Friday, May 28, 2010

Question of the Day: How To Read A Swim Workout

After yesterday's swim workout post, kgseymour asks:

I have a horribly embarrassing question -- can you tell me how to follow this workout? I love to swim, and do a lot of it, but have never been a swimmer competitively or anything, so I'm not too clear on how to go about reading this workout. That's going to sound so dumb to you, and I'm sure you have a post somewhere that explains it -- I just don't know where to find it. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!
First of all, nothing to be horribly embarrassed about! Reading swim workouts is a bit like reading hieroglyphics or physics notation. If you're not used to it, it all looks like gobbledygook. When I teach my Swim Conditioning classes, one of my aims is to help people become comfortable with reading the whiteboard. At our pool, there are always three workouts written up on the whiteboard: My swim conditioning class, the latest Master's workout, and the Noon Coached Swim workout. So if you go to swim, you can always pick from what's up there if you can understand what it's saying. So being able to read the board is very useful, as it opens up the door to a whole bunch of different swim workout possibilities.

But, it can be really confusing! So here's a post from awhile back that has a link to a site that explains many of the abbreviations and terms. And here I'll deconstruct yesterday's posted workout to help make sense of it for those of you not used to reading these crazy things! My notes will be in red.

First of all, it's important to understand that my workouts are written up for a 25 yard pool. That means that every 4 lengths of the pool will be a "100" or 100 yards. If your pool is a different length (most common other lengths would be 25 meters or 50 meters) then you need to adjust the times accordingly. A 25 meter pool is a bit longer than a 25 yard pool.

Warmup: Note: perform the warmup at an easy pace and get your heart rate up gradually

200 Swim, 200 Pull  Swim 8 lengths (200 yards) at an easy pace. Follow with 8 lengths done with a pull buoy (no kicking, just arms)
4 x 50 Drill with board  
This is the drill that I linked to in the post. Make sure you watch the video as it really gives you an idea of how to do the drill. 4 x 50 just means that you will do 50 yards (2 lengths) of the drill, take a brief rest, and repeat that three more times.
200 Swim  Swim 8 lengths (200 yards) at an easy pace.
4 x 50 Drill no board This time you do the drill with no kickboard. Again, four times you do 2 lengths with a rest in between
2 x 100 Kick IM Order  100 Kick means that you'll be doing 4 lengths with just kicking (no arm strokes), kickboard is optional. "IM order" means that you will follow the stroke order of the IM, or "Individual Medley", which is Butterfly, Breaststroke, Backstroke, Freestyle. So you'll kick one length of each, take a rest and repeat that one more time.

Main Set
Okay, this main set is kind of intense, time-wise. So make sure you have an easily visible clock, or a watch with a chronograph on your arm. Here's how it's going to work. You're going to pick a column based on your swimming speed. It may be that none of these columns will work for you, this workout was written for fairly experienced Master's swimmers, so if you need to pick a slower interval you can. Here's how to determine: Swim one length at a moderate-to-intense pace and time yourself. Take whatever time (in seconds) it took you, and add 5 - 10 seconds to that time. This will be your base interval time. So if it took you 40 seconds, your interval for every 25 (one length) will be 45 seconds. This means that your interval for the 50 will be 1:30 (doubling the :45 seconds) and for the 75 will be 2:15 (tripling the 45 seconds) and so on.

For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that you're going to use the 30 second interval. 

2 X 25     :20         :25          :30
2 X 50     :40         :50         1:00
2 X 75     1:00      1:15        1:30
2 X 100   1:20      1:40        2:00
2 X 125   1:40      2:05        2:30
2 X 150    2:00     2:30        3:00
2 X 175    2:20     2:55        3:30
2 X 200    2:40     3:20        4:00

You will  start your timer,  swim one length (25 yards), look at the timer. When the timer hits 30 seconds, you'll take off to swim your next 25 yards (one length). 
Now when the timer hits 1:00 (one minute), you'll leave for your first 50 yards (2 lengths). 
Come to the wall, look at your timer, when it hits the next 2:00 mark, you'll leave for the next 50 yards. 
Get to the wall, when your timer hits 3:00, you'll leave for your first 75 yard (3 lengths). 
Now you'll wait at the wall until the timer gets to 4:30 to leave for your next 75.

