Recovery Week! Just in time…

Well, yesterday was the first day of Base 1 Week 4 – aka recovery week. This is my first recovery week of this training block, and it is much needed! I was pushing a heavy form score at the end of last week – a whopping -65.6. With this week’s plans, that will move back to a much more manageable -39.3. Erm.. manageable? hmm..

Joe Friel suggests that good progress is made between -25 and -45. A “higher” negative (e.g. lower than -45) is equated with more fatigue, and a “lower” negative (e.g. higher than -25) is equated with not working hard enough. So, at -65 I’m fatigued. Yep. I can vouch for that. At -39.3, immediately following a recovery week, well… that just shouldn’t be the case. Probably. Indicative of being very fatigued currently.

Yesterday I did some light core work, which I don’t track as being part of CTL/ATL, and did no other exercise. It was a great day off, much needed. That day alone chopped a massive chunk off my form score. This week is 6 rides totalling 9 hours at an IF of under 0.70, 3 runs for 21 km, and 3 swims at lower IF for probably 9 to 10 km. It doesn’t sound like my volume is dropping here, but my TSS volume will go from last week’s 1253.3 to ~780. That’s a massive decrease.

But I’m toying with the idea of doing some proper fitness testing again this week. I should do a swim test, as I have really been basing my swim FTP on an estimated pace rather than an actual pace. And I just found out that I had my power meter set up wrong on my bike… which means another FTP test there is in order too.

The short version of that story is as follows. My LBS told me the cranks were 167.5mm when I bought the bike (oh, I’m short, btw). I didn’t measure. I use Garmin Vector 2S which requires the crank length input. I input the crank length as 167.5. Yesterday I measured the cranks at 170mm. So the cranks are longer than the Vector thinks. Implications of this are light, really, but still matters. Basically I’ve been pushing more watts than it says. In relative terms, I believe everything I’ve done so far is still good, since the FTP is based on the same measurements as my workouts would be (e.g. the input of 167.5mm crank). So it is consistent, but not accurate. Consistency in power meters is a billion times more important than accuracy, but accuracy is necessary for race planning and goal setting. So, gotta fix that. FTP test. Damn.

As for running, I don’t think I’m ready for an FTP test there yet. But I might change my mind towards the end of this week. Like swimming, I have a vague idea of where my current FTP sits and am basing my training off that. Run testing is less bad than bike testing, but still way harder than swim testing. So we’ll see I suppose.

For now though, I’m going to focus on recovery. Stretching & low intensity this week. Gotta make the most of it because I’ll be back at it in no time!


Fatigue? What Fatigue?

-63.8… or so it says. Actually today I feel a bit closer to that than I have lately. Yesterday was a long run day. I managed to crank out 16.3 km keeping things almost entirely aerobic. My aerobic pace is dropping, currently down to about 5:30/km. This is slow by runner standards, but I’ll remind you again that I’m a normal guy. I don’t claim to have super powers like those folks that crushed Around the Bay this past weekend (jealous, for real).

But at 5:30/km there’s lots to feel good about. I managed that pace while carrying loads of fatigue, and hitting a 2nd fastest time on my least favourite Strava segment ever – without trying. This segment is a bit over 400m long with an average grade of 5%. Total climb of ~23 meters. I hate it. But I pretty much have to cross it in order to get in or out of my neighbourhood. Sadly.

Anyway, in addition to the segment, Garmin is telling me my stride length is increasing. A good thing, just have to keep my eye on my cadence and make sure that stays high enough. But the real success is that I’m already flirting with my season bests from last year on the run. I’m fairly sure I’ve passed them already in the swim & bike, but the run I wasn’t expecting to have so much growth so fast. It’s coming back fast and strong. Makes me happy.

This morning I was up at 5 am to hit 90 min on the bike before heading into the office. Geiger+2, if you were wondering. 5 x 12 min between 88% and 94% FTP with three minute recoveries. Ouch time, bro. This is one of my least favourite workouts despite having done it a few times. The blocks up to 94% are tough. Good fitness, I’m sure, but tough. Having bumped my FTP by 3 watts a few days ago, and running 16.3 km yesterday, I was definitely feeling grindy today, moreso than a typical morning workout. Took my legs through the first interval to get really warmed up, and had a tough time staying in aero for long. Still, managed to push through the work, hit the targets, and get the job done. Not one I’m proud of in terms of an individual workout, but as a piece in the puzzle things are coming together.

So having just finished the ride this morning I’m currently feeling it, big time. Feeling much closer to -63.8 than I’d like to admit, but at the same time it is nothing that can’t be recovered from quickly. It’s fatigue from hard work and perseverance. Hitting targets. Making gains. It’s the good kind of fatigue.

Back at it with a swim tonight – easy on the legs. Then just five more days until a recovery week. Sweet sweet recovery.

2017 Goals – Part 1

I’ve been putting off this post for some time now. It was coming, but I don’t think I have a strong enough handle on my current fitness to set goals. So this post is aptly named “Part 1” – I am going to muse about what my goals might be… because that’s helpful…..

