Checking Progress on my new training plan

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Back in early March, I wrote about a change in training philosophy that I wanted to implement. Basically, I was adding significantly more intensity and not worrying about volume, and I wanted to continue lifting weights.  I wanted to hit one high-intensity workout, one moderate intensity at half the race distance, and then a long/slow/easy workout at about 80-100% of race distance and also do two or three weight lifting sessions each week. This has been one of the best things I have done! My training is going great, and I am the strongest and fastest I have ever been.

If you have ever wondered why you need to maintain a sense of intensity in your training, I will show you the difference in the past two months.

Normally, I would be trying to maximize the volume at a moderate intensity level as I go into summer. That generally leads to not hitting my training goals because I can’t schedule all the time necessary, which then leads to some unnecessary frustration. Part of this change in training was minimize my frustrations in this manner.

Let’s go over the original goals and results specific to those goals, and then I will show you some other successes created by the addition of intensity. Hopefully, you will see the reasons why everyone over 40 years old should be keeping intensity in their training schedule.

  1. Higher overall power output on the same Sufferfest videos, showing an increase in lactate threshhold.

This is absolutely happening!  Specifically, my output on “Nine Hammers” has gone from 230 watts naturalized power and 741kj to 254 naturalized power and 831kj.  That is exactly a 10% gain in naturalized power!

Here is the screen shot from the TrainerRoad history for Nine Hammers.

ninehammersprogress

  1. Faster times on the hills interval run segments that I have already established on Strava, improving strength and reminding me what pain really feels like so I can remember that during a race I really do have an extra level to attain.

I improved my time on the big hill I was focusing on from 3:00 down to 2:50. Not much gain, but I also ended up extending the overall workout run for what I dubbed “Nine Hills” as a tribute to the bike workout “Nine Hammers.” I was so impressed with my increases by doing Nine Hammers once a week that I was going to do Nine Hills every week.  Unfortunately, the spring rains and snow came back and the trail has been too muddy for me to run it again outside of the first three weeks. Below are the results of those first three weeks.

Rank Name Date Pace HR VAM Time
1 Darin Letzring Mar 13, 2015 15:41/mi 165bpm 2:50
2 Darin Letzring Mar 19, 2015 16:04/mi 162bpm 2:54
3 Darin Letzring Mar 5, 2015 16:37/mi 164bpm 3:00
  1. Slightly faster times on the standard lunch 10k route that I have run many many times and usually get faster as spring turns into summer.

Definitely improved this 10k lunch route. I am hitting this the fastest ever in life! The below chart from Strava proves it. I think this is what I am most excited about.

I started this year in the winter running my lunch route in 53:23 and have it down to 48:22 as of last week. Very excited about this progress! If I can lose another five pounds of fat, I think I can break 48:00 on this run.

10kprogress

  1. Weight drops to 180 on March 21, from 185 on March 2. That’s a lot for three weeks, but I think it will happen.

The weight hasn’t come off like I want it to, but this is actually a secondary goal. I am inconsistent with my minimizing binges on various cravings, but when I have 3-4 good days in a row the weight does indeed come off. If I can figure out what to do about the craving binges, I will be successful in this goal.  As of my last weigh-in, I was at 183.

weightprogress

  1. Body fast drops from 19.8ish to 18.2 on the Aria scale. Who knows how accurate this scale is, but it is consistent and I can use that to measure objectives. I don’t know if this is really doable or how it relates to the weight loss, but it is something to think about and will drive me to complete the training plan as I chase this goal.

I am not completely successful in this endeavor either, but it is going pretty well. I thought this goal was exceptionally aggressive when I made it. Like the overall weight goal, this sees days of success ruined by binges on cravings. But there is success in the 0.8% overall loss.

bodyfatprogress

Finallly, let’s look at my SportTracks data, starting with the training load.

You’ll see that the training load has been going down steadily since the end of the Tour of Sufferlandria. The past two weeks has been the beginning of a chunk of travelling, so I am not getting in all the workouts. Anyway, if my bike power and run times stay on the current improvement track, this chart doesn’t really mean much to me. For reference, the spike in late January was the Tour of Sufferlandria. And just to note, I don’t agree with the training efforts that are assigned to my swims; for example, the 3,000 yard straight swim woops me like a 13 mile run but gets half the credit in effort.

trainloadmarch2015

I am more concerned about the fitness levels. You can see a steady decrease in performance status while I have been doing this training plan. But, I am seeing big gains on runs and bikes, so I don’t know how correct this chart is. At this point, it doesn’t mean much to me because it just doesn’t match with gains I am seeing in the real world.

