Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This week is our last recovery week. Our training builds up one more time for the next couple weeks and then we taper and race. Our training seems to be going as planned. We were both ready for a recovery week. Recovery week doesn't mean no exercise, it just means you give your body a break and cut your volume back but still keep the intensity high. We also are taking two complete rest days this week. Treating ourselves to massages and making sure we get plenty of sleep and good food.

We need to go into our last few weeks feeling fresh and ready to go. Our volume will build up to a peak in a couple of weeks and then the 2 weeks before the race we will taper our volume and get ready to race reaching our ultimate peak on race day.

Pretty exciting! It has been great for me to have this race to focus on because then I will have 16 weeks until my Ironman and I will just keep building my volume from here. My Ironman was too far away to really focus on so this race has been very motivating for me. It is always good to break a big goal down and focus on a more short term goal. Training for this race has really stepped up my training and I have improved a lot. I am anxious to see how I do. One month after this race I have Wildflower as another in between goal and I'll probably do 1 or 2 Olympic distance races before my ironman too. I would like to race a lot this year.

Happy recovery to me!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Transitions are an easy way to take a couple of seconds off without having to do any extra work in the gym or on the track or in the pool if you know what I mean. I can recall a few races where a friend of mine had come out of the water first and I ran into transition behind her and then ran out of transition before her. I took my transitions seriously though, I practice them and I think through what I am going to do.

It is part of the race- why would you train so hard to improve your run, your bike and your swim and not practice your transitions, they count!

My T1- As I am running out of the water I take off my swim cap and goggles and I am unzipping and pulling my wetsuit down to my waist. So I get to my transition area and do one big pull on my wet suit to get it down to my ankles where I can start the "Step and Pull", a little dance step. As I am stepping on one side of the wetsuit and pulling the other back and forth hopefully only once or twice I have my hands free to put my helmet on and my jacket on which I have placed both up high on the handle bars of my bike so I don't have to bend down(It is hard and not recommended to step and pull and bend down at the same time). By the way Clip your helmet immediatley when you put it on, don't leave clipping it until the end, you may forget and that is a DQ in most races. Now my feet are out of my wetsuit, I usually have a small towel and a squirt bottle of water to squirt on my feet and dry them before I put my cycling shoes on. I have done socks and I have done no socks at this point(undecided on that one). I now have my helmet on and clipped, my jacket on(if it is a race I will need a jacket) and my shoes on and I am ready to go. My sunglasses are clipped on my bike and all of my nutrition is on my bike. I am off to start my favorite part of the race!

T2- This one is easier. As I am coming into the transition area on my bike I unvelcro my shoes. I dismount and run to my transition area and kick each shoe off then slide them into my running shoes where I have yankz so I don't have to tie them. I grab my hat, and my race belt and take off running. I put my hat and race belt on as I am running out. If you don't have Yankz you should get some and try them out before race day-

A few tips to remember when planning your transitions....
1. Simplify. The less you have to do the better. Your less likely to forget something and it will take less time. Things like putting your sunglasses on your bike somewhere to put on down the road help to simplify. Some triathletes already have their shoes on their bike and they rubberband the heel loop to the bike to put the shoe in an upright position. They ride out with their feet on top of the shoe until they get coasting then they slide their foot into the shoe. This takes a lot of practice so don't try it in a race unless you have practiced it over and over again. Just remember to Keep it Simple!
2. Multi Task. You should be good at doing two things at once. As you are running in taking off your goggles and cap and wetsuit and then putting on your helmet as you are taking off your wetsuit. Running out while putting your race belt on and hat on. These are all good examples of how you can save time by doing more than one thing at a time.
3. Practice!!! You have to train your transitions, this is part of triathlon training. The only way to get faster at them is to train your self at doing them. Some triathletes come up with little songs that help them to remember everything- "Helmet, Glasses, Shoes, I'm Off!" Just don't neglect to not practice your transition.

Happy Transitioning!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wetsuits and funny looks.

There is nothing funnier looking than someone dressed in a wetsuit with their cap and goggles on. Especially when they are walking around their front yard(which does not have a beach). Yesterday we practiced our transitions and taking our wetsuits on and off. So both of us were dressed in our wetsuits, caps and goggles standing on my street as my neighbours drove by giving us funny looks. My neighbours must think we're nuts!

We set up our transition stations in my garage and started on the street and said "Go!" and ran up the drive way to our transition area. I have always used the step and pull method which has always worked well for me. After pulling it all the way down to my ankles I step on one side with my other foot and pull that ankle out and then switch, usually back and forth two or three times. This frees up my hands to start putting my helmet on or jacket if I am going to need one. I'll have to blog about transitions sometime because this is a very easy way to take a lot of time off of your race. You should all be practicing your transitions...

