Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Burned Out - Lesson Learned

I realized I hadn't updated this in awhile and would like to try and get back in the habit, so I thought I would post something that's been bouncing around in my head... burn out.  

This is my first full season of triathlon.  I started training in May of last year (run only) and added the swim and bike in late July.  I hurt my foot towards the end of September so my running was severely limited in October and November of last year. If you look at the screenshot below you'll see I've essentially been training 28 - 33 hours per month for the last 8 months, without much of a break.  That may not seem like much to most of you, but for someone fairly new to the sport I think it may have been too much, too soon, with little to no offseason.  I was so excited to play with my Sufferfest videos and Trainer Road that I didn't take much time off late last year and then ramped things up too early this year.  I'm struggling to get up in the mornings and complete workouts and am just feeling tired. 

Now that I've recognized there is a problem I need to do something about it.  My swimming has been limited of late anyways, but I plan to eliminate it completely as I only have one triathlon left this year (Petoskey in a week and a half) and the money saved from a Y membership will come in handy.   It also helps that I've been working earlier this week and can't fit in two a day workouts.  

My next step is to scale back some of the cycling and really focus on running.  This will lower my overall training volume and allow for some additional rest.  Going forward (next season) I plan to take a few weeks after the marathon off and then start easing into things with no actual schedule, just whatever I happen to feel like for the day.  I am still working on my goals/races for next year so once I finalize those I can start to come up with a plan, but you can be sure it will include some time off before I start!

What about you guys?  Every run into this problem?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

21 Day Fix - A Non-biased, Unaffiliated Review


A couple of months ago my wife and I got to talking and she mentioned that she had been in a rut in terms of diet and that she would like to lose some weight.  I've been struggling to lose the same 10 - 15 pounds over and over again  (plus another 20 - 30 pounds) so I said I would join her as accountability is always key.  I introduced her to one of my imaginary friends/teammates as I was also hoping she could use this experience to meet some new friends in the area.  My friend suggested Team Beachbody's 21 Day Fix.  I try to be PG with this blog so I will just say that my initial reaction was one of skepticism.  I spent some time researching the program and was surprised at how difficult it was to find an objective review from someone not affiliated with Team Beachbody, which is why I thought I'd toss my hat in the ring and write one.

The Program

The 21 Day Fix is essentially portion control with a daily 30 minute workout added in.

The Diet

Your daily food intake will be divided between 7 containers:
  • Green - Veggies
  • Purple - Fruit
  • Red - Proteins
  • Yellow - Carbs
  • Blue - Healthy Fats
  • Orange - Seeds and Dressings
  • Teaspoons - Nut butters, etc
To determine your daily allotment for each container you simply multiply your current weight by 11, add 400, and then subtract 750.  Don't ask me why they don't have you simply subtract 350, that's just not how it's done!  For example, I weighed 199.6 this morning.  Let's round that to 200 for a total of 2200.  Add 400 (2600) and then subtract 750 for a total of 1850.  Your kit will come with a handy chart (or you can just Google it) which you use to determine how many of each container you get everyday.   I ended up at the 2nd highest level (1,800 - 2,099) but talked to my friend/coach and we decided to bump me up a level (2,100 - 2,300) after taking my level of training into consideration.  This gave me the following desired breakdown:
  • Green - 6
  • Purple - 4
  • Red - 6
  • Yellow - 4
  • Blue - 1
  • Orange - 1
  • Teaspoons - 6
Here is what a typical day looks like for me.

Breakfast 1 (pre workout) - Two rice cakes with almond butter and honey.  Rice cakes are free, honey and almond butter each count as a teaspoon for a total of 4.

Breakfast 2 (post workout) - Smoothie with protein powder (1 red), whole banana (2 purple), berries (1 purple), spinach (1 green)

Lunch - Two sushi rolls (2 green, 2 red, 2 yellow)

Dinner - Stir fry with chicken (1 or 2 red, depending on how much I eat), veggies (usually 2 green), rice (yellow), and a side salad with balsamic vinegar (1 green)

Snack - Rice cake with almond butter (1 teaspoon) or some carrots and hummus (1 green, 1 blue) 

A day like that would result in 6 green, 3 purple, 5 red, 3 yellow, 5 teaspoons.  

As you can see, I probably eat closer to the 1,800 - 2,099 calorie category.

The Workouts

When you purchase this program you will 7 30 minute workouts.

  • Dirty 30 Workout
  • Total Body Cardio Fix
  • Upper Fix
  • Lower Fix
  • Pilates Fix
  • Cardio Fix
  • Yoga Fix
I haven't done many of these as I am training for some big races this year and need most of my available time for swimming, biking, and running.  My wife, however, has done all of them and was surprised at how much she enjoyed them.  I did the Pilates Fix video when we first started and was sore for two days, but that's typical for me and anything involving abs.  

