Thursday, November 11, 2010

2010: Woods

The Woods is a place of reflection for me. Since my youth, I've spent a lot of time trodding along with my dad, an avid hunter, taking in the beauty of nature. I really enjoy it. Deer hunting season is about to begin next weekend and I can't wait. Dad was out early one morning this week about to chop wood and captured a picture of this buck.

For the first time in a long time, my triathlon plans feel muddled. Usually by now I have next year's training schedule in rough draft form plus a tentative racing schedule. Right now I know I'm racing American Triple T and Ironman Hawaii. One is in May, the other in October. That's quite a time spread. Given that I want a break from Ironman, I want to spend 2011 doing sprints and olympics. But you'd hardly guess that by my race commitments.

The where, when, and how of 2011 triathlon (and otherwise) need some reflection.

I have faith the Woods will sort things out.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

2010: Post Ironman - Into the Woods

After Ironman, Adrienne and I headed North to relax on the lake. I found a beautiful vintage bike manufactured by Columbia at a rustic bike shop in Minocoqua. The trip was wonderful and it gave me some time to reflect on my Ironman race. At a recent Gear-Grinder gathering, the team manager thought I'd be happier now that the Kona monkey is off my back. When I said "kinda of" he didn't seem to get why. Personally, Ironman has been about reaching potential. A 9:50, although fast, is far off my ability.

I've been reflecting on my mindset as the race unfolded. Why did I find myself cruising the marathon? Why did I decide to ease off on the bike, I mean really ease off?

Matt Fitzgerald wrote a very interesting article in early 2010 for Triathlete magazine. One part is particularly relevant:

This explanation seems much more plausible than the first, but there is actually no good evidence that those athletes who produce the fastest run times in Ironman races hold back more on the bike than their fellow competitors. In fact, contrary to popular belief, elite Ironman triathletes really don’t hold back at all on the bike. If riding at 80 or 90 percent of capacity (relative to the distance of 112 miles) were normal and necessary at the elite level of Ironman racing, then you would see at least one clown fly off the front and complete the bike leg 10 or 20 percent faster than the real contenders (which would translate to 30 to 60 minutes). Even if it were suicidal, people would still do it for a moment of glory. It’s human nature. But this never happens. Why? Because elite triathletes actually ride the Ironman bike leg at something closer to 98 percent of their maximum capacity (meaning they would ride only five to 10 minutes faster in a pure 112-mile time trial). sentiments exactly. At Ironman this year, I did exactly this. I rode too easy. By riding 10-25 minutes slower, I was hoping to run even faster to recoup ground lost. And if you read my race report, you'd see I did just that, kinda of. The hiccup started with the penalty, but it was more. The penalty shifted me into ultra-conservative mode. It transformed me from the racing mode to the "come on Matt, let's play it safe. You got one penalty, you can't afford to have any one." The result was I never dug deep, smiled a little more to the fans (I have to work on that some more according my family), and crossed the finish line as if I did something challenging but hardly hard.

When I was cruising into T2, I thought about shooting for a 3:00 run split, but found myself saying to myself why? It wasn't needed, I wasn't fighting for first amateur at that point. I wasn't even in contention for top three amateur. The penalty plus the lackluster bike performance just put me too far behind.

So what can I learn from this. When the bike fitness is verifiable, use it for goodness sake. But at IMWI, I had reservations about pushing the bike even with Brunold and Kurian dragging my arse around for five weeks. When thinking back, Door County HIM certainly put into perspective holding back on the bike, but when looking at the overall results, I did not PR the distance. "If" Pigman was a decent day, I could of sorted out mentally just how good my bike fitness was in relation to having a good run. The other demon haunting me going into IM and during the race, was that I just put too much time in the off season working on my run fitness just to burn all the matches by a blazing bike split leading to another 3:30 run. How slow of a bike split was I willing to have inorder to run what I considered a good time? My basic absolute bottom (BAB) expectation was a 5:30 bike split. Any slower, I would be disappointed. And for the run, I wanted 3:15 or faster. At the day's end, I hit my BAB benchmarks.

If I was a coach, coaching Matt A, I would say to him, "You did a great job. You displayed patience, the ability to handle the challenges of IM racing, and follow through with execution. You proved to yourself that the benchmark of sub-10 is easily within yourself. For the next 8 months, focus on consistent training and letting yourself get sharp for the short course racing that you want to do. Then, in 2012, lets attack another Ironman with the goal of having a wicked bike and run split." I better listen to that coach.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2010: Ironman Wisconsin

Sensible. After taking a few steps back after last year's Ironman Louisville experience, I took some extraordinary measures to change my life. First, I got a new job. For that, I couldn't be happier. It changed my head space to contentment and fulfilment. A number of fellow triathletes were instrumental in making that happen and for that, I am grateful. The next big change was finding my own groove when it came to training and racing. When starting out as a novice, the books, the interviews, the Q&A with others attempted to supplement my inexperience. However, as the game goes on, nothing beats experience. This time around, I felt confident.

. Training this year focused solely around Ironman Wisconsin. I dabbled with equipment, raced with and without aero-equipment early in the season, played around with nutrition, tweaked my bike fit a lot, switched from a compact crank to standard, went for some soul-crushing bike rides with those that are clearly better than me, and attempted some PR splits. The highlights of those adventures would be:

1. American TTT - I went into the event with minimal bike training, and raced with bad tires and no aero equipment. Wow, I was working harder than most people around me.

2. Door County HIM - How fast can I run? I ran a 1:21 half-marathon split. Applicable lesson was by biking "very" under controlled, I can run with the very best of them.

3. Pigman HIM - How fast can I bike? I biked a 2:19, while making a few pacing errors in the process. Biking too hard, especially in the heat, leads to a tough run. So tough that it's really not fun.

These three things shaped the way for Ironman Wisconsin. A pacing mistake, from my perspective, is the worst type of mistake a racer can make. My overall "A" goal range was 9:15-9:45. On the one end was a time that would risk an atomic bomb type of explosion, and on the other hand, a sensible outlook. The day proved, by a matter of circumstances, a sensible one.

Sensible. Adrienne and I started the swim together on the left side right near the turn buoy. When the cannon went off, we had clean water with a great group of swimmers around us. Everybody was courteous. The pace was strong for less than 50 yards before we all settled into a 54-56 minute IM pace. It was my easiest IM swim yet.

I exited at 56 low without breaking a sweat. (Two years prior, I exited the water in 53 low and was hurting. It made for a really long day despite the good overall time.) Transition went smoothly and before long, I was out biking.

Biking the stick, as we affectionately refer to the segment between the Monona Terrace and Verona before starting two loops, was easy. So easy, that I knew I was tapered right and that I swam well within my means. I was biking with two other guys who seem interested in having a good bike split. I was happy to join them.

Interject: The day before the race. I had breakfast with a fellow friend doing the race who was also the host for Pro Eric Bean. He and I had a good discussion about powermeters and heart rate monitors. His argument was for using them in training, but not for racing. It convinced me, so I raced without any technology. It was a good move.

Myself and two others cruised the stick managing to catch a number of riders. It wasn't long before I caught my training partner Scott Bowe. At that particular moment, I wasn't sure if he was holding back or off to a rough start (At the end of the day, he killed all us by biking with uncanny even power, and backing it up with a 3:09 run). Then came the hiccup.

