Thursday, July 29, 2010

The flush

I think I got my “triathlete” diploma well before my first race. The confirmation that one is on the way of becoming a multisporter is the fact that we can perform a trouble free nose flush on each of the disciplines.

It only take a few outings to learn it, but once you master the technique, training and racing get a second wind. And this is no joke, even though we tend to breath by the mouth, a considerable amount of air still enters the body (and more importantly, it EXITS the body) through the nose. The exit bit is important, as otherwise we end up using air that's been circulating.

Two factors affect us during exercise. First, breathing through the nose limits air intake and forces one to SLOW down. The typical response to this is to start breathing through the mouth as well.  Secondly, when mouth breathing, the brain thinks carbon dioxide is being lost too quickly and sensing this, will stimulate the goblet cells to produce mucous, slow the breathing and cause constriction of blood vessels. This is the typical nasal congestion we get 20min into any workout.

I am pretty sure most of you out there often get the same problem, congestion, not enough puff and the old mucous flow downwards. The typical response is to flush the nose and keep on running (or biking, or swimming). At this point is when you can differentiate an experienced athlete from a newbie.

The experience athlete will coordinate the flush in this sequence:
1- flex the elbow to get an upward movement of the hand opposite the flow
2- stick middle and index finger together on the opposite side of the nose
3- backwards movement and 45 tilt of the head
4- big blow

the result is a homogenous bullet that hits the asphalt at speeds of over 100km/h.

On the other hand, the newbie will go into all sorts of trouble, the most common of them and their causes are identified below.
1- not enough tilt of the head = it all lands in the jersey, tee shirt
2- not enough power = a moving mass of stuff flying onto your arm, elbow, knee
3- not enough pressure on the opposite side of the nose = two ejections, one of them down your chest

Seriously, though, it’s quite important to make sure one can get as much air in and out of the lungs as the availability of Oxygen is what ultimately determines performance. Little issues like this one are the ones that added will save minutes on my next race.

So, if you are going to race me, be sure you are ahead, not on the side, not immediately behind.

Happy training

Date: 29 July
Sport: Cycling /// Running
Time: 70min /// 12min
Dist: n-a /// 2.5km
Comment: jeeez it was cold to run off the bike all covered in seat!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Perfect day

I came accross Chrissie Wellington's report from her record breaking Roth of race a couple of weeks ago. I like the way she put thoughts into words and how she's not afraid of speaking up whatever goes trough her mind.

She goes on about her race and how much pride it is to be a beacon for many other athletes. And at the end she is grateful for having experienced the perfect day in Roth.
If we all have the chance to have a perfect day I would prefer mine to be in the next race in Budapest. I'd love to have a sub 20 swim, a sub 60 ride and a sub 34 run. Independently of how I finish that would be a perfect day of racing. I am putting a great deal of effort for it to happen, but a great deal of luck needs to come my way.

And then I kept thinking... what happens after?, how many other perfect days do we have in our racing life?. Say there's only one perfect day, when will I use it?.
Chrissie Wellington is both very proud of herself and very humble. She doesn't say that on the report, but she does have a talent that not many of us do, and she is very determined. I believe determination does help to get more perfect days. I believe putting one's heart (rate) and soul does help bringing perfect days one's way.

Looking back onto the races I've raced, there is only one race I thought it was perfect. And it wasn't a triathlon, it was a minor swim-run race at the start of the season. The conditions were good and I was midway through prepping my first HIM. 500m swim and 5km run, a short and intense day at the office, and I managed to suprise quite a few. But what I remember the most is that I was in joy the whole time, I didn't know what pace I was running, but I was superhappy.

Truth to be told, I was sore the following day, but no one can take that day off me.

Today we had a swim TT. The official time says I'm 20secs off my pace, but I felt great throughout knowing I have it on me for at least half a minute less. It was busy traffic at times (4 people on a 25m lane) and we all kind of got lazy on the leader's feet. I wish we have some of the sessions that make me go from good to great (long reps of 100's, some more butterfly).

Date: 28 July
Sport: Swim /// Run
Time: 60min /// 70min
Dist: 2.9km /// 16km
Comment: 99 posts!, I didn't know I can write that much : )

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gear Review - MacPac Tempo rainjacket

The jacket is from the “world famous in New Zealand” MACPAC brand. For the ones who don’t know, MACPAC is a pretty popular manufacturer of middle/top of the range tramping and mountaineering gear. Their range has widened in the last couple of years after they changed owners. I didn’t know they did some gear for multisport, they should advertise it because not a lot of my mates knew it either.

