Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Talk about starting all over again! Well, not really, but it is taking a LOT more effort to reach speeds or distances that used to be easy. Let's break it down:

The Swim:
On August 19th (IMMT) I swam the 2.4 mile swim (4224 yards) in 1:05:08 for a 1:32/100 yard pace. I peaked for the season with the swim FOR that swim. Mission accomplished!

Last night I did my 7th swim since. There was a 4 week block of NO swimming somewhere in between. I did a descending distance set going 500-400-300-200-100 for 1500 total yards with 1 min rest in between each distance. I was ZAPPED getting out of the pool. I held an average of 1:36/100 pace for the entire thing.

Basically I have zero endurance in the pool. Good news though! I flip turned the entire thing, which takes a lot more effort than open turns.

Every off season I always regret taking long breaks in the pool because of what I described as above. I don't mind losing fitness, I just hate starting all over again...

The Bike:
Like the swim, yesterday's trainer ride was the 7th time I have touched the bike since IMMT. However! There was a 7 week block of not touching the bike during that time. DOUBLE ouch!

I went outside for an hour this past weekend, and while my legs are totally fine riding, it is my butt that can't take it! Again, I wish I had ridden the bike at least once a week since IMMT just so my butt didn't lose its toughness to that saddle....

The Run:
This is actually one thing that I have kept up with. There was a 2-3 week period where I was only running 1 to 2 times a week, but I never lost my "feel" for the bike.

Unfortunately looking at heart rate is more like heart breaking! This morning was an easy 45 minute run in cool temperatures. Average heart rate? 160! Last February I was doing the same easy run in the same temperatures and holding an average heart rate in the low to mid 140's.

THAT is what inefficiency is.

Fortunately, the break I have taken during September and October has been great. I have mentally recharged a lot and let all of last season absorb into my body.

Going forward, I am looking forward to seeing those numbers improve!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Training By The Numbers


I am a numbers person. I always love to review my data to see my run splits, averages, distances, FTP, CP, Kj, etc.

This is who I am.

With a coach, he would tell me what to aim for X number of watts for Y number of minutes, and I would follow it. So I relied on him to do the numbers work for me. I would say it worked as he got me pretty fast on the bike over the last two seasons.

Now it is my turn to use the numbers to my advantage.

I have the Garmin 800. It is great at spitting out loads of data, but stupid me, I had no idea there was a firmware upgrade that could then show off real time TSS, IF, % of FTP, NP. DATA!!!! After this firmware upgrade, suddenly there was a new thrill of riding the bike......looking at, ready?, DATA!!!!

I guess with 5 seasons under my belt and now having done ever major distance of triathlon at least twice, I am looking for new ways to reinvent my motivation in this sport.

I have owned WKO+ for at least 1.5 years now and I have barely used it. What is the point of using a power meter on the bike if you have been using it as a gigantic feedback computer? Well, that is not fair, I have been using it for FTP and then using a % of FTP to aim for in the 70.3 and 140.6 distances. (Listening to those numbers is another matter....)

But what I want to do next year is to pay closer attention to my training load and its resulting stress.

Hello WKO+

With a power meter for the bike, and a HR meter on the run, WKO+ is able to calculate your TSS, or Training Stress Score for you. You can read more about TSS here. But what about the swim? There are no swim "power meters" or any meter for that matter that gauges your output. Fortunately TrainingPeaks came up with something (that is better than nothing!) to roughly gauge your TSS. You can read about it here.

So now that I can quantify my output of all three disciplines in this sport and track it, there is now some new motivation to see improvement.

In order to more accurately calculate your TSS, you need to retest your disciplines to find your threshold pace. For the swim, it is your T-Pace. For the bike, it is your FTP. For the run, it is your threshold HR.

Testing = motivation for me. It also breaks up the monotony of training.

Testing = goals. Goals = MORE motivation.

These are good things!

I have realized over the this past season, now that I have completed every major distance at least twice, that my motivation for this sport is no longer about accomplishing a new distance, nor is it about PR-ing a distance. It is about placing.

Every race course is different. Of course you will go faster on a flatter course vs a hillier course. Its gravity at work here! So instead of worrying about a time, it is time to start "racing."