Sensible. Penalties are bad. I got one. The details are unimportant. I served my four minute time penalty in Cross Plains. Shortly after receiving my penalty, the strongest age-group racers caught me (Joe Kurian, Mike Lavery) on the way to Mount Horeb. Thomas Brunold did not catch me until after Cross Plains, by then I did my time. Going into the race, I knew that if I wanted to mix it up with the fastest guys, I would need to ride near them on the bike. Given that I swim 4-8 minutes faster than them, I could afford to hold even on the bike, and by biking a 5:15'ish, be only a few minutes down when starting the run. Given I had a penalty, that plan was down the tubes. From there on, I simply dialled down my effort to the point where I was saying to myself "this is easy and I don't mind it being easy." My Door County HIM experience was still fresh in my mind.

Sensible. I came into transition 2, well behind the leaders, and surprisingly, behind a number of local guys that put out some really incredible bike splits. By the time I got my CEP compression socks on, I was a ways back.

Sensible. When a pro tells you that he runs the first three miles really easy. He means it. I took Bean's pre-race advice to heart and ran the first three miles easy. Actually the first 13 miles weren't much trouble. I held 7:15-7:20s without any grimacing. When I came up on a spector who was spotting for me, he said I wasn't gaining any time on Scott Bowe, I replied "Well, I'm running 7:20s!" and thinking that either Scott is going to Rock star the race or blowup soon. For the second loop, I started having more coke, than water or Powerbar drink. The stomach felt fine the entire time, I had a salt tablet nearly every mile. No hints of side-stitches. I did feel some sloshing coming on, but took a gel and that prevented it.

Eventually, I caught and passed everybody I thought I would minus Scott. I put together a 3:15 marathon and finished with my wits. This was the most fun I had while "doing" an Ironman. The other two times were filled with some really low points mentally and physically.

Last year, I wrote:

"My future in Ironman racing is uncertain. I feel that there is much work to be done both physically and mentally to hit the ceiling. But like most hobbies, it's just for fun and if something else comes along that fosters the same feelings as racing I might just hang up the swim cap and goggles, sell the bikes, and use the running shoes to mow the lawn."

I took some flak for that statement. This time around, I'll say I thoroughly enjoyed the training and the race. The people surrounding the event make the journey worth while, especially my wife Adrienne. That darn girl is nearly as fast as me and she also got a Kona slot. So, next year we'll both be at Kona, Hawaii. My training partner Scott nearly won my age group as well. He'll be there as well.

Swim - 56
Bike - 5:29 (including 4 minute penalty)
Run - 3:15
Total 9:50
36th Overall
6th Age Group 30-34
Awarded Kona Slot

Things to Remember:
- 2 Cliff Bars, 1 Powerbar Harvest for breakfast, then bottle of EFS Pre-Race
- Bilaterally breathe when swimming. If I can't, it means I'm pushing too hard.
- In bike special needs bag, think about having a Red Bull in a water bottle and drinking it a mile 80.
- No caffeine for two weeks prior to an IM to increase sensitivity.
- First Endurance Liquid shot (15 of them) in water bottle topped off with water was fine. I had 19 in there but could only mustered down approx 15 of them.
- First Endurance EFS was fine for the first bottle on the bike frame, but after that grab water at the aid stations to wash down the Liquid shot.
- Mixing it up between water, Powerbar drink, coke at all the run aid stations was effective.
- Pee'd once on the bike, once on the run.
- Salt Stick tablets (26) in the MM's container tucked into jersey worked fine for the run.
- Konawi Tri-suit, CEP compression socks, Visor, no heart rate monitor, Nike Lunar Glide shoes (best shoes ever for me), LG aero helmet, Planet X Stealth Size Medium, Planet X Tubular 82-101 combo, rear cassette 11-27.

Special Thanks to:
- Gear Grinder
- Planet X Bikes USA
- Emery's Bike Shops
- Scott Bowe, Joe Kurian, Jeff May, Mike Pierson
- Lane Brostrom, Eric Bean
- Travis Evenson and Paula Skoy-Evenson
- TriWisconsin

1-7:24 2-7:01 3-7:22 4-7:21
5-7:11 6-7:18 7-7:16 8-7:18
9-7:21 10-7:23 11-7:36 12-7:35
13-7:35 14-7:35 15-7:35 16-7:43
17-7:42 18-7:42 19-7:36 20-7:39
21-7:47 22-7:52 23-7:53 24-7:54
25-7:40 26-7:23

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010: Swimming Update

It's three weeks before Ironman Wisconsin and now is when I do some cramming for the swim. All that hard biking that occured over the last couple of weeks makes it hard to add in some quality swim sessions.

Today was my first of the bunch: 30x100s. My goal was to hit sub 1:15 with an interval time of 1:25. It wasn't a problem. I average 1:12.7 for all thirty without any drop in pace or increase in effort.

The goal for the next two weeks is to swim 5x/week with the three weekly key sets each week. They are: 30x100 on 1:12/1:25 ; 15x200 on 2:30/2:45 ; 7x400 on 5:00/5:20. The inbetween swims are easy filler ones.

Monday, August 23, 2010

2010: Pigman HIM

Cook my eggs over easy, please!

This was the hottest race I've ever done. Because of fog on the lake and roads, the race was delayed 45 minutes. Hence, we all got to feel the heat of Iowa and let me tell you, it was hot!

The swim was uneventful. A lead group of ten or so swam hard and I let me them go. I ended up swimming with the lead women (Lauren Jensen, Cyndi Bannik, Jackie Arendt).

The bike was an adventure. At mile 3, Jason Maurice went past me with David Cohen. At that point, I knew who my riding buddies would be to help me get a fast bike split. The three of us rode together for ten miles until Cohen eventually pulled away (and subsequently blewup on the run). Maurice was a good carrot stick and I decided to ride behind him for most of the race. I did put in one big surge for 30 minutes in the first quarter of the race to catch Scott Bowe that probably wasn't in my best interest. Given the speed I was already travelling at, it was a needless waste of carbohydrates. In the move, I dropped Maurice who eventually caught me 15 miles later.

Given my only goal for the day was a PR bike split, I accomplished it. 2:19 and change was a decent time considering the heat. Uber biker David Thompson rode slower intentionally because of the conditions. It was a good lesson for all of us.

I expected the run to be tough. Right out of transition the legs felt tired, I had stomach cramping, and wierdly enough, some right knee pain. Add in sensations of overheating, I thought I was fully cooked. DNF was on my mind, but when I reached mile one I was right at 7:00 pace. That kept me going, at least for another 1.5 miles. Knowing that I seeking a good workout this weekend and not a bottom of the well, PR type of experience, I proceeded cautiously. It was a good move. I ended up walking to cool down my body. From there on out, I walked all the aid stations, and ran very slowly just to get the race over with. I stopped and thanked the volunteers, cheered on others, and simply enjoyed the rest of the day. It was a lot of fun.

In summary, I had a great time despite the lack-luster time. A lot of us blewup from biking hard. On a cool overcast day, the results would have been very different.

