August 27, 2010

My injured quad update & some training & racing products

Since injuring my quad last Saturday I've taken it easy & am trying to ensure I'm all healed up by my next race on September 7th. I took Monday & Tuesday completely off, then the next 2 days I just rode my bike since cycling doesn't seem to affect my quad at all.

Today I'm scheduled to do a brick. I intend to bike as planned, then do 30 minutes of the elliptical to ensure I'm not losing any run fitness. I don't want to try & run for the 1st time on my quad after a bike ride, I'm afraid that would stress the quad & make me more likely to reinjure it or make it worse. On Saturday I'm going to try & run a little & see how the pulled quad is.

Yesterday I did a 2 hour bike ride with 1 hour 30 minutes in zone 3. I got a couple free packets of Hammer's HEED at a race not long ago & decided to use it during yesterday's ride. It had been about 3 years since I'd used a Hammer product. Just like last time when I used HEED I bonked HARD! Shortly after drinking the HEED I simply fell apart! This happens to me every time I use any Hammer hydration or nutrition products. I'm not saying Hammer products aren't good, because I think they are an amazing company, but for some reason my body just doesn't perform well at all when I use any of Hammer's nutrition or hydration. Particularly when I use their Perpetuem! From now on if I get any free Hammer nutrition I'm going to just give it away. There's no reason to ruin a workout just to save a little $!

If any of you out there are relatively new to endurance athletics I highly suggest you try using different brands of hydration & nutrition. Take detailed notes on how you feel during your workouts, how your speed & endurance holds up while using them, & how you recover while using that product. Make sure to use each product for a few weeks. Just a workout or two doesn't give you enough detail to compare products.

Not only have I taken a lot of time trying out different companies, but I've also done a lot of experimenting with gels versus bars versus Protein Bites. I find I feel just about the same during workouts when I use gels compared to bars, but I find I seem to heal a lot quicker when I use bars exclusively than I do when I use just gels. I seem to recover the best using Protein Bites. Cliff also has a protein bite type product out there that tastes like Whoppers & works great! Seriously delicious!

I've experimented with a lot of different hydration & nutritional products & out of all the brands I've tried the one that works best for my body is Powerbar. I seem to feel best & recover quickest on particularly hard or long workouts when I use their Powerbar Protein bites! Awesome product!

Speaking of experimenting with products geared for racing. I'm going to buy some Race Day Boost & try it out during the Patriot triathlon. Apparently I'm supposed to start taking Race Day Boost 3-4 days before my race & it helps an athlete go harder, fatigue less, etc. I've heard a lot about these little pills for a long time, so now I'm going to cave into the hype & try them. If I think they work for me I'll let you know, & if I think they don't work at all I'll post that too.

I won a free $25 gift card to the running hub here in Santa Fe at the AtomicMan duathlon in April. I've narrowed what I'm going to buy to 2 products:
Another pair of Brooks Adrenaline, which is my favorite shoe to train in. Or
A pair of Zoot Ultra Speed triathlon specific racing shoes!

Right now I'm leaning towards the Zoot Ultra Speed's since I'm training & racing for sprint distance triathlons. In sprint distance triathlons knocking off just a few seconds is HUGE because the races are so short. I can't count the number of times that I've finished 10 seconds in front of or behind someone in my age group at a sprint triathlon, where as in Olympic to Iron distances I've only finished within 30 seconds of someone in my age group once.

The Zoot Ultra Speed (in theory) will increase my speed in transition because they are built to get on & off so quickly, & to be raced in with no socks. They are also supposed to increase run speed because they are so incredibly light. If I end up buying the Zoot's I'll let you Peeps know what I think of them after I race in them for the 1st time.

August 26, 2010

Diet maintnance: failed!

I had FINALLY got down to 187 pounds last week & had decided to try & maintain that weight for my upcoming A race, the Patriot triathlon on September 12th. I've never been able to maintain my weight before. I'm always either losing, or gaining weight.

