Monday, January 30, 2012

Triathlon research and microblogging for Ben Greenfield Fitness

While some researchers across the world are busy sequencing genes or developing new energy sources, others are investigating critical questions in triathlon and running. That's right, there is a growing body of research devoted to endurance sports science emerging from those involved in elite athlete development, physical preparation of the military, or health promotion. A search on triathlon yields peer-reviewed studies on things like race warmup, run pacing, effects of aging, and characteristics of elites.

On Tuesday of each week I'll pull an item of relevant research and post a short "microblog" on the new Ben Greenfield Fitness site on Google+.  Research, by it's very nature, has limitations and by no means are results definitive. But it provides a starting point for discussion and may yield new ideas for your own training.

So put me and BGF in your circles on Google+ and check it out!

If you are not already familiar, Google+ is somewhat of a Facebook alternative. BGF is also on the web, iTunes Podcasts, Facebook, and he also puts out the Endurance Planet podcasts that I listen to regularly.

Last week's post was on the effect of music on treadmill running:

    Those of us who run with music may feel like it is helpful but wonder if it truly is. Researchers from Australia and Queensland believe the answer is yes! They had 11 elite triathletes run on a treadmill under three conditions: no music, self-selected motivational music, and neutral music that was not specifically motivational. The music tempo was matched to the cadence of the runner.
    When running to either type of music, researchers discovered that the elite athletes ran about 19% longer and they reported reduced perceived exertion. Physiologically, oxygen consumption and blood lactate were both lower with music. The researchers caution that the differences between the music and no-music condition may be less pronounced outside of the minimally stimulating laboratory conditions. They suggest that to get the best benefit, select music with a tempo that matches your run cadence.
    Terry, P.C., Karageorghis, C. I., Saha, A. M. and D’Auria,S. (2012) Effects of synchronous music on treadmill running among elite triathletes. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15, 52-57.

This week's coming post is on lacing patterns on running shoes. Good stuff!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Take it Easy

Like many driven, type-A triathletes, I have no problem working hard and pushing myself in my training and racing. Where I do have a problem, and I'm sure I'm not alone, is going easy - long aerobic runs, recovery spins, those kinds of things.

This week I had an easy mixed-cadence kind of spin on the trainer on the schedule (instructions said all EASY aerobic...yes with the all-caps). At some point in my training past I decided there is a magic number below which my speed can never fall outside of warming up and cooling down. I can generally stay above this number at aerobic intensity, but for some reason, at one cadence I had the choice of keeping my heart rate lower, but falling below the magic number, or switching gears and staying above the magic number, but I'd be up out of the "easy" range. You know it -- I chose to stay above the magic speed number.

A conversation with coach resulted. He rightly warned that (and I'm paraphrasing) there is a danger of things converging in the middle. You give up the bottom end, you risk the top end. You need the easy to allow sufficient recovery for the hard efforts. THAT hit home and frankly, scared me.

Today I had a long aerobic run scheduled. My tendency is always to try to shoot for marathon pace and I started thinking about why? Why won't I back off and run aerobic, or run easy? The answer to this (and most things) is FEAR!
  • Fear that if I back off on any workout I'll get mentally soft and my ability to suffer will be diminished.
  • Fear that if I don't have lots of dress-rehearsals at marathon pace I won't have confidence that I'll have it on marathon day.
  • Fear that if I slow down I might prefer slow to fast.
Like most fears, these are pretty irrational and unfounded. In addition to the fear, I also had this idea that if I simply redefined what is "easy" in my mind, it would become so. Waving my magic wand...8:15 long run pace, you are....EASY!! poof! But the heart rate doesn't lie.

I asked my Roanoke Tri Club friends how they pace their aerobic long runs. Most said they do their long runs 30-45 seconds per mile slower than their predicted marathon pace (concurring with Coach). 

Ryan Hurley, a 3:05 marathoner headed to Boston, said:
    Think of it this way. Each training cycle your body only really has ONE good marathon in it. If you use that effort on a 20 mile training run you are taking it away from race day. I am as guilty as anyone else of running too hard to often, I use a mantra for this of 'don't go to the well.' That means, every racing cycle there is only so much racing that one can keep inside their storage 'well' and if we dip into that too often burnout is coming!
Ryan's explanation made sense. Coach had mentioned "the well" before too but I'd only thought of it in the context of racing. I sure don't want my training draining the well. So I was on board. Past history has my marathon pace at 8:20, I'd like to believe it can be 8:15 at Boston, so my goal pace for today's 16 miler was 8:45.

