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…

Time for a New Social Network: Garmin Connect Upgrades

Over the past few years we’ve been presented with more and more options for tracking our training and racing performance. It’s also become increasingly easy to that and share your progress and/or connect with friends and foes.

Training log/social networks like Endomondo and Strava have thrived by making tracking readily available on smartphones, and at the same time make it pretty simple for owners of other devices – for instance from Garmin – to import their sessions to these services.

That might be about to change.

4 days ago Garmin quietly announced social features on their Garmin Connect training log service.

Garmin – probably the World’s leading manufacturer of devices for endurance sports and outdoor activities – has kept quiet for a long time while smaller and more agile services established impressive followings in record time. A fair chunk of those followings are Garmin users, so it was almost just a question of time before Garmin would launch similar features.

At the moment things are very basic at Garmin Connect, but the launch communication above shows promise of more – without being too ambitious or promising too much. Rather too little, I hope.

Anyway, if you own a Garmin get on it and try it out – I’m here!

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…

Where Can I Do Lap Swimming in Amsterdam?

Over the past few weeks I have gotten rather frustrated trying to find out which pool I could train at and at which times. You may think this is a rather easy task: Just find out when the pool nearest to you is open and go at that time, right?! Not so.

My days tend to change a lot from day to day, so going at the same time every day or week just isn’t an option. What IS an option is to go to whichever pool is open in the local area and train there. My local area is Amsterdam and what I’ve done is this:

  • Copied all the lap swimming times off of the schedules for the pools in the area;
  • Put them in a Google Calendar;
  • Sharing it with you right now.

You can find the end result here: http://swim.thusgaard.com. Let me know if you like it. Or not. And if you think it needs updating.

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.

Challenge Aarhus 2011: Age Grouper Race Report

On the 3rd of July it was finally time to toe the line at the inaugural Challenge Aarhus of 2011 – a half distance triathlon with 1km swim, 90km bike, 21,1km run. Months of training with hours of training per week was about to climax in what I hoped would be less than six hours of triathlon activity. Swim had been shortened for safety reasons due to low temperature (13,7C) so less than six hours looked very likely.

Slept OK the night before the race and woke up well in time for my race morning plan and could take the car to the start area with no stress. Good start of the day.

With three transition bags and a start bag packed and ready to go there was plenty of time to get all bags properly placed and change to my wetsuit for the start. So wetsuit was on at about 7.15 and from then on it was more than an hour wait to get into the water.
Finally it was time for my wave to make our way into the 13 degree celcius cold water. Even with a wetsuit that water felt very cold. One of the other guys in my wave had done all his open wate training in Indonesia. HE was feeling cold. Just a few minutes to the start now – everyone were eager to get going.

Tooooooot! And of we went. Man, that water was cold!! For the first 25 meters or so I just couldn’t seem to breathe right. It was as if the low temperature along with the sudden increased physical activity prevented proper breathing. That was a surprise. Anyway, the swim went fine. I’m not a very good swimmer, so because I don’t race up in front with the tough guys, I also tend not to get hit or kicked a whole lot. The water was pretty calm too, so 1000 not so eventful meters later I got out of the water, ready to transition to the bike.

Earlier this year I did a self supported half ironman as previously described here. Having done that and with two more months of training, I figured I’d have no problems getting through Challenge Aarhus. There’s half distance and there’s half distance, though. Challenge Aarhus proved to be a LOT hillier than the route I did in training. I guess I also did it a bit faster – maybe not so smart.

The bike section of Challenge Aarhus takes you through some of the most stunning scenery of East Jutland in Denmark – just truly spectacular. Add to it that participants get to ride the route completely without having to worry about other traffic than fellow participants. At the 2011 version of Challenge Aarhus the organization and volunteers took excellent care of participants on all legs of the race. On the bike that meant two major aid stations with all you can eat and drink energy.

The days leading up to the race had been fairly wet, but when we started on the bike it hadn’t been raining for a while and the roads were getting increasingly dry. Conditions proved excellent for cycling. I just took it easy going South through the forest and slowly build some speed. Just enjoyed the non-drafting cruise. Maybe I did increase the speed a bit too much, going too fast and spending too much energy on the hills South of Aarhus. I came back to the transition zone feeling a little tired, but ready for the run.

