Posts Tagged ‘Triathlon Training’

I have been training for races since the summer of 2006.  Some months and years have been more prolific than others depending on the races I have been focusing on.  2009 and 2010 were years where building my base and running long, hard miles were the main focus.  As 2011 started speed became a priority of mine with intervals and hill work taking the place of some of my standard workouts.  It paid off in the form of back to back PR’s in the marathon on hilly courses at Austin and New York.  It also allowed for break-through performances in the 10K (37:30) and half-marathon (1:23:46).

After coming through the chute in Boston this April my focus shifted back “to the long stuff” and the journey to the starting line of our first half-ironman.  Kerrville 70.3 – September 30, 2012.

I knew that I needed to run longer, swim further and cycle both longer and harder to prepare for the rigors of that event.  More than 5 hours of racing.  A pain cave we have never entered to this point.

May, June and July were base building months that deposited us ready to rock the month of August.  August would be our toughest month of training in 6 years, one that would hopefully take us to a new level of fitness that would not only put us in a great position for Kerrville, but also allow us to hit the ground running in our preparation for the Houston Marathon in January and our attempt at breaking that 3 hour barrier in the marathon.

So with a 10-mile run on Wednesday, August 1st – the day after my 45th birthday we started things off.

Last Friday, August 31 – Dawn’s birthday – we ran 12 miles in the morning, followed by a 30 mile bike ride in the afternoon.

Totals for the month:

666.10 Miles.

238.10 Miles of Running.

407 Miles of Cycling.

21 Miles of Swimming.

64 hours and 20 minutes of training.

August Training Calendar

We didn’t do any racing in August, passing on a couple of fun events that we would have liked to have participated in, but honestly we could not afford to take time away from our training.  It’s all about Kerrville right now, and after a couple of wetsuit swims to acclimate to our suit prior to race day, I am starting to feel my confidence building from a fitness and preparation standpoint.  I know as the taper begins in two weeks however, that confident feeling is going to start to wane a bit and be replaced by nervousness and those feelings of wonderment.

Could I have done more?

Should I have done more?

But as I look back through the appropriate lens – now slightly less than 4 weeks from the event, I think we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

We kicked off September with a 2 mile swim and 56 mile bike ride on Saturday morning followed by an 18-mile long run on Sunday that we closed out with a final mile in 6:58.

Two more heavy duty weeks and we’ll start to cut things back a bit for a 2-week taper prior to race day.  In some ways September 30th will be a day like no other.  Distances we have never raced, tests we have never faced.  But at the end of the day I know that those 64 hours and 20 minutes of training in August were well worth it.  There may be faster, stronger, younger and more talented triathletes standing next to us in the water on race day – but I don’t think there will be too many who are more prepared.

Bring it on I say.

Sometimes it’s a great exercise to take a step back and take a look at things from “a long view” or as I say all the time in business from 30,000 feet.  Oftentimes you are so close to a situation, constantly monitoring the day-to-day activities that you don’t have a chance to take a breath, survey the big picture and make the necessary course adjustments to stay on track.

I feel like I had fallen into that trap as Last Summer’s training for my first triathlon segued to “New York” in November, then almost immediately to “Boston” in April.  Now we are firmly in another training cycle for our first summer as a full-time triathlete working towards Iron Man 70.3 in Austin on October 21st.

In the 365 days prior to Longhorn 70.3 we will have run two major international marathons, 4 or 5 half-marathons depending on if I choose to run the Rock N’ Roll San Antonio Half as a preparation race for the Houston Marathon in January, 6 triathlons and more 10K and 5K events than I can count.

All the while focusing on the things that I think will push us over that final running goal we have before us, a sub 3-hour marathon.  Preparing for New York and Boston I felt like hill work, strength and stamina were the areas where I needed to focus my energies.

As I enjoy some downtime this week on vacation, just logging some easy miles at “elephant” pace – meaning whatever pace I feel like running – I’ve spent that time analyzing where we are and where we want to go.  Where I see the opportunities for improvement and where “maintenance” is really the primary focus.

