Monday, February 22, 2010

Week 7: Review

Things are starting to get back into the normal routine at this point. The back injury is pretty much gone at this point, and while my heart rates are still a bit high I've done a few faster sessions this week and they were comparable in effort to sessions before the injury. I'm still being careful about things and escalating mileage and pace slowly, however I'm past the point where I need to be delicate about everything so hopefully the fitness will come back quickly.

I did miss one of the runs that I would have liked to do this week, however I moved up the mileage in the other runs to largely make up for it. My cycling speeds are pretty much where they were before at this point, so it's just a matter of rebuilding the psychological toughness required to ride indoors for significant periods of time. On the swimming front, I'm still sticking to the shorter 3.25K distances rather than 4K as it's a little easier on the body and is likely sufficient for this stage of my training.

On Friday, I did my first brick session in several months - putting in 25K on the bike (31.2km/h) followed immediately by a 6 mile run (5:05/km). I kept myself down on the aerobars for the majority of that ride, and when I got out for the run it was immediately obvious that they are a big help in keeping the legs rested. I've never really had much trouble doing these sessions (the warm-up effect of the bike offsets any fatigue), but in this case the legs actually felt better than just heading out for a run on my own. The aero position pushes the load onto the quads and away from the hamstrings, so I got all of the benefits of the warm up without any of the fatigue. As such, it was a constant struggle to try and keep my pace down as the legs just wanted to go faster than I'd planned. I've read about the theoretical benefit of this in the past, but I didn't think that the practical benefits would be quite so dramatic - will have to try some longer distances to see if this holds up ;)

Contributing to this was the fantastic weather that we had for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures hovered around +4C, the sun was out and we avoided any significant precipitation. Further, most of the snow and ice that's been lingering on sidewalks has pretty much disappeared, which made it easier to enjoy the run rather than having to maneuver around obstacles ;)

Unfortunately, I was busy for most of yesterday so I had to reschedule my long run to today and the weather isn't quite as nice. Temperatures are back down to -4C and I had to do the last two miles or so of my 8 miler in pretty heavy snow. Thankfully, it wasn't settling down on the ground at that point (it is now), so it was more of an annoyance than any kind of problem.

Either way, I took the opportunity to accelerate a few times during the run to see how well my body was getting back into shape. Near the end I pushed myself to do a 4:20 kilometer, and while my heart rate did shoot up a bit higher than I would have liked it was quite comfortable and I likely could have kept it up for longer. With that said, thanks to the injury it's been a while since I've really added any speed into the mix so I didn't want to push any harder than that.

Week 7 Totals:
Running: 37.1km (23.1mi)
Walking: 1.8km (1.1mi)
Cycling: 85.1km (52.9mi)
Swimming: 7.3km (4.5mi)
Total: 131.3km (81.6mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 238.0km (147.9mi)
Walking: 24.0km (14.9mi)
Cycling: 170.1km (105.7mi)
Swimming: 33.5km (20.8mi)
Total: 465.6km (289.3mi)

The tricky part at this juncture is that I need to figure out whether to go ahead with the marathon target or fall back to plan B and just do the half. The 12 week program I was planning on using would have me start back tomorrow, but I'm not entirely sure that it's wise to push myself just yet. The one option may be to reset my goal to doing the Ottawa marathon as that will buy me a couple of extra weeks, but that poses a bit of a problem as the recovery period starts to push into Triathlon season. Naturally, I could just adapt the program to work around the rebuild, but with only 12 weeks to go that may be difficult. Either way, I'll just have to think about it a bit more tonight and figure out what to do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Week 6: Review

The back is pretty much recovered at this point, so I'm building my mileage back carefully to try and get my fitness to the level it needs to be. My heart rate is working it's way back into the range it was before the injuries, but it's still got a good ways to go. Naturally, between the time off and the reduced mileage during recovery I've lost some fitness, so it's just a matter of fighting to get it back ;)

If I'm going to use Pfitzinger's 12 week program, I'm going to need to start at the beginning of next week and I'm not sure that's realistic. I should have no problem doing the mileage itself, however due to the lost fitness my speed isn't where it should be. The Triathlon events are really my focus this year, so part of me is debating whether to simply drop the attempt to do another marathon this spring and simply focus on them. The objective of doing the marathon was to get my time down to 3:20, so if I can't do that then there really isn't a lot of point in putting in all of that training.

