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!

Weekly Workouts – March 27 to April 2

Weekly Stats:
Swim: 11825m, TSS 289.1
Bike: 242 km, TSS 641.4
Run: 40.9 km, TSS 322.8
Total Duration: 16:05
Total TSS: 1253.3
CTL: 98.8
ATL: 174.7
Form: -65.6

Wow. What a week! This was my highest volume week by TSS score ever. But, surprisingly, not by time. The week of August 15 2016 I did 17.5 hrs but 1146.7 TSS. So this week, I managed about 100 TSS points more in about 100 minutes less. That’s pretty solid.

Relative to what I’m shooting for in terms of discipline balance, I’m still light on the run. I’m pretty happy with the quality of my swim workouts and don’t want to reduce the efforts there. And my cycling is going great, so no interest in changing direction. Just want to increase the run volume. More kms per week!

But, for now, that will have to wait. This was Base 1 Week 3 which means… RECOVERY WEEK AHEAD!

Monday
Run:
16.3 km
Steady avg pace of 5:34/km
Duration: 1:34:28
TSS – 125.5
IF – 0.84
Surprisingly not fun. Going for some LSD. And I don’t consider this one a good one, for most of it anyway. I’ll take the experience points though.

Tuesday:
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Geiger +2
Duration: 1:30
NP – 2.00 w/kg
TSS – 104.5
IF – 0.84

Swim:
3425m
4 x (200m swim, 50m kick)
5 x 200 on 3:30 SI
300m on 20s rest
5 x 100 on 1:45 SI (one was 125m)
16 x 25 on 0:30 SI
200m CD
TSS – 85.5
IF – 0.97
I came home with a sore head and in a bad mood. This was actually a great swim and a good workout but cracked heads with a guy that was in my lane. Long story short, I was splitting with person-A, person-A gets out and person-B gets in. Person-B swims circle-pattern and I didn’t know A got out and B went in, and crack. Otherwise, great!

Wednesday:
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Tallac
Duration: 1:00
NP – 2.12 w/kg
TSS – 78
IF – 0.89

Run:
10.8 km on avg pace of 5:20/km
10 min WU
5 x (200m @ 5:00/km, 200m jog, 200m @ 5:00/km, 400m jog, 400m @ 5:00/km, 200m jog)
5 min CD
TSS – 91.7
IF – 0.93
Trying to add a bit of structure. A fun one. Got chased by a (cute) dog, even!

Thursday
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Carillon +1
Duration: 1:30
NP – 2.05 w/kg
TSS – 106.7
IF – 0.85

Swim:
4200m
4 x (200m swim, 50m kick)
2 x 1500 desc 500 1-3
200m CD
TSS – 99.9
IF – 0.94
New best times on each split. This is a good fitness test workout, but also great for muscular endurance when the pace picks up. Went on a 1:38 pace on the first, 1:39 on the second.

Friday
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Pettit
Duration: 1:00
NP – 1.58 w/kg
TSS – 42.1
IF – 0.65
Nice low intensity recovery ride.

Run:
13.8 km (Treadmill)
Duration: 1:15:00
Avg Pace: 5:26/km
Up & down on pace a bit. Nothing special.
TSS – 79.0
IF – 0.88
This is my last treadmill run ever. That thing screws up my knees like crazy. Horrible swelling and pain still today (Sunday). Did not have any of that outdoors. I was inside due to weather. I’ll tough it out next time.

Saturday:
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Juneau -1
Duration: 2:00
NP – 2.12 w/kg
TSS – 153.9
IF – 0.88
I felt great through this entire workout. Tied my 2 hour power record.

Sunday:
Swim:
4200m
4 x (200m swim, 50m kick)
3 x 400m on 30s rest
3 x 300m on 30s rest
3 x 200m on 30s rest
3 x 100m on 30s rest
200m CD
TSS – 103.7
IF – 0.96
Held solid pace throughout. 1:37/100m incl WU & CD

Bike:
TrainerRoad – Tallac +2
Duration: 2:00
NP – 2.14 w/kg
TSS – 156.2
IF – 0.88
Felt great for most, tougher towards the end. New 90 min power record.

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.

Weekly Workouts – March 20 to March 26

Weekly Stats:
Swim: 7000m, TSS 181.7
Bike: 237 km, TSS 625.0
Run: 36.1 km, TSS 282.8
Total Duration: 14:14
Total TSS: 1089.5
CTL: 83.9
ATL: 152.6
Form: -62.4

I am officially carrying a metric butt-ton of fatigue right now. The -62.4 is probably the largest my form score has ever been by a huge margin. I’m one more week away from a recovery week. But I will say, I don’t feel anywhere near -62.4. I feel much closer to -35 or -40, which really is right in the zone of where I want to be. Still, I’m going to proceed cautiously since injury is a risk I’m carrying with a high fatigue score like that.

That being said, this week was awesome. I took a few days off work and caught up on some much needed sleep. A great chance to de-stress. Set a few workout records in two disciplines, and a good week still in the third. And I didn’t use my treadmill at all this week!

Monday
Run:
11.6km
Steady avg pace of 5:35/km
Duration: 1:04:53
TSS – 90.3
IF – 0.87
Trying to keep things aerobic. Still settling into running again.

Tuesday:
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Antelope +1
Duration: 1:30
NP – 2.03 w/kg
TSS – 111.5
IF – 0.86

Wednesday:
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Monitor +1
Duration: 1:00
NP – 2.07 w/kg
TSS – 77.7
IF – 0.89

Run:
14.4 km
10 min WU
10 x (1 min @ <5:00/km, 30s recovery, 5:00 @ 5:25/km)
5 min CD
TSS – 113.5
IF – 0.87
Of course, it would be -8C on this day. Man that was cold. Mostly good otherwise. Again just trying to feel out my running legs.

