Training Log October 2012

As I write this on the evening of October it’s Halloween. Good month, October! All racing is now done and dusted for 2012. There are no more races to even consider going to – not that I did any other than the swim across the fjord in Vejle.
It’s a good thing – focus can now go thoroughly to 2013.

There were no holidays in October either, which had an immediate effect on training time. In fact the time trained makes October 2012 the month that I’ve been able to train the most only second to March 2011.

So with no further ado, here are the highs and lows from October:

  • Swimming: Cranked up the volume on the swimming again. Didn’t improve at all in terms of speed. The distance per session, however, has gone up drastically, so the average speed is the same, but it’s maintained for much longer. Plus!
  • Cycling: Had a few days of unexpected summer and moved outside. Besides that though I’ve moved inside on the home trainer. That setup is working well and not quite the motivational issue I expected it to be. Every session is roughly 2 hours in heart rate zone 1. Feels very good so far!
  • Running: Injury is still there, but have done some good work with the physio. Right now, the sessions can be up to 30 minutes at about 6min/km pace. I’m not going out and crushing it, but at least I’m going out running!! Happy about that and hope I can build on that !

For those who care, here are the numbers from September:

  • Total duration: 26hours, 6 minutes trained – up from 14 hours, 28 minutes in September;
  • Swim:
    • 8 workouts – up from 5 in September;
    • Total duration: 6 hours, 38 minutes – up from 2 hours, 27 minutes in September;
    • SWOLF score stabilized completely at 40 – no improvement;
    • Average pace: Stuck just above 1:50/100m;
    • Total distance: 18,97km – up from 7,15km in September.
  • Bike:
    • 11 workouts – up from 4 workouts in September – combination of 8 home trainer sessions and 3 rides outside;
    • Total duration: 17 hours, 46 minutes – up from 6 hours, 41 minutes in September;
    • Average speed: 29,60 km/h – up from 29,54 km/h in September – no speed measured in home trainer sessions;
    • Total distance: 135km – down from 197km in September.
  • Run:
    • 4 sessions – down from 10 sessions in September;
    • Total duration: 1 hours, 41 minutes – down from 5 hours, 19 minutes in September;
    • Average pace: 5:32 min/km – improved from 5:54 min/km in September;
    • Total distance: 18,28 km – down from 54,18 km in September.

More numbers next month…

Retül Bike Fitting – and Why You Should Get One

My bike is a modified road bike – a Focus Culebro 2010 with a pair of clip-on bars to make it useful for non-drafting triathlons. Admittedly I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with the decision to purchase a road bike and modify it instead of just buying a pure triathlon bike.

The differences are that the frame of a traditional road bike just doesn’t support the time trial position as well as triathlon bikes do. The impact of that is a less efficient position on the road bike versus what you would have on a triathlon bike.

Over the past few months I’ve repeatedly heard about a bike fitting system from the US by the name of Retül. Not only do they make bike fittings for a bunch of professionals in cycling, MTB, and triathlon – they also apply the same testing protocol to amateurs:

As you start the test, first thing that happens is an interview that helps the fitter understand the goal for the fitting session as well as with the particular sport that the athlete does. Subsequently extensive measurement of the body is carried out. At this point flexibility (or lack thereof) is measured and recorded to identify the possibilities and limitations that the athlete needs to work with.

And now it’s time for the big reason to go get a Retül fit: The dynamic fit session. Sensors are placed on shoulders, elbows, hands, hips, quads, knees, ankles, heels, and feet so that when you start cycling, the fitter will have live dynamic data to work with – not just static numbers recorded in a fixed position.

Finally the entire bike is measured – before any changes are made, and after changes have been made. That makes it possible to revert back to the pre-fit position.

If you’re buying a new bike, the fit is not done on your old bike or on your potential new bike, for that matter. The fitter is likely to have a fit bike – ideally the Retül Müve. The benefit of the Müve is that it can be adjusted during action, so you can immediately feel the difference and increase the chance you pick a bike that’s just right for you! The ability to measure the watts output during the fit session only increases the likelihood that you’ll perform at your very best on your newly acquired bike.

Finally, if you’re buying a new bike, all this data is used with the frame finder to match your specific requirements with all sorts of frames. That ensures that you avoid spending thousands getting a bike that’s just not optimal.

Alternatively, if you’re not buying a new bike, now is the time to start making changes to optimize your position on the bike according to your goals.

