Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Double Trouble

Here's a tough swim workout. In preparation for our New Year's Day marathon of fifties (this year it will be 109 50's on the :45), we did forty of them at our Saturday Master's swim.

I thought it was so much fun (or else I had so little imagination) that I did the workout again last night all by myself. I have to say that swimming twice a week after last year's only once a week has made a big speed difference for me. I came in on :38 - :39 pretty consistenly through all forty 50's. Six months ago I tried this workout and couldn't make twenty of them on the same interval. Sometimes I wonder what I could do if I went back to swimming five days a week. But that's way too much work and would take too much away from tri training. Too bad there's not a triathlon that equally weights the swim with the bike and run, ha!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Turning 'Em Over

A couple of years ago I noticed an odd thing: I ran faster off of my bike than I did without biking first. That's kind of the opposite of what most triathletes report (what with the rubber-leg factor and all), so I wondered what could've made the difference for me. Reading an article on running cadence supplied the missing link. After time spent on the bike, where my natural cycling cadence is around 90 - 92, I turn my feet over faster when I run. It's like they're already in that rhythm and can just continue on at that pace. Reading some books on running form like ChiRunning and the POSE method made me realize that cadence was important in running too. I've never been much of a runner, but in these last couple of years I've tried to change my attitude towards this last of the three sports in triathlon.

Now it's been awhile since I really got to working on my running form. Last year with my tendon injury (never run in high heels, ever again!) I barely got in any running at all, so this year feels like starting over, though not entirely from scratch.

I've been keeping track of my running cadence, and am happy to report that despite my year off I have an overall net improvement over two years ago when I first started trying to increase my cadence.

When I first took note of the fact that I had a running cadence at all, it looked like this:

Distance runs: 78
Tempo runs: 82
Speed work: 84
Bricks (running off of the bike): 88

In the last couple of weeks, I've tracked my cadence on every run and now it looks like this:

Distance runs: 83
Tempo runs: 87
Speed work: 90
Bricks: 90

I know I'm still not at an optimum cadence of around 90 for everything, but it's definitely gotten better by a long shot. It felt really awkward at first, especially on the long runs, but it's getting much more natural now. I had an awesome ten miler today and kept my cadence in the 83 - 84 zone the whole way, and actually had a negative split. It feels good to be back.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Up the Down Hill

Here's how to spice up a downhill ride: I was out yesterday on one of my favorite hills. It's about 7 miles of gradual winding up one side, and 3.5 miles of brutal uphill on the other, so you can take your pick which way you want to go, depending on your mood. It's been unseasonably warm here and I'm actually still riding in shorts, and the long side was sunny so I decided to head up that way. I was pretty toasty on my way up the hill, but down the other side I was on the shady side of the hill away from the setting sun and the descent started getting chilly fast. So I decided to do something new and fun.

I set my watch timer for 1:00 repeating intervals. I descended for one minute, then when the timer beeped I turned around and sprinted uphill for the next minute until it beeped again. This is actually a great exercise in the relativity of time, because time while coasting downhill simply is not the same length as time sprinting uphill. Try it, you'll see what I mean.

So at the end of the ride, I not only got my seven mile hill in, I got about eight more uphill sprints. Then of course I realized that this road puts me at the bottom of the hill separating the valley from my house, and I had one more ridge to climb up and over, then up the hill that my house is on. By the time I hit that road, my legs were completely and utterly toasted. This workout is a good one!

Base season, what base season???

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Swim Workout of the Week

Here's a main set I threw into my workout this week:

6 x 100 - Focus on different part of technique each 25 (catch, recovery, follow-through, rhythm, breathing, body position, etc.)

8 x 125 - Gradually accelerate, then sprint last 25

I'm also trying really hard to keep my head more level, as per a suggestion from my swim coach. I'm still not sure how much good this is going to do me, since I never swim for speed unless I'm in open water, in which case I have to look slightly forward so as not to get kicked in the face. Plus that wetsuit floats my feet enough that a flat body position is never an issue. Still, just in case I ever get the burning desire to attend a Master's swim meet, I guess it's a good idea to have some semblency of a decent pool technique!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Already

Dark at 5:30 in the evening, and still over a month to go until the Solstice. Not sure I can take it.

Only consolation: It didn't start raining on my long run today until I was back in my driveway.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Very Real Danger of Drowning... On Your Bicycle

Yep, that's it, the rainy season has arrived. My friend Kay and I were biking home from the pool the other night and it looked like Lake Eerie had temporarily picked up and moved downtown. And then on the way home Jefferson street closely resembled a large river. Water came up and over my feet while we were pedaling and we were shrieking like mad. Crazy!

There used to be a line of "Oregon Ungreeting Cards" with disparaging remarks about our state. One of them said "Last year in Oregon 667 people fell off their bicycles...

...and drowned."

Not far from the truth. All it would take is a small accident with a good crack to the head and you'd be unconscious and underwater right downtown. So it's on to the trainer with me, and I just ran out of episodes of Dexter... not good.