Thursday
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Geiger +2
Duration: 1:30
NP – 2.04 w/kg
TSS – 113.2
IF – 0.87

Swim:
3800m
4 x (200m swim, 50m kick)
3 x (1 x 300m on 30s rest, 3 x 100m on 15s rest)
16 x 50 on 20s rest
200m CD
TSS – 97.4
IF – 0.98
All good here. Could have reduced rest a bit, but found that skipping swim workouts is causing a small loss of fitness. Just gotta get back in the routine of swimming.

Friday

Run:
10.1 km
Duration: 55:41
Avg Pace: 5:31/km
No workout – just run
TSS – 79.0
IF – 0.88
Trying to keep things aerobic & settle into running.

Bike:
TrainerRoad – Pettit
Duration: 1:00
NP – 1.57 w/kg
TSS – 44.8
IF – 0.67
Nice low intensity recovery ride. Did this as a reverse brick with good results.

Saturday:
Bike:
TrainerRoad – Wright Peak -2
Duration: 2:00
NP – 2.06 w/kg
TSS – 153.5
IF – 0.88
I felt great through this entire workout. Set 60 minute, 90 minute, and 120 minute power records with 5, 5, and 13 watts respectively. Solid all around.

Sunday:
Swim:
3200m
4 x (200m swim, 50m kick)
20 x 100 on 1:50
200m CD
TSS – 84.3
IF – 0.99
Well this one shocked me a bit. In the last 200 of my WU I came in on a 1:33 pace, so I knew it was going to be a good workout. The majority of the 20 100 reps were under 1:30, with two as low as 1:27. I will have to drop the 1:50 down to 1:45 I think for next time, or add more reps. This is a great workout. A must do.

Bike: 
TrainerRoad – Hunter -2
Duration: 2:00
NP – 1.88 w/kg
TSS – 124.3
IF – 0.79
This one was a grind unfortunately. I bumped up the FTP by three watts prior to this. That had basically no effect on the grindyness of it. Just the week catching up with me, plus some fatigue from swimming hard right before this workout. Nothing to be concerned with. Kept with the plan as written.

The World’s Greatest Recovery Sandwich

Recovery drinks are overrated (joke). I’m focusing my science brain on recovery sandwiches. And why not? It’s true what they say – There’s nothing like the love between a man and his sandwich.

I’ve “invented” the worlds best. I’m claiming it now, and I’m not even going to bother Googling to see if it is a real thing somewhere else. It’s mine. And here it is:

DSC_0369
Ohhh yeahhhh

Here’s what’s in it:

Whole grain bread with Margarine
1 full can of tuna
Pickled Banana Peppers
Light Marble Cheese
Light Mayo
Habanero Aioli

Pretty simple to make:

Preheat a pan (yes, it’s grilled)
Butter/margarine up that bread
In bowl, mix rest of ingredients. Be sure to cut cheese into small bits, or just grate it
Put a slice of bread in the pan butter side down, and scoop mix from bowl to bread
Put other slice of bread butter side up on top, obviously

The hotter it gets, the more likely the cheese will melt. And trust me, you want that cheese to melt. Don’t burn it (duh) but let it grill nice.

DSC_0368

Eat while hot with a nice glass of skim milk, or three if you’re like me.

And there it is. The World’s Greatest Recovery Sandwich. You’re welcome.

I was going to write this yesterday, but then I fell asleep

Sleep is so wonderful. The last few weeks I’ve been up early for workouts, and I guess I’m still adjusting to this. In the past I’ve never really done morning workouts, with the exception of swimming. I was stupid for not. They’re awesome. And exhausting.

On Tuesday of this week I was so wiped I decided that I need to give myself a chance to recuperate a bit. So I’m off work today & tomorrow, making this a four day sleep filled weekend. I have two goals: do my workouts, and sleep as much as I can. That means naps, and sleeping in, and going to bed on time. My job for four days is to sleep.

Damn I lead a hard life.

In seriousness, I’m a big fan of sleep. I’m not one that can function on less than 7 hours, and usually if I know I need to have a high-productivity day, I plan for 8 or more. Part of this I think is because I have trouble staying asleep, but really it probably has more to do with genetics than anything. Some people need sleep. Others don’t. Luck of the draw.

But more sleep is actually ok with me. In this crazy sport, sleep is essential. The human body releases elevated levels of HGH while sleeping, and that coupled with a proper diet and not moving for 8 hours, a lot of muscle damage can be significantly recovered in just a single night’s sleep. That’s what I’m going for.

Late last year when trying to plan out my 2017 season, I came across mention of tart cherry juice as being something that can aid sleep. Science reasons, I guess, but I was not able to find anyone that would suggest it was in any way bad or dangerous. So I found that our local Sobey’s carries some and started drinking a single serving before bed. I’m now an official believer in the stuff, and groan and drag ass out of bed when I get up there and realize I haven’t taken it that night. For me it works so well that I can actually function on 7 hours of sleep quite well. In brief, it helps me stay asleep for a full night. Uninterrupted REM sleep is amazing when you’re not used to having it. Placebo effect? Honestly, who cares? If it’s placebo, I’m still sleeping like a baby. If it’s real, I’m still sleeping like a baby.

So it’s a bit after 9:30. I’ve been up since about 8:30 or so – an extra three hours sleep this morning! I’ve got some work to do today with a 90 minute ride and a dip in the pool. But I’ve got all day.. so maybe a nap first…..

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!)