Earlier this week I pulled my quad. I became frustrated & stressed having an injury occur this close to an A race, which led to Sunday night's eating bad foods in bad quantities. The dreaded comfort eating! I continued to do so until Tuesday night. I know 3 days of eating unhealthy isn't going to make me gain an unmanageable amount of weight & ruin months of weight loss, but it was upsetting to me nonetheless. From my 3 days of eating crap I'm going to need to spend about a week eating slightly below my metabolic rate to get back down to 187 again. This got me to thinking, & obsessing as I have a tendency to do. Since I'm already going to be dieting for the next week, & I'll be in the weight loss mode, I might as well continue the weight loss & get down to my all time #1 goal weight of 179!!! After all that's only 8 pounds less than what I was Sunday morning right? Since 179 is my all time weight goal & I'm so close I may as well crack the whip & get there right? If I start losing the weight now I'll be to my dream weight by the Silverman 70.3 in November, & that race has a ridiculous amount of hills, & everyone knows the most important aspect of hill climbing is low body weight! If I start losing now that's just shy of 1 pound a week of weight loss to hit my goal! After I get to my goal weight I can spend the rest of my life maintaining, so why maintain now for just a little while when I can do it forever starting in November?

If you frequent my blog you'll know my biggest problem as an athlete is staying focused on a goal. I'm constantly coming up with reasons & justifications to change my goals. Here's just another example of this. But the decision has been made. My new & exciting goal is to get down to 179 pounds by the 1st week of November.

August 22, 2010

My first tri injury

On Friday while doing my last long hard run before my full blown taper I pulled my left quad. This surprised the heck out of me. Up to this point my body has been virtually bullet proof. After 6 years of hard training & racing I've only had one other injury, back in 2006. At that time I had just starting putting in some long runs of 15-18 miles & I wasn't tracking the miles on my shoes. An endurance athlete should always retire their shoes at the 500 mile mark. I didn't & put way to many miles on a pair, which caused an ITB injury.

Today I was able to bike comfortably, but unable to run without some pain. The pain wasn't intense but I could tell there would be problems if I pushed it.

To be honest with you, I simply don't have a metabolism made for endurance athletics. I'm naturally slow & fatigue quickly. My body was designed to be big, heavy, & strong. It was made to lift heavy objects, not for endurance or speed. Back in high school football I was one of the slowest runners on the offensive line. When in the military, & while on the prison CERT team I ALWAYS finished each run close to last. Without fail.

But once I did my 1st triathlon I knew I found my niche & passion. I also knew because of my lack of natural ability to be fast or have endurance I'd never be any good if I trained like everyone else. I had to learn the way my body worked & how to get the most from each & every training session. How to make my body recover faster, to learn about sports nutrition- figuring out the diet part of triathlon was a LONG HARD process filled with MUCH trial & error:'(. I've done my best to not just live an athletic lifestyle, but to become a student & practitioner of triathlon.

Injuries was never something I had to learn about, so right about now I'm feeling a little unsure of how to move on with my training. How long do I rest? Do I keep biking & swimming as planned or allow the quad complete recovery? When do I start running again? How quickly do I progress? I have a lot of unanswered questions with this pulled quad.

My next A race, the Patriot triathlon is in 3 weeks but isn't all that important of a race to me, so I'd rather be safe than sorry & make sure I'm able to race the Silverman half Iron in November.

Any suggestions & prayers would be greatly appreciated!

As always, thanks peeps. I'm always very grateful for your support & interest.

August 12, 2010

Taper time:-(

I love racing in sprint triathlons. I love training for them even more! I love the interval training, going hard, pushing myself to my limits! I love that I can race more frequently. I love that the shorter the race the more competitive I am.

A training program for half to full Irons last 6 months to a year. A great training program for a sprint only takes 3 months, so I can show up to more races in peak form. More great racing equals more fun! The only bad thing about sprints is I end up having to taper every 3 months!

