An Initial Workout

I had planned for a bike ride early this morning.  A step in rebuilding after tearing down. I did a bit of research last night and decided to check out part of the Medina River Greenway starting at the Pleasanton Road Trailhead.  A nice easy, meandering ride along the Medina River near the Toyota Tundra plant in south San Antonio.

All the best made plans and aspirations tend to fail at times.  With a restless night, a few trips to the  bathroom and finally being awaken by the cat at 9am, I could feel the bike slip away as my feet hit the floor this morning.  Groggy, tired, and perhaps a bit dehydrated, I really wanted a small breakfast and a good cup of coffee. Then we will re-evaluate.

Re-Evaluating the Best Plans

Upon re-evaluating, the oldest trick in the book became my block.  I waited too late and the heat of the day was upon us.  San Antonio quickly gets warm, shooting up into the 90’s and low 100’s by mid-day.  Today was no different.  It was warm and that is my block. I worry about getting dehydrated, sun-burned, and doing more damage than good. On the plus side, the heat sends the rattlesnakes to their rock covered dens.

Finding My Workout Gear

fitness gear for successWhile I wavered on my plans, after walking by the duffel bag, I was inspired to see what was inside.  I had set the duffel bag out next to the bike because I knew my Cookie Monster Jersey was in it.  Upon leaving Colorado, I threw all of my workout clothes, bike stuff, and other related into my workout duffel.  My initial reaction was the clothes wouldn’t fit.  Good thing I looked!!  I found a pair of shorts I forgot I bought, I found some lovely REI workout shirts that fit, and my package of Under Armor super duper workout boxer briefs.  I had everything I needed for a gym workout!

Well, everything but a heart rate monitor.  My Garmin GPS HR device was nowhere to be found.  I think it ended up in one of my electronics boxes during the move.  Finding it would be difficult.  So, I decided to run the risk of using my Amazon Fit Bip.  When it comes to heart rate monitors, this thing sucks.  It only refreshes once per minute (I know I could change that), and it is highly inaccurate.  Typically when my HR is high, it shows me resting.  Would it work this time?

Let’s Do This!

I got dressed and headed down to the “fitness room” of my apartments.  It is more of a fitness closet than a room, but with three machines (treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical) and a weight machine, it is really only big enough for one, maybe two in a pinch.

So, here I am, in my tiny little gym.  You know what happened?  I got excited.  I got inspiration.  My inner kid said, “bring it on!”.

And bring it on we did.  But we played it safe.  We initially started with a goal of one mile on the elliptical.  Then the goal increased to 15min.  My quads were feeling it, my lungs were surprised, and my head was on cloud 9.  The Amazon Bip was useless.  It did not record many “steps” and the heart rate said I was sleeping, not working out.  Using the HR function of the machine, the heart seemed to stay around 170 bpm.  That felt accurate.

After the elliptical, I couldn’t help myself, I had to use the weights machine.  I had visions of my workouts from 10-years ago.  I started with a split squat press.  Morphed into an anti-rotation twist, and then ended with one my most favorite exercise, squat and row.

A Corner Stone Established

OMG…  life is good again.  I did it.  My first official workout of my new journey is in the book.  While total time was only 25 minutes, it is a start.  I remember when 25 minutes would just be a warmup.  But then I cannot compare myself today to the person I became 10-years ago, a triathlete.  I can use those visions for inspiration, but not for personal shame. The reprogramming will go on.

And so the workouts with go on.  An initial workout has been checked off the to do list. This is the foundation for greatness ahead.  Or at least until the “runner’s high” wears off.

Keeping the Flame Alive

Fire.  It is inside every triathlete. It is what makes us jump into freezing water.  It is what makes us ride 112 miles and then run a marathon!

As strong as the Fire can be, it is also quite delicate.  The Fire can spit, cough and even die out.  When it does, we don’t do the crazy things that triathletes should do.

Here are some quick tips on keeping the Fire alive and well inside you:

  • Track your workouts closely, paying attention to intensity
  • Listen to your body and giving yourself a day off
  • Have a regular yoga session in your weekly routine
  • Hang out with the right people and DON’T listen the over competitive professional wanna-bes out there
  • Eat the right food when you need it, if that means a few bits of ice cream on occasion, so be it
  • Never be afraid to question your coach, sometimes they are driven by testosterone than the good of their athlete
  • Spice up the routine, switch cycling and swimming days
  • Try a new route, services like Endomondo and MapMyTri have libraries of route submitted by users
  • Sleep, and get lots of it.  10-12 hours a night might just what your body needs
  • Set long-term, reasonable goals; if you have never done a 5k, you certainly won’t be running a marathon next month

Keeping that fire alive isn’t that hard. It takes patience, awareness and the long term vision of your goal.   Keep your on the prize and never forget where you have been.

Invest in Winter Training

Yeah, winter training is hard.  Its cold, dark, wet, and miserable outside.  Our daylight hours are reduced, making it difficult to be safe and get workouts in before and after work.  We have to buy expensive winter gear to stay warm, which eats into our holiday funds.  Yep, winter training is nothing like the paradise of summer training.

