Friday, March 30, 2007

First race of the season!

The time has come...tomorrow is my first race of the season! I am excited to race again. We are driving down today to Oceanside to register, check out the expo and check in to our hotel. It is me and my training partner, who is also excited to race, and my sister. My sister isn't racing, she is just coming down to cheer us on and be our support crew. She loves the race environment and didn't want to pass up going to a race. We also have a lot of people driving down tomorrow to cheer us on. We are planning to cook dinner at the hotel because we have a full kitchen which is nice.

I love the whole race experience. When I sign up for a race I usually like to stay in a hotel the night before near the race and hang out at the expo and have a little vacation the day before chilling at the hotel and then wake up the next day and race! So, today is about relaxing, getting registered and laying out my stuff for tomorrow. Going to bed early tonight because we have to be in transition before 5:45. So to eat breakfast and everything I'll have to be up pretty early.

The weather should be nice tomorrow. In the 70's and sunny. Last year it rained on us so it will be nice to race in the sunshine!

I'll let you know how it went when I get back! Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Performance Nutrition

Below is an article I wrote for one of Triathlon Team's I was coaching and I was just re-reading it figuring out my nutrition for Saturday and thought you would enjoy reading it too! Print it out and save it for your next race day nutrition.

Performance Nutrition

By Rachel Cosgrove

Nutrition to enhance your performance

The following won’t help you if you have not been following the basic nutrition guidelines. Having your basic nutrition down creates a foundation during your training that you can add to and enhance performance above that foundation. If you have not built a strong foundation, performance nutrition isn’t a magic secret that will make up for it. Remember a diet that enhances health will enhance performance. Start with getting the basics down first before you worry about performance nutrition.

Remember everything you read below should first be tried in practice not on race day. Do not wait until race day to try your performance nutrition out. You should have already worked the plan and know what you will be doing that day. Nothing new on race day!

Also it is a good idea to find out what products they will be giving out at the aid stations at your race(Gatorade, power gel,etc.) so you can practice with those brands.

Common Mistakes

  • Not having a plan
  • Trying something new on race day- Nothing new on race day!
  • Too much nutrition on race day
  • Overhydrating- hyponatremia, days prior and race day
  • Lack of nutrition foundation during training- get the basics down first

Week before race

Carb Loading- The week leading up to the race you want to be sure your glycogen levels are completely full. This is done by increasing your carbohydrates in your diet and tapering your training so that you are not using up the glycogen and it can be stored.

There are a few different methods of carb loading, one in which you completely deplete your carbohydrates for a period of time and then increase them right before the race. This works but can be tricky and I don’t recommend it.

Instead I recommend the 7 days prior to your race eat a little extra carbohydrates than usual. Do not eat any different foods then you normally eat but just more of the foods that are a part of your diet already. In the research they showed that having 5g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight for the 3-7 days before your race can increase endurance by 20%.

Fluid Intake- The week before the race you have to get enough fluid in. You can’t wait until the day before your race and in one day try to hydrate. You need to be fully hydrated the entire week before the race(and hopefully your entire training). How do you know if you are drinking enough water? Is your Pee clear? If your urine is bright yellow or orange you are probably not drinking enough water.

Sodium Intake- NATA/ACSM recommend liberally salting your foods, if event >8 hrs or you are a heavy sweater +500mg for days pre race. So don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little extra salt on your food the week before the race and be sure to drink sports drinks that contain sodium and potassium. You can also use salt tablets if you are a heavy sweater. Take two tablets prior to race. Again try them before practice first. Keep drinking your water liberally.

Pre Race Nutrition(Day before and day of):

No new nutrition

Avoid gas causing foods

Avoid high fiber foods

Avoid sugar substitutes

Limit alcohol

Early dinner (allow time for digestion)

Nighttime snack to top off stores

Fluid recommendations day before- Drink a sports drink(such as Gatorade) and water throughout the day at a 1:1 ratio to avoid hyponatremia.

Some examples of a dinner-

Pasta, lean meat

Another example:


Baked Potato w/o skin, w/ salt

Odwalla superfood

Water/sports drink

On Race Day-

Top off glycogen stores

Less fiber/fat, Hi Glycemic foods are best because they will digest fast

Stick to familiar foods

Bring your food with you if you aren’t sure they will have it at the hotel

2-4 hours pre swim, wake up- Have your usual breakfast- yes you must eat something!

For example- Toast, fruit, sports drink

Oatmeal, n/f milk

Banana and PB sandwich

What about Caffeine?

Can affect aerobic endurance and muscle contraction positively

Effective dose- 5 mg/kg

More sensitive w/ less frequent use

So if you have had it before you can have a cup of coffee prior to the race to give you a boost.

After you have eaten breakfast have a sports bottle with you to continue taking in fluid and calories.


