Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 3 Recap - This Isn't Easy!

There's two things that aren't easy: doing triathlon training combined with Insanity workouts, AND trying to blog about it during the busiest time of the year at work!

"Oh sure, I'll just plow out a few paragraphs each day at work when I have time." Pfft - silly me! I barely have time to eat lunch! Which, by the way, I've been saving lots of money and eating healthier by bringing everything I need for lunch at the start of the week (breakfast too, for that matter). I have a loaf of bread, PB & J, fruit, granola bars, and yogurt. What else do I need?

Also, let me share a trick that's been helping me. My weakness is chips. Whether it be Doritos or Pringles or Frito Lay, if it's salty and has starch, I want it! So the vending machine at work has always been a huge temptation. Then I started employing the same tactic that I did when I quit smoking - make yourself unable to get your vice. When I quit smoking, I got rid of all lighters and matchbooks in the house and vehicles. To keep me away from the vending machine, I don't take any change or dollar bills to work with me! It all goes in the vacation jar at home before I leave for work. Simple, easy trick, and I'm saving money in the process!

So what happened this past week? Are you stalling? No, I'm not. I had a pretty good week. But in the interests of time, I'm not going to bore people with all the mundane details of each workout. I can proudly say I did every workout last week of both Insanity and my triathlon training. On some days that added up to 3 workouts, but I've been keeping after it. Yesterday (Sunday) was a great recovery day. The only physical thing I did was go for about a 2-mile walk. That's it. Ate well except for some 'real' bacon Sunday morning for breakfast. What's interesting is that I genuinely missed the taste of turkey bacon - the regular bacon was way too salty and fatty.

Body is feeling good. No major aches or pains to report. I have to keep remembering to take my multi-vitamin on the weekends, and my chondroitin during the week. I don't want runner's knee acting up again!

This morning I had a long speed swim, nearly an hour with about 10 minutes of rest/recovery during intervals. Total length swam was 2700yds, a new personal best. Each day I'm learning that it's best to start out easy and gradually build up to race/performance speed, especially early in the morning when your whole body isn't warmed up yet.

Did a fitness test for Insanity tonight and saw improvement across the board. After the fitness test I ate dinner (fish and asparagus) but when I came back to do Cadio Interval, I felt some weird tightness along the bottom inside of my left foot, and it extended up the back of my left leg. I didn't like the feel of it AT ALL and don't want to encounter any setbacks, so I shut it down for the night.

I'm not going to allow myself to feel guilty about it, either. It's the smart thing to do, it's the right thing to do. Why risk an injury and something that could set me back days or weeks instead of taking one night off? It's not like I won't be back tomorrow, kicking Insanity's butt again (or is it the other way around?). Besides, I'll have an hour tomorrow morning on the bike, and it'll be nice to have fresh legs for a change.

That'll have to do it for now. I'll get you up to speed next week on how things have been - hopefully I'll have my new tri bike by then as well!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Week 2 Recap

So much for keeping up with this daily! Admission: I usually have a little slow time at work in the morning or even over my lunch break. But this past week marked the start of 6 straight weeks where I'll be non-stop from 6:30am to 5pm every day. It'll be a weekly update from here on out - between work and training, there's just not enough hours in the day. Here's a brief recap of the week.

Monday, Day 8
RUN 40min - I actually ran 41:22 minutes so I could hit 5 miles. I like round numbers. Training called to also do Strides, which is short effors of running fast by slowly accelerating allowing fast, quick footstrikes and an efficient form on the upper body. They only last 20 to 30 seconds, but it's not 'sprinting' - it's more like being swift. Anyway, I did it every 5 minutes and felt very good. Averaged an 8:12.

SWIM 40min - Mental toughness day. Did 4x500, alternating between taking it steady and pushing it a bit more. Finished in 37min.

INSANITY - Started Phase 2 today. Workouts got longer and a lot harder! I was kinda cruising through some of the workouts the the first half, but man - my ass got kicked today! 1 hour of cardio and plyo, and my legs were jelly. But I fought through and finished, reminding myself that I sucked on Day 1 with the lesser-intense workouts.

Tuesday, Day 9
BIKE 60min - Not too bad at all. The nice thing about being on a spinning machine is you can watch videos on your phone if you get bored. That's what I did today, because I think it's worse than being on a treadmill. I really can't wait until I get my tri-bike and trainer so I can set them up in the basement and at least have my TV down there.

RUN 30min - had to do this after work. Being a short run it wasn't too bad at all. I took a relaxed pace, averaged 8:22. I know I'm capable of much faster splits, but those will come later. Right now it's all about getting the muscles used to the workload and building up strength.

INSANITY - Another day of kicking my butt. I have to stop more frequently to catch my breath, but I'm not stopping!

