Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Hi everyone!  Yes, it's been a while since I last posted, but training hasn't taken much of a break since then.  I did have a nice break from running the week after the marathon, and had about a week off during the first half of July due to a flu/cold thing (although I did not get the immediate post-marathon cold, which is a first!).  The training has gone on, but it has undergone some changes.

1) I've transitioned the training from run-focused to cycling-focused.  When I was running, I was doing 2-3 runs a week and supplementing the cardio with cycling - basically a strategy not to injure the hip, knee and feet since they've all had problems in the past.  Now, the training is cycling-focused, shooting for 3-5 rides a week with the occasional run thrown in for variety or when traveling and I don't have a bike or an exercise bike available.  And yes, sometimes I'm resorting to the exercise bike.  If you travel to Arizona or Nebraska, where it's 115 degrees or 100 degrees / 80% humidity, a hotel recumbent bike is far better than killing myself outside.  So while I haven't quite got the miles and times in that I've wanted every week, I have consistently been getting in my workouts:

2) I've started doing heart-rate based training.  The bonk that I experienced in a couple of my long runs earlier this year, and the meltdown that occurred at mile 17 of Seattle, may have been hydration/nutrition-caused.  But just as likely they were days that I was pushing the envelope and just didn't notice that I was stretching myself thin.  Since I purchased a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a heart-rate monitor in early July (thanks, Mom, for the birthday money!), I started to notice that during a workout I cannot feel the difference between a 150-bpm effort and a 170-bpm effort.  But a 150-bpm effort will build endurance without killing me, where the 170-bpm effort will leave me fatigued and make it harder to work out the next day, and lead to a nice cold if maintained a couple of days in a row.

I noticed the shift in philosophy paying off a few times in the last week.  I've been keeping most workouts under 163bpm - my supposed Lactate Threshold.  Then, I rode a killer ride up Bald Peak last Saturday:

Yes, the heart-rate monitor was going off all the way up the cat 2 climb... but I was able to maintain my heart rate at a reasonable spot the rest of the ride, including up the cat 5 climb - which isn't that easy when you're riding it in 92 degree weather!  And after a day off on Sunday, I was smart enough to spin a recovery workout Monday morning at 130bpm, to get in some miles without really taxing the body.  Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if the Garmin is the best piece of equipment I have ever purchased!

3) The third change I've made is another approach towards training - being deliberate.  Not only in planning my workouts, but in monitoring what I put in my body.  Let's face it, going up Bald Peak as a 195 pound rider is a lot tougher than going up as a 155 pound rider (which is where my target weight is).  A great website has made it very easy for me to plan my workouts and monitor my intake: TrainingPeaks.com.  This software is used by everyone from Tour de France professional riders to weekend warriors like myself, and so far it seems to be paying off.  By tracking intake, I've become very conscious of what I eat - so much so that I actually lost weight on a 6-day trip that involved a couple of dinners out.  Between the Garmin and TrainingPeaks, I feel that I'm ready to take my fitness to the next level!

One downside of turning from a runner into a cyclist (or serious triathlete) is the time required for training.  That means in addition to being deliberate about my training and nutrition, I need to be very deliberate about my priorities.  Sure, I could go out and do a 5-hour ride on Saturday followed by another 5-hour ride on Sunday to get in serious miles, but that wouldn't leave much time for family activities.  That means weekend workout planning is a joint activity between Christine and I, to make sure that training time is not taking away (much) from family time.  It's a constant challenge, but last I checked, my paycheck comes from being a quality expert, not a cyclist - and in the grand scheme of things, hobbies shouldn't trump family.  So far it seems to be working, and hopefully we can keep up a healthy balance through the duration of century training.

Speaking of century training, just a reminder that the Echelon Gran Fondo is only 40 days away!  So far, fundraising is going slowly... only $225 out of the $2,500 target has been raised.  But I hope to announce something in the next few days that will help out with that.  In the meantime, please do donate here to help in the battle against cancer!  Whether you donate $5 or $500, it all help out and goes to a couple of great causes.

Until next time, onwards!

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