You'll leave at 6:00 and 8:00 on the timer for each of the 100s (4 lengths each), 10:00 and 12:30 for each of the 125s (5 lengths), 15:00 and 18:00 for each of the 150s, and so on. Each time the distance increases by one length, your interval will increase by 30 seconds. As the distances get longer,  you should get slightly more rest each time.

Approximately 60 seconds extra rest Now you take an extra minute of rest (but no more!)

Same thing going back down the ladder. Reset your timer to 0:00, swim 8 lengths (200). Rest at the wall and leave for your 175 when the timer hits 4:00. Leave for your 150 when the timer gets to 7:30, and so on.

1 X 200    2:40      3:20        4:00
1 X 175    2:20      2:55        3:30
1 X 150    2:00      2:30        3:00
1 X 125    1:40      2:05        2:30
1 X 100    1:20      1:40        2:00
1 X 75       1:00     1:15        1:30
1 X 50       :40        :50         1:00
1 X 25       :20        :25          :30

Total: 4100

Hope that's helpful and explains the workout. Let me know if it's still confusing or if you have any more questions!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Excellent Swim Drill and Saturday's Masters Workout

For last Saturday's workout, we did the Mega-Catch-Up drill. Here's a link that explains the drill with a great video!
And the workout, boy was this a toughie! Our lane chose the :25 interval per 25 yards (middle column), which seemed like it would be plenty of rest but we really pushed the set and it totally wore me out.


200 Swim, 200 Pull
4 x 50 Drill with board
200 Swim
4 x 50 Drill no board
2 x 100 Kick IM Order

Main Set

2 X 25     :20         :25          :30
2 X 50     :40         :50         1:00
2 X 75     1:00      1:15        1:30
2 X 100   1:20      1:40        2:00
2 X 125   1:40      2:05        1:30
2 X 150    2:00     2:30        3:00
2 X 175    2:20     2:55        3:30
2 X 200    2:40     3:20        4:00
Approximately 60 seconds extra rest
1 X 200    2:40      3:20        4:00
1 X 175    2:20      2:55        3:30
1 X 150    2:00      2:30        3:00
1 X 125    1:40      2:05        2:30
1 X 100    1:20      1:40        2:00
1 X 75       1:00     1:15        1:30
1 X 50       :40        :50         1:00
1 X 25       :20        :25          :30

Total: 4100

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Towel Day!

Happy Towel Day everyone, a most auspicious day to do an open water swim! Or, if you did a triathlon today, I bet you at least carried a towel to your transition area? It's always good to be prepared.

"...any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

                           -- Douglas Adams, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, one of the funniest books ever written here on planet earth!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Every cyclist and runner has favorite routes: we know their length, we've memorized their contours, we see them in all seasons, all weather, every time of day. We know our times on our routes, they become touchstones to our training. I bet I'm not the only one who has secret names for landmarks along the way. Sometimes these landmarks are associated with time benchmarks so that I know if I'm ahead or behind my goal time when I hit them.

I was out on a ride the other day, one I've been doing for over 20 years. As I passed by some of my own personally named landmarks (Frog Song Hill, Dead Marshes, the Hot Pocket), I thought about the human need to give name and meaning to things. One of my favorite books to take on travels around my home state is the heavy tome Oregon Geographic Names by Lewis A. McArthur. Giving the history behind names of everything from towns (Rome, Oregon was so named because some nearby rock formations nearby looked like Roman ruins) to rocks (there are, not surprisingly, three Haystack Rocks, though the one at Cannon Beach is probably the most famous), creeks (Fiddle Creek was so named because in 1894 two men passed through the area aiming to buy cattle. One broke his leg and they had to hole up in a cabin to wait for it to heal. He wished repeatedly during the time of his confinement for a fiddle to help him pass the time) and rivers (the Rogue river's name has been disputed for years with one camping claiming it came from the French "rouge" meaning "red river" and others saying that's nuts because it's a clear blue-green river that never runs red and that even the French in the area called it "La Riviere aux Coquins" -- or "Rogue River" in French -- after the local Native Americans who the settlers found "troublesome").

