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!

Workout Update – Life’s Obligations

Sunset at Butterfly Beach

It has been quiet around here lately and that means life is in full swing.  So a few quick updates from my realm of the triathlon universe:

  1. Shoulders and neck continue to be sore.  A few weeks back, moving furniture I pulled a muscle in my back and shoulder that is causing discomfort throughout my upper back, neck and arms.   It is gradually getting better, but is still quite bothersome.  Maybe I am just getting old?
  2. Workouts themselves have been light lately as I let my shoulders recover.  I’ve mainly been focusing on Yoga, foam rolling, and stretches, but did get back to the gym for a workout.
  3. Today’s gym workout was pretty cool with a combination of jump rope, squat and press, and push-ups.  The shoulders are a little more sore than they were before, unfortunately.
  4. The Paleo/Primal diet has taken a bit of a back seat lately.  This week bagels and bread seemed to creep back in, as did Oreos (Oh no!).  Focus this next week is to get back to a diet with far less processed foods.
  5. My hope of competing in the Greeley Triathlon in June were dashed as life prevents me from leaving Santa Barbara at that time.  I am feeling a bit bummed about it, but I will find other events to do at more opportune times.
  6. I am continuing my own custom fitness tracking solution that I’ve been calling TrainingMetrix.  Help me out and take a look at the blog or the forums.

While I still struggle to return back down to my racing weight and let my shoulders mend, I keep reflecting back on my awesome 2009 season.  Using 2009 as my inspiration for 2011, that little thing called life keeps reminding me of how complex things can get.  Still, triathlons are awesome and they will always be in my daydreams.

So, what strategies do you use to balance triathlon with the rest of life’s obligations?

Triathlon Training Update – January 2011

It has been a while since I gave an update on my triathlon training.  Seems like after last year’s Carpinteria Triathlon, I went into hibernation.  For one reason or another, it was simply time to slow down, deal with life and do some regrouping.  So, the winter months were not exactly the most productive in terms of triathlon training.

But, it wasn’t like I spent the winter in bed.  In contrast to last winter where I spent quite a bit of time improving my physical side, this winter I focused more on the mental side.  I spent time reflecting on 2009 and 2010 triathlon seasons, studying “the mental edge” and positive visualization.  I learned a lot about what it meant to perform mentally whether during training or during a race.

Studying the Mental Edge

Two books helped me focus and provided some surprise inspiration.  Two of the books, “Zero Regrets” and “Spirit of the Dancing Warrior” are summarized in my post, Some Inspiration: Apolo and a Warrior.  The third book, Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, is an interesting tale that parallels the other two.  Simply by being focused, in control, and breathing calmly, one can become a warrior at everything they do.

All three books have made me reconsider my approach to everything, but I am learning that becoming a warrior requires discipline, practice and even more discipline.  However, when I achieve the warrior state whether swimming, biking or running, the results are fantastic.  It is like I am transported to a land where gravity works with me, not against me and every step or stroke is pure bliss.  The hard part is getting to that state, which requires one’s mind to let go of all thoughts, step above any muscle pain and focus on breathing.  It takes practice.

C is for Consistency

Speaking of practice, my physical workouts have been sporadic.  Like I said before, life can be quite busy at times, especially during the holidays and end of year.

Daily workout score with moving average.

As you can see in the chart above, my triathlon training is rather inconsistent.  Each marker represents a workout with the value being a function of time and intensity.  Not only has the frequency of workouts dropped off, but also the intensity, starting in mid-January.  In fact, February has been dismal with more zero intensity days since I was an office potato.

The primary workout each week has been a cross training workout that combines strength with cardio training. The workout starts with intervals on the treadmill, then two circuits of strength and usually ending with more intervals on the bike or elliptical.

Weekends would include a long bike, run, swim or combination of the three.  I also started attending a group swim workout at the local pool, which proved to be highly beneficial.  Not only is it a longer pool, at 50m, but very motivational as swimming with other more competent athletes really makes me push harder.  My swim workouts have gone from 500-600 meters to well over 1 kilometer.

Going Forward

So, what’s next? Keep moving forward.  My first triathlon is the Ventura Triathlon at the end of June.  This gives me plenty of time to build my competitive spirit and get back into shape.  With the goal of completing the olympic course at the Carpinteria Triathlon in September, it is clearly time to come of hibernation and get going.  Bears can spend an entire year in their caves!

Week 08.2010 Training Review: Burn Out

There is no one to blame, but myself. What can I say… I started 2010 off with a bang, running faster, farther, and more intense than ever.  Unfortunately, this enthusiasm didn’t translate to swimming and cycling got left on the back burner. Accommodating these other sports only led to burn out.  Burn out or not, the progress is inspiring!

Training Summary to date.

I can break the chart into four groups (from left to right):  a) Fall 2009, weeks 41 through 49, b)  Holiday period, weeks 49 through 1, and c) Winter, weeks 1 through 6, and d) burn out, weeks 7 & 8.

