Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January in the books

So the first month of 2012 is done. Damn--the advance of time scares me. does not seem to let up and I know what happens at the end....

I think it was a very effective month of training for me. Here are the aggregate stats:

Swim: 30,600 yards
Bike: 748 miles
Run: 166 miles
Time: 81 hours

Last year, the same totals were:

Swim: 35,250 yards
Bike: 733 miles
Run: 164 miles
time: 84 hours

So, pretty comprable. I'm psyched about this--despite how close the numbers are, I feel like I'm way ahead this year as compared to last year. Last year (2010), my "A" race was Kona which was in early October. After that race I took about six weeks "easy". I used December 2010 as a transition month and then I hit it pretty hard in January 2011. This year, my "A" race was right before Thanksgiving so I took it "easy" for a few weeks in Decembe 2011 and used January 2012 as an easy month recovery vehicle but also tried to get myself ready for the work of 2012.

I feel like I've been successful. I'm very motivated. I just completed my last knee injection cycle so I'm way ahead of last year and the major knee problem I had deal with last year. My shoulder seems to be recovered. I'm about 7 pounds ligher than last year at this time. My swim is very solid despite taking a week off in January for my new tattoo. My run is getting better by the day and could be a source of real improvement in 2012. I rode 46 miles today (it was 58 degrees) and I can still feel the love....

Could be setting up for a great year....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ok--starting to get back in the game

Very strong week of training. Probably a little more that I should do at this point in the season but I'm all there motivation wise. Good progress on my 100 swim intervals (under 1:30 now). I did two 2X20s (225/227 and 224/227 watts) so all good on the bike front. Big week of running. I want to get to hill training and up the anaerobic stress here shortly...going on a bit of a vacation with my bride next weekend so next week will be a consolidation week for me.

Here are the stats:

swim: 9000 yards
bike: 193 miles
run: 45.6 miles
stretch/weights: 2 hours
total time: 22:39

As a side note, I only had one week last year with more run volume--that week was during the meat of my IM build for IMAZ....I feel really good about my run now. Although I do worry about how slow my pace is....still, I think frequency and volume is what I need most so I'll stay on the program for the next few weeks at least....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Got this in my e-mail this morning.....

Aloha Randy,

On behalf of Event Director Diana Bertsch, it is a great pleasure to extend to you an invitation to participate in the 2012 Ironman World Championship, to be held on Saturday, October 13, 2012.

Your invitation and registration instructions are attached. Visit our official website, http://ironmanworldchampionship.com/ for race information and updates.

We look forward to seeing you in Kailua-Kona in October.

With Aloha,

Erin Erickson
Coordinator, Athlete Services
World Triathlon Corporation


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Response to Pwickman question

A week or so ago I received this question:

"I enjoy reading your blog, Randy. A lot of this stuff is useful for a newbie like me.

This post made me think about the benefits of a structured training plan and a coach. I'm a do-it-myself kind of guy. During the winter months I just make sure I'm doing a bit of everything without really structuring anything, and in the spring/summer I will plan out 3-4 week blocks. So a few questions to a more experienced athlete: do you build your own training program? And have you ever worked with a coach? Lastly, if you did, do you think it was worth it? And what benefits did he bring?

I appreciate any feedback you can give me."

My answer:

I do build my own training program and in 2007, I did work the whole year with Peter Reid as my coach. I also worked with a Masters swim coach for a time in 2007. I really benefited from working with them--especially Pete. Here is my current take on coaching vs. self-coaching:

- I think coaches are best for people who are pretty serious about triathloning. I'd say if you work out 12+ hours/week, race 10+ times/year, race IMs, then you proably are pretty serious. If you don't do these things and still want some guidance, buy a plan like Endurance Nation sells, read some books or ask others for advice (or all three).

- For DIY kinda guys, I think a coach is more valuable the less experienced you are. I definitely learned some things from Pete--things I still use today.

-If you're not a DIY person and you're serious, and can afford it--get a great coach.

-Swimming strikes me as the most technique dependent of the three disciplines and getting some help there (especially if you don't come from a swimming background) is wise.

-One of the biggest benefits in working with Pete was I was always motivated to work hard. As a result I got in great shape and raced a couple of my best ever races with his guidance.

-I also, towards the end, got burned out.

-My main thesis is that if: 1. you are very serious about traithlon; 2. you understand the science of triathlon training because you've worked with a coach before and/or you have read a ton and talked to lots of experienced triathletes and you continue to do so; 3. you've personally experimented with a fair number of training approaches and have a sense of what works and what doesn't; 4. you are in tune with your body and know when you are triathlon fit and not; 5. you think broadly about all the stress in your life and understand how it affects your motivation to train; 6. you are honest with yourself and are more than willing to back off when your body and/or mind tells you to do so; 7. you are willing to track what you do and be prepared to modify your approach if your analysis indicates that you should....

if most of these are more true than they are not then you should self coach....if not, seriously consider getting some help.

at a personal level, I did it myself for 6 years before I got a coach. I should have done so sooner. However, the bright side is after just 1 year I was pretty much good to go and now in my 12th year, I feel very solid that doing it myself is the only way forward for me.