And how did I do? Not all that great, but it's a step in the right direction. OK, not really all that well at all considering it should not be that hard to slow down.  Only 3 of the 16 miles were at or slower than goal pace which WAS the goal (8:45, 8:51, 8:52). The rest were 8:34 - 8:44.

I had pace creep. I'd start each mile OK, get distracted, speed up, notice, and slow down. I caught myself doing a bit of rationalizing....this part is downhill, if I go slower my form will suffer, this IS easy, etc.

On the plus side, it was nice not to have to dig so deep. I could spend some time thinking about form, using my arms a little better, relaxing, and staying light and economical. And I could actually pay attention to my podcasts! It's progress and I'm motivated to do better next time.

Now let's see if I can let go of my "magic number" speed minimum on the bike trainer.

Has anyone else successfully kicked this problem? Any other advice?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog Post # 500

Here it is, post #500 in 45 months of blogging, through what started as Unblobbing and morphed into Cort the Sport. This blog has chronicled the journey from out-of-shape mom and sedentary post-doc to runner and triathlete -- from the very day I decided it was time to make a change. Along with learning to run and later swim and bike, I've learned that I love to write. What started as a personal journal became much more public through TriCrowd and other outlets. I wrote this in an email the other day:

My writing hobby has taken on a life of its own and sometimes it borders on uncomfortable to be so out there, knowing it puts me at risk of being perceived as full of myself. I know where I stand in the triathlon world order -- I'm okay, but there are lots and lots who are way better. But I feel compelled to share because you know it's been a life changing awakening for me that I hope others might discover for themselves. My goal remains to train and race happy, have adventures, and encourage lots of others along the way.

I could never have imagined the path I would take over these last few years and I'm grateful for every step. I blog because I can't keep my excitement contained within myself, and writing spares those around me from having to hear about it all the time!! I really enjoy getting emails and comments and connecting to others in the triathlon community through this blog. There have been around 25,000 direct page views since I began (not including what is ported to and read through TriCrowd). I share that only as interesting data (not as some popularity contest sort of thing) because you know I like numbers.

I thought about what I wanted to do with post # 500 and it was clear. I want to use this to thank my husband Robert, who is the unsung hero who make my adventures possible. He works so hard, SO hard, to keep our family happy, comfortable, and loved. He's a brilliant hardware/electrical engineer and all-around great problem solver. Robert has a huge heart and he has always been my biggest cheerleader.

For 16+ years he has put up with me, my various pursuits, and my idiosyncrasies. He doesn't question what I do because he sees the happiness it brings.

He's the guy who rolls up his sleeves and does what needs doing -- he hauls the skunked dog off to the vet, gets rid of hornets' nests, takes the garbage to the dump, and does other glamorous household tasks. You get the idea.

Each morning, he gets the oldest child off to school which allows me time to get in an early workout. He takes care of Saturday morning duties too, to clear my schedule for long runs or rides. And when I return, he listens intently (or faking it well, which is fine too!), proud of how well I know my way around the back roads of this town he grew up in. Several icy mornings he has driven me to the pool in his 4WD truck, never suggesting it might make more sense to skip it. And when I was out on my bike and a lightening storm blew in, he came looking for me.

Robert in his "lair"

Just in case you think it's all perfect, no, it's still a marriage, for better and for worse!!  He's the under-communicator to my over-communicator. But that's OK. There's probably only room for one over-communicator in the family!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Better coleslaw. bike trainer. scuff marks

I made some pork tenderloin the other day and the leftovers were slated to become pork BBQ sandwiches for the fam. Spencer and I love coleslaw with pork but I shudder to think what is in the store-bought kind that looks more soup than slaw. I also had half a bag of shredded cabbage that needed to be used. A quick search on "healthy coleslaw" and some minor modifications resulted in a recipe that we enjoyed and I will surely use again:
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Generous splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Some minimum amount of mayo product (I use Smart Balance Light) -- next time I will try Greek Yogurt instead
  • a dusting of stevia
  • a bit of sweet mustard
  • a dash of salt
It took about 90 seconds to make and was amazing. Bottom line - there's always a better option out there than store-bought and it's usually quicker to make than we think.