Use sports drink and water in a 1:1 ratio

17-20 ounces of fluids before race

10-20 minutes pre race 7-10 ounces

Bring something with you to the transition area to snack on in case it is awhile before your wave goes. This may be a cliff bar, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, etc.

Time to race…

During race

Throughout the race plan to take in:

-1 16-20 ounce bottle of fluid(sports drink) per hour

-200-300 calories an hour


Start fully loaded- if you followed the recommendations above your good

Out of water- often have a sore throat from salt water so at your transition have some water to soothe your throat but you probably won’t want to eat anything until you get on your bike


Last nutrition was before your swim so it has been awhile, it is time to refuel.

Need to eat as soon as your body adjusts.

Wait 10 min until body adjusts to new HR, tempo, respiration, muscles.

Then start taking in some fluid and a gel.

No solids 1st 20-30 minutes

This can be very individual so you need to account for intensity and climate and individuality.

Bike Nutrition:

Burn 600-800 kcal/hour on bike but can only oxidize .5-1 g carbs per min or

240 cal/ hr so taking in 300 cals an hour should be adequate. More than this could create GI distress.

Know your plan!

Know your kcals/ hour goals

Know what products work best

“Overeat on bike (>300 kcal/hr)as tolerated

Nutrition better tolerated on bike vs. run

60% solids/ 40% fluids

Front load solids and decrease cals last ½ hour to empty gut

Use- Bite size bars, gels, sports drink

If you become 1% dehydrated, you will be 2% slower. Get your fluids in during the bike.

Don’t wait to get thirsty- set timer as needed

If you are going to use salt tabs now is the time to take them.

Sports drinks should have 110mg/ 8 ounces of sodium.

Remember try to finish taking in nutrition 20-30 minutes before start the run to decrease GI distress.


High likelihood of GI distress during the run

Use gels and bars and not a ton of fluid.

Be careful taking something at every aid station.

Take in 200-300 calories every hour. If it is a sprint distance you may need one gel at the most during the run. Don’t take in too much


This is the most commonly forgotten nutrition- after you are done, give something back to your body!

After your race you have a decreased immune system and muscle damage

You need to eat something within 30 minutes.

Keep recovering

48 hours to refill glycogen

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't miss this!

Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3 on NBC

Tune into NBC this Saturday, March 31, to experience the courage and determination of more than 1,350 athletes as they cross the inaugural Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3 finish line in Clearwater, Fla. Follow along the 70.3 Mile journey as world-class athletes, such as Craig Alexander and Samantha McGlone, battle competitive fields for the World Championship titles.

Narrated by Phil Liggett, the show will air simultaneously across the United States and Canada, airing at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central, 12 p.m. Mountain, 11 a.m. Pacific). Hawaii residents should check their local listings for more details.

Click Here for More Info

The Ironman Team
Anything Is Possible

Monday, March 26, 2007

More on Tapering

I was reading up on tapering and the research behind exactly how much to cut back and what to do this last week and found some interesting stuff that I thought you would enjoy reading. I realize how mentally challenging it is for endurance athletes to do less right before their big race so I wanted to find some evidence to help and I did...

Study #1- One of the first investigations to take a close look at the physiological alterations associated with tapering was carried out by exercise scientist David Costill at Ball State University in the mid-1980s.

The collegiate swimmers Costill was studying tapered by reducing daily swimming distance by 67 per cent for 15 days. The taper was a success - performance times improved by almost 4 per cent. Physiologically, the tapered swimmers had lower blood-lactate levels during fast swimming, a sign that lactate threshold (LT) had improved.

Another Study- A group of Canadian researchers in the 1980s, carrying out their research at McMaster University in Ontario, divided well-conditioned runners who averaged about 50 miles of running per week into three groups. One group just 'hung out' for one week, doing no running at all. A second group jogged easily for a total of 18 miles over the course of a week (note that this was approximately a 64-per cent cutback in their training, about the same that Costill had utilized with his swimmers). The third group ran only six miles during the week, with almost all of the running consisting of 500-metre intervals on the track.

After this week, the runners who had logged 18 easy miles improved their performances by about 6 per cent (note how close this is to the 4-per cent gain achieved by Costill's swimmers, who used the similar strategy of continuing to train every day but with a greatly reduced distance of training). Meanwhile, the 'nothing' group - the runners who carried out no running at all - improved by not a single second or even a fraction of a metre. Most likely, any benefits they were getting from resting were offset by the slow-but-steady losses in fitness which were occurring due to their complete lack of physical activity.

And the winners? The runners who ran just six miles during the week were in the best shape of all, even though they had cut training volume by 88 per cent. Their performances shot up by 22 per cent, compared to the 6- and 0-per cent gains achieved by the other two groups, and physiologically the six-mile runners were doing great. Although important things like running economy, lactate threshold, and VO2max weren't measured, the 6-mile people enjoyed four key advantages over the other competitors:

1. They had more glycogen in their leg muscles.
2. Their density of red blood cells was greater.
3. They actually had more blood plasma than the other two groups.
4. Enzyme activity in their leg muscles was greater.