In my case we changed quite a bit. We went for a shorter stem to reduce the reach to the aerobars – for the same reason the saddle also came as far forward as possible. Finally we lowered the steer just a bit, also to shorten the reach to the bars and to make position my body lower.

At this point – about a month after the test – 15 cycling hours later – I’m still getting used to my new position on the bike.

Two things are for sure, though:

  • I’m making better use of my current bike!
  • I will never buy a bike again without doing a dynamic test in advance. Never !

Training Log September 2012

Early September was still very much a holiday month and the second half has been dominated by getting used to new institutions for the kids. As a result the total training time for September is still far from that of July, but still much closer to what I’d like it to be. In fact at about 13 hours it’s up there with some of the training months I put in leading up to Challenge Aarhus 2011.

The image to the right is of Vejle Fjord Broen. Actually it fits my last post better, as that’s exactly where we crossed the Fjord back in August. Good memories from that race, though. I’ll be doing another post on that topic…

Here’s the full status from September with a few thoughts for October:

  • Swimming : Lot less swimming done. Seems I haven’t lost or won any speed. Following an early-October VO2 maxtest the focus is now on building base condition;
  • Running: Injured. Ended up giving my right calf a rest in September. Haven’t been running since Septemer 20th and physio and a exercises are both in the works. The plan for October so far is: No runs!
  • Bike: Pretty happy about my bike progress. Had a Retül bike fit – something I’ll elaborate on in another post. In October the bike trainings will move indoor on the home trainer – it’s getting too wet and cold outside. More on the home trainer setup at a later stage.
For those who care, here are the numbers:
  • Total duration: 26 hours, 6 minutes trained – up from 14 hours, 28 minutes in September;
  • Swim:
    • 8 workouts – up from 5 in August;
    • Total duration: 6 hours , 38 minutes – up from 2 hours, 27 minutes in September;
    • SWOLF score stabilized completely at 40 – no improvement;
    • Average pace: Stuck just above 1:50/100m;
    • Total distance: 18,97km – up from 7,15km in August.
  • Bike:
    • 4 workouts – up from 2 workouts in August;
    • Total duration: 6 hours, 41 minutes – down from 3 hours, 20 minutes in August;
    • Average speed: 29,54 km/h – down from 30,83 km/h in August;
    • Total distance: 197 km – up from 103 km in August.
  • Run:
    • 10 workouts – down from 11 workouts in August;
    • Total duration: 5 hours, 19 minutes – down from 6 hours, 35 minutes in August;
    • Average pace: 5:54 min/km – down from 5:32 min/km in August;
    • Total distance: 54,18 km – down from 71,43 km in August.

More numbers next month…

Training Log August 2012

The second month in the new training regimen was to be immediately disrupted by summer vacation in August+September. As a result the total training time for August is not even close to that of July, but still much, much higher than any previous months in 2012.

It was holiday for half of the month, which makes it a bit difficult for me to pull much out of these numbers. Here’s the full status from August with a few thoughts for September:

  • Swimming pace increased along with swim efficiency = Awesome. Looks like all that time in the pool is paying off slowly. I mainly did so much swimming because Vejle Fjordsvøm was coming up. I went there with family and very much enjoyed the whole experience. Eventually placed 83rd our of 299 male finishers – not too shabby for a non-swimmer and I’m pretty happy about that too!
    Finally the shoulder issue I spoke about in the training log for July has disappeared!
  • Running: Even if I had less run sessions than in July I did run about half an hour more and almost 5km more. Average distance is increasing – that’s good!
    In addition I further improved my 5K time (by 8 seconds – not much but it all counts) – and I did my first 10K since September 2011. All good progress. Still struggling with a nagging injury in the calf. Hitting myself over the head for being stupid enough to train through it !
  • Bike: Further improvement of time on distances 20km and 50km. To further improve this I’ll get a Retül bike sitting position fit test done in September to see if I can improve the way I sit. Really regret having bought a race bike instead if a pure triathlon bike !