I got in my longest bike trainer ride to date - two hours - on Sunday. I figured after the flat steady-state run of Saturday, I wanted to see what a flat, steady-state bike ride felt like. Since we don't have much flat around here, the bike trainer it was! Two hours was manageable - an episode of Modern Family, one of the Office, and the latest installment of Biggest Loser. I can handle that.

Grant put his grass from his 3rd grade Greek fable play around my bike so it's practically like being outside. And the giant stuffed dog on the back of the couch can substitute for wildlife. Plus we have some actual wildlife - two (or more) kids, a dog, and two cats.

I kept thinking of my friend Scott who is training for an IM and rode 60 miles on the trainer last weekend and 70 this weekend. I know people do that and more. I'm just not sure there is enough chamois butter in the world to make that happen for me!!

Lastly, I got a few emails about the scuff marks on my legs from Saturday's muddy run from others who have experienced marks, shredded socks, and torn tights from striking themselves. I asked my coach and did some searching and it turns out that is not all that unusual, particularly in muddy going. It doesn't necessarily indicate a form flaw, but can be result from a wider heel counter, slick conditions, or just a tendency to have a "swing through that is a little tight" (Coach Jim).

It's nothing like the "rookie mark" of chain grease :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fixed or flexible run schedule?

Among runners in training, there seem to be two schools of thought on run schedules as they relate to the weather. One says that schedules are flexible, such that runs can slide a day or two to be matched up to better weather conditions. The other establishes that a run schedule is essentially fixed and weather is a non-factor.

I'm squarely in the "fixed schedule" camp. I learned that from my first trainer who gave me my start in running almost four years ago. When he handed off a schedule it was with the understanding that there were very few legitimate reasons to move, or worse, skip a run. I'm grateful for that influence and abide by it still.

One caveat -- I will adjust a schedule (or resort to a treadmill) to avoid dangerous icy conditions.

This morning I woke up to a downpour and temps in the mid-30's. I drove down the interstate to the New River Trail, as planned, to give these legs some time off the asphalt and on a flat grade for a 14-miler. Flat is hard to come by around here. It was wet, boggy going especially on the way out. At the turnaround, the rain subsided and I was able to shed my jacket and pick up the pace.

Yes it's in the 30's but I have on arm sleeves and gloves.
I prefer the fixed approach for the following reasons:
  1. Race day, I have no say in the weather so I want to know how to adjust my run and have confidence in a wide variety of conditions
  2. The experience helps me to figure out how to dress, hydrate, and fuel for various weather so I can be comfortable.
  3. It's empowering to run in weather that others would opt out of. Weather 0; Cortney 1.
  4. Taking the decision-making out of it keeps it simple and unfettered. There's no thinking, I just GO!
  5. I haven't had to use a treadmill in two years.
  6. It prevents the possibility that sliding runs a day or two becomes skipping runs.
  7. It's fun to get a little wet and dirty and to jump around and through puddles!

The fixed approach requires having a pair of shoes that I don't mind getting dirty!! By the end of today's run, the shoes were filthy, my white socks had turned black, and I had to scrub my feet with a brush! Ahhhhh.......all in good fun!!

I am kind of curious about the dirty scuff marks up the insides of my calves. At least they are equal on both sides, but I wasn't aware of dragging my shoes along my legs. Hmmm. That can't be good! (Any thoughts on that, feel free to share!)

Friday, January 20, 2012


One of my favorite bloggers and authors, Charlotte Andersen, put out a call for "What's In Your Gym Bag" for Shape.Com. On impulse, I figured I'd put my bag out there to represent triathletes. It's actually a compilation of multiple bags, but what the heck. It popped up on Shape.Com today!

If you're not familiar with Charlotte already, she wrote an engaging, informative, and funny book called The Great Fitness Experiment: A Year of Trying Everything where she and a group of friends try out and report on lots of different approaches and programs for fitness. She continues this (and more) in her blog. She is honest and open, her writing is witty, and she's not afraid to tackle the hard questions and controversial issues. Women especially, I encourage you to check out her blog.

I got the "Happy Christmas, Merry Birthday" race wheels yesterday! I owe a huge thanks to my loving and hard-working husband who made this major indulgence possible.  They were delivered to work so I paraded them around. And just like looking at pictures of someone's grandchildren and providing the obligatory oohs and ahhs and they-are-so-cutes (or is that just me), my colleagues all did an excellent job of pretending they were really excited and interested. I work with great people who put up with me.

