Sunday, January 23, 2011

A good week

Though I'm not swimming any faster, I'm fairly pleased with the progress I've made this week. Both of my runs were ahead of goal pace and the six miles I did on Friday actually felt pretty good. I rode on the trainer twice, Monday and today and today was easier.

As for the pool, well....still pretty slow but I think I've found a week point in my technique. I found that I was not pulling my hand far enough back during the power phase of my stroke. When I made a more deliberate effort to pull all the way back to my hip, I found I was faster. What's more, I found this at the end of my work out when I was fairly tired. It will be interesting to see if I gain any yards per minute when I focus on this aspect of technique for the entire work out.

There's another eventful week coming up that includes increased mileage on the bike and my first two-a-day work-out on Saturday. That's more of a trial for later on in February when I'll have them every week.

The following week will also be busy and will include out-of-state travel. More on that later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Swimming Struggles

Most people new to triathlon say that the swim is their biggest challenge. That seems to be the case with me as well. While I think the Finis Tempo Trainer I've been using is helpful, I'm still falling short of my goal pace. Last time in the pool, I swam about 36.5 yards per minute. Not too bad considering that I went 40 minutes without a rest. Still, when the Summer Open Sprint rolls around in four months, I'd like to do the swim in 20 minutes (maybe even a little less).

Much as I respect everything I've read about proper form and technique, I'm thinking I may have to just try and swim as fast as I can for 750 meters without regard to anything other than speed. I'd like to see where I am vs. where I want to be. I'd also like to see how much I have left after that.

Along those lines, I thought I would see how it felt to run after a hard bike ride. Yesterday afternoon I rode 9 miles on the trainer with the resistance set pretty high and kept up about 15 mph. I wasn't too spent, but I was definitely feeling it. Lot's of people tell me that the transition from bike to run is the hardest and I think that makes sense. So after hopping off the trainer I got on the treadmill and went for 0.1 mile just to see. Yep, it's hard. My first brick isn't until late March so I've got some time to build up my strength. Good thing.

It's snowing again in Colorado tonight so my 3 mile run this evening was indoors. Even if I wanted to tough it out and run in the snow (and I didn't) it was way to slick to be running out doors. Fortunately, the Garmin Foot Pod is performing well.  In addition to pace and mileage, I'm also seeing what my foot cadence is:

Friday's forecast is for 50 degrees and I'm hoping to do 6 miles. It will be interesting to see how the foot pod works in conjunction with GPS.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Anyone involved in triathlons who tells you they don't care about the stuff that comes with the sport is a liar...a bald-faced liar, a f----ing liar:


While it's not all about the toys, they are a nice fringe benefit.

And as it happens, some toys can be very useful. This week, I've been putting some of those to use. If you live in Colorado you know not only has the snow been on the ground since Sunday, it's also been friggin freezing! I know some hard cores will go out and run when it's 14 degrees outside, but I say no thanks.

So yesterday it was a treadmill run. It was also my first time using the Garmin Foot Pod. If you're not familiar with it, basically it tracks your distance and cadence when a satellite is not an option. It worked as expected. It's pretty just a matter of telling your Garmin that you have the accessory (it's on a list) and it finds it in short order. The pod itself is very small (about the size of the top half of your thumb only thinner) and easily clips onto your shoe laces.

As for accuracy, it's pretty close. The .006 difference between my treadmill readout and what showed on the FR305 could easily be attributed to inaccuracies in the treadmill. To be certain, when the weather gets better, I'm going to run the calibration on a track.

It was a whole 15 degrees warmer tonight so, no, I did not take the bike out and ride it in the freezing cold and dark. Fortunately, I have another toy to track indoor rides. Well, two toys, actually. The first is the previously non-functional trainer. The missing hardware arrived on Monday. I was able to connect the resistance unit to the frame and also mount my bike.:

Of course, a data geek like me doesn't just want to jump on and start a stop watch. I want info. That's where another Garmin accessory comes in. The Cadence Sensor picks up not only speed based on wheel rpm but also cadence based on pedal rotation. The sensor fits on the chain stay on the side opposite the cassette:

The result is cool charts like this one:

 Now my calorie data will more closely reflect real efforts. If nothing else, it keeps me honest about how hard I am or am not working.