After July I wanted to do a few things in August. Here’s how that went:

  • Running: Haven’t done any track work yet.
  • Continued to use time trials and Strava when running and cycling. The leaderboards are such a motivator !
  • Swimming: High-elbow pull is working well for me. In fact I think it probably helped take care of the injury in my shoulder. And it made me faster !
  • Didn’t manage to sleep much more… 🙁
  • Didn’t get the sports medical test done. It’s now scheduled for October.
For those who care, here are the numbers:
  • Total duration: 15 hours, 53 seconds trained – down from 24 hours, 12 minutes in July;
  • Swim:
    • 8 workouts – down from 11 in July;
    • Total duration: 4 hours, 47 minutes – down from 6 hours, 36 minutes in July;
    • SWOLF score dropped about 2 points from 42 to 40;
    • Average pace: Increased from just under 2 min/100m to just above 1:50 min/100m;
    • Total distance: 13,3km – down from 17,15km in July
  • Bike:
    • 2 workouts – down from 9 workouts in July;
    • Total duration: 3 hours, 20 minutes – down from 11 hours, 26 minutes in July;
    • Average speed: 30,83km/h – up from 29,01 km/h in July;
    • Total distance: 103km – down from 332km in July.
  • Run:
    • 11 workouts – down from 13 workouts in July;
    • Total duration: 6 hours, 35 minutes – UP from 6 hours, 9 minutes in July;
    • Average pace: 5:32 min/km – up from 5:33 min/km in July;
    • Total distance: 71,43 km – UP from 66,74km in July.

That’s it – time to move on.

Training Log July 2012

After the completion of Challenge Aarhus 2011 I had made a conscious decision to slow down training during the second half of the year for personal reasons. Eventually the result was training duration anywhere from a mere 30 minutes to 6 hours per month – 6 hours being a really good month.

Recently that all changed and in July that training duration changed a lot. The result was that all three sports saw a bump in time as did of course total training time.

Here first some numbers:

  • Total duration: 24 hours, 12 minutes trained;
  • Swim:
    • 11 workouts;
    • Total duration: 6 hours, 36 minutes;
    • SWOLF score dropped about 3 points from 45 to 42;
    • Average pace: From just over 2 min/100m to just under 2 min/100m;
    • Total distance: 17,15km
  • Bike:
    • 9 workouts;
    • Total duration: 11 hours, 26 minutes;
    • Average speed: 29,01 km/h;
    • Average heart rate: down about 12 BPM from June;
    • Total distance: 332km;
  • Run:
    • 13 workouts;
    • Total duration: 6 hours, 9 minutes;
    • Average pace: 5:33 min/km;
    • Average hear rate: down about 10 BPM from June;
    • Total distance: 66,74km

What does all that mean? Not much in itself without knowing what the departure points were. In short I’m happy with July as a training month and the reasons are:

  • Trained more in July than the all previous months of 2012 combined;
  • Body is OK, so I can keep this activity level up for now. It’s tiring at times, but doing OK. Only slight issues are a slight calf strain at the end of hard running sessions and a shoulder issue, which I’m working out in the pool through improved technique;
  • Swimming needs to improve. Still have more than 3 minutes down to my best 1,5km time from 2011. Potentially the change in how I train impacts the time negatively (more intervals, more breaks, more slow work to recover+improve technique);
  • On the Bike things are going fairly well. One hour time, and all distances at 50K and under improved in July. Doing more intervals to improve speed. Using Garmin 910XT to do time trials on fixed routes.
  • Running is going well. While the average pace is not fine at all, the pace in the intervals is going well, approaching 4 min/km in 1km intervals. That’s nice! In addition I ran the best 5K of 2012 at 24:03 – a time that has already been improved in August.

What was new in July?: The volume went up. Used intervals in all three sports. Started using time trials in cycling and will start using for runs as well. Got working on swim technique. Trying out CytoSport Muscle Milk and CytoCarb2 for recovery.

What’s new in August:

  • Considering going to the track once in a while to do some track work, to improve speed and endurannce;
  • Will start using time trials on runs;
  • Will continue using Strava when cycling along with Garmin Connect and Endomondo;
  • Reviewing swimming style to reduce drag. Currently looking into high-elbow-pull;
  • Considering talking to a sports dietitian for improved health and performance in all areas of life;
  • Look into the value of improved sleep;
  • Get a sports medical test done/planned (booked for September – exciting).
OK, I think that’s it. Lot’s of stuff to do, then. Gotta get moving !

 

Challenge Aarhus 2011: Pre Race Report

After signing up back in December of 2010 triathletes have spent most of the spring of 2011 training for the half iron distance Challenge Aarhus – many of them for the first time. The race was to take place in the city of Aarhus with a swim in the bay, a bike ride to the scenic South of Aarhus, and finally a half marathon through the city of Aarhus, which also happens to be my Danish home city – hence why I had to be part of the inaugural event!