Back to wetsuits- I have been lucky to accummulate three wetsuits. My very first wetsuit I got with Team in Training when I did my first season with them as a participant and raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They set you up with an Orca wetsuit in your size to keep. On my second or third triathlon I tore it while putting it on the night before the race(Note: Acrylic Nails and wetsuits don't mix). I had to run down to Sport Chalet and get wetsuit glue but the tear was all the way across my crotch. I laid it on my table and glued it and hoped in the morning when I woke up it would look Ok or atleast be functional for my race. It was glued together and functional but looked awful. I wore it with a giant smiley face of dribbling glue across my crotch and got all kinds of looks. I wore it for the rest of that year doing my first Olympic distance in it. It didn't really show up in pictures so that was Ok.

Before the next season I treated myself to a new wetsuit. I stuck with Orca since I liked the first one and I got one of those with red shoulders cause I thought it looked cool, I love red by the way and I am all about looking good at these races- there are lots of pictures taken:) So, I sported my new Orca suit for the first time at the Ironman California 70.3 last year and it worked well because my husband could spot me in the water with the red shoulders. It felt very similar to my first wetsuit.

I recently was lucky enough to get a T1 two piece suit for $50.00. At that price I took it even though I have a fairly new wetsuit just to try out a different kind of suit since all I had worn was Orca. It is Farmer Johns on the bottom and then a long sleeve shirt pulled over them. I think I like it better than the one piece Orca. I have a very long torso and having the top seperate feels much better when I am swimming. I wore it in La Jolla for the first time and felt like my arms could move a lot better. I am going to try it out at the California Half this year and I'll let you know how it goes. The only thing I have to get down is pulling that top over my head in transition.

The nice thing is with all of these extra suits I have started wearing my first Team in Training Wetsuit(the one with the tear and glue) as my pool wetsuit to get some practice swimming in a wetsuit once a week. I started this last night. Talk about funny looks...when you start putting your wetsuit on at the edge of a heated pool and waddle over to jump in wearing a people definitley think I'm nuts! What a difference wearing a wetsuit is though... I was doing 800m and I took 2 minutes off of my normal time on each one. My arms were getting much more tired though wearing a suit so it will be good to practice in one once a week. It feels harder to swim in a wetsuit because your arms feel like they have to work harder but it must be easier because you are faster. Your feet floating is a definite advantage. You definitley get pretty toasty though!

If you have an old suit pull it out and do a few laps at the pool next time your there- you'll get some funny looks but who cares? It's good practice!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week at a glance...

This past week was a peak week in our training. We are periodizing our training by building our volume for 3 weeks at a time and then recovering for one week. I have also been alternating between building volume and increasing speed every 4 weeks.

Monday- New strength training program which we will perform twice a week right up until the race and a very hard track workout. We did mile repeats as many as you could without a significant drop off. My first one was 8:37, so I was not going to go above 9 min. I ended up getting 8 of them! This was very tough! 8- 1 mile repeats. I used my heart rate monitor as the gauge of when to go again. When I got into the 120s it was time to go again, usually about 1-1:30 minute rests. And I just kept going until my final 8th mile I felt my legs get pretty tired and I hit 9:03. So I was done at that point.

Tuesday- Brick with 30 miles on the bike and a 30 minute run. I felt wiped out. I didn't have a very good workout. I chaulked it up to needing my day off tomorrow but maybe I was getting sick. I cut the run short and only did 25 minutes because I could not keep a good pace, I was averaging like a 10 minute mile. I felt wiped out when we were done. I still had a swim on the schedule which I would do a few hours later. I actually felt good in the pool, my swim went pretty good. I did 5 x 500m each in under 10 minutes.

Wednesday- Day Off, I did take some time to stretch and foam roll. My body has been feeling pretty tight from all of the training.

Thursday and Friday- Sick!!!!

Saturday- I did a 4-5 mile run. I was down in Palos Verdes and couldn't resist running along the trails along the cliffs of the ocean. The run took me 39 minutes so I figure it was anywhere from 4-5 miles. This was my first workout back after being sick and I felt pretty good. I went to the gym and did one round of my strength training routine and then we rode our bikes about 10 miles total to watch the Tour of California bike race finish right here in Santa Clarita. That was very cool to see!

Sunday- On the plan for today is a bike/run x 3. We will bike 5 miles, run 2 miles and repeat 3 times. This is great for practicing transitions which we will set up at my house. I'll let you know how it goes...

For ideas on training plans some of the books I have read and recommend are...

Have an inspired week of training!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bad timing to be sick!

When is good timing to be sick? Never. I hate being sick and I don't get sick very often, maybe once a year. Usually a cold. This time I got hit with a bad flu. It hit me two nights ago, my stomach was doing kartwheels and I was miserable all night. I spent yesterday sleeping and in the bathroom(I'll spare you the details). I knew I had to get some fluid in with all of the fluid I was losing so I had two gatorades throughout the day. I also had half a banana. That was my total nutrition for the day- about 450 calories. I literally slept all day long right through the night. I don't think I even knew a day had passed. I woke up this morning feeling better. I just had some solid food- Oatmeal, and so far so good! I am hoping to have a normal day of eating today and feel good by tomorrow to get back to my training. That is the most frustrating part, when your training is going so well and your right on track and then BAM! You get hit with the flu and miss 2-3 training days. This is the end of a big week too! I'll be well just in time for our recovery week...but we still have 6 weeks until the half ironman. I have plenty of time after getting knocked off my feet like this for a few days- no biggie! I am feeling better already! But it is bad timing to be sick!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Visualization...Training weekend Part Three

Sunday we both woke up feeling a little sore but ready to attack our run which would take place on the course of our race. I did this race last year so I already know the course but my training partner has never seen Oceanside or the course. I think it is a huge advantage to know the course ahead of time. Once you know what the course looks like you can picture yourself there during your training sessions. Using visualization is very powerful when it comes to success in you performance. "If your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve."