Study #3- In the early 1990s, researchers at East Carolina University and the University of South Carolina carried out unique investigations which suggested that a significant portion of the improvement associated with tapering is a 'neural thing'. Specifically, investigators at East Carolina University took a group of eight experienced runners who had been running about 43 miles per week and cut their training to 6.5 miles of hard intervals (at 5-K pace or faster) and seven miles of jogging for one week (that added up to 13.5 miles of total running). Overall, training volume was trimmed by 69 per cent, very close to the cut undertaken by Costill's swimmers eight or nine years earlier. In this East-Carolina study, a second group of eight runners utilized a similar one-week tapering scheme, but all of their workouts were carried out on exercise bicycles. Although the subjects in this second group were cycling, not running, their heart rates, interval durations, and total numbers of intervals were exactly the same, compared with the group which ran during the tapering period. This represented highly ingenious methodology, because the high intensities and low training volumes utilized by the bike-tapered athletes should have produced the same effects on blood-plasma volume and enzyme activities as was the case for the run-tapered individuals, who used the same intensities and volumes.

This research represented a reasonable way to uncover the specific effects of carrying out one's exact sporting activity at a high intensity during a tapering period, rather than just exercising strenuously. Yet a third 'control' group of eight runners blithely continued to train in their usual way during the experimental week, logging about 43 total miles and carrying out their customary amount of quality training.

Run tapering is best. When a 5-K race was held on the eighth day of the study, the run-tapered athletes improved their 5-K times by an average of 30 seconds, while the bike-tapered and control runners failed to get better at all. Amazingly, all eight of the run-tapered individuals improved their 5-K clockings!Most interestingly, running economy improved by 6 per cent for the run-tapered subjects but didn't budge in a positive direction at all for the bike-tapered or control runners.

The lesson from the East Carolina research is that a tapering period should be planned so as to permit improved neuromuscular coordination - and thus efficiency of movement. That means matching a large part of the limited exercise one does undertake during the tapering period to the high intensity associated with the upcoming competition.

Another Observation- In the South Carolina research mentioned earlier, there were two groups of runners. Members of one group covered their usual 55 miles of running over the course of a week, while the second-group's runners dropped to 22 miles (a 60-per cent decrease). This second group placed a very large emphasis on high-intensity intervals during the taper week.

In this study, the tapered runners improved economy by 6 per cent - the same gain achieved by the East Carolina harriers (that's not bad for one week!). Most critically, vVO2max also rose, an advance we can link to the heightened neuromuscular coordination and enhanced economy produced by the fast interval running, in concert with the easier overall load. As coordination and efficiency at high speed improve, one's previous vVO2max is no longer vVO2max, because the oxygen cost of running at that speed has fallen. Thus, one reaches VO2max at a higher speed, i. e., with a loftier vVO2max (vVO2max is one of the very best predictors of endurance performance).

Finally, we shouldn't fail to mention research recently published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, which revealed that a two-week, performance-enhancing taper carried out by highly competitive swimmers prior to a national championship produced three key changes - increased levels of blood-plasma norepinephrine, higher heart rates during maximal swimming, and an overall 'reduction in (mental) confusion.'

The norepinephrine change is an interesting result which hasn't been documented (or looked for) in previous research. Basically, norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter and hormone which can increase heart rate, spike force production by muscles, and enhance mental awareness. Hard training tends to drive norepinephrine levels down, and easier training brings them back up, so it's not surprising that the taper helped epinephrine climb, or that the epinephrine was associated with higher performance, given its basic effects.

Certainly, the epinephrine may have been partially behind the higher heart rates observed during maximal swimming. Bear in mind that higher heart rates are not a bad thing. The heart itself tends to respond to the muscles; as the muscles upgrade their ability to work intensely, the heart will 'follow' with higher rates of beating to keep the muscles well supplied with oxygen and fuel. This doesn't mean that the work is 'harder' for the athlete but simply reflects the fact that the athlete has moved up to a higher plateau of neuromuscular performance.

The surge in norepinephrine may also have been partially responsible for removing the cloud of 'confusion' which seemed to hang over the swimmers' heads. Basically, heavy training tends to produce fair amounts of mental lethargy, anxiety, confusion, and depression, and tapering helps to clear the mind, partly by changing the concentrations of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine.

And finally my summary:
For Olympic distance and sprint distance races, taper for at least one week prior. During that week, cut total mileage by about 65 per cent, and divide what's left 50-50 between hard effort and soft work.

For half Ironman, use the same strategy, but give yourself at least 10 days of cutback, with two weeks being even better.

And for an Ironman taper for at least 3-4 weeks cutting back gradually on your volume during that time and letting quality work steadily comprise a higher fraction of the distance which remains.

