Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 8 Training Summary...Overcoming Doubt

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope the week was a great one. We had a great time with family at my mom's Christmas on Sunday. The week of workouts was equally great as I totalled 23.5 hours of workout time over 18 workouts. For week 8 I ran 50 miles, biked 170 miles, and swam 12,400 yards. In addition to those totals I also lifted weights, did speed drills, strides, push-ups, and lunges all three times, did core work eight times, and jumped rope and did plyometrics twice.
On Tuesday Jen was home with the kids on vacation and I got a call from her at school saying her and Payton were both puking with the flu so my help was needed. I was able to get a sub and get home to help out but unfortunately on Wednesday I woke up feeling terrible. My body ached and I felt completely wiped out. I drove over to Augustana to attempt my weekly track workout but was forced to cut the warm-up short and cancel all my remaining workouts for the day. I had definitely picked up the bug. Fortunately it only lasted 24 hours and I was able to sleep for 13.5 hours to get over it. I felt great on Thursday and put in my biggest training day of the year at 5 hours 40 minutes. On Friday I rode for 30 minutes in the morning and then did a tough swim workout before coming home to start my tempo runs. My tempo workout this week called for a 1 mile warm up followed by 2x 4 miles at tempo pace with an easy 1/2 mile between them. I did the first one in 23:57 (just a tad under 6:00/mile pace) and was on my 1/2 mile easy wondering if I could do the next one. I was really tired from Thursday's volume and the Friday morning workouts. I wasn't sure I could get 4 more miles of tempo in and I only had a few minutes to make up my mind. I began thinking about how tough the Ironman will be at points. I know there will be points in the race when I wonder if I can continue on at my pace. I'll be faced with the decision to slow to a "just finish" pace or continue on racing for the finish. If I begin throwing in the towel in training every time I start to wonder if I'm too tired it will be that much tougher to convince myself on race day I can keep going at my goal pace. I made my mind up that I was going to do the next 4 mile tempo and that I was going to run it even faster than the 1st one. I was able to do just that as I covered the 2nd one in 23:35. I think my legs felt even better on the 2nd one since I had cast away the doubts and told myself to just get it done. So often the mind wants the body to quit far sooner than the body really needs to quit. Learning these valuable lessons in training are perhaps the most important part of my workouts. I try to put workouts together that will allow me to build confidence and this was certainly one of those workouts.
My other great workout this week was on Christmas night when I did a 5x5 session on my trainer. I did this workout last week at 300 watts on the hard periods and this week I bumped it to 310 watts. It was very tough because I had already done two shorter rides earlier in the day. One of my goals is to be able to do the 5x5 workout at 340 watts prior to my Ironman in May. I'll do this workout at least every other week to monitor my progress. It's one of my favorites because counting the warm up and cool down it only lasts 1 hour.
This week should be my highest total volume in a week yet this year. I have the entire week off work so I should have plenty of time to get the workouts in. I'd like to hit 200 miles on the bike for the week and also run 55 miles. I'll add 1 day to my usual 3 in the pool. This will be my 4th week in a row bumping up the volume so I'll use next week as an easy training week to recover and let this most recent block of training set in. Things are going so well right now. I'm well ahead of where I thought I would be at this point. Jen and I have begun to explore the possibility of traveling to San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 19th for a professional 1/2 Ironman race. I don't know exactly whether or not I'll be as ready as I would like due to the lack of outdoor rides between now and then but I do think it would be good to get 1 race in before the Ironman on May 7th. The downside is the cost of flying to the race and shipping my bike. If I can find a way to reduce that I'll be in San Juan for sure on March 19th. As the new year begins this weekend it's a perfect time to set some goals for the triathlon season. I'll release mine next week. Best of luck. DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Week 7 Training Summary...Cycleops Powerbeam Pro

The week started with a nice surprise when I stepped on the scale and it read 159. That meant down 4 lbs. for the week and down 12 through my first 6 weeks of training. I can really tell the difference especially in my running. Super Mom thinks I need new jeans as I can now put them on and take them off without unbuttoning them. My belt is hanging out like it was last year but I'm still a ways from where I'll need to be on May 7 for Ironman St. George. I had some people ask me this week what my goal race weight is and I'm thinking 148. The biggest key for me however is to get there without sacrificing power. If I lose muscle mass and power on the bike it will not be worth the trade in weight.
Week 7 was another great one. My confidence is growing with each passing week. For the week my total training time was 21 hours. Through 18 workouts I put in 160 miles on the bike, 45 miles running, and 10,100 yards swimming. I also lifted weights, did lunges, push-ups, speed drills, and strides all 3 times, plyometrics twice, core work 9 times, and jumped rope once. My swim goal was 10,000 yards through 3 swims but I expected to surpass that like usual but had a tough week in the water because the high school team had meets on the 3 days I swim and the Fitness Center pool was out of commission forcing me to go to the YMCA where they have swim lessons basically all day and the pool is rarely open for lap swimming in the evening. They have 1 hour from 5-6 for lap swimming and the guards were standing at the water flagging me out at exactly 6 so I was only able to get 1 hour workouts in on Tuesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday I ventured over to my alma mater, Augustana College to join the track team for a tough indoor track workout at the Pepsico Center. They have a tremendous distance program and I wasn't sure I would be ready to run with them but I'm trying to overcome any fears about competing with other guys this year so I knew I better join them. We did a 5.5 mile warm up and then hit the track for 2x 1200's, 2x 1000's, and 2x 800's all with 2 minutes rest between each. The 1200's were at 5:20 mile pace and I hit those a bit under with ease in 3:58 each. The 1,000's were where the workout got tough. They were to be run at 4:55 mile pace and I was able to hit them but they were not easy. 4:55 pace is faster than any intervals I've done so far this year. The 800's were to be in 2:24 (4:48 mile pace) and I began to suffer. Try as I may I could not hit the times as I came in at 2:25 and 2:29. It was the first running workout since last February that I've really suffered in. My form was falling apart and every muscle in my legs was on fire. I was excited to finish the workout with the guys and will be joining them for more punishing sessions after break is over. Hopefully with a couple more weeks and having one under my belt I'll be better prepared for that kind of pace. This kind of workout should feel easy in another month. Another good running workout was my tempo run on Friday. I broke it up into 2x 3 mile tempo runs with 1/2 mile easy jog between each. I ran 17:54 on the first one and 17:20 on the second one with mile splits of 5:55, 5:49, and 5:34.

The coolest update of the week is that I purchased a super sweet new trainer from Healthy Habits this week. They are running great prices on all their Cycleops trainers and I bought the Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer which is ridiculously awesome. It has a wireless remote that straps to the front of my bike and lets me adjust the watts at any time during the ride. Watts are how much power is being put into the pedals. The coolest thing about this trainer is that the remote hooks to my computer where I can download workout data and even enter my own workouts which I did twice. On Saturday night I programmed in a 5x5 minute workout that is one of my staples. I set it up for the first 10 minutes easy with a couple pickup periods to get the legs ready to roll and then put in 5x5 minutes at 300 watts following each with 5 minutes to recover at 160-180 watts. The workout went awesome and I hit the 300 watt segments without killing myself. I bumped it to 310 on the last one and I'll do all 5 at that next time. There is so much more cool stuff I can do with this trainer like adjust the slope I'm riding which of course simulates climbing hills. I think I can even input rides from my outdoor power tap and ride the same simulation on the trainer. I think this trainer will really help me dial in my cycling in preparation for St. George.
The next 2 weeks will be big ones as I'm only working 2 of the next 14 days so I'll have a lot of extra time to get good training in. I can't believe I'm only 49 days into training and I feel as good as I do. It has gone better than I could have expected or hoped at this point. I'd like to wish everyone an awesome Christmas. It's a great time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for...family, friends, health...etc. I know Payton is super charged for Christmas although she is deathly afraid of Santa and doesn't want him coming to our house. Owen is just beginning to want to walk all the time but can't do it on his own yet...maybe by New Year's. If you're looking for last minute stocking stuffers a massage from Laurel Darren would be a great one. She is running a great deal right now for the holidays on 3 one hour massages. All 3 for only $100.00. Most massage therapists charge 1 dollar/minute so that's a great price and she is the best I've ever been to! They help me with recovery but would also be a nice thing for a spouse who may just need to be pampered a bit. Laurel's contact number is 309-230-2484. Thanks for reading and enjoy the holidays! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 6 Training Summary