I pointed out the entrance for the run and we both took off running one loop of the course(6.5 miles about) The course starts by putting you on the beach running on the sand so that's where we headed not realizing it was high tide. As we turned the corner we realized the waves were hitting the rocks we were supposed to run around. So, the first part of the run became a climb. We both ran as the waves went down and then jumped on the rocks when the waves came crashing up. We both ended up with soaking wet shoes and I got wet up to my waist when one big wave crashed right up the rock I was standing on. Oh, well- keep running, we'll dry off... After getting around the rocks and off the beach we were on the boardwalk along the beach which is a really flat wide open run. The sun was beating down on us really hot. I had a Gu to give me a boost and ran as fast as I could. I remembered the course from last year and remembered the little hills that you felt especially the second loop around. For the most part it is a really flat course but there are a few inclines and a few declines(not really hills.) My training partner did awesome, she ran really fast and ended up doing a sub 7 min mile, I hit my 9 min mile pace. We were both burning up, really sweaty and feeling wiped when we finished. I told her she needed to picture herself running across the finish line when she wins!

We went straight to the car to down our Surge Post Workout drinks we had premade and then went to go and see the rest of the course. I showed her where the transition area would be and where the swim takes place. She didn't realize we were swimming in a harbor where there are no waves at all. She realized that she was going to have a very fast swim. The swim is a deep water start, you walk down a boat ramp and swim out to a buoy where you start the race.
You swim toward the opening of the harbor and then back to the boat ramp. She realized that without waves this was going to be an easy swim for her and she would have no problem. She'll come out of the water first, have a strong bike to hold her position in first and then a fast run to win the race! I guess I have visualized her race for for me, I am hoping for a swim in about 38 minutes(43:37 last year), a bike in under 3 hours(3:06:25 last year), and a run in about 2 hours(2:13 last year). This would be a huge improvement for me. My transitions were pretty fast last year so if I kept my transitions the same this would give me a time of under 5:45(last year my time was 6:10). I would be extremely happy with this time. So I have visualized myself crossing the finish line in 5:45 from when I start!

I won't have the advantage of seeing the course at my Ironman until I get up there a few days before but you can bet I will do some visualization once I am there.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Training Weekend Part 2

Saturday we decided to go for a swim first thing in the morning. So, we woke up had a shake and some coffee, grabbed our wetsuits and headed to the beach. It was another beautiful day in La Jolla! Sunny and warm! The cove was busy with scuba divers, swimmers and tourists walking around. We suited up and as we were standing there we noticed there was a lot of commotion- helicopters, lifeguards, etc. and they appeared to be looking for someone or something. Nobody was telling us not to go in so it must be Ok. We walked down to the water which felt colder than yesterday but was super clear. You could see fish swimming around your ankles as you walked in. We headed for the buoy, sighting off of a red roofed building straight ahead. Today there was no sign of sea lions at the buoy so we swam right to it and kept on going past it toward the opposite shore. We ended up swimming for about 40 minutes total, so atleast a mile. I felt good but I was noticing that I have a hard time leaving my face in the cold blue water and was taking breathes more often than when I am in the pool. I tried to relax and leave my head in the water for 3 breathes but it was hard for me to do. The surroundings were just amazing, what a beautiful place to swim! The helicopters were still circling overhead which was a little disconcerting but I figured if anything happened to us, they would be there instantly. After heading into shore we asked the lifeguard what was going on and I guess it ended up being a false alarm of a skin diver missing. It was a fantastic swim! Time to grab some food and then head out on our bikes!

The bike ride we did was the route from the CAF Half Ironman which takes place right there in La Jolla. The route headed north and inland along some beautiful huge houses and horse ranches with a few hard climbs and then on the way back we were on the PCH right along the beaches. We had a great ride, kept a really good pace and got a couple of good climbs in. We did the 56 miles in 3:20 which isn't bad at all considering we stopped at stop lights and even made a pit stop at Vons for more fluid. It was very hot so we were careful to make sure we were drinking enough.

We got back and were both wiped out from our hard days training. We showered and had Sushi at an excellent sushi restaurant for dinner and then went back home early and to bed by 10:30. Another fantastic day of training in the beautiful surroundings and gorgeous weather! Tune in again tomorrow to hear about our final day where we scouted out the site of the race on our way home...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Life is too short... train in ugly surroundings! My training partner and I were in La Jolla this past weekend and it was a gorgeous weekend! We arrived on Friday and within a half hour of getting there were off on our bikes for a 30 mile ride heading south though Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. We found the steepest climb I think I have ever seen and went up and down it a couple times. It was short climb, just very steep. The ride ended with us getting lost and climbing to the top of some mountain. This was one of those climbs that just kept going and going and we weren't even sure if we were headed in the right direction. The downhill was even crazier- we were both clamped down on our brakes as we twisted and turned down this very steep grade praying that we were going in the right direction because we did not want to have to climb back up it. Thank goodness it dropped us off back in La Jolla. When we got back we grabbed our wetsuits and headed to the cove for a swim.