It would be easy enough to register for the half marathon rather than the full, as beating my PB in that distance wouldn't be hard and it would likely be better preparation for the half Ironman distance (if I choose to go down that route). Further, as I'd be entering the Triathlon season with fresh legs (rather than having to take a few weeks to recover from the Marathon), it may be beneficial to those races.

Either way, I'll have to see how things go this week and make a call based on that. The 12-week program is pretty aggressive, and between it and base training for the other two sports I don't want to risk re-injuring anything else at this point. I'm a bit concerned about overtraining at this juncture, as trying to squeeze in both a full-fledged marathon program and the other two sports is a lot of volume. Even looking at full ironman training programs, they prescribe doing a lot less running mileage than I've been doing in my base period (never mind the peaks).

Week 6 Totals:
Running: 37.9km (23.5mi)
Walking: 2.0km (1.2mi)
Cycling: 75.0km (46.6mi)
Swimming: 7.2km (4.5mi)
Total: 122.1km (75.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 200.9km (124.8mi)
Walking: 22.2km (13.8mi)
Cycling: 85.0km (52.8mi)
Swimming: 26.2km (16.3mi)
Total: 334.3km (207.7mi)

I'm still going to be playing it by ear this week to rebuild back to normal levels. Cycling has progressed well so far, and despite a long time off I don't appear to have lost too much fitness on that side. With the Olympics on television, it's been psychologically easier to do the rides as there's something on television pretty much any time of day. I'm planning on progressively increasing distance over the week, and taking full advantage of that ;)

PS I'm currently trying to find a decent formal training program for building up to the half iron distances, so if anyone has any suggestions on that front I'd be quite appreciative! Pfitzinger's program has been a big help with my running, but I've been doing the cycling and swimming on an ad-hoc basis up until now and figure that I should be adding some structure into those sports as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


As mentioned in my previous posts, one of the upgrades that I had recently installed on my bike was the addition of a set of clip-on aerobars. I did a bit of research, and found a number of different models that I liked - but in the end it came down to what was available locally. The HED Clip-Lite would have been my selection from a simply technical standpoint, but I wasn't able to find it locally. I could have bought it online, however for an item as sensitive to fit as this I wanted to stick with brick and mortar shops.

The Profile Design offerings were the next on my list, and I was going back and forth between the Magnesium T-Mag and the Carbon Fibre T2+ Cobra. The former had the advantage of being about 120 grams (~1/4 pound) lighter, whereas the latter were a little more sculpted to the hands and looked a bit more comfortable. After stopping by my normal bike shop and discussing the matter with their fitter, I ended up going with the T2+ Cobra model as he felt it would be a better fit for my setup (as the T2+ bars are overslung, whereas the T-Mag has them underslung so the height relative to the base bars is a little different).

I finally got around to heading down with the bike and getting everything installed/fitted last week and I've now had a couple of short rides with them. One of the big benefits with this design that I didn't anticipate is that the shoulder cups are high enough that I can squeeze my hands under them to use the tops of the base bars. I had all but resigned myself to the fact that, without flip-up cups like the HED, adding aerobars was going to mean losing that position (typically used for hard climbs) so I'm pleasantly surprised on that front ;) As such, I now have four major positions I can assume on the handlebars (drops, brake hoods, tops and aerobars), which gives me a good deal of versatility.

In addition to the aerobars themselves, I also got a Triathlon-specific saddle and some hardware to allow me to rapidly switch between positions. My bike has a reversible seat post head that allows it to provide either a 73 (road) or 76 (TT) degree seat tube angle. The geometry and bottom bracket of the bike are also designed with this in mind (see this article on a similar model for more detail), and as I got the shop to do a professional fitting in both configurations it gets me reasonably close to optimal positioning. Naturally, a dedicated Triathlon bike would be better, but that isn't really in the cards at this point so this gets me as close as humanly possible.