6 weeks in...wow it feels awesome to be training consistently again. By this time last year I was already forced to stop running because of pain in my achilles tendon. That was a problem that came and went numerous times before my surgery last April. Although missing nearly 5 months and an entire season of racing last summer was frustrating my hope is that the surgery was a long-term fix. It has felt amazing so far this year. For the week I met all of my goals training through 18 workouts for a total training time of 19.5 hours. I ran 40 miles, biked 120, and swam 11,400 yards. In addition to those totals I lifted weights, did speed drills, strides, lunges, and push-ups all three times, plyometrics twice, core work 9 times, and I jumped rope once. I would like to begin jumping rope twice a week to add lower leg strength. I've been reading a lot of good things about the value of jumping rope and it won't take much additional time to my training to see the benefits. I do a lot of small things in training week in and week out that most people skip because they don't involve a pool, a bike, or running shoes. I think they are well worth the small amount of time they take. Plyometrics for example take me about 10 minutes total each week between my two sessions but the "bang for the buck" is incredible. The amount of time I spend in the weight room is a bit more considerable but again I think it's well worth it. I can tell I've increased my strength significantly over the past 6 weeks. I haven't missed a single session in the weight room. It is also beginning to help me lose weight faster as my metabolic rate (amount of calories burned while at rest) has increased significantly probably because I'm carrying more muscle on my frame. I weighed in at 163 on Monday, 1 lb. down from last week and 8 lbs. down through my first 5 weeks of training. I know from where I'm at now I'll lose at least 2 lbs. this week but I'll wait for the official weigh in tomorrow morning before writing that in stone because Jen's Oreo Balls sitting in the fridge may begin screaming my name in the next hour before I go to bed. I have been trying to silence those voices telling me to eat them! I keep thinking...would Matty Reed or Craig Alexander be eating Orea Balls during training...I hope so, but I can't afford to. I want to toe the line at St. George knowing my power to weight ratio is greater than it has ever been and the huge hills...excuse me...mountains I mean on that course are going to be to my advantage because I'll be lean and strong.
I've trained for 42 days straight now. I view every day as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to get better or an opportunity to get worse. Some days getting better means having an easy day of light training...some days it means running intervals until my lungs are screaming and my legs are jello. That was the case on Friday when I went to Augustana's indoor track for the first time since last February. I love running intervals! I was excited about this workout all day. Jen's college coach, Ron Standley, who is like a drill sergeant in the army made the workout for me. It was an 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, and 800 all to be followed by a 1/4 mile jog recovery. Ron couldn't be there for the workout but told me to try to keep everything at 5:20 pace or 80 seconds/400. My times were just a bit under that as I went 2:35, 3:57, 5:14, 3:55, and 2:32 to finish it off. I ran pretty even through them but had to work very hard over the last half of each interval. I plan to continue running intervals once a week. In addition to the intervals my other semi-hard running day is a tempo run. This week was a 5 mile tempo run and I felt like complete dog crap. I don't know if it was from being a little sick or what but the pace felt much more difficult than it should have. I hit just under my goal of 30:00 by running 29:38 but it wasn't as comfortable as I would have liked. My mile splits were 6:07, 6:03, 5:58, 5:50, and 5:38. I like running the tempo run progressively meaning I get a little bit faster with each mile.

I said last week that it never fails Sunday is the nastiest weather of the week when I have my long run planned. I said it would take a blizzard to keep me off the roads for this run and that is exactly what we had this week. We had snow and 35 mph winds creating blizzard like conditions that made me hungry for Dairy Queen just looking outside. I decided on Saturday night I would do this run on the treadmill...which I hate! The only thing I hate more than running on the treadmill is running for a long time on the treadmill. I did it however. I went 81 minutes covering 11.7 miles. To trick myself into making the run go by quicker I used the incline thing on our treadmill to simulate hills. I kept going up and down although the thing that sucks about treadmills is that you can never simulate running down hill because 0% incline is the bottom. I also threw in 2x 2 miles at goal marathon pace (6:30) although I realize St. George is one of the toughest marathons to finish an Ironman of any out there and I'd be thrilled to run 6:55 pace which would put me under 3 hours. If my memory serves me correct only one pro went sub-3 hours for the marathon there last year and he was the overall winner.
Saturday night I declared a household emergency. I went down stairs to ride on the trainer and Jen asked me how long I was going to ride for. I said somewhere between 1 and 2 hours. When I tightened the trainer to my bike wheel it would not tighten. One of the bolts was stripped and I would not be able to ride. I tried to fix it but it was flat broke! I went up stairs a bit frustrated and told Jen of this emergency. Like all good savers we have been putting money into an emergency fund and this would be the first time we've had to tap into that money since we bought our house 3 and a half years ago. I texted the world's best bike mechanic, Moon Villalobos, from Healthy Habits and he told me to bring the trainer in on Sunday morning. Of course Moon was able to fix it. It didn't even cost me the emergency fund although I did check out all the trainers they have on sale there and I may buy one this week to make sure I don't miss any more rides in the future. This next week will be much like last week with slightly more mileage. I've begun adding some intervals into my bike workouts as I'm now over 600 base miles on the bike. I've also been doing a long swim day which I call my "Ironman Swim Day". I want to make sure that an hour swim doesn't wear me down and I can exit the water in St. George ready to pull back the field through the bike and run. Not a day goes by that I don't think about that race. I knew on Tuesday that I was exactly 5 months away. My mind is focused on the long term goal but also on what I can do each and every day to get myself more ready for the big one. My professional debut...Ironman debut...and marathon debut all in the same day. It's going to be one awesome day and I can't wait to train tomorrow to keep working towards the goal. It feels great to be back into a healthy lifestyle. DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 5 Training Summary

As planned my fifth week of training was a good recovery week following 4 weeks of increasing my volume. It worked out well because Super Mom had to visit San Antonio for work on Monday through Thursday so I was able to spend more time with Payton and Owen at home. I think I was more tired by 8:00 when I put them to bed without working out than I am when I work out 3 hours on a typical day after school. My workouts the first three days of the week were primarily in the basement on the trainer and treadmill after they had gone to bed. For the week my total training time was only 14.5 hours. I met all my weekly goals by running 30 miles, swimming 12,000 yards, and biking 70 miles. I also lifted weights, did speed drills and strides, lunges, and push-ups all three times, plyometrics twice, and core work seven times. I began the week with my Monday morning weigh in and the scale read 164. This meant I lost 7 lbs. in my first 4 weeks of training. Getting to my ideal "race weight" is perhaps my biggest goal by Ironman St. George. I read some race reports that people posted last year and just as I already knew the bike and run course are both tremendously hilly. This Ironman is ranked as the toughest in North America...bring on the hills. I'm going to be lean and powerful so that will be a strength for me. I would like to be at 150 by that time. When I earned my pro card winning the amateur race at Ironman Longhorn 70.3 last October I weighed 164. I don't know what the loss of 14 lbs. would mean for my performance but I'm banking on it being substantial.
Wednesday night after the kids went to bed I had a great workout alternating between the trainer and treadmill. I don't typically begin these until February but I needed to get both in and I enjoy these transition run workouts when I can work on running strong off the bike. I did 3x 10 minutes at a steady effort on the bike following each one with a 1.5 mile tempo run. I did the tempo runs in 9:00 (6:00 pace), 8:45 (5:50 pace), and 8:30 (5:40 pace) to finish it off. None of them felt difficult. It was a good boost of confidence that my fitness is improving quickly.

Saturday I was tested with my most swim yards ever in a workout. I swam with our high school team. I knew it would be a tough practice so I was up at 5:30 to get in a solid breakfast so I would have some calories to swim on. From our warm-up set of 20x 100 yards I did not feel good. For whatever reason my arms just lacked the power I have been feeling in the pool lately. Had I been alone for this workout I probably would have suffered through 3,000 yards before calling it a workout. This is where being with the team has really helped me. There was no way I was getting out early. I made my mind up that I would just continue to grind through the yards. After the first 2,900 Coach Tweedy put our main set on the board. For me and 3 other distance swimmers it said, 6x 800 yards (2 swim on 12:00, 2 pull on 13:00, 2 swim with fins on 10:30). If my math served me correct that meant I would be swimming a 4,800 yard set on very tired arms. Instead of thinking I was too tired to do it I made my mind up I would just swim each one without counting until it was time to stop. I made it through the workout and actually felt better at the end than I did when it started. The cool down put me at my first 8,000 yard swim practice ever.

Sunday morning I was driving to Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf to do my weekly long run and my car read the outside temperature to be 10 degrees and that didn't include the wind chill. I'm not sure why it is so cold the first week in December but it would take a blizzard to cause me to miss this workout. The long run each week is one of my 3 most important workouts. It never fails that Sunday seems to be the worst day of the week for these over the past 2 years. It is either the coldest, windiest, or rainiest day of the week and I think it's God's way of testing my resolve to this goal...this journey. I don't really care how crappy it is out for this workout, it is one I must get in regardless. Not only does the run build my phyical toughness but the weather conditions build my mental toughness. When I finished this run my hat was frozen (pictured left) and I have a red spot on my neck that may be mild frost bite. The thing is...during the run I wasn't cold except for the skin that was exposed. Dr. Kaminski hooked me up with a really sweet jacket that I'll call the Magic Jacket because it doesn't matter what I wear under it, I'm always soaked in sweat after running regardless of how cold it is. I had on a dry fit short sleeve t-shirt under this jacket and that was all. After the run the shirt was soaked in sweat. I probably need to invest in one of those neck warmer things so my neck is no longer exposed in sub-0 wind chill. This week will be a much bigger one. 35 days in and I feel great. Jen and I were looking at airline tickets to St. George tonight. I'd say I can't wait but that would be a lie because I've got a ton more work to do to prepare. Someone asked me this week when my next race was and when I told them Ironman St. George in May, they asked me if I was ready. I'm certainly not ready yet, but I'm well on my way to being more ready for this race than I've ever been for a race. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week 4 Training Summary...The Battle with Misty Hyman