Remember that turning down the volume knob on your training helps with your enzymes and hormones and may give your muscles a chance to build more proteins and store more glycogen. Utilizing the high-intensity work during the taper boosts your blood-volume and also works on the neuromuscular aspects of performance which are so critical for reaching your highest plateau of fitness.

You should taper or have a recovery week, not just before your big races but on a monthly basis. After all, since tapering is such a great thing, why reserve it for just a couple of times a year? If you taper(or recover) for the last five to seven days of each month, you'll find that your fitness will move upward in sizable jumps, instead of just creeping up a little or - worse yet - stagnating at the same level.

Happy Taper!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Taper Time

The hard work is done and this week we rest and recover and get ready to race. We have a super easy training week this week on purpose. Nothing we do this week will improve our performance at the race. We can't get faster this week, we can't get stronger this week, we can't get more powerful this week- there isn't enough time to recover before the race to see the benefit. The best thing we can do to improve our performance on race day is to take it easy and let our bodies take in all of the training we have done. This is a great week to do some visualization, think through exactly what our nutrition will be, exactly how the transitions will go. We need to practice changing some tires this week. But above all let our bodies rest. The hardest thing is that we will probably feel great this week like we could run a few extra miles, etc. but the key is to hold back and save it for the race.

We can do a lot to mess up all of the training we have done. If we don't taper properly and don't let our bodies rest and recover we will not have an optimal performance on race day. The goal of the workouts this week is to get the blood flowing into the muscles, practice the movements keeping the nervous system alert but not tap into our recovery at all.

Happy Taper!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Today we headed out on our usual bike path bike ride. We were set to do a 20 mile tempo ride, nice and flat. We were heading out feeling that it was going to be pretty windy and then there it was- a SNAKE hanging out on the bike path! I almost hit it! I have never seen a snake on a bike ride so that was a first. He was sun bathing on the concrete I guess. He was pretty big though and as we passed and I dodged it he started slithering.

Other than that there wasn't anymore excitement except for a very strong head wind as we were heading out. We felt like we were riding with 40 pound weight vests on but then we made up time on our way back as we flew at close to 30 mph all the way back. Weeeeee!

Good ride, perfect for our first taper week. We are both feeling really good and ready to race!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Half Marathon

Sunday on our way home from La Jolla we stopped in Oceanside to run the race course. The whole thing...all 13 miles... We arrived and it was overcast, nice and cool to run in- perfect! We tried to hit oceanside about the same time as we will be running in the race so the tide would be down. We parked where the transition will be and then walked to the exit of transition and started our stop watches to go. The first loop felt pretty good, again the nice cool weather helped. Second loop wasn't too bad either. I have to say I felt pretty good. I finished the 13 miles in 2 hours exactly. I had Gu2O and a couple Gu's while I was running. My training partner also had a great run- she was very fast and did it in 1:36! Nice job! This was our last big volume workout before the race. The next two weeks we will cut our workouts in half to allow our bodies to recover and get ready for the race!

We are ready to race!

St. Patty's Day Ride

Continuing from my last post...once we finished our swim in the morning we had some lunch and then got ready to ride. We decided to do the same ride we did last time we were in La Jolla. It was challenging and we knew where we were headed. It was St. Patty's Day so we decided to assume that every car we see has a drunk person driving and that we would be very defensive. Just a few days earlier a girl was killed on her bike in Solana beach, right where we were going to ride through. This was a reminder of how careful we need to be. We saw her memorial when we were riding. It was a wide street with a bike lane, so no reason for the car to hit her- very sad but a good reminder to us of how vulnerable we are on our bikes out there. So we practiced defensive biking.

We headed out at about 3pm on our bikes both feeling a little full from our Turkey Sandwiches that hadn't quite digested yet. The ride has a lot of climbing, infact it is one hill after the other without much flat riding. We hit a lot of red lights which is always frustrating to get stopped so much especially when your heading up but other than that we never stopped the whole 56 miles. Except when she saw some green balloons that she decided to tie one on to her bike seat, in spirit of St. Patty's day, which shortly after "POPPED!!" and scared both of us.

Last time we did this ride my training partner and I were together the whole ride and then at the end I couldn't stay with her on the last hill that she flew up. She dropped me in the dust on this last hill. So, this time I was determined to stay on her. I was not going to let her go. We got to this last hill and I was right on her rear tire. She turned around and knew what I was doing and that I was not going to let her go(I had warned her earlier). I used everything I had left and pushed forward a little harder to start to pass her. And I ended up passing by and beating her up the hill. I felt good about it since she dropped me last time. I wonder if that little motivation is what got me up so much faster or if I just had a better training day or did she just not have a very good day...who knows? It is good to have someone to train with who you can push eachother and some days I have good days and other days she does.