Hope this helps...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bicycle Symphony 2012: Movement One, Part II

A couple of I owe ya's: Pwickman--I'll post a response to your comment from a couple of posts ago shortly. Also, I still need to post my 2011 recap/2012 plan. Life has been busy as of late and it's been eating into my blogging time!

I thought it might be of interest to comment on how I'm thinking about my bike training as it doesn't get much focus on this blog in January when the swim and the run are the stars.

Like last year, I have three Meso cycles to my training year: Jan 1-Mar 31 (where the principal focus is on building speed and getting in frequent swims and runs); Apr 1-June 30 (where I top up my speed and add enough endurance work to ensure I'm ready to train for an IM--this is where the bike moves to center stage); July 1-Nov 18 (IM specific training for Kona and Zona).

However, from the biking perspective--my training approach is less 3 distinct Meso cycles and more a gradually building symphony that moves from one stage to the other. Using the music analogy, I consider the first Meso cycle to be the first Movement of my bike symphony. The purpose of this Movement is to get my bike FTP up to within 5-10 watts of my 2012 peak. There are a number of parts in each Movement and I moved from Movement 1 Part I to Movement 1 Part II this week.

Part I took place over the first three weeks. Here, the key workouts each week were 2-3 one hour rides on my computrainer at a "cruise speed" (this worked out to be 180-195 watts). My rule was that I could not do them two days in a row and that I'd fit them in as best as I could given my life schedule and my focus on The Conservation of Motivation. I did 7 of these rides and decided this weekend that I was getting bored with them (ie--they weren't as motivating to me and I thought it time to move on).

Today i started Part II. This movement will consist of an one hour workout (10 min warm-up, 2X (20min @80-90% of FTP), with 5 min easy spin after each 20). This is a more challenging workout but since it's my H-IM race pace it's still comfortably uncomfortable. My rule is that I have to have either 3 or 4 days rest between each key workout. I'll do these for a while until I feel the need to move to Part III (which will of-course climb up the intensity scale).

Now, I didn't test my FTP because I find that I use up a lot of motivation when i do so since it essentially requires an A level bike effort. However, I've trained on a computrainer now for 10 years and I have a good sense of where I'm at. Everytime I've tested my FTP over the last 5 years it's been between 260 and 310 watts. I'm in pretty good shape right now and would guess my FTP is around 280 watts so I decided to do today's key workout targeting 2X20 @225 watts. I did 225 and 227 watts quite comfortably. This indicates that i guessed pretty well--if I can't deliver the 2nd interval at higher watts than the first then I have a problem. I'll do it again Friday and probably just look to repeat today's effort. I'll look to raise my output up to perhaps 2X20 @240 watts before I move on to Part III some time over the next few weeks....

I love good music!

Early pool progress

One of the more satisfying effects of a return to training is the rapid improvement one gets in the early weeks from a return to swim training. Aftger IMAZ, I swam just one day (1000 yards) over the next 8 weeks. This is a little longer of a hiatus than is desireable or I normally take. This was a combination of a number of factors: a busy holiday season, a desire to let my elbow inflammation cool down, and the 2 week healing period post my Honu tattoo.

My first week back I did an initial 10X100 on 2:00 interval test and averaged 1:38/100. Last Monday, the same test yeilded an average of 1:32/100. Yesterday I averaged 1:28/100. When I'm really fit I can hit 1:18/100 going on 1:45 so I still have a ways to go. That said, it is really satisfying to get this early progress--it happens every year. I aslo know I'll begin to plateau a bit come the middle of March and will probably stay level until the onset of my IM specific training in July. Early on, I'm right on plan.

The elbow is definitely better but still something I need to monitor. Hopefully I can keep it under control with rest days here and there and ice from time to time. for the time being, I'm foregoing PT. Had my last knee injection and the knee feels awesome. I'm running well (although not that fast). I'd like to up the volume a bit as well as the intensity but am mindful of my tendency to get injured when I move higher than the 150-160 mile/month level I'm currently at....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

one of those weeks

Lots of work drama. Drive up to Boston for alex's BC visit ( in a horrible snow storm) killed the weekend's training. Good news is I'm rested and ready for next week!


