I gave myself 5-15 minutes to warm up, slowly elevating my heart rate as I go, then during the bulk of the workout tried to keep my heart rate in a range that is at least 80% of my maximum aerobic heart rate but not higher than that number.  So for example, the majority of my workouts have been at 130-146 bpm.  But that time has now passed and it’s time to really suffer.  In other words:  it’s on.

Beginning two weeks ago, my workouts changed dramatically in that they are now transitioning outside (thank God!) and more specifically aimed at distance and duration; training my nervous and muscular systems to respond in the way that I want…when I want.  In essence, I’m now building the second endurance base, or that “train to race” as I mentioned before.  A well-designed endurance base period will enable me to take all I’ve learned now about good nutrition, speed work, rest, form, and positive thoughts and transform them into my best race.

Here is another formula to put that into perspective:

 (Nutrition + Work + Speed + Rest) – Negative Thoughts = Confidence

And Confidence equals Personal Best in my book, so the choice is ultimately mine to make. I can either try to race with an adequately prepared engine the size of a weed wacker or I can put in the effort now and build my engine up with a good base plan so that I’m confidently racing with a huge turbo-charged jet engine under this grossly distended hood.  Again…total Winning!

Major changes include my having virtually stopped all my strength-training sessions apart from my yoga and core conditioning which I primarily engage in after a long workout to aid with my recovery anyway.  The second major change is that muscular endurance training is introduced.  This involves long intervals in the range of 6 to 12 minutes done at about the lactate threshold with very short recoveries that are about 25 percent of the work interval duration.  Twenty to 40 minutes of cumulative lactate threshold training within one workout each week is generally quite effective (building to a higher volume over the course of three weeks, or what’s otherwise known as ‘periodization’).  That means that I can kiss my nice, comfortable 146 bpm heart rate goodbye.

So, yeah, longer and more intense.  Lovely.  To deal with these changes in the training plan I am currently in the process of trying to devise yet another weekly training schedule with my coach (details to come) that will afford me the time needed to complete all these lengthy and grueling workouts…often one on top of the other.  So that also means lots more double-duty workout days combining the swim, bike and run segments more seamlessly.  I can foresee many early morning swims and runs in my near future.

Winning?  Not so sure now…

P.S.> I think it would also be really funny to put this (click) on a swim cap.  So if anybody has custom imaging and printing skills please DO NOT hesitate to contact me.  Sincerely, the mgmt.

“The Big Suck”

Posted: December 20, 2010 in The Plan
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Never were two words so impacting and meaningful:  training schedule.  Just in saying the words I immediately begin to hear angels singing harmoniously; hanging onto that one perfect note, and letting it linger and waft through the air, filling your entire being with ultimate purpose.  Ah, yes, the all-haloed triathletes’ off-season training plan. Just as soon as someone even so much as mentions those two words – training schedule – heads will begin to pop up from behind locker room doors, or from behind shower stall corners, and immediately lock into the conversation like alert gophers who have spotted movement on the horizon.

So, without further adieu, here it is; my new winter training schedule.  Let’s call it: “The Big Suck”.  This is the first of what will be, inevitably, an ever-changing organic training plan for the next few months leading up to the Around the Bay race, and onward again towards the Welland Half Ironman in July, and, ultimately, the Cancun 70.3 in September.

Am I psyched?  Absolutely.  Am I scared shitless?  Damn straight.

Monday:  Short (Easy) Run / Weights

I am beginning the training week on an easy note with a short, recovery run of 30-40 minutes.  The onus of these particular runs is not on speed, or form, or endurance, but in just getting out and getting the legs moving.  For the winter I will probably either run from the gym or on the track if it’s completely crappy outside.  The dreadmill is an option as well, but I really don’t like running stationary while staring at a wall.

Afterwards, the plan is to do some light yoga stretching and core work before hitting the weights for an hour.  I am focusing more on muscle endurance than I am on power, so I am using lighter weights and increased reps for the chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps, and legs; lots of squats, crunches and push-ups, the triathletes best weapons.