As I had planned week 4 was a big training week for me. I had 20 workouts and my total training time was right at 24 hours. For the week I biked all 7 days for a total of 180 miles, ran 6 days for a total of 45 miles, and swam 4 days for a total of 16,100 yards. In addition to those I also lifted weights 3 times, did speed drills, strides, lunges, and push-ups all three times, core work 8 times, and plyometrics twice. It felt great to get in such a solid week, by far my biggest since surgery last April. I burned through a lot of GU Energy products this week to keep me fueled. It is really helpful for me to make sure I have them with me on the long swim workouts with the high school and also on my long run on Sundays. I went 76 minutes this week for my longest run since surgery. I'll keep building that slowly with a plan of getting to 2 hrs. 15 minutes by mid-April. I saw Dr. Kaminski for ART treatment on Tuesday and then ran the Turkey Trot 5 miler on Thanksgiving morning as hard as I could. I was having a little bit of discomfort in the back of my knee where my calf muscle meets my hamstring before this race. It hadn't hurt to run but I could feel it when I did a full squat. I warmed up and it felt good enough to race on so I ran the 5 miles hard and finished 7 seconds faster than last year in 28:32. It is a pretty tough course which is mostly uphill for the first half of the race before coming back downhill the 2nd half. I was excited to be able to do this race 7 seconds faster than last year despite missing the majority of 5 months running. This was my first benchmark race of the year and it tells me I'm right on schedule for big things. It was also much colder this year for the race as the temperature was around 25 degrees at race time. My wife Jen won the women's race at the Turkey Trot. She ran great and came in at 30:40. It was her last race of the year and she had an amazing season especially considering she gave birth to Owen in March. I haven't kept exact track but I think she won about 19 races this year. Way to work Super Mom!! I had a massage from Laurel Darren on Friday and it helped tremendously in getting rid of my knee pain and preparing me for a huge weekend of training. I was able to get in 4 hrs. 40 minutes of training on Friday after the massage and then follow that up on Sunday with another 4 hr. 20 minute training day. Those were my first two days this year over 4 hours in a single day. I know from past years that I recover better after each 4 hour day and once 4 hours isn't very taxing I'll move my long day to 5 hours...and then beyond. Going into Ironman St. George on May 7th I'll be relying more on my cumulative volume of training more than I will rely on single long days since all the training leading up to this race will be while I'm still working full-time. My fall Ironman at Rev 3 will be more on big single days that I have more time for in the summer. I will probably only have a handfull of 100 mile rides going into St. George while I'll have many more over the summer.
My favorite workout this week was a battle with a swim set named after Olympic female swimmer Misty Hyman. It was a set that I did with the high school team on Friday and Coach Tweedy warned us that the set would challenge us much more mentally than physically. The set consists of a 50 yard swim every 90 seconds but the catch is that the first 25 is an underwater kick with no breaths and no strokes to be taken. Once you hit the wall completely gasping for air you then turn and sprint back down the pool as fast as you can. Every 90 seconds you begin another one so if the kick and swim takes you 50 seconds you have 40 seconds to take in oxygen before beginning the next. Coach Tweedy was exactly right about the set challenging me mentally. The first one wasn't too bad but it burnt up a lot of my oxygen stores and on #2 I felt like I was going to pass out. Each time someone on the team came up early he added on one. There were actually a lot of kids that couldn't make it down the pool without a breath so we ended up doing 10 of them before he called it a set. I made it down the pool kicking with no breaths for all of them but I only wish I could say I beat Misty Hyman. She got the better of me because after the first one I started swimming back down the pool easy so that I could recover for the next one. It was so tough not to take a breath on the kick part that I didn't think I could make the next one if I sprinted back. For that reason I will chalk this one up for the opposition. I loved the set because with each one there was a little bit of doubt that crept into my mind as I would think I needed a breath and looked up to see I was still 10 yards from the wall. I managed to make it in but by not sprinting back down I can't say I won. I know the Ironman will be very similar. There will come a point in the race when I begin to wonder if I can continue on at 9:10 pace (my goal for St. George). If I ease up hoping to save energy for later I'll be doomed. The goal will never be met. I've got to learn through sets like this that it can be done. The body is phyically capable of so much more than the mind wants one to realize. I'm already looking forward to the next time we are challened with Misty Hyman 50's. I will make the underwater kick and then sprint back as fast as I can knowing full well that my body is capable of doing it. If you're at the pool and are bored try one out and you'll find how mentally challenging they are.
I'm four weeks in now. Each week I have added on volume and this week will be time to rest and recover while my body adapts to the demands I have placed on it the first 4 weeks. I'll still work out of course but my volume will be much lower so I can get ready for another build up through December. I already have some big weeks planned for the end of December while I'm on winter break. I can feel my body changing. I'm losing weight, getting stronger, and my confidence has grown leaps and bounds since I began training for 2011. That may be the greatest result of the training. I'm beginning to feel like a podium finish in St. George is going to happen. I had doubts 4 weeks ago as to whether or not my achilles was really ready to hold up through the demands I place on it in training. Those doubts have been completely erased. I hope all of you had an awesome Thanksgiving! It's a great time to set goals and begin working towards them. Each day...each week...and each month you will see progression. Work hard and know that nothing is impossible! Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Racing Weight Notes

I must admit I've been slacking on my reading lately so I really don't have anything new to report on what I've learned from the book. However, since it is the eve of the day where more food in the United States is consumed than on any other day of the year I will post a few quick reminders of things that may help you avoid putting on too many extra pounds over the Thanksgiving holiday. Author Matt Fitzgerald writes in his book that weight gain is typically not a gradual thing. Many people in the U.S. believe they are bound to gain 5 lbs. a year as they age. They believe it is something that very gradually creeps up on them. Fitzgerald believes that weight gain is typically something that occurs quickly when overeating takes place followed by no change in exericse habits. He cites Thanksgiving to New Year's as the time when most people gain all the weight they gain in a year. Remember, if you overeat tomorrow, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll carry the extra weight into the race season if you recognize that you gained weight and modify eating/exercise habits to make up for it.
One trick Fitzgerald gives in the book to avoid overeating is to eat slowly. Try it out for Thanksgiving dinner and see if it makes a difference in how much you eat. He also suggests drinking a glass of water or milk before eating anything. That will start filling the stomach before the bad calories begin. Lastly, he suggests eating an appetizer and waiting at least 10 minutes before eating anything else. It takes the body about 10 minutes to realize how full it is; thus the reason why people who eat fast often overeat. Another thing to remember tomorrow is that it is okay to not fill the plate. Most Americans feel the need to finish everything on their plate even if they are already full. It leads to overeating. If you don't read this until after Thanksgiving and you feel guilty about how much you ate just remember if you pick up the workouts and are careful for the next week you'll more than likely lose what you gained.
Thanksgiving has never been a tough one for me to avoid overeating. For some reason I've never liked much of the traditional Thanksgiving food. I don't like Turkey. I despise mashed potatoes. I don't like pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, or cranberry at all. I will eat stuffing but it's not something I love. Fresh vegetables without all the garbage in them I like but I've never needed to worry much about overeating on Thanksgiving. As for my own update on getting to race weight I was 165 lbs. this morning which is 6 less than where I started 3 and a half weeks ago.
I would like to wish all the readers a very enjoyable Thanksgiving. If you're traveling drive safely. I have lots to be thankful for...an awesome wife and two great kids, a great job, great health, sponsors that believe in my abilities...and so much more. I was reminded in 2010 how lucky I am to be able to go out and train 20+ hours a week. Have an awesome Thanksgiving!! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week 3 Training Summary

