Mapping 2010 Workouts


One of the cool things about using a GPS enabled heart rate monitor, such as the Garmin 305, is that you can easily map your workouts.  Not only does this provide you with pace, distance, and elevation data, but it also gives you an entirely new source of motivation and inspiration.

Take the images below, for instance.  I took all of the data from Garmin Training Center and imported it into Google Earth.  Suddenly, in front of me was an entire year’s worth of workouts and races.   Wow…

Greater Santa Barbara and Goleta Area

You can see in the above map how concentrated my workouts are in certain areas of greater Santa Barbara/Goleta.  The waterfront of SB, to Goleta, the airport, and UCSB.  Included in this map are the UCSB Triathlon, Santa Barbara Triathlon Chardonnay 10-miler and my Jesusita Trail runs.

Looks I got around on foot and the bike, but one thing bugs me… how isolated the groups are. Perhaps, in 2011, I will have to bridge the gaps.

Carpinteria

I had some issues where Google Earth would not draw Carpinteria routes with Santa Barbara.  So, the above map is the area just off the right of the Santa Barbara/Goleta map.  Workouts in this area include the turn-around for long bike rides via the 150 and the Carpinteria Triathlon course.  Most of these workouts originated at East Beach in SB, but some started at the Carpinteria State Park.

Oxnard, Ventura and Points South

This area is where 2010 began, with the Boney Mountain Trail Run, which is mapped in the lower right of the map.  We also have the Ventura Triathlon, Strawberry Fields Triathlon and the Camarillo Duathlon (not as an official participant) mapped out as well.  Pretty exciting.

2011 Inspiration

Looking at these maps has already provided some inspiration for 2011.  As I noted before, I would love to start connecting the gaps between Goleta, Santa Barbara and Ventura.  This is going to mean climbing some gnarly hills, many, many more miles on foot and on the bike.  But then endurance athletes are known for their insane abilities.

I seriously can’t wait until next year, when I can review the 2011 maps and see where I have been.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get some training in outside of California!

Pace Strategy: A Saturday Run Workout Example


Pace strategy during any event, be it a triathlon, basketball game, or speed skating, plays a very large part in the outcome of your event.   Perform at a lower pace and you might be out run by your competitors without the ability to make a come back.  Perform too fast and you may exhaust yourself prematurely.   Finding the balance is where practice and analysis comes in.

My Run Workout

Saturday’s run was an endurance run, meaning slow and steady for a longer distance.  I was a little nervous going into this workout since the longest I had run following the sprained ankle was a 5k (33min).  This workout was expected to last one hour and cover at least 5 miles, hopefully more.   I wasn’t sure if my body was able to go the distance.

Pace, what is that?

I started out like I usually do, letting my body go as I don’t have much reference for pace when starting out.  It always feels like I am running slower than I really am.   And like usual, I was fast. Check out the split times in the chart below:

Let’s take a look at some highlights that you can see in the chart above:

  1. The first half of the run had a more sporadic pace than the second half. In fact, the second mile was more of an interval workout with fast pace for 0.25 mile and then a fast walk.
  2. The third split (2.35), was painfully slow as I was exhausted and walked up a long, shallow hill to Shoreline Park.
  3. In the latter half of the chart (3.35 and above), the more consistent helped moderate the heart rate, which was slowly climbing.
  4. The slowly climbing heart rate in the latter half of the chart, indicates that I was running above my true endurance pace.

One chart, lots to digest.  I think it proves that pace strategy is the largest determinant of success in running.  Had I taken it slower on the first half of the run, the latter would have been a lot easier and I wouldn’t have felt so exhuasted.

Why did it happen?

So why didn’t I take it easy?  Two reasons:

  1. I just started and didn’t have a sense of pace. – Yep, when I first start running, my body wants to go and it feels like I am running slower than I really am.  It takes a mile or two before I can start to moderate my own pace based on feel.  Solution: Run for ten minutes prior as warm-up and use my GPS to measure my pace initially.
  2. I listen to my iPod.  Listening to techno (Scooter’s “Jumping All Over the World”) gets me pumped up and I want to run at the same pace as the music.  It is rather hard to separate the body from the beat.  Solution: Find a slower paced songs for an endurance run.  Something like Podrunner mixes might work.