In summary, I really can't comment on the efficacy of these videos, but I've heard positive reviews from my wife and other people whom I trust.  Each video has a token out of shape person performing modified versions of each exercise so even a couch potato can jump right in and get started.


I am going to write up a separate blog post on Shakeology as this is something I'm not a fan of so I wanted to separate the two, even though they are often sold together.

Final Thoughts

Most of us already know what we should be eating, right?  Lots of veggies, fruit, lean proteins, along with some nuts and seeds for a snack.  Avoid sugar and refined carbs.  Knowing what to eat is a fairly simple process... it's actually eating the correct foods and knowing how much to eat that I have always struggled with and that is where the 21 Day Fix shines.  In fact, I've recently found myself recommending it to several friends, something I never would have imagined before I started the program.  It has drastically changed the way I look at portion sizes and has helped me change my eating habits for the better.  It was definitely worth the money, even if we only used the containers for a day or two until we learned what an actual portion size looked like.  I should also mention that it helped me break through the 200 pounds plateau for the first time since 8th grade.  I've been close many times, but have never been able to get under that stupid number that starts with a 2.  I was 196.2 this morning and have been consistently under 200 for 10 days now.  

One note... and I shouldn't have to say this as it should be common sense.  DO NOT expect the results they show in their advertisements.  You are not going to go from bloated to six pack in 21 days... it's just not going to happen.  If you are significantly overweight this can be a great tool, but remember, it took you months/years to get yourself in this position and it's going to take just as long to fix it!  

Another New Bike Day

Well it's been a couple of months so it's time to start looking for (yet) another new bike.  As you can probably imagine, my wife is super excited at this prospect.  In my defense, my 10 year old road bike needs some work and has seen better days so it's time to either start looking for it's eventual replacement or spend several hundred dollars fixing the old girl up, and to be honest, she's not even worth that much.  Here's the list of what I'm looking for in a new bike:
  • Great price
  • Able to act as an off-road gravel grinder and a road bike for group rides
  • Shimano 105 or SRAM Apex components.  I rode SRAM for the first time last weekend and loved it.
  • 2 sets of wheels, 1 CX and 1 for road.
  • A good fit as is, with the possibility of easy and inexpensive adjustments down the road to dial it in.
I rode a teammate's CX bike last week and thought it was the one.  An unexpected orthodontist bill for my daughter dashed those hopes, though in hindsight it was probably for the best.  It was a great bike and he is meticulous when it comes to maintenance, but it didn't fit quite right and the fork had already been cut, which limited the adjustments I could make.  I would have spent an additional $200 - $400 to dial in the fit and that would have put the bike out of my budget.  

After that I swore off bike buying and told my wife I wasn't even going to look.  That lasted 2 hours... that's when another teammate messaged me that he was selling his CX bike.  We chatted about the bike, price, etc. and I did some research.  The bike itself is only a couple of years old and he was offering it for $200 - $300 less than Bicycle Blue Book value, with an extra set of wheels.  Unfortunately this offer was too good to not at least check out.  It's a 2011 Trek X 01 that was purchased in 2013 on closeout.  It checks off every box on the list up above and he has used it and performed well in triathlons and endurance gravel rides (Dirty Kanza, my goal for next year).  I rode gravel (well, mud actually) last night with the team and had more fun than I've ever had on a road before.  The bike fit reasonably well and is the correct frame size.  It should be simple enough to dial in the fit to get through this season and then next year I will get a professional fit before DK.

The one caveat to this bike is that I am not allowed to discuss a new bike for at least 2 years, which seams fair.  I now have the following bikes
  • Specialized Transition Comp Tri Bike (bought used last year, absolutely screaming deal)
  • Trek X 01 CX Bike (bought used this year, another screaming deal)
  • Focus Black Forest 1.0 Mountain Bike (bought used last year from a bike mechanic, yet another screaming deal with upgraded wheels and tires)
  • Trek 1000c (10 year old road bike that will now sit on the trainer)
  • Haro Mountain bike (15 year old mountain bike that's seen better days.  I might try to sell it or keep it around the house for when someone from out of town wants to ride)
  • Burley Tandem (paid zero dollars for it as my parents were never going to ride it and my sister and brother-in-law will get divorced if they ride it again)
I also bought my wife an extra small Specialized road bike last year with carbon fork and seat stays, Shimano 105 components, etc.  This doesn't take into consideration the multitude of kids bikes, scooters, etc. taking up space in the garage.

Overall I have now bought 4 bikes in the past 8 months (5 if you count the tandem).  The only reason I'm still married is b/c I've gotten amazing deals on each and every one of them.  In fact, if you add up what I paid for all 5 bikes they total less than what you can be expected to pay for a low to mid range tri bike... so I have that going for me.  

To summarize... I bought yet another bike, am still married, rode gravel/mud for the first time last night, am caked with mud, and have a giant grin on my face.  Life is good!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bam! Welcome to "One"derland!

