Halfway There

The weeks continue to roll by and so do the track workouts. The tricky thing with track workouts at the moment though is schools are back in session. That means practices, games, fans etc. all milling around or watching from the bleachers. As confident as I may be, I am NOT going to be running wheezing laps around a track while a field hockey game is going on in the middle. So…sometimes we need to adapt and overcome.

This week, unable to find an open track when I had the window to run, I was forced to take it to the treadmill. The workout itself was pretty simple, descending count, ascending distance. (5×100, 4×200, 3×400, 1×800) All of these were to be at goal pace, or faster for the shorter ones. Sadly, my treadmill only goes to 12mph, so for anything shorter where I would be pushing for better than goal pace wasn’t possible. Is that an issue? Maybe long term, but for times when you need to just deal with the cards in front of you, it is ok. Besides, there are two benefits to a treadmill. One is that it really helps with turnover and getting the muscles used to a range of motion and speed. The second is one of the biggest advantages in my opinion.

Forced pace. When you set a speed on the treadmill, and let’s just assume it is accurate, you have to match it. If not, you will be spit out like a watermelon seed. Or in my case be flung into a wall and shredded by the belt (I do wear the safety clip over 11mph). As long as you can keep your grubby paws off the speed, you just have to go. No thinking, just keep up. I love that.

For this workout, the first few are always a bit of a shock to the system, but they are short and sweet. Even the 200’s are pretty easy. The 400’s started to hurt some, but there was good rest between them, and I have been doing 400’s the last few weeks so the pain wasn’t too bad. Now that 800 was a different story.

With my longest interval to date the 600m in Lake Placid, I was more curious about the 800 than I was looking forward to it. In fact, I wasn’t sure I would be able to do a 2:30 at all, but mentally I was prepared to give it everything to get there. After the 3rd 400 while I was letting the heart rate get back down to a reasonable level, I started to hedge. My mental toughness was wavering a bit. Something I had thought about all day, something I was going to crush, just didn’t seem in the cards, and I hadn’t even started yet. I was telling myself, just get to this far and if you need to quit, it is ok.

BS. I know it is BS, but the mind is a funny thing. Anyway, the interval started, and it was immediately hard. I knew from the 400’s that it would be hard to hit 400 at pace, but I was determined to get to at least that point. The halfway marked rolled by and I was still in the game! only 1:15 left in the lap and then done. 45. 30. 15 r-e-a-l-l-y long seconds and boom done. Somehow I made it 800m in 2:30. That is halfway to the 4:59 goal and with a lot of training time to go.

Now before you go telling me it was on the treadmill with no incline blah blah blah, yeah, I get it. Is it the same as outside, no of course not. But would I have pushed to the absolute edge like I did on the treadmill, no I don’t think I could have. The tools are there to be used, and to push us. Each workout has its purpose and you hope to make gains on each of them. For me, seeing that I could at least do what I did makes me feel better about the possibility of going sub 5:00.

Oh, and I also did the run in my Asics Kayano’s which are basically the running equivalent of a workboot. So when I slip on my new Nike Alphafly Next%’s I will have an even bigger ace in the hole. You can call me Kipchoge. And no they aren’t cheating. First they are approved to run in the Olympics, and second this is not a ‘race’. Just something for me.

Back in Lake Placid

With the kids in remote learning or hybrid or whatever we are calling it these days, one benefit is being able to escape for long weekends more often. So we packed up the crew and headed up to Training Camp North for a few days.

The weather has been perfect for those that like it a bit cooler. High 20’s at night and in the morning but 50’s during the day. Definitely sweater weather. Frost on the cars and time to pull out the gloves for morning workouts.

With the focus still on the run I have been poking around some new trails while the family walked them at the same time. The dog has been doing great with the walks as well. We have been doing between 2 and 3 miles a day and that is just enough to tucker him out. He won’t be ready to run them just yet, but he is getting good on the leash.

One thing I always like to do when I travel is explore the area on a run. For business trips I can’t always bring my bike or find a pool, but I have always been able to run. Finding the new spots or something I wouldn’t not have normally seen is alot of fun. This trip, besides checking out John Brown’s farm, I located a track for some speed work. Being an Olympic town, and home to some of the best Winter athletes in the world, it was cool to be on the track while others were there working on their own sports like skeleton.

