The First Ride of 2011!


First, Happy New Year!  What better way to welcome the new year, than with an awesome bike ride through Goleta, Ca.  While the weather was a tad on the chilly side, the brilliant, bright sun and clear weather made for a refreshing ride.

My goal for this ride was simply to take it easy, go the distance and feel my muscles out for what they can put out.  I was nervous that I lost some strength over the past few weeks since I haven’t been riding near as much as I’ve been running.

What I discovered is that my muscles are doing just fine.  While I did feel drained earlier than expected, I am quite happy with the outcome.  The ride lasted 01:08:34 and covered 17.8 miles at an average speed of 15.6 mph.  Not my fastest performance for the Goleta Loop, but I’ll take it.

Averages per Mile

The above chart shows the mile split times for average speed (column: blue), average cadence (line: red), and average heart rate (line: tan).   The reason why I built this chart was to see what cycling looks like compared to running.  Here are some highlights:

  1. It took me about four miles before I got warmed up.
  2. I have no idea why I don’t have data for miles 6 and 8.
  3. The cadence and heart rate remains fairly consistent, with speed having the most deviation.  I think this means I maintaining effort on hills and letting the speed slow down, where I should be trying harder to maintain speed with more effort.
  4. You can see that I cranked it up for the last two miles as the heart rate climbed steadily.
  5. Mile 16 is the fastest at nearly 20mph average thanks to a steady, downward slope.  You can see the cadence is significantly lower as well since I didn’t maintain effort during this split.

The point of this is to say that as I continue to train in 2011, I need to be fully aware of my body, my effort and what is happening around me.  It is fine tuning the “mental edge” and putting mind over body (to a point!).

The first ride of 2011 is in the history books.  Not only did I get to enjoy some beautiful weather, but I learned a lot about how I ride…  something to improve upon in 2011.

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.

My Fifth Triathlon Is A Week Away!


I set the goal of finishing my first triathlon for two reasons:  1) to prove to myself that I can do something that I never thought I could do, and 2) to get myself to lose weight and get in shape.

In June 2009, I finished the Ventura Triathlon sprint course in 1hr 38min.  You can read more in my race report: Completed the Ventura Triathlon. Not only did I accomplish the two reasons above, but I caught the endurance, multisport athlete bug. There is nothing like training for three sports while pushing my body to its limits.  The question became, how far will this go?

Since completing Ventura, I completed three more triathlons; Santa Barbara sprint, Carpinteria sprint, and the 2010 UCSB Triathlon.   Four triathlons set in paradise that challenged me in many distinct ways!

The Four Triathlon Results Plotted!

While one might think a triathlon is a triathlon and once you have done one, you’ve them all.  Well, triathlons are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get (thanks Forest!). Think about the factors that have a direct result on race performance:

  1. Training Plans (quality of workouts)
  2. Nutrition (are you fueling correctly?)
  3. Coaching/Support Network (who do you train with?)
  4. Race venue (what is the course/weather like?)
  5. Mental Preparation (are your psychologically ready to endure?)
  6. Pre race preparation (did you sleep, eat, stretch before the race?)

As you can see, the same triathlon is almost impossible to replicate.  This is at the forefront of my mind as I face the 2010 Ventura Triathlon, my first repeat triathlon in my career.   Not only is this going to show how much I’ve improved over the past year, but how successfully I executed my training, how good of a support network I have, and whether or not I am mentally tougher that I was a year ago.

While I went into the 2009 event just wanting to prove to myself that I can do it, there is much more at stake for the 2010 event. Sure I can do it, but the real question is, “How well did I spend the previous year preparing for this event and how much have I improved?”  We will know on June 27th.

Stay tuned…

How Basketball Drills Can Make You a Better Triathlete


Just when I was getting complacent with the strength workouts of late, my trainer decided to spice things up a bit.  When he said he was going to get a basketball and will be right back, I knew he had something up his sleeve.  And he did.

With my shoulders, arms and abs already in agony from Wednesday’s workout, I really wasn’t looking forward to today’s.  Luckily for me,what I was about to learn was a serious lesson in energy control.

The Workout

When dribbling a ball “on a nail” the goal is not only to dribble the ball in the exact same spot, but to dribble it hard and fast to keep an opponent from stealing it.  To do this, you must concentrate on a number of things; where the ball is going, where you want the ball to go, and how hard you are bouncing the ball and at what height.  While my trainer demonstrated a beautifully steady ball dribbled on a single point, I found myself chasing the ball, often taking giants steps to keep up with it.