Week 3 of training was my best week since last March before I started having problems with my achilles tendon that ultimately led to surgery and an end to the 2010 season. For the week I had a total of 17 workouts that added up to 19.5 hours of training time. I ran 41 miles (my most since pre-surgery), biked 100 miles, and swam, 17,500 yards over 3 swimming workouts. I also lifted weights, did lunges, speed drills, and strides all three times, core work 7 times, and plyometrics twice. I'm really beginning to feel like I'm getting back into solid shape. I have settled into a pretty good training routine which makes the total time not feel bad at all because it is well organized throughout the week. I think it is important to lay out a weekly schedule for when you can do workouts. It helps to give you a "roadmap" that will allow you to get where you want to be. For me this "roadmap" is laid out every week. Jen and I communicate with the things we have going on so I can make necessary adjustments but for the most part I'm running 6 days, with a day off on Tuesday. I'm swimming on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, lifting weights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and riding whatever 5-6 days the schedule allows. I take the day or two off biking when I feel I need the extra recovery. My hardest run day is typically on Wednesday when I do some sort of intervals. I also do a tempo run typically on Friday and my long run is almost always on Sunday morning. The 19.5 hours did not feel overwhelming in any way because I was well organized. I still have quite a bit of potential workout time so I'll be able to increase my load as I get in better shape. This week I only work 2.5 days with the Thanksgiving holiday week so I'm planning to bump things up for the week with a recovery week to follow next. The recovery week will still be training every day but it will be considerably less volume since I will be coming off 4 straight weeks of building up. It is important to have easy weeks in training just as it is to have easy days.
My hardest running workout of the week was a hill interval workout on Wednesday. I'm hoping to get in a solid hill workout every couple weeks to help prepare myself mentally and physically for the hilly course that Ironman St. George will be. I ran 8x 400 meter hills with a jog down recovery. I also increased my tempo run this week to 4 miles. I call this workout a progressive tempo run because I get progressively faster each mile of the workout. My mile splits over the tempo period were 6:14, 6:07, 5:53, and 5:37. I like to gradually cut down and finish the last mile at about 10k race pace. My total time for the 4 miles of tempo running was 23:52 and the pace never felt too stressful.
My favorite workouts of the week were definitely my swims with the high school team. On Tuesday we got out of practice a little bit early and the yardage totaled 4,100 which was my most of the year so far. Thursday the workout was 6,200 yards and I wondered at times if my arms were going to fall off. After the first of 3 rounds through the main set Coach Tweedy moved me to the fastest lane and I got absolutely drilled by those guys. I was struggling just to make it through the workout but it was great because it forced me to focus on keeping my technique together when I was really worn down. The 6,200 yards missed my most ever in a single workout by 100 yards. This total was completely obliterated on Saturday when I joined them for a 2 hr. 10 minute practice in which I totaled 7,200 yards of swimming. I was back down to my regular lane and led the lane through the entire workout so I never had a chance to recover by drafting which I regularly do. I've really enjoyed working with these guys. It amazes me that in addition to the workouts after school they practice every morning at 5:30 a.m. I know my technique has come a long way over the past year. I am rotating my body through the water much better than a year ago when I made that a major focus. The other thing I spent lots of time on over the past year is on getting my elbow higher out of the water. Coach Tweedy has given me great feedback on my stroke and wants me to begin thinking about the "catch" phase in my stroke.
Today I was able to watch the finish of Ironman Arizone online and it was awesome. The field was completely loaded as 3 guys went under the previous course record. I was really inspired by 3rd place finisher Tom Lowe's race. He exited the water 8 and a half minutes behind the leaders but used huge bike and run legs to move all the way up to a 3rd place finish. This inspires and motivates me because I know I'll be giving up big chunks of time to the leaders over a 2.4 mile swim that the Ironman requires. I will need to get myself into phenomenal bike and run shape so I can move my way to a podium finish in St. George. In fact 3 of the top 7 finishers today came out of the water anywhere from 8.5 to 10 minutes behind the leaders. The most inspring performance of the day definitely came from Britain's phenom female Chrissy Wellington. Wellington has never lost an Ironman race and she is a 3x Hawaii world champion but had to miss last month's race due to an illness. She decided to race in Arizona shortly afterwards and today she set the world record Ironman time for a female! Not only did she win the female race by almost 30 minutes but she only lost to 7 guys! She was only 3 minutes behind 2008 Olympic triathlete Matty Reed. She finished with her famous smile and then gave credit to the fans on the course for her amazing performance. She set the world record by 11 minutes! Congrats to all the finishers at Ironman Arizona. It was very inspiring. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Racing Weight Notes

I will continue my notes on Matt Fitzgerald's book, Racing Weight; How to get lean for Peak Performance with a few more things I have learned.

1. Last week I mentioned that people tend to eat until they feel full. Look for foods that contain lots of water and fiber. Both of these ingredients add volume without adding calories.

2. Carbohydrates are the least filling of the 3 sources of calories (fat, protein, carbohydrates). This fact is what spurned the super fad Atkins Diet earlier this decade. This diet is definitely not the way for endurance athletes to go as carbohydrates are the main source of fuel. I knew this diet was bogus back in 2003 when I was working a 2nd job at Rudy's Tacos in Rock Island, IL to save money for my first triathlon race bike. There was a guy who came in and ordered 3 beef enchiladas with triple extra cheese. He told me he didn't want the lettuce and tomatoes because they would add unnecessary carbs and he was on the Atkins Diet. Something didn't quite add up...level 3 extra cheese (the most extra cheese we allowed) but no lettuce and tomatoes. I didn't need to read any books to realize this diet was nuts. What endurance athletes need to do is make sure they mix carbs with healthy fats and protein so they can get a balanced meal and still feel full.
3. Keeping a food journal is a good way to track where unnecessary calories are being put into the body. I've done this in times when I think I'm struggling to get to racing weight. All this involves is writing down what you eat. It isn't absolutely necessary to count up the calories, although that strategy can be helpful. By writing things down you realize how much you are really eating and it also makes you think twice before you eat 6 cookies in one setting because you have to write them all down.
4. When you consume food it takes the body about 10 minutes to feel the effects of fullness of what you are eating. This is the reason that all nutritionists say to eat slowly. When you eat slowly you will feel full before you overeat. I believe one of the big reasons we have more and more obese people in the United States is because of the fast paced lifestyle we live. People devour food quickly at meals and by doing so they don't realize they are full until well after the food has been eaten. People often overeat when the eat out at restaurants. I'm certainly guilty of this on multiple occasions. There are a couple reasons for this. First off, restaurants NEVER want people to leave hungry so they have increased portion sizes dramatically over the last 10 years. People are more likely to overeat with a large plate in front of them because they don't want any food to go to waste. The 2nd reason people overeat when they go to restaurants is that they eat quickly by habit. If you're like me you've been to a restaurant before and eaten your meal and it doesn't seem like you ate too much until 5-10 minutes after the meal is over. Within 5 minutes of finishing the meal you feel like your stomach is about to burst. Eating too fast is what caused the problem.
5. When you eat your metabolism is increased for a short period of time because of the work it has to do to digest the food. This is the reason I've been eating smaller meals more frequently during the day. Although this "thermic effect" of eating always takes place when you eat, Fitzgerald suggests that the effect of speeding up metabolism is even greater when you eat after a workout. He suggests that the sooner you can eat after a workout the better. This is because the body is craving the energy that comes from foods and it processes the energy much better within one hour of working out.
I weighed in at 169 lbs. this week. Part of me wanted to leave the fact that I gained one pound off this post but I know it is important to report that 1 lb. gain. I have no doubts that in the long run I'll continue dropping weight but I want people to know it is not out of the ordinary to fluxuate slightly from week to week. I ate extremely well last week and had great workouts. I also know from tracking my past 2 year's weight loss that I typically don't lose much weight until my second month of training. I believe this is because while I'm losing fat I'm also adding muscle to my frame. I'm getting much stronger from swimming, lifting weights, and doing exercises like lunges, plyometrics, and push-ups. The extra muscle I put on now will help me to lose weight down the road however because of how many calories muscle burns at rest. I know from the way my clothes are fitting that I'm losing bad weight and gaining good weight. I'll continue to update on this book with a mid-week post until I finish it. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week 2 Training Summary