But back to my normal cheapskate self.... my old Timex watch is on the fritz and I think the battery is dying. I needed a functional watch for some marker sets in the pool (short time trials) this morning. I remembered that my son's similar old watch had a broken watch band so I tried to swap things around then after much tedious work and eye strain, I realized the bands weren't interchangable. Then I figured out I could mount his functional watch on one of my extra Road ID Slim bands. Problem solved!!  Road ID to the rescue!

Lastly, and this is not equipment-related, but I just want to give a shout-out to Sheila Plemich of Mind (and Body) of Iron. She is a phenomenal triathlete (IMs and Ultraman) who hits some amazing high-volume workouts at age 55. I dropped her a note with a quick question about recovery which led to very helpful exchange. Thanks, Sheila!

Have a great weekend everyone!!! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Slaying Dragons

Coming into 2012, I told both Coach Jim and Kurt that I wanted to step up my game. I told them as much for my own sake -- I needed to say it out loud, I needed to hear it. After a year of being conservative with injuries and issues, I am ready and more than eager to fire on all cylinders.

I've started venturing out of the safety of my "little kingdom" of things I know I can do and things that are comfortable. On Saturday I encountered my first "dragon".

I came into a long run not very fresh but expecting to hit some specific race paces in the midsection. Partway through the race pace section, my times fell off just a bit, just enough for the mental floodgates of negativity to open WIDE and for the can'ts and not-good-enoughs to come rushing through. I'm generally a very positive can-do person, so it was pretty startling to realize I had that negativity in there, just waiting to pounce. I regrouped and told myself to ignore the watch, find some flow, and finish happy, as I did. But the experience shook me.

Then as I reflected on what happened, I realized that I asked for this. I asked to step up my game, asked for more. I invited the dragons and have to be prepared to do battle with them. The alternative is to dial things back and settle. That's not me. Bring on the dragons.

Swim Bike Mom shared about the Day I Almost Quit. She slayed her dragons that day too.

What are your dragons?

Monday, January 16, 2012

If the Beanie Look Works for Meb...

....perhaps it will work for me!!

SweatVac has come on board as the headwear sponsor of the Endurance Films Racing Team. Check out the beanie...just like Meb!!

It's timely too because the temps have dropped and my cute fleece hats from last year's Old Navy collection have been leaving me feeling like I am wearing a wet washcloth on my head by the end of a run.

The SweatVac gear is a big step up, wicking, and comfy.  And look how fierce I look (ok maybe not). The beanie and ear band were embroidered before they were stitched together so there is none of that stiff, rough, itchy back-of-embroidery stuff on your head. I can fit the ear band and the beanie under my bike helmet. The ear band of course works solo or under a running cap too!

The beanie and sunglasses look carried Meb to a win in the Olympic Marathon Trials. (And maybe his legs and mental toughness played a small part too.) Something tells me I couldn't pull off this look quite as well as Meb. When you are that fast, you can wear whatever you want!!

How about those Olympic Marathon Trials though? WOW!! I was betting on/hoping for Shalane, Desi, and Kara and they pulled it off!! That is an incredibly strong team on both the men's and women's sides and I have high hopes for them in London. My heart broke for the fourth place runners and it took such courage for them to finish as strong as they did.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Road ID

My friend (and ultrarunner) Shannon recently urged his friends on FB to get and use a Road ID. It was something I'd been thinking about - and putting off - for quite some time. I went ahead and ordered one and have to say I was surprised by how affordable and great this product is!

No, they are not a sponsor or giving me a deal, but I did want to share my experience in case you are putting off getting something like this thinking it would be expensive or uncomfortable because it is neither of those. It's affordable, comfortable, and pretty cool!

I went with the Road ID Slim ($15.99). In this version, the metal ID portion comes on a stretchy band - those rubbery bands that are so ubiquitous these days. What's nice is you buy the bands in the size that fits because no one wants a loose dangly bracelet during workouts. They show how to use a dollar bill to figure out your wrist size. I ordered a small and two additional bands for only $1 each.