Even worse in the geographic names department, I spent my entire youth going to church camp at a place called (I am not making this up) "Dead Indian". Dead Indian Methodist camp was named after Dead Indian Creek, which flows right through the camp. Oregon Geographic Names tells this story: In 1854, some settlers found two dead Rogue River Indians in some deserted wigwams near the creek, and supposed that Klamath Indians had killed them in a fight. They named the stream for their discovery. Fortunately, the camp has now been renamed "Latgawa" after the local Native peoples. In their own language (which they shared with the Takelma who lived in the same region), Latgawa means "those living in the uplands".

As I bike or run or hike through the valleys, hills, and by the rivers of my community, I envision the peoples that walked here before me. I know that they, too, had names for places. Although most of those names are gone, some reminders remain. The Willamette River runs through my home town, and the name comes from an original native place name (although there is much debate about the spelling) that means roughly "where the river ripples and runs fast". Even better, near the river in 2002 the Kalapuya Talking Stones were installed, reintroducing words of the Kalapuya language in a beautiful and artistic fashion. The one I run by most frequently is set in a hazelnut grove and says "Ga-Ach-Li" or "Peaceful in Daylight". There are also stones that say "Kanaa" the "going across place", "Hi-Dwa" - "in a wooded area" and many more. They are tangible reminders that peoples have been walking these trails long before the bike paths of my time, and the hazelnut groves of the white settlers time.

My strangest personal landmark name was on a ride I did frequently when I lived in Washington. The ride went out from my work at Microsoft onto Redmond-Fall City road, I could go all the way up to the incredible Snoqualmie Falls on this ride. Coming back into town, there was a bit of a hill -- not long but short and steep -- and parked at the top in a little gravel turnout there was a worn brownish van with a sign painted on the side that said "Man Bullets". I never stopped to find out what that meant, but it always intrigued and to tell the truth scared me a little. Nevertheless, that became "Man Bullets Hill", even long after the van disappeared.

My place names keep me connected to the world around me. My rides and runs are not just about paces, lactic thresholds, and when to eat a gel or powerbar. They are about being in contact with the greater world, seeing the green peacefulness of the forest overhead, hearing the birds, tasting the water in the air from a creek running hidden beside the road.

And what about you, do you have personal names for places that you run or ride by? Share a few!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eleven Miles Never Felt So Good

Yes, Robin 2.0 the Endurance Model is back! After what has seemed like a crazy string of interruptions to my regular training (including the twisted ankle, the detour into "Crossfit Endurance", and the broken arm), I finally feel like I'm back in the Endurance saddle again. An eleven mile run of mostly hills today left me feeling elated and strong. I was trying to hold a 10:00 per mile pace, nice and slow. On the way out, my benchmark went by a little fast at a 9:42 pace. Imagine my surprise when the same benchmark on the way back home, nine miles later clocked in at 9:26. I was clearly feeling stronger and stronger as time went by. That's the way  I want my season to be headed!

This week, my first-time triathlon peeps and I are doing our final tough workouts (biking and lake swim on the docket for the next couple of days) and fine-tuning transitions, then we're tapering, packing up the camper van and heading north for the Blue Lake triathlon the first weekend in June. Getting excited now! It's like the broken arm and all of the rest are fading into distant memories (well, except when I swim long, then the arm starts to remind me it's not all there) and we're headed forward into the triathlon future. Now just don't let me trip over my own two feet in the next couple of weeks!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crazy-Making Weather

I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I get rain. I understand that spring is rainy, and sometimes windy, and sometimes a little stormy. But the last two weeks have been ridiculous. All day long, we alternate schizophrenically between sun and rain, hail, sleet, driving crazy winds (the kind with tree branches flying off and going tumbling through the air, not like gentle spring breezes), and pouring drenching ridiculous rain. You can't plan to do anything outside even a few minutes ahead of time, you can look outside and it's sunny and by the time you've grabbed your running shoes there's so much water pouring out of the sky it's like a bathtub got turned on your head.

It's driving. me. crazy.

Literally, I feel like a maddened beehive got turned loose inside my head, it's making me nuts. Can't get outside. Can't garden. Can't bike or run. I can take running in the rain, trust me I do it about 5 months out of the year. But running in a downpour with tree branches hailing down on your head and thunder cracking around? No thanks.