Week 2 was a great one for me. As always seems to be the case when I begin training, I noticed a huge difference by the end of this second week in how I feel. I can tell my body is beginning to adapt to the training. The amount of time it is taking me to recover between workouts has begun to drop way down. For example, on Sunday morning I did my longest run of the week at 9.5 miles (about 67 minutes). My legs were pretty tired over the last 3 miles. I could tell it was my longest run in months (since before my achilles tendon surgery in April). After the run I drove to the fitness center for a short 50 minute swim workout consisting of mostly drill and technique work before enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with my family. By about 3 p.m. I could no longer tell I had done a long run. My legs had fully recovered and I felt like I could have done the run again. A week ago my long run left me feeling stiff and tired for about a full 24 hours. The quicker recovery is one of many signs that the training is beginning to take effect. I also felt the benfits of getting in to Dr. Kaminski from Kaminski Pain and Performance Care for an ART session on Tuesday. That really helped loosen me up for the rest of the week.
For week 2 my total training time was up a bit from last week to 16.5 hours. I ran 36 miles, biked 75, swam 9,200 yards, lifted weights three times, did speed drills, strides, push-ups, and lunges all three times, and core work 10 times. I'll update my current body weight in my mid-week post that centers around the book Racing Weight which addresses that very topic. I can tell that I am losing as I have been very strict about applying the things I'm learning from the book to my diet.
I had two favorite workouts this week. The first was a swim on Thursday with our high school swim team. The new coach is a former swimmer at the University of Iowa. He has really been stressing form and technique to the team. This was their first week of practice and nearly all the time was spent on dryland/core exercises and swimming technique. Although the yardage was not high and the swims were not hard the emphasis on technique is exactly what I need right now. I've spent the last few years trying to correct my technique knowing that swimming speed is more directly influenced by how you swim than what kind of shape you are in. Being 6 months from an Ironman I know this is the perfect time for me to really focus on improving my technique. I had so much fun and felt I learned so much that I switched my workout schedule around a bit so that I can swim with them 3 days instead of the 2 I had originally planned.
My other favorite workout was a tempo run on Friday. The reason it was my favorite was because I did the workout with a student of mine. All the teachers at our school pick one student through the year that we want to help in whatever particular aspect we decide on. It is basically a mentoring program although our school chooses to call it an intervention plan. The student I selected is a great athlete and I targeted his fall fitness testing scores from PE and set a goal of helping him improve all of them by the spring testing period. We work out together about twice a week during the last period of the day when I don't have class. He has been working really hard. Friday I was planning to do a tempo run alone not thinking he would come down. I had planned to do 3/4 of a mile warm up, 3.5 miles of tempo running at 6 min./mile pace followed by a 3/4th mile cool down. Just before I headed out the door to begin my student showed up ready to work out. I told him I was going to do a tempo run. He had no idea what that consisted of so I told him he should try it with me. I said I would cut the tempo period from 3.5 to 2.5 miles. We warmed up the first bit and then started into the tempo period. We went through the first mile in 6:12. I could tell we were slowly increasing the pace and mile 2 was 6:05. He continued speeding up over the last 1/2 mile to the tune of 2:49 for the last 800 meters! His total time was 15:06 which I was completely in awe of! He ran 6:02 pace! I knew he was a great runner as he showed with his fall mile test where he ran 5:24 but to do a tempo run at 6:02 blew me away. I could tell afterwards he surprised the heck out of himself. He proved something to himself on Friday afternoon. He did something he didn't think he was capable of doing. That is what working out and setting goals is all about. Set a big goal for something you didn't think could ever be done. Gain confidence through workouts leading up to it and by the time the goal date arrives you'll have no doubts that this thing you once thought was impossible now isn't. That is what I'm planning to do leading up to Ironman St. George on May 7. Gain confidence through workouts each and every week and have no doubts when that date comes.
I saw my oldest brother Jason today at our family Thanksgiving for the 1st time since visiting him in the hospital after his accident. He looks great and his attitude about losing an arm is even better! Jason wanted to go with me to Healthy Habits to see what accommodations they could make for him on a bike. Moon was awesome in helping explain they would be able to put all the shifters and brakes on the right side so he can still ride. He is expecting to swim this week and met a prosthetic doctor last week and was given great news that they can make him a prosthetic arm. He said he has adjusted well to life with one arm and you can tell by his attitude that is the case. He's set on competing in the Hy-Vee Triathlon next September as well as a couple others leading up to that. I can't wait to see it! Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Racing Weight Notes

Many triathletes begin the sport with a goal of losing weight. Author Matt Fitzgerald mentions it as one of the top reasons people begin triathlons. Overwhelmingly however after just a year those same people continue to train for and compete in triathlons for entirely different reasons. By being involved in a healthy lifestyle that triathlon provides bad weight will naturally come off. I say bad weight because some triathletes may not lose weight but they become more healthy by reducing body fat and gaining lean muscle. More importantly than losing weight however is that you will gain confidence in yourself with every small obstacle you overcome. With each goal met a new one will be set and you will soon find yourself waking up with more energy, being less stressed out (due to all the great stress relieving workouts completed), and more than likely weighing less than when you began. Some things from this week's updates on Racing Weight which I've now finished 162 pages of...
1. People who compete in triathlons with a sole goal of losing weight actually lose less weight than those who set performance and training goals in triathlon. They also enjoy the sport less because their goals are not related to the sport (less enjoyment is probably why less weight is lost)
2. Set a BIG initial goal so you will have something to work for. This is so important. By focusing on the big goal (which may be reached by having a number of smaller benchmark goals on the way) you will lose weight because you will stay dedicated to working out and eating healthy so you can get to race weight and have a better chance of reaching the goal. For some of you a BIG goal may be to finish your first triathlon. It's a huge accomplishment. To some that means overcoming a fear or doing something they never thought they could until they committed. This reminds me so much of LeeAnn Herrera, a fellow Team Tri-Fit member who joined last year to prepare for her first ever triathlon. She set a big goal of finishing and began that goal last winter. I got to know LeeAnn at some Team Tri-Fit functions and I followed her hilarious blog throughout the entire journey. I was so excited to see her cross the finish line at the Quad City Triathlon. She described that although she began the journey with a goal of losing weight there were so many other things she gained from the experience. She mentioned self confidence as the number one.
3. Exercise is the most effective way to lose weight. The biggest psychological barrier to exercise is self doubt...fear of failure...lack of self-esteem. If you fall into this category, I can tell you the triathlon community loves to help see others through their goals. Triathletes love to hear stories about people overcoming fears in the sport. Watch any recent year of the Ironman Championships. Half of the television programming is devoted to watching athletes who have overcome major obstacles and still been able to finish an Ironman.
4. Most people eat until they are full. At that point they stop...most of the time! This makes it important to find foods that make you feel full without adding lots of calories. The number one factor of feeling full is how much the volume of food you put into the stomach is. It doesn't really matter what the food is, the volume is more important to feeling full. Example: Your stomach feels full after 1.2 pounds of food are put into it. You can get that 1.2 lbs. from whatever source you want. One forth of a water melon would make you just as full as eating two entire cans of Pringles (the old size not the super size they sell now). Think about the calorie difference in this extreme example. It has made me start eating more apples because apples contain high volume but low calories.
After 10 days of training I'm down from 171 starting weight to 168. I'll continue to update on this book mid-week. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week 1 Training Summary

This week I realized what I had been missing over the past 6 months. I missed the daily consistency of working out. I really enjoy being able to work out...maybe even more so now that I have had that opportunity taken away from me for quite some time. I don't know exactly how long I'm going to be able to train like I do for triathlons. One of the few most important factors to how long I continue to try to compete as a professional triathlete is whether or not I continue to enjoy the training. If there comes a time when the training isn't fun it will be time for me to find something else to do with that time. For now that is far from the case. For my first week of training I was right at 15 hours of total training time. My achilles tendon felt great through all of it. Dan White, my neighbor and friend who is a physical therapist at Rock Valley had set me up on a rehab plan with a goal of being free of all training limitations on November 1st and I believe the plan was executed perfectly. For the week I ran 30 miles, biked 75 miles, and swam 9,300 yards. It was the first time I had been on a bike or in the pool in nearly a month. That was the longest I had gone without swimming or biking in over two years. In addition to getting those numbers in the 3 disciplines of triathlon I also spent time lifting weights three times, doing lunges three times, plyometrics twice, core work 7 times, and speed drills, strides, and push-ups all three times. I expected to be more sore than I am. I never felt bad through this week. It will take me about one more week before I really start feeling the workouts pay off. The body has to adapt to the training and then the benefits can be felt. I did one track workout this week consisting of 8x 400's with a 1 minute rest after each. I averaged 76 seconds and it felt very easy. I started my first one at 79 and cut down each one to 70 on the last one. I also did a 3 mile tempo run on Friday from our hotel in Nashville, TN as Jen and I were at a friends wedding there over the weekend. Tempo runs on treadmills are one of my favorite workouts and one of the only things I enjoy doing on the treadmill. It is easy to control the pace and I like to run it getting progressively faster throughout. My mile splits were 6:08, 5:56, and 5:43. This week I will continue building the base while increasing my running mileage slightly. I will also begin working out with our high school swim team on Thursdays and Saturdays. They have a new coach who I'm excited to have look at my swim stroke. I know their practices will be really tough but I enjoy getting my butt kicked by kids half my age. My confidence will grow with each workout little by little. I'm anxious to go for week 2. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Racing Weight Notes