One of the greatest things my coach told me at the start of an Olympic race back in June is this: "Jon, don't just go for a PR. You are racing now!"

Now I pray to God my job doesn't eat me alive first and I can actually fit in some decent volume next season!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why, Hello There!

I took a break from blogging.

Something in my life had to give in September, and it was training. And since I wasn't training, I wasn't blogging. Training = blogging content.

It wasn't just one thing, it was a number of things that were adding up that was adding all of this unneeded pressure (all from within) that were putting expectations on me to perform and succeed. I couldn't take it anymore, and my body started to revolt on me. And over the last 5 seasons, I have learned that when my body starts to revolt on me, its time to take a break.

And I did just that.

I didn't go to the pool for 6 weeks.

I didn't touch my bike for 6 weeks.

I was running maybe once a week?

I didn't lift a heavy thing other than a box of cereal.

How did all of this come to a head?

Well, let me tell you!

First, I was mentally fried all season with training. I really didn't want to do Mont Tremblant (I am glad I did it!) and so I suffered through all season of training. That is how I became so burned out.

Second, a few weeks before Mont Tremblant, I was experiencing some lower back pain, but I thought it was just fatigue or the usual wear and tear of Ironman training and that it would go away. It never did. After Mont Tremblant it started to get worse, and by the end of September it was starting to debilitate my running!

Third, a LOT has been going on at work. In my trifecta of life, relationships come first, followed by work, followed by triathlon. If work is nuts, then triathlon will suffer, since work provides funding for triathlon. Unfortunately there was a very quick management change in my department, and I was thrust into an interim supervisor role to finish off "Epic" due out next May and also to oversee the look development for Fur on our upcoming movie "Peanuts" due out in less than three years. Not to mention as being a Supervisor, I am overseeing 13 other members of my department making sure everything is going well. And not to add any more pressure, I am the youngest person in my department....SCARY!!!

This has taken my level of responsibility and multiplied it by a factor of 10!

And unfortunately another thing had to give. With me being so busy at work and training suffering, having a coach was no longer a logical thing to have. It tears me up really really bad to have to end having a coach as Eric pushed me above and beyond anything I thought was possible in this sport. I hope to one day return to him when I re find that balance of life/work/training.

So what does all of this mean?

I would like to continue training, as I have plans to head out to Utah next May for the St George 70.3 and have another crack at the Mont Tremblant 70.3 in late June. But my work responsibilities will dictate how much time I will have to train. I don't want to repeat this past July & August in terms of how many hours I was working and how many hours I needed to train. That was absolute misery and I just wasn't functioning like a normal human being then.

As for this blog? I would like to continue blogging. Unfortunately I can't follow others anymore. I might read your blog every now and then, but don't expect a comment from me. I'd like to get more back to my roots with this blog and use it more as a journal to describe my latest workout. I did this at first, then discovered other readers, and then changed my style of writing to more entertaining for others, when the whole point of this blog was for chronicling my triathlon "journey." Ok, I guess I accomplished both, I was putting too much pressure on myself to write posts that would be solely entertaining for my readers. Time to pull this back from a post modernism style to just modernism.

I realized that this past Fall that I WANT triathlon to continue to be a part of my life, but I think this next year is going to be a bit of a step back in terms of involvement to prioritize other aspects of my life. This latest career development is a HUGE step forward in my career and if it turned from "interim" to "permanent" it would basically solidify an already successful career.

I feel like "something out of our control" was steering me in this direction all along. Have you ever taken a Myers Briggs Personality Test to figure out what kind of personality you have? I did this a few years ago and it yielded this:

Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.

Uh, DUH! The above describes me PERFECTLY. Basically my personality type is meant for management. I have NO place creating artwork. In fact my personality type is the polar opposite of a true artist. I was hand picked by "the powers that be" to fill the role of supervisor. No fucking wonder I was picked! Haha!

So, anyways, this is what is up. I am coming off of my burnout of training. Not having a coach is scary since he dictated what I did on a daily basis for two years, and he pushed me forward at the same, but also at the same there is some relief that I am back in control of what I want to do going forward.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Speed? HA! Ha ha! Haaaaaaaaaaa....

The last two weeks I have been running. Compared to the thick of Ironman training, I haven't been running as much volume, just more frequency.

