Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First PIG Session

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be increasing the intensity on my bike rides in an attempt to increase my sustained power output.  This is harder than it sounds.  Usually I just head down to the trainer in my garage and pop in a DVD, start riding.  The DVD makes the trainer ride bearable, but also distracts me from what I am trying to accomplish in my workout.

I think to get the full benefit of these shorter workouts I really need to dial in my wattage targets, so what I really need is a plan that specifies particular wattage intervals and times and gives me a clear target.  The problem is that it takes a lot of time to come up with a good plan, particularly coming up with specific wattage numbers.  If you're lucky you have a coach who can create that for you, but that is something I can't afford.

But I think I have come up with the next best thing.  The Computrainer PIG training plan.  PIG stands for Performance Improvement Guarantee.  Basically they guarantee that if you buy their product and follow their free program you will improve your functional threshold wattage by 10% (or something like that. I don't plan on buying a Computrainer.) However, you don't need a Computrainer to follow the program.  You just need any type of powermeter.  Theoretically you could even use speed so long as your trainer has a consistent speed/resistance curve that would allow you to translate power numbers into MPH.

The best part of the plan (other than that it is completely free) is that it downloads as an Excel file.  You simply input you CP30 wattage (the highest wattage you can sustain for 30 minutes) and it calculates all your workouts with power targets for the next 5 weeks.  Then you retest your CP30 and do it all over again. 

I did a 30min time trial last Saturday and held an average of 195 watts over the 30 minutes.  I think perhaps that is a little low because I felt I probably could have went a little harder, but it works as a starting point.  My first session was today with a Tempo workout with 15 minutes of warmup and 45minutes at 166 watts. I definitely worked harder than normal, so I think this is going to work.


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Monday, January 26, 2009

Ramping Up the Training

I've been back on the training bandwagon for a full four weeks now and thought I would supply an update. I wanted to start slow and build steadily, and that is indeed what I have done. In fact, this has been the most consistent training I have done in many, many months. I think cutting back on the hours has actually allowed me to train more, because I am more willing to do a workout even if I don't have available the full time alotted. Before I would try to fit in these hour and a half trainer rides and then ditch it if my life only allowed 30 minutes. That's real growth as an athlete, people. Here is a nice chart showing the build over the last few weeks.

Last week was bit more hours than expected because I was able to go on a four hour ride with a friend due to the MLK holiday. I expect my swimming hours and time on the bike to stabilize where they are, but my average weekly run time will increase. I just added a fourth run day this past week, and will maintain that for a couple more weeks. After that I will add one more for a total of five runs a week. This much running is very new to me. Even in my marathon training last year I never did more than three runs a week, but I am hoping the increased volume will lead to some big gains and also help take off some weight.

I had a fantastic run yesterday in Hahamonga Watershed Park. I did two laps around the park (around 6.7 miles) without having to stop for a walk break once. Even on the hills. Yeah!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Total Immersion Swimming

After attending a Triathletix swim clinic late last year, and seeing how helpful it was in improving my technique, I purchased the latest Total Immersion DVD titled Easy Freestyle. I made the purchase with the idea that it would help me perfect the drills necessary to fully ingrain proper swimming technique. I purchased the TI book a few years ago when I first took up swimming, but frankly it is really hard to understand the drills and how they are supposed to be done from a book, even a book full of drawings. Video is much better. Although I have to say that the video might be difficult for a novice. There were several things that were discussed in the video that I don't think I would have even understood except for the fact that I attended the swim clinic.

Here is a video taken off of the TI blog, featuring the author Terry Laughlin. The thing to notice is how little splash he makes as he swims. There is almost zero movement of the water. Incredible.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Training Lessons from 2008, Goals for 2009

Planning my 2009 has to start with a look back at 2008. What was a success, and what was not. First the successes:

Increased threshold power on the bike by 10% over winter.
Finished my first marathon.
Completed my first 100 mile bike ride (with 11,000 feet of climbing no less).
Did more races/events than ever before.

Then the failures:
Did not complete training for marathon due to sickness.
Swim training never really got off the ground causing me to bail out on the Dwight Crum Pier to Pier Swim.
DNF the Grand Tour Double Metric by not being prepared (co2 is not enough on a century ride -- you need a pump, not just one tube and lots of patches).
Actually lost some threshold power on the bike training for the double metric century.