Luckily, we got a small break in the weather for the Ride of Silence on Wednesday, although not surprisingly the turnout was very low (gee, you think the hail, sleet, pouring rain and driving winds had anything to do with that?). That's the saddest I've been in a long time, so maybe that has contributed to my mood. As a mom, hearing a parent speak about losing their child to a collision with a car? That's almost unbearable. And yet, my kids ride bikes. How can I not have my kids ride bikes? How can I not ride a bike? Even knowing what's out there, the possible death that awaits with every driver who is distracted or in too much of a hurry? Should I just have my kids turn into these sofa slugs who get driven everywhere then? Like the blobby kids who pour out of the minivans at school drop-off lines or even at soccer games?

But what about the 10 year old killed at a crosswalk that the Ride of Silence arrived at on Wednesday. The teenager who hit him was going 65 miles per hour, and pulled around a car that had stopped for the young boy walking his bike across the street. He pushed the boy's bike 211 feet before finally skidding to a stop. Thinking of these things makes my head hurt. It makes my heart hurt. I have a 10 year old, no mother should have to lose a child like that, to someone else's impatience in their automobile. Maybe these are some of the bees in my head. Maybe it's not all just the weather.

Still, I can't wait for the weather to clear so I can... get out on my bike? What does that say about my brain then. Hmmmm....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tri Coach: Three Principles of Training

I'm starting something new here at Chez Ironmom Blog. For awhile, I've been writing up swim technique tips from time to time, usually the kinds of advice that I find myself giving to my swimmers frequently and thus are worth writing down and sharing with others. I've tagged them all with the label Swim Coach. As a triathlon coach, I find that something similar happens with triathlon advice. Most of the very basic stuff gets repeated over and over, and is probably worth sharing here, especially for people who are just starting out on their triathlon journey. So I'll be writing those up from time to time and tagging them with Tri Coach so they're easy to find.

Here's one I find myself regularly harping on with athletes. It's a bit of advice that you can probably find in almost every triathlon book, video, course, and comes out of the lips of most coaches on a regular basis.

Yet it is the SINGULARLY MOST IGNORED advice by most athletes. I myself managed to ignore it for years, to the great detriment of my own training. So pay attention :-)

The three very simple, important, and basic rules of endurance training are:

1. Rest: Possibly the hardest thing for many triathletes to do is to take adequate rest. Get at least one full day off per week (I didn't do this last week and ended up over-tired and with a poorer ability to hit my key workouts hard). If you can catch a 15 minute nap during the afternoon time, that's good for the body and soul as well.

2. Go Easy: On "Long, Slow" runs and bikes, don't ignore the "Slow" part of the equation! It's easy to train at too fast a pace when you're going long. Slow should be easy, it should feel too easy. If you're training to go long, your long runs can be done at marathon pace + :30 or +:45 per mile. That's going to feel really slow. Let it!

3. Go Hard: On intervals, sprints, time trials, hill repeats, GO HARD. People who go a little too hard and too fast on their long, slow, easy days often fail to hit the hard days hard enough. Hard workouts suck. Hard workouts hurt. No one wants to hurt, gasp for air, feel like puking. But that's what hard workouts are about. They're quick and over in a relatively short amount of time so suck it up and make it count.

If you don't go easy enough on easy days and hard enough on hard days, you risk spending most of your training time in the gray zone - not slow enough to work your endurance systems and not hard enough to build muscle strength, power, and speed. So you short-change your own goals.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Fifty-Fifty Run

Sometimes things are best when they're comprised of different components. When I was a kid and the ice cream truck would come around, my dad would always buy us a "Fifty-Fifty Bar", which is one of those orange and vanilla concoctions that they now call a Creamsicle. They don't taste as good now as they did back then, probably due to the fact that they used to be made of vanilla ice cream and something with actual orange in it. Now two of the first four ingredients are corn syrup (there's both the regular and the high fructose kind) and the rest of the ingredients have nothing to do with either vanilla or orange or ice cream. But I digress...

Yesterday I had a long run to do. Hubby wanted to run four or five miles, and my friend Kay wanted to run four or five miles. Put two and two together and I got a half of a long run with one, and a half with the other! After loop one, I just rang Kay on my cell phone and told her I was 10 minutes from her driveway, she met me there and I just kept rolling into the second half of my run. Not a bad way to go: the fifty-fifty run. If you're an athlete doing a long slow day, and you've got friends who don't want to go that long, it's a good way to still get to run together.