Like last week, I started off with an easy warm-up and drills before getting into anything intense. It wasn’t too windy, and the temps were perfect, so I was ready to get to work. My workout started off with 200’s again, and this week I was consistently 3-5 seconds faster per interval. This put me inside of my goal pace which was nice. They also felt pretty relaxed, another good sign. After the set of 200’s it was on to 400’s which were a bit harder of course (they hurt). I tried to gauge pace and effort and came in pretty slow on the first one. Although I was able to increase the pace on each one, I was still just behind where I want to be. My next interval was 600 and that was a dumpster fire. Well, it wasn’t the worst thing I have ever done, but it hurt and I was slow.

Although I am still behind my goal numbers, it is week #2 of track work, and I need to keep that in perspective. Am I impatient? Yes, but only when it takes time to accomplish something. After years of Ironman and Half-Ironman races, it is like I am building from the beginning. I know that is not exactly true, endurance is still there, but my muscles have definitely adjusted to their new roles of being able to function for half a day without stop. If I am successful in this experiment, and I think I may actually be, it should serve as proof to anyone that they can calibrate themselves even a little later in life.

Admittedly, it doesn’t get easier as you get older, but if we keep ourselves fit and functioning, the hurdles in front of us are much more manageable.

What The Heart Wants

I have talked about heart rate zones a bit in the past so I won’t go into a gory description of them right now, but I would like to touch upon what your heart rate might be telling you. Before I do that though, if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, please get one. Seriously. This is a pretty inexpensive piece of gear, and is one of the truest measures of your body that I know of outside of a lab or blood work.

If you need any suggestions, check out the gear page on the main site for the Garmin watch. That might be overkill for most beginners, but I really do love my watch. I actually have a number of Garmin watches. This is mostly through upgrading, but it certainly comes in handy like the other day when my main time teller was dead. Luckily number two in the line up was not. It is important to have options?

There are a lot of choices out there with newer devices having the monitor built into them to avoid the need for a strap. There are pro’s and con’s to that though. The obvious pro being that you won’t end up with a horizontal friction burn across your chest all year, the con being that I find them to be less accurate. They are getting better though, so maybe the gap is closer than I think these days. For now though I am a proud strap wearer. I actually have been wearing some Body Glide across my chest to reduce the rubbing, and it seems to do the trick more or less.

As I went out for my run last night, I was somewhat excited because it was based on heart rate, and the numbers were not that aggressive. To be more specific, it was under 140 for an hour. This is a pretty easy run for me, but my ranges are specific to me. So while 140 running is on the easy side for me, it may be the top end for someone else. Where tracking heart rate becomes important though is during recovery and in measuring effort. What exactly does that mean and why do you care?

Say you head out for the same run on two separate days. On each run you keep your heart rate between 140-150. The first day you run 10 miles. The second day you run 8 miles. If everything but distance is the same, what does that tell you? There are alot of possible explanations between the two of course. Hard workout the day before. Not enough sleep. Poor nutrition etc. But without comparing and measuring the results, it is very difficult to isolate changes that impact your performance. I tend to find most of my fatigue is not the result of a single effort or poor night’s sleep, but rather a cumulative effect of several days. If I notice that I am running significantly slower based on heart rate, it is time to adjust.

Heart rate is also important to know how hard you are working. Keeping a specific pace is obviously a goal, but many times we need to know how our body is reacting to that pace to know what training to focus on. If you are able to hit your goal marathon pace, but within 30 minutes are at your top heart rate, it is not likely that you will be able to carry that pace for several more hours. I have been in Ironman races that as the day went on the heat went up. I knew I could physically run at a specific speed, but I also knew where my heart rate should be. If I didn’t pay attention to HR, and only focused on pace, there was a high chance of blowing up. It is just as key to know your HR targets as it is to know your time and pace.

