Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I'm no stranger to clearing things out. For the past couple of years I've done at least one liver/gallbladder flush and at least one kidney cleanse. But this time I'm also going to work on clearing out my intestines and then progressing on to the other two cleanses. The reason for this is simple. If I can clear out all of the crap in my system that these organs deal with then they will function better and I will be a healthier human being. From the perspective of this blog, what this means to me as a triathlete, by clearing out and improving the function of these bodily systems, my body will be able to handle the by products of training (read waste products).
We start with the digestive system because this is where it all begins. If your digestion is less than optimal, then everything goes south from there. For starters it is estimated that as much as 60% of your immune function resides in your gut function, and as endurance athletes we all know what that means. If your digestion is less than optimal, then your immune system function suffers. This means the potential for infection or allergy is heightened and the potential for unscheduled downtime is greater.
The other thing is if the digestion is affected and sub par then the liver and kidneys have to work harder to do their jobs. So once the digestion is supported then I'll turn my attention to the other two organs. So while this is going on my workouts are quite gentle, but frequent. Today there were two runs and two swims. The first was 30-35 min The second one was 15 min on the treadmill. The first swim was with T3 and about 90 min. The second one was 30 min of drills.
Friday, December 24, 2010
I'm not really sure what to say about this race. The picture above is pretty representative of my day. I'm not in the picture, but I know how these folks felt. I spent my whole day wondering where the heck I was and what I was doing there. I suppose my finish time of 15:01 could be a source of disappointment. I was shooting for something in the range of 12:30 - 13:30 based on my estimated level of fitness going into the race. But this is triathlon and things happen. And a race is so much more than the sum distance of each of its events. And that is what keeps us going back for more. At least that is what keeps me going back anyway.
What I think I'll take away from this race is the fact that I overcame a whole new level of negative thinking plaguing me throughout the day. I've been doing tri's, running and cycling events for a long time and I don't think I've ever experienced anywhere near the volume and duration of negative thinking going on in my head as I moved through IMAZ.
It started with the swim. I was prepared for the cold water. The water is always cold in IMAZ. What I was not prepared for was not being able to sight or rely on swimmers who could sight in order to move around the course. I'm not lying when I say I only saw about 4 buoy's on the entire course and that I resigned myself pretty early on to just swim from bridge to bridge and back again in my own personal approximation of 2.4 miles.
But I made it out of the water about 12 minutes slower than last year. Seeing that probably started the negative thinking but there were some positive take aways:
1. Less overall fatigue coming out of the water
2. No hamstrings destroyed from swimming with massive cramping like last year
3. I felt stronger in the water and felt like I was moving further per stroke (next year we will focus on swimming in a straight line)
Out on the bike were where my inner demons really began to take hold. It was windy. Really, really windy. And it was cold. And even though I'd just used the bathroom my bladder was full. Again. So aside from the wind, I would need to stop about ever 15 to 20 minutes or so to empty it for the entire first loop of the bike. And when I wasn't going to the bathroom, there was always the wind.
At the end of the first loop, my bladder calmed down and I put in a solid bit of riding, I was catching and passing everyone that I'd been losing time to during the first loop and this was fun. I wasn't tired and even though I wasn't enjoying the wind I didn't seem to be slowing me down too much. Then the water bottle cages behind my seat fell off. This had 2/3 of my nutrition so I went back to pick it up and search for the pieces to put it back together. I found them and rode holding everything to the next aid station where I got a set of hex wrenches from one of the volunteers and put the cages back together.
Somewhere at the beginning of my third loop, I put the seat cages came apart again from a different bolt. This time I was not near an aid station and had to ride for a few miles before I spotted a couple of cyclists watching the race and asked them for the necessary tools, which thankfully they had but it was slow going putting the mount back together this time because some parts were bent. But I was able to rig everything together and get going once again.
Because my nutrition was good and in the right amounts I was feeling stronger and stronger on the ride and I was actually picking up the pace even though at times I was riding through rain, hail and even at one point, a sandstorm. Then at mile 104, I had a flat. Somewhere with all of the trouble with my bottle cages I'd lost my spare and tools so I had to wait for a repair vehicle to assist me. After they changed the tire we were unable to inflate it because I no longer had a valve extender. So I sat for what seemed like for ever until a guy with the exact same wheel set as mine came along and loaned us his.