This morning I had a tough Crossfit workout to do, involving five rounds of an 800 meter hill run, plus 30 kettlebell swings and 30 pull-ups. Although I have recently graduated back up to using a green (narrower) band on the pull-ups, I had to go back to a thicker band for this workout given that it would be 150 total pull-ups. Still, I'm grateful that my arm is now working well enough to do the pull-ups and the kettlebell stuff, and miraculously my legs felt pretty darn fresh on those runs!

But, now I'm jonesing for a Creamsicle, the real kind of my memories. Maybe I'll have to make up some kind of Creamsicle smoothie with vanilla protein powder and call it good.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Three Ironwomen Gone, and a Ride of Silence Approaching

Three women training for Ironman Lake Placid were killed by a single driver, and three other cyclists were injured in the same accident. One of the cyclists who survived described the accident as "like a bowling match". Just imagine.

I don't know why it makes it so much harder, but knowing that one of the triathletes was my age, 44, makes it especially chilling. You think "I was on a road on a bike today with pickup trucks going too fast and coming too close to me." So as a cyclist, what do you do? Not train on roads? Not train outside? Why are our lives forfeit when people can't take a few extra seconds to pass cyclists safely? These cyclists were riding single-file.

It's funny because on my ride this morning I was looking at my average speed for the ride and remembering Jane Higdon, an amazing local triathlete who was killed on her bike here by a truck 4 years ago. She once told me that she didn't put much stock in average paces because she typically averaged 17 mph on her long rides. I have no idea if that was true or if she was just trying to make me feel better, because she was simply an amazing cyclist who turned in a smoking 5:48 bike split on the tough IM Canada course when she was my age. But it's always helped me not to obsess too much about what my average pace is and to concentrate more on other things during a ride.

All of which sadly brings me to an event I wish would never have to happen again, but obviously does. The Ride of Silence will happen next week this year, on May 19 at 7:00 pm in hundreds of locations world-wide. You can check their website to find a location near you, and help bring attention to the seemingly never-ending issue of cyclists injured and killed on public roads by motor vehicles.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Facing the Wall

In karate class today, we worked on a whole bunch of different stuff. Quick memorization of moves and patterns, agility ladder drills, kicking and punching the wall (accuracy!), perfecting kata, and more. After every completed exercise, we each had to return to the same spot and stare at the wall until everyone was done.

What's harder, performing the drills, or standing absolutely still and facing the wall?

How many times in a long race do we figuratively have a wall to face? How many times is it just us and the contents of our mind, trying to still the chatter and perform our best? How deep can you go when you need to?

There were times today when I had to snap myself back to attention when the sensei gave us our next drill. You can get pretty deep in concentration when there's just you and a wall. Try it sometime!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Finding Your Climbing Power

It's that time of year: when we look at our upcoming races and the terrain we'll need to cover, and we start to get more specific in our training. If your races involve hills, that means training on hills. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to cycle with some great hill climbers and learn a few tips that have made me a better climber. I'm still learning and growing as a cyclist, but here's a few things I've learned along the way:

While it might look dramatic on TV to be climbing while standing on the pedals (in fact, I had to laugh out loud when I watched the Ironman Florida television coverage - the footage they got from the bike course was of athletes standing on their pedals to climb the only "hill" on the course, an overpass. The triathletes were just stretching out their legs after miles and miles of flat windy riding, there was no other reason to get up off your seat on that tiny incline!), in reality you're often better off staying seated while climbing. This is especially important if your build tends toward the sturdy and muscular and not to the slim and whippetlike. A top road biker who is an expert climber will generally weigh (in pounds) no more than twice his height (in inches). Yes, that's  144 pounds for a 6' tall male. If you haven't yet (or never want to) achieve this body style, every extra pound you carry will cost you in the climb.

Staying seated has many advantages: it keeps your weight partially supported by your saddle instead of by the muscles in your legs (a rule of thumb is that you use about 10% more energy as soon as you stand up to climb), it uses less of your core and arm muscles (fewer muscles engaged equals less oxygen consumed), it utilizes your legs and glutes more effectively with less wasted motion, and it allows you to keep up a faster more consistent cadence.