performanceprogress

So, I am currently at a performance point of 233 and had a peak of approximately 288 in mid-March This is versus the status I had when I initially posted my plan in early March;

And below you can see how my performance stat goes from 283 on March 1 to 307 on March 25. That is objective improvement that I can feel good about.

performancemarch2015

Another thing I am measuring to see if this philosophy is working is my times and SWOLF on a 1600 ladder workout in the pool. I can’t match very well because I haven’t done the workout exactly the same each time because I lose track of where I’m at and end up missing a 100 or 150 yard set. This is frustrating. In any case, my SWOLF is very steady and not improving. As another measure, I do a “3k straight” workout every now and then to measure endurance on the swim. This isn’t a good consistent measure because the water temp changes from 82 – 86 degrees.  But I am not worried about improving my swim time so much as I want to be able to swim the same time and come out of the water as fresh as possible.

I am continuing to lift weights throughout all of this, and I really like the results. I might not be much fitter and it doesn’t really help my endurance, but I think it is essential in the gains on my bike power and run times. It also keeps things interesting.

As I re-read “Racing Weight,” I remembered his theory that 80% of the volume should be less than lactate threshhold, and 20% above lactate threshhold. I think this workout philosophy hits those numbers but I have to do some detailed checks. It might be closer to 70/30 split.

Finally, I have to say that I really like using SportTracks’ scheduling feature. I have finally found a training calendar that is useful and doesn’t take too much time.

These guys have been watching me

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From the Ironman site today, they have “4 Bad Habits To Kick Now.” 

http://m.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/03/4-bad-habits-to-kick-now.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ironman%2Ftopstories+%28Ironman.com+Top+Stories%29#axzz3UqnMqCwP

They are onto me! I often cut a copy 100 yards off a swim because I think I won’t be back to work on time.

This spring I have successfully broken the habit of giving into self -talk that “I’m just sooo tired. I really need to take a day to make sure I am recovered.” Now I just get dressed and do the first five minutes of every workout and ultimately I am doing nearly every scheduled workout as prescribed…and it is making a HUGE difference.

Editing for convenience
Who hasn’t cut a run short or bailed on the last 400 of a swim workout in order to save some time? It’s perfectly normal to modify workouts when we’re balancing seemingly impossible schedules and doing a workout in its entirety simply isn’t always possible. The difference between editing out of necessity and editing out of convenience is subtle, but important to acknowledge. By its nature, training for a triathlon (or simply maintaining a regular exercise schedule) will inconvenience you. But that doesn’t mean you should consistently shorten workouts or skip key sessions when they don’t fit perfectly into your schedule. Over time, these “convenient” decisions will inconvenience your race goals.
→ Kick it: Focus on completing all your workouts as prescribed, whether by your coach or your training plan, and saving the modifications for times when you know your schedule will make training more difficult (i.e. on vacation, during busy times at work, or during poor weather conditions).

Originally from: http://m.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/03/4-bad-habits-to-kick-now.aspx#ixzz3W77EbIKi

Good brick idea: How to Perform Multiple Session Brick Workouts | TrainingPeaks

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From Training Peaks, here is a workut I will start doing so that I actually do brick workouts.

You’ll do the following set five times:

5-6 mile all out TT, with the staggered start.
Run 1 mile all out time.

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/how-to-perform-multiple-session-brick-workouts

Big Training Block using a different theory

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Coming off the Tour of Sufferlandria and seeing spring kind-of in the air already, I am pushing into a big training block for the month of March that will add intensity intervals and some weight training into the mix.

In the last two months,  I read Matt Fitzgerald’s “Racing Weight,” and I am currently about a third through Matt Dixon’s “Well Built Triathlete.” These books got me thinking that I need to change up my “more is better” training focus on volume and build in some intensity. That requires a nice balancing act in planning and execution.

Product Details  

The book reading is nice, but I also have some recent, specific experiences telling me to add intensity to my routines.

I am not training for a specific race right now, and I found the intensity levels of the Tour of Sufferlandria to have a huge effect on my running. Then, a friend posted the ladder workout for swimming on our Snake River Tri Club facebook page, and I really liked that for the change of pace (literally) and the mix-up of lengths to keep it mentally interesting.  I am also realizing that I really should keep lifting weights all-year round.  Finally, a switch to yogurt/berry smoothies for breakfast and basic oatmeal with pure cane sugar for snacks has me finally seeing some progress in losing body-fat as shown on our Aria scale.

Thus, my new training philosophy will be to have a long/easy, moderate, and short/high-intensity interval workout for swim, bike and run each week. I will add in a really easy 1.5 mile run to and from (3 miles round trip) the gym to get in weight training, too. Interestingly, that easy run to/from the gym creates the extra runs I needed to get in line with the BarryP run program on Slowtwitch that I like to refer others to when determining a run training program.