Tire inflated, I road the last 8 miles into transition and seriously considered quitting. Physically I was fine but psychologically I was spent and frustrated. My time goal was now completely out of reach. I wanted to hand my chip and number to the nearest volunteer and go bath and go to bed. As I sat in the changing tent, for some reason I remembered that my grandfather had never seen me race. For some reason this got me moving with the thought of "Lets just see how this goes..."
One the run I made sure to stay aerobic and take in nutrition and hydrate. I also followed my overall plan of not having any water during the day and drinking only electrolyte drinks. I didn't break any land speed records but I was able to run most of the marathon except for a few time where I had a bit of IT band pain or got some coke. The IT band pain really didn't start up until about mile 25 so at that point I walked a bit to loosen the leg then jogged the last 300 meters or so across the finish. Technically without the mechanicals, I would have finished in range of my goal time but given the day I was having, I'm surprised I kept racing at all. I have lots build on for next season. And I now know that I'm pretty mentally tough. Plus my nutrition was perfect both in execution and nutritional make up. I was never hungry the whole day and I didn't cramp at all. That alone was worth finding out.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
I'm not sure why I like this picture a friend took of me at Longhorn, but I do. Perhaps because it represents how I felt during the race, clear on my reasons for being there, but just a bit out of focus.
I had quite a bit go right last weekend but I also had some things go wrong. First and foremost what went really right. I really want to thank Chef Dina Knight for assisting me with my race prep, nutrition and post race recovery. For a race where I ate nothing but raw natural food and drank absolutely no water, I must say I'm stunned. When Dina said, "Remember, NO WATER today!" To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. But her reasoning was sound. Water, she said, would throw off the nutrient electrolyte balance in my system and hinder performance. Okay, I was sold. Nothing to do but go out and test that theory in the field during a Half IM. I have to admit, I think it worked.
This was the first race I can remember not having to deal with at least the "threat" of a muscle cramp. I was also not thirsty all day. This isn't to say I didn't drink. On the bike I had coconut water. On the run when I ran out of that, I had gatorade.
My swim felt effortless and I came out of the water about 30 seconds ahead of what I'd done last year. My transition was also faster which I chalked up to being less taxed on the swim. I've been going to a stroke clinic so I'm gonna place the credit for the effortless swim there. Thanks Coach Maurice over at T3!
Heading out of T1 I noticed my I'd dropped my chain. I'm not sure how long I took getting it back on but that and a bathroom break at about mile 20 were the only things that really slowed me down. I had a goal to keep my heart rate aerobic on the bike, so I let most of the steep climbs come to me versus attack them. I kept a steady cadence and managed to cruise through about 5 miles every 14:30 during the first half of the bike. The back half is a bit more challenging coming back into the wind and some gradually climbs but I was still moving at about 15min for every 5 miles while keeping my heart rate around 148.
At the time I thought that was pretty good, but in retrospect I perhaps should have kept my heart rate on the bike at about 145. The second half of the bike was definitely more challenging than the first and around mile 50 I was feeling some fatigue in my legs even though I was maintaining the same pace without too much extra effort.
Out of T2 my legs felt tired but they were turning over and my stride seemed normal. I have to attribute coming off the bike with any turnover at all to the work I've done on my running form with yoga and to Chef Dina's nutrition plan. This has to be the first time I've ever raced with a completely full tummy.
The first half of the 13.1 mile run went "OK" but somewhere around mile eight I really started to struggle and my legs just felt toasted. I was having problems with my left shoe which was causing me to alter my running form. This in turn was punishing my left IT band. I kept stopping to deal with the shoe and finally decided to take it easy on the off road sections and walk a bit on those rather than risk a more serious injury.
After the off road stuff was done on the second loop, I focused on my form and foot placement and jogged the rest of the way in. All in all it was a solid effort. I had a great swim and bike and my nutrition and hydration seemed in line. My aerobic fitness is continuing to progress and I have a load of information to process and take into Arizona and next season.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This weekend I'm doing the Longhorn 70.3 race in Austin. In some respects I feel completely under prepared for this race. The odd thing about this is I've been training consistently but with all of the changes I've made to my diet and lifestyle this year my confidence is all over the map. So far I've just decided to look at the bright side. And the bright side is I know my endurance is improving daily. I've been running consistently. And I'm leaner than I've been in years. My diet is good so I'm just gonna take those things and call my overall year a win.