In order to stay seated, you have to use your gears wisely. Many triathletes who are not yet comfortable on their bikes tend to avoid shifting as much as possible. You wouldn't do this in your car, where you would hear your engine lugging or over-revving when you refused to shift. Your body is doing the same thing when you don't shift to keep your cadence constant. So picking the right gear for the start of the hill and then staying on the shifters to maintain your cadence in the 70 - 90 range is crucial. Keep those pedals spinning and your heart rate in a manageable zone as you cruise up the hill. Hammering a hill and flooding your muscles with lactic acid (especially in a race) might look cool in the moment, but is a recipe for disaster. Those lactic-flooded legs will feel dead on the run!

If you do need to stand, either to change body position, give your back a break, or because the hill is too steep to stay seated, work on keeping a steady line while rocking the bike back and forth underneath you. This is a skill that will come with practice, but many triathletes weave and wobble when they stand on hills, potentially endangering any athletes trying to pass on the side. So when you're out training on hills, be sure to get some practice with standing climbs. Use your body weight to help you push down on the pedals and let the bike travel side-to-side underneath you, but not too far (6 - 8 inches is enough). Observe the track of your wheels and make sure you're still traveling in a straight line. Don't lean way far forward over the handlebars as this takes efficiency away from your legs, try keeping your weight centered over your cranks as much as possible. Don't forget that just before you stand you may need to shift into a higher gear to account for the increased power of a standing climb.

Best way to get good at hills: stop fearing them and start doing them. I know I used to hate hills but now I kind of find that I like them. I've started tracking my times on some local doozies so I know when I'm getting better over the course of  a season, and even when I've started off a new season with better climbing skills than I started the last one. This year's Crossfit training has made me a stronger hill climber with lower body weight and more power, so I'm eager to see how I'll stack up against my benchmark hills this season!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Traditional Mother's Day Lake Swim

It's become a Mother's Day tradition in our family: don't give mom flowers or anything silly like a blender, take her to the lake and let her swim! Since today looked like it would be rainy, we set out yesterday for this beautiful lake near the beach. This year I was joined by a couple of friends who are training for their first triathlon. They just got wetsuits so this was their first open water swim ever. What an experience!

The water was surprisingly pleasant and the skies were blue. The kids and dogs all romped around on the beach and we took off in the sunshine. Remember your first open-water experience? It can be a little panic-inducing. I get a bit of the heebie-jeebies the first open water swim of the year too, and I've been doing it forever. But they both did great! They were even brave enough to set out across the lake, leaving the shore behind. During last week's pool session, we worked on sighting but there's nothing like trying to swim straight out in the open water. It's a skill for sure. One thing I try to do is pick something on the horizon to sight on - a tall tree, a building, a hill - that's behind what I'm aiming for  in the water. That way I don't have to really focus super hard, I can just get a quick glance and make sure I'm on course.

I am usually a pretty straight swimmer in the lake, but one thing I noticed is that my left arm fatigued a lot faster in the wetsuit and so after awhile I started curving off to the left. I've got a couple more weeks before the triathlon to get that arm even stronger so I can swim straight.

We were given the gift of a beautiful day, clear warm(ish) water, good friends, and the ability to swim, swim, swim. So to all the moms out there, I wish you a wonderful day filled with whatever brings you joy. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Brick Baby, Brick!

I know my season is starting later than many of you all out there, mostly due to not signing up for any Spring Sprints due to the broken arm. But my first race is 4 weeks away and so the first brick workout of the season was today and man, it felt great!

Only big question on my mind: I run WAY smoother and WAY more comfortably and probably a bit faster in my Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They are, however, a major pain to get on and getting them on fast would be difficult. Should I attempt to use them in a sprint triathlon? Would the time savings in the run, plus overall just FEEL of my run (remember, running is my weakest sport and it rarely feels this fun) be worth the hassle of putting them on?

I'm going to try some timings (timed runs in toe shoes vs. regular shoes, timed transitions with toe shoes vs. regular shoes) and attempt to answer this question in the next two weeks. I have no doubt it would be worth it in an Oly distance, but I have my doubts for the sprint. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Gardening Club, Sustainability Discussion Group, Recipe Sharing, and Oh Yeah, Triathlon Training

As our little group of aspiring triathletes is warming up for a training run, the conversation inevitably turns to topics like.....

... whether or not to mulch the tomatoes against a potential frost, best designs for backyard chicken coops, books like Food Not Lawns, or  In Defense of Food, recipes for flour-free muffins, seed saving, or what we want to can, freeze, and store food-wise this summer.

