Monthly Archives: August 2008

Training HOT Update

Since I began this heat acclimatization training back in June, I’ve finally begun to see some nice results. The Bay area has experienced some truly unbelievably hot weather this summer. I’ve never seen it reach 90+ or even 100 degrees in Palo Alto until this year. However, it’s perfect for preparing my body for hard efforts during Ironman.
Every Friday, I’ve chosen to run mid-afternoon at my favorite park. It’s immensely hot, and sometimes I feel foolhardy for training in such hot weather. I prepare my drinks and put extra electrolytes in them. I also back off considerably on pace or else I know I won’t make it. Hydration is extremely important and I begin hydrating before I feel thirsty. This has worked well to keep me going. Thankfully, I have also not felt dizzy or nauseaous during running, so a combination of hydration, electrolytes, and heat adaption is definitely working.
This last Friday was a big moment for me. I went out in 95+ degree heat and ran 2:28, finishing 5 loops of my favorite hill loop. I am finding that my mental endurance for the heat has grown a lot, and I don’t feel like quitting so much any more due to the oppressiveness of the high temps.
On loop 3, I did begin to worry. One of my discoveries during training in heat was that my legs tend to stiffen up. I think my fascia is protesting the heat and the extra stress it’s putting on my body and it starts to lock up and make bending my legs during running a sore affair. I try to loosen up always with some kickbacks during my running and that seems to help. So on loop 3, my legs begin to lock up and I’m worried because I’ve got 2 more loops to do and I’m wondering whether or not I’m gonna make it.
Miraculously on loop 4, my legs loosen up completely. No more tight fascia at all. Weird. In fact they loosen up so much that I’m able to increase pace for both loops 4 and 5 and am able to complete a nice negative split workout.
All this in 95+ degree weather. Very happy!
I’m not sure that Ironman Florida will be a hot affair. In past years, I’ve been really lucky at Ironmans that the days have been relatively mild, with the exception of Ironman Austria where the temps were in the mid 80s. But surely I am prepared for a hot race day, as I usually hit the run around 2pm where the day is the hottest.
High temps have been the bane of my racing career and for the first time I think I’m relatively prepared for a hot race day. And if not a hot day, then I’ll enjoy running faster in cooler temps.

Overtrained Week 3

I went to the doctor this last Wednesday. He thinks it may be some kind of mild constriction of the lung’s airways, most likely due to some allergy or some other trigger. I got an inhaler and have been using it the last few days. Amazingly, it has started to clear up almost immediately. Now that more air is coming in, my HR is getting more mitigated and back to normal. I am testing out higher effort workouts now.
Yesterday I went out for a 2.5 hour run. It was about 94 degrees and I intended to do 5 loops of my favorite hill run. On the last two loops, I was able to push it and complete the loops faster than my first 3. Breathing didn’t feel bad at all.
Today I went out for a 4:22 ride. I climbed Kings Mountain twice, both with some suggested intervals in the beginning of the climb, with the rest of the climb being at constant power. This also felt OK and I didn’t feel too much breathing restriction during the beginning intervals.
Thankfully, I think I’m pulling quickly out of this predicament. I have about 8 weeks left until Ironman Florida and need to build aggressively for the next 5-6 weeks to peak, and then have about a 2-3 week taper before the race.

Overtrained Week 2

I’m into week 2 of my overtrained state. I did nothing for 4 days, and then yesterday I went for a test swim as I was going stir crazy. Besides, I am big on active recovery and not just sitting around. I took it very easy, and then tested some very short sprints (25m). HR climbed up but didn’t feel like my heart was pounding. I suppose that’s a good sign.
Slowly but surely the weird feeling in my lungs is subsiding a bit. I seem to be ok sustaining aerobic workouts, but haven’t tested threshold workouts and probably won’t until at least next week.
First order of business is to get this feeling out of my lungs and just get back to some state of normalness. Then I can ramp again.
The worst thing for athletes is to just sit around. We always want to do something. But sometimes we need to heal and recover. I just keep telling myself that.
I’m going for a 1.5 hour run today and seeing how things go.