I've started my taper for the Patriot triathlon. I'm always amazed how bad it sucks to get through a taper phase. Even though I've raised my calories to a weight maintenance level to ensure I'm fully fueled for the race, I'm ravenous all the time & having cravings for high calorie & odd foods. I've been cranky & hypersensitive. I'm having odd aches & pains pop up that weren't there before, my throat is sore. One minute all I want to do is go out and train hard & long, the next I'm laying in bed too tired to get up hours after my alarm has gone off. Tapering for a race sucks, it's a good thing having a break through race is so rewarding otherwise I'd be tempted to train hard all year.

August 10, 2010

My next A race

I'm getting pretty excited, my A race is coming up in a month. It's the Patriot triathlon in Rio Rancho on September 12th. I chose this race to be my late season A race because it is a hilly course & I'm REALLY HORRIBLE at hill climbing. I don't expect to have a high placing overall, perhaps not even in my AG because it is a hilly course, & like I've said, I struggle badly with anything larger than a speed bump. But I do think this race will be my best performance ever as far as hilly races go.

I think taking this time to become better at hills will make me a better triathlete next year, which is important because there are a few 30-34 AG's that are aging up to my division next season. One guy in particular I've been watching who will be aging up into my division is a fellow NM Outlaw named David Liotta. He & I first raced against each other at the Jingle Bell triathlon. He ran like a gazelle! I almost ruined my entire race trying to keep up with him on the run. I ended up able to pass him on the bike, & hold him off on the swim to finish slightly in front of him. Since the Jingle Bell we've showed up & raced at the same race 3-4 times & he's beaten me soundly at each one. He will be a huge challenge for me to compete with. I'm very excited to have someone of his ability & talent to race against. Him being in my division will be a huge motivator!

Now that I'm a month away from my A race I've switched to a maintenance diet. I had been attempting to lose half a pound to 1 pound a week. I'm now going to try & just maintain my weight so that I can show up fully recovered & fueled at the Patriot & throw a smack down for the 1st time on a hilly course!

Weight maintenance. That is the one area of endurance athletics I've failed at time after time after time! I've lost weight before & done great in a race or two because of it, but after the race I always ended up gaining the weight back. This January was the 3rd time I had dropped below 200 pounds, but this year is the 1st time I've ever been able to keep below 200 for longer than a month. Since January I've been gradually losing more weight, I'm now down to 187. Although this year I've been successful at staying below 200, I wasn't trying to maintain, I've been trying to lose more. I'm hoping the knowledge I've learned & applied to slowly drop the weight this year & not gain it back can now also be used to maintain. I'll keep my fingers crossed & I'll keep you informed. If there is any changes, or no changes at all I'll let you peeps know.

August 03, 2010

The proof is in the pudding

Today I did a time trial for training. I completed the time trial in 1 hour 4 minutes. My previous best time on the same course was 1 hour 16 minutes. That's a %17 increase in speed in 7 months. The difference between my biking & running speeds last year compared to this year is shocking! I've put on more speed in the last 7 months than I did the ENTIRE 5 years before that. What is so amazing to me is how little my training has changed in the last 6 years. Ok, the first 4 years I trained, I trained for long distance races, so the point could be made that the first 4 years of my training was long & slow training, & now that I'm training for the shorter distances I've gotten faster. But that doesn't explain why I got many many times faster in the last 8 months of sprint training than I did the 16 months of sprint training before that. I am going to tell you my secrets. There aren't many, & they aren't complicated.

January of this year I started a strength training routine. That has made HUGE differences in my speed. Before this year I thought as the traditional cyclist did: strength training is bad, it'll make me gain weight, make my legs feel sluggish & unable to move as fast, thus slowing me down. I was dead wrong!!! I do a relatively hard day of strength training for the legs & core one day a week, & 2 more moderate days of lifting on whatever muscle groups are my weak point.

