Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last week and this month

Here are the stats for the week that ended last Sunday and for the month on February:

Last week:

Swim: 9,000 yards
Bike: 170 miles
Run: 26 miles
Time: 17:08


Swim: 26,000 yards
Bike: 542 miles
Run: 111 miles
time: 60 hours

So while these numbers are pretty modest by my past standards they do represent pretty reasonable progress from the perspective of where I started post Aconcagua.

My swim and run are beginning to come around a bit.  I ran 9 miles today in 73 minutes, and this is about 3-4 minutes faster than a couple of weeks ago.  Starting to feel more comfortable pushing it over the last 1/4 of the run.  My knee is very painful now as i have waited too long to start my next injection cycle but I will start the next sequence of three injections the week after next after my ortho returns from China.

My volume on the swim was pretty decent.  However, I am still quite slow--for example I did my 200 repeats today at 3:06-3:10.  I would normally expect to be sub 3 at this point in the year.  Still, I seem to be improving--I'm probably just behind because of the two months I effectively took off.  The pain that I have been experencing in my arms did seem to diminish this week--my right arm pretty much feels normal now and the left has definitely improved.  I did swim twice in the Gulf of Mexico this week while visiting my Mom and I felt pretty good all things considered.

I'm pretty significantly underinvesting in my bike training.  I'll probably need to address this a bit in March and I'm guessing I won't be that happy with my early bike race results, but we'll see....

The good news is that the weather is finally starting to get better....with this I expect to experience a concurent improvement in my motivation to get outside on the bike...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A frist look at my intensive analytical review of my triathlon performance

Ok, as I mentioned prior, I am digging into a detailed review of my Tri database to assess what has happened over the last 12 years and more importantly, to figure out what to do going forward.  I promissed I'd share some of this with you in the days ahead and here is the first installment!

Find below, a summary of my average SBR split pace over the last 12 years for Short Course ONLY:

The reason that this chart shows only SC data is that my relative emphasis on LC vs SC from year to year really skews my average pace data (I run a slower  pace for a marathon than a 5k).  By just including short course data I have a better dataset for comparison.  Of course, some SC courses are harder than others (OLY vs Sprint or hilly vs flat) and the weather varies but at the end of the day I can't adjust for everything--the advantage of this dataset is that it is real world.

So here is the important interpretation of the above data:

1. From 2001-2006 I was just experimenting on my own.  I improved a bit and by 2004 was at my triathlon peak from a bike perspective.  This is consistent with a lot of other analyses I have done.  I averaged over 24 mph for the 9 SC races I did that year.  My interpretation of this is that I was closer to my potential on the bike than I was on the run or swim when I started so with some regular training I arrived at my bike potential earlier than my run and swim.  This makes sense as my primary mode of exercise prior to starting triathlon was cycling.  The fall off in cycling performance that is evident since 2004 is a function of my aging.

2. My swim was pretty mediocre and stagnant until 2007 and then I worked with Peter Reid and he had me do 120% more swimming than I had ever done before.  This led to a 4 minute/mile or so improvement in my swimming capability.  Pete also decided it was right for me to disinvest in my bike and you can see the clear drop-off in my bike pace in 2007.  However, he also had me emphasize running in 2007 and the net result was I achieved my peak overall triathlon competitiveness in 2007.  I was an All-american that year and was ranked 76th in the country.

3. In 2008 I was back on my own and I decided to reinvest in biking.  Note the improvement in my bike.  I cut my swimming volume by 40% and paid the price swim wise.

4. In 2009, I was burnt oot and took it "easy" all year--no long course.  Note the decrease in performance.

5. In 2010, I reimagined my swim and focused on technique over volume.  Note the improvements, especially by 2012.  I was also able to regain my bike fitness that I enjoyed in 2007--albeit, with way more volume.

6. Over the last three years my run has significantly declined.  Part of this is less run training versus 2007, but that is real limiter that I now face with my knee.  The reality is my run is in decline, and pretty significantly so.

7. Relative to my peak year of 2007, in 2012 I was about 45 seconds faster for the typical 0.25-mile sprint swim (on less volume--a real success, but as I commented on in my prior post, I'll need to aggressively ramp up my swim volume this summer to extend this improvement to the IM distance).  

I'm about the same as I was in 2007 bikewise, but I invest much more time into my bike training.  Relative to my real peak in 2004, I'm about 30 seconds slower for the average 11-12 mile sprint bike leg.  The real problem is I'm now a full minute/mile slower on the run than I was in 2007--this is a 3+ minute penalty.  Despite my improvements in my swim and my increased effort on the bike to try to counter my aging, my decline in my run is making me a less competitive traithlete (compared to the absolute).

Obviously, I'm most interested in arresting or reversing my running decline....that's what you'll see as a primary theme this guarantees that it will work but hey, I need to attack my biggest issues!

More data later!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The world's greatest triathlon database: reflections and resolutions

I've been spending a fair bit of time updating and analyzing my triathlon database.  This is a database tht tracks 60 different parameters about each of my 126 triathlons to date.  Think of it as a 126 by 60 matrix.

Now when I claim it is the world's greatest triathlon database, let me clarify what I mean.  There may be larger triathlon databases in the world.  There may be more useful databases in the world.  But I'm pretty much certain that there is no other database as extensive as this is about as relatively low profile topic (me) as in this database.  In otherwords, never has so much been recorded about so little!  (In addition to my Xcel database, I have a paper copy of the results of all 126 of my races--going back to 2001).