Tuesday:  (Spin) / Yoga / Swim

I have really been enjoying my yoga class and would like to keep up with that for the winter.  Eventually, I will need to swap out this workout for more spinning, but right now it’s all about building my core strength as well as providing my body some necessary recovery time after a long week of run training.  The class usually runs about 45 minutes with 5-6 minutes of meditative breathing at the end which not only have I began getting better at, but actually looking forward to.

Tuesdays are my prime pool workout day apart from the Masters class on Sunday.  I take my workouts from my pool Bible: ‘Workouts in a Binder: Swim Workouts for Triathletes’. This book has routines to improve my endurance, speed and form.  Average workout distances range from 2 – 4k a session and I am focused on building this endurance base during the week.  Later in the year, when the Masters class has wrapped up I will need to fit another additional swim workout into my week, but for the time being this lone workout (including Sundays) is enough.

(added 02/21/11):  I have also added 50-60 minutes of spinning prior to beginning my yoga class (detailed below).  Sometimes I take an offered spin class at the YMCA, other times I will do a solid 45 tempo ride on the trainer myself, whatever.  I will begin ramping up this spin time over the next weeks weeks but keeping it manageable as I am still very run focused at the moment.

Wednesday:  Tempo Run

I call this my weekly ‘Balls to the Wall’ workout.  My body is more built for comfort than it is for speed, so these faster-paced, medium distance (approximately 8-10k) runs are not necessarily my favorite thing to do.  However, the idea this year, now that I have a decent endurance base from last years training, is to work more on speed and these tempo runs will be the prime opportunity to focus on improving my split times.

Thursdays:  Brick

This is my weekly 90 minute shit-kicker of a workout.  The current Brick I participate in as part of my triathlon-specific training group is an Interval-based workout combining fast spinning with 3 x 7 minute runs on the track or dreadmill.  These intermittent, short and fast runs are usually done at 85% of maximum effort and are intended to spike my heart rate and maintain my current cardio level as well as beginning to get my legs accustomed to get off into a run quickly while already fatigued.  Come springtime, I will transition these workouts to be more of a Base workout combining longer periods of spinning with a longer, single run afterwards.

I usually like to finish with 20 minutes or so of slow, deliberate yoga stretching and core work just for shits and giggles.

Friday:  Rest Day

My designated day to do sweet fuck all.  If push comes to shove, I can fit in another non-taxing weights workout or some yoga stretches in the evening instead but, ideally, I should be doing nothing but allowing my body a chance to recuperate in anticipation of Saturday’s workout.

Saturday:  Long Run

This is the granddaddy workout of the week and the real focus for me over the winter.  Currently I am at the 16k mark and will build my distances each week by 10% in four week intervals; this is known as Periodization.  I decided to schedule my long runs on Saturdays to take advantage of the fact that I am mobile on the weekends where I can escape the city for a change and can drive out into the countryside in search of pleasant and quiet country roads and hills; lots of hills.  Unfortunately, this also means that I am destined to do 18k on Christmas morning, and then another 21.5k on New Years morning, but so be it.  This long run workout, come springtime, will need to be rearranged in my week to immediately follow the long ride days.

Sunday:  Masters Swim / Spin / Core

This is the second of my Tryforce group workouts and is specifically aimed at developing my swimming form in the pool.  The Masters class is instructor lead and I’m currently swimming at an Intermediate level, and I look forward to joining the Advanced swimmers in the next lane over later this training season once I nail my flip-turn technique.  Once the nice weather arrives and this Masters swim ends, Sundays will designated as my Long Ride training days and I will therefore need to replace this workout with another pool workout (or open water swim).

Afterwards, we transition into the spin studio for 45 minutes of fast tempo spinning followed by 20 minutes of crunches, core work, and yoga stretching before retiring to Starbucks to gripe about our weeks aches and pains.