I get to be a Kraken!

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This has to be the coolest swim team name ever. Even cooler because I didn’t know what a Kraken was until earlier this year when Noah brought home a myth v fact book about creatures like this.

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.

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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?



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:




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.


Measuring a decline in swim efficiency using SWOLF from Garmin 910xt

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One of the things I like about the Garmin 910xt is the ability to get some swim data, specifically SWOLF (swim golf, lower is better) and an efficiency rating.  There is some debate about the usefulness about SWOLF, but for the sake of this quick post, let’s say it is at least somewhat useful.

BLUF (bottom line up front): being out of the pool for a month cost me 10% on SWOLF and efficiency, about 90 seconds per mile, and three seconds per lap. — But in that month, I took about 8 minutes off my half-marathon time!

The Details: I was out of the pool for about a month because it was being repaired. I got back into the pool with some quick and easy 1,000 swims last week to get back into the groove for swimming. Today, I did my first 2,000 yard set to see where I’m at….. basically, I’m slow and it hurts much more than it should…but that’s not the point of this post. I decided to look at my SWOLF from today versus one that felt good and I was swimming good. I checked back through my activity history and found a 1,500 swim from April where I was finding my 70.3 race pace for the St. George race. Perfect. Data analysis: Today was SWOLF = 38 and efficiency = 35.  That day back in April SWOLF 36 and efficiency 33. Almost a 10% difference! I suppose the watch isn’t quite accurate enough to really detail that 10% difference, but the number is the average of   up to 80 points of data (one point = one pool length).  Also interesting was the average 1 mile pace: 27:48 vs 26:19 in April…. a full 90 second difference over about 1800 yards, which is 36 laps, so we are talking about three seconds per lap that the pool repairs cost me. And that doesn’t count the affect of being significantly more tired after the swim session and how that would affect me the rest of a 70.3 race if that is what I was doing today. Below is the data, with the April swim on the left and today’s effort on the right. swimcomparison

Why You Should Learn The Backstroke

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“Plus, kicking while on your back serves as good cross-training for major cycling muscles such as the hip flexors, core and quads.”


This very short article at Triathlete confirms my theory yesterday when I bailed on running outside and did about 30 minutes of kicks: you can simulate a run by doing kicks. I split about 50/50 front and back kicks, and I used fins to add resistance (and to be honest, without fins I’m incredibly slow!).

The kicks aren’t “lazy laps,” because I hit it hard and I am out of breath at each turn. My legs burn and I can feel my abs tighten. Overall, a decent workout and much better than skipping to do nothing.

Feel For The Water! Advice & Tips to Improve Your Swimming.: Elite Swimmer Visualisation: Don’t Start Too Near The Surface

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This is an easy to remeber tip on hand-placement in the water. For the record, I can usually tell when I’m starting to get tired because I start the catch near the top of the water as shown in this post, and it really is putting on the breaks because it just completely destroys any streamline you might have going.


Outside swim in the morning…it doesn’t get better

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Had the opportunity this morning to swim outside as the sun was coming up. It’s really warm here in the mornings, and I could see the pink sky when I turned my head to breathe.  Morning swims outside without freezing to death and just kind of cruising at an easy pace is definitely one of my favorite things in life!

Useful swim video analyis

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I guess swimming is on my brain because all my posts are about swimming? What about running? What about biking? What about weight training? What about nutrition? Oh well….here comes another post about swimming.

But I can guarantee that some running and biking posts are coming up. Without such little long, aerobic workouts the past few months, my weight is ballooning. I was only half-pound from Clydesdale this morning! So, I’m definitely going to start getting the long, weight-loss activities back into a priority. I’m not exactly fat, and I cruised up the mountain Sunday morning on my skis with a backpack, so I’m not out of shape. I just don’t like the thought of what it’s going to be like to carry all this weight during runs and bikes!

So……..onto the swim post and something of true value!

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us could get a good underwater video analysis of our swim stroke?

Here’s a great video that compares a great triathlete Chris McCormack against arguably the greatest swimmer ever, Michael Phelps. Watch and learn!

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