We got to the beach and there were bigger waves than I remember in the cove. We started to put our wetsuits on and a guy who was swimming by himself came in as we were standing there. He seemed a little freaked out by the waves and then he told us that he thought he saw sharks out by the buoy we were about to swim out to. I started to talk myself out of the swim but my training partner wasn't having it- "We are going!"Looking at the buoy from shore there were birds sitting on it, not sharks... We were mad that he said that to us and decided to ignore him, he obviously hadn't swam in open water much. We asked the lifeguard if all was good to head out and he directed us on where to enter and exit the water. Always a good idea to have a chat with the lifeguard before you head out! So we headed out to the buoy which was about a 1/4 mile out.
The waves were easy to swim through but being in open water is so different from being in the pool. It was a wake up call that I needed to get some open water swimming in. I followed behind my training partner as we swam toward the buoy and as we got closer we realized that those weren't birds at all, maybe they were sharks, or something else large with their tails sticking up in the air...all I could say was- "They look like they are feeding on something! Let's turn around!" The sun was going down pretty quickly anyway and I did not want to be out there in the dark. So we turned around and headed for shore. We decided they were sea lions, not sharks but definitley not birds! We probably swam a half mile total. It felt great to swim in open water and what beautiful surroundings! Tomorrow we would come back again for another swim...tune in tomorrow for the rest of the weekend adventures!

Friday, February 16, 2007

3 days a week

I have been swimming for 3 days a week now for 6 weeks and I am noticing a huge difference. Swimming is the hardest of the three sports for me. I learned to swim for triathlon and mentally I struggle with myself to get in the pool every swim workout. I can always come up with an excuse or justification why I shouldn't swim but thank goodness my training partner loves to swim so we have not missed a swim workout for the past 6 weeks and I have been in 3 times a week swimming anywhere from 3500m-6500m a week total.

I have learned to flip turn and have it down now to where it feels easier than stopping on each side. I timed my mile and have taken 3 minutes off of it in the last 6 weeks. I am getting to where I don't talk myself out of swimming anymore and almost to where I look forward to swimming. Almost... I always enjoy the swim workouts once I am in, it's just getting into the "not so warm" water that is always hard. The first couple laps always feel hard and then as I warm up I really do enjoy the workout.

I will continue to swim 3 days a week right through my training and by the end you won't be able to get me out of the pool :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

To train or not to train?

We have had a great week of training! Starting with Fridays triple brick and including Sunday's very hard 54 mile bike ride, Monday's Track workout and Power Workout, Tuesdays Brick and Strength workout. I was starting to feel wiped out. On my run on my Brick on Tuesday I felt that my legs were not recovered and were in need of some rest.

In the midst of this I had something come up that forced me to have a couple of late nights helping out a friend so I only got about 6 hours of sleep a couple of nights in a row including Tuesday night when I was feeling pretty wiped already.

On the plan was a run and swim on Wednesday and I woke up feeling wiped out. So the question is- Should I stick to the plan and do my scheduled training sessions or should I postpone them to tomorrow(when I am supposed to have a day off) and take a day off today instead? How do you know if you are making excuses not to work out or if you truly shouldn't bother training because you will not get anything out of the session. I always preach quality before quantity so if your training session is not going to be a high quality session because you haven't recovered and haven't got sleep are you better off skipping it? There is no sense in doing it just to do it and have a crappy session that will teach your body how to perform crappy, right?

I decided to listen to my body and swap my day off and take it on Wednesday. This way I still got all of my workouts in for the week but I knew if I got a good nights sleep on Wednesday night and had a restful day I would have much better training sessions on Thursday than I would have had on Wednesday.

This worked out perfectly, I woke up feeling refreshed and recovered and had a great run this morning and then a record swim(I timed my mile swim and got 32 minutes, last time I timed it I got 35 minutes). I was glad I swapped days. I am going to bed early tonight to get at least 8 hours of sleep again going into the weekend which is packed full of hard training sessions again and I want to be ready for it!

It is hard sometimes to know if you are just being lazy and justifying taking an extra day off or if you really need it and really should not work out that day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What's to eat?

When you are training as much as I have been training, you get hungry a lot! You have to be very careful about making sure you are prepared with healthy food to eat throughout the day or else you'll get so hungry that your body will convince you that you need junk and lots of it!

We use something called the BodyBugg at our gym that you wear on your arm and it detects heat, movement, number of steps and gives you a pretty accurate idea of how many calories you have burned along with a graph,etc. I wore it for about 2 months in December and January to get an idea of just how many calories I am burning with all of this training. My average on training days was about 3500 calories. I had a couple of higher days- 3700, 3900 but most of the training days were somewhere between 3000 and 3500.

