Archive for May, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

I started out the weekend intending to take it a bit easier with my training and ended up taking off a few days.  I did go swimming on Thursday and had a great swim.  I didn’t realize how much I missed being in the water!  I haven’t swum since my tri, so it had been a few weeks since I’ve done any swimming at all.  Partly that was because the pool I usually go to has been closed in preparation for the summer season.  It’s an outdoor pool in the summer and in the winter it’s covered in one of those huge white bubbles, so for a few weeks every spring they close it for cleaning and to take the bubble down.  I think it should be open again now that it’s past Memorial day.  Thursday I went to a different pool and did this workout (from

Warm-up (repeat 2 times)

2 x 50yd Any Stroke (even pace), rest 0:15

1 x 100yd Backstroke Easy, rest 0:15

1 x 100yd Freestyle Easy, rest 0:20

Build up (repeat 4 times)

1 x 50yd Single Arm (arm by side) 6 x left, 6 x right, 6 x full stroke, rest 0:10

1 x 50yd Streamline Kicking, rest 0:10

1 x 100yd Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:20


8 x 100yd Freestyle Swim, target time 1:36, rest 0:20

6 x 50yd Freestyle Kick with kickboard, rest 0:15

8 x 100yd Freestyle Swim, target time 1:36, rest 0:20

4 x 50yd Freestyle Kick with kickboard, rest 0:15

Cool Down

2 x 50yd Breaststroke Easy, rest 0:10

2 x 50yd Backstroke Easy, rest 0:10

Total Distance: 3700 yards

Total Time: 1:20

I was able to swim most of the 16 x 100s in the target time, with just a few with times up to 1:40.  My workout was a bit slower overall than I would normally swim it, but I will blame that on the kickboard drills.  I wasn’t pushing too hard and my legs were still quite sore from earlier workouts that week.

Friday I had a complete rest day.  I also went into DC for Jazz and Sangria in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art.  It was a beautiful evening and perfect for a night out on the town.  Saturday, Curtis and I took a looong walk/run (5.5 miles total).  We did about one mile of running, but we were both quite tired and felt no need to push it.  We were really just enjoying being outside in the sunshine.

Sunday, we spent the whole day moving him into our new townhouse.  I’m counting that as my workout for the day since I was lugging boxes and furniture back and forth and up and down stairs.  Next up, moving me!  Although we have a few weeks before that happens.  I have to do a lot of packing between now and then.

We moved the last few items on Monday morning, and were going to try and fit in a bike ride before the Memorial day parties started, but unfortunately didn’t finish in time.  The rest of the day was spent cooking out by the pool and hanging out with some friends.

Today, I woke up to rain.  It rained all day and was quite windy.  Needless to say, I did not brave the weather to do an outdoor workout, and chose not to go to the gym.  I decided to spend my time going through my clothes and packing up everything I can get rid of.  I also am getting ready for this weekend.  My girlfriends and I are headed to Las Vegas for my bachelorette party! 🙂  I am so excited.


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Thoughtful Thursdays: Triathlon Training Plans

I’ve decided to try and do a weekly column on some aspect of triathlon.  Hopefully some of them may actually be helpful in your training and racing.  Though I am by no means an expert, I would like to share my learning experiences with you.  The standard disclaimer applies: I am not a medical or fitness professional and all information presented here should be used at your own risk.

Now, that the administrative stuff is out of the way, on to the topic of the week: training plans.  As beginners and mostly self-coached athletes, you have probably scoured the internet (as I did) in search of the perfect triathlon training plan.  Sites such as have a number of free options for training plans, as well as paid options with the various membership levels.  The free beginner plans, offered for each of the major triathlon distances, are broken up by training minutes for each of the three sports.  I have used one of these plans in the past, and at the time I had no complaints.  It got me to the point where I could finish the sprint distance triathlon.  More recently, I used a training plan from Triathlete magazine.  They have an annual “beginner’s issue” that typically includes a beginner sprint program.  In addition to the minutes of each sport, it offers some guidelines on intensity using a perceived exertion-type system.