Then we started a stretching drill where you position into a forward lunge and then pass the ball around your leg from hand to hand.  Not only is this a quad killer, but also works the abs for stability while you are moving the ball around your leg.  Here balance and patience are the key to success and speed.

The last part of the workout was shooting hoops.  Something I have always sucked at.  However, I made more progress in a few minutes than I’ve made my entire life.  The trick to a successful shot is focusing the energy from your heels, through your core, and through the fingertips to propel the ball on the trajectory to make it in the basket.  Once you get the feel of it and focus the energy, it is a great feeling!

What do have here?  Exercises that focus your energy, demand patience yet concentration, and require good hand-eye coordination.  All three of these of important to triathletes and perhaps three times more difficult… we have three sports to master!

The Triple Energy Focus

Swimming, biking and running do benefit through projecting energy in a controlled manner.  Be it contact with water through the hips and hands during each stroke, the energy of your body focused through your legs to the pedals, or projecting your energy forward efficiently as you run, how you project the energy dictates how well your triathlon is going to be.

Triathletes and basketball players definitely have a lot more in common than we initially think.  The next time Kobe Bryant shoots a three pointer, I will definitely be thinking about wonderfully focused the energy was when he made that shot and how wonderfully focused my energy will be during that next triathlon!

My Race Report: UCSB Triathlon


UCSB Campus Point

The UCSB Triathlon has been one of those important races that every triathlete, athlete, and runner must encounter at one point in their racing careers.  Setting the goal to compete in it last November, I knew I had a lot of work to do over the winter off-season.

Before I knew it, November 2009 became February 2010 and life events really started to pile up and I hadn’t sufficient time to improve where I really needed to improve, the ocean swim.  Not only were things at work getting hectic, but the weather prevented me from getting proper practice time in the ocean up until a week before the event.  To make matters worse, I was coming off a month long burn out and was not psychology ready for the first big challenge of 2010.

I stayed on the fence of whether or not to compete up until the last few days.  My trainer told me I was backing out and not participating in the event clearly disappointed many more.  Even with a few ocean swims during the final week, I was no where prepared for this event.  However, life is not always a walk through a field of wildflowers, so I bit the bullet and went for it, nervous, exhausted, and scared to death of the swim.

Here are some highlights.

Pre-Race

The day before I picked up my packet.  I took this opportunity to get one last practice swim in.  While the advantage of this was to get familiar with the conditions, I ended up wearing myself out and even hurt my right knee.

Continue reading “My Race Report: UCSB Triathlon”

Don’t Forget the Journey


When I started training for triathlons more than two years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect along the way.  My journey had pain, lots of surprises, fantastic milestones, fabulous support from so many, and countless memories.  The thrill of the competition, of becoming a triathlete, a runner, a duathlete, a trail runner and a friend was worth every painful step.

Regrettable, my 2010 journey became lost. The panic of being ready for an intense 9 competition calendar made me forget what got me here today.  I realize this more than ever after watching the Vancouver Olympic Games.  It isn’t all about the game, the true story is in the journey of the athlete and the competition is just the icing on the cake.

As I look to the UCSB Triathlon, I say,

“you bastard! I wanted you so bad that I forgot the people, the memories, the joy, and the meaning of why I am decided to do this!  No more…  I want my journey back! Maybe next year dude…”

And with that, I bid the UCSB Triathlon fair well, wish its competitors the best of luck and  hope to see you all safely and joyfully cross the finish-line.

My 2010 journey is about steady progression, memories, competitions that count, and building everlasting friendships with those I meet.  The next two years can be even wilder than the first, if I do this right.

What matters in your journey?

Update: I decided to participate in the UCSB Tri and take it from another perspective.  It is a part of the journey and despite not being fully prepared for it, I need to do it!

Week 52.2009 Training Summary


Triathlon training summaries are a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you get to see your progress and gloat about your accomplishments.  On the other hand, you often start to see bitter realities that don’t make you so proud.  However you end up looking at it, the exercise of reviewing your training, your progress, and your goals weekly is essential.