I do a lot of indoor cycling, which makes it difficult to estimate time on the bike course. The trainer I have works well enough but because the power curve on the trainer is not realistic, all speed measured – even on the hub of the rear wheel – is inaccurate. The trainer actually makes me appear slower than I am by quite a bit. As well, it’s a fluid trainer with rear wheel resistance, so the turnover at the top of the pedal stroke is very far from realistic – it’s like pulling the crank through the mud between 11 and 1 o’clock. So I won’t have a strong handle on how I am performing until the weather is nicer and I’m biking outside again. That being said, I’m hitting power records all over the place and training at a higher quality and frequency than ever before. I’m set to increase my FTP by ~3 watts today (conservative increase) – setting 60 minute (by 5 watts), 90 minute (by 5 watts), and 2 hour (by 13 watts) power records yesterday in the same workout – which brings me a bit closer to my “not a real goal” pre-season goal FTP of 3w/kg. How that translates to speed, well that’s still not entirely clear. I’ll know more in a few weeks.

My running volume is increasing, but also not enough to estimate pacing. I am going to be trying a lot of different run training techniques this year than I have in the past. To be clear, what that means is basically I’m going to try to do “proper” run training, instead of just lots of long runs in the aerobic zone. I have no idea how my body will respond to this kind of activity. Hopefully good. I’d really like to hit 5 min/km in races this year. Sub-5 seems plausible, but I’ll stick with 5 for now.

For the swim, I want to do 2km in a race on a 1:35/100m pace. That’d put me across the line in 31:40. I’m fairly sure that if I can get my volume up a bit more I can hit 1:30/100m pace, 30:00 over 2km.

In terms of events, I have two booked and ready to go. I’ll be at IM Muskoka 70.3 in Huntsville on July 9, and on September 17 I’ll be in Welland/Niagara Falls for the MSC/Rev3 Barrelman. In addition, I’m trying to figure out if I can make the MSC Rose City long course work for June 26. Logistical issues, not fitness, are getting in the way of that one for now. Leaning towards yes, but some hurdles to climb.

And late in the season there are a few full-distance races that may be interesting, though I’m fairly sure I’ll be done at Welland this year. IM Louisville (October 15) or IM Florida (November 4) are appealing. Louisville more than Florida, but the extra three weeks between those events could be really helpful. The problem is that Florida will sell out just about any day now, and I’m not in a position where I’m ready to commit to it yet. Florida looks like an easier course, more friendly to first-timers, warmer, and more in line with my potential timing, coming off Barrelman in September. It’s also farther away and more expensive. Louisville is half the distance away – driveable in a day – and cheaper. But comes with a more difficult course and three weeks earlier. Decisions are hard.

So.. I guess in summary.. (?)

  1. 3w/kg FTP
  2. 5 min/km run pace in races
  3. 1:35 min/100m swim pace in races

Seems like a weak list. Yep, I’ll come back with “Part 2” in a few weeks.

Weekly Workouts – March 13 to March 19

Weekly Stats:
Swim: 7100m, TSS 167.0
Bike: 223 km, TSS 572.2
Run: 26.56 km, TSS 196.6
Total Duration: 13:14
Total TSS: 935.7
CTL: 70.5
ATL: 131.8
Form: -51.8
Well, Base 1 Week 1 is in the books. With the new cycling plan in full swing, that dominated my TSS this week. Next week my TSS goal increases a bit which should help to balance this out, but really the way this week worked out is just fine. My pool was closed two days this week, which limited my swimming. And still working to build proper volume on the run I’m happy with what I accomplished there too. I’d really like to add more run volume to my schedule. That will start to happen next week as the weather gets nicer.

My Form score at -51 is low. Like really low. But I don’t really feel like I’m at a -51. Mondays are typically a lower intensity day/full rest day for me so hoping that day will help out a bit there. It won’t do much but it’s better than nothing. I think part of it is that my CTL is ramping fast due to the “it comes back fast” thing, which should mean my Form score will start to return to normal (-25 to -45 on non-recovery weeks) as I move along the program. I do use a 3-on 1-off approach in planning, so two more weeks of building my TSS before taking a recovery week.


Stupid daylight savings time. No workout today. Rest.

TrainerRoad – 20 Minute Test
Duration: 1:00
NP – 2.10 w/kg
TSS – 81.0
IF – 0.9
FTP test. No change – FTP stays where it is. ~2.33 w/kg.

10.7km / Treadmill
5 min WU walking
60 min slow build from @ 6:00 / km
5 min CD walking
TSS – 73.8
IF – 0.75
This was a treadmill workout. Garmin thinks I did 60 mins on ~6:00/km pace. According to the treadmill I was closer to 5:40/km on average, building from 6:00 to somewhere close to 5:00/km. So TSS is low compared to what it should be.

TrainerRoad – Geiger
Duration: 1:00
NP – 1.99 w/kg
TSS – 71.2
IF – 0.85
4.86km / Treadmill
~9 min WU
20 min pace increase 0.1 MPH per minute from 6.2 MPH
5 min CD walking
TSS – 32.5
IF – 0.71
Garmin really frustrated me on this one. Topped out at 8.1 MPH, but Garmin thinks much slower than that.
TrainerRoad – Antelope
Duration: 1:30
NP – 1.95 w/kg
TSS – 102.9
IF – 0.83
Happy with this one. This is a fun workout.