Yesterday’s night training was a good night to test it: just as we started, it started to rain and the wind picked up and chilled the dark docklands car park where the magic happens.

The tempo is a mid range rain jacket and it’s rainproof qualities are good. I went out in moderate rain for 30 minutes of and the jacket kept me dry allright. I could see the droplets being kept outside the shell, wich is quite a change from my previous rain/wind vest.  It takes only 10 minutes of rain to get the water through the fabric on my vest. Wind protection was awesome, there was some 10 minutes of hard wind and it felt like nothing (face and legs were cold, though). I think this is the kind of gear that I’ll grow to have with me at all times.

The sizing is reasonably big, which is what I usually expect from the brand. I like jackets to be tight, yet roomy and this size S one is just that. The length of the arms is perfect and there’s lasercut holes under the armpits that provide some ventilation during exercise. The back is a tiny bit longer than the front of the jacket, something that helps if you’re planning to use it for a bike ride.

The main issue with rainproof and waterproof gear is that it the waterproofing comes at the expense of breathability. The more resistance to the elements, the most moist that will keep looping around in between the garments and the body and the surrounding environment. The Tempo is no different, but given yesterday’s conditions I was pleased to check that my base layer and running top were almost dry.

At $109 NZ, this is not a cheapo, but the Teflon frabric is supposed to be pricy. Macpac has also a very good customer service reputation and do their own repairs. Macpac has also a reputation for durability, something that I can’t say for a lot of my triathlon garments. So I think is good value for money.

I still wonder why they don't start marketing themselves to the multisportes a bit more.

As far as my sporting life goes, today I had a visit to the physio (3 more to go and I’ll be even better than before the injury) and the usual bike run session.

Date: 27 July
Sport: Cycling/Running
Time: 70min/15min
Dist: n/a / 3km
Comment: it doesn’t feel like a hard week, let’s hope it stays like that.

Monday, July 26, 2010

DNF the amateurs' big No-No

Sunday was a day off before a hard week. I made the most of my day off by catching up with some uni reading (more sleep time for the week), tidying up the house (we’re both studying, so housekeeping has lost priority) and getting myself a rain jacket for the first time in 3 years as a triathlete. (Gear review tomorrow)I also went to the see the Time Trial of the tour de Fance with many other athletes from the tri club. It was a pretty cool day.

I also tried to follow some of the many races in the northern hemisphere, I followed IM Lake Placid, The ITU world championship series and I’m still looking forward to catch up with some of other bloggers’ race reports. (IMLP1, IMLP2)

The men’s race in London was pretty interesting, there were a few Kiwis I was expecting to see go hard, but certainly not Clark Ellice. He had a solid race and finished top new Zealander. Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty had another DNF following last week’s. Gemmel looked strong and on the way up. I think he is on track for a good finish at the Budapest race. Many other guys appear to be in top racing form, wich is a bit of a worry as they may not be able to carry that top form for five weeks till the grand final.

I was once at a talk that Docherty was giving on an Adidas store and asked him if he ever regrets DNF’ing. He said he never does, because many times the decision prove to be the correct ones for his training and overall goals for the year. I guess that if you race as often as this guys do DNF’ing is less of an issue as it is for many of us weekend warriors. By not doing a 30min 10km he may have saved fitness to invest in more training and be able to race 29.30km later on (but there is a twist to it, because when you DNF you don’t get points for your National Team, so you cut your Olympic and World Cup spots… interesting, hum?)

I only did one DNF, and it still hurts, for many reasons.
The first one is that because it was the first race of the season I missed the chance to have a benchmark for later in year. The second one is that I could have continued as I was physically OK. And finally, it was a waste, as I could have learned a hell of a lot, should I continued racing. But one thing I learned for sure. Unless I’m seriously ill or injured, I will never ever quit a race again. I s’posse you have to go through one at some time in racing. A second thought on this one also said that it's good also not to DNF on training workouts, something I am occasionally guilty of.