Of all the benefits that come from training with hear rate, perhaps the biggest is rest. When the workouts call for an easy day, it means go easy. So many of us have the mentality that if it doesn’t hurt it is not working. Nothing is farther from the truth though. For most people, one or two days of high quality coupled with easy recovery and some bigger volume efforts are all they can handle. But instead of taking recovery as recovery, they go out and hammer those too. I am far from a pro or elite athlete, as I think most of us are, and I need the rest. I want to be ready when the big efforts are there, and put in the junk miles when I can. To keep me honest, I use the heart rate. Super easy is under 130 and this is normally a warmup, pretty easy is 140. From there 140-150 is a good hour plus rate and I can run that for a long time. At 150-160 I am going to hold that for about 1:30 to maybe 2 hours and above that is 10k and 5k pace. So those are my training lanes and guides for what watch for during training.

Are they perfect, no maybe not, but they do tell a pretty good story. That is why it is important to listen to the body, and not fight it. It knows when you are tired and trying to push through that can set you back even more through injury, prolonged fatigue or illness. Remember, every workout doesn’t need to be a PR, and taking it easy can actually be more beneficial than crushing it every time out.

Back On Track

Yesterday was my first official track session in years. I knew it was coming, and have been looking forward to blowing the cobwebs off the track shoes. This is just one piece of the progressive build towards my sub five mile attempt in a few months, and I have to say I came away with mixed results.

Taking it with a grain of salt that I have not done ANY speed specific work for years, I heading in with at least an excuse in the back pocket if things didn’t go exactly as I hoped. The workout core was 3 x 5 for 200m at race pace or slightly better (37ish seconds). Equal recovery between intervals and a lap jog between sets. This seems like a lot of volume in the overall number being fairly high, but 200’s are quick and it actually wasn’t too bad.

When I rolled up to the track I headed out on an easy warmup mile. Super slow just trying to get the blood moving and wake up the muscles. One thing I have learned over the years is to really open up my hips and legs after I do an easy jog. My goto routine involves alternating lunges with my hands on my hips followed by forward and sideways leg swings. I’ll do this maybe 2 or 3 times before a hard effort, and the motion I am able to produce expands with each one. After those, and a few more standard calf, ham, quad, and shoulder stretches I felt good to go.

I was worried about heading out too fast on my first interval. I had no real measure of what 37 might feel like, so I did my best to guess at the pace. As the opposite corner of the track came I clicked the lap button and looked down. 40 seconds! Way off pace. That’s only a 5:20 mile and it actually felt pretty fast. No worry, only 14 more to try and dial in the proper speed…

The limited rest was not as big a factor as I thought it might be, and by the end of the first set, I was hanging in there. The 400 recovery was nice, and I felt good for set two. Determined to run this a bit faster, I started to turn to the toes for the back stretches of each interval. What does that mean? Well, most people when they are sprinting at high speed will get on their toes. I liken it to how a boat will plane in the water. Once I am on the toes there are not many more gears in the transmission. I also started to really pump the arms towards the end of the runs. This helped carry me over the line, and the times saw a small bump to under 40 for most of them.

On the last set I turned the hat around, bit down and was just about on pace for the first 4 with the last one being just under goal pace at 36. I was happy to be done, but did quite enjoy the workout. Short, sweet and to the point.

Here a day later, my calves are slightly tender haha. I think a Normatec session is called for later. It is a rest day, but I am almost considering an easier spin on the bike just to stay active. Maybe a swim would be better though.

In terms of my output, and hitting my goal pace for 1/8th of the full distance, I won’t read too into it yet. Was I overall behind, yes, but I think that will come, and it is a slow build. I know I can’t run my goal today which I why I need to keep pushing and keep working until I can. It is good to be challenged, and frankly if this was easy, I probably wouldn’t want to do it.

For now it is back to the grind. Stronger each week, better each day.

The Most Important Piece of Bike Gear

Helmets. A good friend of mine, and someone I have always looked up to was recently in a motorcycle accident. This is someone who coached me in my first triathlon. Someone who I have logged thousands of weekend bike miles with. Someone that I have traveled with and who taught me a lot about racing and friendship. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

When I heard the news I was shocked and I was sad. It was with disbelief I heard he had no helmet on. We always cycled together with helmets. Always. Why a motorcycle would be be different I don’t know.

Sadly accidents on the bike are not an isolated incident. All of my friends that ride outside have had a significant crash or been hit by a car. Some more than once. I myself have had a number of very close calls when out solo. Luckily, I have always kept the bike upright and avoided testing my helmet capabilities first hand. But for those less fortunate the results of the crashes have varied from some cuts and scrapes, to hospitalization, and in one case death.