Overtrained Arg!

Well, I did it.
I managed to put myself into an overtrained state. Good thing to have caught it early and not have it drag deeper into an overtrained state or else it would probably take longer to get myself out of.
In some ways, it really sucked because I didn’t know how much my body could take before getting into an overtrained state. I looked back over the last few weeks of training and know that I was doing a lot of swim sprint workouts, matched with run workouts that had hard, long intervals in them for stamina building, and I was working my way through a bike threshold series which was supposed to increase my tolerance for high heart rates for longer periods of time. Then on the weekends, I would run and bike long which didn’t allow for my body to recover enough.
It was too much.
Last week, I sensed I was feeling a bit overworked and resolved to do a lower workout week (which we should all do every 4-5 weeks) to let the body regroup. But heading to NYC on the redeye and being jetlagged, plus having early morning activities, meant that I was sleeping very little and my recovery was hampered by that. I went for a swim on the day I got off the redeye and felt something give in my lungs.
After that, I seemed to remain in that state where you feel like you did a long, hard workout the day before, except that it feels like that every day no matter what you did.
Still I went for a 1.5 hour run as part of my reduced week, as well as a two hour bike. Both were an easy ride and run and I didn’t test my aerobic system too much, but in the days after it still felt like I was not all back to normal, able to handle the next day’s workouts.
Of course, I hated to admit it to myself but I really needed to take as many days off as possible to get this feeling out of my lungs and my body. So I sit here, typing a blog entry instead of doing a workout.
One of the hardest things for a triathlete to do is to not workout and truly recover. I know I won’t lose much fitness, and more importantly I need to recover. However, I can’t shake the feeling that maybe I’ll lose something more.
Threshold workouts are tempting; you really push hard and feel like you’re doing something good. But too many without sufficient recovery put me here now. This coupled with my age and my body’s ability to grow into these types of workouts meant that my body just could not keep up and now it’s overtrained and needs rest and recovery time. It’s all trial and error frustratingly, although I did sense that I was overdoing it. I’ll have to watch the warning signs and my intuition more closely in the future.

More Free Speed

Some more speed that is “free”. Stuff I haven’t tried though. Seems like it’s all about golf ball dimples:
Zipp Tangente Clincher Tires
Clincher tires developed in a wind tunnel, featuring golf ball dimples!
Rocket Science Sports Dimpled Water Bottles
Dimples on your water bottles reduce drag!
Nike Swift Spin Time Trial Suit
Nike’s Project Swift incorporates dimpled surfaces on time trial bike suits to reduce drag. Lance Armstrong and the USPS team wore this suit at the Tour de France. Where can I get one?!?!?! Don’t think you can get one anywhere! Read way too much about the science of drag from Bike Tech Review.