Swim: 9000 yards
Bike: 145 miles
Run: 31 miles
Time: 16:10

Planning on shifting to more structured interval work on the bike next week. Run will follow the week after. Building strength on the swim--really just want to lock in in on 8-12k of reasonably high quality swim work/week for the next 3-4 weeks.

Last knee injection tomorrow---all good!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The First Law: Conservation of Motivation

I'm sure anyone who is a dedicated endurance athlete, especially a triathlete, knows of the January crowds at the fitness center or Y where they work out in the winter. It used to frustrate me that my early morning swim routine was thrown off by crowds of folks swimming 2:30/100 with a combo breastroke/freestyle. Or that, it was impossible to get a treadmill and if you did, you were limited to just 30 minutes due to people on the sign-up sheet.

I tend to take it in stride these days because I know, sadly enough, that by the end of january defections will begin in force and by the end of February, it'll be the same old crew of crusty die-hards.

A lot of friends of mine ask me how I keep in such good shape (they always seem to ask me when I'm actually not fit from a triathlon perspective--like this time of year--so i struggle with how to answer them) and what they are really asking me of course is how to lose weight. I tell them that losing weight is very easy--eat less, exercise more. If you do that you'll lose weight. Of course, the catch is that its hard to eat less and exercise more.

Similarly, people ask me how to get good at triathlon. I tell em it's easy. Just swim, bike, and run a lot and do it at a fairly high intensity. Of course, staying motivated to do that long enough to get good (think years) requires more motivation than most people have.

I struggled with this early on in my triathlon career (and still have to pay attention to it). I'd set a goal and start working towards it. I'd see some results and redouble my efforts and before long I'd be burned out or injured or both. Through painful trial and error I came upon my First Law of Triathlon: The Conservtion of Motivation. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to be reasonably good at this sport--you just have to consistently do the right things--for a long time (I've been at it now for 12 years). The Conservation of Motivation should be applied everyday, ideed every morning when you get up. It should be applied to planning for a season of training. If you get up and the morning and it's 5 degrees and windy and you don't feel like doing that 9 miler--don't. Cut yourself a break--just know you'll hop back in the saddle latter--maybe latter that day or maybe the day after. Or the one after that. From a season perspective, especially if you focus on an IM or other key race like I do, then just plan your training to go gung ho for a finite period of time leading up to the race (for me, this 12-14 weeks before an IM). The rest of the time, have fun, get some good workouts in, race a bit and don't sweat it too much.

Just make sure to obey the First Law of Triathlon! It took me 54 years to learn this!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hitting the Groove

Finished my first week of "standard" triathlon training last week. We are a long way from Kona so, as with last year, my training is fairly basic, more speed oriented, and not very distance oriented (especially on the bike). I jumped back in the pool after a six week hiatus and it went surprisingly well. My elbow seems fine and for now, I'm putting off any PT for it. I continue to try to emphasize my run but did elect to NOT race the Icicle 10-miler. It was 14 degrees and a bit windy and I felt that racing it would violate my first law: The Conservation of Motivation.

The weather has been surprisingly good so far this winter--much easier than last year for sure. It was 18 when I ran this morning but nice and sunny. Besides the last few days, it's actually been quite mild and the forecast ahead indicates continued pleasantness! I started my latest cycle of Knee injections and my knee feels great at the moment--I'm basically healthy, injury free and patiently motivated as I begin to roll into the work of 2012.

Work-work is quite a demand as there is a good deal of drama there but we are now past the holiday season so my family schedule should be easier to manage going forward. I plan to start my modest weight/flexibility work next week (time permitting) if I can firmly establish solid work in all 3 sports again this week....

Last week:

Swim: 8600 yards
Bike: 153 miles
Run: 35.7 miles
Time: 17:26

Monday, January 9, 2012

First week in 2012

Pretty basic week--all bike and run:

Bike: 179 miles
Run: 37.3 miles
Time: 16:14

Back in the pool for the first time in 2012 today. Have been resting elbow and letting tattoo heal up. Doc thinks I should do 4 weeks on Physio on my elbow but I'm going to swim a few times this week and see where it lays.

I had 3 CT sessions on the bike--trying to do 2-3 1 hour tempo sessions (185-200 watts) a week for a few weeks and then will get into more ambitious FTP type workouts for balance of first macro cycle (up through April 1st)....

I feel good--lighter than normal this time of year, which obviously helps. Trying to push my running volume up in January. Had my first knee injection this week and knee feels fine so far in 2012. I also plan on racing the Icicle 10 miler on Sunday--not so much for time but rather as a good hard tempo run...

This week marks my return to regular triathlon training--although, certainly not of an IM type....it's good to be back!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Saw Dr. Galinat today. Knee is really hanging in there--I ran a very solid 9 mile run earlier today. Received my latest (60+ I'm sure) injection--hopefully will avoid my issues from last year....