But there are numerous advantages for braving the miseries of winter training:

  1. Winter training provides a higher foundation heading into the the new racing season.  Come March, when your competitors will be dusting off their running shoes, you would have already gained an advantage.
  2. Provides an opportunity to train in conditions that are not so perfect.  Hey, race day conditions are seldom ideal and getting practice in in less than ideal conditions prepares you for the worst.
  3. It’ll provide stress relief during the holidays.  With countless social occasions on your calendar, the stress of shopping in crowded stores, squeezing in extra end of the year projects at work, etc, the holidays can stress us all out. Getting a good run, bike, swim in will help relieve the stress.
  4. Triathlons are mental events.  I know the physical side of triathlons are just a small part of the picture, based on personal experience (I’ve seen very strong athletes crumble during the swim).  Getting yourself mentally prepared by running through a blizzard is just part of the journey.
  5. It “separates the men from the boys.”  Yes, the weak will hang up their running shoes and take a nice comfy arm chair next to the warm fireplace.  The strong will be running/swimming/biking in the freezing temperatures.  Just think, when you meet that fellow runner by the coffee maker at work one afternoon and their chin drops to the floor when you tell them you ran 6 miles through that icing storm last night, you will be gloating for the rest of the day.

What ever reason you use to maintain a proper training schedule during the winter, just know that it is truly worth investing in winter training.  Whether your are preparing for a triathlon, an ironman, or a marathon in 2011, get a head start on your competition this winter.

When All Else Fails, Just Run

This morning, I met my trainer at the local community college track only to find that it was closed for renovation for the next FOUR months!  Seriously?  Four months to repave the track?  Wow…  SBCC must be getting scammed!

While my already sore legs were quite happy to hear that they weren’t going to be climbing bleachers for the next hour, I was a little disappointed as I wanted to try something new. After discussing the options, we decided a quick run along the waterfront would suffice.

So, we started running.  Now, my trainer is very fit and recently finished the LA Marathon.  The guy runs fast and can run fast for a distance.  While we started out together at 9:30 pace (he was holding back), I knew I couldn’t hold it, so I backed off to a more comfortable 10:15 pace and watched him walk away from me.  I wonder how long he was talking to me before he realized I was out of ear shot range??  hehehehe…

The usual soreness, the usual windedness, and the usual aches and pains through the first mile reminded me that today was Monday.  It wasn’t until the end of the waterfront at our turn-around that I realized that he was having issues with his left leg. Seemed like a tight muscle, so after a few minutes, we headed back.

Not quite, while I managed to maintain a solid pace for much of the return leg, I did require a momentary break to let the blood, lungs, and muscles catch up to each before continuing.

In the end, I covered 3.42 miles at 10:00 pace, which for a Monday is really, really good!

Goes to show that when the normally scheduled workout falls through, there is nothing like a good run as a backup.

Training Is Not Always About Distance!

As triathletes, we must be flexible in our abilities to perform in different sports.  While marathoners must master endurance running, swimmers master moving through water, and baseball players focus on hitting and throwing balls, triathletes have even more to focus on: swimming, cycling, and running, back to back without a nap in the middle as fast and as long as possible!

One thing I personally learned after finishing the UCSB Triathlon is that speed, power, and endurance are what make triathletes so unique in the sports world.   For the 2009 triathlon season, I focused on going the distance and finishing the race.  I developed a base that was good enough to simply go the distance and have some serious fun along the way.  Unfortunately, strictly going the distance doesn’t work for me in 2010.

2010 is about power, speed, AND endurance.   This is why I decided to take one goal out of concrete and place it on the table using putty: Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course.   Sure, I can train for the long distances and eek out a finish, but 2010 provides me with a wonderful opportunity to show myself and the world what one year of triathlon training can do!   Time to set some new personal records and finish in a competitive position!

Starting Q2

For my first bike ride of Q2, I decided to return to an old favorite route, the Mountain Dr/El Cielito route.  This route is less about distance and more about acceleration and hill climbing.

The route and elevation profile of the cycling workout.

Being a very curvatious route that follows the contours of the foothills, the rider gets plenty of time of opportunity to practice acceleration, handling hairpin turns, and test their brakes.  The rider has just enough time to get up to speed before a hairpin turn comes up, hit the brakes, lean through the curve and then power out with the pedals to get speed back up before the next turn.  The goes in and out of so many canyons that there isn’t really time to recover.  Great workout!

But the fun doesn’t stop there.  The route is not flat and has a few inclines and hills, including two 350 foot climbs.  I’ll be honest, I hate hills.  The quads burn, the breathe, the sweat, and the slow speed wears me down, but this is the type of workout that makes me a better cyclist and a better triathlete. While I didn’t make all the way to the top of El Cielito, I went higher than I’ve ever gone before!

Last year, this 10.5 mile ride kicked my butt.   Today, it felt like a warm-up! (Follow this link to the Training Peaks data set)

This ride not only shows how far I’ve come with training, but that the point isn’t always about the distance.  Sure I can train to go longer, faster, farther than ever before, but wouldn’t it be nice to compete in a triathlon and not only know I am going to finish, but know that I will finish in a position that is not last?

Choose your performance…  far, fast or both?

Tis the Season for Triathlon Training!

One of the best things about living in Santa Barbara, CA is the exquisite beauty of spring time.  Wildflowers are blooming in abundance, the hillsides are covered in bright green vegetation, and the weather is sunny, mildly warm, and clear.   The conditions beckon the soul to get outdoors and swim, bike, run…

Butterfly Beach
Butterfly Beach, Santa Barbara, CA

So, what are you waiting for… get out there and enjoy spring, the outdoors, the wind through your hair, and the beauty of the world we live in!