After a quick change to running gear I exited the transition tent for the last leg of the half distance – the half marathon. I’ve been living in Aarhus for several years, but I never thought of it as a hilly place – not the center of the city, anyway. This particular Sunday Aarhus had suddenly grown some hills. The Challenge Aarhus run had 3 laps, taking triathletes through the center of Aarhus – plenty of spectators watching for the fast guys – not so many when I passed by. Still the experience was great. With three aid stations along the route, the major challenge being the stairs of ARoS Museum of Art and plenty of participants struggling through the last bit of the race – everyone with the last little bit of energy just disappearing from the legs as they carried on putting one foot in front of the other. Just spectacular!

My run didn’t go so well. Well… I guess it went alright. Given the amount of training that I’d done, the hills on the bike and run course and my relative lack of experience with the distance, I guess it went pretty OK. Still, this marathon was quite a bit slower than my only experience with this triathlon distance so far. My guess is that I just wasn’t as good at taking in nutrition at the right times and that I maybe raced a bit too much on the bike leg. Or maybe it just was the hills on the run – and those stairs. Either way I managed to finish my half marathon strong – ran much faster the last few kilometers with each taking less than 5 minutes. Even outsprinted a few of my fellow participants going down to the finish and shot over the finish line to finish my first ever official half distance triathlon.

What had started in December of 2010 as one of these half crazy ideas and a bit of a dream of doing a long triathlon had finally become reality thanks to the crew and volunteers around Challenge Aarhus. My entire race was a magnificent experience from I signed up to the race until this moment where I sit and think back at the race. I hope the other triathletes at Challenge Aarhus 2011 will do that as well and think: I too was fantastic!

 

That concludes my Challenge Aarhus experience – other race reports can be found here:

Peter Raahauge

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)

Set Conservative Goals !

When you set your goals, set them conservatively – not boldly! Don’t over-reach – make sure to be realistic and avoid pushing yourself too far!

When you set your goals, set them conservatively – not boldly! It’s a fine balance: push yourself, but not too far!

Recently participated in the half marathon across Storebælt in Denmark. It’s interesting – when you sign up for these kinds of races they always ask you what kind of time you have in mind that you’ll do. That’s done in order to let the fastest runners start first, then the 2nd fastest, then the slower and so on… and that’s all good and great.

The fun part is that it makes you think about your goal time amd then gets you thinking about how to get there. Trouble is that the sign up is so long before the actual event that – unless you know your own build-up very well – predicting how you’ll do becomes a somewhat difficult matter. I signed up for Broløbet 2011 almost 6 months in advance. 6 months out there was no telling what might happen in-between the date I signed up and raceday. All sorts of stuff could have happened that should have led me to change my goal time up or down.

In addition, if you’re on a new course, that might make the task even more complicated. How steep are the hills and how long? Will you have long stretches where wind might play a part – oh – and how will the wind be on raceday?? What if it rains, snows, is just really cold or just really warm???

Admitted the latter wasn’t much of a concern in Denmark’s late May, on bridge in the middle of the ocean. It could get pretty cold…

Now, I set my goal time in December and as with the ironman I’ve been testing myself to see if I could at all do that kind of time in a half marathon. I was pretty set to go and do my goal time and had actually officially taken on a challenge with my brother in law that if he’d go for a personal record, then I’d do then I’d do the same. But even if I was all set external factors could still screw it up.

Take a good friend of mine, Lasse. He had been training for this race in his first full running season after putting the running shoes back on. He’d set a goal and training went well – but then he got injured; running in the wrong type of running shoes did that to his training. Some time went by for recovery, he got himself some good advice on running shoes and got back into training – which went really well.

After a training session he and I had in February he started adding kilometers to get to half marathon distance. It went well, but fairly soon he had another injury, prompting him to consider whether he might even have to abandon the race. Eventually he did the race and performed better than he had thought in the beginning of the year, but maybe not as he could have been had he avoided injury.

My point is this: When you are an endurance athlete with jobs and parenting to be done, both of which will take priority over your sport, you can benefit from setting conservative goals and be happy when you reach them. Conservative goals will largely ensure you don’t over-train, over-reach or get injured. They will make sure that you will be able to get better, reach your goals, stay healthy and fit to set new goals for the next season, where you can set new goals – conservatively improving on the year before.