The only other thing I'm doing this year that is different from other years is I am paying ABSOLUTE & STRICT ATTENTION to my post workout recovery aids. Those are:
-taking 32 grams of protein, 2 cups chocolate milk, vitamin E, vitamin C, multi-vitamin, & glutamine after every workout, before I go to bed, & 1st thing when I wake up (the chocolate milk is only eaten after workouts, not before bed or when I wake up).
-do my speed work on a treadmill. It forces the body to run at a faster speed than I could on track, and the body gets used to running fast, and then replicates it in races.
-ice bath after any speed day
-forcing myself to get more sleep. More sleep has helped both my speed & my metabolism. I've gotten faster, & even more importantly, I've lost a ton of fat from my body. 32 pounds of body fat to be exact.

That's it. That is every secret I have ever learned.

August 02, 2010

Chocolate milk, ice baths, and sleep, the best post workout combo!

This week I'm in annual training for work. My favorite day of annual training is Mondays because we shoot AR-15's & shotguns half the day, & go to the gym and have "mandatory workout time " at the end of the day. I always enjoy my mandatory workout day because I get to do the workout I would have done on my own at work while getting paid. By the time I get home from work my day of physical training is done & I can have the rest of the night with my family!

Today while at the gym I ran half mile sprints. 2 months ago I increased the distance of my sprints from quarter miles to half miles. The 1st month of half mile sprint training I did the way I have always done them: I went to the track, ran a half mile, then walked a quarter mile for recovery, repeat.

This month I decided to try something one of the fastest triathletes I've raced with, Davis Fairbanks, suggested. He told me to do my sprint training on the treadmill. The reasoning being when I'm used to running a half mile sprint at a 3:45 pace on a track I could get on a tread mill & force myself to run at a 3:30 min half mile. Apparently this new treadmill strategy works MIRACLES!!! At the end of June I was running on the track at a 3:45 half mile, and could push myself to a 3:30 half on the treadmill. Today I tried a 3:10 pace, & it was easy. On my next interval I tried a 3:05 pace, harder, but I wasn't hurting like I'm used to. I ran my last 3 half mile repeats at a 2:54 pace! That's a faster pace than I used to be able to run my quarter mile repeats! I was only scheduled for 5 half mile repeats. I was so excited I did 6. If I was smart & was thinking about the rest of my weeks training I would have stopped there, but I was PUMPED UP I decided to see what pace I could run quarter mile sprints at too. I ran 3 quarter mile sprints at a 1:22 pace!! That's a 5:28 one mile pace!!! The good news is I'm building a heck of a fast engine in this antique body. The bad news is I trashed my legs today & may have pushed myself so hard I may be so fatigued I may be unable to push myself as hard as I should on tomorrow's bike interval workout.

To ensure I recover enough to have a good workout tomorrow I'm doing a couple tried & true fast recovery techniques.

1) 24 ounces of the worlds most perfect post workout drink: chocolate milk! Seriously, it's been proven. I posted awhile back some of the articles I'd found on this subject.

2) The other miracle recovery technique is to rotate soaking 10 minutes in an ice bath as cold as I can get it, then 10 minutes in a hot bath as hot as I can stand. I usually continue to rotate 10 minutes of each until the ice water is no longer uncomfortably cold & the hot water is no longer uncomfortable hot. Tonight I got in 4 ten minute soaks in each one.

I don't soak in ice/hot baths very often because it makes my wife mad. I completely understand why it makes her mad: 1st I take all the ice we have in the house and dump it in a tub filled with nothing but cold water on one side of the house. Then I use ALL of the hot water in the water heater to fill up the bath tub on the other side of the house. Then I end up running butt naked through the house soaking wet between the 2 tubs that are on opposite sides of the house for an hour and a half soaking the floor, carpets, and everything else in the process. I try not to do this to our house-er- to my wife rather very often. Here's an article on ice baths:

3) the third miracle recovery technique I'll be utilizing is making sure I get enough sleep tonight. Depending on how tired I am I'm going to try & get 7-9 hrs tonight.

Hopefully I'll recover well enough today that I can be equally successful at tomorrows bike interval workout.