Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 4: Review

Aside from missing the ride on Monday (as it was supplanted by last week's delayed long run), things pretty much went according to plan this week. The weather was reasonably agreeable and my schedule wasn't too messy so I was able to squeeze things in as planned. As the weather was relatively comfortable yesterday, I brought my long run back up to 16 miles which helped to get the numbers back to where they needed to be.

On the cycling front I finally made my way back up to 50K on the trainer thanks to watching video while I ride. I did have a bit of a hiccup as the Garmin speed/cadence sensor was dropping out a bit during the ride, so I had to stop periodically to get it up and running again. I'm still on the factory battery that's been in there for a year or so now, and as far as I can tell they weren't smart enough to put in an explicit low battery alert (like Polar does with their sensors) so that's likely the culprit. Easy enough to fix, but it would be nice to get some kind of warning before it happens.

Week 4 Totals:
Running: 51.8km (32.2mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 100.1km (62.2mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 162.2km (100.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 225.2km (139.9mi)
Walking: 6.3km (3.9mi)
Cycling: 380.3km (236.3mi)
Swimming: 30.6km (19.0mi)
Total: 642.4km (399.2mi)

Netflix is still doing the trick and after a bit of playing around with the VCR's service menus I've mostly eliminated the Macrovision problems. Unfortunately, with the CRTC's recent boneheaded UBB decision the feasibility of this solution likely isn't going to be there after March 1st (barring the Federal Cabinet stepping in, but I'm not holding my breath on that one). For the programming that they have it's likely worth the $8/mo, but with the punitive overage fees that the commission has allowed it's going to work out to ~$1-2 per show which quickly dwarf what Netflix charges. As such, I'll probably continue on for another month or so and drop it once the new fees come into place. After that point I'm going to have to figure out something else to help pass the time :( Always fun when the government helps to reinforce the Bell/Rogers duopoly and crush any semblance of innovative competition in this country :oP

Anyway, I'm getting off track here so enough about that and back to the training front ;) This week the plan is to hold the running and swimming at the current levels and continue increasing the mid-week cycling mileage. I'm not in formal training now so the primary objective is to get the base ready for it, but I'm going to have to get started soon.

I'm still trying to figure out the plan, but at this point I'm leaning towards just focusing on the Triathlon side of things and worrying about Boston down the road. The BAA hasn't really said much about their plans for the 2012 marathon, and I don't want to risk all-out training (ie sacrificing time in the other two sports) with the risk of them making it all for naught by moving the cutoff from 3:10 to 3:05. If they do hold the line for my age group's qualifying times, then I can always make a run for it in the fall after doing a few Tris in the spring/early summer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 3: Review

This week got off to a rough start as last week's long run being moved to the Monday meant no ride and as I was out of town on Tuesday I didn't end up getting any sessions in. I added a run on Friday to make up for the missed session, but there was no way to make up for the lost ride and swim so those two are a bit low.

Adding to the complexity was the extreme cold that came in over the weekend, so I ended up pushing my long run back to Monday again. With the windchill it was a little below -30C on Sunday morning, and I had 16 miles scheduled so I chickened out and put it off until the next day. On Monday morning the temperatures were just as bad, but fortunately it went down to -20C with the windchill in the afternoon so I headed out for an abbreviated run (getting in 14 of the scheduled 16 miles). It actually didn't end up being that bad, so I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't go for the full distance.

Other than that, however, this week went fairly well. I've mostly been running at recovery paces lately to take it a bit easy during the off season, but on Thursday I elected to start bringing some speed back and did the 5 miler at a GA pace. I would have tried it at a tempo pace, but the sidewalks were still a bit icy so I didn't want to push it too hard. I also pushed my Saturday ride up to 45K this week and hope to get to 50K next week.

Week 3 Totals:
Running: 48.9km (30.4mi)
Walking: 1.1km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 95.0km (59.1mi)
Swimming: 4.3km (2.6mi)
Total: 149.3km (92.8mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 173.4km (107.7mi)
Walking: 4.8km (3.0mi)
Cycling: 280.2km (174.1mi)
Swimming: 21.8km (13.5mi)
Total: 480.2km (298.4mi)

Either way, it's been a busy few days so I'll keep it short this week. I'm hoping to continue ratcheting things up again next week and will have to figure out my long term plans pretty soon as it's getting near to the point where I'm going to have to start formally training ;)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 2: Review

I redoubled my efforts this week to better follow my prescribed plan and fortunately managed to fit everything in. I did have to move yesterday's long run to today and while that will effect mileage for the next week, it means that I did manage to hit my target this week. Running mileage was a bit lower than last week, but that was by design as I figured that a recovery week made sense after a couple of 16 milers in a row.

