Turn up the Volume!

I’m continuing to push quite a bit of volume for me. This week, I’m slated to hit 1140 TSS, but I’m sure I’ll blow past that by more than a few. Last week I exceeded the TSS goal of 1040 by almost 50 points (49.5, to be exact). And the week before, hit 935 on a 930 target. I was wondering this week how this volume compares to last year, and I was surprised at the result. Last year my TSS peaked at 1144. That was only one week. I had three weeks that were around 980, and the rest were well under.

So… yeah, lots of volume. Base 1 Week 3 is expected to be a new peak volume for me, and I’m just getting started. Lots of season to go.

But I’m getting results too. I’ve talked about my bike results, but I’m also having some good success in the pool. My pace times are coming down, and 100m repeats are getting faster. What’s really starting to surprise me is my running success. Tonight I hit a 3rd fastest 5km time and a 2nd fastest 10km time according to Strava. I was dumbfounded when I saw that. I wasn’t even really trying for those times. The times aren’t that impressive to begin with, but still… I didn’t expect to be back in form so quickly, especially with the stupid injury that I had over the off season. I’m wondering how much of my all around fitness success I can attribute to the increased cycling volume in particular. The frequency and quality of those workouts is one of the largest changes I’ve made this year, and it seems to be paying dividends in my aerobic fitness. I know that running is running and cycling is cycling – they’re different sports. But it’s got me wondering anyway.

I’m still not a runner. I’m getting there though. I have a feeling by the end of this season I’m not going to get to use the normal guy trope any longer. Today I did just shy of 11km in what I’d consider to be a structured workout:

10 min WU @ ~5:37/km
5 x (200m @ 4:40/km, 200m jog, 200m @4:40/km, 400m jog, 400m @ 4:40/km, 200m jog)
5 min CD @ ~5:40/km

In total, 10.8 km on an average pace of 5:20/km and 91.7 TSS points.

And it felt pretty good. It was cold though. Damn, I’m a wuss. It was about 10C out there, so I decided to run without a toque. That may have been a mistake. The wind was freezing cold once I got sweaty. I’ll keep that in mind for next time, but really I just can’t wait until spring!

And if you’re wondering, my Form score is currently at -67.2. But I feel great!!

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Hard Decisions…

I just got off the turbo trainer. Stopped my workout… 55 minutes early. That was a hard decision.

Today I was scheduled to tackle Big Squaw on TrainerRoad. This is a 2.5 hour endurance/tempo session with an IF of .69. So I still managed to hit 95 minutes, which is still decent. I guess. I mean its not nothing.

When selecting today’s workout, it being Saturday naturally means a longer ride. I think I’d have been better suited for something closer to the 2 hour mark but this ride appealed to me with its long duration intervals. Looking at the power targets for the intervals, I figured I could handle a bit more than what was prescribed. So I upped the difficulty by 3%.

Surprising myself even, that 3% was fine. My legs were completely solid for this ride, even through the highest power target. One more reason why I think I’m due for an FTP test (that I really have no interest in doing…..). The problem didn’t really set in until about 1:15 into the ride. And it was, of course, my knees.

Dull, broad, but relentless, I tried resting for a minute and spinning up again, but no benefit. I had to make the choice to persist through a completely bearable amount of pain and risk further injury (like I did in November) for the fitness rewards – aka steps towards my goals. It sounds so easy. It hurts, so stop. But does it really hurt? Am I being a wuss? Should I just push through? This is an endurance workout. I’m not even really pushing a lot of power (even for me). If you don’t do it, you’ll never do it. So I should keep going.. right? Yes. No. Injury. But what if this is nothing? But what if it isn’t nothing….

There is no doubt that this is a minor setback, and I made the right choice getting off the bike. But damn, that’s a hard decision to make. The positive of it is that my fitness is building. I think I’m going to FTP test on Tuesday if I’m feeling up to it, so that’s something to look forward to. I think. Or dread. Probably mostly just dread.

Oh well. Tomorrow’s another day.

3 Things to Lose Weight Guaranteed. Big Time.

I used to be pretty big. At one point, I tipped the scale at 212 lbs (96kg). I’m 5’6″ (167cm). That’s big for a small guy.

To be clear, I tipped 212 in 2013. By mid-2014, at my wedding, I was down to about 185. But I pretty much stopped there, and bounced between 185 and 200 for the next two years. By end of 2015, I was back to 200. That Winter I started doing some moderate activity, when I felt like it, but did not really do anything about my diet or my inactivity.

As I’ve said in my About Me section, in early Spring of 2016, I started to get serious about weight loss. Once I got serious it didn’t take long to start to see some rather significant improvements. I felt that I had been too big for too long, and wanted to feel healthy again. By “serious” I mean that I did the following three things.