Wednesday, Day 10
SWIM 30min - Race-specific day today, between w/u and c/d, did 3x400s, each faster than the last. averaged 1:48, topped out at 1:24!

INSANITY - They aren't getting any easier. I'm sure they will in time, but man - these are killer workouts. I still wonder if I'm going to see any appreciate difference in my physique when this is all done. So far I'm not seeing much (if any) difference. Glad I took 'before' pics.

Thursday, Day 11
RUN 60min - I really do enjoy running. It's interesting introducing Strides into them. I started out very easy, very relaxed, with a first split of 8:49. Each split afterward was faster, with my fastest coming in at 7:55. I thought that was a good sign, since every split was faster than the previous. Finished doing 7.2 miles in 1 hour.

INSANTIY - Perfect day for a recovery day. Still 1 hour of lower-impact cardio and plyo. Still tough, but better than the previous theee days.

Friday, Day 12
BIKE 45min - I didn't feel as strong today as I have previously. I attribute that to not only the tri-workouts, but doing Insanity as well - not much recovery time in-between. But I can do this - professionals push themselves much harder, all day long.

SWIM 30min - Speed day today. This was one of my toughest swim workouts ever. I had to do 20x50s, alternating between strong and fast laps. After the first few laps I wasn't sure if I could make it to the end. But I pushed on through and did it!

INSANITY - Back to 1 hour of cardio. Didn't hurt as bad as Monday, but it still hurt.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Days 5 & 6, Recovery Day

My first week of training is now behind me. As I write this, it's Sunday - my recovery day. I learned last year that recovery days are extremely important and necessary, no matter what kind of training or exercise you do. Your body and mind both need breaks. When it gets warmer, I'll probably pick a weekday instead of Sunday to recover. The workouts will be getting longer, and the weekends will provide more time to get them in.

It's a good thing today is recovery day too - when I got out of bed I felt a slight tweak near the bottom of my left hamstring. Hopefully a day of rest will do the trick. It's not painful, just a dull kind of annoyance. I'll see how it is tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's a recap of the past two days:

DAY 5 - Bike 45, Swim 30
Not too bad of a day at all. I hopped on a spinning machine just off the elevated track since there was a spinning class going on. Not that I don't want to be in a spinning class, it's just that right now I was to keep my training in line with what it's supposed to be and not go after it too hard. So it was 45 minutes at light-medium resistance.

More swim drills today. This was a Speed Day, and my drills were to be 400 warm-up (with kicks every 75yds), and then EBEH 8 times. That means I do 25 Easy, 25 Build (faster), 25 Easy, 25 Hard (all-out). Wasn't too bad at all, especially when looking at my splits for each of the eight 100s. I was consistent throughout, even at the end.

Insanity workout that evening was once more Core Cardio & Balance. Only need to do this workout once more, then it kicks into high gear next week. 4 weeks to go.

DAY 6 - BIKE 90
Despite it being a Saturday, I still got up early and was at the campus right after they opened at 7am. I was a little concerned about how this workout was going to go. I haven't been in the saddle (tri-terminology for being 'on the bike seat') for over an hour in at least 4 months. I used a spinner again, and it wasn't as bad as I thought, but it was tiring. To make the time go by faster I watched some YouTube videos on my phone (hell, you have to do something when you're on a stationary device for an hour and a half!). I felt good enough to run a few laps on the elevated track. Not quite a brick workout, but I want my body to get used to running after biking.

So I have a recovery day and another week of prep work to look forward to. I just have to remember to get sleep, keep eating right, and listen to my body.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 4 Summary

Today will be a blissfully short entry, I promise.

RUN - 60 Min
I wasn't sure how much the cold would deter me this morning when I woke up. It was 7 degrees, btw (not figuring in windchill). But the thing with me is, once I'm out of bed and standing upright, I'm awake and not stopping. 

Usual routine, out the door by 4:45, got to the campus just as they were opening the doors. It's interesting to me that there are so many other people there at the same time (Really! I'm not the only one up that early exercising!). I was on the track at 5:05, did a warm up lap and got into it.

Remember the other day how I was wondering if it was music or time of day that may play a role in my pace? Well today I started out with some more up-tempo songs, and ended up doing an 8:25 on the first mile. Go figure. 

The next 5 miles were the same, within a few seconds of each other. Even though I was supposed to take it easy, I wanted to challenge myself and see how much I could kick it up for mile 7. Turned it in at 7:43. I was pleased. 

Totals: 58 min 42 sec, 7.01 miles (8:22 avg pace)

I admit, though - I was feeling a little twinge near the top of my quad the rest of the day. Maybe shouldn't have cranked it up at the end. Didn't hurt badly or anything - I got through Insanity workout just fine when I got home. Still, glad that the next two days revolve around bike and swim. No running again until Monday. Three days off should do some good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 3 & Thoughts on Swimming

Before I get to the brief recap of today workout (and it IS brief), I want to share a few thoughts on swimming. It is easily my weakest discipline, and I'm still trying to figure out what my 'race pace' is. All I can go off of is what my times were last year in the two triathlons that kept accurate splits.