On the bike I finally managed to get in all four sessions for the week adding up to a total of 120K (30K on Monday and Friday, 20K on Wednesday and 40K on Saturday). I still have to work on building my tolerance for longer distances indoors, but getting all of the sessions in was a good first step. Over the coming weeks I plan to slowly increase the mileage on all four of those rides until I can be comfortable squeezing in at least one 80K+ ride per week and hopefully a couple of 50Ks.

One of the big things that helped with this is that I finally set things up in my training area so that I can watch videos rather than relying on whatever happens to be on TV at the time. Part of the trouble that I've had this year is that the timeslots that work well for my riding no longer have anything on, so I was stuck either staring at the wall or just throwing it on a news channel to fill the time. Having something interesting to watch makes a huge difference in being able to stay on the bike for extended periods.

Along with that, I also signed up for the free trial month being offered by Netflix. The concept of this service is pretty much perfect for this application, as it allows me to pull down whatever I want at a whim. Earlier in the week I was just recording stuff on my Media Center box and watching that, which worked well but required a lot of planning (ie figuring out how much material I needed and what I could record without anyone spoiling it for me before I got around to watching it). Their selection here in Canada is pretty limited, but I only need it to last for a few months until I can get back outside so there are enough old movies/TV shows that I wouldn't mind watching over again.

Unfortunately, when I tried it out the first time the picture was slowly sequencing between light and dark. After fiddling around with the connections, I figured out that the idiots are using Macrovision (an archaic 'copy protection' mechanism which was defeated a long time ago) which messes around with the gain on my VCR (I'm using an old TV that only has an F-connector, so I need that to modulate the composite signal provided by the XBox). The videos were still watchable, but it's annoying enough that I'm unlikely to continue on once the paid period starts up (unless I can figure out a way to turn off the AGC circuitry in the VCR). It's too bad, however, as aside from that the service worked quite well.

Week 2 Totals:
Running: 46.3km (28.8mi)
Walking: 1.2km (0.7mi)
Cycling: 120.1km (74.6mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 176.4km (109.6mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 124.5km (77.4mi)
Walking: 3.7km (2.3mi)
Cycling: 185.2km (115.1mi)
Swimming: 17.5km (10.9mi)
Total: 330.9km (205.6mi)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Week 1: Review

Since moving my bike inside a few weeks back, I've been slacking a lot on my cycling mileage. As such, I doubled my efforts to get back into the routine and am starting to re-build myself to where I was. I did end up missing one of my planned rides this week, however that's a significant improvement over what I've been doing. I also have been progressively increasing the mileage that I put in on those sessions, and hope to get back into the mindset that allows me to do 50-80K rides on the trainer.

One thing that helped a lot with that was setting up an XBox by the trainer so that I can watch recorded videos while riding (costs less and does more than any of the dedicated boxes). In previous years I just stuck with whatever was on television, but unfortunately this year there isn't much on in the time bracket that I'd prefer to ride so I had to look for an alternative. I'm probably going to give the Netflix one month free trial a spin to see how it works, but looking at the catalog on their website I'm not really expecting it to be great.

On the running and swimming front, things pretty much went as planned. Running mileage is a little lower than the previous week, but that's largely because I didn't do the much-longer-than-planned group run that I've been doing lately. As with last week, I managed to put down another 16 miler which is pretty much my plateau for off season training. I'll likely back off a bit next week for recovery, and then build back up to this level.

Weather this week has been pretty hostile, however fortunately it's been possible to simply move sessions around so it didn't mess with things too much. Pace is a little lower than normal as running over ice and snow covered trails requires a bit more care, but that's pretty much par for the course in January. After doing a few runs through thick snow, the legs are starting to get used to the extra work ;)

Week 1 Totals:
Running: 52.4km (32.5mi)
Walking: 1.5km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 65.1km (40.4mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 127.8km (79.4mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 78.2km (48.6mi)
Walking: 2.5km (1.6mi)
Cycling: 65.1km (40.4mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 154.6km (96.1mi)

As for this year's plan, I'm still working out the details so I don't really have a structured training routine worked out as of yet. At this point, the primary objective is to hold my swim and run mileage as is and work my cycling mileage back up in order to have as good a base as possible for when I do start formally training. With that said, if I do want to make a run at a BQ this year I'm going to have to start getting into a routine sooner than later.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010: Year in Review

While I had substantial plans for 2010, they were largely short circuited by scheduling issues preventing me from hitting my primary targets. Physically I had a good training year, seeing improvements in all three sports and getting in some solid training. Unfortunately, without the races it's difficult to quantify those improvements as those all-out efforts are typically the best way to test things out.