  • Period A was the conclusion of the 2009 season, including the Santa Barbara Duathlon.
  • Period B was when I decided to start workout toward running a marathon, working it into my triathlon training plan
  • Period C was realizing that the 2010 season is not far away, cycling and swimming had been neglected, so I really cranked up the workouts.
  • Period D suffering from a cold and extreme burn out, workouts were missed and motivation went out the door.

The nail in the coffin for my burn out was during week 5 but began in week 4.  Training really picked throughout January until week four, when bricks were introduced.  At the end of week four I not only completed a 23-mile cycling and swimming brick, but I also attend a class at the gym called Ripped, which gave me an additional strength workout.  Then the following day I was supposed to run 10 miles…  I barely made three!   This was the start to burn out and I did tell my trainer and we made a slight change to the plan.

RUnning progressed nicely, until burn out set in.

Week 5 was supposed to be a recovery week.  For the most part if was, but week 5 ended with a mock triathlon consisting of a 500 yd pool swim, a 18-mile cycle and a painful 5k run.  That did it, burn out was inevitable.  As much as I tried to push on at this point, I couldn’t do it.  It was at this time, I started missing workouts (weeks 7 & 8), started feeling demotivated and lost perspective.  Here are some common symptoms of burn out:

  • Depression, loss of motivation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Extreme body fatigue, prolonged muscle soreness
  • Frequent sickness due to weak immune system
  • Moodiness
  • Loss of Sleep

Burn out is the body’s way of telling you that you pushed too hard for too long.  Training is an art and getting the balance right is a huge part of long-term success.   You can read more on Dealing With Overtraining and burn out, an article by

Cycling was sporadic, then I over did it.

The most ridiculous part is that I never gave myself time to recover from that first killer workout at the end of week four, despite having a few days of light recover during the first part of week 5.  No wonder the mock triathlon at the end of week 5 was so painful! I saw it coming everytime I looked at the charts above, but I was in denial. My trainer kept pushing me to go harder; no pain, no gain.  Peer pressure wanted me to keep up, and I lost grasp of the reasons for doing this.

What would I have done differently? Taken week 5 off completely until my body was ready to continue and rework the training plan to accommodate regular cycling workouts, more regular swimming workouts and follow the 3 week build, one week recovery model to the teeth.

The sad part is that burn out led to my decision to not compete in the UCSB Triathlon (post: Don’t Forget the Journey).

Since it has been two weeks since my last full week of training, I am starting to feel more motivated again.  A huge part of me is very nervous about going back to training as hard as I did previously.  Is it really worth it?  I really want to train because I enjoy it, not because I have an event coming up and want to kick ass at it.  It is the people, the memories, the experience, and the joy that I want from this journey, not the most number of bibs.

Going forward, I will take another week of recovery, doing light swim, bike, and running workouts as I feel the body can accommodate them.  I will also continue to build out my detailed triathlon training dashboard, including nutrition charts, goals, and various metrics that will help alleviate burn out.  Above all, recognize that this isn’t a race… triathlons are plentiful and there is always next year.  Smart training leads to fun, joyful success.

Training Summary & Review: Week 48.09

Tracking the time you spend on each sport is a great way to focus on the sports that need improvement the most while also holding yourself accountable.  Since triathlons are really all about combining sports, tracking your triathlon training in the same way provides awesome visibility into your progress.

Without further ado, here is the most recent training summary chart by week:

Weekly Training Summary through week 48

Week 48 was last week and included the Thanksgiving holiday.  I took a trip to Texas for a family reunion.  As a result, week 48 was the lightest training week recorded to date with just over one hour and half.  This included:

A) a single strength workout (thanks Chris for squeezing it in!)

B) Three runs, totaling almost six miles (2 1.4-mi runs and one 2.8-mi endurance run)

The bad thing is the lack of swim time.  In fact, I haven’t been in the pool in two weeks. At this point, my lack of swimming ability is my biggest hurdle to a competitive triathlon time and the biggest thing preventing me from competing in a long course in 2010.  This must change going forward!

Here is some of my triathlon training strategy that I hope to work into a revised plan going forward:

A) Maintain the three run workouts each week.
B) 5 days of cardio workout
C) One off/recovery day
D) 2-3 strength workouts per week
E) Focus on swim technique and breathing ability at least twice per week

These five things look like this when you plot it out over the week:

Example workout triathlon training plan
With one day off, the other six are quite full.

To make it work, I had to double up on some days.  The long run on Sunday with a strength workout seems a bit extreme, but with Monday as an “off” day, I think it is doable.

Now that I have the basic structure of the plan down, it is time to plot it out for the entire year of 2010.  Then I have to figure out distance progression and how I want to handle periodization. Of course, first, it would help if I publish my goals so you all can see what I am planning to participate in next year.  All in due time…