4 x (200m swim, 50m kick)
3 x 400m on 30s rest (1 was 450 – I can’t count)
3 x 300m on 30s rest
3 x 200m on 30s rest
3 x 100m on 30s rest
200m CD
TSS – 96.7
IF – 0.95
Continuing to see my pace times come down. Happy.
TrainerRoad – Pettit
Duration: 1:00
NP – 1.57 w/kg
TSS – 44.5
IF – 0.67
Nice low intensity recovery ride. Felt much better after this one.

11.0 km / OUTSIDE!
Duration: 58:14
Avg Pace: 5:19/km
No workout – just run
TSS – 90.3
IF – 0.92
I wrote all about this one here.
TrainerRoad – Hunter
Duration: 2:00
NP – 1.91 w/kg
TSS – 133.2
IF – 0.82
A tough one after stacking lots of TSS this week. Still, finished happy. Apparently this was also a new 2-hour power record for me. Somehow. I have a feeling I’m gonna break all my records this year.

200m swim, 200m kick, 200m pull
100m swim, 100m kick, 100m pull
6 x 50 on 15s rest
2 x 150 NS on 20s rest
2 x 1500m, desc every 500m
6 x 75 on 15s rest
1 x 300 NS on 40s rest
6 x 50 on 20s rest
3 x 100 on 15s rest
200m CD
TSS – 70.3
IF – 0.93
A good “keep things interesting” muscular endurance workout. Could have been longer but the consistency of this workout creeps up. Including WU & CD, average pace was 1:37/100m.

TrainerRoad – Wright Peak -2
Duration: 2:00
NP – 1.95 w/kg
TSS – 139.4
IF – 0.84
hehehe 😀 I set 90 minute and 2 hour power records on this one. All smiles.

The Dreaded FTP Test, and What’s Coming this Week

Damn that was hard. Have I mentioned I hate FTP tests?

This morning I was up well before dawn to hop on the bike and crank out my FTP test. After last week’s rather successful morning workout – the first one in ages – I thought I’d start a morning routine. More on that later, but suffice it to say that it began today. Choosing TrainerRoad’s 20 Minute FTP test was the easy part. Doing it is hard.

No dogs were left outside this morning during my workout, and my legs warmed up surprisingly quickly (encouraging) so the issues noted last week were gone. All good.

As for the test itself, I received a no-change result. That’s disappointing. I was pretty sure I would need a bit of an FTP bump, but I guess I’m just not there yet. I did bump up by three watts last week, so perhaps I’m just not farther than that – my estimate was accurate. As good as it is to know that I’m training at the right intensity, it is a tough pill to swallow to actually do such a demanding test and receive that result. 2.33 W/kg with today’s weigh-in. If I can hit my target race-weight, I have about a 20% improvement as my FTP W/kg goal. I actually think that’s more than do-able this year, considering I’m starting from a hobbling, injured mess.

Interestingly, my LTHR increased. This I’m taking as a good thing. It was a pretty marginal increase, really, but I also saw some of the highest BPM on the bike that I’ve ever seen – about equal to my LTHR on the run. My max HR was ~164 through the ride, and at last test (in summer 2016) of my LTHR while running I tested at 165 BPM. I’m taking this as a good sign. Not sure exactly what it means yet, but a bump higher in LTHR on bike seems like a pretty ok thing to me. To be clear that’s sitting at 151 as of that test. 164 is just the max I achieved during the test.

So, TrainerRoad veterans probably recognize that it’s Tuesday. And Tuesday is test day for the start of a new training plan. That’s the big change for me this week. I’m starting a new plan – Sweet Spot Base High Volume 1. Should be fun. Painful, but fun.

I gave pretty careful consideration to which plan to choose. Last year I did about half of the Full Distance Triathlon Base plan before I got injured and stopped. Tempted to start here again, but without a Full Distance race on my schedule this year, I did look at the Half Distance plan as well (I’m racing two of these). It does seem like a plan that’s fairly well suited for the half-Ironman distance, but I think  I want more volume than that. At least I think I do. Being a “normal guy,” my best weapon is time. I don’t have children and my wife is a grad student, so I have lots of time to dedicate to training. The Triathlon plans seem like they’re very good, but I wish that TrainerRoad would actually worry less about the other two disciplines and focus exclusively on the needs of the bike portion of the race. It is not that I don’t trust them, it is that I have plans for the other two sections already. I just don’t need (and I don’t particularly want, if I’m being honest) their guidance on what workouts to do on the other disciplines. The other thing that worries me – I find their other discipline suggested workouts to be too easy. Has me concerned that the bike plan is also too easy – not enough volume.

So I’m going to give the Sweet Spot Base High Volume 1 a try for a few weeks. Lots of work to do. It calls for 6 rides a week and 532 TSS over 8.5 hours in week 1. I’ve already completed 82 TSS and 1.0 hours today. So only… 450 TSS points to go. Gonna have some early mornings this week.. Oh man this is going to hurt… wish me luck!

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 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!)