I bet you thought I was going to say heart rate zones, tempo vs. long runs, brick training, and nutritional periodization! For many athletes, sports are a distinct thing that they do, separate from their regular life. And perhaps they eat a little more nutritiously to fuel their workouts, or perhaps they just buy more power bars and binge on pizza. For many of us (and I have definitely been in this camp before) we work out so we can pig out. I used to love the fact that I could eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's because I'd done a 15 mile run that day. Don't get me wrong, it's a definite advantage of the multi-sport lifestyle that we can afford a few more nutritional indulgences since we burn so many more calories. And there's definitely nothing wrong with a pint of B&J's. Especially if it's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch......yummmmmmm

But these days I'm seeing a synergy starting to develop between my athletic pursuits, my passion for sustainability, and my interest in good nutrition starting at the ground level with my garden. When I started blogging several years ago, I created three blogs: one for triathlon training, one for sustainability/gardening, and one for our homeschooling and parenting. As the years have gone by, I've found it harder and harder to figure out where to put many of my blog posts. Is eating directly from my garden an offshoot of the Paleo eating that I'm doing to fuel my body for sports and thus should be posted here? Or is it related to my Urban Farm blog because of its environmental sustainability and ties to local eating, or is it something I do to bring better nutrition to my family and to raise healthier kids and thus should be covered on my Blue Skies blog?  I've toyed with the idea of combining blogs, but I think most of the time it works better to keep them separate because people interested in backyard chickens probably don't want to read my swim workouts and vice versa.

Yet an increasing number of my triathlete friends, both online and in person are planting gardens, getting chickens, buying local meats and produce, and moving toward a position of food sustainability and locavore eating. It makes sense that if you're going to work your body to the maximum, you should fuel it with the best possible sources. So we'll probably be having BRiCk workouts this summer. That's Bike, Run, and Canning green beans!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Taking a Deep Breath!

You know how when your life is just going on from day to day, things seem to work pretty well. But then along comes something really important, something you really want to accomplish, and that's when stuff gets dicey. For instance, say you want to get something done on your computer, like creating a video. All of a sudden, batteries fail, and the ones you thought were charged are not, and then you can't find the cords to connect the camera to the computer because the kids were using them to make stop-action animation. And the camera cards are all filled up with photos of animated pieces of claymation. Then the music you want to use won't load because the file got corrupted by iTunes, and the movie editing software keeps crashing. It's like the whole world is conspiring against you. Aaarrrrgghhhhh! At least my hard drive didn't crash this time.

Thanks heavens for my teenage technology wizard, Mackenzie to the rescue! He got me all straightened out, worked the camera, taught me how to edit in the movie making software, and generally smoothed it all down for me. The end result is my video submission for Team Evotri. They are adding a new member to their team, and their mission statement is eerily similar to my own personal one:

Team members will "dedicate themselves to maximizing their potential, to sharing what they learn from their experiences, and to making a positive contribution to the endurance sport community." That's why I've had their Evotri Ambassador link in my blog for some time, I believe that they are approaching endurance sports with exactly the right frame of mind, and so when they announced that they were looking for another team member, I definitely wanted to put in my submission.

For me, being on their team would be the triathlon opportunity of a lifetime, so if you have some spare good thoughts this week, send them my way and cross your fingers that my video speaks to them and that I'm what they're looking for. There's lots of great candidates submitting videos, so it will be tough competition. Then again, so is the sport of triathlon and so is life!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Hills Come Back Alive

Our little home Crossfit gym has spawned a group that's going to go and do their first triathlons at Blue Lake this year. So with the weather getting marginally better, it's been time to head out on more runs and bikes and spend less time throwing kettlebells and medicine balls around.

We've done some great track workouts, often taking the bikes and trainers down to the track to do bike/run repeats. Friday we met up at a local park that's at the bottom of a butte with a nice road running to the top providing a few hundred feet of elevation gain over a short distance. Just perfect for hill repeats! This is the first time I've been on the hills with my arm, and it held up pretty well. Until you do something like injuring your elbow, you don't realize what a horizontal load you place on your arms when you're climbing on the bike, but it takes a lot of strength in those muscles and joints to stabilize the bike as you stand up and grind up a hill.

All is well though, and I think I'm good to start adding hills back into the repertoire. Hooray!