The website suggests what info to put on there, and I went with name, hometown, birth year, and the names and phone numbers of three emergency contacts. You can also get the interactive version where someone can call a 1-800 number and get all kinds of emergency information. The engraving is amazingly crisp and readable. They can fit a lot into a small area.

I've ended up leaving this bracelet on all the time. It doesn't bother me and it seems like a good idea to have it for swimming, cycling, the gym, whatever. I could get run over by a flock (?) of wild alpacas, so who knows when it would come in handy?

So please, be sure you are running and cycling with some kind of ID on you!

Incidentally, this is what is always on the other arm: the Timex IM watch that is necessary for intervals in the pool; my Warrior bracelet that reminds me to be tough (it's on a black shoelace, stylish, eh?); and my stretchy flower bead bracelet that I found for $1.25 and just love.

Definitely not a girly girl and definitely not a big spender!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Welcome new folks to the gym

Just before the end of the year, the only other fully staffed off-campus gym closed its doors for good and our gym, the Weight Club, welcomed many of its former members. In a lot of ways it has felt like creating a blended gym family. Some accommodations were made to help the new folks adapt (i.e. changes to the class schedule) and some party fouls happened (i.e. the taking of another's spin bike which I understand is a big no-no).

Generally, there is a lot of sizing-up happening.

We've added more of everything - more strange folks, more strong folks, more mirror watchers, and grunters. More talkers, more prancers, more chicken legs, and more eternal benchers. As a person who generally likes a wide variety of people, it's been kinda fun! (Except for the increased difficulty parking, ugh!)

Today I met one of the new folks, Cathy. She's about my age, maybe older, and she asked me to spot her on decline, where she had 135 loaded on the bar. She did a set of 6. This woman had strong beautiful arms!! (and beautifully manicured nails, something I have never had and never will). Turns out on bench she can rep out 155. Zoinks! I told her I was glad she was there, that I admired her arms, and that she would raise the bar (pun intended) for all the women in the gym.

This reminded of a great post I recently read by Kellie Davis called Recognizing the Greatness that Surrounds You. The gist of it is to go ahead and pay a compliment in the gym where it is due - pay it forward!

Over the holidays I saw a young guy doing front squats at 205 lbs with awesome form, depth, and power. You'd better believe I told him so!  It turned out he was home on break but keeping up his lifting for college track. (The guy was massive though, javelin thrower maybe? Or piano thrower? Do they have that?)

Who can't use a bit of encouragement now and again? So even thought it's easy to get competitive in the gym, or pool, or whatever, one loses nothing, sacrifices nothing, by giving a compliment where one is due.

So....welcome new folks! Just don't take anyone's designated spin bike and I think we'll all get along fine ;-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shoehorn in those workouts

Today included a classic example of how to shoehorn workouts into an overstuffed life of work, family, and training. I had a one hour bike trainer workout to do and about 65 minutes between picking up the two kids. I love a challenge.

3:18 - Leave work to pick up the 4th grader. Acquire child. Hear about day.
3:40 - Arrive home, throw on bike shorts and tank. Fill water bottle, grab towel.
3:43 - Tighten flywheel, hop on bike trainer, slip feet in shoes already on pedals, put on HR monitor, pull up preloaded workout on Garmin. Oh, and fire up Hulu+.
3:45 - Begin workout

======= T1:  5 minutes ======

3:45 - 4:45 - Intervals including threshold and max effort bouts, tempo section. Crank HR into 170s, sweat and grunt....and think maybe I shouldn't have eaten quite so much broccoli for lunch.

4:45 - Jump off bike, put on zip-up jacket in feeble attempt to contain sweaty self
4:47 - Get in car, no shoes, remember about flip-flops in pool bag and grab those

======= T2:  2 minutes ======

Lovely, eh?
4:55 - Arrive at pool, in shorts and flip flops (it's 37 degrees) still dripping and red-faced.  Wow, five minutes to spare!  Watch last bit of swim practice like a good mom. Remember that I was at this same pool 10-1/2 hours ago. Wonder why it seems more like three days ago.

5:00 - Greet child, hope he is not too embarrassed, then realize he is used to this. Rationalize I am developing a confident kid with these regular doses of mild embarrassment.

5:05 - While waiting for child to change, have colleague previously known only through email introduce himself. Awkwardly explain I don't usually look like this and then proceed with professional conversation.

5:08 - Head home to take care of kids and pets then a shower before finishing out the day with a bit more work and family.