Last week while traveling in Galena, IL for a retreat at the Eagle Ridge Resort I ran 10, 8 and 10 mile workouts on some amazingly hilly terrain.  Steep rolling hills, both up and down that would have really taken a bite out of me in previous years.

Each morning I hit the hills with great enthusiasm and focus.  Ticked off runs in the 7:11 to 7:30 range with very little in the way of “real effort”.  All of the hill work we did preparing for Boston which did not necessarily come into play on that race day due to the high temperatures and lack of “racing” – has put us in a great position entering triathlon season.

The goal there will be to maintain our ability to tackle hills, which also translates to strength and endurance for the triathlon and speed on a flat marathon course such as Houston.

As we return to Austin and resume training, hill repeat Thursday will be back and a part of our training regime through the end of the calendar year.  It is simply a workout that pays dividends in so many areas – it will remain a key part of what we do as an athlete preparing to race.

Triathlon specific – although my swim is improving, I know that I still need to focus in that area.  More laps, quicker intervals, more swimming at “race effort” and not holding back so much in the open water as I “conserve myself in an effort to stay calm”.  If I cannot reach a new level of effort when I am racing during the swim portion of the triathlon I am going to continue to find myself in the middle of the pack or worse trying to dig myself out of that hole on the bike and the run.

I simply have to gain more confidence in my swim to push harder and not get “nervous” as my heart rate increases and my breathing asks for more and more oxygen.  I can reach that level in both the bike and the run with no fear of reprisals.  I know I have that in me, I just have to unlock it in the water.

The goal will be that by the time we hit the water at Jack’s Generic Tri the first Sunday in August, we are at that level.  Ready to lay it all out there in the water and race the full triathlon with bad intentions.  From the horn of the swim to the tape at the end of the run, I want to attack, attack, attack.

I will give myself the next two events at Lake Pflugerville and the Couples Triathlon in June and July to start tapping into that part of me.  But by August, no more excuses.  Swim with bad intentions.

Transitions – another area where I am firmly in the “O.K.” category as I transition from the swim to the bike.  I am in the “above average” area going from the bike to the run.  This is an area where I can improve my triathlon race time without a single improvement in my stamina, strength, speed or endurance.

It is a matter of setting up a transition area at home and practicing, practicing, practicing.

Practice running up, going from a barefoot, helmetless athlete to a fully shod, dressed cyclist as quickly as possible.

Then further refine my transformation from cyclist to runner.

I missed out on 1st place Masters overall in the rookie division last Sunday by :07 seconds.  Of course not dropping my chain on the bike would have more than made up for that deficit as I had to stop, dismount, fix the chain, remount and start riding again.  But unexpected things are going to happen in the triathlon.

I could have easily picked up :08 in transition had I practiced before the event.  That is something I am going to do every weekend from now until Ironman 70.3.

The Bike.  Right now I am relying on raw strength and endurance to power my bike leg.  Even with my dropped chain I was able to post the 5th fastest bike in my division on Sunday.  I can make that strength even stronger by logging more miles in the saddle and working on my approach to gearing on the climbs and descents.

In the simplest terms I have a good engine but lack technique and experience.  By the time summer draws to a close and we are in the final preparations for our Half Iron Man I will have ridden over 1,900 miles.  I need to make every one of them count to make that strength of ours even stronger.

Lastly, the run.  I need to keep my eye on the prize which is to be able to lock in and execute 26 miles at 6:50-6:52 pace in January.  That kind of performance is going to require me to continue to run long, keep mileage on my legs and most importantly stay healthy.

No nagging injuries, no downtime, no corners cut.  I am going to focus on health and recovery from our triathlon training to make sure that when the weather cools in the fall and we shift focus from Ironman 70.3 to the Houston Marathon we are 100% ready to go.

Those 11 weeks will require a great deal of focus, drive and determination to build on our fitness level and bring it to a peak on January 13th.

That is what the next 7 months are going to be all about.  We are going to try to peak twice.

October 21

January 13

Every other day during that period will be geared toward preparation(s) for those two events.

Right now though it is time to continue to relax and enjoy a little downtime.  Hang out with my girls, build sand castles, get my feet buried in the sand and enjoy the ride.

Pretty good gig if you can get it.