Today was a hard swim and it is all uphill for the rest of the week. I couldn’t be more pleased,

Date: 26 July
Sport: Swimming/Running
Time: 60min/60min
Dist: 3.2km / 8km
Comment: we changed the 4x2200m run in 7.5min to an easier workout thanks to a freak weather bomb that dropped 7 degrees of air temperature in 20min just before we started running

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Differential training

One of the guys in the picture swam a 1.03min 100m.
the other can run a 2.45 kilometre.
None of them could handle a serious hills session today.
Both will run sub 35min in Budapest.

The programme for today indicated one of the most feared and fun workouts.
We usually meet at coach's place, bike for 35 min to a house in the ridge of a secluded bay in Ackland's west coast and then:
bike down (3min) a narrow windy road (gradient between 5 and 10 with a flat 3% gradient in the middle 200m)
bike up (6min?, 1mile) the same narrow windy road
Transition onto our running shoes and run for 2.5km ondulating

And do it again.

Five times.

However, this campaign may have to be without this Waitak's session. We're playing conservatively and decided against stressing my quads with so much downhill and grinding work.

But I didn't had it easy, and fortunately I was not the only one with special treatment. My mate Carl has got a similar problem but due to different causes, we timed it quite well so we got to get some company for an otherwise boring bike+run session.

The rest of Saturday is study R&R and tomorrow is day off, with the Tour de France Time Trial on TV.

Date: 23 July / 24 July
Sport: Swim/Run /// Bike/Run
Time: 60min/30min /// 45min/20min
Dist: 3.2km/6km /// 30km/5.3km
Comment: oh... and I did some baking too!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

keeping it up up up

I read somewhere that many tour riders fear the rest day and they don't know if they'll be at the top on the day immediately after. Many of them go for a quick couple of hours of training just to assure the body that it is not over yet.

I'm entering the pre competition phase of my programme, and after an adjustment period (I'd say it somewhere between Tuesday two weeks ago and last Friday) the body is getting used to a higher level of stress and more work on the upper scale of the heart rate. It was a moderate week and I had two time trials (the cooper's test and today's 20k on the bike) and a long moderate run. Tomorrow will be a transitional day (I'm guessing there will be not a lot of high intensity on the swim and then only 8min of sprinting) and Saturday will be one of those key workouts (modified to suit my current situation with the leg)

It doesn't cease to amaze me how after the adjustment period, the body has been able to cope with serious intensity and the mind is not playing any games to stop it. I'm tired but eager and I know it's going to be hard, a month ago I would be struggling with the motivation, but now I don't even have time to think on that stuff. I don't fear that a rest day will hinder my performance on race day, I'm looking forward to the next rest day. But I wouldn't like that the workouts get any easier from now on, I want and kind of need them to challenge me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in some very strange way, the principle is the same for the TdF riders and for us athletes getting ready for an A race (to sound a bit american). When the intensity is up, it's better to keep it up up up until we reach that border where another workout is one too much. I am not quite there yet, and I trust my coach enough to allow him to make me do a lot of stupid hours on the pool, track and windtrainer and stressing the whole system to obtain better performance.

And the rest of my life is busy enough to allow any relaxation, but I'm smiling, and that's important.

Date: 22 July
Sport: Cycling (indoor)
Time: 60min (28.25min)
Dist: n/a (20km)
Comment: I won the sweat competition, I've must let go about 3lt. of water.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

thinking on your feet

I have to post an assignment to uni tomorrow, and yoga at 6am. So this is going to be quick as I need a bed right now.
There's always a time that for some reason or another, the plan needs to be tweaked. Some days are too cold to be out on the road, other times life gets in the middle of training (how you dare, work, to get in the middle of MY training?) and so on.
For me this time it has been the tender tights (I may have to talk to KFC for sponsorship on this one). The past week I had to go with an adjusted plan and it looks like I may have to do the rest of my training with little or no hills.
Today I went for a longer run again, after 2 weeks of short runs. I needed to test how much the legs can endure and communicate to coach so we can project the next five weeks.
I had good company in the form of the two best runners in the training squad, so I knew it would be testing but not challenging.
The legs responded well to the little hills and short efforts. At some point I have to put the brakes as there were some signals coming from my quads saying PAIN PAIN PAIN!.  I listened to them and here I am, reporting another happy day out.
Two years back or even last year, I may have carried on through the pain and let it go away with time, and do what the programme says. But I've learned that the smart athletes are always thinking on their feet.

I will probably miss having some serious strength endurance training. But I'll have the legs to run another day.