The next time you go out and run, keep in mind your pace strategy, it’ll save your run.  In fact, it could even save your triathlon.

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…

Endurance Ride, Cycling Long and Far


Even though I am only participating in sprint triathlons this year, my cycling distances have been increasing, now pushing almost 30 miles.   This is more than double the distance of the bike portion for Ventura Tri at 12 miles.

Tuesday’s ride came in at 28.8-miles in 1:51:09 at an avg. speed of 15.9.  This is my second longest bike ride ever!  But what amazes me about this ride is the route.  It wasn’t a simple out and back coastal route, but a combination of coast and foothills.  In fact, this ride combines portions of the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course route with portions of the Caprinteria Triathlon sprint course.

Ride data set, notice the varying terrain. (click for detail)

Bottom line, riding to SR150 in Carpinteria from East Beach in Santa Barbara is a huge milestone for me.  I have always wanted to do this ride and I did it!   While I started to wonder if I bit off more than I could chew cruising down the SR150 to SR192 and climbing up the hills, in the end I pushed through it and am ecstatic that I did.

So why keep increasing distances?  Why not is a better questions perhaps.  Here are a couple reasons:

  1. With long courses coming in 2011, why wait until post 2010 season to start working toward 2011.
  2. In addition, the more endurance I can build, the faster I can go on shorter distances.  For example, I can ride at 15-mph avg for 20-miles or ride 19-mph avg for 10-miles.
  3. Building endurance in general helps my triathlon time whether I spend it on the bike, in the water, on the pavement or all three.  Training my body to go the distance at the fastest pace possible is what it is all about.

If there is one thing I really would like you to take away from this post is never stop training, train beyond your goals and enjoy every minute!

Triathlon Results Plotted… Finally!


The Analyst in me is very happy.  After entering the results from the 2010 UCSB Triathlon “Open” division into Excel, I finally, without further ado, present the scatter plot:

UCSB Triathlon 2010 Results

The results are available for everyone to see at SBTiming.com.  So, if you want to see exact numbers and so on, please head over there for a copy.

Otherwise, spend a little time staring at the patterns. Here is what I see:

  1. The first person out of the water didn’t even get close to placing in the top 10.
  2. Overall placement is defined more by the bike than the swim or the run.
  3. There are five groups: a. top 6, b. centered on 1:33:00, c. centered on 1:44:00, d. centered on 1:55:00, e. the rest
  4. T1 and T2 times are minuscule in comparison to other events, but when competitive, mean the difference between first and second!
  5. If you swim well, you may not do so well on the bike.  Looking at these results this way, you can quickly identify strong sports.

What else do you see?  Leave a comment if you have anything to share.

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 Active.com.

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.

One Picture, Seven Months of Training


For those of you who have been watching my journey from office potato to triathlete, the following picture shouldn’t surprise you.  You already know how far I’ve come.  In fact, the picture below really, really inspires to make 2010 the best year ever, better than 2009!

Aric in Training April to November
April on the left, November on the right

On the left, April 2009 was the Chardonnay 5k.  On the right was the NewsPress Half Marathon 5k. For more comparison on the two races, read Tale of Two 5k Competitions.

7 months of training in between.  You can see:

1) I’ve slimmed down, a lot.  Lost about 25 pounds from left to right.

2) My posture is better and my muscles are more built.  Thanks to lots of strength workouts, including plyometrics.

3) I’ve embraced technology!  Gone is the polar HR on the left, replaced with a Garmin 305 GPS hr monitor on the left.

4) I dress better.  Having a decent body makes me want to show it off more.  Wearing clothes that fit is awesome!

5) I shunned the shoes!  On the left, I am wearing FiveFingers.  In fact, I’ve now completed two 5k’s and numerous running workouts wearing FiveFingers. I love ’em!

6) I am far more confident in my abilities.  I look so much more relaxed on the right compared to the left.  The right was my first competition ever and you can see it on my face.

At the end of 2010, I hope to have a similar picture that shows my progress.  I definitely have some inspiration to make it happen!