Monday, January 28, 2008

eight days of training complete

With this morning's optional strength training session at the gym, I've now completed eight straight days of Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon training plan, and I'm feeling pretty good about my progress so far.

My biggest concern going into the formal training program was that I'd flounder trying to swim laps in the pool. Truth be told, I'm really enjoying my swims (three sessions) so far. Thanks to the books I'm reading about the technical execution of the crawl stroke supplemented by great online videos like the slo-mo swim videos at, I'm actually feeling good about my progress. I never imagined swimming could be so much fun and such a good workout.

I got my bike tuned up just before I started the training program, and all I've done is ride the bike on the trainer downstairs (it's been raining a lot). Looking forward to better weather ahead so I can get outdoors.

And my running feels really good, too. What with the relatively short workouts (20 minutes or so), I've been able to work on my pace more and am happy to feel so good after 2.5 miles of running. If you'd asked me whether I'd be saying this just a month ago, I'd have groaned at the thought.

One of my big lessons in the first week of training is that I really need to pay attention to eating enough while I'm on this schedule of daily exertion. I think I'd been going light on the intake when I was exercising every other day (thus, the great weight loss), and when I started working out daily, I didn't modify my diet. So I spent a lot of last week hungry, tired, sore and cranky.

I've learned my lesson and am now eating more of the right foods (proteins and carbs) and I'm feeling great this week. Hooray! The cost is that I'm not seeing the pounds slip off like I used to, but I can feel my body tightening up where it used to be flabby, and I can see my form shifting as I add muscle where there used to be fat.

The only bummer? My clothes are again too big. The swim suit (with a 36 in waist) I bought in November is now too large. And my "new" jeans (size 34 waist, down from size 38) are too big! Poor me, huh?

Looking forward to this next week of workouts. My big test comes this Friday when we drive down to Disneyland for a three-night trip. I'll have to get creative on how I keep up with the training schedule. Something to think about during my swim training in the morning!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New "ramp" podrunner mix for training

DJ Steveboy just released "Upward Mobility", a ramp mix that accelerates in steps from 135-175 bpm over the course of an hour. Good stuff!

From his latest newsletter/blog post:
"Upward Mobility" (135-175 BPM)
Before we start a new series on the "sixes," I thought it'd be fun to do a "ramp" mix, since there isn't one available in the current archive. If you're new to ramp mixes, these accelerate steadily over the course of the hour, reaching 25% of the target at 15 minutes, 50% at 30 minutes, 75% at 45 minutes, and 100% at 55 minutes, giving you a good run at the peak BPM.

The responses to the ramp mixes have been terrific. As training devices they cause your body to steadily increase its energy consumption, and many people tell me they increase both distance and time, often starting much slower than they usually go and ending up much faster than normal.
Of course, I didn't see this until after I came back from today's prescribed 20 minute run, so I couldn't sample the effect today. Looking forward to giving this mix a spin on a longer run later in the week!

Oh, and DJ Steveboy's feed for his intervals workout mixes have been posted, so subscribe via your favorite RSS reader today so you don't miss a single mix.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

goal achieved: 40 miles in 4 weeks

Today's workout marked the first run portion of my triathlon training regimen.

Happily, it also marked the completion of a goal I set on January 1 via Nikeplus: to run 40 miles in four weeks. My covering 2.5 miles in 22 minutes at dawn, pushed me over the top a good four days early!

When setting the goal, I imagined I'd spread it out evenly at three runs per week at ten miles per week over four weeks. What actually happened was much more uneven, and took twelve runs to accomplish.
  • Week 1: 11.73 miles over four runs
  • Week 2: 8.65 miles over three runs
  • Week 3: 14.13 miles over three runs
  • Week 4: 2.52 miles in a single run

While I'd love to set another mileage-based goal, if I'm to follow the triathlon training program, I should instead set a time-based goal. Unfortunately, the Nikeplus site's goal-setting widget doesn't do time. It does distance, frequency, calorie burn and pace.