Date: 21 July
Sport: Swim / Run
Time: 60min / 75min
Dist: 3.2km / 15km
Comment: and it was bloody wet and cold

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today's incident

This Tour de France is getting better and better by the day. Today was a day of controversy due to the incident on the last climb of the day, when a group containing second, third and fourth GC guys let the guy in the yellow jersey on his own after he had a mechanical.
A lot has been written and said in many forums worldwide. The focus being the decision by Contador to attack Schleck was off the bike. Schleck was obviously pissed after the finish and Contador was booed at the podium. He later put a video on youtube where he kind of apologizes.

On another situation I think he may have waited, but there was pressure from the other two guys and they just kept going. The really stupid thing was not to wait. All riders have radios and it would have been really easy for them to roll for 2 minutes until he catched up. It would have been one of those times where the sportmanship and camaraderie are shown to a wider audience and says something good about the people involved, and also about all of the professional sportspeople. If this happened 2km to the finish I would have a different view. But the fact that there was over 30 minutes of racing for them to make good a decision that was obviously very controversial is what for me makes it a silly thing. This does not take anything from their sporting achievements. But makes me want to see their butts kicked by Schleck in the Tourmalet.

Many triathletes point out that nobody waits for you when you have a flat in a race. And this is true. But triathlon and bike racing and different sports. I've never waited for anyone when racing, but I've lended multitools, tyres, gels to fellow athletes, it just feels the right thing.

The other itchy questions are: who decides what's the right thing and the wrong thing to do? did putting time on Armstrong on that crazy cobbles stage play a part in deciding this tour? was Contador taking a payback from the day he had a flat and no one waited?

I'm going to bed now, and I'll wake up to the unknown,

Date 20 July
Sport Cycling/Running
Time 60min/15min
Dist n-a / 3km
Comment: I have to keep running in the flat, the leg gets better.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Andy Schleck and I have the same dilemma

This is the third race that I'm racing where I'm investing over 10 hours a week in training. The investment in hours is significant and I expect results to come my way because I'm also training smart and being coached.

This time around I focussed in strenghtening the bike and see if I'm able to keep in touch with the front of the race. So, 3500km (or thereabouts) later I was suprissed to find something that I'm not sure I like:
I am climbing well.

It may have been the Saxo Bank jersey, or the porridge, or just a good day out. The thing is that the legs were OK to go up and up and up and then a bit more. If I was a TdF rider it wouldn't be a problem. The matter is that I am a triathlete. And more often than not, I am not able to transfer this power thing to time trialling. These two are two different types of riding and I don't know how they influence each other for good or for bad.

This data is from my personal experience, but I bet is the same what's out there.
TT Cadence 90 to 100
Climbing Cadence 70 to 80
TT gearing: 53/14-19
Climbing Gearing: 39/19-25

One good way to develop strength is by doing hill repeats on big chainrings, I've done it in the past and it makes some difference. Note that these hill reps are not trying to go up the hill in a smart or fast way, it is going up the hill in a high gear. I don't think that doing a lot of TT training helps to be a better climber. I would bet for NO.

I haven't been doing hill repeats a lot this time (only two or three times that I remember) and I did that series of TT and efforts in the lab in April. But most of my training has come from being out there and doing the long rides on the Sunday.

Let's take an example: 2010 Tour de Fance winner Andy Schleck is a brilliant climber, but comes TT time, he won't be at the top due to his lack of ability to go fast against the wind. I think I am faced with the same problem here, I can't seem to be able to transfer climbing power to TT power. It shouldn't take long to figure out, but I am still to see.

In brief, I'd prefer to be a poor climber and be able to stay within the top 10% of the bikers on a traithlon race. I just have to make it happen.

On a side note I was cought off foot yesterday. Some weeks ago I came back home from a ride and did a 1min cleaning of my bike (fork, break, derraileurs and downtube) with one of Nat's socks. I hid it in the "bike stuff" drawer and forgot about it until yesterday. Natalia was nosing through my things and found the infamous cloth. I was prepared to lie when she came and confronted me, but nothing came out of my mouth and I had to admit my crime. It was silly-embarrasing and I lost all credit in front of my wife. I hope with time she will understand how important it is to have clean derraileurs and forks and be able to forgive me.