Things to Remember:
- When my shoes get wet, especially the left one, the sole slips. Use double sided carpet tape to tape the shoe soles down.
- In hot conditions (85 degrees and +), slow it down on the bike and run.
- Use a visor, not a hat when above 75 degrees.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

2010: Bike Crash, Training, and Planet X Bikes

When I did my 2 hr bike ride on Thursday night, I got a late start so the last few minutes of my ride were in the dark (yes, I did have lights on). In doing so, I missed seeing a huge pothole that my front wheel fell into. I was sent flying to the pavement landing on my left shoulder. I got mild road rash on the left shoulder, left forearm, and left knee. Nothing too serious that a few days and some tegaderm couldn't heal. As a result, I took Friday off to recover.

On Saturday night I resumed training by doing my 13 mile MAF-10bpm test on the track. It went well and I averaged 7:06 pace and held even within a few seconds from start to finish. The drift upward at the end was from it being so dark I couldn't see my watch, hence I pushed a little strong:

1- 7:08 146bpm 2- 7:13 146 3- 7:08 146 4- 7:03 146
5- 7:03 147 6- 7:03 147 7- 7:12 146 8- 7:09 146
9- 7:08 146 10- 7:04 148 11- 7:02 148 12- 7:01 150
13- 7:05 149

On another note, Adrienne finally got her new bike. She ended up replacing her Planet X Exocet with the Planet X Stealth Pro. Our local bike shop mechanic Ryan, at Emery's, spent some time shortening the cables for us and checking everything over. He's our go-to guy for bike repair here in Milwaukee:

Our basement is full of Planet X bikes, plus we have another white one on the way. Brian Ray at Planet X USA and Brent Emery at Emery's Bike Shop have been great through the whole process of getting Adrienne a new bike since her bike crash.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010: Build for IM

In review, I polished off my third week of Base 3 with the hard 100 mile ride with Joe and Thomas in Madison mentioned in my previous blog post.

The recovery week was not much different: a solid 3 hr ride on Tuesday, a solid 2.75 hr run on Wednesday at 7:52 pace with neighbor John Lancanster, and again, a hard ride with the guys. Although, this time I got two flat tires reducing my ride a few miles to catch up. I drafted a bunch, unlike last time, allowing me to keep up. Joe held 271 watts for 3:53. I ran 40 minutes afterwards around 7:00 pace. It wasn't all that bad. I swam three times: 3K, 2K, 4K. Plus, I added in the track workout of 4 x 5:00 at 6:20 pace with 2:00 minute recover instead of past week's 6 x 5:00.

Weeks 1-3 are the my build weeks followed by a two week taper. The mainstays are the hard 90 mile bike rides, shortening up the long run, doing some 800s on the track, and adding some more mileage to the swimming. Nothing fancy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

2010: Late Season Training

I was kind of like the picture above for four hours last week Saturday: a facial expression of Oh, God! and hanging on for dear life.

Rumor has it that we rode 260 watts for three hours, at least until I had to ease up the fourth hour. I rode a total of 100 miles, but timed only 94 miles of it at 4:14. That's a new land speed record for me.

I learned a few things riding with Wisconsin's IM rockstars Joe K and Thomas B. First, they mash the pedals more than I thought possible. I mean they crank it at 70-80 rpm to keep the watts high. Second, the hills were no different than the flats. Ride them strong and stiff. Third, a quality 100 mile ride means no stops. Carry what you need and, if possible, never slow down. Fourth, riding behind someone even 25 to 35 yards offers some draft. It's common to see a 5-10 watt difference when behind someone at this distance when riding really, really fast. Finally, a powermeter is a wonderful tool for keeping it real. I don't have one but these guys did and they kept the effort steady. Certainly something to think about for 2011 for optimizing training.

Last year, I did German Rides that were similiar to what I did with Joe and Thomas this past weekend. In retrospect, my German Rides had too many granny gear hills, stop signs, and turns. Thomas's route was a great blend of everything making it for a very humbling ride. Pushing the pedals for four hours without stopping is really hard, especially when riding with guys like them.

While it was a humbling experience, I noticed that when I rode hard a few days later, I could feel the benefit of the past weekend's ride. Pushing hard and steady for hours and hours is a learned skill and one that I "thought" I mastered, but was mistaken. I look forward to another dose of reality this coming weekend.

Overall, I've backed down the training volume to about 15hrs/week the last two to three weeks. The quality workouts of long bike, long run, shorter-harder bike, shorter-harder run are all getting done. The nice thing is that I'm not feeling like burnt toast all the time like in years' past. The other positive thing to mention is that Adrienne is back racing. She did a great job at a local olympic distance race taking second, plus she ran a 41 minute 10km. She thinks she can catch me. I'm starting to wonder that myself.

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010: Door County HIM

Door County HIM
Egg Harbor, WI

Matt Amman
7th Overall 4:22 S-28 B-2:30 R-1:21

I went into the race stressed. I started a new job, Adrienne got hit by a car while training on the Ironman WI bike course, and I was travelling a lot. Training was happening, but at irregular spurts.

Regardless, I wanted to do something VERY different for this race. I wanted to check my run fitness to gain some solid data applicable to upcoming Ironman Wisconsin (which is eight weeks away). My goal was to swim at IM effort, bike at IM effort, and then run to my potential--very Gordo'esque.

It worked! I swam easy and by doing so, I wasn't all that far behind the leaders. Yes, it was two minutes but it wasn't five. Given that I swam a 28, a 56-58 swim at IM is in the cards with little strain. Swim HR ave 157

The bike was surprising uneventful. I had about a dozen and a half people pass me. I did my best to have the HR be 145 bpm and at the end of the day I averaged 147. Not too bad.

Riding with the MOPers was a blast from the past for me. Three years ago I was right there huffing and puffing, taking the corners slow, having erractic speed changes, and weaving all over the road. Most the guys I rode with were pushing well beyond their fitness levels and either blew up in the last 15 miles of the bike or did so on the run. It pays to be in super duber bike shape. Bike HR Ave 147.

I left T2 with one other guy who wanted, I assume, to show off for the crowd (plus his family). For the first 100 yds, he was running at 5:30 pace until he suddenly stopped, ripped off his HR monitor for some inexplicable reason, and gave it to his family. Then he resumed top speed again for another 200 yards before blowing up. Kaboom! I cruised the first 200 yards with him and asked him if he planned on running the whole race at 6 minutes pace. He didn't say anything...must of been busy planning his sudden meltdown.

I ran hard and fast to see what my "run potential" should be. In the past, I usually rip the swim and bike and hang-on during the run. Usually that's good for a 4:2X. This year, it's probably good for a 4:1X. Who knows. Here's my mile splits:

1-5:52 (163bpm)
2-6:05 (164)
3-5:59 (164)
4-5:48 (165)
5-6:12 (164)
6-6:10 (164)
7-6:21 (163)
8-6:26 (little hill) (161)
9-6:11 (160)
10-7:14 (killer hill) (162)
11-6:08 (163)
12-6:17 (163)
13-5:55 (162)
.1-31 (163)

Total 1:21 (6:12 ave)

I was hoping to have the fastest run split of the day, but superstars Jeff Tarkowski put up a 1:18 and Mark Harms went 1:20. All things considered, I proved to myself that I can do it. Lesson learned: bike conservatively to optimize the run.