I suppose I could plug in the frequency goal to match my training plan, but that feels rather hollow. Maybe I'll just enjoy the boost from hitting this intermediate goal and keep my sights set on April 13.

Oh, by the way: I'm really enjoying the diversity of activities in working out for the triathlon. What I'm not quite enjoying is the soreness and tired feeling I've got. I have a feeling it's not due to the workouts, but rather to the crazy schedule I've been keeping this week (and the lack of sleep).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I win: finding the time to swim

Today was just the second formal day of my 12-week training program, yet it was also the first test of my resolve to stick with the program. (I passed!)

Up until this training program, I've been able to squeeze in a run whenever I've found time in my schedule: first thing in the morning, late at night, middle of the day. It didn't matter. All I needed were my shoes and my iPod and my reflective vest, and I was set.

Now that there's equipment involved (bike and pool and weights) and a more rigid plan for which day I do what exercise, I don't have such freedoms to squeeze in a quick session.

This structure is particularly discomforting on weeks like this one where I've got something going on after work every night this week. I've got no choice but to do my workouts in the morning, and that's where the swimming gets a bit complicated: the pool lanes don't open up until 7am (Masters class owns the pool 6-7am).

So when I failed to wake up on time this morning, day #2 of the program, I was a more than a little frustrated to be thrown off kilter so quickly into this training thing.

Lucky for me, I had a meeting at work cancel in the afternoon, so I was able to squeeze in the relatively light "swim #1" workout (10 min in the pool) in just 45 minutes away from the office. Sure, it was 47 degrees and raining while I was working out, but I was wet already, and the outdoor pool's heated enough that you don't really notice the air temperature once you're in the water.

I felt better after doing my 250 meters of swimming than the first time, and the feeling of success for having gotten in the workout despite the scheduling odds was highly satisfying, too.

Day #3 is a session on the bike, and I've already got it set up on the trainer downstairs. No way I'm gonna miss this one.

Monday, January 21, 2008

first strength training session done

Today marks the official beginning of my twelve-week training program for the ICE Breaker triathlon on April 13 in Granite Bay, California.

Per the training program for beginners spec'd out in Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon book, today was either a "day of rest" or an optional strength session.

I opted to do the strength session as part of the Anatomical Adaptation phase of getting my muscles into shape.

This means I did a lot of reps on light weights just to get into the swing of things. My fifty-minute-long workout went like this:

- a five minute warmup on the stationary bike
- 3 sets of 20 reps each of the following:
  • leg press
  • seated row
  • chest press
  • leg curl
  • abdominal curl with twist
  • lat pull-down
- a five minute cool down on the stationary bike

It was nice to get back in the weight room. I felt just enough fatigue in my limbs to know I'd gotten a good workout, and considering it took less than an hour from my leaving the house to my returning home again, I think I can make it fit my schedule going forward.

What I have to make sure of now is that I'm eating enough to fuel all this exercise. I have a feeling the pounds aren't going to come off as quick as I step up the training.

One day down, 83 to go!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I swim, at last!

Hooray! I finally made it into the pool this afternoon.

For the first time, I put on my sugoi swim trunks (couldn't go the full-on speedo route, so I bought the short "square shorts" instead), donned my swim cap and put on the goggles. I was ready to get wet, at last!

So, I did a preview of Tuesday's training session by swimming one length of the pool, focusing on technique, then pausing 30 seconds at the wall. Lather, rinse, repeat for a total of 10 minutes.

By the time I was on my 10th length of the pool (25m each length), I was amazed at what a good workout I'd had in such a short period of time with all that rest at the end of each length! Eesh, I've got my work cut out for me.

I can tell this swimming thing is going to be difficult. But if I can improve in the pool like I have running on the road, I'll have this thing licked by the time April 13 rolls around.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

feeling good about my longest run so far

Today I ran the longest distance I ever have without walking: 7.1 miles in 62 minutes. And I even felt like I could have kept going when I was done. Woohoo!

Considering I had a rough time finishing a 10K back on Thanksgiving in 65 minutes and walked quite a bit during that race, I'm feeling quite good about myself today.