Frankly, biking on the road is a dangerous prospect. Many cars are in a hurry and will take big risks passing cyclists. Last year a head-on collision along the Lake Placid bike course (not during the race) resulted in a motorist death. Drivers may not appreciate that a shoulder isn’t always rideable. Sand, debris, storm grates and many other obstacles prevent people from staying in the shoulder. Sometimes these conditions go into the middle of a lane or beyond forcing riders to swing wide with little notice.

The safe thing to do as a good rider is to spot the issue, look back to see if it is safe to swing out, and either slow or make a move. This is defensive riding. Sometimes that just isn’t how it goes. You are focused on power, speed, and positioning and don’t see something until the last moment. Riding in packs can also cause this if the people in front are not using proper hand signals.

Then there are just bad drivers. People who pull out to slow down. Drivers that block your path on a downhill. The ones that don’t see you taking a left and smack into your back. These are the ones that worry me the most. Distracted, unfocused, and dangerous.

If we know the chances of a crash exist, is there any argument that helmets are important? The risks are there for an accident so why not get the best brain bucket possible?

Helmets have come quite a ways over the years. Aero, road, mountain, there are alot of choices. For racing my favorite helmet is a low key Specialized aero job. Much more subtle that the previous trend of aero helmets with a long tail covering your neck and part of your back. Like a helmet with a mullet. My race helmet has a nice feature in a magnetic clasp that is easy to open and close on the run. The drawback to this helmet though is that despite the claims of air flow, it does get hot. Hot = sweat = the need for more nutrition management. But for most days even when not racing I have no issues wearing it out, and find myself using it more often than not.

Another Specialized helmet I have is a pretty standard road helmet. Adjustable tightness and a buckle clip, but very open on top. Not meant for aerodynamics but more comfortable on hot days.

Growing up, we never wore helmets, but then again I don’t think we wore seat belts either. My kids know they need a helmet when they are on their bikes or someones else’s. They know to wear one on a skateboard, quad, or scooter. It is just something we have drilled home, and it is natural to them. We also all wear helmets skiing and snowboarding, and as I have told many of my non-helmeted Winter sport friends, it is so much better. The helmet keeps you warmer. Bonus!

Putting on the the right gear and staying safe is a great lesson we can teach others and lead with. Nobody wants to be forced into doing something, and having a choice is good, but choosing to skip wearing a helmet is not on the table. With today’s many options out there, go to your LBS and figure out what is best for your needs. Just make sure it fits well and you wear it.

Late and Early Season Swimming (yeah it’s cold)

One of the challenges of living in the Northeast is that we have seasons. With these seasons comes shorter days colder nights, and inevitably freezing fricken pools. Yeah yeah, you can go to the Y or some other club to swim indoors, but that takes time and isn’t as cool when you have your own pool or lake.

For some points of reference, I have raced in pretty cold water. Both Rotterdam and Greece were close to 60 degrees. I have also raced in really warm water, I think Miamiman last year was around 80 degrees. I might say I prefer the colder water overall, but warming up in 60 degree fluid can be rough. It can also be hard to train in, so here are a few things I have found to help at various times.

First up, my limit for swimming is water around 55 degrees. I know there doesn’t seem like alot of difference between 55 and 60, but let me tell you there is. In the Spring we normally open the pool towards the end of April and once the water shows 55 I dive in. Granted most of my swims at this point are still shorter there are times when I am putting in an hour at a clip. The first level of defense for me is a wetsuit. I will use this from about 55-68 degrees in my pool in the Spring. Later in the year I am more acclimated and can tolerate lower temps, but up front I get soft. It happens. If I am swimming open water I will were a wetsuit until mid 70’s, except for if the air temp is also high. Cooler water with a high air temp is very pleasant.

The next layer of warmth comes from a swim cap. For some reason cold water and my ears just don’t get along. I will have splitting headaches almost like brain freeze until I am used to the temps. For colder swims I use a neoprene cap which works a bit better than a standard cap. I have also tried ear plugs in the past, but have found them to be annoying and if anything I would rather put waterproof earbuds in.

My final piece of gear is thermal swim socks. Man do I love these. I came across the Blueseventy model on Amazon last Fall while preparing for a November race. While my core and head were fine, I found my feet were completely numb. The swim socks made a huge difference, I was able to comfortably use them with fins on as well.