This post is dedicated to the newly formed Running Princesses who are working hard to shoehorn it all in and provide great support and humor to the group.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Speed and Endurance Focused Lower Body Strength Training

After the marathon in November it was time to switch up the strength training program for the off-season. Kurt proposed a plan that focuses on race speed, particularly the bike and run. I thought I'd share part of this approach, particularly for those endurance athletes who have vowed to add strength training in for 2012!

The current split is:
  • Power focused leg and back day – lower reps in the 6-8 range 
  • Chest, shoulders, arms 
  • Speed and Endurance focused leg day – higher reps 15-20 range
So it’s three one-hour workouts in a week, but I get in, get the work done, and get out.

I want to talk specifically about the speed and endurance focused leg day. The purpose of this workout is to build explosive strength and speed, promote greater muscle recruitment, and to train the legs to maintain high leg turnover (cadence and speed) when fatigued. Here's Kurt's better explanation -

From Kurt Weidner: The goals behind the workout scheme with the speed and endurance-based leg day include:
  1. Elevate anaerobic endurance by forcing the muscles to perform under conditions of extreme fatigue.  
  2. Exhaust the same muscles involved with running by performing anaerobic based resistance exercises in a high rep range and then asking the legs to turn over at a fast rate (running 2 hard laps in between exercises) immediately after...if you can get the legs to turn over and run circles (elevate knee, reach and snap the leg down followed by the buttkick...maintaining stride integrity) under conditions of muscular exhaustion/glycogen depletion (the resistance training utilizes glycolytic anaerobic pathway), then your body becomes conditioned to deal with this. 
  3. Enable fatigued legs to perform and not just become conditioned for exhaustion. The high rep exercises chosen are performed with a focus on speed during the concentric part of the movement...we don't just want recruitment of muscle under conditions of exhaustion, we want rapid muscle fiber recruitment. It's not just important to get your legs to turn over, but to turn over with speed. Theoretically, if you can enable your legs to turn over at a fast rate, while maintaining stride integrity under conditions of exhaustion, then this should translate to a faster distance pace. We'll see what happens.
Workout Structure

The general format is 3-4 working sets of a leg exercise in the 15-20 rep range, working on explosive power, and with minimal rest between sets (just enough to catch my breath a bit, mop up the sweat, and maybe groan a bit). As soon as the last set is finished, I’m up the stairs to do two laps of our 9-laps-to-a-mile track focusing on high cadence and turnover. While I’m running, he’s setting up the next exercise. And so it goes.

We focus on compound movements with free weights, cables, and a few machines that require motions and positions that are most similar to what is needed on the run or bike. A wider range of exercises and stances are incorporated on the power-focused leg day. Here are the general types of exercises that are used but note that there are countless variations of each.
  • Deadlifts – trap bar, stiff-legged
  • Squats, split squats, Bear squat, H squat
  • Step-Ups
  • Leg press
  • Lunges
  • Glute-ham exercises


The first time I did this workout was the first time I really thought I might throw up in the gym. After the workout, I ended up laying down on a mat for a while before I could compose myself to drive home. But I was excited!! I knew we had found a chink in the armor, and that meant I had a way to improve. Each week things have gotten better and I can tell I am adjusting and getting stronger and I am glad for the challenge.

Am I seeing results? I believe so. On my weekend run I was able to keep my average run cadence in the low 90's and maintain that throughout 12+ miles. In the past, it has tended to drop below 90 in later miles.

Integration with Swim/Bike/Run Training

Triathletes can be reluctant to incorporate strength training because (1) they are unsure of how integrate it into a swim/bike/run schedule and (2) they believe it will compromise those workouts.  The body adapts to the demands. Certainly you want to be sure that you are fresh for key workouts and races, but in a normal training week the body can handle both strength and endurance training.

I work to hit the same body parts on the same day where possible, followed by a rest day. So I'll do this endurance focused leg workout on a day that I have a short or moderate run and an easy bike or a swim the following day. It’s better to hit parts hard in one day then give them recovery time than to pummel them day after day. Similarly, I’ll usually do the upper body day on a swim day.