If you have been following the blog over the last couple of months you are aware that back in February I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science and Technology program.

The tagline that RESTWISE uses is simple.

Superior performance through intelligent recovery.

They have developed a program that takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it in the athlete’s hands.  Each day you answer a brief series of research-based questions, enter data from a pulse oximeter (which measures your resting heart rate and blood oxygen saturation) and the resulting Recovery Score will quantify your body’s state of recovery.

If you missed it the first time – click HERE for the product review and the details on how the RESTWISE system functions.

In a nutshell, the athlete enters their data into either a web interface or an app on their smart phone/iPad and the feedback is teturned immediately in the form of a score out of 100%.  The tool also provides a date range snapshot graphically for you to see any trends that are developing.

Below is a look at my RESTWISE Recovery scores for the two-week period of April 14 through April 27.  Essentially my final two days before the Boston Marathon through my post-race recovery period.

The chart is very powerful as you can clearly see I was operating at the 90%-100% level leading up to Boston, poised for a breakout performance on race day.  I had completed a tough training schedule, set PR’s at both the 10K and half-marathon distances and was hitting all of my intervals leading up to April 16th.

The weather of course on race day reaching 87 degrees made racing impossible, so it looks as if we will never really know what we would have done at Boston in 2012 had we had neutral conditions.

The day after Boston, even racing at reduced intensity decreased my recovery score down by 40%.  As each day progressed as I was resting, getting my sleep and recharging the batteries, my score returned to 80% three days after Boston and I went for a short 2-mile run.  Another rest day and I was back to 90% and resumed my training.

As I worked through my recovery training schedule, gradually adding miles on the run, swimming and cycling I am now back operating at 100% and ready for this weekend’s workouts.

Open Water Swim Friday.

8 Mile Run Saturday.

10 Mile Run Sunday.

The new week kicks off with 15-Miles on the Tri-Bike Trainer on Monday morning with another Open Water Swim in the afternoon.

As we continue to move the needle forward this week and our Triathlon Race Season begins on Sunday we will be trying to balancing swim, bike, run and strength training workouts each week.   Over the next several months we will be racing 5 triathlons and four running events depositing us to the starting line of our first Half-Ironman in October.

Having a well-balanced training plan is important, but so is making sure that I say flexible in my approach.  I will have never pushed my workouts to these limits from a total mileage standpoint on the bike and the swim.  The run mileage while very much within my previous margins, will feel much tougher with the additional cross training.

Longhorn 70.3 Training Plan

RESTWISE is going to play a key role in my preparation for Texas Ironman 70.3.  When my recovery score dips down to the 60-70% range I am going to listen to my body, my mind and the science and back things off.  Move workouts around when needed and reduce the intensity of those sessions so that my body will not only experience the increased workload – but to truly benefit from it.  I need to allow the proper rest so that my body can in fact adapt to that increased intensity and grow stronger from it.

That is the key to leveraging RESTWISE effectively.  Knowing when your body is in need of a reduction in intensity to rebound, recover and grow stronger.  It also gives you a strong indicator that even though you had a tough workout yesterday or the day before – you are still operating in a recovered state (80-90%) that will allow you to continue training hard, to keep pushing.

Afterall, that is what we do.

We work hard, break ourselves down, give the body time to repair and reload, ADAPT – then grow stronger.

By the time we reach the edge of Decker Lake on October 28th and prepare for our first 1.2 mile swim in race conditions – I expect us to be absolutely in the best shape of our life.  Physically and mentally ready to go out and absolutely hammer the swim, bike and run to make an honest attempt at breaking 5 hours in our first Half Ironman event.

I have to do the work, of that there is no question.

But it is a great feeling however knowing that RESTWISE has my back.  Thanks guys.

Is it really July 12th today?  I can’t believe how fast this summer is flying by.  Selfishly, I have to admit that I am looking forward to the Fall.  This has been one of the hottest summers in Austin with the lowest rainfall since 1942.

We have been over 100 degrees more than two dozen times already and we still have a long, long, LONG way to go.

As the calendar continues to move forward there are 8 races approaching over the next 16 weeks, no two of them are the same.