While these programs are great jumping off points, they will likely need to be “tweaked” to fit your fitness background and schedule.  For example, I’ve been a swimmer all my life, so the distances/time mentioned by the plan were usually far shorter than what I am used to.  As a result, doing this workout wasn’t improving my speed or strength. So, I almost entirely disregarded the swim training and made up my own workouts to increase my swim fitness.  I didn’t want to “go backwards” by reducing my swim intensity just to meet the training plan.  This same principle applies to both cycling and running.  If you have a running background, don’t give up your run fitness just to make sure you are following the training plan.  That being said, if you need a lot of improvement in one of the three sports, more than the other two, by all means increase the amount of training you do for that sport.  Don’t neglect it in favor of something you like more!  For example, you may want to do only two days a week of running and cycling, but three days of swimming if its your weakest event.

Also, of the plans I’ve seen, they rarely mention any type of cross-training or strength training.  It seems that a lot of people get into triathlon to give themselves a target for exercising to lose weight.  From my experience, triathlon training and endurance sports can only take you so far if your goals are weightloss.  While I can’t speak for everyone or even assume that it will work for everyone, I’ve found that including regular weight training has caused me to lose weight (even though that hasn’t been a goal), gain muscle and lose fat.  I also attribute resistance training to my continued improvements in the triathlon sports, particularly in the bike leg.  Additionally, for all you strong women, keep weight training (at least for maintenance) throughout your season.  From what I’ve read, we aren’t as well-equipped as men to maintaining muscle mass, so while they may be able to greatly reduce the amount of weight training they do and retain their muscle, we will lose it faster.  (Friel talks about this in his Triathlete’s Training Bible). My two cents on the matter is that since our natural state is to have a greater percentage of body fat then men, our bodies naturally try restore the higher fat to lean mass ratio when we aren’t constantly forcing it to grow muscle.  That’s not based on anything scientific, just my own brain, so don’t quote me on it!

My final comment on training plans is quite possibly the most important.  Make sure you take rest and recovery weeks at least every 4 weeks.  These weeks of reduced volume and intensity are when your greatest fitness gains will be made.  I can’t stress how important it is to NOT omit these.  I know how easy it can be to see the gains that you’ve been making and just want to push harder and harder.  This is a recipe for overtraining and poor race performance.  This is probably the hardest bit of advice for me to follow.  I can get into such a groove of training that it can be hard to really step back even though I know how important it is.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on the matter.  If you caught my post last night, you probably know that I’m exhausted and actually considered the fact that I might be overtrained.  I’m going to take it easy tomorrow and make sure to get a lot of sleep.  Hopefully that’ll sort things out!  Also, in the spirit of training plans, I’m going to be creating a new page that will map out my training plan for the next few months till Nation’s Tri.  It’s mostly so I can track my planned workouts versus my actual workouts and look back on it for planning next season.  As I’ve mentioned, my goal is to do a half-Ironman in Fall 2010, and I need to be really meticulous to make sure I can meet that goal.  So, look out for the new page in the next few days.

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Dead Legs…

My legs are exhausted!  I think they need a break, so I’m not so sure trying spinning tomorrow is the best idea.  After Monday’s weight lifting and yesterday’s bike ride, my legs were quite sore today, especially my hamstrings!  And then tonight at weight training, guess what we started with?  Hamstring exercises.  I also ran for about 45 minutes (20 before lifting and 25 after lifting).  Needless to say, my legs feel like dead weights.  So, I may extend my swim tomorrow instead of trying to catch the spinning class.  I haven’t been in the water since the tri, so I really need to get a good swim in anyways.