Another thing I try to be cognizant of is hypothermia. There is no sense in training to be fit but risking your health or life in the process. There are a number of signs of hypothermia such as confusion, slurred speach, shivering, clumsiness etc. I like to test my dexterity by touching my thumb to each finger on the same hand. If I am not able to do that, it is time to warm up. Most of the things I have seen say an hour in 50-60 degree water is ok, and with the proper gear you should be ok, but it is very important not to swim outside of your ability or without supervision if you are unsure. Luckily my wife can look out the window from the couch and see me flopping around. If I was in open water, I would not go it alone.

There are a few more levels such as jelly for your face and other products to keep you warm that can be applied to the skin. For a really cold Lake Placid 70.3 race I put on embrocation cream under my wetsuit to keep warm. More so for the bike but I figured it wouldn’t hurt on the swim. There is also the old pee-in-the-wetsuit move. Can’t say I know anyone who does that, none at all.

As for recovery afterwards, there are two paths you can take. After an annual January polar plunge a friend of mine will take out a propane heater and some bourbon which does a great job of warming you up. The other more athletic method is to jump in a hot shower, sauna, or spa. You shouldn’t be too cold or you were in too long, but either way, get some heat back in the system and get ready for the next one.

On The Road Again

With triathlon season over, and Le Tour on TV, it is time to drag the old road bike back out. The weather this long weekend was picture perfect, and Saturday was a great day to put in a brick ride on Knight Rider (I call my road bike Knight Rider, yeah I grew up in the 80’s so what). Swap the wheels out, put a repair kit on, check air in the tires, and out the door for some fun.

I headed out for an easier loop around a local reservoir that has some great steady climbs. No major grunts, but enough to put some lead in the legs for a few minutes at a time. It was so nice to be upright on a bike and not feel guilty for giving up aero position. I really look forward to days when I don’t have to crush it and can just enjoy being outside and playing.

Getting back on the road bike is also a great transition for me. First off the bike is considerably lighter than my tri bike, generally more comfortable to ride, and just feels good taking aggressive turns and downhills. In my haste to get out the door though, I didn’t really give things a good once over. The bottle cage was very loose and my bike computer was dead. I did double check my repair kit though to make sure all the important bits were included: tube, air, tire levers, inflator, check.

The ride itself was a bit uneventful until about a mile from home when I looked back to check for traffic and noticed a bike was about 50 yards behind me. Bright light blinking away, someone had almost ridden up to my wheel. It. Is. On. It’s very funny how quickly a casual fun ride turns into a muscle train down Champs Elysee, but I wasn’t about to get caught let alone passed on my home turf. So I tried to casually saunter my way into a turn for home and put down a bunch more power. After holding steady for a few minutes, I took a quick glance back at a stop sign, and liked what I saw. Competitor vanquished. Back to soft pedaling the rest of the way to the house, about a mile or so.

As I pulled into the driveway and began pedaling back to HQ I looked down to the road, and there she was again, apparently just behind me steadily cranking away. I am not sure what impressed me more, the speed she managed, or her ninja like stealthiness. A nod of the cap regardless for the nudge to pick it up a bit more and let the competitive side out of the cage albeit only for a few minutes.

Once home I swapped the bike shoe velcro for laces and did an easy run. Nothing extreme. Saving that for the big run of the weekend.

My Favorite Exercises To Hate

A favorite part of my week is doing personal training sessions with my nine year old son. Since March when the schools went remote he has joined me once or twice a week. It is great to spend the time together and I think it has been really good for him since most of his extracurriculars have been canceled.

Yesterday my coach gave us an option of two exercises to choose from and my son asked which was harder because that was what he wanted to do. That was a great response and it made me think about some of the exercises we choose to avoid or do halfway. We are all guilty of cheating a bit but that is the reason I love fitness so much. It is honest. If you slack off your fitness does too. You can’t fake your body into doing more pushups or running more miles. Either you do the work or you don’t.

So while it hurts and is hard to do, sticking with the things we are weak in helps us the most. Because triathlon is really a full body event I work all areas on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean everything is uniformly strong though. In fact there are a number of exercises I cringe at but know they are the ones that will help the most.