So with this database it's possible to do all sorts of interesting (in my view) analyses.  I have been doing so as of late (as well as an exciting video project, which I'll unveil shortly) and will be sharing some of the specifics of that research with you in this space over the next month or so.  However, I wanted to share with some of the important conclusions I have reached about how I need to modify my approach to the upcoming 2013 racing season.  Here are the major ones:

1. By most measures my swim hit its peak in 2010/2011.  I had a slight fall off last year but even 2012 was a comparitively good year.  This is the average race look.  However, tuning the analyses by race link shows two key things: 1. I underperform the longer the race is relative to the times I achieve in sprints; and 2. My best IM swims were all in a 10 month period in 2007/2008 (IMFL2007 at 66 minutes being the best).  Whats interesting about this is when you compare my results to my swim training volume.  Back in 2007, I had Peter Reid as my coach and he had me do radically more swimming that year (almost 500,000 yards).  I was frequently above 50,000 per month.  After I stopped working with Pete, I cut my swim volume by 25-30% and focused quite a bit on technique.  I used the extra time to ramp up my bike volume.  What happened i believe is I became a better and faster swimmer at shorter distances but at the IM distance, my lack of sheer swim volume really hurt my IM swim splits--we're talking about 10-15 minutes here.

In 2013, I will up my swim volume to 50,000+ yds/month in June, July and August in preparation for my September IM.  Otherwise, I'll follow my recent years' approach.

2. My bike has remained consistent and competitively outstanding.  I may be just a percent or so off of where I was 8-9 years ago but I continue to get the job done on the bike.  Part of this must surely be a function of my ramp up in aggregate bike volume the last few years (I'm at or above 10,000 miles/year).  However, with the above ramp in swim volume, something will have to give.

In 2013, I'll have my biggest bike volume months in April and May.   From June-August I'll cut back a bit but significantly increase the intensity of my bike rides.  I'll be sure to get a weekly 100+ mile ride in but be sure to progressively raise the percentage of the my long rides that I'm at or above my IM power target (probably around 190-200 watts).  I'll run off of these long rides a bit to make sure, my power target is correct for the IM distance.  I'll be sure to also do 2 high intensity, structured rides each week.  In this manner, I hope to continue my strong bike performance, accomodate my increased investment in the swim, and have a stronger IM bike split in September.

3. My big issue on the run is my knee.  Because of the chronic pain I try to manage through, I can't achieve the basic volume (or the desired intensity) of training.  I begin to have real trouble once I get to about 30 miles a week.  I should be at 50-60 and this is a fundamental limiter for my triathlon performance.  As I age, my run is becomming comparatively worse.  I hope to reverse this by trying to inject more intensity, but to do it on hills were the stress on my legs, especially my knee, should be less.

In 2013, I'm going to try to reverse, or slow down, the deterioration of my run performance by an emphasis, beginning in March, on hill interval work.  I'll do two types of hill runs EACH week.  The first, is a set of short, maximal efforts up very steep hills.  I'm talking 8-10 repeats of 5-15 seconds with plenty of rest.  The second, is longer, more tempo oriented efforts.  Here a set would be 3-5 repeats of 6-10 minutes at a 5k/10k intensity.

In addition to the above training changes, I have a number of equipment changes lined up for 2013:

Swim: With the Water Rover no longer being legal, my swimsuit will be exclusively the TYR FON.

Bike: After seven years, I'm retiring my BMC TT01 at some point this season.  In it's place will be my new BMC TM01.  More on that later.

Run: After a bunch of test runs, I've decided to switch running shoes to the Hoka One One.  In my training runs, I seem to be about 3-5% faster in these shoes.  The great thing about these shoes is that they have a very small ramp--similar to barefoot running but they also have great cushioning, which given my size and my knee I need--especially at the IM distance.  I've noticed that when I run in five fingers and they like I'm faster but there is just not enough cushioning.  I'm betting this will get a bit of the best of both worlds!

Lastly, I'm getting in touch with my softer side and racing in Betty Designs tri clothes this year!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week's totals

Pretty good effort this week given I was up in Boston/New jersey through Wednesday--this especially impacted my swim totals for the week:

Swim: 5,000 yards
Bike: 159 miles
Run: 28 miles
Time: 16:28

I will probably try to ramp up my volume across all three disciplines over the next 3-5 weeks.  I'd like to get up to 8-10k swim yards, 200+ bike miles, and 35-40 run miles.  Starting April, my plan is to start training for a half-IM in late in June and then build for my IM in September.

I'm behind where I hormally am at this time of the year, but my main focus is to be in top shape come September.  For that, I'm on track.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Last Week

It little late but here is last week's totals:

Swim: 6500 yards
bike: 120 miles
Run: 28 miles
Time: 15:16

Judy and I went to Boston on Sunday and went out to dinner with the boys and then to the Beanpot tourney on Monday night.  Great fun!  Visited Judy's parents in new jersey on Tuesday so training taking a bit of a back seat right now.

That said, starting to feel a little stronger and 28 miles was a good early February run week....

Onwards and Upwards!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back to work!

After a couple weeks getting back to normal post Aconcagua, I belatedly started my 2013 triathlon training this week.  The week was interrupted by a Fri-Sun trip to Pittsburgh with Jenny to see the Devils play the Penguins...the game was a bust, but the trip was fun.  In any event, it cut into my training time a bit.

Also, I've decided to not push it volume wise until about 12-14 weeks before IM Lake early season racing may suffer, but I feel a need to go easy given the heavy workload in 2012.  Here are my totals for this pass week:

Swim: 5,000 yards
Bike: 178 miles
Run: 20 miles
Time: 15:02