Last week I ran 5 times in a row. 45 mins each time, except for one 75 min run. Every run was slow, 9+ min pace, except for one speed workout, where I *gasp* broke a 7 min/mile pace for 30 seconds about 12 times. WOAH!

This week, same deal. Slow runs, except for an 85 min run, a speed workout where I broke a 7 min/mile pace again for 30 secs but about 15 times. WOAH!

Then that brings us to this morning. 20 min warmup, 15 mins tempo, 10 min cool down. I was told to go by heart rate. Easy enough: Run at a pace where if the alarm goes off, then slow down a tad until you bring that HR down and try to keep it consistent.

I did this. Not bad. I finish the cool down. Then I look at my results. 7:55 pace @ 162 bpm for 15 mins for the tempo part. On pancake flat ground, in drizzling rain.





I mean, back in June, even when I wasn't even close to my running peak of last March for the National Half, I was holding 1 mile repeats @ 6:35 pace at a HR of 170 bpm. 5 bpm more for 1:20/min faster pace.


Thank you Ironman training! You killed all of my running speed.

Not that taking 5 weeks off from structured training did anything....


But really, I am NOT concerned. I took some time off to relax and let my body heal. It is done healing and it is time to make a running comeback. It will come back. It always does.

I am going to redo this morning's run a few times over the next few weeks, now that I have a benchmark.

I am calling this my start, with a HUGE peak yet to come.

I just need to sign up for a race now. Perhaps a 10K somewhere?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Island Beach Two Mile Swim Race Report

(this is a throwback race report. I did this race back on August 4th)

I did this race in 2009, as a confidence boost for doing my first 70.3, Timberman. I did that race with a wetsuit and in 1:08:xx.

This year I did it sans safety blanket wetsuit in 1:12:33. OUCH!!!! Yes, I had a slight FREAK OUT about my swimming ability when I saw my time. I mean, I had a 2.4 mile swim to do in two weeks!!! And! I did a 2 mile OWS without a wetsuit back in May when I was in WAY worse shape in 1:08:xx. How was I in better shape AND going slower?!??!? AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!

Well, when at the awards ceremony, the RD goes, "Thanks everyone for coming to the first, haha, Island Beach two and a half mile swim...."

Then you realize what was up. Yes, the swim course was long, but also the current on the way back was pretty gnarly!

Beth and I started out the swim, and she took off (because she is part fish) and I settled into my pace. Like in 2009, I got to the turn around fairly quick (or so it felt) turned, and then it felt like an ETERNITY to get back to shore.

Every time I approached a buoy, it felt like I had to make a 90 degree turn to steer towards the next buoy. That is when I figured it out. There was a cross current that was pushing us right. So I would aim left. Didn't matter. I would still make a 90 degree turn. That current was wicked!

So between the longer set course and the current, it explains why my swim time was longer than expected.

I mean, Beth went under an hour last year, and did a 1:05:xx this year and she was in WAY WAY WAY better shape this year. Overall everyone's times were slow this year.

But I looked at the positive of the experience with the fact that I just swam 1:12:xx straight without a wetsuit. I knew at IMMT with a wetsuit on that I would go faster. This race didn't count towards anything other than getting a long swim in and mentally prepping myself for a 1+ hour straight swim.

And this swim did help. I went a low 1:05 @ IMMT.

And! Because nobody else showed up in our age groups, both Beth and I took 1st. Haha! YAY US!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What I Want

About two weeks before Mont Tremblant, I wanted nothing to do with swimming or biking. I just wanted to eat healthy, lift heavy things, and run fast!

I finished Mont Tremblant, sort of wanted to run, but then my left knee started to act up again. So there went the running, and I had no motivation to swim or bike. Blaaahhhhh......

I did have motivation to lift the heavy things. So I have been doing lots of that!

Looking at my logs, I have lifted 3-4 times a week for almost the past 3 weeks. Already I can notice a difference!

Well, at first the lifting was SUPER humbling. I always say that the first day is free, and the second day you pay for it. Oh, I paid for it. HARD. I could barely walk for the next three days! Basically my glutes were so tight from all of the squats, lunges, and leg presses. (Regretting taking about 12 weeks off my strength training!)