First up is lunges. There are many variations of these but my least favorite is reverse lunges with a dumbbell in each hand. I’ll normally do 15 per leg for three or four sets. These work my hamstrings, something I have neglected for most of my life. Playing catchup is hard but worth it.

My next up is the squat shoulder press. The key to this is using your legs to push the weights up, but when you are tired, this is hard. This exercise will also drive my heart rate up quite a bit. Keeping the shoulders and back strong is a plus for swimming, while the core and legs benefit you in all disciplines.

Another fun one that I learned of lately and have been doing quite a bit are ‘man makers’. What is a man maker? I can best describe it as Burpess 2.0. You start in a pushup position with a dumbbell in each hand. You do a weighted row that goes straight into a pushup. After that you bring your feet in, stand up and do a shoulder press with the weights. Back down into pushup position and repeat until exhausted. This works the whole body and drives the heart rate up quickly. It is hard because it incorporates other things that are hard for me, and there is constant movement the whole time. Nothing gets a break.

A surpise addition to this list are frog jumps. I like to finish these quickly and will normally jump as far as I can each time. That hurts more but is for less time. I’ll often do these with a weight as well, because, you know, I need to feel the burn. This is another good one for hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

A last one for this list is the kettlebell swing. I will often do this for time and it seems to hurt from the start. It works basically everything and for me the only relief is the downward arc of the swing. By the end of my set my forearms are just about to explode and send the kettlebell across the room.

These are the things I have the strongest love hate relationship with. I know they count the most because they are the hardest for me. I could avoid them but instead I try my best to focus on them and do them right. Working my weaknesses makes me stronger and less prone to injury. It is something I see alot of people struggle with. Swimmers focus on the swim and runners focus on the run too much. People head to the gym and go right to the equipment they are best at. If you are going to put the time in, you may as well make the most of it.

Spending time on your struggles will yield more growth and improvement vs. the same amount of time invested on your strengths. Knowing you can push through the pain and being more well rounded is just icing on the cake.

Breaking Down A Run Goal to Gain Speed

As detailed in an earlier post, I have set a big goal to work on over the next three months The hope is an end result of a sub-five mile, something I haven’t done in over 20 years, but I think it is an attractive number and will parlay well into 5k’s if they ever start back up. But seeing the end and seeing the start leaves alot of distance in between. So we need to break down the goal into bite sized chunks easy to understand and focus on.

I apply this to alot of goals and projects that I work on. Set an end point, and work backwards. What do I need and how do I check each piece off. Sometimes there are multi-step elements but it is much easier to visualize the individual building block then it is to see the whole building. Here is a ball park of my strategy for hitting the 4:59 or better, and this can be applied to any run goal.

I am going to put the run into three big buckets: speed, endurance, and strength. There are certainly overlaps between each, and they will compliment each other, but for purposes of focus and smaller goals, I will leave them separate for now.

The first step in running a fast mile, is being able to run a mile itself. Endurance is key because it allows us to maintain a pace for a period of time and conditions the body to perform for extended periods of time. At this time, I am able to run a mile, but if the goal was an ultra distance event, I may need to focus on my base more. While my running volume is not very high this year, I can comfortably run a half marathon at any given point, and most of my runs are around an hour where I bounce around zone 3 or 4.

As for strength I have put in alot of time working on my weaknesses and have seen steady progress and overall gains. It is probably fair to say I am stronger than I have ever been because of the consistency since Covid ended racing. I had more time to work on new things without worrying about a specific race. That has been a huge blessing because it has kept me injury free, gotten me stronger, and set me up nicely for big challenges.

With the first two in an ok place for now, speed needs to be addressed. Speed is not normally needed during the marathon run leg of an Ironman. Last season I think I only ran a single 5k and that was on Thanksgiving with my 8 year old son. So it has been quite some time since I was on the track or did any serious intervals.

Because I am basically starting fresh, the first goal is getting the leg speed up. Being able to actually hit the pace I am aiming for needs to be the first priority. Because just like the endurance piece, if you can’t run above 12mph, you can’t actually run a sub-five. Since I am about a week into the training adjustment, my coach has me working on very short intervals that focus on leg speed. This is a great strategy and one I used in the past quite a bit.