This was really helpful to know because most of the time I wasn't eating enough and then after a hard days training, when I had only eaten 1500 calories so far, I would get ravenous cravings for stuff I don't normally eat. I started to spread out 3000- 3500 calories of food throughout the day and I eat about 700-1000 calories of it during and right after my workout. This seems to be working well- I have energy for my workouts and I am recovering and I don't have the uncontrollable urge to eat foods I shouldn't be.

A normal day for me looks like this-
Wake- 5:30am
6:00am Coffee, 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, spinach, 1/2 avocado, Banana
9:00am Cottage Cheese and blueberries or Oatmeal, blueberries and milk
12:00pm- Wheat Tortilla with Turkey Breast, 1/2 avocado, carrots
1pm- Train with a Lara Bar or Bonk Breaker, Gu2O, Gu gel (400-500 calories)
Surge Recovery Drink when I am done- 300 calories
3:00pm Peanut Butter in a wheat Tortilla, Trail Mix(nuts, seeds, etc.)
6:00pm Protein Bar, apple
7:30pm Chicken, Steak or Fish, Vegetables, Baked Potato
9pm Yogurt and Walnuts
Bed at 10:30pm

Lots of food, huh? I try to follow the principles John Berardi outlines in his Precision Nutrition. If you are lost on how to eat this is a great source to check out for nutrition recommendations. Click Here.

Also he has a FREE 8 day email course that is very informative- check it out

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A lot can change in 25 miles...

The triple brick sandwich was tough, took about 3 hours. We did 30 miles riding a loop with a couple of hills and then transitioned at the gym to head out for an 8 mile run. I had a bad cramp in my side right at the start of my run which I think was from drinking too much at the end of my bike. I averaged 9:30 min/mile pace. After the 8 mile run, transitioned again back to the bike for 14 miles pretty flat on the bike path. This was a great workout but tough! I have started to practice my nutrition for race day to figure out what I will use. I am liking Gu so far and I loved these things called Bonk Breakers that I ran out of.

Saturday was our day off so I rested up for our big ride on Sunday. Sunday was fore casted for possible rain but when I woke up the skies looked like they had cleared and the rain had come and gone- perfect! I left my jacket, gloves and toe warmers behind because it looked like it was going to be a sunny warm ride. I knew it wasn't going to be an easy ride but at least the sun was out!

Amazing how 25 miles away the weather could be so different... We headed off up the climb on a canyon that does one big loop. It is a steady climb the entire time until you reach the peak after 2225 feet of climbing for 25 miles and then you head back down hill. It is a tough ride but the sun was out as we headed up the climb feeling pretty good. The clouds started to roll in as we were climbing and the sun disappeared. We made it to Green Valley which is the town about midway before completing the loop and the temperature had dropped a little bit and it had started sprinkling. It wasn't too bad- a little sprinkling won't bother me. As we climbed out of Green Valley the rain started to come down hard and the wind picked up. My training partner was ahead of me in a sleeveless shirt and I was waiting for her to stop and at least put her long sleeve shirt on because it was so wet and cold. I was completely soaked(no jacket remember), freezing(my hands were completely numb), the rain is pounding down as we make our way down the grade. I have to pull my glasses down because I couldn't see with them on because the rain was hitting so hard and it was dark. This was not fun in fact it was wet, cold and miserable but I wasn't going to be a whiner. We chose to train through the winter(when most triathletes take time off). I just kept looking at a hole in the sky praying for it to open up and the sun to shine through but it wasn't until we had about 10 miles left that it started to dry up and the sun came out on our last 8 miles heading home.

By the time we got back to the gym we were dry and warm and feeling pretty good about our accomplishment. The lessons for the day is if it crosses your mind that you may want to bring a jacket and/or gloves- bring them. Also when you are doing a 54 mile bike ride you can't just check the weather of where you are leaving from but have to also check the weather where you are going...a lot can change in 25 miles....

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Triple Layer Brick Sandwich

Tomorrow we have a big Brick planned. Why are they called "Bricks", anyway? Is it because your legs feel like Bricks when you start running or is it because you stack workouts on top of eachother like bricks...anyway, it doesn't really matter because tomorrow we are stacking a 12 mile ride on top of an 8 mile run on top of a 30 mile ride. We have done 3- 2 layer Bricks so far in our training with 20-30 mile rides on the bike and a 30 minute run following but this will be our first 30 mile ride-8 mile run-12 mile ride.

This triple layer brick is something new I am using this season with my training partner and I. The idea is that our run doesn't always get done when we are completely exhausted but instead we will be able to maintain our intensity for the entire Brick training our bodies to run fast consistantly. We will alternate each week, Run-Bike-Run, Bike-Run-Bike. For example, next week we will do 4 mile run- 30 mile bike- 4 mile run. Our intensity on the 4 mile run will be higher and we will be able to run faster than if we did 30 mile bike- 8 mile run. Alternating the Bike and Run on the outside of the Sandwich prioritizes a different one each week.

I am looking forward to our first Triple Layer Brick Sandwich! I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Because Dave Scott says so....