  1. I got a FitBit. I can’t say enough positive things about FitBit, both the product and the company, for a typical person. In my opinion, everyone should have a FitBit. It’s an incredible reminder to be active, and really only encourages walking. Yeah, some of them can do lots of neat things that attempt to be proper fitness devices but really the segment of the market that they can help the most is people that were like me – wanting to do something, just not exactly sure what. The FitBit tracks activity. I’m a data junkie, big time, so this appealed to me greatly. Seeing how many steps I took in a day, and then tracking with graphs and heart rate and sleep metrics. Amazing, coming from nothing at all. Got me moving, which eventually got me moving faster. After a few weeks of wearing it I was trying to run again. Eventually I got up to 5k, then 10. And before I knew it I was running regularly. Results. But the great thing is that this segment of the market is now so competitive that it doesn’t even ahve to be a FitBit device. Jawbone, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Apple, Garmin, among probably dozens of others are capable of doing this exact thing, and for cheap too.
  2. I tracked my calories meticulously. MyFitnessPal and I have a love hate relationship. Yes, it is a giant pain in the ass to track calories. Yes, it absolutely does work. Yes, counting calories properly and honestly will get you results, guaranteed. The “science” basically boils down to this: eat less than you burn, and you will lose weight. You can also get into sites like IIFYM.com which help to track macronutrient requirements based on your fitness goals, though I didn’t go there. From what I’ve read, those that use IIFYM love it, and it does work too. MFP has great integration with FitBit, and that helped a ton. Again, data junkie. For me, I set a daily calorie goal that was aggressive – 1200 cals. Then, when I worked out, I added calories burned to that total, which in theory provides enough calorie intake to recover from workouts while still maintaining a calorie deficit every day. This works. I’m proof.
  3. I set attainable goals, and then when I hit them, I set new ones. And that’s really as simple as it sounds. Not much to say on that one!

I can guarantee that anyone wanting to drop pounds that does these three things will get results. It doesn’t have to be a FitBit, and there are lots of apps that do what MFP does. #1 is about awareness, and #2 is about diligence, and both are about consistency.

That’s one thing I learned from losing 55 lbs, going from 212 to 152 pounds last season. Consistency is more important than random bursts, even if those bursts are amazing. That is equally true for fitness as it is for weight loss. It’s better to do an average workout every day than it is to do a great workout twice a week and sit on the couch the rest of the time, or half-ass it for four days inbetween.

I got my life back. And I’m here, swimming biking running with a smile on. Setting goals. Hitting them. Setting new ones.

Speaking of goals, I still aim to drop a few more pounds this year. I’ve now included body fat percentage as a metric I’m tracking, and have an awesome Excel sheet that I’ve built that plots my weight and BF% on a chart with some projected weights based on moving averages, as well as some target weights based on moving averages of BF% changes. Basically, it measures my weight loss so I have a pretty accurate idea of when I’m going to hit my weight goals. And, since I can, my weight goals are now actually based entirely on body fat percentage. I’ve selected a BF% that I think will be optimal, and I’ve got a plan to get there.

And I will, because my plan works.

And not that it’s all that important, but I want to add that as much as I love and support FitBit, I have moved on to a more capable fitness tracking device. I now use a Garmin Fenix 3HR on the daily. Also amazing. But that’s for another day.

Cheers! (Yes, you can drink beer and still lose weight, if you follow these three steps!)

Ramping Things Up… and Down… and Back Up Again!

At the end of the 2016 season I was giving strong consideration to 2017 being the year that I take on the Ironman. I was confident that I could finish but I wanted to be able to do more than just finish. Kona is not going to happen for me, almost definitely. But a more realistic goal is possible. With that in mind, and searching for what that goal should be, I started up my training again in mid-October. Here’s what happened.

2016-pmc-oct-nov

This should look pretty familiar (I think) to most that use Training Peaks. As I ramped up my training, the ATL (pink) increases, Form (yellow) decreases with fatigue, and Fitness (blue) increases. For the most part, this is pretty normal. Except for one thing. I basically picked up where I left off pre-Barrelman. I became Captain Too-Much-Too-Soon. It caught up with me in a pretty big way.

The ATL line takes a sharp drop around the middle of November. That’s due to the onset (read: I finally admitted to myself after weeks of knowing) of an injury. I had Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome which is also commonly known as Runner’s Knee. In my case, I’m nearly 100% positive it was initially triggered by a poor bike fit, which was triggered by some equipment changes (tip: changing pedals can screw up bike fit), which created imbalances and problems that were just stacked as I didn’t stop or slow my training.

SMRT.

Rather than go into detail on the injury, I’ll just say this: if knees hurt, stop. This injury got so bad that I couldn’t flip turn without considerable pain and I was still cycling on it because I’m dumb. Or blinded by my goals. “If you don’t do it, you’ll never do it” ran through my mind constantly at the time. I had basically convinced myself that it would go away and it was nothing. How wrong I was. From 22 November 2016, I did basically nothing until early January. I sought some physiotherapy in early December and after a few weeks of slow forward progress sought out a second opinion from a Chiropractor (coincidentally happens to be a rather talented duathlete and runner as well). His diagnosis method identified an entire muscle group that was under-developed that could have been the direct result of my poor bike fit. Rehab time.

To make a long story short, I’m now back in full-on back-to-run mode. I’ve been running again for about 5 weeks under Chiro’s direction with generally pretty outstanding results. Still, I’m not going fast, and my longest run has only been 45 minutes at a very slow pace (even for me slow pace). However, yesterday he cleared me to continue ramping things up. I’m going to stick strongly to the 10% rule this time around, and hopefully I’ll be long-running again in no time. I had a proper bike fit done by a physiotherapist that specializes in this kind of thing (and also happens to be an accomplished triathlete and triathlon coach in his own right), so my cycling is coming back in great form as my muscles and connective tissues get used to working again.

Big takeaways through this though. Not all bad I suppose.
1. Relax. Training is fun. Pain is not fun.
2. Ignoring my body’s needs pushes goals farther away, no matter how much I want it.
3. A strong support system is a requirement.
4. 10% rule. 10% rule. 10% rule.

The return to structured training begins soon. Unstructured stuff has been great for the last several weeks – swimming fitness is strong, cycling is coming back very fast, and running is coming slower but coming. Time to get into some real base training though.

Pitter Patter! Off to the pool!