The last time I reviewed my weekly training summary at Aric In Training, we four weeks ago, week 48.2009.  At that point, I was talking about putting my plan together, focusing on periodization, and publishing my goals (I owe you my goals… I know).  The whole idea was smart triathlon training for 2010.  Something went wrong in the past four weeks…

The Chart

Looking at this week’s chart, one will be shocked.

Week Triathlon Training Summary Chart
Wow, quite an increase in training time!

Wow. Check out that four week increase in training time since Thanksgiving week (48).  Each increase represents a substantial increase each week:

  1. Week 49 Increase: 125%
  2. Week 50 Increase: 25%
  3. Week 51 Increase: 19%
  4. Week 52 Increase: 12%

The 12% increase this week does not seem like a lot.  In fact, a 10% increase week over week is not unheard of in the fitness industry, but 25% is hefty!   The 12% on top of 19% and 25% is just plain ugly.

The Reality

So what happened?

  1. Substantial increase in run distance, which increases the overall training time. In fact, run distance in the past month has almost doubled. Sick!
    1. This week I had: 1) 4 mile tempo run, 6 mile speed workout, 8 mile “long run”
    2. The 8 mile long run was pace focused (sub 11:30) so most of the run was in zone 3, carb burning zone and I bonked quickly.  Long runs should be endurance runs where fat burn is key.
  2. What you don’t see is the intensity of the 17.5 mile bike ride on Dec. 25th.  With just one bike ride per week now back in the training plan, I would expect there to be an increase in time, but the ride should be easy, not hard.
  3. Swim time and strength workouts are being used as recovery days, not necessarily the ideal purpose for them.
  4. Goals were switched around.  I feel like I gave into peer to pressure as my trainer and and another client seem to be racing fast and hard to compete in a half marathon in March.  Getting sucked into the excitement was a bad decision on my part. Yes, I am competitive, but being competitive is not always smart.

But there is some good news.  Focusing on my running workouts week over week, one can see that I am progressing quite nicely.  Even with a substantial increase in distance, my average weekly run pace continues to improve.

Weekly Run Distance and Pace Chart
Distance Increases as Pace Improves

How do I feel?  Pretty good actually.  My muscles are definitely tired from today’s 8 mile run and I feel a little stressed as I have been trying to do so much… any yet the dishes still aren’t done.   It feels great to push the body a bit…  that runner’s high is amazing, but I am starting to feel like I am pushing too much.  Fatigue is settling in.

While I can go on and on giving insight into my training week, I think the above four items summarize what went wrong.  To sum up in two words:  lost focus.  Giving into peer pressure to participate and prepare for an event that is not on MY A-list is pulling me toward failure. I have so much to build on, it would be a shame to loose my momentum now.

Going Forward

One word: regroup.  AFter looking at my Facebook page tonight, I am hearing loud and clear that I am pushing my training too far.  My summary chart shows it, my body feels it, my friends say it, and my goals tell me to train smart.

Tomorrow, Monday, is a 100% rest day, as planned.  Then I will review my training plan and consider what it means to train for my A-list events.  What do I want from my 2010 season?  Smart training, competitive races, and enjoyable fun!

After reviewing the training plan, I need to take some further data points.  On 10/24, I ran 2-miles at 10:00 pace with a resulting heart rate of 162.  Doing a test this week will help me understand how my heart has improved its ability to sustain effort.  I hope to see it under 160??

Of course, I also need to talk to my trainer.  While he has been pushing me to train for the half marathon (afterall, I told him I was interested in doing it), I need to communicate my hesitation toward continuing at such a high level of training.

In addition, nutrition is the key.  While my nutrition has improved ten fold over the past two years, I will be honest that there is still room for improvement.  Focusing on eating simpler, nutritious meals that fuel me to perform is a huge priority.  You can read more about my nutrition experiences at Fitness and Food, A New Reality.

Lastly, going forward, all long runs, need to be heart rate runs, focusing on keeping my heart rate in zone 1 and 2 for the entire run.  Sure I can do 8 miles, but I can do 8 miles at a pace that teaches my body to burn fat, not carb.

Summary of the Summary

Staying on the current trajectory is going to lead to problems.  I felt it, saw it coming and now sit in my own reality of over-training.  Time to pull it back, regroup, refocus and stay true to what 2010 will deliver if I train smart.   Triathlon training is an awesome thing and is focused around goals, not my own made up peer pressure and ego.