The one thing that I did mange to do very well this year is avoid any injuries getting in the way. I did have some back issues at the beginning of the year, but they were largely a result of trying to do too much mileage during my base period at the end of 2009. I've had a few things pop up since then, but on those occasions I was able to detect them early, back off and prevented them from flaring up. Catching those signs is a good step in the learning process, as straddling the line between avoiding injuries and working out hard enough to see gains is critical to squeezing out maximum performance.

If there is one thing that I do need to learn from this year it's not to put off registering for races. My primary goal for 2010 was to race Ironman Muskoka but the high cost to register had me holding off due to scheduling concerns. With a $300+ registration fee, that's a lot of money to lose if I couldn't make it so I wanted to be 100% sure that nothing would get in the way. Unfortunately, work was unpredictable this year and I kept putting it off until it was too late. The other races I wanted to do this year fell to similar fates, and that resulted in me only getting one 5K in (which I didn't really race).

The Numbers:

Running: 2,247.0km (1,396.2mi) - 188h12m (5:02/km avg.)
Walking: 97.2km (60.4mi)
Cycling: 4,482.4km (2,785.2mi) - 148h30m (30.2km/h avg.)
Swimming: 345.5km (214.7mi) - 138h42m (2:24/100m avg.*)
Total: 7,172.1km (4,456.5mi)
* Note, swim time and averages include breaks and drill sessions.

Relative to 2009:
Running: -447.5km(-16%)/-41h50m(-18%)
Walking: -139.8km(-59%)
Cycling: +423.8km(+10%)/+14h17m(+11%)
Swimming: +164.8km(+91%)

My overall mileage this year was pretty much exactly what it was the year before although the makeup was significantly different. As my focus largely shifted to Triathlons, my running and walking mileage dropped while my swimming and cycling mileage climbed. I'd have liked to see most of those numbers higher than they were this year, but unfortunately scheduling time on the bike and in the water is a bit more complicated than on foot as there are more constraints to work around.

With that said, pretty much all of those totals were effected by the lack of racing that I did this year. Without the races I never built up to the extreme mileage weeks that I normally do, so the miles this year were more evenly distributed throughout the season. For illustration purposes, the following is a diagram from running free online plotting my mileage from this year (Polar's ProTrainer software generated a better plot for last year, but unfortunately I have no way to import my Garmin Edge 705/800 files into it):

For comparison purposes, last years mileage looked like this:

As you can see, the peaks don't quite reach the same levels as last year, but there is less up and down over the year. The other thing that you'll likely notice is the drop off in cycling mileage at the end of this year, as the weather wasn't nearly as accommodating as it was in 2009 near the end of the season. That meant going inside on the trainer earlier, and it always takes a while after that transition to get back into the routine of things.

On the fitness side of the equation, my weight continued to creep up a little higher than I'd like so that will have to be a focus this year. A portion of that is likely upper-body muscle mass due to the addition of swimming into my routine, but I don't think that can account for all of the gain this year. I'm still within the healthy range for my height, but the more mass that I have to drag around the harder I need to work so getting back into the low-160s/high-150s should be an objective.


2010 Racing History:
As mentioned above, I didn't really do any significant racing this year. The only event that I did run was the Harry's 5K, but that's more of a social event and I rarely go all out. Given the hills on this course a PB isn't likely to happen, so while I pushed reasonably hard this year it wasn't really a full effort race.

Looking Ahead

As I didn't really hit my objectives for last year, they're pretty much going to carry through into 2011. With that said, the main difference this time around is that I had a chance to build up my swimming and cycling this year so I can go about things in a more aggressive manner. Ideally, I'd like to run a half iron distance race in late June as a test and then build up to an all-out race of the same distance in Muskoka. That wasn't possible last year as I hadn't build up enough, but with this year's training in the bag it should be feasible. As Welland isn't an official M-Dot race, it's a lot less expensive so I won't feel so tempted to go all out on it.