So last night Jen sent my to Hy-Vee to pick up the groceries for the week. I think this book doubled the amount of time I spent looking through various items that I pondered buying. It has definitely opened my eyes to what I am putting in my body. If I want to perform at an elite level it is imperitive that I get to my peak performance weight. Early in the book author Matt Fitzgerald gives some ways to identify what that magic number is. I'm probably going by his least scientific suggestion which is to go off a weight I've previously been at. The lowest weight I got to last year was 153 and I knew I had somewhere between 3 and 7 lbs. more to lose so I'm going with a goal weight of 150 by Ironman St. George on May 7. Monday was my first official weigh in. I weigh in weekly which is also recommended in the book. This is something I've always done during training season. Fitzgerald even notes a study result that ties frequency to weighing in to weight loss probably because it makes people more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies on a more regular basis. My first weigh in was 171. That is 3 lbs. more than I began last year but it is also 2 weeks earlier and I missed about a month of running last winter due to my achilles being sore. As I made my way through the grocery store I thought about some of the things the book said. I paid close attention to the carbohydrate food I've been eating. Fitzgerald highly recommends 100% whole grain over anything that is processed. That meant the honey wheat bagels I always thought were great for me would be out in favor of a 100% whole grain bagel. I like the taste of things that are 100% whole grain so that was no big deal. I also noticed the pasta I was buying was not 100% whole grain so I switched that as well. It is true you pay a little more for the good stuff. Hy-Vee uses a NuVal scoring system that Fitzgerald mentions in his book as one way to purchase foods with a high nutritional value. They rate everything from 1 to 99 based on the nutritional value. I was moving the sale tags out of the way to see NuVal scores. I noticed that fresh veggies and fruit were about double the canned stuff, most likely because the veggies and fruit in cans contain unhealthy preservatives. The canned stuff is not bad for you, it's just not as healthy as anything you can get fresh. Here are some other things I got from the book this week...
1. When you eat is as important as what you eat. The more often you eat the faster your body learns to burn through calories. If your body thinks it will not eat for 5 or 6 hours it will begin to conserve the food and burn through it at a slower rate. What I've been doing is eating about every 90 minutes to 2 hours this week. The key here is that you can't eat a lot with each meal. I pack a bag of things for school and make sure I eat something pretty consistently to keep my metabolism high.
2. Average body fat% in male professional triathletes are 6-10% range. I was at 12% last year. One of my goals for this year is to get my body fat % to 9 or less.
3. Body fat is insulation so endurance athletes carrying less of it can go faster without overheating. I noticed this last year when I was 153. I've always had an ungodly high sweat rate. I noticed my sweat rate declined big time as I carried less rate. This time of year even with our basement really cold I lose about 1 lb. of sweat in a 30 minute ride on the trainer. That should go down as I get more fit.
4. Of the three types of calories people consume (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) the most filling is protein. It takes the body more time to digest protein so it is the one that keeps the body full the longest. Protein is also the one that the body has to work the hardest to break down thus increasing the metabolic rate (how fast your body burns calories at rest). Fitzgerald recommends adding a whey protein supplement to the diet as a way of getting to peak race weight. I began using whey protein almost two years ago. I was about 6 weeks into this journey of training every day for triathlons and I was not recovering well. I began taking a whey protein supplement after hard workouts and most mornings for breakfast and I noticed a huge difference in how quickly I could recover. I have found a product online that is 5 lbs. for 29.95. If you're intested in what that is send me an e-mail and I'd be happy to send you the website I order from. It tastes good in water or milk which is good because if I'm going to be doing a hard workout I will take a water bottle with just the protein powder and mix water with it after the workout. All studies done on protein consumption agree that the quicker it is ingested after a workout the more benefit to recovery you will get. Most suggest a "1 hour window of opportunity". I try to get the protein in within 10 minutes if it is a hard workout or race. I've noticed I can recover from a very hard effort and feel great the next day. I don't use protein every day but if I'm doing something hard I try to get it in right away afterwards.
5. Cutting calories is not the best way for an endurance athlete to lose weight. Mainstream America thinks that the best way to "diet" is to eat less. This is rarely successful over the long haul. It may help to lose weight but when you cut calories you also slow the bodies metabolic rate and you eventually burn the amount of calories you are putting in. Inevitably you will slow metabolsim so much that you eventually return to the starting weight. For anyone who exercises a lot this can lead to disaster because you can deplete your body of the calories needed for workouts. Calorie restriction sends the message to your body to conserve calories because there may not be enough left for exercise. When your body knows it is going to get plenty of calories it continues to burn through them quickly. I also know that one of the best benefits from strength training is that you will add lean muscle. Adding muscle increases the metabolic rate and contributes to losing weight even when you are sleeping, sitting on the couch watching the Hawkeyes, or reading this blog. Muscle burns 25 times more calories at rest than fat does. It is why I highly recommend strength training to people who want to lose weight. I always tell them they may gain a couple pounds of muscle early on but they should not be worried. That new muscle will soon be helping them lose weight.
This one has gotten long enough. I'll continue posting mid-week to give updates as to how I'm progressing on getting to race weight and also what else I've learned from this book. I knew I wanted to begin reading this just before I started training for the year because it would help motivate me and give me some new information on how I can get lean for Ironman St. George. I know with the hilly bike ride and run on that course it will be one of the biggest factors as to how fast I can race. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Wait is Over!

In one hour the wait will finally be over! For the first time in nearly a month I'll put on the bike shorts and climb on the bike to kickoff the 2011 season with a session of "Midnight Madness". I've been excited for this ride for 2 months when I decided my start to the 2011 season would be on November 1st. This past Wednesday I hit the 6 month mark of surgery on my achilles tendon. It was so much longer than I or the surgeon ever predicted. My recent rehab with physical therapist Dan White has gone extremely well and I believe I am ready to begin training for the 2011 season. I will be at 17 workouts this week...6 runs, 5 rides, 3 swims, and 3 times weight lifting. I will also fit in all the small things like core work, plyometrics, lunges, push-ups, running drills...etc. Although I still wake up with some stiffness every morning in my tendon the progress I have made through Dan's running build-up over the past 10 weeks has me knowing I'm ready to begin this long journey. It will be a 6 month and 7 day lead-up to Ironman St. George. I am ready to flip the switch to training and healthy eating to help me get to my peak race weight. I know the importance of preparation. Although St. George feels like forever away it is important to me to use every day to get a little bit better. Some days that means I'll let my legs and lungs burn like hell. Some days that will mean to train easy so I can recover for the next hard efforts. Redeveloping the mindset that I can compete with anyone is one of my top goals for the year. That will come with the inceases in fitness that I make on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I have a quote on my workout book from Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander that states "So much of the fun in this sport is the process of getting the body in great shape." That's the truth. I love the super hero feeling of being in amazing shape. That process will begin in less than an hour. I hope you'll enjoy following the journey and that it may inspire you to believe in something you never thought was possible. I've long ago begun to dream of a podium finish in St. George. I hope you'll dream big goals for yourself and if following this blog can help I'll be thrilled.

I'm super excited to begin training knowing I have lots of great supporters who have stayed by my side with patience through the frustrations of the 2010 season. Laurel Darren, who I got another awesome massage from on Friday will help so much with my recovery. Bruce Grell, owner of Healthy Habits is still helping me take care of everything I need on the bike leg, Dr. Bob Kaminski from Kaminski Pain and Performance Care continues to be a huge believer in my abilities and provides me with ART to keep my body ready for the training volume, Kiwami Triathlon Wear who made the jersey I'm still looking forward to wearing through my 1st professional race, and of course GU Energy is simply the best at keeping me fueled for long workouts. GU has released a new flavor of Chomps...Watermelon! They are absolutely fantastic. I have to hide them from Jen and Payton because they both think they are the most delicious "fruit snacks" in the house. Lastly, but certainly most important is my family. Jen is super supportive of this journey and it wouldn't be possible without her. There are some long training days and nights that just wouldn't be possible without her having the same vision for success that I have. I love you guys and hope to inspire Payton and Owen to DREAM BIG as they watch daddy get in the best shape of his life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

A couple weeks ago I began reading a book called Racing Weight which is written by fitness guru Matt Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald has written a number of books on training for triathlons. He put a lot of research into a book that is quickly becoming known as one of the best on the topics of the importance of being lean in order to compete at peak performance in endurance sports. Each week during a mid-week post I plan to write some of the most interesting and important points I get from this book related to triathlon race weight. The book is written for any endurance athlete.
This is a topic I knew I needed to be reading about as I begin training for the 2011 season. It is possibly the number one factor in how fit I get. Before my injury I weighed in at 153 lbs. That was 10 lbs. lighter than when I earned my professional license. I could tell a huge difference by being just 10 lbs. lighter. Some of the things I've gotten...by memory...since I left the book at school are...
1. The difference between weighing 160 lbs. and 150 lbs. is about 6.5% effort in running. I know this. I have felt the difference. I'm currently about 172 lbs. and I can tell how much more difficult running is at any pace than it was when I weighed 153.
2. The body has a crazy way of knowing when you are getting ready for a big race. It wants to help you get to peak race weight and it will happen naturally if you are training hard and eating healthy. There is no diet pill in the world that will help more than training hard and eating healthy.
3. It is very normal to gain weight in the off-season. This should be expected due to the change in training and the message the body gets that a peak race is nowhere on the radar. Fitzgerald recommends gaining no more than 8% of body weight during the offseason which I have exceeded by about 3%. Not good...I have lots of work to do. The good thing is I have many months ahead of me to do this.
4. Peak racing weight should include considerations of both body weight and body fat percentage.
5. Peak racing weight will yield the greatest benefits in running, next in cycling (especially on hilly courses) and finally in swimming.
6. Adding lean muscle will help to lower body fat % (another benefit to strength training) because muscle will burn many more calories at rest than fat will. I believe it was something like 1 lb. of mucle burns 50 calories each day while 1 lb. of fat burns about 2 calories each day.

I'll remember the book for next week's notes but hopefully you are able to learn something from these posts. Train hard...eat smart...DREAM BIG!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Website Address and Updates

I can hardly wait to begin training for the 2011 season one week from tomorrow. It's been nearly 1 month since I've been in the pool or on the bike. The time away from those have me more excited than ever to get going. I'll kick things off with Midnight Madness next Monday morning at 12:00 midnight with a ride on the bike trainer. In my time off I've been running about 35 miles a week the past 3 weeks and lifting weights two times a week.
My brother Jason was in a terrible car accident last time I posted. I'm thrilled to say that he is home from the hospital and his attitude is incredible. I spoke to him yesterday and he said he is learning to do many things with 1 arm that most of us take for granted...things like putting shoes and socks on, buttoning pants...etc. Jason told me he asked the doctor when he can go to the pool to start swimming and they said probably this week. I know he's excited to begin working out again and I think he'll really surprise himself by how much he can still do. I hope to be able to get in the pool with him when he's in town for Thanksgiving.