And on top of all that, my goal I set via NikePlus and my Nike+ iPod Sport Kit to run 40 miles in the first four weeks of 2008 is about to be achieved a week ahead of time. With today's run, I'm at 37.9 miles and will easily eclipse my goal with Monday's 3-mile run.

As I've been counting down the days to starting my triathlon training in earnest (on Monday!), I've been reading as much literature as possible on training for the running and the swimming legs of the race.

Books read so far and the standout items I've learned from each:

  • Frank Shorter's Running for Peak Performance - A lot of great pictures in this book with good reminders on stretching, technique and what to do when the inevitable injury arises. Easily devoured in a single sitting.
  • Jeff Galloway's Galloway's Book on Running - I've learned about the appropriate way to add mileage and train for longer distances from Galloway. Packed with a lot more text than Shorter's book.
  • John Mora's Triathlon 101: Essentials for Multisport Success - This is where I think I've gotten the best preview of what happens when I slip in the water to start swim training. Also a great section on how to fuel your workouts, pre- and post-.

I stopped at the library today to pick up a couple more books: Eric Harr's Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week and Dr. Phillip Whitten's Complete Book of Swimming which should make for good reading as I count down the hours to Monday's run and inaugural triathlon training plan workout (I'm following Joe Friel's Your First Triathlon training plan). See the Google calendar link at the top of the right column on this blog to see what I'm doing when.

Oh, and the scale topped out at 192 this morning.

Feels like everything's falling into place (except I really need to get in the pool tomorrow!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Six month update: 25 pounds gone, 15 to go

It was six months ago that I finally knuckled under and started getting in shape. It was early July, and I'd accepted a friend's invitation to climb Mt Whitney at the end of September. At the time, I carried 220 pounds on my 6'2" frame and had just purchased a handful of shorts with 38" waists.

I'd taught backpacking and mountaineering and rock climbing in college, but that was fifteen years ago, and I'd done little outdoor back country adventuring since. Heck, I hadn't done a whole lot of regular exercise since before my first kid was born five years ago. Even so, there was no way I was going to be the last one of our group of six to the top of Mt Whitney, and that meant I had to get in shape. Fast.

I knew I had to start cardio work to get the stamina up, and I had to shed pounds so there'd be less of me to have to move up the mountain.

So I laced up my shoes and began to run. To be honest, it was more walking than running at first, but I stuck with it. Slowly but surely, I was able to jog/walk for 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour, and then I could run the whole time. Before I knew it, I was running in the hills around our house and feeling pretty good about my cardiovascular condition (I still found the running monotonous, but I knew I had to stick with it).

And to shed the pounds, I started watching what I ate: more specifically, watching how much I ate. I cut back on portion sizes, I stopped having my nightly beer (or two), and I stopped drinking soda that didn't have alcohol in it (I loves me my diet-coke-and-Meyers Rum!).

By the time I made it back from the summit of Mt Whitney, I'd dropped twenty pounds and my pants with a 36-inch waist were feeling a little loose. I was walking a little taller and starting to feel better about myself. This exercise thing was really working.

It was now October, and I knew I didn't want to slip back to old slothful ways, so I chose an April triathlon as the next "summit." And I set a goal of maintaining a weight of 180 pounds by my birthday in June.

So I've stuck with my running and portion control, and by the end of the year, I'd dropped down to 195 pounds and had to buy new pants with 34-inch waists. I'm even enjoying my regular runs, and I feel like I've got a good base fitness upon which to start doing the multi-sport training next week.

And I can feel the shift in posture, in stance, in mind-set.

When I look in the mirror, I can see the difference in my body composition: the fat is melting away and the muscle definition is starting to pop in my mid-section. And that's a great motivator: watching your body turn into something you're, dare I say, proud of instead of something you'd rather clothe quickly and loosely. It makes it a heck of a lot easier to pass up the sweets and goodies that litter the office. And it's a good motivator to get me out of bed before the sun comes up so I can hit the road.