One last thing I wanted to share. I'm planning a trip to Road Runner Sports in Broomfield this Saturday. I'm overdue for a new pair of shoes. I had also planned on spending some money on a recovery drink. I've read a lot about the importance of getting recovery within 15 minutes of finishing a workout. Makes sense. There's a more scientific explanation, but basically your body is so revved up at that point, the nutrients in the recovery work more effectively.

What never would have occurred to me was that chocolate milk was one of the best recovery drinks out there. Don't take my word for it, though. Check out this post on DC Rainmaker's blog:

Until next time...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Too cold to ride?

Early in the week, the forecast said Friday would see a high of 50 degrees or so. It got me to thinking. If I could leave work early enough, I could get home and go enjoy a ride outdoors.
This was especially good news because the trainer I got for Christmas is missing a key bolt that connects the resistance unit to the frame. The friendly guy at Saris cycles was more than happy to send me the part...but only after they finished inventory this week. So I was stuck with no training option.
When I got home at about 3:30 this afternoon, that 50 degrees had deteriorated to about 43. As I rode, it got even colder--helped by a strong wind out of the east. Not as bad as what I encountered in Florida but not exactly ideal riding weather.

Despite the adversity, I did manage to get 18 miles in and I did it ahead of my goal speed. I do hope my trainer parts show up soon. Winter is coming back just as it did a week ago. I really need to keep riding and I don't think outdoors is going to be an option for a while.

It's been a pretty good week. I got three miles on the tread mill on Tuesday and ran four miles outdoors last night. I'm also planning on swimming tomorrow and using the Tempo Trainer to try and reach my goal pace of 40 yards a minute. We'll see.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Swimming with the Finis Tempo Trainer.

I spent 30 minutes in the pool using the Finis Tempo Trainer for the first time. It took a minute or two to get it comfortably clipped to my google strap, but once there, it held in place.

The metronome interval can be set in tenths of seconds from 0.2 seconds to 9.99 seconds. I've heard of people setting it chime once for each step of the stoke (a beep for the spear, a beep for the catch, etc.) but I thought it was a lot easier to set it for just one beep per stroke.

Overall, it worked pretty well. Once I found a comfortable tempo (1.1 seconds per stroke) it seemed to help me swim evenly. In fact, I found I settled into a rhythm fairly easily. A few times, I had trouble hearing the beep over my own exhale or the noise at the pool, but that problem was intermittent. Additionally, because I did fall into kind of a rhythm, missing a beep or two didn't seem to throw me off time.

Today was also my second attempt at working on technique. The more I read about swimming, the more I've learned it's more about good technique than just swimming harder. I've always thought I have pretty technique. Breathing on both sides at regular intervals comes pretty easy. I also have no problem keeping my head down and exhaling while my face is in the water and taking full inhales when I turn my head.

But I'm also not very fast. I swam 1200 yards in 31:29 this afternoon which works out to about 38.1 yards a minute. So to get faster, I know I have technique to work on. The one element that I think I'm missing from my stroke is good body rotation. I'm making my arms do too much of the work.

Last time out, I worked on that rotation, but it was hard. Too much of the effort started at my shoulders. Today, after having done some reading, I initiated my rotation from my hips and it made a big difference. I'm not so much faster, but I think I'm getting there. It felt good to actually be able to execute a technique I've read about.

There's a lot more swimming to do, but I think I'm going in the right direction.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

According to last night, the windchill in Red Feather Lakes was negative 28 degrees. No way for me to know if that was accurate, but I can say that after two minutes of waiting for my dogs to do their thing outside, I was chilled to the bone!

The fierce wind continues today even though the sun is out and the scenery is beautiful:

It's pretty much a do nothing day. I've been enjoying my first ever copy of USA Triathlon Life. Appropriately enough, it's the Beginners Issue so I've read some good tips.

Still planning on a 30 minute swim tomorrow afternoon and I'm hoping to have a successful first use of the Finis Tempo Trainer. Not easy, but I am going to try and focus more on technique and worry less about how far I actually swim.

Until then...