Running to a Clear Mind


Way back when I started my journey to triathlete, I would hear people say, “I think best when I am running.” My response was to roll my eyes and mutter to myself, “yeah, right” as all I ever felt when I was running was pain and lack of oxygen.

But as my body got used to running, developed stronger muscles, and an improved mental attitude, running became a much more peaceful, sublime experience. I was able to cover new ground with my increased endurance and go exploring new areas of town, noticing things that one would never see in a car. My community came alive as I ran by.

I also started to notice that my thoughts shifted from my body and surroundings to concepts that have been at the top of my mind. By focusing on these thoughts, time and distance went by faster. I also returned to work with new perspectives and…. A fresh mind.

Running had come full circle. The truth is, I really do do my best thinking while I am running. Instead of sitting at my desk to work through a problem, I’ll go out for a short or long run (if it is a big problem) and think it through. Running had gone from something horrible to an essential part of life.

Get out there, run, clear your mind and make the world a better place, one thought and one mile at a time.

The New Year Brings New Goals!


Resolutions 5k Run kicks off 2012

As we begin flying through the new 2012 calendar and say “whew” after running my first event of the new year, it is time to outline my goals for the year.  Instead of doing a half dozen events, I feel like 2012 should be the year of simple and calculated performance.  Let’s focus on one or two larger goals and let the rest fall in as they come.

Choose Your Distance!

Recognizing the diversity of the triathlon sport, 2012 will be the year to step up.  First, I will complete my first “long” course triathlon.  This means swimming a mile in the ocean (really?), biking fives time longer than a sprint, and running more than 3x’s the distance.  But, that’s how we roll and continually improve our performance.

The event of choice for my first long course triathlon is none other than my home town event, the Santa Barbara Triathlon on August 25th.  Why travel when you can roll out of bed 45 minutes before start and still wait for horn?    To read more about the daunting 1-mile swim, 34-mile bike, and 10-mile run ahead, check out the course description.

After surviving my first long course, I thought it would be an excellent recovery opportunity to finish the Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint in the fastest time possible on September 30th.  After going long, the shorter distances are going to be a breeze (I say that now!).   The Carp Tri is my favorite and I can’t think of any better way to end the season with a solid showing on a course that I love so much.

Host Your Own Event When You Can’t Find It

But, my biggest goal yet, which is not necessarily directly related to training, but is fitness oriented, is going to be awesomer.  I am directing the Goleta Duathlon, held on May 20, 2012 in the “Good Land” of Goleta, California. The best part about a duathlon (run-bike-run) is the lack of swimming with the sharks! I am still in the process of obtaining permits, I can’t wait to share a bit of California’s Central Coast with other athletes and allow them to share in this memorable event.  From now to May 21st, life is going to be interesting.

Cooking Paleo, Cover to Cover

Of course, an individual needs their “fun” goals as well.  Life can’t be all training and race directing.  This year I decided to get back in the kitchen and cook!  The goal is to make every recipe (minus recipes with allergies) in a paleo cookbook from cover to cover.

The book for 2012 is Paleo Comfort Food by the Mayfields. I’ve owned this book for a while, but haven’t had a chance to really dive into the scrumptious recipes inside.  By the end of this year, though, I will be a paleo comfort food master!

Wish me luck!  I set the bar extremely high, but I know I can achieve!

What are your goals for 2012?

Reflecting: What an Awesome Year 2011 Was!


On this New Year’s Eve, I can’t help but reflect on how much I’ve grown in 2011 and how awesome the year was.   While 2009 was the year of firsts and 2010 was the year of obsessive burnout, 2011 was the year of balance.  Here are some of my best, and not so best, moments.

September 2011 – Carpinteria Triathlon Sprint

The Carpinteria Triathlon is my favorite triathlon.  Period.  It was very fitting that this year was the first year that I swam the entire ocean swim freestyle.  No more side stroke and kicking with my legs.  This translated to more energy and a much improved run time.  While still not a PR, my finish time proved that swimming efficiently has a great impact on the other two sports!  Read my race report here.

Camarillo Duathlon – August 2011

The Camarillo Duathlon was the event that I’ve been eying since I set my goal to complete my first triathlon a few years ago.  Whether it was cancellations or my travel schedule, I was never able to make it to the event.  Feeling the need to reconnect with myself, I got myself down to Camarillo and had a great time.  Even though I did the sprint, this event drove home how much I love competing and no matter how busy the schedule gets, I must make time to compete and keep up with my training. Read my race report here.

Santa Barbara Triathlon – August 2011

The home town event was a wake up call.  Having come off the Camarillo Duathlon, it was time to get back in the water and finish my first tri of the season.  At the Santa Barbara Triathlon, wasn’t prepared for the embarrassment, a product of my lack of training (particularly ocean swims), poor dietary choices, and busy schedule.  Seeing the pictures of me with a farmer’s tan wearing a race jersey two sizes too small is highly motivating to get back to my 2009 level of fitness.  Read my race report here.