While I say I've got another fifteen pounds to go, I'm already hitting 193 on the scale some mornings, and given the workouts ahead of me, I've no doubt I'm going to get to 180 comfortably by June.

Oh, I got my activity center membership on Sunday so I've finally got access to a pool and a weight room. Now, it's time, at last, to get wet!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

finally going to get my feet wet

I've been avoiding the swim training aspect of preparing for my triathlon, preferring to run and spin instead, as I'm not a good swimmer.

But the main reason? I have no access to a pool. Sure, we've got a pretty big tub, but I can't fully practice my strokes in the tub. I have to have a real pool.

While I was in Malaysia in December, the hotel I was in had a pool, and I tried swimming a couple laps in it to no avail. My problem there? my shoulder-length hair kept covering my nose and mouth whenever I tried to turn my head to breathe.

So, I've been putting off the inevitable extra expense here close to home: getting a membership to a gym that has a pool. And in Redwood City, there are three choices: Gold's Gym, the Sequoia YMCA or PCCC.

Of the three, PCCC has the best facilities, and as an added bonus, the PCA Masters Swim program is run out of PCCC. So why isn't it a no-brainer? Well, there's the registration fee to join PCCC ($600) on top of the monthly fee ($97/mo) for access to the pool, the weight room, etc. I can do the monthly, but it's the reg fee that's made me pause. There's a Masters-only program, but I really need the personal time to practice, as my form is horrible and I don't want to get constantly tapped on the foot to be passed in Masters.

Lucky for me, it's all changed now, as PCCC is having a "no reg fee" special if you join in January. I'm signing up tomorrow and plan to be in the pool this weekend. I've already got the goggles, the swim cap and the suit. Just add water.

Three-sport training: here I come!

Monday, January 7, 2008

sidebar: Mt Whitney Lottery 2008

Since climbing Mt Whitney was that which got me on this triathlon gig, I've decided that a repeat climb is in order (and must be scheduled around this summer).

When's the summit date? It depends on how I do in the Mt Whitney permit lottery.

Wish me luck, I'm going to try to climb it in a single day with a group of friends when there's no snow on the ground (July/August).

Friday, January 4, 2008

Advice from a three-time Ironman triathlete

As shared by D (he sits in the pod next to me me at work and is a great inspiration and quick on the advice as he watches me get ready to jump into the world of triathleticismistics)

I shop mostly at Sports Basement in the Presidio - - It's got everything you need to do a triathlon, the people are great, and there's plenty of parking so lots of groups start their weekend rides/runs there. Most clubs also get 10% off of everything in the store, and at almost every local event you can find 15% or 20% off coupons for the store.

I'm a member of GGTC - - So I use that site to reach members, and there's a reasonably active discussion list as well. I'm not a member of SF Tri, but I've heard good things about them. Also, Linda is or was a member of Silicon Valley tri.

Most of the races I do are listed on All of the bigs ones are definitely there and you can find them with a search by location or date range.

There's a company called TriCalifornia that puts on Escape from Alcatraz, and a few other races of note... . Wild Flower is quite the event, but I wouldn't recommend Treasure Island.

J&A Productions also does some cool races. I've done the San Jose Intl Tri (SJIT) and it was well run. I may do it again this year. ... is an infamous triathlon site... and the forum there is very active and some of the people are incredibly knowledgeable about triathlon. Searching the forum you'll find answers to all kinds of useful stuff. I will warn you though that the people that post there can be incredibly... ummm... sarcastic? But, there is a lot of expertise on that forum, and it's worth checking out once in awhile.

Also, I'll tell you the one thing that I told Thomas today... "NOTHING new on race day". That means no new clothing, no new equipment. If you have to buy anything new, make sure you use it in training in the weeks leading up to the race! And also... no new food. Breakfast the day of the race should be the same thing you eat for breakfast before a long training day, whatever works for you. Heck, most of the people I know even have a standard dinner that they eat the night before a race just to make sure they don't get an upset stomach the morning of the event.