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.

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!

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!