Free Speed

A buddy of mine once remarked that you should get free speed whenever you can get it.
What’s free speed? Well, it’s not really free. It’s just speed you gain from means other than physically improving for it. That means paying cash for it mostly. But at least you don’t have to sweat for it!
Racing technology has improved greatly. Everything gets tested in wind tunnels to eeke out that last bit of efficiency. The basic idea is to slice through the air more cleanly and to reduce turbulence exiting out the back side.
Here are some ways to get free speed, and also empty your wallet in the process!
Aerobars help you be more aerodynamic simply because you’re not upright against the wind. You can relax in a more aerodynamic position and revel in your arms not getting tired holding yourself up and just pedal! Some aerobars are also flattened like wings and are theoretically more aerodynamic than those made of round tubes.
Aero wheels
Deep dish wheels and disc wheels are more aerodynamic than those with thinner rims. One disadvantage is that against crosswinds they can whip you around the road or even blow you over. On the other hand, disc wheels have been shown to have a “sail” effect against some angles of crosswind, giving you an actual speed boost. Cool!
Aero bike frame
Round bike tubes have been the standard on bike frames. Then somebody put flattened wing like tubes on bike frames and found out that made bikes more aerodynamic. Recent wind tunnel tests have shown other types of aggressive frame shapes can be more aero than others. Spring for that cool Trek Madone that Lance Armstrong rode or Specialized Transition TT Bike. Wow! Or “settle” for a Cervelo P3C.
Aero helmet
Guess what: your head is a big wind drag! Buy an aero helmet and feel the air peel around your head in aerodynamic glory! Normal bike helmets can’t compare.
Less weight
The less poundage you drag along with you, the less energy you waste dragging your butt up hills or accelerating. This includes your weight and whatever you carry with you on your bike. Carbon fiber everything!
Tight clothes
Loose, flappy clothes just hold you back. Buy clothes that hug your body. Get muscle compression benefits too! But watch out for cutting off your circulation – racing on numb limbs is not fun!
Bento box
That little bento box sitting behind your handlebars has a slight aerodynamic increasing effect. It smooths out airflow off the stem area.
Water bottles
Some folks are making aero water bottles. Good for shorter races, but not that great when you’re finishing bottles and tossing them on longer races. MIT cyclists have found that if you put a water bottle on the seat tube cage, it increases aerodynamics for those with non-aero seat tubes.
Definitely wear one on the swim. It makes you float higher, and your body more slippery. I wish they would make the new Speedo Fastskin Pro easier to take off – great for swim only races but terrible for triathlon transitions! Don’t wanna rip a bodysuit that costs $400!
Have fun getting faster without working out harder, and feel your bank account drop like a rock!

I Hate Wild Animals

I hate wild animals.
Ever since I got molested by a monk seal off the Big Island of Hawaii, I just hate wild animals. Can’t stand encountering them in the wild. Don’t want them near me.
This last Friday, I was running in Rancho San Antonio. I was about 1:30 down in my 2:30 run and I was in my second half of my negative split. I proceeded to enter into my favorite hill loop on Coyote Trail. I feel pretty good and am maintaining a good clip up to the top and right before the top, half in the trail lays about a third of a big ass rattlesnake!
I screeeeeech to a halt.
I see the rattle itself; it’s almost 3 inches long and the tail it’s attached to is about 2 inches thick. Crap I thought, I don’t want to get bit! I look at it. It’s just laying there. No movement at all. Is it dead? Or just laying there in the sun. But rattlesnakes are pretty sensitive; it should have picked up my stomping up to it well before I saw it. Still, it’s just laying there. Taunting me? About to spring a trap on me? Should I move closer? Check it out? Maybe it’s dead. The rattle isn’t rattling. Don’t rattlesnakes do that to warn off predators and stupid humans like me? Should I try to run past it and maybe it’s not fast enough to strike me if I’m sprinting past?
This all goes through my head in about 5 seconds.
I say no way. I do a 180 and hightail it out of there back the way I came. No way am I going to risk getting bit by a poisonous 4 foot rattlesnake!
I hate wild animals.
Last year in the fall, I was running in Rancho San Antonio again. I’m on the trail from the parking lot to the farm and I’m behind this other woman. We’re running along and all of a sudden, I hear this clopping of steps from ahead of us. It gets louder and louder and I realize it’s a doe, running at full tilt. About a length behind her is this buck, with about 7-8 points on its antlers. I see the woman ahead of me duck to the side and let them pass.
But then, the doe flashes past me and the next thing I see is…antlers! Crud! I leap aside and the buck just races past and my heart rate leaps as I realize that a full speed running buck, probably weighing a few hundred pounds, driving it’s antlers ahead of it would have probably put some big holes in my torso and tossed me 15-20 feet behind me. Ack!
I hate wild animals.
You know – you see them in zoos and in the movies. They look so tame and cute. They’re always doing good things.
But then reality hits. You see them in the wild and you realize they are really dangerous animals. All of them. Even the plant eaters. They are all schooled in kill or be killed. Us humans, we’re stupid. Spoiled. Can’t even put up a decent fight against a charging buck or a rattlesnake. Worthless.
I hate wild animals. I run as fast as I can the other way when I see ’em.