If wanted to "attempt" to win this race, I would have swam with the leaders, biked with the leaders regardless of the pace, and ran with the leaders hoping to out-survive them. Given that Tarkowski and Harms both went 4:00, there really is no other way to do it. In that scenario, expecting me (or anybody else) to run a 1:14 is not realistic. Even so, they biked fast enough that even a 2:20 bike split is not fast enough to win overall. However, if the winning time was expected to be a 4:1X, I'd swim with the leaders, do my own plan for the bike, and then run to my potential. In the future (2011), I'll be toying with it.

I also switched up my nutrition. I used First Endurance EFS - carried two bottles and drank both. I also used First Endurance Liquid Shot - carried two flasks using all of one of them and 3/4 or the other equalling 6-7 gels. I had nothing on the run. I also did lots of excentuated left footed exhales to minimize any side-stitches. I had inklings of them, but nothing that got out of control. My legs felt a little crampy on the bike, so I should consider using a few salt tablets in the future. Breakfast was two Powerbars and an EFS bottle with PreRace mixed in.

Today, Monday, I took completely off. I was sore. The long drive back home didn't help. Either did today's six hour drive for work. But hey, the pain was worth it.

Race Hard, Race Smart!

2010: Adrienne Hit by Car!

(Picture from Pleasant Prairie Triathlon a few weeks before the accident)

On Sunday July 11th, 2010, Adrienne was involved in a hit and run accident while training on the Ironman Wisconsin bike course. A car struck her from behind launching her from her bike. A few hours later they captured the suspect.

The biggest thing is that Adrienne is alive!

The exact details are being sorted out by the Dane County Sheriff department.

Adrienne will likely post something on her blog about it in the future. Currently, she is trying to regrow skin as fast as she can.

Thanks to all of our friends, family, and fellow triathletes who have helped us through this trying event.

Friday, June 25, 2010

2010: Raising FTP

Yea, that's how it's done. I found this photo when browsing through my old picture files.

Mountain bike racing is a really fun way to raise FTP although a little dangerous--tree branches that reach out and grab you, roots that snare the tires, loose mud to coat the chain and gravel to throw you sideways. In 2006, I did a stint of WORS (Wisconsin Off Road Race Series) racing to raise my FTP and it worked marvelously. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010: High Cliff HIM

Flat tire!

I was rushed this week and it carried over to the race on Saturday. The morning of the race, I struggled to get Adrienne's new Planet X Exocet bike working. I had tubular trouble with the Bontrager XXX rubbing on the seat stay. After various attempts at fixing it, it was a lost cause and so I had her race with it rubbing. Thank heavens that after a number of miles, she noticed it stopped. Yea, that's a watt sucker.

Ah, I kinda of like it when we "have to" swim. Year after year, the swim portion of triathlons are turing into deep water walking events. As expected, the weaker swimmers get to exit on the heels of us faster ones. This race was no different. Jeff Tarkowski and I even managed to have a conversation during the first quarter mile because of shallow water, plus the distance was short.

I exited T1 in third place. Out on the bike course, I caught up and passed Craig Lanza as Tarkowski started pulling away. I knew that he was going to, I just wanted to minimize the damage.

At mile 20 I came around a corner and suddenly got a flat tire. It didn't seem to do any tire damage, but I must of hit something hard causing a blowout. On the side of the road, I found out I grabbed the wrong spare kit from the car leaving me without any tire levers. After a while, a fellow racer threw me a set and I was able to get back on the road. I lost somewhere between 10-15 minutes. It was long enough that Adrienne rolled up next to me as I was getting back on the bike. I chatted with her for a moment before pressing on at "Matt" speed.

It took me nearly 23 miles to catch up to Jackie Arendt, the first female. I then rolled into transition as Alan Mast was finishing up lacing his shoes.

I got off to a good start staying alert to my running form (low arm swing). The ubiquitous side-stitch was present again. After two miles, I was up to speed going sub 7 minute miles but the gas tank felt low. I stayed strong for the first lap, but eased up during lap 2. The magic wasn't there and I simply held on at IM pace for rest of the run. I trickled in at 4:30.

In the end, it was a good learning experience and although the flat altered my time, I learned a few more things:

1. Ease up on the bike more -- keep HR at 150 for once instead of 160 then having it drop to 155bpm
2. Running fast is result of high motivation and proper bike pacing. I had neither this time around.
3. Side-stitch therapy - have 2 saltstick tablets for breakfast, eliminate water during the bike portion and substitute MotorTabs instead, have more salt tablets during bike and run
4. I prefer tubular over clinchers (easier to fix a flat, better feel for the road)

Also, it was great to see Jeff Tarkowski put on a show. The guy is incredibly fast and it's wonderful to be able to push him along a bit. Mister nice guy Mike Lavery did great as well taking second. Chris Wichert, unfortunately, came to the race already tired from some gruelling early week workouts and had to pull the plug a few miles into the run. I hope he keeps his head high. The other personal notable was Paul Eicker. He's a former swimmer of mine from when I used to coach a swim team. He's lightning fast and placed in the top five.

Monday, June 14, 2010

2010: Training Break

Sometimes the weekend just does not go like you want it to. Every year, my dad organizes a Father's Day fishing trip for us sons. This year I managed to get away hoping to get my training in as well. It did not happen. Overcast skies and a continual rain hampered both the fishing trip and the workouts. I managed to slip in the weekly bike rides during the weekdays hoping I could get a lot of swimming and running in while away on the trip. No luck. Although I did not post any zeros, I missed my long run and swam only 30 minutes one day. On the upside, I did catch one walleye and catch up on the musings of my brothers Mike and John. Both continue to live the high life in the their own way: Mike tours the woods of Bayfield County as a Forester with his dog Nelson and John as a financial analyst sorting out billion dollar deals on Wacker Driver in Chicago. They had plenty of stories to share. Dad, as usual, was fairly quiet to focus on walleye fishing. He means business when he's on the water. We also cruised our old property nearby to make sure all the Amman Investments are in good shape.

So, where does this leave me? I was planning to do High Cliff HIM this coming weekend, but given I'm short on training hours this month, I'm staying home to get the work in. Adrienne is still doing the race so I'll likely ride home after watching her.

Edit: I have decided to do the race.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ironman Training

One of the great athletes and coaches in triathlon is Chuckie V. If you haven't read his blog (, I recommend you look it over. Nearly even thing he writes (about triathlon) is gold. Personally, I follow a lot of his recommendations. Recently, he's written a wonderful piece about Ironman training with a template that, I believe, is better than anything else I've come across.

Chuckie V recommends:

Monday: Run (1:00) + Swim (1:00)
Tuesday: Ride (1:00)
Wednesday: Time-consuming Run (2:00) + Swim (:45)
Thursday: Ride (1:00)
Friday: Run (1:00) + Swim (1:15)
Saturday: Time-consuming Ride (4:00)
Sunday: Time-consuming Ride (4:00) + Run (1:00)

And again, the three primary challenges within this are the midweek long run, and the weekend rides. (The real challenge, however, is in repeating such a week ad infinitum.) The long run is (or should be) self-explanatory: get out and run for a long time. If you run it too hard (or you go too long), you'll know a couple days thereafter. Be in tune with this and be aware in advance of next week's long one. The bike rides are ideally set-up in a manner where the challenge comes on Saturday (i.e., a harder steady-state effort), with Sunday's ride simply done as a "Caveman day" or a "feeling based" ride, followed by a transition run (we are, after all, triathletes). If you feel (and are indeed performing) like crap on Saturday the two rides can easily be swapped…in hopes you won't feel poor again on Sunday.