Strength training can and should be integrated into an endurance program, particularly for master's athletes. The workout I described can be adapted to work with any equipment and facility so if you have vowed to integrate strength training for 2012, start with this style of workout!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


It was bound to first en-route flat in maybe two years. I heard the telltale pssshhhhhhhhh for a bit, but it disappeared, and I briefly hung onto the hope that I had imagined it. The emerging wobble dashed my hopes as I quickly realized the pssshhhhhhh was gone because there wasn't even enough pressure to make a wimper of a noise.  There was an eruption of sealant (tubeless tires) oozing from a slash. So I pulled off the road, 17 miles from home, shrugged my shoulders and figured I'd be getting some good quality Angry Birds time in on the iPhone while I waited for Robert. I pulled up a rock and settled in.

Turns out I didn't have to wait long as I got a ride into town from a fellow cyclist who was driving that way, then Robert picked me up from there. Thank you good Samaritan! 

Even though the weather is warm for cycling, the roads are full of gravel and debris from the one snowfall we've had so far. This convinced me to officially retire the Teddy Roo until the roads are better. I'll stick with Ace the road bike.

Robert said maybe this is a sign to get the promised Christmas race wheels and get them on there. I'm a slow shopper. I hate to spend money.

A day off tomorrow...much needed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

You know you are in the right sport when... are driving to the gym at o'dark thirty and you start to think about your first triathlon of the season that is not for FOUR months and you get a huge surge of adrenalin just thinking about that first open water swim race start of the year!! I got so excited thinking about all those pre-race feelings and how good it feels when the gun goes off and you just buckle down and get to work and do the things you are meant to do. WOW!

This is where I'll be for the first triathlon of my season on May 5 - Smith Mountain Lake

Yeah there are days I have to kick my butt out the door to the pool or to the gym or to run, but they are few and far between.

I'm still flying high just thinking about it. 

How fortunate are we to be able to enjoy multiple sports, beautiful venues, comradery, and the sense of capability and freedom?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

DVD Review - Triathlon Transitions: Mastering the 4th Discipline

Over break I watched a DVD from Endurance Films called Triathlon Transitions: Mastering the 4th Discipline. I wrote up a review that you can read here, but the bottom line is that I picked up a lot of good tips and ideas that I hadn't known about. I'm very glad I watched it. This is the kind of information that is best seen and heard and harder to read about. It was a great source! (And the real footage on "What Not to do" was pretty funny!) 

Disclaimer: I am sponsored by Endurance Films and received this DVD from them but was not required to review it or told what to say!

New Shoes, Black Ice, and Cadence

The kids had a two hour delay yesterday because of temps in the teens and black ice on the roads. I had a run on the schedule and was especially excited because I picked up a pair of the Brooks Pure Flow the day before and I was anxious to test drive them. I wasn't going to let a bit of asphalt slip-and-slide get in my way.

I love these shoes. They have a wide comfortable, stretchy band across the instep, are light, cushiony, and supple, and have a minimal heel-to-toe drop that is similar to the Saucony Mirages that have been my preferred shoe this year. I have been waiting on the Pure Flow because I like to switch off between two different shoes and had not really found anything comparable to the Mirages. I was hopeful this would be that shoe and was not disappointed.

Now I don't like running when conditions are slick but will do about anything to avoid a treadmill.  It's been about two years since I've been on one!

I headed out in little choppy careful steps, feeling the effects of yesterday's leg workout. (The 135 lb stiff legged deadlifts did a number on my hamstrings and glutes.) The shoes provided good traction and although I could sense the icy spots, I never truly slid.

The ice (and revolting hamstrings) caused my cadence to go up from my usual 90 to the mid-90s for much of the run, higher than usual. I was resigned to the fact that it was shaping up to be a very slow sloggy run. When I looked at my Garmin data afterward, I was happy and surprised to see that it was actually a pretty decent pace for me.

Funny what a little increase in cadence will get you! 

Coach is big on keeping run cadence around 90 and not letting it drop and this little accidental experiment drove that point home. Not that I plan to run like a hummingbird, but I can better appreciate the negative impact of reduced cadence on speed now that I experienced for myself what bumping it up can do.


After a few weeks off from running followed by a few weeks of base-building aerobic running, race specific training is beginning. I took a peek at the long run schedule Coach put on my Training Peaks annual training plan and got that familiar marathon prep feeling -- a mix of nervous and excited. I'm less than 15 weeks out from the Boston Marathon. With this Saturday's long run set for 12 miles, I like where I am.