July 19 – Splash and Dash (750 M swim, 3K run)

July 31 – Jack’s Generic Tri (500 M swim, 13.8 bike, 3.1 run)

August 13 – 5K

Sept. 5 – Capital of TX Tri (10K relay leg)

October 2 – IBM Uptown Classic 10K

October 9 – Denver Rock N’ Roll Half-Marathon

November 6 – New York City Marathon

Obviously NYC is going to be the “A” race this Fall, along with October’s IBM Uptown Classic.  Two feature events where I hope to prepare my best, show up focused and determined and hopefully post PR’s at each race.

If I can pull that off I would achieve my most pie in the sky goal for 2011 which was to PR at every distance from the 1-mile to the Marathon. 

But there is something about doing something for the first time that takes on extra meaning.  Jack’s Generic Tri on my 44th birthday will be my first ever Triathlon.

There are not too many things that you can do for the first time at age 44 that you are still excited about, especially athletically.  I know that I am poised to make just about every rookie triathlon mistake in the book on July 31st.

No matter how much I train for the event, practice my transitions from swim to bike and bike to run, something is bound to go wrong.  That is just the nature of the beast.  It is a complicated race that tests many different disciplines and muscle groups all at the same time, and all at some level of fatigue after the swim.

I have really been hitting the swim hard trying to cram a lot of learning and improvement into the last 16 weeks.  My swim coach Claudia continues to push me and make small technical changes to my form to help me get faster.

Just this past week she changed the way that my hands enter the water at the top of my stroke and the way I catch and pull the water through and past my body as I glide.

The result yesterday was a 4 minute 15 second improvement during a 1.4 mile Open Water Swim on the lake.

Now, just the fact that I am now swimming 2,250 Meters or 1.4 miles continuously without a pause or break at this point is pretty remarkable.  4 months ago I honestly could not swim the length of our pool one time without stopping.

But to drop my time at that distance to 55:57 has me very encouraged with just a little less than 3 weeks to go before Jack’s.

I continue to work hard on my bike days and practice pushing through the low gears and staying in the aero position down over my bars on the Tri bike.

Yesterday a new aero helmet arrived just in time for me to get a few rides in it to get comfortable prior to race day.

Aero Helmet

The helmet will reduce drag and improve efficiency as I race over the course, reducing my “profile” and making me more aero.  Over a SPRINT TRI I may only pick up 30 or 40 seconds.  At the half-ironman distance, that type of reduction in drag can mean as much as 3 or 4 minutes.

In the end, it will be all about the run for me at Jack’s.  No matter how my first two events go, the run is where I am looking to make my mark.  I am going to go out with the intention of posting the fastest run time in my Age Group.

If I can swim the 500 Meters in 11 minutes, bike in 42 minutes and run in 2o:30, I’ll be looking at a total time with 3 1/2 minutes added in transitions of 1:17:00.

My stretch goal is to be somewhere below 1:16:00 on race day.

Will I get there?  Tough to tell.  I think I will know a whole lot more after next Tuesday night’s splash and dash where I get my first taste of swimming “in a crowd” with arms and legs going in every direction.

Exciting times – first birthday I can say I’ve been looking forward to in a long, long time.

Saturday’s race up in Holland went just about as well as I could have hoped for.  My goals going into the race were pretty well defined:

  1. Improve on last year’s race time of 19:30.
  2. Break through the 19:00 minute mark.
  3. Give absolutely maximum effort in memory of Scott Birk.
  4. AG win for the third consecutive year.

Things came together just about perfectly up in Holland and our time of 18:51 made it a four for four sweep of our pre-race goals.  Race days like that don’t come along very often, so I made sure to enjoy it as much as I could on Saturday.

Sunday morning arrived like it always does, and there was a shift in focus from a training perspective.  Yes I do in fact have 3 more 5K races over the next 4 weeks as we wrap up the Summer Sunstroke Stampede Series.  I need to post times in 8 of the 12 races to be eligible for any year-end awards at the banquet, so I will be sure to toe the line in at least 3 of the remaining 6 weeks.