Click the image to see details of the pack list

After signing up back in December of 2010 triathletes have spent most of the spring of 2011 training for the half iron distance Challenge Aarhus – many of them for the first time. The race was to take place in the city of Aarhus with a swim in the bay, a bike ride to the scenic South of Aarhus, and finally a half marathon through the city of Aarhus, which also happens to be my Danish home city – hence why I had to be part of the inaugural event!

Training has had its ups and down, all of them quite well documented on this blog already. This post is about the pre-race prep where all training is done and all that lies between the triathlete and the finish line is preparing everything that is brought through hours of suffering on race day.

Going to a race is always special to me. I don’t go to many races, so packing for a race doesn’t happen too frequently. The past few days before my leaving for Denmark I got increasingly more excited and nervous about the project. I would wake up at 4-5 in the morning, thinking about Challenge Aarhus and how the race would go. I would lie there thinking race strategy, nutrition plan, etc. Eventually on the day of departure everything was packed with the great help of the triathlon race checklist service and off I went.

As soon as I arrived in Denmark I laid out my stuff on the floor of my Mother’s home North of Aarhus – just to make sure it was all there. Everything was there and checked out perfectly! Now it was all just a matter of waiting and working a couple of days in Denmark before the pre-race prep would take over. Friday I went to the expo to to buy a pair of compression socks. The real fun was about to start on Saturday at race check-in.

On Saturday first order of the day was to attend the race briefing. There had been doubts about the swim due to the bay having been polluted by sewage trouble (something the city of Aarhus apparently allows to happen every few years), and that continued at the race briefing with the sewage trouble being the main source of concern. It was considered an option to skip the swim altogether and do a duathlon instead. However, the swim eventually happened on a shorter course than planned. The reason for shortening the course was cold water. At temperatures below 14 degrees C race management deemed it unsafe to swim further than 1km – a wise decision.

My speed bump came at the bike check-in. Coming into the bike zone I thought the officials were joking when they didn’t approve my helmet for the race. It appeared that it had a crack right at the front. Thanks to the triathlon expo just 100 meters away I managed to get a new helmet and check in 10 mins before the bike zone closed.

Finally spent some time at the pasta party eating a bit with an old colleague from Amsterdam, Henrik Tholstrup, and meeting up with Facebook race buddy Søren Jakobsen – both would eventually finish the next day in very respectable times!

Went back to the base to go to sleep early. I was as ready as I could be. (TO BE CONTINUED)

Road to Challenge Aarhus: Nailing 70.3 Nutrition?

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Yesterday evening I spent some time trying to get my nutrition for the upcoming self-supported 70.3 half ironman triathlon on 16/4 right. It’s a pretty tricky calculation when you’ve never done it before. As ever so often with these kinds of things, I set up a Google Doc spreadsheet to help out with the numbers.

As previously explained I’ve never really had a go at this distance, so making a nutrition plan that works is unlikely. Another good reason to try things out beforehand. I’ve now settled with about 560 grams carbs for an estimated 7 hours of activity. We’ll see if that does it. Either way I should bring some extra energy onto the bike.

In order to have everything nailed there’s one thing that I haven’t calculated: my hourly sweat rate. Without that, I really do not know how much I need to drink or how much salt I need to take in. I’m just going to have to wing that one, but I’ll bring 3 tablets for the run to avoid cramping as I had some cramping issues last year going from bike to run in the Aalsmeer Sprint Triathlon.

For final prep I need to pack the whole thing, check the bike, pack the clothes and God knows what else to finally be ready for the start on Saturday morning.

Road to Challenge Aarhus: Self-supported Half Ironman

The Start Location at the Pool
Where the Madness Begins

This week is going to be mostly about getting ready for the self-supported half ironman distance triathlon I’ll be doing on Saturday 16/4 as prep to do Challenge Aarhus. You can join the event on Endomondo. Yes, it really is a triathlon even if Endomondo lists it as “other”.
Also join the event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=124035681003753.

If you’re in Amsterdam, Netherlands on Saturday 16/4 you’re free to participate in any part of the total distance and any amount of disciplines. If you join the swim you should expect to cover the (tiny) expense on your own.

Here are a couple of probable start times:
Swimmers: total distance is 1,9km.
Start time is around 09.00 at Sportfondsenbad Oost:

Bikers: total distance is 90km.
Start time is around 10.00 at Sportfondsenbad Oost: same as above.

Runners: total distance is 21,1km.
Start time is around 13:30-14:00 at Sportfondsenbad Oost: same as above.