Today, I had a pretty light training load. I slept in until almost 9am, got up and made a vanilla, avocado smoothie for breakfast (about 800 calories that took me the better part of an hour to finish off) then did some household chores. At about noon I took a nap. My first workout was at 3pm which was a tempo workout on the bike. This was 60 minutes and the effort was there whether I wanted it or not. It was pretty windy out and I worked with a larger gear than I would normally push under those conditions.
When the wind was at my back, I tried to spin out of my biggest gear to work my cadence. All in all the effort was solid. I could have done more but stuck with an hour and went home and had my first dinner before my swimming workout.
Dinner consisted of marinated mushrooms, lentil mash, mushroom gravy, some stuffing, and green tea. About 450 calories.
Swimming was about 90 minutes with swimming interspersed with a healthy dose of drill work mainly consisting of sculling and catch up drills with a bit of balance stuff thrown in for good measure.
After that was a snack along with my second dinner which was basically identical to the first dinner before my swim but the snack added an additional 150 calories. My total caloric intake for the day was about 2300. My calories expended during exercise were about 2000
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Here is some of the food I had today:
Monday, August 16, 2010
So this year I've been training smarter. And I've focused most of my attention though on some days or weeks it has seemed, all of my attention, on diet and recovery. This year I wanted to see how far I could take my fitness gains if I worked my training from the other side of the equation. Instead of breaking my body down and allowing it to recover, I decided to build my body up physically and nutritionally first then exploit this heightened "wellness" to then train harder and longer.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
So there was no training today. Well that's not entirely true. I spent the afternoon and early evening "training" with vegan/raw food chef Dina Knight. She is working with me to optimize my nutrition while simultaneously reducing my food preparation time. No small feat. But she managed to help me organize my kitchen and show me how to make these tasty raw fajitas.
Monday, July 5, 2010
So now that I'm back from Colorado the real training begins. For the most part I've really just been tooling around running and riding and swimming without too much stress placed on the body except for the normal amount of stress that comes with the accumulation of increased volume over time. And I have to say I'm pretty happy with the results I've created from my decision to train in this manner. This is the first season I can remember where I've managed to stay healthy and motivated and so I'm actually looking forward to racing later this year.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
5000 feet of climbing in the first 50 miles. 1700 calories burned in the first 20 miles. Fred, you are no longer in Texas.
This was hands down the toughest 100 mile ride I've ever done. But I have to say the work I've done so far on technique and at MAF is paying off.
Now when I get back home I'll begin my first round of testing to move into a more race structured bit of training.
Happy Father's Day everyone!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
"Did you make the gain?"
- First Loop - 35:00.4 Ave HR 120 Max HR 135
- Second Loop - 35:07.8 Ave HR 124 Max HR 137
- Third Loop - 31:57 Ave HR 124 Max HR 135
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Aside from talking to folks in my yoga classes about getting and staying aero on the bike, I've been spending a lot of time watching triathlon bike footage on the internet. This has really helped me in my thinking about what it takes to have and comfortably maintain good aero positioning on the bike.
Some components of the position are:
- a strong and stable core.
- open hips.
- Length in the hamstrings.
- Open shoulders.
- Space in the front body/hip flexors.
This next pose we will explore in this series is a bang for your buck pose if ever there was one. The traditional pose is an forearm balance called Pincha Mayurasana. But we don't need to come into the full expression of that pose for our purposes. As is the case with most yoga poses, sometimes the preparatory pose is more beneficial (read challenging) in developing the attributes of strength, muscular integration and access we are looking for than the actual full expression of the pose itself.
Pincha Mayurasana is no exception. If you've been following along through the last couple of posts in this series we can move easily from Bakasana or Crow Pose into Pincha Mayurasana prep. Of course you can do all of this work as stand alone poses or you can put them together during a strength workout or a stretching routine to augment other work.
From Crow Pose, you would bring the feet back to the floor and come back into the original squat we started out in. From here you would come to your hands and knees with the palms under the shoulders. Then lower the elbows to the ground keeping the forearms parallel to one another. You want to make sure you keep the forearms from rotating inward to one another. They should rest flat on the floor extending out in a straight line from the elbows. Keeping this alignment will be important as we come into Pincha Mayurasana prep as the alignment is what promotes the shoulder opening we are working toward. If you have tight shoulders perfectly parallel forearms might not be possible but you want to keep the arms as close to this ideal as comfortably possible.
Once you have your forearms situated, you will keep your gaze up between your hands as you raise your hips toward the ceiling straightening your legs. At this point you will walk the feet in a few inches. The head will naturally drop but keep the eyes forward looking in between the hands. You want to use your forearms and engage them from the hands all the way back into the elbows. This will create the lift as you engage the core to facilitate the posture.