Now, as to where the rest of the challenge should lay, that's up to the individual and the coach, assuming the individual has a coach. If not, this is what I advise…

But first a disclaimer! It's imperative in training that you don't become mired in protocol or in a specific code of conduct. Protocol simply cannot prepare you like an adaptive response to reality can. (Reality = events that unfold; life.) This adaptive-ness is essentially the "art of training" and is every bit as important (if not more so) than the "science of training". And though verified to generate desirable outcomes on a wide range of athletes, the following is merely a suggestion based on principles and fundamentals and can only work if you make it work. And alas, making it "work" is NOT entirely up to you but rather your body and its fickle, ever-irregular responses. Amend where needed, when needed, as needed.


Since the weekend is big enough Monday really ought to be recovery focused, a day free from the rigors of leg abuse. The hitch, however, is that we must continue to get the weekly load in, and starting the week with just a swim (regardless of what came the day prior) is a sure-fire way in which to fall short by the end of the week, and so Monday also includes an easy jog in the afternoon, preferably as late in the day as is feasible. And depending on how challenging the transition run was the day before, Monday's bout ideally ought to remain relaxed and slow, preferably on dirt or some other soft surface (rubber, pillows, babies butts, etc). As far as the swim goes, it's a good day for some "upper-body isolation" or "sport-specific strength work". Strap your feet together, throw on the paddles and a small pull-buoy and do a simple but challenging main set, like 10 x 250s @ 90% effort. With about two hour's training time in all, that leaves Monday a done deal.

As far as Tuesday is concerned, this is where the midweek bike challenge ideally fits in, at least on paper. (Keep in mind that everything is easy on paper, even an Ironman and even the Pacific Crest Trail, though you'll need that much more paper for the latter! And since everything is easy on paper, I plan to do my next long hike entirely atop the stuff.) In all truth, your body (and your drive) must always have the final say, but planning a hard strength-related ride here allows you to make the most of the restricted amount of time you have (or, more precisely, don't have). Warm-up approximately 10 or so minutes, then do 40-minutes at 95%-98% of FTP/UHOP in interval form (e.g., 5 x 8-minutes on 2-minute's rest), all the meanwhile seated in the aero-bars (not literally though, that'd be weird and hard to balance the bike) at slow, smooth cadences, roughly 65-70RPM. Cool-down for a minute or two and be done with it. Tuesday…check.

With regards to Wednesday, you'll need to find a way to squeeze the midweek long run here, particularly if your idea of a long run is two hours or so. If a long run to you is to the refrigerator and back, be sure to place the refrigerator in a town about 6-10 miles away. I advise waking up earlier than normal and setting out at 5am, before the rest of the lazy-ass world has even thought about waking; that way you'll feel pretty damn good about yourself (which is always an important consideration) when 7am rolls around, and the world still slumbers. The long run should be paced so that you could theoretically repeat it in 48-hours or so, without a hitch. If your recovery is compromised you went to hard. Later in the day (ideally at noon) a recovery swim is in order, to hasten recovery from the run (in a perfect world, you'd never finish the day with an abusive bout of exercise). This ought to be little more than a moderately challenging "flop" or gravity-removed movement. I usually have those I guide do more strength work with some light kicking (e.g., 20 x 75s pull {all gear} at 80-90% effort on a 5-second rest interval + 10 x 50s kick, alternating with kick-board and no kick-board. Include some backstroke and breaststroke to stretch things out.) Wednesday: done.

Thursday: If you're already a reasonably fit cyclist (relative to those you compete against), this ideally ought to be swapped for another swim or another run. If not, stick with the ride and go entirely by feel, ala the Caveman. Cavemen did not ride bikes (or their bikes had square wheels anyway) but it's important here that you do, or at least do something, whether easy or not (don't be afraid of easy; in training, it ALL adds up, even the easy stuff). I don't believe in taking a complete day off each week when time is of the essence, as it's doubtful your competition does. (Check this: One day off each week = two months off each year. Good luck goal-tending with that approach.)

As for Friday, this is where the hardest swim of the week comes, though your other swims should be tough too (recall that swimming is "easier" on the body, in terms of recovery). You needn't anything extravagant, just something challenging. My personal favorite was a 5,000-meter time-trial, but I'm known to suffer from a series of mental maladies, so I advocate something a little more stimulating, psychologically speaking. (The physical stimulus of a 5K TT is profound.) In general this means a workout that relates to your goal race: if it's an Ironman for example, then 20 x 200s on a paltry 10-second's rest will do the trick, so long as they're all paced faster than your intended race pace. (Remember: unlike this workout, an Ironman Day swim = extended warm-up; whereas here now you must present yourself with a challenge in order to set yourself up for fitness growth; development follows demand.) Today's run, however, is like most triathlon-related running and is simply about remaining consistent and strong; routine in running is perfectly fine (though sameness is not). Fast running is okay only if recovery isn't compromised and if injury/illness is averted. The 48-72 hours following a given run will tell you if you ran too hard; look back to look ahead.
-- Chuckie V

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2010 American Triple T Race Report

This was my first race of the year. I learned a lot.

First was the value of aero equipment. I expected the bike section to be harder without it, but I am little disappointed in myself for going non-aero. In doing so, I struggled to pull my weight out there. My teammate, Scott Bowe, may say otherwise, but I felt like I drafted too much. He was riding a 50-disc combo plus the LG aero helmet. I had nothing and didn't even bother shaving the legs.

Second was learning more about side-stitches. Like usual, I managed to have a nagging side-stitch at Triple T this year. This happens every year and I finally think I nailed down why. Personally, sustained efforts at 155-170 bpm require proper training to ward off the stitch. Years ago Ernest Maglischo wrote, in Swimming Fastest, that a side-stitch was the indication of somebody being out-of-shape. With a few years of race experience under my belt now, I believe him. I'll certainly remember to focus on this heart rate area in 2011 and spend somewhere between 4-8-12 weeks making sure my body can handle this activity level in the swim-bike-run. Tabata sprints may be a good substitute. As for racing in the lower to middle zone 2 area, that was a cake walk this year. That was a new feeling, an experience from a much deeper aerobic base. I also felt better when I was recovering between races. Keeping the swim easy helped a lot. I recall having to dig really deep (too deep) to hang with Bowe on the swim back in 2008 and putting myself in a hole for the remainder of the race(s).

Third, to access greater fitness requires a proper executed warmup. The days of no warmup are officially over. Skipping this before race #1 and #2 is part of the reason I got the side-stitches. And doing the "right" stuff in the warmup is important. Just a light jog for a few minutes doesn't cut it. I'll have to do some reading about how ITU/HIM racers warmup to assist me.