Speaking of her good days- yesterday when we headed out for a ride was a whole other story. Before we headed out I thought I was feeling pretty good but once I started riding my legs were pretty tired still from the weekend and I could not keep up with her. My training partner left me in the dust yesterday. It was a cold, rainy, windy ride and I was not having very much fun but she had a great ride and averaged about 23 mph- fast!

We should both have really excellent days at the race in a week and a half after we taper- we should both be able to do it in under 3 hours. No problem!

The ride in La Jolla took us about 3:25 with all of the stop lights, etc. Under 3 hours shouldn't be too tough at all at the race.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Swimming with Seals!

We had an awesome training weekend, our last big volume weekend. We drove to La Jolla on Saturday morning and upon arriving headed for the cove. We suited up and started swimming agreeing that we would swim 20 minutes out and turn around and head back.

There is a buoy that is a quarter mile out that I reached in about 7 minutes- that was fast! I ended up swimming much farther than I did last time. I felt good in the open water, much more comfortable. I really worked on keeping my head down which I was having trouble with the last time we swam in the open water. I turned around at about 18 minutes, thinking that I was getting pretty far out there and had gone at least my race distance. I swam back a little faster than I did going out because I really had my rhythm down and was feeling comfortable by then. I got to shore in a total of about a 35 minute swim.

My training partner must have swam to the beach on the other side because she was nowhere to be seen when I was out there. Once I got on the beach I could see her orange cap making it's way to the beach and I also noticed a huge seal swimming in the waves near the shore. He was swimming back and forth looking up at me on the shore and looked like he wanted someone to play with. Oh, was my training partner in for a surprise!

As she was swimming in to shore the seal saw her and swam right over to her, within feet of her, looking at her and she was head down swimming to the shore. I had told her as you swim in pretend you are in the race and run up and take your suit off so she was super focused headed for the shore to take her suit off and did not notice this gigantic animal staring at her at all. I thought for sure the seal was going to nudge her but he didn't, he just swam along side her. I wanted her to see him so I started yelling at her to look at the seal. She looked up and did not know what I was saying except that I threw her off so she put her head back down and swam right into shore without ever noticing this huge animal swimming with her. I wish I had a camera to take a picture of her head and the seals head only feet away- she would have flipped out! Once she was on the shore she saw the seal swimming in the waves and couldn't believe she didn't see it.

I still don't think she believes me how close he was to her though. Talk about focus- she was focused! Not even a gigantic sea animal could distract her!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Off to La Jolla for a training weekend again....

My training partner and I are headed to La Jolla again this morning- plan for the weekend...
Arrive around 11am- Swim in the Cove 40 minutes
Eat some lunch
Bike 56 miles
Out for St. Patty's day but we'll have to limit our green beer- did you know alcohol affects performance for the next72 hours?

Wake up tomorrow
Swim in the cove again 30-40 minutes
12pm- Run 13 miles on the race course

Should be another beautiful weekend down there! This is our last big training weekend before we start our taper for the first race of the season!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The race will be easy after all this training...

Yesterday we had our longest workout yet and the longest we'll do before the race in 2 and 1/2 weeks! I started at 11:30am and finished at 5pm. I did 35 miles on my bike with a couple of good climbs and then Ran 4 miles with an average of 9:20 min/mile. Then my training partner joined me for round two on the bike where we did another 30 miles of the same loop and then another 4 mile run(not as fast). I was done at that point and she was heading out for her second loop. It was about 80 degrees out, with a head wind on the way back. The heat was tough! I was going through fluid like crazy.

So, I did a total of 65 miles on my bike and 8 miles of running. The second bike loop my toes were going numb which happened to me on one of our long rides before. I think it is when I don't wear socks so on Saturday I will wear socks to see if it happens again. This is the kind of stuff that it is good to figure out now before the race.

This is the purpose of this type of long workout- basically when it comes time to race there is nothing unexpected...every feeling has already been experienced in training. The race should feel easy after all of the training we have done. During the race I'll have already experienced being extremely hot, tired and exhausted and pushing through anyway during my training so it won't be a new feeling during the race.

I was wiped out last night. I felt kind of nauseous for a little while. Overall, I felt good about the workout and my training partner finished around 6:30pm and had a very good training session- she was actually faster on her second run, impressive!

This morning we met at 5:30am to do our strength training. We have an easy day today and tomorrow and then are heading to La Jolla on Saturday morning for a couple days of training down there. The we'll be tapering for 2 weeks and racing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spinning Class

On Saturday I was leaving for a trip and needed to fit in a 30 mile bike. A friend of mine teaches a spinning class and has invited me numerous times. I have never taken him up on the offer but thought this would be a good time. I can go to the class get my training session in before I leave in a set amount of time without a worry of a flat tire or not making it back in time.

I used to teach spinning before I became a triathlete and cyclist. I was certified by Johnny G and used to take people through interval workouts in my spinning classes a couple times a week. At the time I had never been out on a road bike and had no idea what it felt like to actually ride.