But the next “A Race” on our calendar is Jack’s Generic Triathlon on July 31st.  Held on my 44th Birthday this is “only” a Sprint Triathlon, 500M swim, 13.8 mile bike, 3 mile run – but for someone who just started swimming 11 weeks ago, this is a big deal.

My first ever triathlon, and while I know it is always smart to have very simple goals in your “first ever” anything, such as:

  1. Finish.
  2. Have fun.
  3. Do your best.
  4. Don’t drown …. Things like that.

I really do want to leave it all out there on my birthday and race to the best of my abilities.  I have plus or minus 40 days to go before race day and I want to make sure that my race doesn’t end before I even get out of the water.

Last week I received an e-mail from Coach Claudia titled, “It’s Time”.

I knew before I read the message that she was implying that it was time for my first Open Water Swim.

This would be the final frontier if you will for my swim training, and it was a big, big deal.

No pool to stand up in.

No big black line to stare at to swim straight.

No wall to push off of.

No short breaks as you catch a breath at the end of each length.

Just me, out there swimming in the lake.

Claudia took me to Pure Austin – an indoor gym for outdoor people.  Truly an amazing facility over off of Braker Lane in North Austin.  A great gym, wonderful lap pool and of course access to the Quarry Lake for an Open Water Swim.

The lake is set up with floating platforms every 150 Meters or so to mark the course and also give swimmers a place to take a breather if they needed it.

The plan was for Coach to rent a kayak and paddle along next to me in case I ran into any trouble.

We walked down to the lake and stowed our gear, the next thing I knew Claudia dove into the lake and popped up.  I think she did this so I wouldn’t have a lot of time to really think about what we were about to do – she’s smart like that – so I just dove in right behind her.

She asked me to swim to the first platform on the right of the course, what would traditionally be the last buoy if you were swimming around the entire 750 meter lake and get used to the water.

I tried to remember all of the advice I’ve gotten about swimming in open water (OWS), and just stayed as calm and relaxed as possible.  I found my stroke, found my breathing and swam out to the platform.

We chatted for a minute or so, I caught my breath and she asked how I was feeling.  The truth was I felt pretty darn good and we swam back in to the dock.

Claudia asked if I thought I was good to go without the kayak for support and I told her that I really did feel just fine.  We headed out, Claudia swimming off of my right side and made our way to the first platform.

I was going a little bit too fast, and could feel my shoulders getting a bit tired, but I was smooth and was doing a pretty good job of sighting.  Every 5 or 6 strokes instead of catching my breath and then immediately rotating into the water with my head, I would sneak a quick peak to the horizon and spot the next platform.

I was swimming pretty straight for my first OWS, and we went platform to platform.  After 450 Meters I bypassed the final platform and swam back in all the way to shore.  300 Meters or so without stopping – I felt like the last 10-11 weeks of swim training had all been worth it.


Afterwards we did some fast, slow, fast, slow, fast drills using the buoys in front of the dock to mark the intervals.  Coach wanted me to practice swimming hard in the water, then getting back on pace and getting my breathing back under control.

This way if I got too excited on race day and went out too fast, I would be able to get it together, calm down and find my groove.  A pretty successful first OWS, like I’ve said before, it helps to have a great coach.

Pure Austin = Pure Awesome

On Monday I decided to head back out to the Quarry and hop in for my 2nd OWS in 4 days.  There is nothing like repetition when you are trying to master a new activity or task.  I thought that the sooner I could get back out there, the better.

This time with no coach alongside I swam around the entire course without stopping for a rest.

750 Meters.  1 ½ times as far as I will have to swim at Jack’s Triathlon.

17 minutes and 24 seconds.

I took a brief 2-3 minute rest to enjoy the accomplishment and then I went out and did it again.

750 Meters, this time in 18:24.

I was a little slower on the second loop, perhaps I did not sight as accurately and ended up swimming a little bit longer or perhaps I was a bit more fatigued – but the important part is that I did it.

For the first time I actually feel like a triathlete.  I don’t think I’ll refer to myself in that way until after July 31st; I’m still a marathoner trying something new.  But I’m getting closer that’s for sure.

Now it’s all about getting faster …. Right up my alley.