Right now there are a few more spacers in there than there should be (30mm), however the fitter suggested leaving them in there for the time being to let me get used to the new position. I can head back into the shop after I've ridden it for a while, and they'll pop some of them out and re-do the fitting for a more aggressive position. As I'm going to be on the trainer for that time, there really isn't a huge downside (aerodynamics don't mean much when you're not actually moving).

After riding on them I was surprised how comfortable it was being in that position. I was a bit concerned about the lower position putting more stress on soft tissues, but between the increased padding on the Tri saddle and the fact that a lot of weight is now shifted from the saddle to the handlebars that doesn't seem to be an issue. It is going to take some getting used to as the muscle groups in use are very different, however my power levels appear to actually be up on the whole so it looks like that is also progressing well.

I'll write up a bit more on these aerobars when I get some more experience with them, but wanted to write down my first impressions so that I can look back on the matter. I'm also planning on making a first impressions post of the Edge 705, but I'm going to have to play around with it a bit more as there is a lot to figure out.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week 5: Review

The back was much better this week, although I played it cautiously as I didn't want to re-injure it again and loose even more time. I basically stuck with four runs this week (two four milers and two six milers) and kept the pace comfortable. As with last week, my HR was a bit higher than normal for this level of perceived effort, although it is starting to fall again as I get back into my routine.

I restarted my swimming on Thursday, doing a 3250m swim (composed of 750 and 1000m sets) followed by 300m worth of drills and 15 minutes of treading water. As with last week, to keep the impact off I made sure not to touch the walls and simply reversed direction when I got to the end of a length. That slows things down a bit, and makes it a bit more tiring, however it's a better simulation of open water swimming and is much easier on the body.

I also managed to get down to the bike shop to get my rear tube replaced and my new equipment (aerobars and Garmin Edge 705) installed. I also got a second saddle and seat post head so that I could switch back and forth between fitted road and triathlon positions. My Bike was explicitly designed to function in both positions, and uses a reversible seat post head to allow a quick switch between an effective 73 and 76 degree seat tube angle. This allowed me to use full-length aerobars on the bike, and have a proper position when using them - especially important with the distances that I'm looking at doing. To get used to it, I'm planning on primarily riding in the aero position while I'm on the trainer.

Due to the new position and the fact that I haven't been on the bike in a couple of weeks, I started off with a short (10K) and easy (31.8km/h, ~256w) ride on Friday. The new fit is still going to take a bit of getting used to, as it radically changes the muscle groups that are being used (more quads, less hamstrings), but it worked quite well and that shouldn't be a huge problem. I was expecting my power to go down slightly due to this, but instead I found the opposite - when I went down on the aerobars I was able to squeeze out an extra 20-30w. That was a pleasant surprise, and it will be interesting to see how that progresses as I actually train those muscles.

Week 5 Totals:
Running: 32.2km (20.0mi)
Walking: 2.8km (1.7mi)
Cycling: 10.0km (6.2mi)
Swimming: 3.6km (2.2mi)
Total: 48.6km (30.2mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 163.0km (101.3mi)
Walking: 20.2km (12.6mi)
Cycling: 10.0km (6.2mi)
Swimming: 19.3km (12.0mi)
Total: 212.5km (132.0mi)

The plan is to begin boosting mileage this week to work my way back up to where I was. Due to the time off on the bike, that will likely take a bit longer, however as I don't have any impending races in that sport that's not a huge thing. The swimming should be good to go back to my normal schedule, however I'll likely keep the pace in check to be safe.

Either way, I'll have to keep this short as I've got to head downstairs to watch the Superbowl. Rigged up a new antenna a little while ago (both free and much better HD picture quality than cable or satellite), so unlike previous years I'll be able to pull in the feed from Buffalo rather than having to watch the Canadian channels (which strip out the good advertisements) ;)