Since catching the "triathlon bug" and buying my first road bike I haven't been in a spinning class since. The bike is my favorite leg of the triathlon and I could even see myself doing some bike races in the next few years because I really enjoy cycling. I love getting out on my bike for a workout.

So I arrive about a half hour early on the recommendation of my friend who is teaching and people have already staked out their bikes by putting their towel and water bottle on them. So I quickly throw my water bottle and towel on a bike to make sure I get one. I had no idea how popular his class was. The room had about 40 bikes and by the time the class started every one of them was taken. Now, I live in California and this particular morning was gorgeous outside- a perfect day for a ride. Infact I was tempted when I woke up to just go out for a ride but I told my friend I would be there so I didn't want to be a flake. But why were 40 other people wanting to be in this little, hot, dark room with no windows dripping with sweat when they could be outdoors? Who knows?

The class started and my friend runs a great "workout" with some very hard intervals, a lot of climbing and tons of sweat dripping off of me. No joke- I had a pool of water around me when I was done. He said the people in the class don't like to turn the fans on because they like to sweat- they feel like they had a better workout that way. Well, when I looked around I was sweating more then anybody and I definitley could have used a fan. By the way, how much you sweat doesn't = how hard the workout was. I sweat a lot anyway and don't need a hot room filled with 40 people to make me sweat so I was completely drenched when I got done.

Anyway, I realized that spinning is a great workout to do interval training, burn some calories and sweat buckets but I don't know how much it crosses over to cycling. It felt nothing like being outside, climbing hills on my bike. I don't know if I'll go again unless I need an hour of burning some calories, getting my heart rate up and sweating a few pounds off. I prefer heading out on my bike instead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Training on your own

Last week I ended up doing a lot of training on my own because my training partner had the opportunity to go up to a place called Xantusia and train where the Pros train. She had some great training sessions up there and I had some excellent ones down here.

We had a long ride on the plan for Friday and I wasn't too excited about doing it on my own but I have to admit it ended up being a great workout. I love having a training partner who pushes me but every once in awhile it's nice to go out on your own and push yourself. I think I was so afraid that I wouldn't push myself hard enough that I ended up pushing myself extremely hard and doing a lot of climbs but I felt great! I ended up doing 54 miles, climbing 4300 feet in about 3 and a half hours. I finished with a 3 mile run and even after that hard ride I was averageing an 8:59 min/mile pace for the couple miles running. This was a great workout! I was proud of myself for doing it on my own.

On Saturday afternoon I was leaving for a conference so I had to fit in my workouts I was supposed to do on Sunday(I was supposed to be Off on Saturday). So, I swapped and took Sunday off instead while I was in Vegas and before we left on Saturday I took a spinning class...I'll blog on that tomorrow...and then swam 2400m doing 3 x 800m. My swimming is really feeling great!

Got back in town yesterday and went straight to the gym to get my strength training workout done. This is our last big week of training, I am feeling good and looking forward to a great last week of building my training and then two weeks of taper and race! And then start again for the Ironman!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Run hard when it's hard to run

"Run hard when it's hard to run." says my training partner. She uses this as one of her slogans and I think it's a good mission statement. It motivates her to run when she doesn't feel like running, or train when she doesn't feel like training. It is good to have little sayings that you say to yourself that keep you focused and on track and snap you out of your funk when you don't feel like doing what your supposed to. I usually say, "Nothing to it but to do it!"

Yesterday I ran 3 x 5K. This was a tough workout. I have been alternating our training plan every 4 weeks we work on speed and then alternate by building the volume up maintaining that speed. During our speed sessions the longest distance we went was 1 mile repeats and I did 8 of them in one workout. They were all between 8:30 min/mile and 9 min/ mile. The crazy thing is I can then go and run 10 miles straight and average 8:57 min/mile. I guess that means my endurance is pretty good because I can hold that pace for a long period of time but if you have me do one mile at a time I can't get my body to go that much faster.

I found this same thing yesterday with the 5K repeats. Here I am running 3 miles at a time and trying to push with everything I have but my legs will just not turn over for faster then about a 9 min/mile pace on average. I can start out for maybe the first quarter mile going at an 8:30 or even 8 min/mile pace but then I drop off and end up averageing 9 min/mile pace.

Now, I am happy with this because it is 30 seconds per mile faster then I was averaging last year so my running has improved but I just think it is strange how I can run 10 miles at the same pace I can run 1 mile in.

To get faster I think I would have to start over again with my speed workouts which I may do after this next race and break it down again into 400's at the track and then slowly increase my volume back up to a mile repeat at an 8min/mile pace and progress the volume only as long as I can hold that faster pace.

Very interesting- I think my body is definitley meant to do endurance and not sprinting since my sprint is as fast as my 10 miles. Once I get the pace I seem to be able to endure the pace for a long period of time.

