Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week in the life of DO THE WORK...

Friends and family,

I am liking this writing RE: the theme of *DO THE WORK* so I think I will make a commitment to continue this theme throughout the season.  If you are an Ironman triathlete and reading, think of it as free coaching maybe? If you are family, think of it as "yes, its true, he's crazy". Or if you are reading for giggles, I hope now and again I might motivate you to get outside and love fitness.

This week's theme is a week in the life of DO THE WORK. I've had an unconventional past 9 weeks.  I had 2 weeks of good training, then a week off with a bad cold. Then another 2 weeks of good training and again, a week off with a bad cold. Then back on training for a pretty good 2 weeks of training and BOOM, being 40+ rears its ugly head and I throw my back out. Again, another week completely off. This is not optimal DO THE WORK preparation. But it does teach me to live in the day, I can't change what I missed in training, I can only train what I can do today in preparation for tomorrow.

So my back got a lot better after some great massage and ART by my friends at Athletic Edge Sports Medicine. Helen is the best RMT; Rosti's chiropractic/Athletic Release Therapy (ART) put me right and of course, and Dr. Grant Lum is world class sport's medical Dr.  After a week with them, some acupuncture, ART, and massage I was ready to get back to work.

My past week of training, and in fact all my training, is available for full view on Training Peaks by clicking here. It also linked to the right sidebar for review throughout the year.

DO THE WORK lesson for winter training:

  1. Winter months afford the opportunity to improve your weakness.
  2. Winter months need a spring racing goal to keep you motivated.
Therefore, my two goals through to mid March is to, a) build swim fitness for the season; and, b) get ready for a fast Around the Bay. To that end, DO THE WORK this past week consisted of key swim and run workouts. 
  1. 5 swims totally 13.9KM with a key workout Sunday morning with the Kim Lumbson Masters swim club as follows:
    • 1000 swim
    • 1000 pull with paddles
    • 2*500
    • 4*100 on 1:35
  2. 5 runs including my first run over 1 hour since Hawaii
    • 3 treadmills runs for precise pace & HR training (minimum 1% grade at all times)
    • 1 run off the bike Saturday
Now it is Sunday night so I will sip a nice California Cabernet and take a look at my work and family commitments for the coming week and work my program. Again, family and work make the world go around so I can race. It is priority #1, and #2. So, Thursday night I have a family commitment at Duke's Cycle to get Meredith fitted on a new bike! And, I have an all-day business meeting which means my opportunity to get to the gym over lunch is not available on Wednesday. So, I build my program around that. 

When thinking about your training program, and what it takes to meet your goals, make sure you:
  1.  plan ahead
  2. believe
  3. execute
  4. and keep perspective (for example, if you miss a whole week of training!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A fast Ironman essay: DO THE WORK LOOKS LIKE...

So a couple of people have asked as follow up to my last blog update re: DO THE WORK; what does "WORK" look like. Here is my take. I suspect the slowtwitch crew would shred this, but here it is.

First, where do I get off being an expert? I'm not an expert of science or physiology and in fact, I have had an Ironman DNF before and 2 run splits longer than my bike splits! I can say, walking for 6 hours and 20 minutes is still A LOT of work. And I can say I have learned a lot of what not to do. I suspect that is why my fast Ironman program is all about simplicity! This said, I have also done Hawaii twice, have two sub 10 hour Ironmans under my belt, two 3:15 marathons, a 1:23 half marathon, a bunch of bike racing podiums, and 10 years trying to get this Ironman stuff right. So here are my thoughts starting with defining 'do the work' then breaking down each part of that equation.