Third, I was sorting my way through the race pictures and noticed that my arm swing when running is really bad. I need to drop the arms a lot to have my hand position in right place. I'm holding my elbows really high and having the hands too high. I need to relax the shoulders, swing the elbows back and not around (torquing the chest), and have the hands much lower than the elbows. Driving the thigh has worked wonders for correcting errors on the lower extremities.

Fourth, this was another "coming of age" race for me. Back in 2008 I was in awe of Bruce G and John K. After this year, I said to myself, had I trained specifically for this race (by doing interval work) I could of been in the mix. They're not so scary anymore. Besides, both are friendly guys to talk to.

As for the races themselves, race #1 was really no different than years past, but the run section was a mud bath. My shiny new shoes turned brown for the rest of the weekend. Ugh. Because of high winds, heavy rain, and down trees the bike course for race #2 was changed to the course of race #3. So comparing times from previous years is not applicable. Race #3 and #4 were fun like usual. In the last mile of the race, Scott vowed for us to return next year (with him healed and transformed into a running machine) to take top honors. I'm on the fence about it like usual and I can't put my finger on to why.

In summary, Scott and I continue to be a great fit. Our abilities are nearly even and despite his lack of running from having a screw put in his foot, we ran fast enough to end up second overall in the team division. Outside my own reflections, there were a number of Wisconsinites at the race this year. It was great to see a lot of friendly, familiar faces.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 Base 2

Base 2 Training

The physical struggles I experienced when I resumed bike training with intervals in the Prep phase are reappearing. I'm not surprised. Introducing long periods of zone 2 efforts for the first time in eight months (IMLOu Aug 2009) shocked my system. The message was really hit home after I did a 4hr ride on the computrainer with 2:30 at zn2. After I finished, I puked. Subsequently, the 1 hr run at IM pace afterwards was cancelled. The next day I did another 4hr ride at zn1 then made up the 1 hr run, but since I felt better than expected I pushed it managing 6:35 for 9 miles on the track (HR ave 157).

Overall, my swim has progressed to my goal level of 40x100 1:15/1:30. I have not yet applied any metrics to my bike fitness. Subjectively, it feels good. I'm not dreading the 4 hour weekend rides (Sat and Sun). My run fitness is at a career-level high (see metrics post). I've managed to have all my runs, short and long, stay faster than 7:50. Running at 7:15-7:45 pace is really comfortable for the first time in my career. In years past, this was a big struggle of mine. During IM training, most of the time I could not muster up the energy to run at speeds ranging from IM pace to 5K speed, I was too tired.

Training-wise I've targeted the following for Base 2:

  • increase swimming base by keeping intervals aerobic with 10-15 seconds rest.

  • bike in zn 2 range for one long ride and my interval ride.

  • run at a lot of different speeds (De Castella idea) by throwing in a tempo run, a run at IM pace, a run at LT (1-2 miles), etc.

Base 2 time-frame: 8 weeks

Periodization style:

The big jump in volume week three coincides with American Triple T this year. I look forward to seeing the Wisconsin and Slowtwitch crowds in Ohio.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

2010 Stamina and Pursuing Speed

Lassen Virén prepared with one focus in mind: coming to a peak for the Olympics. He accumulated thousands of kilometres of running in his local forests and in winter training destinations, running at gradually increasing intensities over intervening years to prepare a huge foundation from which to peak with his anaerobic work. All else was considered only as preparation, even European championships.

His story is interesting. The absolute dedication to Olympic victory is note-worthy given the distractions of a multiple of racing opportunities. Perhaps his secret, if there was one, was that his coach, Rolf Haikkola, put him through a training regime that was, for the time, extraordinarily rigorous. The schedule combined straightforward miles on the clock with fartlek, the Scandinavian tradition of changing the pace. It included periods of training at high altitude in South America and Africa; before Munich, Viren had spent three months in Kenya, training three times a day at 7,000 feet above sea level. The bulk of his training, though, remained running alone in the Finnish woods, 150 miles a week.

Viren prepared for the Olympics in a way that no one had before him; he was ruthlessly disciplined. Today he is widely considered to be a founder of modern athletics, the prime exponent of peak performance. "All my focus was on the Olympics," he said. "As they approached I would plan a year ahead, with systematic practice aimed at that certain date. This wasn't simply a case of physical preparation. It is the mental side which can be the deciding factor." Sisu sums it up. "It is the ability to endure and overcome any pain and challenge through mental strength."

Viren is good motivator for anyone focusing on the IM. Being on the Ironman wheel is fun. The very capacity to train appropriately for the event is rare and competiting at it, regardless of finish time or place, is special. Yet the journey to race day and to race it is muddy waters. With an influx of recreational athletes, the business side of triathlon is out there appealing to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that they should buy this, do that workout, and ingest this product. Shifting through the sand for gold is a tedious process for BOP and FOP self-taught athletes.

The strategy for training and racing an IM has been on my mind a lot the last two years. But recently, I've been able to apply life's little lessons to increase my knowledge base. The literatue base of triathlon training is small, IM even smaller, and far behind that of running and swimming. Ernest Maglischo's monograph Swimming Fastest spoiled me. Yet, triathlon is evolving. The blogs of Alan Couzens, Chuckie V, Team TBB "doc", Gordo Bryn, and others prove helpful. In their own separate ways we learn through them as athletes and coaches.

As for triathlon books, I haven't read a lot of them mainly because they're first generation genre: teaching you how to do your first triathlon. One of my favorite books in this category is Going Long by Gordon Bryn and Joel Friel. The title reaches out to their target audience--novices going long for the first time. It does a good job at introducing us to IM training while adding in some elite level tips. And not to gripe about the book too much, but it falls short on clarifying the nuances of novice versus elite and is too short on case studies. The other day I did pick up Brad Kearns' book Breakthrough Triathlon Training and was surprised at the content. Most of his material is profound in a simple way and applicable to those of us nearly toasting ourselves training week-in and week-out. His story of 200 versus 300 or even 700 miles of biking per week points out the high level of intuition the sport demands. Different folks need different pedal strokes - touche.

The other absence I see in the triathlon literature is benchmarking of swim, bike, run. That is, to do an IM swim in 60, you must be able to swim a 100yd Free in XX:YZ or some variation of that (I see that Alan Couzens, in his blog, is in the process of pointing out the physiological factors required to either complete, win your age-group, and win the the IM.). Explict definitions and training examples could clarify the fog that many of us float in. The McMillian tables for runners are great in this regard. Furthermore, I would love to see a case study of an athlete who progressed their IM bike split from a 5:45 to 5:15 or swim from a 58 to a 52. And it not just a matter of doing it, who did matters as well. We learn more from a 5th or 6th time IM participant who has breakthrough performance rather than a 2nd or 3rd time participant. From personal experience, the gains in years 1-3 are from simply putting in another year of training. For those with ongoing weaknesses the problem is no longer "more is more." Doing more 100 mile rides or adding in another 3K swim each week isn't going to help but many of us just see the answer answer as "more." The progress from BOP to MOP to FOP to Elite/Pro is, I suspect, a 5-8 year process in IM. So what does it take and how? How this occurs is what fascinates me and a trench that more triathlon authors should stake out.