Today I have a 2500m swim at race pace. I am going to count in 500m and set my watch and stop at about 50 min. I'll know that I am done at about 50min when I finish whichever 500m I am on. I don't know how else I could keep track :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Nothing new on race day

My first race of the season is getting very close. 25 days to go! I am very excited to race again. We have this week and next week to build our volume up one last time before tapering and racing!

Now is the time to figure out what I'll wear in the race, what I'll eat the night before and the morning of, what I'll eat during, etc. Something I teach when I coach and I follow myself is- Nothing New on Race Day. Basically you should have rehearsed everything before the day of the race. One mistake a lot of athletes make is going to the expo the day before the race and get all of this new stuff to try out and decide they'll try it for the race. Their stomach ends up not liking it and they do the whole race with a bad stomach. It just isn't worth it- stick to stuff you know for the race. Do exactly as you did in practice over and over again.

On Friday this week I will be doing a race simulation by doing a bike ride and run close to the distances of the race(50 mile bike/ 6-8 mile run) and I will start around when the race starts. I'll practice eating what I think I'll eat the night before the race on Thursday night and I'll eat the breakfast I plan to eat and I'll bring the gels and drinks with me I plan to use at the race. I'll wear what I plan to wear, etc.

Basically when it comes time to race you should have done it over and over so that nothing about what you wear or eat should be a stress on you, you know exactly what works for you and have it all figured out. There is no question of should I have a bar on my bike or a gel? Should I wear socks on my bike or no socks? This should all be figured out in practice.

Just remember- Nothing new on race day!

Monday, March 05, 2007

LA Marathon- sticking to the plan...

Yesterday was the LA Marathon. I had started training for it with my sister thinking it would be a good idea to do before my Ironman. My Uncle is Pat Connelly(aka Coach Pat) who is the official coach for the race and the head coach of the LA Roadrunners, a training group for the race, so he set us all up with registration for his training group and the race and my sister and I started training back in October of last year.

As I started to learn more about training for an Ironman I realized that doing a marathon wasn't neccessary and could be a mistake to do, increasing my mileage too high too soon. Also as I was training for it our mileage was going up and up and I was either getting slower or staying the same unable to work on my speed at all which was one of my goals this year, to increase my running pace from 9:30 min/mile to a 9 min/mile pace on average.

In the mean time I had signed up for the California Half Ironman which takes place in about 3 weeks. So I had to decide, could I do my first marathon and three weeks later race well at a half ironman and still be on track to complete my Ironman in July. The more I thought about it I really wanted the California Half Ironman to be a priority race for me since I did it last year. I really want to do well at it and it is more specific training for my Ironman then the marathon is. I really wanted to work on running a faster pace at the Half Ironman and felt like I just could not keep adding mileage. It was not neccessary at this point in my training to be doing an 18 mile run and 22 mile run. The LA Marathon just didn't fit in with my training plan.

So, I made the decision that I was not going to do the marathon. Now there was also the option of completing it with my sister and run/walking the whole thing at a much lower intensity then I would do on my own but I thought- Why would I do that? I also knew it would be hard to hold back and it would tap into my recovery. I know a lot of people get sick after they do a marathon and I don't have time to get sick, I have a priority race in 3 weeks! So, I decided there was no point in me run/walking the race and I knew if I put my chip on and started the race I 'd be tempted to see how fast I could do it in.

So, Did I have the Will Power to not do the race? I was going to get my bib and run like 10 miles because I wanted to go down with my sister and I needed to do a 10 mile run. The bib was like an all access pass to get in and see her and have a good run with aid stations. I was also going to run with my sister part of it but I was not going to do the whole thing. So, did I have the will power to run 10 miles and then stop and not do 26 miles? Kind of a strange question but this was very hard even though I hadn't been training for it and had decided I wasn't doing it...

The night before I started having second thoughts- "Maybe I should just complete it, then I will have done a marathon. I am going to be down there anyway and I am going to start it. " I kept remembering what my training partner had said to me which was- "What would you say if I said I was going to go do it?" And ofcourse I said that would be ridiculous and I would be very angry at you if you went and did it because it could ruin your chances at the Half Ironman. So I kept that in mind and was going to keep myself under control and not be stupid.

So, the morning of the marathon...I decided if I did not wear my chip and there is no record of me even starting the race I wouldn't be driven to finish because I will have never officially started. My sister and I went down to the race start. Thousands of people- 25,000 people at the LA Marathon! Insane! It was a huge race. We stood in line at the Andy Gumps I think 3 times before finally lining up and then the race started!

The gun went off and they played "I love LA" and the mob of 25,000 people slowly started making their way toward the start line. I did not wear my chip so never officially started. I walk/ran with my sis for the first half mile since the crowd wasn't moving too quickly anyway and then at about the half mile point I picked up my pace, hit start on my forerunner and told myself I was going to run 10 miles at a sub 9 min/mile pace. I also told her I would walk from mile 10 to mile 13 and meet her at mile 13 to say good luck and then I was going to hop on a Metro station and go to the finish line.