Let’s say your goal is an 8:00/minute mile. My strategy would be to run intervals at the longest period you can maintain that pace for. If you can hold it for 800m, then 800/400m intervals will be great. If you can only do 400m, then focus on 400/200m repeats and so on down to a point where you are actually running at the desired speed. The other two factors (strength and endurance) will help immensely when you look to expand the distance and drop the rest, but for now, we are just looking at leg speed and target pacing.

So for me, because I have always had a good top end and hitting 12mph is doable, but not for extended periods just yet. I am also still just working turnover, so the treadmill is a great tool to force the legs to go. A recent workout was 15 minute warm up followed by 3x(6 x 30 seconds at goal pace, 30 seconds recovery) with a moderate jog in between each set, followed by a descending cool down. All in an hour, but 9 minutes at my goal pace of 5:00.

Could I go harder and faster, yes, but there is a big risk of injury when you play at your top end speeds. Add to that the fact that this is a considerable shift in training goals, it is better to ease into it. And to be honest, I probably don’t have all that much more speed or endurance in me at this point. I would say the above workout is maybe a 6 or 7 effort, but I don’t really like to go much beyond an 8 in training. I find too many big workouts drains me, leads to worsening quality and demotivation. While I think alot of people can ’embrace the suck’, it is hard to do it consistently. Two quality efforts beats one big one any day.

So over the next few weeks I will continue the initial leg speed build, and start mixing in outdoor track sessions. Of course the treadmill is much different especially at higher speeds, but it is a tool to use. My outside equivalent is a slight downhill to keep the speeds up. Muscle memory can’t form if you never get to where you want! Sadly, my treadmill only goes to 12 and so for this endeavor it won’t be enough long term. For now though, I’ll enjoy the shorter stuff, pretend it is easy, and keep plugging along like I am 20 again.

3 Big Goals Before Turkey Day

In the last few weeks since my training camp I have been looking for some interesting goals to push me outside of my comfort zone. Last year at this time I was still racing and getting ready for USAT Nat’s in Miami. Of course that is off for this year but that is no reason to relax. So I am setting 3 big goals to conquer before or maybe on Thanksgiving. The goals are all stretches but doable if I focus. Here they are:

Goal 1: One set of 25 clean non-kipping continous wide grip pullups. This is my strength goal. I have put in alot of strength training since March and think this is a good indicator of overall functional strength for me. I recently did a max set and was at 18. Another 7 may seem easy but there are alot of people who can’t even do 7 to begin with.

Goal 2: 120% of my FTP for 10 minutes on the bike. This will be difficult because it isn’t a set wattage. So no matter how strong I am it will scale and be just as hard. Biking has always been a struggle for me, but I have put in a ton of work this year and it is starting to show. I think this may be the easiest goal and if I try it early and can knock it out I may adjust upwards. These goals should not be possible to hit right now. So if I can do it I may expand the timing which will challenge me more than a higher percentage.

Goal 3: Sub 5 minute mile. This is the most interesting one for me. Having been a runner in high school and college I consider this my strength, but I have been focused on long course racing for several years now. As a fun challenge on New Year’s morning after a few hours of sleep (3?) I did a road mile near the house. I ran in the 5:30’s with no specific training or rest so I think I have it in me, but there is a big gap in that 30 seconds.

So there they are. Each will be hard and push me to some new limits. I hope to use these as a step to even better results and as a chance to work on things I have not tried in the past. And let’s be honest what else do we have to do these days

Goals are good. Writing them down is better. It keeps them front of mind and for many people creates almost a type of contract with themselves. I am also a huge believer in manifestation, and writing and repeating a goal is a key technique in generating results.

Goals are also personal. Some people will look at my goals and say, “Meh that’s it?” To others they may be on another planet. What my goals are based on is MY effort. How hard do I have to work, and how much time will I need to put in? My effort and your effort can be the same with different results. As Ray Lewis said, “Effort is between you and you.” Nobody else can judge your output and only you know when you are or are not putting 100%. I value effort over results. Every. Single. Time.

Timing these for Thanksgiving is a bit arbitrary but there has to be a line in the sand and I figure 3 months should be a good amount of time. I will keep myself honest and share the final results good or bad. But no matter the results there will be big gains to put in the fitness bank. With these even a loss is a win.