I don’t know why, but my legs aren’t the only part of me that is exhausted.  I can’t seem to stay awake at work, and I’ve been falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow (or sooner – I fell asleep finishing my blog last night!).  I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and blogs talking about overtraining lately, so at first I thought that was a possibility.  But after thinking about it, I really don’t think that’s possible.  I’ve barely trained in the last couple of weeks, especially considering my volume previously.  So, I’m not really sure what the deal is.  I’m going to really make an effort to get a little more sleep tonight and tomorrow night and see if I can re-energize.  Hopefully getting a full 8 hours of sleep will help.   Fingers crossed.

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How fast? How far?

I had a productive bicycle day for once!  I took Curtis’s bike over to the bike shop to have his front wheel fixed, so it is true once more!  I’m still not entirely sure what we did to it to make it so wobbly, but hopefully it won’t happen again.  Although, the fix was relatively quick today since there were not too many people at the shop.

After returning home, I got out my bike and my new cycling computer, the Cateye Strada with cadence (thanks Curtis!).  The installation was pretty straightforward, but it still took me about 30 minutes to do it.  And I don’t have the cadence set up correctly yet.  There’s supposed to be less than 3mm distance between the sensor on the chain stay, and the magnet on the crank.  The current distance between them is probably about 20mm, so I need to figure out a way to rig it so that they are closer together.  I’m thinking I can wedge something between the sensor and the chain stay.  I might play around with it later tonight or tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Has anyone else had this issue?  What did you do to fix it?

I was planning on a 30 mile bike ride, but cut it short because (as always) I didn’t want to get caught out too late.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but part of the reason I’m so cautious is that shortly after Curtis and I got our bikes, we did get caught out after dark without lights.  We were about 6 or 7 miles away from home, and it was cold, dark, and miserable.  That was the worst ride ever, and I do not wish to repeat it.  Thank goodness we were together, if I had been alone, I would have been even more freaked out.  Anyways, I cut tonight’s ride to about 20 miles.  Here are my stats (I love knowing exactly how fast and how far I went!):

Distance: 21.16 miles

Time: 1:30:36

Average Speed: 14.0 mph

Max Speed: 26.8 mph

I’m still having trouble keeping my speed up on the second half of the ride.  I really need to work on pacing myself in the beginning of the ride so I don’t wear out my legs too quickly.  Today, I had a slight disadvantage because my legs were quite sore from yesterdays weight lifting, but I still should have had the foresight to save some energy and strength.

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Quick update…

I have been terrible at blogging the past few days!  That’s mostly due to the fact that I haven’t done any training since last week.  My weekend was pretty hectic and busy, so I knew I’d be hard-pressed to get any workouts in.  Friday was my brother’s college graduation ceremony followed by a party at my parents’ house to celebrate.  I was there relatively late, so no time to go to the gym.  Saturday morning Curtis and I went scuba diving- the water was freezing!  It was only about 48F at 30 feet.  After scuba, we grabbed a bite to eat, then were going to go for a bike ride.  We had to change a flat tire first, which took a little time.  When we finished, we realized the wheel was no longer true, but since we were only going to go for a short ride anyways, we decided to risk riding on it.  Unfortunately, we never got the chance.  As soon as we wheeled our bikes outside, we heard thunder.  Then more thunder.  We decided it really wasn’t safe to ride, and put our bikes away.  Sunday was more scuba diving.  Then we went and checked out the house we’re living in after our leases are up.  Needless to say, there was not a lot of extra time for working out over the weekend, and to be honest, I was so exhausted by the end of it, I’m not sure I would have had the energy anyways.

Today, I got back to my scheduled weight training.  I started off with a 15 minute warm-up on the treadmill.  I ran about 1.2 miles in 11 minutes, then walked for another 4 minutes.  Strength training started out with the usual core exercises.  Then our full body routine for the day.  I felt ok at lifting today, but I didn’t have a stellar day. I’m feeling a little stagnant on the weight training front, but we’re switching up routines in the next week, so hopefully that’ll help stimulate me.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be nice, so I’m going to try and take advantage of it with a nice long bike ride.  Now that the Biggest Loser is over, I don’t have anything to rush home to on Tuesdays.  I’ll update my training schedule for the week tomorrow.