Date 19 July
Sport Swimming / Running
Time: 60min / 60min
Dist: 3.2km / 8km
Comment: Cooperst test. I topped my previous mark by 20 metres! (leg is not 100% though)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Wrap up

The wheather wasn't half bad, so I enjoyed a bit of outdoor life. There was a run on Saturday and I'm happy to report it worked 95% OK. I just had to run 30 minutes, I run 35 and the last downhill brought a little niggle, but nothing serius.
Lot of stretching afterwards and that was as far as it went. I was tempted to go swimming but there was too much to do at home and uni.

Sunday we hit the road with the boys for a easy long ride, but the day was soo good. The air sooo clean and the legs felt so happy, that it was a moderate ride with a coffee finish. I packed 2 of my kick ass bars, but this baking turned out to be really tasty, so by the end of the day I have almost finished with the lot. The right combination of salt, apricots oats and honey. I wonder if I can ever repeat.

I also had a flat, It's the first one for the year, which is not half bad. Having a look at my tyres they will need to be replaced soon. It was my first try with a CO2 cartrige and I messed it up, badly, I was tempted to stick my tongue like you do when you are young and fool, but I resisted.  Anyway, another practice session: changing flats.

Happy training everyone

Date: 17 July / 18July
Sport: running / cycling
Time: 35min / 180min
Distance: 7km / 80km

Friday, July 16, 2010

There are days and days

The last three weeks I've been at 90% of my game, which would do OK for another race, but not for worlds, not this year. And in the last day or two, I don't know how or why I feel the extra 10% is coming back.

I felt in perfect sync with the world today. Last night was a bit hectic but I made it to bed in a reasonable time. I woke up OK and drove us to the pool as usual.
In connection with the last post we had a good strong set of the kind I think will set me to go really well in the swim leg:
each of the series is a continuum of level3 level2 level3 with a rest interval that gets bigger and bigger but doesn't get over a minute.

It's been a while since I felt OK to lead the lane for the full set, but today I felt better and better as it went.
Then off to coffee and work and everything ticked away really nicely. Aquajog in afternoon worked OK and the quad tenderness is getting better.
It is not that there are days that I'm good or days that I am not so good. For me they come in weeks or months. I take this kind of things as they come. It's only natural that I'm not gonna be at a 100% at all times. Over the last year I've started to identify the periods. The mission for the future is start to marshall them to match training and racing schedules. Or be able to take the most advantage of that full synch period to make my fitness gains.

On another note, the first week of Training+Uni+work is over and I ticked all the boxes on the schedule. Looking forward for a bit of free time on the weekend and a catchup with TdF viewing.

And finally, if I was in North America I'd be excited about a new brand of clothing for endurance athletes. It's called endurance athlete project and it looks promising.
I'm looking forward to the free shipping deals whenever they start retailing

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I'm officially on track. Even with a small hiccup it's all go for the World Champs.
It is time now to start fine tuning every bit of the race.

Today I sat and thought about the swim and T1:
The swim is a mass start (only the age group, though) so it will be between 150 and 200 of us. The circuit is M shaped with 2 left turns of 180º and two right turns, one of them 180º and the other 90º.
The first 400m is a straight swim and then there will be carnage on the first turn. It is important that I make it to the first turn fast, really fast, hopefully among the first 10/20 people, Otherwise there's a lot of time to be lost.

Then it should be a bit easier (just a bit) to deal and surely some people will make way and it will be a front pack, and a few of us in no man's land. until the end when everybody in our backs will start charging.
I expect to get to the finish in decent form and be able to keep the same pace that getting towards the first turn.

Training for a swim like that means a lot of explosive sets (200 and 300 metres all out) combined with longer sets (500 to 600 metres steady). At the moment most swims are heading in that direection, and they are truly tiring at times, but I know they are good. A good boost in confidence should come with the next 1500m TT.

I'm doing my first T1 practice on the weekend, swim 200 with the wetsuit, get it off in a flash and get my bike gear on. As it will be most probably indoor, I won't be able to ride. Transitions are an easy buck to make and sometimes I've been guilty of taking them too easy. To gain a minute in any of the disciplines takes 4 months, to gain a minute in my T1 will probably take 3 or 4 practices. I need to be smart about it.

What has problably helped me the most is this transition tip from my mate Ro.

Date: 14/15 July
Sport: Swimming/Running///Running/cycling
Time: 60min/45min/30min/60min
Dist: 3.2km/10km/aquajog/windtrainer
comment: Easy week, the HR's are all under control

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bad news and good news

The bad news is that I'm injured for the first time in three seasons
The good news is that the injurie is not a biggie, though.
I went to physio today and had the bad and the good news delivered, together with a telling of because my flexibility on the lower limbs sucks. I am a series of injuries waiting to happen. (I take it lighthly.... it can only get better!).