Looking back I think I tried to do too much. At the end of last year I realized that my triathlon training was unsustainable. I wanted to do longer and more challenging events, but could not realisticlly train for them with the time I have and still succeed in the other other areas of my life that are important to me. So instead I planned on doing single sport events so that I could focus on one sport at a time and let the others become crosstraining. Not a bad plan, but running a marathon turned into doing a marathon, a two mile swim and then a crazy long ride. Lots of people can do all these events, but apparently I am not one of them.

So my only stretch endurance event will be a marathon. Probably the SF Marathon. An because it will be my main endurance event for the year, it makes sense that I do it later in the year. I really would like to shoot for under 4.5 hours. I'm not really tested on the running front because last year's run training was devestated by a six week double occurance of the flu, but I think if I am to reach this goal, I need to really up the volume and frequency. So I am going to aim for 4-5 runs a week. That means more mixing in running with swimming and biking.

But I still want to do some other events. I think that I was able to significantly increase my power on the bike over the winter because I was doing short intense trainer rides and longer slower paced runs. Looking back I think that this mixture was effective because on the bike you can really build the muscle with intensity without your joints getting to beat up (unlike doing track repeats) and the long runs develop a metabolic endurance that passes over to your cycling. So I think that will be a combination that I will pursue again this year. No long rides over two hours. Just short, intense rides to boost power. My goal is to raise my threshold power on the bike to 250 watts.

I think that the fact that my swimming never really got off the ground was mostly due to frustration with not improving. To improve, I really need to focus on technique rather than volume. The clinic I went to late last year was a good start, but I need to drill, baby drill. As a result I don't plan on doing any swimming events this year. I will just do short swims where I can drill and maintain quality throughout the session. I plan on doing that 'til the marathon, at which point I will add in a bit of volume to prepare for a late season Olympic distance triathlon. I would like to get my thresold pace down to 2:00 per hundred meters.


Interesting Article on Recovery Sports Drinks

I've been thinking a lot about nutrition lately. I am cutting calories to lose weight, but in my experience you also have to be careful in what you eat and the timing of the intake to get the full benefits of training and to minimize some of the negative effects of dieting. A good source of straight facts on nutrition and dieting, without the hype, is Lyle McDonald. Here is an interesting article from his site objectively comparing a commercially available recovery drink to chocolate milk.

An Objective Comparison of Chocolate Milk and Surge Recovery | BodyRecomposition - The Home of Lyle McDonald

Right now I happen to make my own recovery beverage out of whey protein powder, powdered Gatorade and some supplemental glutamine and branched chain amino acids. But my training secret is that sometimes I just substitute a caffe mocha from the local coffee bar. A caffe mocha has anti-oxidants from cocoa and coffee, sugar for glycogen replacement, both whey and casein proteins and a good dose of caffeine for heightened insulin sensitivity. It may be the best recovery drink out there.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year -- New Goals

Ok, for a while I thought this blog was dead too. You see, here are the priorities -- spending time with the family, work, training and then at the very bottom of the list is blogging. But here's the deal. When I don't blog about my training most of it doesn't happen.

So here's to a new year, with new goals. Right now I am planning on doing the San Francisco Marathon in July. It's a beautiful city, and I usually visit relatives in the Bay Area in July anyways. The timing seems good for me as well in the sense that spring events (i.e. the LA Marathon or the Big Sur Marathon that one of my friends is doing) are usually foiled by winter illness, and training for a fall event means doing lots of running in the hot, hot August. So there you go. A summer marathon with a few short tri's thrown in for fun. I'm also thinking of doing a time trial series. I have to justify having my TT bike, right?

So the first order of business for me in training for a marathon is dropping some weight. I had some great success a few years ago with DietPower (a calorie counting software), going from 280 to 235. Since then I have fallen off the wagon, and even with lots and lots of training over the last two seasons my weight has hovered around 245-250. Right now it is 240 (I have lost 5 lbs eating junk over the holidays. Go figure.) So I'm back to calorie counting.

Currently I'm at 240 pounds with a body fat percentage around 30%. I want to get that down to a healthy range of around 15%. If I can retain the lean mass that would mean a total body weight of just under 200lbs. So that is my goal, hopefully with lots of run training I can do it before a July marathon.

Now I won't do just calorie counting, I also will focus on eating more Paleo (more meat, veggies and fruit) and less starchy carbs. I have found in the past that I feel better and have less binges when I eat Paleo, but I need the reality check and honesty of the numbers that DietPower provides.

I'll keep you posted.


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