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Lazy Thursday

Well, I failed at working out today.  😦 No excuses, I just didn’t.  Hopefully I will get to fit something in tomorrow.  I’m pretty sure it won’t be swimming as planned though.  My brother graduates from college, so I’ll be with the family for the afternoon and evening.  I might try and get up early and go to the gym to run.

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Happy Hump day!  This week is dragging by, but the end is in sight!  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but Curtis has been away for work for the past three and a half weeks and only home on the weekend, and this is going to continue for the rest of this week and likely next week too!  All his travel is making the time go by so slowly for me, because I’m constantly waiting for him to just come home already.  I know he wishes he was home too.  I’ll be glad when he can come home for good.

Today’s workout was the typical weight lifting.  I also walked for about 15 minutes on the treadmill to warm-up beforehand.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get my run in because I had to be somewhere right away after the gym.  Weight lifting has been tricky for me lately, and I’m not really sure what the deal is.  A lot of the exercises are going by without having to invest a maximum effort, which makes me feel like I’m not making great gains.  Of course, I do a lot better when I have a little competition and try to “beat” the other people I’m lifting with.  Lately, I’ve been the one able to lift the heaviest, so there’s nothing to aspire to within the group.  Maybe I’m just in a funk, we’ll see how next week goes.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it is that makes someone a triathlete.  There’s the clear marker- when you finish your first triathlon.  At that moment, you become “triathlete”.  I actually get chills when someone gets to hear, “Congratulations, Triathlete!” for the first time.  And as a side note, I’m thrilled at the anticipation of being able to officially congratulate each of you as you complete your first races in the next couple of months!  But really, even though this moment is huge, and I don’t want to underplay that, being a triathlete is really about will-power, motivation, and confidence.  While I can’t speak for anyone else, I know the first moment that I thought to myself, I can do a triathlon, was also the first moment I started to be a triathlete.

And if I can do it, I think anyone can, so why are there so few of us that do?  I’ve tried to convince a few people to get into multi-sport and other than Curtis trying out the super-sprint, I haven’t been successful at all.  They usually claim not to be able to do the swim, or the run, or not have a bike, or just have no desire.  I can understand not having the desire- triathlon is not for everyone.  I probably wouldn’t like it quite as much if it was; there’s something special about being one of a handful of people in the world that can claim to be triathletes.  But some, I think, have been genuinely interested, but can’t get past what they think they can’t do.  Now, I am lucky, because I have been a swimmer all my life, and I think that is really one of the biggest hurdles for many people to overcome.  Though there are plenty of people who have never been swimmers who learn and are able to compete (I am constantly inspired and impressed by the amount of effort other athletes put into overcoming their limiters!).

I am certain that the reason triathletes are a class all their own is that at some point, they had to say to themselves, “I can do this.”  And then they had to believe it through the several months (give or take) of their training to their first race, when they become official triathletes.  They may choose to continue or stop, but they’ll have always that moment when they gathered up their confidence and determination and signed up for their first race.

Obviously, I’m hooked.  I don’t think I’ll ever give it up, and I have aspirations to some day gain the honor of being the oldest finisher at a race.  I am in awe of the 60 and 70+ year olds that still compete, and proud to be in their company at races.  I’ve had a major change in perspective since I began training in the way I live my life, and I think it’s been nothing but beneficial.  I’m happier and (a lot!) healthier- what more could you ask of a hobby?

Well, there is one thing-I’m really quite jealous of those of you who have friends who are also into triathlon.  While I have a few triathlete acquaintences, I don’t have anyone to obsess with or to train with.  I am on the lookout for some good tri-buddies, so if you’ve got any to share, send them my way!  I’m hoping to join a local tri club after I move in the next month or so, but I’m worried that it might be one of those situations where everyone else already knows each other so well that it’s hard to break in.  I’m not shy, but I’m also not the most outspoken or outgoing person, so sometimes getting into groups is a challenge.  I’ll keep you posted on what I decide to do.