I was thinking about making a BQ attempt at either the Mississauga or Toronto Marathons in May, however doing that would require me to hold off on the above a bit as it would require more focus on running training. Unfortunately, with the threat of the BAA adjusting the qualifying standards I'm leaning away from that idea as there is no sense in putting in that level of effort if I can't get there. Aiming for 3:10 will be extremely difficult, but I think that it's within the realm of possibilities - if that's adjusted to 3:05, however, there isn't much point.

As with last year, I'd like to try and get my 5K time under 20 minutes at some point this year, but it's not a huge priority. My fastest time in this distance so far was 20:55, but that was nearly two years ago and on an injured ankle so 20 minutes should be within reach. With that said, this needs a different type of training that the endurance focus that I'm currently working with, so finding a way to slot it in without disrupting the primary objectives may be difficult.

Either way, I need to look over the race schedules for the year and formulate a plan to achieve those goals. The schedules for the Triathlon season are still tentative, so I can't really get into too much detail until the organizers nail them down. Muskoka is going to be somewhat questionable as the WTC moved the World Championships to the same weekend so it's likely that that's going to be moved around a bit. I'm also hoping that the BAA speaks up sooner or later about what they're going to do, as if I want to make that attempt I'm going to have to start training for it in the very near future.

On the cycling front, I'm also going to have to find a way to get some longer rides in this year. While I got decent overall mileage, my individual rides still maxed out at a little over 100K. I don't like doing much more than that solo, and unfortunately I wasn't able to talk my friends into doing anything longer than that. I'd like to progressively work my way up to at least 100 miles at some point this year one way or another.

Week 52: Review

The last week of 2010 was pretty busy and, combined with picking up a mild throat infection, I ended up missing one of my swims and didn't manage to get on the bike. Fortunately, thanks to Frank talking me into a 13.1 mile group run on Wednesday, my running mileage ended up being higher than planned. Thankfully, I was feeling much better by Sunday and was able to get the full 16 miler in as planned.

I also managed to do a bit more mileage on Tuesday's pool session, doing a little over a kilometer more than usual. Unfortunately, we had a swim club invade the pool on us and they didn't have even a basic understanding of pool etiquette which made things difficult (obviously used to having a reserved pool). They started off by diving into the deep end of active lanes without warning and narrowly missing a few swimmers already in the pool. Once in, they swam in tight packs with one another (which made it impossible to pass them when necessary) and when they took breaks (which they had lots of) they piled up against the wall leaving nowhere for others to turn around.

When there is a lot of traffic, I generally skip taking breaks and just stick with a continuous program to keep things clean. Generally speaking, this makes it easier for lane mates as it makes me more predictable and, thus, allows them to better work around me. The result of that is that I tend to do a bit more mileage as without the breaks I simply have more time to work with. When people follow the rules (resting on the sides of the lanes, avoiding blocking, etc.), this typically works very well.

Unfortunately, with this particular group they just kept gumming up the works and made no effort to work with me. For the first twenty minutes or so, I tried to be polite and do what I could to work around them. It quickly became evident, however, that that wasn't working and they were either (a) trying to force me out of the lane (they were using 4 of the 6 lanes, and the remaining two were packed with much slower swimmers) or (b) completely oblivious to how much of a PITA they were being. As I had about twenty pounds on all of them, I got tired of tip toeing around them and just switched over to freight train mode. Fortunately, after a couple of minutes of that they did a pretty good job of staying out of my way and I was able to finish my workout without any further issues.

Either way, I won't go on too much more here as I'll be putting together a full yearly review later today - just wanted to quickly log the details of the week. Fortunately, I noticed that my total mileage this year was approaching that of last year so I bumped up the mileage on Friday's run from 5 miles to 10K to push me over the edge. My running mileage was lower this year, but as my focus was on the Triathlon side of things that was made up for by significant increases in cycling and swimming miles.

Week 52 Totals:
Running: 56.9km (35.4mi)
Walking: 1.4km (0.9mi)
Cycling: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Swimming: 5.1km (3.2mi)
Total: 63.4km (39.4mi)

January 1st 2010 to Date:
Running: 2272.7km (1412.2mi)
Walking: 98.2km (61.0mi)
Cycling: 4482.4km (2785.2mi)
Swimming: 345.5km (214.7mi)
Total: 7198.8km (4473.1mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 25.8km (16.0mi)
Walking: 1.0km (0.6mi)
Cycling: 0km (0mi)
Swimming: 0km (0mi)
Total: 26.8km (16.6mi)