Dec 30, 2014

Finding the Right Balance

During the holiday season it can be very difficult to find a "happy medium" with respect to eating, sleeping, and exercising. Many of us work so hard to stay in good shape that it's a shame to loose any fitness during the holiday season. After all, we know it's Christmas time, which for most means delicious food and drink. But our body doesn't know what time of year it is. Our body reacts to food, sleep, and exercise the same on December 25th and July 25th – precisely why most of us return to work in the New Year a few pounds heavier.

From an athletic standpoint, I looked forward to the holiday season as a time to sneak in nap or two and follow my training program as closely as possible – all the while trying not to indulge too much at the dinner table. Other than having to switch a few workouts around due to a limited pool schedule and some family commitments, I've done a fairly good job of this (so far). I've gotten as much or more sleep than I'm used to, but not necessarily at the same time (of day). And my eating schedule and diet have been much less structured than normal. Both of these factors have undoubtedly affected my ability to push myself during each workout. For example, I was scheduled to complete a 60 minute run workout on Christmas day of 5 times 5 minutes at 10k pace (with 3 minutes easy in between). The only time I could fit this in was at 8am after not getting to bed until 1am. I slept until 7am to get as much sleep as possible, but did not have time to eat a proper meal prior to my run. As a result, I did complete the run, but was only able to run my targeted speed for 1 of the 5 intervals. Initially, ‎I was disappointed with my effort. However, after taking some time to consider the external factors that adversely affected my workout, this feeling of disappointment quickly left my system. Perhaps my biggest mistake regarding this workout (and others over the holidays) was unrealistic expectations.

I've enjoyed some time off with my family and friends for Christmas. However, as someone who loves routine, I’ll really looking forward to getting back into a regular schedule in the New Year! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2015!

Dec 12, 2014

Switching Gears

I've had close to three weeks to recover from the Philly Marathon and I am happy to say I do not have any injuries, which is why it’s time to switch gears! I have been focusing on the marathon for the last 3 months. As a result, I had no choice but to place swimming and biking on the “back burning” for a while. During this time I continued to swim 2-3 times per week and cycle 1-2 times per week, but most of these workouts were used as active recovery.

I have “switched gear’ (literally and figuratively) and will be focusing on improving my power on the bike over the next few months. Now that the weather has turned cold, it is almost impossible to get outside for a decent bike workout. As a result, this (below) is where I’ll be sitting for 4-5 hours per week from now until April. I am fortunate to have a few training partners to join in the suffering, which will certainly make these workout easier.

In some ways it’s nice to get a break from running. On the other hand, it’s not easy to go from running 50-60 miles per week down to 25-30. This is why it’s great to have a specific program and a coach to help me stick to the program and keep focused. After all, I was a runner first, so I think it’s only natural to want to concentrate on running as opposed to the swim and the bike.

If you know anything about triathlon you've likely heard the quote “it’s all about the bike!” This pertains to pretty much any triathlete, assuming you are comfortable in the water and on the run. The vast majority of triathletes, whether they are competing in a Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman, or Full Ironman, will spend more than 50% of their total race time on their bike. For example, when competing at Challenge St Andrews (half iron) this past summer, I spent 55% of the time on the bike. Lisa (spouse) was completing her first half Ironman with the goal if finishing, and she too spent more than half of her time (52%) on her bike. Is it any wonder that most training programs involve you spending at least 50% of your training time on the bike?

The main priority for me will be to do my best to improve my FTP (functional threshold power), which is essentially the maximum power you are capable of pushing for one hour. A power meter is necessary in order to obtain an accurate FTP. There are several different options, including the Stages Power meter, which is what I am currently using. I’ll explain more about training with power in future blog posts.