So, the things that need to be prepped are:

  • Pack my swim-gear
  • Check the bike to be race-ready and pack all that is required for a 90km ride;
  • Pack my running stuff (Thursday or Friday)
  • Go through the checklist at http://triathlon.racechecklist.com to make sure I have it all.

 

Road to Challenge Aarhus: March Training in Review

Beautiful Views on March Morning Runs

What a month. After February I had a few things to get working on and in March I have definitely moved closer to half ironman fitness. One of the things that all endurance athletes struggle with is time. After February I figured that adding 10 minutes per training would take the training volume up by about an hour on a weekly basis. By and large that has worked out pretty well. Where February ended up being a 14 hours 24 minutes training month, March had another 12 hours in it. It was especially the two first weeks that were really good. The two next weeks were pretty OK, but with other commitments the bike had to suffer and that took total training time down.

I learned a few things too that I’d like to share. Maybe they’ll prove useful to you:

  • Forefoot running training from zero to long distance takes long! I’ve had to set my sights on 5km forefoot running this year. Maybe next year I’ll be able to do 10km.
  • Nearly doubling training volume from month to month is a bit of a stretch. Be cautious and make sure to be listening to your body to avoid over-training. This goes for all sports, but especially for running!

Also, March seems to have been a bit of a strong month for social training platform Endomondo. I at least started getting invitations from people I connect to on Facebook, LinkedIn and from people I just haven’t heard from for years. That way I get to know another side of these people, which has been very interesting so far.
The weather has been very mild too so more and more people start training outside – also very encouraging!

Finally here’s a run-down of how I think March was per sport and what needs to happen over the next 3 months prior to Challenge Aarhus:

Swim: No real change since February. Still have to watch my left shoulder, so my number of swim sessions will stay flat until Challenge Aarhus. The required 1,9km is not a problem at all, so the swim is still on track! Learned in a podcast from TriSwimCoach that it could well be very smart to do a very relaxed swim in order avoid getting out of the water with a too high heart rate.

Bike: Weather was mild in March, so I’ve been outside a few times. Right now it’s a bit dark in the morning, but soon I should be able to do a morning session on the bike. This is probably where I need the most improvement, but we’ll see about that in April. For sure I will have to add kilometers to the cycling.

Run: March was an excellent month for running. Did my first half marathon in training in a time I believe is a personal best (note to self: check that on Athlinks). That said I probably can’t recommend doing three times the training volume month over month.
Now that the half marathon distance is in place I have started working on speed. For April that will mean shorter runs with 1km intervals at race speed or faster. Race speed is the pace I need to maintain to run “Broløbet” on the 28th of May in less than 1 hour and 45 minutes.

As a final challenge for April, I’ll be doing a self-paced and self-supported half ironman on the 16th of April. Standing at the starting line of a race without knowing that you can make it, doesn’t seem like a good idea…
Experienced triathletes have advised against doing half ironman as part of my training, but it just feels like the right thing to do. Therefore the week from 9th to 16th will be extremely relaxed with just a few relaxed and relatively short runs. After the half ironman the interesting part will be: how long does recovery take.

In other words: An interesting month lies ahead! 🙂

Announcing Self-Paced Half Ironman Triathlon

2011 has got to be the year of the half ironman distance triathlon for me, and the training is aimed at being able to swim 1,9km, bike 90km, and run half a marathon on the 3rd of July. Last year I did just a single sprint triathlon at 500m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run, without having any particular problems with the distance. Before that sprint triathlon I did a self-paced sprint triathlon of the same distance to better understand the distance without participating in an actual race.

In a half ironman a lot more unknowns enter the game. For instance:

  • nutrition
  • can I do the distance? In time?
  • which effort can I sustain over such a period of time?
  • what kind of training do I need?
  • what’s my current fitness level for this distance?
  • what do I still need to train?
  • all the stuff I haven’t thought of…

To have answers to have all these questions when I toe the line on the 3rd of July, I’ll be repeating a self-paced triathlon this year – except this time it will be a self-paced half ironman distance triathlon.

Should be loads of fun – you can come and join if you want – for the entire event or just part of it. Venues are:
* swim: sportfondsenbad Amsterdam Oost
* bike start: Sportfondsenbad Oost
* run start: to be decided

The event will take place on the 16th of April in Amsterdam, Netherlands for anyone who cares to join. The event can be found and tracked on:

http://www.endomondo.com/event/838098