Then, I could only hold a plank for like 45 seconds before I got the violent shakes. Now? I can do a 3 x (90 sec front, 60 each side) plank set. Improvement already!

While I haven't upped the weight yet with the lifting, I am noticing that it is getting easier, and I am not getting sore afterwards.

And my knee while running? Haven't felt it act up over the last 3 runs. The leg strengthening is already working its magic. Phew! I did NOT want to have a repeat of last Fall. That sucked...

So! Going forward, I am starting to feel an itch to do a run race finally. Just a 10K, with possibly a 5K leading up to it. That is all I want to do this Fall in terms of racing. I have already raced 15 times this season. That is a LOT of racing for me!

Now I gotta find a 5K and 10K race....

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Leg Strengthening Routine

Since my last post, I have gotten a few requests for "what is your leg strength routine?" So instead of emailing out to individuals, I might as well just write up the entire workout.

This is basically what the PT had me doing to rehab my knee a year ago. Since then I have added some stuff. I won't lie, this is a decent 1 hour to 1:15 lower body workout once you get efficient at what you are doing. I think it is easiest to do this in a fully stocked gym. You will need the following equipment: Ankle Weights, Bosu Ball, Physio Ball, dumb bells, a chair or bench or step ups, leg extension machine and leg press machine. Also, a clock or timer.

Warmup - do 10 mins of your choice of walking, running, bike, eliptical. Just easy and just enough to get the blood flowing in your legs

Stretch - quick calf, hamstring, quad, and glute stretches. 30 seconds each muscle group, each side. 1 time each.

Abductors with weights - Grab your ankle weights and get ready to do some Jane Fonda style leg lifts. This exercise works your abductor muscles, which make up your outer thigh. Do 3 x 10 each leg. Start out with lighter ankle weights at first, and up the weight over time. I consider this part of the warmup.

Adductors with weights - Using the ankle weights again, this exercise works the inside of the thigh. 3 x 10 each leg

Leg raises on physio ball - Can't find a video for this one, but keeping your ankle weights on, lie on your back with both feet propped up onto a physio ball, legs straight. Take one leg and rotate it up and off to the side of the ball and down onto the ground beside the ball, then move the leg in a reverse motion back to resting position on the ball. Your leg does a kind of circular motion. Keep your leg straight and your foot flexed. This is one rep. Do 3 x 10 each leg.

Squats on Bosu Ball - Do 3 x 10. I use a 17lb kettle bell for some extra weight. Make sure your knees don't cross your toes!!!!

Lunges - Do 3 x 10 each leg. Same as squats, keep that knee behind your toe!!! You can add dumb bells if you need more weight.

Step Ups - Using either a chair, or a bench, or high step up board, step up, and step back down using the same foot. This is one rep. Do 3 x 10 each leg. You can add dumb bells if you need more weight.

Pitcher's squats - This is one of the harder exercises in this workout. Just like a squat or lunge, make sure that knee stays behind the toe! Add some dumb bells if you need more weight. This is a more challenging exercise and I feel like it did wonders for my rehab! Do 3 x 10 each leg.

Leg Extensions - Use a machine for this. This machine will work your VMO muscle. My VMO became very weak and is what caused my knee injury. To do this one, raise the bar with both legs, but then drop one leg, and slowly lower the bar with the other leg. Do 3 x 10 each leg. Pick a weight that you can do a full 3 x 10 set, but not so easy that it didn't do anything, but yet just hard enough to challenge you.

Leg Press - Use a machine for this. Don't lock your legs straight on the extension, and remember to breath! Again, pick a weight that is challenging, yet doable for a 3 x 10 set. Both legs are used at all times!!! No single leg!!

Planks - Time to work that core! I do a front plank, then each side, then rest, then repeat. Do 3 sets of these. How much time you do each plank will depend on how long you can hold it. Challenge yourself! And keep that body straight. NO up in the air butt. That is cheating!

Stretch - repeat the same stretching you just did after the 10 min warmup.

Like I mentioned in my last post, this route not only rehabbed me from a knee injury, but it made me way stronger and even faster. I was able to hold a faster pace for longer, AND! recover quicker from hard workouts.

Good luck and leave a comment if you have any Q's.