Yesterday our swim workout was 4x225m + 4x150m(or 4x4.5 laps and 4x3 laps), 1500m total. I had a great swim workout by the way, my flip turns were good and I felt like a "swimmer."

My training partner asked me, "Why are we doing 225m and not 250m? Why are we doing such a wierd distance?"

Well, to be honest of the 3 sports swimming is the one I have the least experience in and I am still learning a lot about swimming technique, workouts, etc. I can come up with a periodized 16 week strength training program no problem, but to come up with swim workouts for 16 weeks leading up to a Half Ironman is not my forte. I know periodization, so applying it to swimming shouldn't be too hard but I still have a hard time being creative with different swim workouts. But I am learning...So, last year I attended a Triathlon Coaching certification with Dave Scott. If you don't know who Dave Scott is, you should study up because he is one of the most well known and successful triathletes there is. He also gave an excellent coaching course and he mapped out swim workouts for 20 weeks leading up to each distance!

Why reinvent the wheel...if Dave Scott says this is how to do it, I believe him...He gave 20 weeks of marker sets, or sets to time yourself and watch your improvement. He alternated between shorter faster distances and longer endurance swims so every other week you swim a long endurance swim.

I have also realized that I learn by doing, as most athletes do. When I read a workout or concept I have to put it into practice before the concept sinks in, I have to experience it. So on our training plan I wrote out Dave Scott's 20 weeks of marker sets for us to follow. As we are progressing through it I understand the concept of alternating speed workouts with endurance workouts and building the volume, maintaining the pace. I have altered some of the workouts because of where we are at in our training plan(recovery week or peak week) but for the most part we are sticking to these marker sets each week. We are swimming 3 times a week so I will repeat the workout usually one more time and then we'll usually work on technique on our third swim.

Check out Dave Scott's 20 weeks of marker sets to a Half Ironman-
1- 24 x 50
2- 1200
3- 13 x 100
4- 1400
5-4x150, 5x100, 8x50
6- 1600m
14- 2400(steady)
15-4 x 600
16- 2400(prog by 600)
18- 2500(race pace)
19-12x200(Desc 1-3)
20- 2500(race pace)

So in answer to the question, "Why are we doing 225m?" "Because Dave Scott says so..."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I love coffee! I love the way it tastes, smells and the buzz it gives me. I go in phases though. Right now I drink more than I used to. I will probably let myself drink this amount for another 4 weeks and then before my race I will make myself cut back. This way during my race I will have a better effect from using caffeine on my performance. Your body gets used to a certain amount of caffeine and eventually that amount of caffeine just gets you to "normal." You know the feeling- you drag yourself out of bed and over to the coffee pot and it isn't until you've had your first sip that your eyes open and you start to wake up. You don't want caffeine to just get you to "normal" on race day, you want to experience the ergogenic benefit...speaking of- what is the ergogenic benefit of caffeine?

For most of us, caffeine provides a stimulus for concentration or waking up. In an athletic event, however, it can be used to prolong endurance exercise and enhance power production.

Here's the research-
Initial studies(Med Sci Sports exerc 10,155) examining the effect of caffeine supplementation on endurance performance reported a 21-minute improvement in time to exhaustion while cycling at 80% of VO2max. Similarly, research done(J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 31, 425)on elite distance runners who consumed 10mg of caffeine per kg of body mass immediately before a treadmill run to exhaustion significantly improved their performance by 1.9% compared with controls. In another study(Can J Appl Physiol, 20, 168), competent distance swimmers consumed caffeine (6mg per kg of body mass) 2.5 hours before swimming 1500m and found that their split times improved significantly for each 500m of the swim, while average swim times were 1.9% faster than when carried out without the aid of caffeine.

A study(Int J Sports Med, 16, 225)on endurance cyclists looked at the effect on time to exhaustion of pre-exercise administration of each of the following:

* 5mg caffeine per kg body mass;
* 9mg/kg caffeine;
* 13mg/kg caffeine;
* placebo.

In a test carried out at 80% of their maximal power output, all the caffeine-supplemented cyclists showed a 24% improvement in time to exhaustion. However, no greater benefits were apparent with doses of caffeine higher than 5mg per kg of body mass.

What does all of this research mean for you?

1. Using small amounts of caffeine (as little as contained in one mug of coffee) have been shown to have a favourable impact on factors like decision-making and reaction time, while larger amounts (equal to 2-3mg per kg of body mass) have been shown to enhance exercise performance, particularly endurance.

2. Take a caffeine pill instead of coffee. Research has shown that the potential performance enhancing effects of caffeine taken in the form of coffee are lower than when taken as a capsule with water.

3. Consume additional fluid to offset the diuretic effects of caffeine when it is taken prior to exercise. Caffeine can act as a diuretic, which could lead to an unnecessary pre-exercise loss of fluid, with negative knock-on effects on thermal balance and exercise performance, particularly in hot environments. However, this diuretic effect is reduced when caffeine is consumed during exercise, which helps to explain why relying on gu's with added caffeine while racing will work.