Road to Challenge Aarhus: Can You Do It?

In this post I’ll cover learning and observations from a self-supported half ironman. I’ll relate it to the time I train and share what I plan to improve at the Challenge Aarhus half ironman triathlon in July 2011.

I think one of the most intimidating aspects of endurance sports on longer courses is the question that pops up every now and again with most people: Can I Do It?
That goes for any run distance beyond 10km all the way up to marathon and, even more so, ironman distance triathlons and ultraruns.

While I like a good challenge, I just don’t want to be toeing the line on raceday not knowing if I can do the distance. Therefore, if I have the chance, I put in a race distance training of my own to confirm to myself that I can in fact do the distance. In addition that’s an excellent way of checking your weak spots or things that don’t work, like nutrition, pacing, etc.

On 16/4 I pulled myself through a half ironman triathlon (70.3 to some) on my own – with a bit of help on the run. It was a great experience and important for me to highlight what will and what will not work at the Challenge Aarhus half ironman in July this year. This is the full race report including things I learned.

Got the day started at about 6:00 a.m. with a huge bowl of oat meal. Wanted to make sure to get enough carbs in long before the start. This worked well for me!

The swim got started at about 09:30 and was fairly uneventful as it should be. I did a pool swim, so that will be different in Aarhus. I think the waves will be limited there, though, and it’s a wetsuit swim too, so if anything it should be easier. I just very much dislike swimming far in salt water. The salty taste just gets in everywhere. Here’s my time for the swim.

Having finished the swim, I did a brief shower and changed into my trisuit, went to “T1” (aka my car), got the bike out, put on some cycling specific clothes to keep warm, and then left. That transition took about 23 minutes.

For the bike I had myself a plan of staying calm, keeping the heart rate below 140. That worked well – I managed to resist the urge to start hunting down other cyclists. In addition the nutrition plan was to take in 500ml drink every hour and an energy bar every 35-40 minutes. That worked well too, and I had no energy dips while on the bike. Interesting, as always, to see the heart rate increase temporarily around meals. Did start to feel a bit tired when I got within 20km of T2, so I had an extra energy bar and reduced speed to give the body a break before the run. Here’s the time for the bike.

Back at T2 I took the front wheel off the bike, put it in the car, changed from cycling top to running top, running shoes on and grabbed the drinks, gels, and some salt tablets for anti-cramp purposes. It wasn’t a hot day, but I wasn’t sure if I’d cramp up, so before the run I had a single salt tablet just in case.

Now info tue run. Immediately felt a bit of pain in my left leg which quickly subsided. The pace was relatively high for being about 4 hours of activity into the event, and things were looking pretty bright. Had a gel around the 5km mark and continued to follow my nutrition plan and drink energy drink from the fuel belt bottles. Shortly before the half way mark I noticed that I had started to look more frequently at my Garmin 310xt – I took that as a sign of getting more tired. At this point I should have probably gobbled up another gel, but I didn’t.
The next 8-9 kilometers I kept pushing out sub-5:30 kilometers, but with energy stores being depleted it was only a matter of time before I would crack. On kilometer 20 I couldn’t keep it up any more and dropped the pace by 30 seconds per kilometer, while watching my Garmin all the time. Needless to say these 2.1 final kilometers were the toughest of the entire day. Here’s the time for the run.

I made it!! All sorts of triathletes had told me I should NOT do a half ironman as part of my training due to risk of injuries and too long recovery. But all that is important experiences for me to have, so I needed this training. Now that I have it, I know a few pitfalls and how to avoid them. I know the distance and that I will make it. I know the energy food and how I react to it.

In so many words, I know how to be better on raceday than I would have been if I hadn’t tested myself.

If you’re wondering how I train to get the result above and to put things in perspective relative to training volume: I train just about 5 hours per week. Right now I have a swim session, two run sessions and maybe a bike session per week, but that could change. The reason I mention this is that most triathletes will tell you that 5 hours per week is not enough to do a half ironman.

Well, I say it is – if you train smart and injury free. We’ll see how things go in Aarhus.

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.