So it will be a bit less intense on the run front over the next week or so and hopefully it all should heal propertly. Coach has amended the programme to suit, and I may be even getting on the aquajog lane in the next days. But the most important bit is that I can continue with my programme on a 90% of what was planned.

What hurts the most is that I have to give in to Nat's invitations to start going to yoga with her. She's been telling me to start from the last year and a half and I've always been able to fend off the charges, but this time I'll have to agree. And she's gonna make sure I am aware she was right from the very beginning (ha ha ha... delights of the married life)

All in all, it can only be good, because it is a good wake up call and there's enough time to minimize any losses.

the lesson learned: lots of stretching, specially after excercise.

Date: 13 July
Sport: running / cycling
Time: 15min / 60min
Dist: 3km / n/a
Comment: 16kmTT - sub 24min - Personal best on the windtrainer!

Monday, July 12, 2010

a good day

Today was a good day at the pool, and a good day overall as well. The swims were low intensity, long sets and I was on my own on the lane (I did this practice after hours due to conflict with following the finals).

As I was on my own I decided to go really relaxed and forget the times. It was also a good opportunity to practice my secret weapon: the 10stroke cycle. The 10 stroke cycle works better in open water swim or long pools, but if you’re on your own on a 25m pool, you can have good fun practicing it.

It goes like this: pull from the wall, three strokes, breathe, three strokes, beathe, two strokes, breathe, two strokes, breathe and lift the head till the nose is at the water level, watch the buoy, or the wall, and start again. I have reached a point where my strokes are pretty well balanced, and my breathing is OK from either left or right. However I still prefer to start with my left arm, meaning that I’ll have to breathe on my left hand side more often.

The 10stroke cycle is something that I did for me and I’m not sure it will work for someone else, but I can tell you some of the advantages, though.

For starters it is a good way to concentrate, if you’re counting and making sure you’re on the right track, whatever happens in the surroundings evaporates and you’re just swimming.

Secondly, I is good for navigation. Lifting the head every 10 strokes is as much as you need in most of the open water swims. Even with 5feet swell I’ve had no troubles doing this stroke cycle.

Another good point is that it allows for good alternation of speed and strength in your stroke, without altering the breathing pattern too much. Very often I see other swimmers sticking to 3 or 4 strokes for every breath at the beginning, and then slowly loosing time with a 2 stroke last 400m.

To be fair, I’d have to list some cons of this swim stroke. I can only think of two: the first one is that it is very individual and it hasn’t been tested in a lot of athletes…. So you’re forgiven if you don’t buy.

The second disadvantage is that it does require a good adaptation period, and many of us don’t hit the open water often enough.

I will continue to use this until someone proves me wrong, so if you adopt this style please don’t forget to cite the source : )
Date 12 July
Sport Swim / run
Time 60min / 60min
Dist: 3.2km / 8km
Comment: all pacey, patience will get me there

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunny weekend!

It was sooooo nice to go out there and ride all day long!, beautiful chilly winter mornings.
I jumped on my bike to to to the core conditioning that coach has on the Saturdays and a lil' run after, there was a bit of a fright with one of my quads giving me another of those funny cramps I mentioned before. I am definetely seing a physio on Monday. Then there was one full day and a half for me to rest and recover after a hard week.
I figured out what the problem may have been with my performance at training. Last time I was doing this kind of intensity workouts my house was a nest for family, my mother and sister in law were staying for a holiday and Nat's mum took care of the house, cooking, washing and pretty much everything for us. That is one hour or two a day that Nat and I are putting on our backs.
I reckon that extra housework and then going to bed a little bit later and a little bit more tired is the difference. It's good to find out, and the solution is easy, just go to bed a bit earlier and be smarter about the housework, we're back on track.
On anothe note, I received my race uniform from TriNZ, and my running cap. They look pretty mighty in black and they are open to sponsors to advertise. We get a pretty good deal from 2xU for other gear, but at the time I had to pay for the uniform I didn't have the dough for them. I hope TriNZ opens the online store again next month so I can get some more stuff.
In the meantime I'll take the race suit for name printing and so on.
Today was a day of so we enjoyed the sun and some fine food @ the beach,
Hope your weekend rocked as well.