4. Don't take too much! Dosages higher than 5mg per kg of body mass do not appear to elicit any greater performance effects; furthermore, they tend to raise the risk of unwanted side effects. Do not use more than 5mg/kg of body mass.

5. Take caffeine within 3 hours of your event starting and continue taking it every 3 hours. Caffeine is absorbed rapidly, with peak plasma concentration reached in around one hour. It also clears from the body fairly rapidly, taking about 3-6 hours for blood caffeine concentrations to decrease by one half.

6. Practice! As with any intervention, individual responses will vary, and athletes should rehearse their caffeine dosage strategy thoroughly before putting it to the test in a key event. Athletes who normally avoid caffeine may experience adverse effects. Many of these side effects are well known and include anxiety, gastrointestinal disturbances, restlessness, insomnia, tremors and heart arrhythmias. The scientific literature suggests that the risk of such side effects is increased if caffeine is taken in doses higher than 9mg per kg of body mass. I have a rule- "Nothing New on Race Day." Practice using whatever you are going to use on race day on a workout day. Don't wait until race day to try out a caffeine pill, you never know how you will feel from it.

7. Be aware that beneficial effects do not occur consistently in habitual caffeine users, because of a level of ‘caffeine tolerance’. If you are at the point where coffee gets you to "normal" you may not see an improvement in your performance with caffeine. One way round this may be for caffeine users to eliminate all caffeinated foods and drinks for a period of 4-6 days prior to the event in order to optimise its benefits.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pacific Shores Marathon Recap

It feels so great to set yourself a goal and then accomplish it! My goal for the Pacific Shores Half was to first of all improve my time from last year which was 2:05 at a 9:33min/mile pace. My second goal was to do it in under 2 hours. I did both of these! I came in at 1:58:17 which came out to a 9:02 min/mile pace. So I took 7 minutes off of my time from last year. I felt great, 9 min/mile pace for me is just out of my comfort zone. I can comfortably run at a 9:30-9:45 pace but bumping it up to 9 min/mile is tough for me but I just kept making myself stay in that just uncomfortable zone. I wasn't much for conversation the whole race, I had my ipod on and I just stayed focused on keeping my pace the whole race, watching my forerunner for the pace and heart rate. My average heart rate was 167 with the highest being 182 right at the last mile when I pushed into the finish.

As for my training partner, she did awesome! She beat her PR by 5 minutes! She came in at 1:33 and a 7:09 min/mile pace which put her 8th out of 747 people in her age group! That is amazing she placed in the top 10 at a running event while training for a triathlon and without tapering! She is such an amazing athlete and inspires me!

The reason we did this race was as a test to see how our training is working and since she took 5 minutes off of her PR and I took 7 minutes off of mine we must be on the right track! We didn't taper at all for this race either. We have 8 weeks to go until the California Half Ironman so we will keep working in the same direction we have been since it is working so well. The only difference will be that we will start getting more specific- do more Bricks, practice transitions, nutrition, etc.

I am excited for our race March 31st. With tapering(taking rest the week before to let our body recover and rebuild to be 100% for the race) we should both have a great race!

My mom and sister came down and raced too. It was my sister's first half marathon. She ran her first 5K a year ago at this exact same race. She has come a long way in a year- she completed her first triathlon in March of last year and competed in 5 more triathlons since. She is training to do the LA Marathon in 1 month. I am so proud of her. My mom completed the 5K, her third 5K race. She had a good time and I am proud of her too! Our whole team(My training partner, my mom, my sis and me!)did awesome and had a great day!

The Pacific Shores Marathon is a great race! I recommend it if you are looking for a half or full marathon in So Cal next year! I'll probably be there again!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Week at a glance...

This past week was a pretty good week of training for me. I have 8 weeks until my Half Ironman and tomorrow is my Half Marathon. I didn't taper for this half marathon but hope to have improved since last year. It will be a good indicator of how my training is going.

In the past week from Friday to Friday I swam 4300m, with one workout being 40 x 50m on the 1:10min- Try this swim workout- it is tough! I want to do it again in 4 weeks and be able to do all 40 on the 1:00min. My training partner did them on the :45- she's fast! She swims a 50m in about 35 seconds, took 10 seconds rest and went again 40x.

I biked(counting 50 mi indoors)104 miles this week total and I ran 17 miles total.

On Thursday we did a really hard Brick where we climbed for 2600 feet! The ride was 24 miles total and I finished it with a run and was able to hold my 9 min/ mile for about a 3.5 mile run feeling like I could have kept going. Our race in March has the biggest climb of 800ft but in Lake Placid for my Ironman I will climb 1600 feet a couple times in the race. We have great places to train around where we live to be able to climb 2600 feet which will make 800 feet and 1600 feet feel like a breeze!

Good week of training...Wish me luck tomorrow, 8 weeks until my Half Ironman and 24 weeks until my Ironman!

Train hard and stay focused!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Strength Training for Triathlon

After sending out my newsletter yesterday I received a lot of questions asking...if Afterburn is not for inseason and only for offseason, what do you recommend triathletes do for their strength training leading up to a race?