  1. Effective 'do the work' = exercise output + recovery + nutrition.  This is to say that we as age groupers try to cram in the workload of swim, bike, run but eat like shit and don't sleep enough! This is because we lead busy lives with work and family and sport. But to be in the best shape you can be on race day requires attention to eating well and taking the time to recover as it does to doing the workouts.
  2. plan your workouts for each week on Sunday night. Look at your work schedule, kids soccer/hockey/dance schedule; date night with spouse THEN plan your workout schedule. When planning your workouts, have Friday as either completely off, or a light workout such as a 20-30 minute swim or 5K run. You want to be rested for the weekend.
    • TIP: you own your morning before you get to work. Use that to your advantage! Swim with a masters club; get up, eat a banana, get out for a run or trainer ride. The morning is your time before the day goes to pot.
  3. never under estimate the power of the 30 minute run: We are busy. I used to laugh at 30 minute runs and think why bother even putting shoes on. Now, at 40 years old I love the 30 minute run. I can fit it in just about anywhere. Traveling; lunch hours; Sunday night add on workout after a week I don't feel particularly proud of; tired mornings I am supposed to do intervals but just can't get at it. I replace and insert the 30 minute run. Kicks starts my metabolism. I feel good about myself. My day has started. 
    • TIP: 5 minutes easy; 5 minutes regular pace; 15 minutes of tempo or 1 to 2 minute pick ups; 5 minutes cool down. 
  4. It is all about the bike: No, this is not because I race bikes for fun on the side. Effective Ironman racing requires the ability to absorb a rediculously long bike ride of 180K and then run 42.2K. Folks, that is rediculous when you think about that volume. We are inside the bubble as Ironman athletes so we can be blinded by the fact, that is absurd! To this end, when I design my program, I am building my aerobic bike base A LOT. How do we do that effectively?
    • TIP: winter program in Canada is primarily on the trainer. January is about high cadence and building form and efficiency. There is only two ways to ride a bike faster; a bigger gear or the same gear quicker. January I really work on form and keep my HR at or below what I would on race day. February is about building strength. Long intervals of 10 to 30 minutes up and down the gears, lots of slow cadence high pressure on the pedals work. March is about upping the intensity a bit and hill repeats for strength NOT VO2 max though. By that, the hill repeats hurt the legs, not the lungs.
    • TIP: once the spring comes and you are outside riding PLAN AHEAD. Don't just ride out the door to nowhere. Plan your route and DO NOT BONK! Bonking is the biggest limiting factor as it kills us for potentially days afterwards. Always take extra bars and gels.   
  5. Working backwards from race day: This is as basic as it gets folks. 
    • TIP: Mark 8 weeks out from your Ironman. It is from here that it is game on training wise. Broker deals with family that this is the gut check part of season and you will need some leniency on day to day operations! 
    • TIP: mark 4 weeks out from your Ironman and put an X on it. That is simulation weekend.  Take a few days rest/easy workouts into this weekend. Saturday is your day to test 180K (I do 200K) with a 30 minute run afterwards and get your nutrition dialed in which includes breakfast. Schedule time to nap late afternoon. Sunday is your day to do a long swim and long run of up to 2:30
    • TIP: plan your race week nutrition. Do not show up to race site and think right, sandwich and pasta deals all week. Guaranteed death. That is all salt, all preservative, lots of garlic in pastas etc. See nutrition planning below
  6. It's an attrition war: Once off the bike, the fastest person to the finish is the one who breaks last. I have not nailed this yet and quite honestly it is why I keep trying! My fastest IM run is 3:43. I have done two marathons at 3:15, a half marathon at 1:23, a 10K in 37 off the bike. Some research tells me at that speed it should be possible to do 3:30 minimum and 3:20 as stretch.  The limiting factor is limiting the losses on the back half of the marathon. That is about strength not speed. 
    • TIP: hill repeats are your friend. They build form and strength.
    • TIP: Winter and spring plyometrics work helps if you can. In fact, I would argue drop two workouts from swim, bike, run to get these in. They can be done at home. Squats, jumps, lunges, bands, situps, pushups etc. Note: no weights required!
  7. Recovery is a sleep equation. I have seen people sleep 4 to 5 hours a night and be able to perform. Folks, they are not normal. 8 hours a night during big volume weeks is a general rule of thumb. Find a way. And if you can nap (my wife can't!) do it but no more than 1 hour. It's a quick recharge the batteries nap, not a deep REM sleep nap.
  8. Nutrition: My single biggest change for the 2012 season in what I put in because what you put in, is what you get out! I have gone gluten free and finally, slowing way down on alcohol. I am also staying with one nutrition product in Powerbar as that is what is on course and also carries best mix for me of sodium (200mg per gel and bar) 
    • TIP: I have learned after doing a few 6+hour Ironman marathons that the body just can't shove a bunch of stuff into it's belly and expect to run! Do math. 6-8% carbs:fluid ratio is the max the stomach can absorb on race day in my experience. Your blood is in your legs, not your stomach so anything more and the stomach cannot process it. 
    • TIP: day to day nutrition is an interesting paradigm. I read so much about protein diets; high carbo foods for athletes to store glycogen etc...I will get REALLY SIMPLE here. Each meal must consist of carb, protein, fat. Your high volume weeks there is more carb's on your plate, but it cannot be the only thing on your plate. The best way to get healthy protein and fats is to eat things like poultry, nuts, and color. Lots of veggies, lots of fruits. If you are eating fruit as a snack, eat with yogurt. The insulin spike of fruits by themselves (in my experience) causes a crash 30-45 minutes later. Yogurt (greek is the BEST!) buffers this.
    • TIP: race week limit fiber. Eat white bread with nutella. Add salt on salads. Poultry, rice is your friend. Don't overeat race day breakfast and drink an electrolyte bottle the hour leading into start of race. Small sips over the hour.

So, what do my high volume weeks look like? Here is a shell, but I also don't plan it necessarily by a 7 day increment. Usually 10 days, few days easy, repeat. But, my training logs show that I consistently in big volume weeks do about 18 hours of work. That is what my life allows.

  • Monday: easy swim of about 2K; 30 minute run
  • Tuesday: masters swim 3K; 2 hour brick or lunch time run and evening bike hill repeats
  • Wednesday: 2 to 2:30 evening bike with intervals
  • Thursday: masters swim 3K; 1:30 run
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: Lake swim 30 minutes; 5 to 6 hours on the bike; 20 minute run off the bike
  • Sunday: long run 2 to 2:30
  • TOTAL: 18 hours.