Try to hold this pose anywhere from 5 to 8 breaths. Come out of it by bending the knees and lowering back to the ground. You will want to repeat this posture 3 to 5 times. As you get better and your shoulders, hips and hamstrings open up and your core gets stronger, you can add more challenge/intensity by raising a leg in the air.
Ultimately, as you gain strength and your body opens, you will be able to use the raised leg to bring the hips over the shoulders. At this point the full expression of the pose can be explored. But if all you want to do is be more comfortable on the bike, what I've shown you here will be more than adequate for your training.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Recently, I was asked by one of my students if there was anything they could do to help them get ready for staying in aero position on the bike for long races like 70.3 and the Ironman distance. I smiled and told him, "Yes."
I don't think he knew what he was asking for when he asked if we could spend a couple of classes working on being comfortable for long periods of time in aero position. Last month I wrote about a pose called Malasana, or Garland Pose, which is essentially a deep squat. At any rate, we were using Malasana in order to both open the hips and experience a greater connection to our feet which can be useful in running for moving with greater ease (especially after a hard bike leg) and generating more power resulting from greater range of motion.
Like many yoga poses Malasana can be a preparation for or a segue into other more challenging but very useful poses. And as it turns out it can also be a great beginning to an exploration of getting and staying aero on the bike. So what we are going to do over the next few posts is move from Malasana into a few more poses that can be added in sequence to promote the necessary bodily transformations that can make long bike legs less difficult from a positioning standpoint which in turn, ultimately, can lead to more efficient runs.
The next pose we explore in our sequence of aerodynamic building yoga poses is a pose called Bakasana or Crow Pose. The reason this pose is so important in our quest for aerodynamics is that it can promote the necessary core integration we need to support our torso out on the aerobars. Although in yoga Bakasana is an arm balance and when you first see it you might think it is a pose for strengthening the arms. Nothing could be further from the truth. By and large arm balances in yoga are core cultivators. And for our purpose of getting aero and being comfortable on the bike, Bakasana can train us to properly engage our core to provide the "lift" we need to comfortably maintain a flat back.
To come into Bakasana, we start in Malasana - a deep squat with our heels together. Place your palms on the floor out in front of you about a foot and a half away from your feet. You want your knees up even with your triceps. Shift your body forward bringing your weight fully onto your hands. Bending your elbows keep shifting more and more of your weight into your hands while keeping head up and your gaze on the floor in front of you. With your body centered over the palms, try bringing one foot off the ground. Engaging your core by bringing your navel in and up toward the spine as though you are lifting and filling the area near the kidneys with air. It is this internal movement that provides the lift in the hips and keeps the knees high up on the triceps. Technically for our purposes, you could stop at this point and work the pose by alternating between lifting your right and left feet off the ground and bringing them up toward your hips. Trust me 3 to 5 reps with each foot is a workout.
If you are comfortable with balancing on your hands and have no problem with the pose while one foot is on the ground, then try taking both feet off the ground at the same time. Again, be sure to keep your head up with your gaze out in front of you and in between your hands. If you have open hips and can get the sense of lift through your core you may find you are able to get quite a bit of height in the pose. If so try holding the pose for about 6 to 8 unhurried breaths before bringing our feet back to the ground.
If for some reason the arm balance doesn't work for you, say balance is an issue, or you have weak wrists, you can still reap the benefits of the pose by taking the balance aspect out of it and practicing Bakasana on your back. In fact almost all yoga arm balances can be practiced while on your back allowing you to strengthen the core as you work your way up toward practicing the actual arm balance.
Coming into Bakasana on your back is very similar to practicing it upright. Start with your heels together and your knees apart. Your back will be flat against the ground. First you will rotate your pelvis up toward the ceiling which will cause your knees to rotate toward your shoulders. Now, as if you were doing crunches, bring your shoulders off the floor and move the torso up toward your knees. Hook your elbows on the insides of your knees and draw your navel down and in toward your spine. This will assist in deepening the fold. Hold the position for anywhere from 4 to 8 breaths, then relax. Repeat the movement 3 to 5 times.
Working Bakasana regularly, aside from being a neat trick you can show your Tri-minded friends, will give you the core awareness and integrity that we will need for the next pose in our aero building sequence. There aren't to many issues with practicing Bakasana other than wrist issues and fear of falling so if you have any reservations, try the version where you explore the pose on your back for a while. I actually find that version more difficult. Until next time, train well....