I think many triathletes probably fall into the trap of using body builder routines in the gym. I just heard a competative triathlete the other day say, "I went to the gym and did deltoids and then 2 hours on the spin bike." Deltoids? This cracked me up- who has time, not that it is even beneficial, as a triathlete to train each muscle seperatley right down to deltoids getting their own day? Let alone WHY would you want to isolate your deltoid muscle- which sport in triathlon uses the deltoid all by itself without any other muscles working? Which sport in general? There isn't one! If you are splitting up your body parts you are following a bodybuilder program and it will make your triathlon performance worse. This type of program is what scares a lot of triathletes away from lifting weights, because they see that you get big, bulky and completely non functional by lifting weights. But it is a mistake to think that getting strong means getting huge, bulky muscles. Unless your goal is to have nice looking deltoids when you cross the finish line last do not split up your body parts and train like a body builder.

The goal with strength training for triathletes is to get strong without gaining any unwanted mass. Strength does not mean size. You need to improve your functional strength, which is a combination of stabilizing exercies and power exercises. Having functional strength will benefit your performance by giving you power and endurance and keeping you injury free.

You HAVE to train your body to work as one unit and use movements not muscles in the gym. Use full body routines. You use your full body in your sport, why wouldn't you train it in the gym the same?

So, if full body is the way to go- why wouldn't afterburn work during the season? Afterburn is too high in volume and burns way too many calories which is why it will get you so lean but when you are training for a race you need to save all of that energy for your other training. Use afterburn in the offseason when you don't have a race coming up to shed body fat.

Less is more. I have found, through using myself and my training partner as guinea pigs, using a routine that takes at most 30 minutes and can be performed right before we head out on our bikes or for a run or off to the pool works best. This routine is not so intense we have nothing left to give(Afterburn) our other workouts but instead it warms us up, switches on all the right muscles, strengthens the weaker muscles and lengthens the shorter muscles while increasing core strength, elastic power, balance and stability. It does not require a ton of recovery and wipe us out for the next day.

We have two different routines. We start both routines with movement prep which is dynamic exercises to warm up our joints and lengthen our muscles. This gets us warm, switches on our muscles and ready to train. We also have a seperate day that we spend 30-40 minutes foam rolling and stretching, a rejuvenation workout.

Routine One focuses on Strength and stability. Especially in our hips, core and shoulders which are extremely important in triathlon and need to be strong to deliver power and to decrease any potential for injuries. We do a circuit of 6 exercises for 10 reps each including core strengthening, hip strengthening and shoulder strengthening exercises. We do 2 rounds and we are done. So 12 sets total.

Routine Two focuses more on corrective exercises and Power. We start off with a circuit of 6 corrective exercises again strengthening the hips, core and shoulders for 10 reps each. We finish with a circuit of 4 power exercises to increase our elastic power, or our ability to store and release energy. These power exercises are all plyometric exercises bounding, hopping and jumping. So in this routine we end up with 2 sets of 6 exercises in the first circuit and 2 sets of 4 exercises in the second circuit so we do a total of 20 sets. It still takes us less than 30 minutes to get through. Anymore than that and you are doing too much!

Our routines were modeled after some of the routines in the book Core Performance Endurance. Mark Verstegen has two programs in the book that you can use similar to what I have been doing.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Act as if...

I have studied goal setting extensively, read a ton of books on the subject, gone to seminars and practiced setting goals and helping others set goals and making them come true. One of the rules that I learned in order for a goal to come true is you must "ACT AS If..." If your goal is to lose 30 pounds you have to act as if you have already lost the 30 pounds, have the behaviours you will have when you are 30 pounds lighter. Same with money if your goal is to have a certain amount of money you should act as if you already have that money. How would you act, what would your confidence be like? Acting as if eventually becomes your reality and you aren't acting anymore.

What does this have to do with my Ironman training? Everything, with triathlon you have to have mixed personalities...somedays you are a cyclist, other days you are a runner and then maybe within the same day you are a swimmer. I have learned that I seem to have more productive workouts if I dress for whichever sport I am doing and act as if that is the only sport I do. So when I head out on a run, I wear clothes a runner would wear(not baggy sweats I would wear in the gym), I put my running shoes on and I look like a runner and I act as if I am a marathon runner. When I head out for a ride I wear all of those silly spandex bright colored outfits you see cyclists wearing and I turn myself into Lance Armstrong and become a competitor in the Tour De France. Swimming is the hardest for me because I learned to swim for triathlon but when I get my head into it and believe that I am a swimmer and I am training to compete and picture myself doing perfect flip turns my swimming suddenly feels much more fluid and I actually feel like a swimmer. In the gym I am a weightlifter who is strong physically. This may sound silly but next time you head out for a run or show up at the gym get an image in your head of who you want to become and act as if you are already there and you'll see how different your workout will feel.

So, my point is, decide who you want to be and act as if...if you decide you want to run a marathon, guess what you have to become a marathon runner. That is who you are. Do not head out on a run with thoughts in your head of "I am not meant to run, I am so slow, this will take forever." But instead think about how you would act and feel if you were already an elite marathon runner. You'll enjoy the run so much more and you'll get more out of it!

Enjoy your workouts and act as if!