So what does this training plan look like?

march2015trainingblock321theory

 

The above training calendar from Sporttracks.mobi shows three identical weeks of the following workouts as a building block focused on an undetermined 70.3 triathlon in a few months.

Monday morning: Swim moderate

Monday lunch: Easy run to/from gym to lift weights (very simple routine takes 20 minutes).

Tuesday morning: Sufferfest Nine Hammers, which I think for me is definitely the best way to make gains on the bike.

Tuesday lunch: Tempo run for 10k. This is a relatively hard run on mostly trashed legs from the Sufferfest video in the morning.

Wednesday morning: Sufferfest Local Hero (or other one hour vid like The Hunted followed by Long Scream) to get a good 90-minute threshold with high intensity intervals workout on the bike.

Wednesday lunch: Swim 2,000 for intensity. This will be the 1,600 ladder. 

Thursday morning: Jog to gym and back (about two miles round trip) for quick lift routine.

Thursday lunch: High intensity running local hills.

Friday morning: Jog to gym and back to lift, again…two days in a row….or take a break.

Friday lunch: Long swim of 3,000 yards straight. I like 3,000yds straight because it sets me up to be fresh and ready to go after a 2,000 yard / 1.2 mile swim during a race.

Saturday morning: Sufferfest ISLAGIATT or Blender for a long bike.

Sunday morning: Very easy 9 miler, building to 13.2 in third week.

This will create a lower volume for me in terms of miles, but I think I will make up for it in terms of overall intensity and consistency. I am excited about this plan, and that will drive my ability to actually do the workouts as scheduled. I might not hit the whole workout as scheduled, but I will definitely at least start it, which eliminates one my main psychological enemies of dropping a workout under the guise of “I need to recover more” or “I’m just too tired right now.”

Some of the expected results:

1. Higher overall power output on the same Sufferfest videos, showing an increase in lactate threshhold.

2. Faster times on the hills interval run segments that I have already established on Strava, improving strength and reminding me what pain really feels like so I can remember that during a race I really do have an extra level to attain.

3. Slightly faster times on the standard lunch 10k route that I have run many many times and usually get faster as spring turns into summer.

4. Weight drops to 180 on March 21, from 185 on March 2. That’s a lot for three weeks, but I think it will happen.

5. Body fast drops from 19.8ish to 18.2 on the Aria scale. Who knows how accurate this scale is, but it is consistent and I can use that to measure objectives. I don’t know if this is really doable or how it relates to the weight loss, but it is something to think about and will drive me to complete the training plan as I chase this goal.

This training plan is probably best for an Olympic distance triathlon rather than 70.3 because of the lack of bike and run volume, but it is what I will be doing to build to more distance at the newly gained and higher threshholds on the bike and run. My swim is what is, and that is where I want to be with it (28:00ish 1.2 mile). I need to get much better on the bike and extend my endurance on the run.

I will be reporting back at the end of each week. The great thing about Sporttracks is that it automatically tracks missed workouts, so I will be showing those graphics, too, in an attempt for accountability.

Sporttracks provides great charts for complete triathlon training loads. Strava and Garmin Connect don’t do this so well, so I am using Sporttracks now.

Below you can see a nice progression ladder in the training load for this three week block:

trainloadmarch2015

 

 

And below you can see how my performance stat goes from 283 on March 1 to 307 on March 25. That is objective improvement that I can feel good about.

performancemarch2015

End Tour Review: Tour of Sufferlandria 2015 (Sufferfest Videos)

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tos15finishedcongrats

This year’s tour was really great. I missed last year’s, but in 2013 the Tour was very much an individual thing. This year…so much more group interaction via Facebook. And it was more in terms of riding, too! Thanks to all who posted on FB; it was great to see all those.

This is one of the best in-depth training focus events you can do to improve your cycling!

A few of my thoughts on the tour:

  1. #damealissa and others and peace and comfort for their families.
  2. People suffering from Parkinson’s and the researchers working on help.
  3. Stage 8 gave me a completely new idea of sustainable pain on the bike. I wasn’t particularly interested and certainly not excited about the stage, but it proved to be the most difficult and the highlight of a great week of improvements. Will definitely do this stage again for the awesome physical and mental affects.
  4. Elements of Style has crept into my daily biking thoughts. When I remember the checklist, I get about 5 more watts with no additional effort.
  5. ISLAGIATT (Good Idea) is still my favorite Sufferfest video.
  6. Nine Hammers is a new second favorite. It will be impossible to not get faster if I do that video regularly. Nine Hammers bumps The Hunted to number three fave.
  7. The garmin vo2max for bicycling without a powermeter worked well for me. Glad I found that somewhere deep within the comments on trainerroad or sufferfest posts.