Elbow wise--I have a month long 12 session Phys therapy prescribed,,,I actually wanted a cortizone injection but my Doc is very conservative--thats why i love him (among other reasons). So back in the pool tomorrow---yeah--I'm a triathlete again! Start with rudy again next week....

Doc also suggested to me (again) that I stop after Kona....

Every day when I run I appreciate it for what it is....not much more time for sure--oh the glory of running 9 miles--I love it--No Doc--I'm not ready to stop yet!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Dave, Mac and I made the Tatnall News!!!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Training Volume Analysis

As promised, find below a fairly detailed review of my 2011 training volume and how it compares against the prior four years. This off course is top-line aggregate data and glosses over many of the important details so take it for what it is: annual summary data:


Here is chart which shows my average monthly swimming volume (the average is a trailing three month average to smooth the graphs out a bit) for 2007-2011:

If you study the chart for a minute or so (you can click it to make it bigger) a couple of things jump out
-2007 was clearly my biggest swim year--that's the year I worked with Pete Reid and I made my big break-through in swimming. Pete had me heavily invest in swimming--I spent 16% of my training time on swimming vs. 10-11% for 2008-2011
-2011, although with lower volume than 2007, was a consistent year for me--I was for the most part just abocve 30,000 yards consistently each month
-2009 was my "off-year" when I skipped doing an IM
-2008/2010 had far greater variation from month to month. I purposely tried in 2011 to be more consistent across the year.

Here are the total yards by year and my average swim pace (min/100 yards):

2007: 472,207 (1:54)
2008: 303,076 (1:54)
2009: 253,964 (1:52)
2010: 356,556 (1:47)
2011: 358,725 (1:46)

Note how my average swim pace has been increasing and that 2011, despite a lack of emphasis on swimming this year, still was my 2nd most swim volume.


The above chart illustrates what I feel was my strongest training year on the bike this year. You can see how I steadily built volume through 2011 and the three months before IMAZ I was averaging over 1000 miles a month. 2009 was a gain the low year. Note how relatively low my biking volume was in 2007--it represented just 53% of my training time while I've been in the 60-64% area ever since.

Here are the totals (miles) and my average speed (mph):

2007: 8,586 (17.22)
2008: 9,185 (16.57)
2009: 7,753 (16.38)
2010: 10,017 (16.53)
2011: 10,363 (16.54)

So 2011 was my biggest bike volume year. I'd like to get my average back up above 17mph in 2012 and plan to try to put a greater emphasis on bike intensity.


In 2011, I was able to get closer to my 2007 training volume than I had from 2008-2010. You can see the impact of my knee problem mid-year this year. Also, you can see how I was able to rebuild and was running quite a bit as I rolled into IMAZ. I have a nice base to build from and hope to increase my running volume by 10% or more in 2012.

Year totals (miles) and pace (min/mile):

2007: 1,511 (8:37)
2008: 1,228 (8:57)
2009: 979 (8:42)
2010: 1,348 (8:56)
2011: 1,495 (8:53)

2011 was my second biggest volume year but you can see how much slower I'm running on average than back in 2007. I would surely like to address this if I can stay healthy, knee-wise, in 2012.

Training Time

This chart shows that I was able to successfully implement my training plan in 2011. Note how I built my training volume through the year and had it peak right before my IM in November. Compare that to 2007 where I wasn't able to stay healthy/motivated enough and had steadily declining volume throughout the year. I plan to follow the same approach in 2012.

2007: 935 hours
2008: 864
2009: 791
2010: 984
2011: 992

I'll post a more conceptual review of 2011 shortly and use that to frame my 2012 strategy and plan....

And so it begins.....

Dawn came a little too early for me after New Year's Eve but I walked down to the beach in Stone Harbor on an incredibly beautiful morning--in my shorts!!! the temp was already in the high 40s and climbing....I looked up and down the beach, said to myelf, "Let it begin", hit the play button on my iPod (Chemical Brothers) and started my 2012 season--a season best called the Kona/Zona Show....I love the process of physilogical alchemy that transforms my decidedly over the hill body into that of a reasonably competent triathlete, and that process began again in earnest this morning.

Since today is a Sunday, here are my stats for the week:

Swim: 0 yards
Bike: 182 miles
Run: 34 miles
Time: 15:39

My December totals were:

Swim: 1000 yards
Bike: 662 miles
Run: 119 miles
Time: 58:22

I'll begin swimming again in a couple of days as my latest tattoo (Honu) is just about healed. I feel real good about my run total this month--coming so soon after Zona 2011. I start my next cycle of injections on Thursday so I'm hopeful for a big run month in January.

I'll post a review of 2011 and my plans for 2012 shortly....