Next Generation Fitness Analytics: TrainingMetrix, LLC

2011 was also the year that I turned my passion for data, analytics, and fitness into a reality.  By forming an LLC dedicated to helping athletes of all types leverage workout data with analytics, I found my calling.  TrainingMetrix is the product of what I couldn’t find. Over the past few years I had struggled to find an analytic solution that worked for me, so I built one using Excel.  I am now in the process of turning this into a marketable Excel template and web app.  Check out TrainingMetrix.

2012 and Beyond

I am looking toward 2012 with great inspiration.  I see the next year as a blank slate for some pretty awesome things to happen on.  From expanding TrainingMetrix to completing my first long course triathlon (yep, I am going long!), to even holding my own duathlon as race director, I am planning to reach high and never look back.

I hope all of my readers can look back on 2011 and come away with some awesome moments.  If you have some less than awesome moments you can’t shake, leverage them for the better and look forward.

Happy New Year to all!  Let’s make 2012 the best year ever!

Keeping It Real During the Holidays


The off season provides time to relax and let the body recover from the strenuous racing season.   As triathletes, we live a lifestyle full of activity, healthy food and awesome friends & family.

But, during the winter when the weather is cold, wet and dreary, we tend to focus our activities indoors at the gym and around the house.  To add another layer of complexity, the holidays tease us with a variety of scrumptious foods like pumpkin pie, egg nog, turkey, sweet potatoes, ham and cranberry jelly.   The holidays usually come and go with an increased waist line.

But, you can keep it real during the off season and actually get a head start on the new racing season with a few simple tips:

  1. Pack bands and other small home gym equipment when you travel.  With a body weight workout supplemented by a few bands, you would be surprised how good  of a workout you can get in within the hotel or guest room.
  2. Pack warm clothing and run when it is sunny.  Early morning runs can be breathtaking during sunrise. By wearing thermal gear and layering, those early morning runs don’t have to be cold too.
  3. At dinner, eat the sweets in moderation and have a larger helping of vegetables.
  4. Enjoy every moment you can with your friends and family.  Let go of your goals, the coming season and training.  Spending time with those important to you now will pay off dividends during the new season.

From Aric In Training, Happy Holidays.   I hope everyone has a safe, fun, and memorable holiday season!

Triathlon Training Dashboard: Chart Two


In my first installment on the topic of creating a triathlon training dashboard, I discussed a few issues surrounding the data, some challenges with metrics such as tracking intensity and some feedback on a popular online workout tracking solution.

In the time since I published the last post, an entire triathlon season has gone by and I am a little more experienced on the fitness and triathlon analytics front.  So much so, I created TrainingMetrix, LLC, a company dedicated to producing simple, yet sophisticated, analytics for athletes, triathletes, beginners, and anyone interested in fitness analytics in general.

The Purpose

Now that the shameless plug for my company has been accomplished, let’s get back to our second installment of building a training dashboard in Excel. The concept behind chart two is simply a check to see if the amount of time you are investing per day to accomplish your goals is appropriate.  The question is, “How much time am I investing each day toward my triathlon goals?”

The Chart

Chart two for the triathlon training dashboard is “Average Workout Time Per Week” seen below:

Excel ChartAs you can see, the data shows that I only spend about 20 minutes per day training.   What does this mean?  Well, it means that my triathlon goal is only worth 20 minutes per day to me, at least according to my actual time since August 1.

Chart in Context

Of course, the question will come up regarding how much time should I spending working out per week?  For a full distance triathlon, such as an Olympic, about 12 hours per week is normal.  This translates to 1:42:51 per day.  Compare this to my 0:20:26 average and it is clear that I won’t be finishing any Olympic distance triathlons anytime soon and the goal is to start increasing the daily workout time to a minimum sprint distance of 8:00:00 per week or 1:08:34 per day.

Note that I have not created a stacked series by sport, I am only looking at overall time per week.   The high level metric wouldn’t show the same meaning broken down by sport, which make it difficult to conclude “yes” or “no” to the question of investment.   In the context of sport, the “Weekly Training Summary” chart I discussed in the first installment is appropriate for more detailed sport analysis.

But Wait…

But, you might asking yourself why the “Weekly Training Summary” chart I presented in the first part of this series wouldn’t accomplish the same task.  I thought about this as well and I think both charts deliver separate meaning.  The Weekly Training Summary chart gives perspective on where I am spending time and how it is trending over time against distance.  The “Average Workout Time Per Week” chart takes a simpler approach by asking “how much time am I investing in my training on a daily basis.” Both are similar, but they tell different stories.