For fun, here was my race bib:

ToS 2015 Race Number 189 minion

Here are the overall cycling stats from the Tour from Garmin Connect. One of my biggest bike weeks….at 223 miles in nine days, in a long time, probably since July, and certainly one of the biggest on average over the past few years. Yes, I know my cadence is way low; it’s something I work on but don’t make much progress.

tos15statsfromgarmin

I use a Jawbone for the silent buzz alarm (keeps my wife happy!), and it also gives me sleep data. I average about 90 minutes of sound sleep on a regular basis. My prior record was 2hrs 46 mins of sound sleep. This week, I broke three hours of sound sleep..TWICE!

tos15sleep

My Trainer Road TSS shot up incredibly from this Tour. It is usually a bit lower as I end up travelling a bit and mostly just run on those trips. I ran only three miles during this tour, instead of an average of 14-18 miles during winter months.

tos15tsschart

My sporttracks training load spiked a bit but is certainly not as much as what the Trainer Road TSS chart shows. This is why I moved to paying at Sporttracks only; it figures the training load of triathlon training the best. I continued swimming this week, with three swims, all in hot water (86 deg Fahrenheit).  Not sure that was good for me.

tos15sporttrackstrainlingload

 

Weight change was minimal during the tour. I ate and drank whatever I wanted, which was still pretty healthy. I am in the midst of changing to fruit smoothies in the morning instead of processed cereal like SmartStart, and I think that might have made a difference.

tos15wieghtchangechart

I got a few new TrainerRoad records this week! That doesn’t happen often, and it is clearly the online community that provides the motivation for this.  I will probably beat the longer time frames sometime end of February when I do a three hour ride. New medals come very hard for me, and it is surprising to see these during a Tour when I am constantly thinking about keeping a bit in the tank for the next day(s).

Several finishers commented on feeling good the last stage. That was me, too! I got a new 30 and 60 minute medals out of the deal. Didn’t expect that; in fact, I double-checked my tire pressure and resistance at the one-hour mark.

 

tos15goodidearecords

 

tos15recordschart

tos15blenderrecords

Getting Bike VO2max from Garmin 920xt without a power meter

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Just want to let others know that it is indeed possible to get cycling VO2max while biking indoors without a real (ie expensive) power meter.

All that is required to get a VO2max from cycling is the new HRM strap and a power number. You can get that power number using TrainerRoad (www.trainerroad.com). Required sensors are a speed/cadence sensor, ant+ stick or bluetooth for your laptop/device to read the speed/cadence sensor, a compatible trainer (most are compatible with trainerroad), and a trainerroad account. The trick is to enable “trainer relay” option in the app/software (instructions at http://support.trainerroad.com/hc/en…4-TrainerRelay )

With an account at trainerroad.com, open up the software and ensure virtual power and trainer relay options are checked, connect your sensors to your device app/laptop software, and start riding. Trainerroad uses math associated with your trainer to determine power status. The trainer-relay option then transmits that power reading to your Garmin device, which thinks the number comes from a power meter. You are now set to get cycling vo2max readings, and I confirmed that this works this morning.

Maybe everyone knows this, but I didn’t know it til yesterday, and it now allows me to use an important feature of 920xt that I didn’t think I would get to use. So, I’m excited about it, and I hope somebody finds this useful.

You can also set your 920 to read the speed/cadence sensor (yes, a dual connection with the device/laptop and your garmin is doable), which allows for all the data to then go directly into a garmin activity, rather than having to download/import the trainerroad file to garmin connect. This saves a couple of minutes but more importantly is just one less step to have to do to get your activity into garmin connect.

This is an example of the data screen you will get in your “Records” screen. You can also see a graph of your vo2max over time, although I don’t ever see it going down.

garminbikevo2maxexample

Please note that I am not a paid advertiser from TrainerRoad; I just really love the software and have seen big gains from using it.

Article: Could You Eat a Healthy Diet for Just $3.37 a Day?

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http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/05/healthy-diet-pattern.aspx

I found this article to be quite interesting.  Given all the new year’s resolutions to eat better, I also thought it timely to share.

However, the difference between buying food for the most healthy diet pattern or the least healthy diet pattern came out to about $1.50 per day.2 Part of what makes the processed food diet cheaper is the fact that the US government is actively supporting a diet that consists of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), soybean oil, corn oil, and grain-fed cattle, a direct result of their flawed farm subsidy system.

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