Date: 11 july
Sport: run
Time 45min
Dist: 7km
Comment: cut short

Friday, July 9, 2010

the infamous test set

Today in the morning it was time for one of my least favourite swim sets. It just says TS in the programme, and it stands for TEST SET. They are a good way to know where you are, and in today's case it was also a good wake up call. The mechanic is very simple, swim 100m all out, rest for 10 secs, swim 100m all out, rest for 10 secs, swim 100m all out.... you get the picture. (not dissimilar to the wingate test I did on the bike some time ago)
I've been at the pool pool for 15 months now, and I've done 5 of these sets.  the first time I was preparing for a sprint tri, so I was only required to do 6. From then onwards I've had had to do them in full. It's hard to get the mind around going all out at all times, It took me to my third one to get it right. On the first time, I blew up, but as it was only 6 it was ok. The second time I thought I was going to approach it in a smarter way, but I was told of for holding my efforts in the first reps.
Our lane is three or four guys and we all swim very similar times. I used to be a notch faster but I think that may not be the case any more. So the lead is altenated between the three of depending our weaknesses and strenghts. I am good at short sets, Martin is goo at longer sets, and Carl is a freak when we're using any aids like buoys, fins or the mother of all paddles.
So I knew about todays' set for the last week or so, and although I did not tapper for it, it was there in the back of my head all day yesterday.
In the past I did 1.06 and 1.08 for the first hundred, and then stayed in the 1.20-1.28 area for the rest of the set, with the last one being just over 1.15.
Today I was 1.09 for the first hundie and from the second 100 it all went downhill (1.25's to 1.35's). I just didn't have it anywhere in my body. I kept swimming in good form and everything, but there was lactate everywhere. (the photo illustrates my eyesight after finishing the set)
I'm still happy that I did everything by the book, but a bit concerned by the fact that I lost time to the other two guys. I don't say it as if it is a race, but there is a benchmark and I felt I did not reach it today. I'm also satisfied to know the HR drop was OK as well in the minutes after the set.
There'll be another one of this sets somewhere in August, we shall see what comes out of it.

Date: 9 July
Sport: swimming/running
Time: 60min / 40min
Dist: 2.9km / 6km
Comment: friday run sprints are back!, more news to come

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mind games

Day 4 of the hard week on the programme and I'm spent big time. It has been a bit of a jump in the intensity and another one in teh volume of the workouts. I am also doing everything by the book (that means that I'll run 70 minutes and not 68 or 73 at the right intensity). I am working towards an outcome (being the best I can for the race) and can't afford to miss any of these work-outs.
There's also the mind games.
I am a very calm type of guy. I don't panic when under pressure and I very very rarely get angry. Anyway, it happens that when training becomes a job and every day I has more and more on the plate for me, I end up focusing on the wrong things. I've been bothered by a mild cold that never develops, pain in the shoulder, pain in the neck (I need a new pillow) and sore calves.
It is not the first time that happens, but I'm making a stand not to let any of that to interfere with my training. None of those aches and pains are really painful to make me stop a workout (most times) , but they do alter my concentration and I won't let that happen.
Triathlon is an endurance sport, and one thing I have learned is that endurance does not only refer to the ability to endure physical activity for prolongued periods of time, but also to the ability to endure some pain associated with it. I'll be doing a bike workout on my own this evening, and I will have to shut the pain windows for some time.
So, here I am, 2 months out of the race and already playing mind games with myself, this is going to get interesting.

On a second note, while re reading what I wrote I realized that this is what happens to me when making the change from base to competition period, the first couple of weeks are quite traumatic and then it all goes smooth as.

happy training everyone,

Date: 7/8 July
Sport: Swimming/Running/Running T/Cycling
Time: 60min/70min/15min/60min
Dist: 3.2km/16.8km/3.2km/n/a
Comment: bring on the new pillow!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Le tour

The first reference that I have of the tour is some newsflash from the early nineties, when Indurain ruled. I remember reading bits and pieces here and there and then it all dissapeared until some years ago, when the big texan brought the tour back to the masses.

It's a truly amazing race, a feast of endurance cycling and certainly something that is up there in the bucket list for me to go and watch, ride and drink.