The Next Installment Is…

With TrainingMetrix coming up to speed and I continue to experiment with fitness and workout analytics, there is a lot on this topic still to come.  In fact, I would like to address the issue of tracking workout intensity over time in a simple, yet sophisticated way that anyone can do without expensive software.

Until later…  Happy Triathloning!

How Important Is The Workout Gear?


In this installment of milestones along my journey from office potato to triathlete, I wanted to point out just how important having the right gear for your workout really is.

When I started my journey at 60 pounds heavier, I really had no clue what it meant to truly workout.  Sure, I knew what if felt like to sweat, dripping my saltiness everywhere I went, how it soaked my clothes and even how much bad it made me feel.

During those first few months of workouts, I was so new to this that I didn’t even own a real t-shirt. Shortly before my first workout with my new trainer, I remember scrambling through my closet, looking for something to wear.  I had shorts, albeit more leisurely shorts made of cotton.  So, my first workout gear was nothing more than a cotton t-shirt and cotton shorts.

view more milestones and tips along my journey

You know what happens to cotton when it gets wet?  It sucks up moisture and hangs on to it as long as it can.  When it does this during an hour long workout, your clothes not only get heavier and heavier, but your body is then wrapped up in a wet “towel”, preventing it from cooling off, so it sweats even more.

Aric in Training April to November
Comfortable running in lightweight clothing.

At the end of the workout, you must then extract the soaked clothing from the body.  With a sweating body and sweat soaked clothing, there almost seemed to be a glue that was keeping them together.  No amount of heaving and hoeing would make the clothing give.  Already exhausted from the hellish workout, one must contort in ways never thought of.  I quickly nicknamed this the “sweat dance.”

While my trainer and I had a rather amusing conversation around this topic, he suggested buying some actual workout clothes.   While, I wasn’t wild about investing even more money into this fitness thing at that moment (joining the gym hurt the pocket book enough), fifty dollars for a set of actual workout gear (shirt and shorts) really was small potatoes in the grand scheme of things to come.

After making my purchase and proudly strutting through the gym wearing my new clothes that said “Champion” on them (a champion would settle for nothing less!), I immediately felt a difference. The difference wasn’t just about showing off the new clothes, the clothes made me feel different, especially after my first workout in the new gear.

First and foremost, I felt how much lighter the polyester based fabric was.  By comparison, the heavy cotton felt like wearing a lead vest, whereas the polyester was almost like running around naked.  This translated to even more of a weight difference during and after the workout.  The polyester didn’t absorb the sweat nearly as much and it didn’t stick as badly to my body.  The “sweat dance” quickly became a thing of the past in the locker room afterward.

Next, during the workout, I felt significantly cooler. The heavy, sweat soaked cotton was acting like a blanket, keeping heat in.  The lightweight polyester by contrast, was light and airy, allowing the air to reach my skin and heat to be released.   In fact on cool mornings, the amount of steam coming off my body is sorta like San Francisco in a fog. The fabric also dried very quickly. With improved body temperature regulation, my body could better handle the tough workouts.

view more milestones and tips along my journey

After a few workouts, there was no going back to cotton.  The freedom that well designed, lightweight fabrics can give the triathlete is a huge reason to say bye-bye to cotton.  Sure, the investment is a little more than cheaper cotton, but performance always comes at a price.

This was the first of many gear purchases that would make my workouts more comfortable and, in turn, help me achieve my goals. Having the right workout gear is hugely important.

Going Simple


Triathlons can be thought of as a complex sport.  Anytime you take more than one of anything and put them together, things tend to get a little complicated.   This is why triathlon is a heavily respected sport with only a few mastering it.

Add in multiple triathlons in a year, a full-time job, and a host of other responsibilities in life and those complexities just got exponentially more complex.  As I know from my 2009 triathlon season, balancing everything and squeezing in training is hard work.  In early 2010, it led me to burn out.  A burn out in which I am still struggling to recover more than a year later.

While in 2011, I had listed a number of triathlons on my race list.  These triathlon included the Ventura Triathlon, Strawberry Fields Triathlon, Santa Barbara Triathlon, and my personal favorite, the Carpinteria Triathlon.   In all, that is four races with many smaller (running type) races mixed in between.  This means that I had a race practically every week and a half on average.  Wow.

So, at this time, I am throwing out my race list and getting back to simplicity.  The bottom line is that I have digressed too far from my prior fitness and have a bit of a journey ahead just to get back to my old, triathlete self.   So, I will focus on achieving a good showing at one event, the Carpinteria Triathlon Olympic.  The Santa Barbara Triathlon will be a warm-up event to Carp to make sure I am comfortable again in the racing environment.

The 1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run is going to be a challenge for me.  I have yet to swim consistently past 800m in a pool, have yet to conquer Toro Canyon on the bike, and have yet to run a full 5k that I feel happy with.   The challenge is awesome, and I will meet it head on.

Time to get training!