So, I had a very fun 10 mile run- what a great atmosphere to do a 10 mile run in, much better then by yourself- it flew by! I saw three Elvis's and the crowd cheered for me by name because my name was on my bib. I just kept thinking this is the way to do a 10 mile run! I made my goal and did 10 miles at an 8:57 pace! I felt good and could have kept going but I stuck to my plan and stopped at mile 10 and walked from mile 10 to mile 13 to give my sis time to catch up. This was so funny because I was up with the runners and already walking at mile 10 so everyone in the crowd, again calling me by name, was feeling sorry for me and trying to get me to keep going and keep running since I had stopped and was walking. "Come on Rachel, you can do it! Dig deep and keep going!" I just smiled and said Thank you and spared telling them that I was actually training for an Ironman and this was part of my plan to walk right now...

I got to mile 13 and figured my sis would be there in about 20 minutes and in the mean time I needed to figure out how to get to the closest metro station. Well, mile 13 happened to be in the middle of downtown LA, not the greatest neighbourhood. Not a place I wanted to wander around the streets in my sports bra and tights looking for a metro station in. So I asked one of the marathon officals where I could hop on the metro and they informed me that the closest station was at mile 18 and that I could take a bus to get to the metro station at mile 18...hmmm...this is starting to sound like too much of an adventure and I do not want to be wandering around looking for a bus, etc... I am safer walking to mile 18. So I look at my map and see that the way the race is set up if I have to go to mile 18, it is only another mile and a half to the finish line because at mile 19 the course turns and does a big 7 mile loop back to mile 26 which is only a half mile up from mile 19. So, I decide I am going to just walk/ run with my sis to mile 19, another 6 miles. So I find her and tell her she's got me for 6 miles...we run/walk to mile 19- she's miserable but doing great, I am feeling pretty good and I am glad that I didn't wear my chip or I would have definitley done the whole 26 after going to 19. I left her at mile 19 and she seemed to be getting a bit of a second wind to do her last 7 miles on her own and I went to the finish line.

So, I did 19 miles of the LA Marathon but I actually never officially started the race. It was a fun day! My sis finished and I was so proud of her!

I was also proud of myself for sticking to my plan somewhat, it was tempting. I am definitley feeling the 19 miles but I wonder how I would have felt if I did 7 more. The most I had done before yesterday was run 15 miles so, run/walking to 19 wasn't too much of an increase. I think if I had done the whole 26 I'd have been hurting. Hopefully I'll still have a great week of training this week regardless of doing 19 miles yesterday and I'll peak for my race in 3 weeks!

Friday, March 02, 2007

3 stage reaction to me doing an Ironman

It is kind of funny when you tell someone you are training for an Ironman. Now I realize that deciding to do an Ironman is completely insane and that yes I am crazy but it is funny to see people's reactions. They go through 3 stages-

Stage One: AWE- "Wow! That's amazing, they say. You must really be in great shape." "You must be training like crazy!" Most of them have no idea how far it is but they just know it is a lot and that they would never even attempt to do it and so they are in AWE...

AWE is a very short stage that quickly flows into Stage 2...

Stage two: DISBELIEF- "Wait, How far is it? Do you really do it all in just one day? That is so far!" Then they usually try to figure out the distance like they'll say, "That is like swimming, biking and running to San Diego from here!" Or they try to picture how long a 2.4 mile swim is, "So that is like you swimming from here to the grocery store. Wait how many laps is that in a pool?" When they are telling me how far it is, it is like they want to make sure I know what I got myself in to incase I didn't realize how far it is. "That is a long way to drive you know."

After a few minutes, this DISBELIEF transforms into the final stage, JUSTIFICATION:

Stage Three: JUSTIFICATION- "I guess it can be done", they realize. And after a bit of thought they continue... The bike is probably the easiest. I suppose the run wouldn't be so bad if you go slowly. But the swim. The swim would definitely be the hardest. This response depends on their background which they may also tell me about- "I was a swimmer in highschool so I think I could do the swim." I tend to just stand there quietly at this point. Not saying anything and letting the people wallow in their thoughts of how tough a 2.4 mile swim would be.

Then they'll usually say- "Well good luck with your marathon!"

I think the average person thinks a marathon is crazy and so anything beyond that they can't really comprehend so they automatically call everything a marathon. So many times I get cards that say, "Good luck with your Marathon!" I guess they are somewhat right, I mean if I don't finish the marathon part I won't be an Ironman and probably the marathon is where I need the most "luck." So, I just nod and say Thank you!

I read a great book right after I signed up for my Ironman last year that had people's Ironman stories. If you are looking for some inspiration this book is full of regular people who decide to do an Ironman. Check it out-