Approximately 4 years ago I signed up for the Fifth Third Riverbank Run weighing in at 271 pounds.  It's been a long uphill (downhill?) struggle, but yesterday I finally cracked the 200 pound barrier.  I've been so close (as in 200.0) for the past week and have come within a pound several times in the past, but I usually self destruct and start gaining weight around this time.  Perhaps the greatest example of how I have changed my mindset/lifestyle is that it never even occurred to me to celebrate with food.  For those of you who have known me since I was a kid, this puts me down into my junior high weight.  

On a related note, I have a distinct memory of a wager my dad and I made in high school while golfing one day.  I don't remember what he would have won if I lost the bet, but I definitely remember that when he lost his I won his golf bag.  Unfortunately it's an ugly golf bag and I don't golf anymore, so I'm thinking that a new bike is comparable!  I even know of a guy selling an awesome cross bike with an extra set of wheels!   

Monday, March 2, 2015

February 2014 - Recap

February was an awesome month!  My bike volume was down compared to January, but that's mainly b/c of the Tour of Sufferlandria.  Everything else is trending up as I build towards an awesome season!

I had 9 swim sessions (8:16), 10 rides (10:39), and 18 runs (10:53) for a total of 37 workouts in 29 hours and 49 minutes.  That's slightly less than January but we had fewer days.  The big takeaways are that my swimming went up from 8.55 miles to 12.47 miles and my running went from 35.84 miles to 61.72.

This week is a deload week for running even though I feel good.  All of the experts seem to advise taking an easier week every 3 - 4 weeks so I guess it can't hurt.  I should still end up with 80 - 90 miles for the month.  After reading my last post I've been inspired to go back and total up my old training logs by week and month.  It will be interesting to see how far I've come.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Look how far I've come - aka - why you should keep a training journal!

Today's schedule called for an 8 mile run which gave me plenty of time to think.  Fortunately the sun was shining (a rarity in Michigan) and it was over 10 degrees (another rarity of late) so I decided to head outside and run on the White Pine Trail.  I had a great run, though I am struggling to nail down the feel for my desired 25k race pace (9:40).  My splits started out in the 10:05 - 10:13 range for the first few miles and then got progressively faster with a final mile of 9:09.  It's hard to really judge effort and pace considering the conditions (packed snow and ice) but I'm happy with where I'm at.  I started thinking about how far I've come over the past few years and decided to pull out my training journal (Garmin Connect) to see actual data.

While training for the 2012 River Bank Run my schedule first called for 8 miles on April 1st with a total of 17 miles for the week.  At that time (a nice day with no snow on the ground) it took me 1:34 (11:44 per mile pace).  Back then I was so exhausted after my weekly long run that I was worthless for the rest of the day... something I'm sure my wife would agree with.

Today's 8 mile run took 1:17 for a 9:44 pace in cold weather on packed snow. I will run approximately 20 miles this week but will also swim for almost 3 hours and bike for another 3 - 3.5 hours.  In total I will complete 11 workouts this week taking somewhere between 9 and 10 hours.  Perhaps most important, I still have energy to do things with my family that don't involve sitting on the couch for the rest of the day.

It's easy to become discouraged after a bad training day, which is why I recommend that everyone keep a training journal.  It can be digital or old school pen and paper... it doesn't matter as long as you have a way to objectively measure your improvement over time.  It's amazing to see how much progress I've made in the past few years, despite taking almost 2 years off in between.  Of course that leads to the obvious question, how awesome could I be if I had actually stuck with a consistent training program for that length of time?!?  

1000y Swim Time Trial

One of my imaginary online triathlon friends mentioned performing a monthly 1000 yard time trial to measure swim progress.  This seemed like a great idea so Friday I decided to go ahead and give it a shot.  It probably wasn't the best time to do so as I had completed an FTP test on the bike the day before and my body was wrecked.  Fortunately swimming muscles are pretty different from bike and run muscles so I don't think my intense week of training had an adverse effect on the test.

I went with my normal warmup:

200y easy swim
200y kick
200y pull
8x25 v-sprints

1000 time trial

Time - 17:44
Pace Per 100 - 1:46

My 25y times were pretty inconsistent and varied from 21 to 30 seconds with most falling in the 24-26 range.

I couldn't be happier with my time and was glad I used my watch as, per usual, I lost count and would have finished a lap early.

I'm coming to the conclusion that part of swimming is getting used to being uncomfortable.  After the first 200 yards or so I was out of breath and wasn't sure I would be able to finish.  Strangely that feeling never got any worse (didn't get any better either).  Once I became accustomed to the discomfort I was able to keep plodding along.  I felt like I could have done another 500 or 1000 yards at a similar pace.  That might be a bit optimistic, but it gives me some hope for coming out of the water in a decent position this season.