Anyways, that’s all for tonight.  I hope you don’t mind my rambling diversion from the normal “all training all the time” in this blog, just something I’ve been thinking about.  Have a good end of the week!

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Back to the Grindstone

I’m here!  Sorry, I’ve been terrible about blogging the past couple of days.  I was pretty busy over the weekend doing wedding planning stuff and didn’t have quite as much time for working out as I would have liked.  I only got in about a half hour easy bike ride (all in Zone 1).  I’m not too torn up about it though, I still consider that part of my week “off” after the race.  But now it’s time to get back to the grindstone.  Yesterday, I did 45 minutes of weight training- the usual consisting of some core work and then full body workouts.  Then I ran a mile on the treadmill and walked some to cool-down.

I’ve almost got my training plan for the next 18 weeks figured out.  I’m using Joe Friel’s guide to create an annual training plan in The Triathlete’s Training Bible.  I’ve just truncated it to fit the last weeks of this season for me.  If things go well with it, I expect I’ll use it for my next year’s training as well, with the end goal of possibly doing a half-Ironman in the fall.  We’ll see.  The first step was to determine goals and figure out how many annual training hours I can complete.  I based my program on 450 annual hours.  My three main goals are:

1. Complete the Olympic distance triathlon in 3:40.

2. Improve my run speed to be able to run a 10K at a 9 minute mile pace.

3. Improve bike strength to be able to sustain a 90+ cadence for at least 60 minutes.

Based on these goals and the annual training hours, I’ve broken down my schedule into six different periods- two base periods, two build periods, a peak, and race periods.  I’ve also assigned specific targets for each week for each sport.  Every fourth week is a rest and recovery week.  My final step is to plan out each week’s workouts.  The book has some example workouts to use, so I’ll probably incorporate some of those and make up some of my own as well.

The weather was gorgeous tonight for my bike ride.  My focus for this ride was endurance, and I wanted to stay mostly in Zone 2 with a few Zone 3 efforts included.  I rode west on the trail, which is opposite the direction that I usually ride, because it has a few good short hill efforts to play with.  My total workout was a little bit over 22 miles.  I felt really great on the first half, I was riding in my big chain ring and pushing a high cadence the whole time (I should really get a cycling computer so I can record this).  My heartrate hovered between 160-165, with a few efforts to 170+.  The second half took a much greater effort to keep my cadence high, and I didn’t manage to stay in the big chain ring the whole time.  On the bright side, I’ve noticed a HUGE improvement since the last time I did this ride and was hurting by the end of the first leg.  The whole workout took about 1:42 minutes.  The first and last mile were my warm-up and cool-down, so without those, I did 20 miles in 1:22, which is 14.2 mph.  I had finished the first half in exactly 40 minutes, so I was a bit slower on the second half.  But, I knew I needed to work on my bike endurance and strength, so at least my goals are in the right place.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the time includes the numerous stops at road-crossings.  As I get further on the trail, there are less crossings, and there are even fewer after my turnaround point, but I don’t like to go too far on evening rides since I don’t have a light and don’t want to get caught out after dark.  As a result of all the stops, I’ve gotten a lot better at clipping in and out of my pedals.  I still have my moments (like today when I almost fell but managed to save myself at the last second!), but I don’t un-clip 25 yard in advance of a possible stopping point anymore.  I did witness another cyclist fall today, though, luckily he was alright!  I think he was just thinking about too many things at one time because he was passing some walkers, another cyclist was coming toward him and he was approaching the road crossing, all at the same time!  I’m glad I managed to finish my ride without incident!

I’m going to try and be better about blogging this week, but I will warn you that I probably won’t be doing much this weekend.  I’m going scuba diving to get my open water certification, and I expect to be pretty tired after being in the water all morning Saturday and Sunday.

P.S. This blog post took me 2.5 hours to write because I am watching the Biggest Loser, and haven’t been able to concentrate!

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Finally! Sunshine!