When I was first introduced to IM, I badly wanted to sign up. However, an acquitance that I greatly respected in the sport told me "respect the distance" and advised me to hold off until my fitness was better. He was right, I was in the process of coming off a five year hiatus from athletics. So I waited until I acquired more money to afford the sport and soak in bike training which was completely new to me. A few years later I attended an IM training clinic held by four FOP racers (Dave Diamond, Terry Labinski, Eric Davis, and Heather Haviland), still a few years out from doing my first IM. I was captivated by their training volume, intensity, and periodization. But I also found that there was great variation in their approaches. Frankly, it was hard to summarize the clinic, instead I left chalking up their success as genetics because of the large decrepancies in their training models. Not that I'm opposed to it since God gave me some fastness, but I wanted more experience, more science, maybe a protocol to guide me.

Where am I going with all of this... I hope some good triathlon training and biography books come out in the next decade that captures the interest of racers and fans. Because, as I see it, many of us enjoy the biographies of Bowerman, Goucher, Viren, Prefontaine, De Castella. We can resonate with their victories and struggles plus, for some of us we can follow in their footsteps. Book publishers are still a few years behind me on this thought. Depth is what I seek. It reminds me of why I loved MTV so much as a kid. Video gives the artist another medium to relay his message. It helps give context to the singer's words. Comic books are the same way. Yes, the story teller can use words to tell us what Spider Man's costume looks like, but to see the artistic rendering makes it more real. The only thing that I think comes close to telling and showing us the FOP story is the triathlon movie "What It Takes" or Mark Allen's story told by Tim Noakes in the Lore of Running.

Back to Viren, he entered his first Olympics not as a serious contender yet came away with some gold. Most of us will never be Olympians but many seek similiar paths to personal excellence in triathlon. I would be happy to hit my ceiling of IM fitness this year and have a "best I could ever do" outcome. As you may gather from this entry, learning about triathlon training--stamina and pursuing speed--is an ardous journey that rivals the training itself.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 Base 1: Phase I, Phase II

The Base 1 Phase of my training is still continuing. For the first 12 weeks of a 16 week base one phase, I focused on running. The overall weekly schedule was simple:

Swim - 3x/wk 2500-4000/workout
Bike - 3x/wk 1hr; 1hr zone 4 intervals; 2-3.5 hr long ride
Run - 7x/wk 55-62 miles/wk

I am happy with the progress and general feelings of fitness, especially the improvement in running strength. My body is starting to tell me good things. Swimming feels similiarly which is a nice surprise compared to last year when I struggled with motivation. Others might be surprised to find that out, but I was calling it quits most times at 2k yards. This year my key workout 30x100 1:15/1:25 is fun to do and I'm averaging 3000k/workout. The nice thing about the pace is that 1:15 translates to about 53-55 IM swim and I'm handling 30 of them without much trouble. Undoubtably, the cruising of these 100s is deeping my zone 2 swimming and continuing to add another round of 5 every other week will get me to 40x100. The downside, if there is one, is that I may continue them for their novelty and hurt the quicker front end swimming needed to do well at American Triple T. But given that I'm passing on stand alone sprints and olympics this year, any worry is unnecessary. As for running, the overall pace came around nicely the last 4 weeks of high volume to settle in at 7:45. For the first four weeks, the running pace floated around 7:55 to 8:15.

The final 4 weeks of my base 1 phase (phase II) transitions me to bring my bike fitness on par to previous year's fitness level:

Swim - 3x/wk
Bike - 4x/wk 1hr rollers; 1.5hr zone 4 intervals; 1 hr; 3-4 hr
Run - 6x/wk 50-55 miles/wk with long run at 2.0 hr

But, in actuality I changed it because the weather was nicer than I thought. I got outside and did a lot more biking.

Swim - 3x/wk
Bike - 3-4x/wk 4:00 zone 1 (AeT-10 to 15 bpm); 3:30 with 1hr SS (AeT); 1.5 SS; 1.0 easy
Run - 5-6x/wk 40-55 miles/wk with long run at 2.0 hr

I finally got a new bike...a black PX. Yesterday I started putting it together and ran into a few hiccups. The first was the cable routing for the sram rear derailler. Apparently there is a unique cable guide allowing the cable to reach up to the screw down bolt. I missed that and for a short while couldn't figure out why the shifting was tough and horrible. The CNC ultralight brakes are very industrial looking. Since there is no opener lever I failed to figure out how to open the brakes up. I had to email the PX distributor and ask. Turns out you need to squeeze the brakes together and wiggle loose the brake cable housing. Not too complicated but certainly a different approach. It also came with a new seat which I'm going to try. Seats are funky and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. The reason I'm giving this one a try is that it's really long and allows the nose to sit near the bottom bracket giving me a steep riding angle. Helpful, but the real reason is the 100mm stem that came with the bike. Previously, I had a 80mm stem and with the extra 20mm, I need the longer seat to have a comfortable cockpit and not over-reach for the aerobars. Time will only tell if it works. If not, I'll have to get a 80mm stem and like all things, it's a pricey gadget.

Last, I fell of the wagon this past week. Training was horrible. I managed to get in the bikes and swims, but running simply did not happen. A few scheduling conflicts and lack of interest simply put some zeroes in the running category. I thought about "catching up" by killing myself but ultimately decided against it. So this week, I am starting anew by doing Monday's workout on Monday. Wow, it feels good to write that. Additionally, I added a picture of my favorite athletic movie for motivation.

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." -- Eric Liddell

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 Working Hard & Productivity

I've been reflecting on the ingredients to a successful triathlon career. Certainly you get out of it what you put in. I find triathlon to be a fun hobby, the intensity and commitment can certainly be addictive. I have to chuckle, I recently commented to a friend that if you want to succeed, you have to be willing to train so much that you almost lose your job and unsettle your marriage. I haven't had to sacrifice that much partially because of a flexible job and a wife who's a fellow triathlete. Plus, and this is a big one, we don't have any kids. Throw that into the scheduling book and any sort of long-term aspirations of becoming a front-of-the-pack racer is gone. Be real, do you want to sacrifice family time to practice countless hours for some upcoming softball tournament, opps I mean an IM race. Doing well in triathlon is not much different than doing well in a local softball tournament. Keep perspective.

But just in case you're starting out and wanted to know what worked for me in the beginning, I jotted down some notes.

The work of a triathlete is no different than the work of a sole-practitioner. I should know, I do both. Often times, it's done in solitude. Sometimes I stumble across others, individuals like myself who are on the same journey. Maybe our paths cross for a brief moment at a stop sign when on a bike ride, or it's at the pool when you got into the lane next to me, or maybe it's at the track when you showed up to do intervals. While our interaction may be brief it's not because we're rude or mean, it's because we're wolves. Legs fed the wolf so our time together is short by our character. It's time to move on, to keep ourselves strong, to find another meal, to live another day. In this game we got lots of work of do.

The experience of "Hard" is a personal experience. Nobody knows how hard you or I am working. A lot of the time you need to workout at a semi-comfortable pace; at other times you need to work hard and I mean really, really hard. Those that succeed in triathlon are committed to maximizing their training hours. Each gesture, each stroke, each stride is calculated for its value. 80-90% might be zone 1-2, the remaining 10-20% is zone 3 and 4. Experience shows us the foolish things we did in the past. I recall doing 8 weeks of training to race my first half ironman. I also remember doing 4.5 hour bike rides in February for a September race. Our previous errors help us to refine our training process and race strategy.

