I had a bad run. And now I’m in a bad mood.

Also I hate treadmills. It’s been about a week since I ranted about treadmills, so I guess I’m due.

I’m now fully convinced that treadmills and me do not get along. They’re evil. The weather tonight was cold and rainy – aka the worst possible weather imaginable. I’d take snow over this any day. So I decided to do my run indoors on the treadmill. Expecting the worst. Got worse than I expected.

lousy-smarch-weather

Damn it was bad. This time the treadmill and my Garmin disagreed by over 500m. Closer than it has been, but still amounted to a pace differential of about 12 seconds per km over 13.2. Or 13.8. According to the treadmill I averaged 5:26/km. Garmin said 5:38.

Distance aside, my knees were not fans of this workout either. Something about my form changes when I’m on the treadmill vs. outside. I’m not sure what it is though – I can’t figure it out. I’ve looked at video of me running on the treadmill, but haven’t managed to find anything. Nothing obvious anyway. But there’s a huge difference in how it feels. I’m now wondering if it has to do with the way my muscles engage on the foot strike. Because the belt is moving forwards, I wonder if I’m not pushing my leg through the stride as you would have to outside, and instead just letting the belt carry my foot backwards until my calf muscles engage. This would obviously be a massive difference from outside, and may cause instability in the knee. No idea if this is what is happening, but I know that whatever is happening is not good.

When I finished the run today my knees were swollen. I could feel them swollen as I sat on the couch trying to not rage. Swelling has gone down now and they feel mostly back to normal, but that wasn’t a good feeling. I really don’t think I can run on the treadmill anymore. I just don’t get it. It’s frustrating.

Does anyone else have these kinds of problems? Other than running outside or indoor track are there any solutions? Any advice? Anything?

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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!!

I hate Treadmills

They’re the worst. Treadmills are awful. I’m very angry with mine right now.

I’m skeptical at the best of times that I’m getting “as good” a workout from treadmills as I do from outside. There are obvious benefits – pacing being out of my control is one of them. I find it much easier to sustain a difficult pace on a treadmill than out in the real world. But that also has me thinking that I should be better at sustaining a pace in the real world, and that I need practice doing this – in the real world. Not on a treadmill.

I’m also skeptical that bio-mechanically, everything is sound while running on a treadmill. It’s a belt. It can slip. It does slip. That’s one of the things I hate about it. Even after tightening it so it doesn’t slip perceptibly I’m still very skeptical that it isn’t slipping imperceptibly and causing hellish problems within my knees. It wouldn’t take much to irritate the soft tissue beneath the patella. That’s a road that leads straight back to my winter injury. And I really think like my ground contact time is way longer on a treadmill than it is when I’m outside. I don’t have any way of measuring that with my current tools, and it doesn’t really matter, but if my stride is different on the treadmill vs. outside, that’d bad. I don’t fully understand the pure bio-mechanics of it, but seriously, how could it be good?

But what really grinds my gears is that I can’t get accurate distance/pace from the treadmill. Or rather, TrainingPeaks won’t accept an adjusted distance/pace and recalculate my IF to generate an accurate TSS score for the workout. My Garmin Fenix 3HR, which I adore – except on the treadmill – tries to estimate pace using accelerometers. If it worked properly that’d be great. Last night, however, it missed my pace by ~20-35 seconds per km, and missed my distance by over 800m. And it was on the slow side, so I looked even more like a weenie when the workout got posted to Strava!Strava - Fenix lies

800m is completely unacceptable. And from what I’ve read online the foot pod that Garmin makes is not a suitable solution – might be accurate at the pace it is calibrated but as pace changes the accuracy goes out the window. These new running power meters may also be a solution some day but for now it looks like they’re completely useless on the treadmill – more so than just a plain old foot pod.

But given the issues I have with treadmills I think my days using them are up. Later this week the temperatures are supposed to be above freezing, so I may actually have a clean sidewalk to run on. I have the gear for it. But I’m not a fan of slipping and sliding all over the place.

But enough is enough. As nice as it is to watch Jack Bauer beat up terrorists while sweating in my warm house, when the sidewalks are clear the treadmill is turning into a “last resort” tool.

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.

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!