I was recently frustrated to find out that my old website address had expired and someone in Russia had purchased it. After lots of phone calls I found out that the renewal information had gone into my spam inbox of my e-mail which I didn't even know existed. After the web address expired it was put up for sale and someone in Russia purchased it. She has been kind enough to link an old copy of my blog to that address but it is not updated. If you know anyone who may be interested in reading about this journey please tell them the address has changed to http://www.dreambigjp.net/ The only difference is .net instead of .com
On Friday our school staff ran a mile on our new track. It is one way we are hoping to motivate kids to work hard. They will see what we ran and it will give them times to shoot for. I was really excited to see nearly every staff member participating in the voluntary mile. I was excited as it was the first time running since my surgery that I would be going as hard as I could over any distance. I made sure to get a good warm up in which probably looked silly but I did not want to run an all out mile on my achilles without being properly warmed up. I hoped to be able to run under 5:00 but I know my fitness is bad right now and I thought I would be around 5:08. I ran the first lap in 71 which I thought was maybe a bit too fast. My 2nd lap was 74 so I hit the 1/2 way point at 2:25 (4:50 pace). My next 400 was 75 even though I thought I was pushing hard since I know the 3rd quarter of any race is always the toughest. I had more left than I thought as I finished my last lap in 70 for a finish time of 4:50. It was a good confidence booster for me mostly because my achilles didn't hurt a bit before or afterwards and I also ran much faster than expected. I also know that is not a time I'd be happy with 2 months from now so I have lots of work cut out for me over the next weeks as I begin training in hopes of making the podium at Ironman St. George on May 7.

On Sunday Jen and I took the kids to a local race called the Pumpkin Dash. The race offered two different distances, a 4k or an 8k (2.5 and 5 miles respectively). I chose the 4k knowing I'm not at all ready for an all out 8k yet. Jen is in great shape and took on the 8k. I was hoping to be able to run 5:25 pace but realized early in the race I wasn't going to be able to do that just 2 days after running the mile hard. I was still a bit sore and I'm not in shape to recover that quickly right now. I went through the mile in 5:23 but I was already hurting. I hit the 2 mile mark at 11:00 and made it to the finish in 13:38 (right about 5:30 pace). Jen was awesome. She went through the half way point in 14:45 which was way under her best 5 mile pace. She was running with one other girl at the time. Jen pulled away over the 2nd half of the race and finished in a time of 29:35 which was almost a minute personal best for her over 5 miles. I continue to be super impressed and proud of how well she is running while maintaining her busy work schedule and being Super Mom.
I'm in the process of reading the book Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald and I am learning a lot about how much of a difference weight makes in endurance sports. It is something I've always struggled with coming from a family with a history of obesity. I'm 20 lbs. heavy right now and I know my running and biking times will drop considerably as I approach my racing weight in the low 150's like I was at before my surgery. I plan to do a mid-week post highlighting some of the most important things I've gotten from this book each week until I have it finished.

It's been a frustrating year for me dealing with this achilles injury and surgery that for the most part kept me from racing. I'm looking forward to beginning a new year next week and putting these frustrations behind me. I know it will be a long road but I'm as motivated as ever to begin. My pro license is a 2 year license and this is year 2. It's now or never for me in 2011. I've been thinking a lot about my season goals and I can't wait to begin working towards them. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In the blink of an eye...

Monday morning was perfect out. The temperatures were cool and there was not a trace of wind. Our junior high kids would be running the school mile on a brand new track. In all my classes I told them how perfect the conditions were for running. We've had a problem over the years of having many kids who "don't try" in the mile. For most it's a way to cope for not being the best. They think if they "don't try" they won't be criticized for not being the best. I reminded all my classes on Monday that running the mile was a personal challenge. It is something that they should all strive for improvement in through the course of the year. I told them, "If the best you can do is 12 minutes, run 12 minutes...if it's 6 minutes then run 6 minutes." I reminded them there are millions of people in this world who are not capable of running a mile due to physical disabilities. Those people would love to have the abilities of these students. Run the mile and do the best you can with what you have. You never know when you won't be able to do the things you take for granted.
On Monday night at about 8:30 I was in the shower when Jen answered the phone. I could tell something was very wrong. I turned the water off as Jen came in with a deep look of sadness and told me my oldest brother Jason had been in a serious car accident on his way home from work. Jason is a brother I have drawn deep inspiration from. A few years back he had gastric bypass surgery to lose weight. He was obese and knew he needed to do something quick. He lost over 100 lbs. but a couple years ago those pounds started to creep back up on him. It was then that Jason turned to triathlon to live a healthier lifestyle. He competed in his first sprint distance triathlon 2 summers ago and did the Hy-Vee Triathlon as a relay with my wife Jen and his wife Deb. He vowed to do it alone the next year. This past year Jason has worked extremely hard. He did the same sprint triathlon that he did last year and dropped over 35 minutes!! He was working very hard and was ready to do the Olympic Distance triathlon in Des Moines last June. He called me afterwards and was really disappointed that due to weather it had been shortened to a sprint triathlon. He finished and it was his best race ever. What was more inspiring to me is that he finished with a tear in his meniscus that he had gotten through training in the months leading up to Hy-Vee. He put off going to the doctor because he was afraid they would tell him not to race. He did the race...because he could. I tailgaited with him at the Iowa game this past Saturday and Jason told me his knee was healed and he was excited to get back to training for next year's races. After getting the call my 2 other brothers and I drove to Des Moines to see him late last night. We got there after midnight and my parents prepared us for what we would see. Jason lost his left arm from the shoulder in the accident. He was heavily sedated and was on a ventilator. It was tough to see but miraculously he was alive and it appears he has no serious brain injury or spinal cord injuries. Today the doctors woke him up and I was able to see him and talk to him. He responded by trying to open his eyes. He was able to shake his head when I asked him questions and he could squeeze my hand and move his toes. I told him I expected to see him in a triathlon again some day and he shook his head in agreement. I told him how proud I was to be his brother and I could see the smile on his face. I left Des Moines this afternoon to return home to Jen and the kids. My mom said tonight they took him off the ventilator and took the tubes out of his mouth and he has been talking a little bit. He has a tremendous work ethic and has so much to look forward to. God has given him a second chance in life and I know he'll make the most of it. Jason reminds me of my late grandpa Lehman who showed me what toughness is all about. He showed me how a relentless work ethic can lead to success and I know Jason will make it through these challenges. Although he's got a tough battle ahead he has so much to look forward to. He will watch his kids grow up, see them graduate from high school, watch them get married...he will be an awesome grandfather to their children. He will still watch the cubs and hawkeyes and I wouldn't put it past him to do another triathlon. Whether he does or not I'll always be proud of him.
Back to Monday afternoon...I went out on my 8th period prep to run the mile with the kids during their gym class. They ran it in 2 sections. I said I would run whatever the fastest kid wanted to run. In the first section I ran with a good sized boy who said he wasn't going to try until I coaxed him into doing his best. He ran 6:18. He was really excited. I got back on the line to run with the 2nd section next and one of the kids said, "Why are you running it again?" I didn't even need to answer as a different kid gave the perfect response for me. He said, "Because he can." God has blessed me with so many gifts. I run, swim, and bike because I can. I know not to take that for granted and was reminded of this later in the day when I got the call about my brother. Jason didn't compete in triathlons to win. He did it to model good healthy fitness habits for his children. He did it "because he can." I will enter the 2011 season on November 1 and the day can't come soon enough. I will compete this year for my brother...to make him proud...to show him how much he has inspired me. I will compete with the best because I can. In the blink of an eye that gift may be taken away. I'll enjoy it while I have it. I appreciate all your thoughts and prayers for my brother. I love you Jason. I'm so glad to still have you in my life. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Race Report Flying Pigs Duathlon