How much work does it take to be good is a common question. The most important ingredient for triathlon success is innate talent. Either you got it or you don't; no way around it. Next is dedication. Consistency of training is directly tied to your dedication. Week in and week out we need to be training. The amount of training usually parallels the distance of our A race. For short-course triathletes, that's usually 8-12 hours a week. For those at the half-ironman and ironman that means 12-25 hours for the pointy end of the age-grouper field. As for the pros, they seem to float between 20 to 40 hours a week regardless of the distance.

The accomplishment of goals is not a solo effort. It requires the support of a team. Support can come in many forms: money, gear, advice, recommendations, strategies, constructive criticism, and praise. In the world of triathlon, team means all the things listed above but also implies expectation. Without it, we have no one to answer to besides ourselves. While we may be able to muster up enough vital force to have a few conquests, the team environment makes the process easier, more enjoyable, and often times more successful. My first mentor in the sport was Paul Eckerle. His words of wisdom still resonate true for me today. Find somebody to help you along the way.

We might ride the same bike, wear the same gear, or even be on the same team, but when the gun goes off the prizes are limited and I happen to want one of those shiny trinkets. The competitive spirit has always resided within me. While I might not push you off your bike, I may turn myself purple to pass you while riding mine. And if I don't say anything when passing you on the run, it's because the pain reaches a level where it's a spiritual event. You're going to want to find a way that makes pain/fatigue/high intensity an ally. A race is a situation for testing your training program. It's important to recognize this is the time to over-reach. That might mean coming out of the water with the lead pack, not allowing yourself to be dropped on the bike, or it may mean trying to lead the race start to finish. Going for it means... going for it. You should never feel embarassed by blowing up, especially in C or B level races. Hang your head high for trying to "go for it."

In summary, I would like to say all the training and winning is worth it regardless of some of the really low points. I have experienced a great deal of personal joy and happiness in my spare time by participating in triathlon. Equally true are the numerous friends I've come to make along the way. I continue to be impressed by the quality of the people in the sport. The same traits of competitiveness, integrity, and competency that they bring to the sport are often reflected in their professional careers and personal lives.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010 Running Update

For Base 1 running I managed to average 60 miles a week plus I got around to measuring out my weekly running routes. It turns out I'm running faster than I thought. On average I'm sustaining 7:45-7:50 pace. The weekly easy long runs are slow, but no slower than 7:59 pace. As expected and disappointing the obvious is, one bad run or a run cut short kills the weekly run mileage. This past week, I hit all seven runs but after a killer bike interval workout, I was too toasted to run 60 minutes and survived only 30 minutes.

The shoe situation finally came around. I'm happy with the new Nike LunarTrainer replacement shoes. After seven days of running in them, they felt fine. I may consider using them for IM Wisconsin. The other option is the new Nike LunarRacer.

Bike and swim training continues at status quo: three swims and three bikes. I hit my swimming benchmark: 20x100 on 1:15 with 10 seconds rest with it feeling comfortable. I opt to mix is up with every other set of 5 using the pull buoy. For the time being, pulling that fast is easier than normal swimming.

The only other comment is that I've decided to forgo the recovery week for Phase 1 of training (Base 1-3). Since I view the work leading up to Triple T as essentially prep work, it makes sense. The volume isn't all that high, 15 hours per week, and the intensity is manageable. It breaks down to 13 workouts/wk; no days off; 7 runs/wk, 3 swims/wk, and 3 bikes/wk. The running has been steady with no tempo work, just trying to keep it at sub 8 min pace. Let me clarify this some more. What I mean by no tempo work is that I am not spending time at sub 7 minute pace. Yes, on my 60 minutes runs I usually run about 7:20-7:40 pace but for me that still is zone 2. The bike has one zone 4 workout (15-20 x 2:20/:40EZ), one 60 minute ride (zone 1), one long ride 2-3 hrs (zone 1-2). Swimming is so vanilla flavored that it is not worth discussing.

Running Volume:
January wk 3 - 55 miles
January wk 4 - 60 miles
February wk 1 - 60 miles
February wk 2 - 60 miles
February wk 3 - 60 miles
February wk 4 - 60 miles
March wk 1 - 60 miles
March wk 2 - 60 miles
March wk 3 - 60 miles
March wk 4 - 56 miles
March wk 5 - 35 miles
April wk 1 - 60 miles
April wk 2 - 60 miles
April wk 3 - 60 miles

Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Early Season Training

I wrapped up another seven days of working out. I ran about 63 miles this week. I am not certain if I ran more since I don't measure everything out. I pretty much plug along on my normal 60, 75, and 90 minute routes at a survivable pace. I had two really strong runs, likely sub 7:30 pace, but I did have one horrible one. Running a lot is difficult.

I also had shoe issues. My trainers (Adidas SuperNova) hit their limit and I had to dip into my large Nike LunarTrainer supply.

However, I had issues with them after 45 minutes of running--a hotspot on the left foot on the third metatarsal head. It prompted me to head out and get a new pair of shoes: Nike LunarTrainer (Nike Lunar LunarGlide actually).

Initially, they felt good, but I'm having doubts. I'm cautious about the future. I'll add this though, it seems like running shoe performance is effected by the temperature. Most of my running has been outside when the temperature is below 30 degrees. The one day that it was 31-32 degrees, the new shoe felt just fine; otherwise, when it's 20 degrees they're a little stiff and hard like cardboard.

Overall, this week I ran 7 times, biked 2 times, and swam 3 times. Because the running volume requires a lot of dedication, the game plan is 7 consecutive days of working out followed by one day of complete rest.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Another year begins and already I'm looking forward to it. The focus so far has been increasing my running volume. This week is going to be nearly 60 miles, my biggest ever (It actually turned out to be 7.25 hrs of running equalling 55 miles at an average pace of 8:00/mile.). I did slip in a MAF-10bpm test for today's run. In years past, I did the customary test of four miles on a track done at MAF heart rate. But this year, I'm doing a 60 minute test on a treadmill with an incline of 1.0. I did it a month ago, but did not know that I needed to have the incline set to one. Today's test was a bit sluggish because of the heavy volume. I wasn't surprised to see 7:47 average pace at 145 bpm.

Next week I officially start Base 1 of 3 to get in shape for American Triple T. My partner in triathlon crime, Scott Bowe, is still tapering from foot surgery so I am not too worried about the gradual start this year. For the next few weeks, keeping the running volume steady is key. Biking and swimming will be light (2-3x/wk).

I still haven't got a new bike. For the mean time, I'm using the trusty old mountain bike that Adrienne got in college. It works well on the trainer giving me plenty of resistance; plus I can ride it outside when the weather tolerates. I haven't talked to Planet X USA (Brian) since early December, but it looks like the new PX time trial bike is coming out in the next few months. Hopefully, it's in the market by the end of March; otherwise, I might be forced to get the current model.

On the sponsorship front, my title sponsor will be Gear-Grinder ( Its been a wonderful relationship and I'm happy to be part of the team again. My other sponsor continues to be Planet X bikes ( I have been very happy to see a number of PX bikes arrive in the Wisconsin market in the last two years.


January wk 3 - 55 miles running
January wk 4 - 60 miles running