I started following year in, year out and the last 4 editions I've been up there following each stage, highlights and web coverage. I don't have the sports channel to follow it on TV, so I've been most happy when people gives me old editions that I can watch on DVD. However, same as I do with Kona, I prefer the written words. The race recap, the stage narrated hour by hour and sometimes every 10 minutes. The opinions right after, the winner's view of the race and everyone's take on the events of the day. I love the vertigo of those chronicles and how the writer battles to keep one put on the seat... reading.
And the photos.
It is more demanding and time consuming than the TV coverage, but a thousand words, many times say more than one image. May and July are months of joy for me, there's books I'm reading, but what I read more is the websites, blogs and papers stories on how the tour and giro are going.
So today I started my day with half hour of tour reading/watching and I was a happy man. No sore legs from yesterday, no sore shoulder, only one itching desire to go out riding for hours.
Unfortunately life catches up and I had to go and do some work, and it's rainy and cold, so the road is a no-no. I'll be seating in a windtrainer for an hour and that'll be my day,
but no one can take my morning joy
Date: 5-6 July
Sport: Swimming/Running/running T/Cycling / Running
Time: 60min/60min/15min/70min/15min
Dist: 3.3km/9km/3km/n/a/3km
Comment: slowly building fatigue, this is getting good!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dark patch

The mighty argentinean team lost in the quarter finals game against Germany. It was a very hard couple of days. The game aired at 2am Sunday NZ time. I planned to do a lot of training on the Saturday, sleep a little siesta and go to the local to see the game with another couple of hundred expats.
I went to a core and muscle conditioning session that coach runs during the off season. They do this circuit of 20 workouts in 20 minutes as 20seconds excercice, 40 rest, then 25secs excercise, 35 sec rest... and so on through 12 weeks. Saturday was a 45do 15 rest, and I think it kind of cooked me. I jumped on my bike and off for a 80km ride, that I did with my backpack carrying the clothing from the previous session. A different way to go up the hills, and certainly a different way to do little 3km TT's.
Got home, ate, watched movies and slept it.
The game was interesting but not flash and I went to bed at 4am really p'ssed in more than one sense, but knowing I had all Sunday to lay in.
Unfortunately my body and my circadian rythm weren't of the same opinion and I woke up at 10 or just past. Had brekkie, called the family and took Nat out.
Today is the start of the race prep phase and I did a half cooked workout due to a shoulder niggle.
That's the recent developments from rainy Auckland
thanks to all those that voted, and to the one's who didn't please do on the following link:

Date: 2-3 July
Sport: Swimming/Running/Cycling
Time: 60min/45min/180min
Dist: 3.5km/8km/80km
Comment: grey weekend.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Honouring my word

Thanks to all the ones who voted me, we’re a month away and I need to collect 3000 more votes to have a chance… It’s gonna be an uphill battle (but only to the top, then is all downhill).

I said I would give triathlon advise to whoever voted me and let me know. And today I’m honouring my word. As there was only three of you I’m not going to spill all my worth of sports knowledge. Besides, there’s plenty of people that had said wiser things before, so here’s my contribution:

Three things I didn’t know you need for your triathlon races

Killer instinct: often left aside by coaches and athletes outside the elites, this is one mighty weapon that can turn your performance on or off. Combined with good fitness, this is the best way to make an A race your race, always.
Killer instinct drives you to get in amongst the washing machine in the swim, keep tailing that guys that just passed you and sprint to your max in the run.
The only counter indication is that killer instinct can drive you to hit big walls at time. It’ll always work better in combination with good athletic state.

Running legs: I’ve seen this time and time again, and I’ve suffered it myself: triathletes don’t pack their running legs for races, and end up going at the same pace as when they trained hard. The running legs can’t be purchased online. They have to be grown. A pair of 35min10km running legs take a good year or two, a pair of 30min10km running legs take a five year period to grow, and only on some types.
The key here is to make do with whatever is there in your genetic wardrobe, and MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE you pack them for your next race. All my run pb’s are triathlon races. And I never go more than 10% close to them at any one time during training.

Racing experience: the more I race, the more I like it. Same as the running legs, racing experience does not retail on bike shops. I find this blogs a good source of second hand experience, and of course many time I pick things that may apply to my races. But each race I learn more and more.

Happy training!

Date: 30 – 1 July
Sport: swim / cycling
Time: 60min / 60min
Dist: 3.6 km / n/a
Comment: I was beaten by my wife in the 10x100 free with fins set (shame!)