Thursday, June 20, 2013

Training Baseline - The Starting Point

Alright, so where am I currently with my training?  Well, it's not pretty.  Turns out having a 1yr old and starting a new job isn't as easy as I expected. 

My son TJ was born in March of 2012.  Shortly after that I signed up for Timberman 70.3 and managed to have a solid lead up to the race.  It was a challenge, but I did what needed to be done.  4am workouts, lunchtime swims and very limited sleep was sustainable for a short time, and I pulled out a solid 4:41 for the race.  I was pretty happy with the time, and allowed myself to slack off afterwards.  Turns out that focused training period took it's toll and I struggled to regain the mental and physical rhythm needed to get back into training. 

 This changed everything!

 Timberman Run

I tried setting some new goals, but when I started my new job in November, my routine was turned upside down.  My commute tripled in length and my work hours shifted.  Now I was at my desk by 6am and didn't get any free time until 8pm once TJ was asleep.  It wasn't a good time to prioritize training for a triathlon. 

 There was a lot of this...

So I did what I could to stay active, raced a duathlon in February and did some physical therapy to work on an irritated shoulder.  A few weeks of good training would be followed by a week or two of inconsistent training.  Not what you want for fitness gains.

The graph above outlines my training since February '11.  This is a great illustration of what you DON'T want your training to look like.  You can see a good build in 2011 leading up to Buffalo Springs 70.3 in June, followed by an off season of fitness loss.  Then in 2012 you see the build for Timberman, followed by an offseason of fitness loss.    Since August of '12, I've had a few spurts but not enough to sustain increased fitness.  

Consistency over time is probably the most critical element of gaining fitness.  My training lacks that consistency on both a macro and micro level.  You see huge swings in fitness on an annual basis, but if you zoom in on the daily, weekly and monthly level, you'll see a similar lack of consistency. 

Getting ready for Ironman Cozumel, I can't help but have wishful thinking about what could have been if I'd just filled in those gaps with some more training.  But I still think I have a solid base.  My Critical Power (CP) is about as good as it's ever been.  My running fitness needs to be sharpened a bit, but it's the one sport I've stayed somewhat consistent with.  And swimming, my constant weakness, is showing some real promise now that I'm doing Master's Swim three times a week.  

I have a ton of work to do, but I'm also optimistic.  I've figured out the work routine, I'm getting sleep for the first time in 15 months and I've got the support of my wife, Analise.  Below are my current numbers:

Swim Pace:  100yd time of 1:20; Threshold pace of about 1:30
Bike: Critical Power of 279W
Run: Critical Velocity of 6:43min/mi

These values were tested earlier this year and all are due for updating.  Testing is ongoing now, so by the end of July I expect to have some new values to share.   I'm not sure what my target paces will be for the Ironman, but there's a lot of time to build!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 Season Overview

Alright, since this is going to primarily be a blog about triathlon, I'll get it started with what this season looks like.

It's late June already and 2013 has been a pretty unremarkable year so far for racing.  I raced Du the Polar Bear, a local duathlon, in February, for which I finished 2nd Age Group (AG) and 9th Overall (OA).  Okay finish, but not an improvement on previous years.  My first triathlon of the year was the Tejas Triathlon, a local sprint triathlon that was done under heavy weather conditions.  My 4th AG finish was pretty poor, and I'll post my race report from that one later.  Finally, I finished 5th OA at a 15k trail race (Gator Bait) just last weekend.

So disappointment so far, but there's still a lot of racing to go!  This year has been marked by a new job, new routine and continuing challenges with being a dad, so I'm still optimistic that the best is yet to come.  My race calendar for the rest of the year looks something like this:

14 July:  Shadow Creek Sprint Triathlon
4 August: Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon
24 August: Clearlake Olympic Triathlon
2 September: Houston Olympic Triathlon
30 September: Du the Bear Duathlon
21 October: Austin 70.3
1 December: IM Cozumel

Obviously, the headliner is Cozumel.  I'll post a separate post on my expectations and plans for the race, but it's a recent addition and it's gotten me really motivated about my training.  My wife, Analise, is racing it as well, and since she's the one who first got me into this sport anyway, having her train always helps me keep a positive outlook as well.  I never train as well when she isn't.

There are about six months until the Ironman.  That's a lot of training and racing between now and then.  I'll share the journey, the challenges, the low moments and the highlights along the way.  The end result should be a fun race, a solid result and great vacation out of it all.  In the big picture, this is an escape from the drudgery of corporate life, so it HAS to be fun. If it's not, then it's all a waste of time!

Let's get this started!

A blog?  Me?  Really?

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of personal blogs.  I enjoy those done by my friends, but I've always been in the camp of those folks who felt that everyone and their brother had a blog, and very few of them were really interesting.  I never saw myself throwing my hat in with that lot...

...yet here I am.  I've considered doing this before, but always figured it would just be another waste of my very limited time, with little real benefit.  Maybe that'll be the case, but I've taken a very different view on what the purpose of a blog is and who it's really for.

My audience is whoever cares to read this.  Family, friends, athletes, coworkers; all are welcome, but none are necessary.  This is for me.  A grown man's diary if you will, but more accurately just an outlet for all those conversations I have with myself during those workouts and long commutes.  If nothing else, putting them down in writing will help me stay focused, keep balance and keep a log for future reference. 

My hope is that others will find this interesting as well.  A good portion of this will be personal; my training, my life, my races, my family, etc..  However, I'm also going to discuss topics related to triathlon that I find interesting and that can be educational to others.  Training, diet, racing, coaching will all be discussed, with as much science, detail and evidence based conclusions as possible. 

In the next few days, I'll probably have an avalanche of posts to get some things started.  Don't expect that to continue; it's a slow week at work and there will be periods where this blog is so far down on the priority list that I may forget how to access my account!

Email me with questions, requested topics or any feedback.  

Disclaimer: I'm out of practice with writing, so I hope I improve over time.  I use too many exclamation marks and probably misuse punctuation regularly, but my hope is that my writing communicates more personality that I manage to do in real life!