Copper Creek Tri (June 24th) 2:15/100 yd
Hy-Vee Triathlon (Sept 3rd) - 2:04/100 yd

So at least I saw some improvement. But still, that's nowhere near where I want to be if I ever want to finish on the podium, let alone the top 10 in my division (which is a goal). As a side note, in both of those events, I wore a wetsuit, but not a full-length one. A proper wet-suit should improve your times noticeably, but I'll delve into that more another time.

In reading support blogs on, one of the common responses to "How do I swim faster" is "Swim more". A bit snarky, but the point is well-taken. I took that to heart, and when I started swimming again at the beginning of the month, I figured I'd slowly increase my long swims. Started out doing 1500 yds, then 1750, then 2000, etc.

But then I started doing some more reading about swimming workouts, and the universal consensus is that is exactly the wrong thing to be doing. Instead, I should be doing 'drills' - swimming shorter lengths within a larger workout goal. For instance, 4 x 400s totaling 1600 yds, and trying to do each one incrementally faster. Or working on different breathing techniques. It's kind of like interval training, I guess.

So after reading that little nugget, I took a closer look at my swim schedule for this training program, and sure enough - on each day they have specific drills to work on. And today was one of those days.

Good thing today didn't require much time. Got hit with a little snow storm that slowed things down in the morning. Still, managed to roll out of bed at 4:35am and was at the campus right after 5am.

SWIM: 30 min (race pace)
As stated earlier, I'm not sure what my 'race pace' is supposed to be. I had to do 3x400s (not including warm-up and cool-down), each faster than the last. Well sure as shit, I was able to do it. Check out these splits:

400 #1 - 7:02 (1:45 pace)
400 #2 - 6:57 (1:44 pace)
400 #3 - 6:41 (1:40 pace)

Damn! I'm averaging :20 improvement and it's only January! Now that's what I like to see. Granted, those were intervals and I took about 30-40 seconds between each one. The true test will come in a few months when I'm able to get out in open water and swim that distance non-stop. But it's a great confidence booster this early in training.

Day 2 - Run & Bike

These first several weeks are going to suck regarding bike training since I don't have my triathlon bike yet, and if I did, I don't have a trainer for it. Hoping to get those two things resolved before the end of February since I likely won't be able to bike outside until late March (at best). But I digress... onto today's recap.

BIKE: 60 Min
Another thing that sucked is having to get into work early today. I had to cut the workout short by 10 minutes, despite being at the gym when they opened at 5am. In retrospect, I should have done my run in the morning and bike in the afternoon after work. I'll remember that for next time.

I'm going to be using the spinning machines instead of the traditional 'bike' machines. I think they'll simulate a riding experience more accurately and get my 'saddle sores' worn in. ;) Today went well. The plan calls for small chain work, so I kept the resistance fairly low. I warmed up with hardly any resistance for 5 minutes, then started increasing it every 10. Actual numbers:
51m 18sec. Max heart rate of 145

RUN: 30 Min
As noted, I didn't have time to this before work, so I did it on my way home. This is supposed to be an easy run, and I treated it as such, but here's something weird: I set out at what felt like the same relaxed pace as my Monday morning 40-minute run. But my splits were 20 to 30 seconds faster.

Two possible explanations for this: 1) The music I chose. I have a tendency to run in tandem with the tempo of certain songs. Maybe I got started at a slightly higher tempo and maintained it throughout? 2) It's equally possible that I had a bit more energy in the afternoon than in the early morning. I'll have to try this a few times and monitor it.

Totals were 33min 33sec, 4.1 miles, 8:10 avg. Max heart rate of 162

Recovery week workout again. Not bad considering I did it less than 30 minutes after finishing my run.

37min 42 sec. Max heart rate of 160

Really good day overall. Just challenging getting in two disciplines early the AM, but will likely split those on Tue-Wed-Thr when I need to be at work by 6:30.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Great Nutritional Information

I discovered Dr. Nancy Clark through her articles on Now before you go off and automatically dismiss this post because you're thinking "I'm not a triathlete... there's nothing there I don't know about nutrition already"... I would practically beg you to reconsider.

I have learned SO much from Dr. Clark not just about sports nutrition, but overall nutrition. She does a fantastic job breaking things down in a way that's easily understandable (meaning no 'doc-talk'). She debunks myths and does side-by-side comparisons of products. She's objective also - no bias.

Below is a link to her blog. There is so much great information to be found, and she blogs a LOT. I'll bet anything that you'll find at least one article that relates to you.