Monday, February 22, 2010
The subtitle for this post "could be" Triathlon Taoism 101. Last week I was getting ready to go to the track with the Wed night RunTex group. I teach a short yoga class after this workout which is in retrospect the only reason I should have been there.
"Deal with it before it happens
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I like to do my upper body strength training on Monday because its the beginning of the week and I like to get it out of the way first thing. Probably because I don't like it. And because it hurts. And if there is anything I will find an excuse not to do it is this workout. The session isn't very complex, it just hurts is all. So here's what I did:
- 2 x 30 sec max rep push ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep pull ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep mil push ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep rev grip chin ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep decline push ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep close grip pull ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep diamond push ups
- 2 x 30 sec max rep towel pull ups
- 2 x max rep divebomber
- 2 x 30 sec max rep isometric chest press
Monday, February 1, 2010
One of the popular workouts these days for athletes of all disciplines is the "Core" workout. This type of work goes far beyond the 6 pack ab craze that came before it. There is a great benefit to be had in all endurance activities by strengthening the core. But once we've done the work and strengthened our core, our next question should become, "How can we access that strength and put it to work for us?"
To be honest, that question, the one about gaining "access" is a far deeper rabbit hole than a single post about a single pose can cover. That's because it is one thing to "tighten your core " or "keep it tight" (something that is commonly said when referring to the gross muscles comprising the mid section during activity), but accessing strength through the core to produce a desired muscular response while running, cycling, or swimming is something else. Understanding this, my goal is to simply get you started thinking about this concept of "gaining access" to the core and integrating it into the other movements that comprise your sport of choice.
To start us on our way to gaining access to the core, we need more access to our feet. And our feet need to gain a sense of being firmly engaged into the ground. Said another way we want to have a sensation of what it is like to have our feet "planted" (as in deeply rooted) into the ground. And for that we are going to explore a pose called Malasana or Garland Pose.
Essentially Garland pose is a deep squat. If you've travelled, especially in countries like India and throughout Asia, you will notice people sitting low to the ground, squatting deeply. This has several benefits, one of which is an opening of the hips. Another benefit of the pose is the opening of the ankles which can allow for a better connection to the ground by engaging through the feet for balance.
- Malasana Variation where the feet are separated and point out 45 degrees
To come into the variation of Malasana that is most accessible, we start with our feet a bit wider than hip distance apart (the toes should be pointing forward but can be rotated out to about 45 degrees to facilitate lowering into the pose if needed). Then with the arms extended out straight in front of you for balance, lower your body bending at the knees. The torso should remain upright as the hips drop below the knees. If you hadn't started with the toes rotated out at 45 degrees initially it may become necessary to rotate them out as your hips move closer to the floor. You may need to widen your stance as well once you get your hips closer to being level with your ankles. You want to hold this position for about 8 even breaths if you can. If you can't don't sweat it, hold it as long as is comfortable. You should be able to stay in the pose for longer and longer periods of time if you work the pose consistently.
Now for some housekeeping. These are some things you want to keep in mind. Throughout this movement the spine should be kept long even though the torso can have a tendency to tilt forward. You can get and keep more length in the spine once in the squat by bringing your hands together in prayer position and using the connection of the elbows to the shins for a bit of leverage to articulate the pelvis by bringing the navel in to the spine. It is possible that as you lower down even after rotating your toes out to 45 degrees and widening your stance, you cannot come into the full squat without your heels leaving the ground. If this is happening you can still work in the pose by placing a rolled up blanket or towel under the heels and then lowering down onto that. While this will change the sensation of grounding somewhat, it does not diminish the effectiveness of the pose.
- A rolled up towel or blanket can be used as a wedge if the heels don't reach the ground.
If you still find it difficult to maintain your balance in Malasana, another option is to practice it inside a doorway. I use this when I want to experience the squat with my feet and shins together holding on to the door frame as I lower my hips to my heels. This allows me to get a sense of the opening in my ankles and hips necessary to access this movement now while I wait for my body to allow me to do it without assistance. To come out of the pose simply ground into the feet and straighten the legs or bring your palms to the floor and come to all fours. Lastly use good judgement when doing this pose. Save the pose for strength days at the gym or lower intensity training days. Because of the deep squat, if you have knee or ankle issues Malasana is not recommended.