Let me begin by saying that I do not like to criticize races. I don't typically ever have anything bad to say about races. I've done a lot of small town "podunk" races but the Flying Pigs Duathlon in Washington, IA this weekend made the Junebug Jog look like the Olympics!
On Saturday morning I drove to Washington, IA to participate in a duathlon. After talking with Dan White, my rehab guy we decided I could go ahead with this race as a "benchmark" race. The race was advertised as a 5k run, 20 mile ride, and 1.5 mile run. I would take the first 5k very conservatively and then race the rest hard if my achilles didn't hurt at all.
I arrived at 7:30 for a 9:00 a.m. race. I already was a little scared because I happened to read the waiver on the entry form because there wasn't much else for details on the entry. Maybe I never read waivers because they can be pretty scary. In signing the waiver I was acknowleding that riding a bike in this race on a course open to traffic is extremely dangerous and could lead to serious injury and potential death. I also thought it was interesting the waiver said that "I realize I am entering a public roadway without event control devices and that cars on this roadway will not be aware of my presence." This tells me that they won't have course monitors or protection at major intersections. Itwas a little afraid of this waiver but figured all races probably state that in the waiver...I've just never bothered to read them before.
When I first arrived I was thinking I may be in the wrong spot since I couldn't find any bike racks. When I asked the guy at sign-up where they were he pointed out to the street in front of us and said, "They are right there." What he pointed to looked like the bike rack at my elementary school but not near the size. They were public bike racks that were intended to hold at most 20 bikes total. He then said, "If the racks are full you can use your kick stand and put your bike in a parking stall." What??? A parking stall? A kick stand? He must be joking...no he was dead serious. I quickly realized I was in for a very interesting race.
I warmed up with a 1.5 mile run and a 6 mile bike ride and then tried to get my bike in their elementary racks but it would not stand up as I'm sure the engineer of those did not have triathlon racing bikes in mind when he or she designed them. I thought I may just keep my bike in my car and get it out after the first run but then I saw everyone else was laying their bikes against buildings, random items in the road...whatever they could find. I found a nice looking street light that held my bike up in a safe position and claimed that as my transition spot. My friends from the Quad Cities Judd and Monica Allbaugh had also come to this race and they were in as much shock as I about this race setup. You can see Judd below at his "bike rack" and I was next to him against the light pole. I was worried about whether or not the course would be safe since we left town through a couple busy intersections with stop lights. The race director announced they would be blocking traffic at the first intersection and there would be someone at the turnaround on the out and back bike course.
RUN: When the gun fired...check that when the lady yelled "go" I began the run very conservatively. I had on the GPS watch to monitor my pace and I was hoping 6:00 pace would feel comfortable. As we got out on the course I was checking it and was running 5:47 average pace at the mile mark. I couldn't believe how easy it felt. I picked it up a little but stayed very relaxed and by the time I hit the 2 mile my average pace was down to 5:42. There was still one guy really close to me so I slowly kept dropping the pace without letting it become uncomfortable and when I got to the 5k my pace was down to 5:37. My time was 17:30 for the 5k which shocked the heck out of me. It was a huge confidence booster that if I could run that relaxed with the minimal training I'm doing I should expect really big things down the road. The best news was that my achilles felt awesome.

BIKE: The bike is where the real fun began. A steady rain began almost immediately after we started the run so this would be a wet ride on wet roads. I was quick through the transition and my bike was waiting for me at my new favorite light post. I was out on the roads pushing the pedals hard but I approached that first intersection with caution. There were police officers there but I wasn't taking chances. They weren't really blocking traffic. They were just standing there and I slowed down and they waived me through. I was able to start pushing the pedals hard again in the pouring rain. My bike computer had stopped working due to the rain...I need to get that fixed. It came on a few times and I was riding anywhere from 24 to 28 miles per hour but didn't know how far I'd gone since it wasn't working half the time. The turnaround was supposed to be 10 miles out and I began to feel like I should be getting close but I couldn't find any volunteers to tell me I should turn around. Finally at the bottom of a hill I spotted a volunteer and when I got down there he told me to turn right. I asked him where the turn was and he said there would be people down the road to tell me when to turn. About 3/4 of a mile later the road turned to gravel and I still hadn't seen anyone. I couldn't believe I was about to take my Orbea with Zipp wheels on gravel but I figured with this race anything was possible. I've never done a triathlon that had gravel roads as part of the course. I slowed way down to accomodate for the gravel and after 2-3 minutes there was still no sign of a volunteer. I made the decision to turn around because the gravel was getting too difficult to ride on. I made my way back down the gravel road onto the real road and traveled the 3/4 mile back to the turn where the volunteer was. I still did not see any other rides. I stopped my bike and asked him where the turn was and he said, "There should have been a group of people up by that bait shop." Uh, no I'm sorry, no one was there. As it turned out I was supposed to turn before the gravel road so I had just added nearly 5 minutes to my time. I was pretty ticked off that they had no markings on the ground and no one there and I rode back in anger. I came to a stop sign where we made our only turn onto a highway and there were cars coming both ways. The volunteer there made no attempt to stop them so I stopped and waited...another thing to be pissed off about. I then made my way toward transition but just before it I had to go through that intersection with the stop light. This time there were no police officers or volunteers there and the light turned red just before I got there. I thought about that waiver that reminded me of potential death so I came to a stop and unclipped my pedal and waited for the cars to go and then for my light to turn green. I could see the transition area but I just sat there waiting. Once it turned green I rode into transition in disgust before dismounting my bike at the light pole and putting on the running shoes again.
RUN: The 2nd run was only 1.5 miles. I wanted to test myself on this one. When I began running I was getting small cramps in my hamstrings. It was awesome! I have waited a long time for my legs to have this feeling. I don't know why but I love brick running when my legs are trashed. On the way to the turnaround I was averaging just under 6:00 pace. On the way back the cramps were gone and I was able to get that pace down to 5:30. I averaged 5:45 for the 2nd run. I saw the 2nd place runner starting the run just before I finished so I'm guessing I won by about 8 minutes. I say guess because I doubt I'll ever see results posted for this race. I even heard from someone they allowed a biker to ride without a helmet. This event was not safe. The bike course was not well marked and there was no one at the turn. I will not be back for the Flying Pigs Duathlon for year 2 and I think if anyone ever gets seriously hurt or killed in this event their waiver will not hold up in court when they put on an event with so much negligence for safety. I was glad I survived and was happy with how I ran. I was even more excited to wake up on Sunday without any additional pain in my achilles tendon. I ran 27 miles this week in 5 days of running. Payton was excited to see me when I got home and she wanted to try on my race helmet. Some day I'd love to see her racing in one like it.
A big congratulations goes out to all who did the QC Marathon or 1/2 Marathon this weekend. I worked at the 1st GU station on the course and it was so much fun watching people go by. I know many people had worked hard for that race and it was great to see you doing so well. My younger brother Josh did his first 1/2 Marathon and told me afterwards the longest he had ever run before that was 7 miles! I was impressed he did the entire thing without walking and ran right at 9:00 mile pace. He is now thinking about doing the Hy-Vee Triathlon next summer and I couldn't be more excited for him. My wife Jen also ran a race on Friday night. She ran in Augustana College's huge home invitational against a lot of college girls...about 500 of them in fact. Against stiff competition and even some division 1 teams she placed 10th and ran like a champ. I'm amazed by how well she's been running on her busy mom schedule. Things are looking bright. I have lots of work to do beginning Nov. 1 and I look forward to it with great anticipation and enthusiasm. I can't wait for the long road ahead of me. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I can still do this...confidence growing

I've had another great week of pre-season workouts. I'm still keeping my volume pretty low so that I don't risk being worn down by next summer when I'll begin racing again. I am mainly focusing on maintaining base fitness with 5 bike rides and 3 swims a week while continuing to lift weights three times each week. My big focus is on getting my achilles tendon healed well enough to begin real training on November 1. The running is going quite well. I am currently running 2 days in a row followed by a day off. I began 4 weeks ago with 10 minutes every other day. I'm now up to 30 minutes five days a week. It has been going very well...well enough that today I was given permission to do my first interval workout. I ran with the Pleasant Valley high school cross country team and we did a 2 mile warm up followed by 4x 1200 meter repeats with about 2 minutes rest between each one. They were done on a grass loop that makes up part of their cross country course. I've been seeing my neighbor and local Rock Valley physical therapist Dan White about once a week and I've let Dan direct my return to running. Dan has been a friend of mine since we were high school cross country and track teammates. His knowledege of running and rehab to injuries is extremely high. I've seen tremendous improvements with the program Dan has me doing to prepare for November 1. I've been doing impact exercises to strengthen the tendon for the impact that comes with running. Dan is a volunteer coach for the PV cross country team so I knew this would be a great place for my first intervals since he could watch my form to make sure I wasn't favoring my injured side. Although it was hot here today (nearly 90 degrees and pretty humid) I had a great time running the workout. My times were 4:12, 4:12, 4:08, and 4:05. It averaged out to about 5:30 pace per mile. It never felt very difficult which was exciting. I didn't care that it was hot out...I was just enjoying the feeling of running again...real running. My tendon felt great through the workout and it was a huge boost of confidence to be able to run those times without too much stress. When I put the workout in context it leaves me knowing that I am still very capable of running fast next summer. It was hot, I am fat (+15 lbs. from my lowest weight of 10'), I hadn't done any hard running yet, my longest run has only been 4 miles, I'm only at 18 miles per week of running, and I have been on an extremely modest training regiment. I feel if things continue to go well I should be able to do this same workout in late November on 1 month of real training and be able to average 3:50-3:53 for each 1200. I felt so great in fact that I'm debating about competing in a pre-season race this weekend in Washington, Iowa. It's a duathlon consisting of a 5k run, 20 mile ride, and 1.5 mile run to finish it up. If Dan gives me permission I'd probably take the first 5k pretty relaxed, then ride as fast as I can, and do the 2nd run a little harder than the first assuming nothing hurts. I would view it as a hard workout to benchmark where my fitness currently is at. I am very anxious to be in a competitive setting. With each passing day I'm realizing this injury was a long setback...that's all...I will return and I will be stronger than ever before. It won't keep me down forever. I can tell the rest and therapy are working. I feel great every day. Ironman St. George on May 7 is constantly on my mind and it's becoming more obvious to me every day that this race is not just a hope...it's going to happen and I'll be ready when it does. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!