What a gorgeous day!  The sun was out, the sky was blue with white fluffy clouds, and the temperature was perfect; I spent a lot of the day staring longingly outside while I was at work.  I have really been itching to go for a bike ride all week, and I thought today would finally be the day.  Unfortunately, around 3:00 the clouds started rolling in.  By the time I left work at 5:30, I was afraid it would either storm or get dark too fast to ride, so I decided to wait till this weekend and try again during the day.

I have to admit, I was feeling a little out of sorts by the time I got home.  I was just having one of those days where I was in a funk and didn’t have the motivation to do anything, so I started doing some emotional eating…bad idea!  I used to be really really bad about eating when I was bored or to make myself feel better.  In the past year or two, I’ve gotten MUCH better about not doing this, but I still have my days.  I’ve been really stressed at work this week and it’s carried over to my eating habits, which I think has made things even worse for my physical and mental status.  So, after eating leftover Thai food (another bad idea), I decided to drag myself out and go for a run.  I’d much rather get stuck in the rain while running than stuck out biking in a thunderstorm at dusk.

I ran a mile to warm up, and about halfway through I was really regretting the spicy Thai sitting in the pit of my stomach.  But instead of doing the logical thing and stopping or lightening the workout, I did the opposite and decided to run sprint intervals.  I did 15 minutes of intervals, running 30 seconds at nearly all-out pace (HR:175-180, Zone 5) with 1:00 RI walking.  Despite still feeling like I was going to vomit (sorry if TMI), I actually felt pretty good, strong and fast.  Just as I was about to start my second sprint, some bikers were passing me on the trail and one of them decided to match my pace for a few seconds.  He yelled out to me that I was a fast runner.  Of course, I couldn’t just take the compliment and smile and thank him, I had to yell back that I wasn’t yet but I was trying to be, at which he pointed out that I was running 19 mph.  I’m pretty sure he was either exaggerating or I heard him wrong, because I’ve never run that fast in my life.  That’s a 3:09 minute mile pace.  Even for only a 30 second effort, that seems ridiculously fast to me.  Maybe he said 9 mph, that’s a much more reasonable 6:40 minute mile pace.  Yeah, it had to have been that.  Regardless, I was pleased with my sprint efforts.  I decided to walk for recovery, and I’m glad I did, I was able to push through more intense intervals that way.  After the intervals, I ran the last 2.75 miles home.  In all, I did about 5.25 miles in 70 minutes or so.  Considering the amount of walking I did, I’m fine with this time.

I’m really glad I made myself workout tonight, I feel much better.  The endorphin rush does great things for me!  Anyways, I need to go plan out my training for the rest of the year.  Back to my regularly scheduled training next week!


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Rain, rain, go away

I am sick and tired of all this rain and gloomy weather.  My cabin fever is really acting up and I am itching to get outside!  Those few days of beautiful hot weather were such a teaser.  I really hope this clears up a bit tomorrow so I can go for a bike ride after work.  If I get off work at a reasonable hour, that is.  I’ve been really busy with this one project, and it’s getting down to the wire.  I’d really like to get a lot done tomorrow, so I’m going to try and go in early and stay until I can’t take it anymore.  I feel like I have a million and one things to do this week, and I haven’t had the time to get anything done.  I haven’t even been doing as much training as usual.  Today, all I did was walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes (8-12% incline) and then lift.

For core work, we did a set of crunches, “supermans”, bicycles (with pauses), and leg lifts.  Lifting included a row (body weight), chest press (40lbs per arm), twists (bands), “sumo” squats (25lbs), hamstrings, triceps, shoulder shrugs, rotator cuff, pump lunges, and push-ups.  Not too rough today.  I think I should have been doing more weight on the test press, I finished the set very easily.  I’m sure I’ll feel the lunges tomorrow though.  It’s so strange how when we do some exercises, I feel like I have so much strength, but for others I am SO weak!  My triceps can especially use some work.  I have the hardest time doing triceps.

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