2016 Training: 12 Weeks of Base

2016 Training: 12 Weeks of Base

I’ve just completed 12 weeks of base training for the 2016 season.

By the numbers:

  • 175.5 hours of total training
  • 14.63 hours/week average
  • 1 day with no training (Dec. 12 – I don’t recall why)
  • Time spent swimming – 30:15:00
  • Percentage of training time swimming – 17.2%
  • Distance swam – 90,880m
  • Days I swam – 57 of 84
  • Time spent cycling – 94:31:37
  • Percentage of training time cycling – 53.9%
  • FTP Improvement – 10W (315 – 325W)
  • Cycling TSS – 5325.4
  • Time spent running – 45:03:27
  • Percentage of training time running – 25.7%
  • Distance run – 575km
  • Longest run – 32.2km
  • Highest weekly milage – 104km (Los Angeles)
  • Time spent doing other exercise – 5:40:00
  • Percentage of training time doing other exercise – 3.24%
Training breakdown by time

Training breakdown by time

What I did well

  1. Got to the pool consistently.  My 500m TT in the pool has improved from 8:15 to 7:20 (1:39/100 to 1:28/100).  I’ve swam 50 of the past 57 days totalling 77,980m in the pool.  That’s only aver aging about 1560m per swim, but I’m getting into the pool regularly, and I’m developing a better feel for the water.
  2. Went long on the trainer.  Before this year I only rode 3-hours on the trainer once.  Mentally, going over 1:30 was tough, and over 2:00 seemed ridiculous, so in the past I would either substitute or eliminate the long trainer ride.  But after Lisa was crushing her 3-hour rides I finally decided to go long.  A mix of movies and tasty nutrition made the ride seem less daunting, and in the last couple weeks I’ve even been able to push the power so that it no longer feels like a long, drawn-out ride.
  3. Backed off when I felt off.  Now I can’t claim to be perfect at this, but I will say that I’m much improved.  I had a cold in January, and I’ve had a couple little niggles here and there.  I also felt really fatigued for a couple days in February.  Instead of just trying to muscle my way through the workout I scratched, or reduced, workouts from my plan.  It’s tough to say, but it seems to have helped me recover more quickly.

What I didn’t do well

  1. Didn’t run enough.  Looking back at the runs I did over the last 12 weeks I substituted far to many runs.  It could have been substituting a hard run for a shorter or easier run.  Or it could have been substituting a run for a bike when it was cold or slippery.  I made a habit of it, and that’s something I need to change.
  2. Didn’t run fast.  I can’t continue to rely on the marathon fitness I had in 2014 to carry me through this year like it did last year.  I need to run faster, and to do that I need to make sure I’m running fast more frequently.  That means doing more intervals and tempo runs with more regularity.

Plans for the build phase

  1. Increase run volume.  I’m going to experiment with a 2-hour mid-week run in my training plan.  I’ll try doing some different things with this run.  I’ll do a big chunk of it at slightly faster than my goal IM marathon pace (4:15-4:20).  This will start at about 10k and build over the weeks.  I may also try doing a couple of fast 5k tempo efforts within this run on other weeks.  By adding a second long-ish run to my week I think it should help my increase my milage and get some quality miles in my legs.  It will also take some pressure off my weekend long run so that on that run my only concern is getting in some long miles.
  2. Re-introduce treadmill bricks.  Last year I regularly ran 5k treadmill bricks at a hard effort off most of my bikes.  This accounted for most of my run quality.  I’m planning my run a little differently this year, but I plan to get back into the habit of doing this once a week.  I try to do these quicker than 4:00/km pace, and my plan is to build these up towards 30min.
  3. Push my FTP.  I need to continue to work hard on the bike to continue to see FTP gains.  350 is my goal target for the summer, so I still have a long way to go.

Other Notes

  • So far on my long rides I’ve eaten Timbits twice (about 12 for a 3-hour ride), Pilsbury Cinnamon Rolls (I ate 6 during the ride and the other 2 right after cause I was so hungry), and Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars (1/3 of the box)
  • Except for 1030m I swam at the Lifetime Fitness Indoor Tri, the other 89,850m I’ve swam has all been at my condo pool (that’s 3594 lengths in that pool)
  • I eat 1 jujube every 4-minutes when I ride my bike during the week (my long ride I switch it up)
  • I drink 1 bottle of fluid per 40min on the bike, this was just water, but I’m now adding Nuun or Scratch to add some sodium
  • Coke or Lemonade are current favourites after a tough run
Improving my Swim: 3 Things I’ve Learned

Improving my Swim: 3 Things I’ve Learned

Like most triathletes I’m guilty of saying I should swim more, but then just don’t.  We rationalize it by saying that it’s such a small part of the race, so time is better spent running, or cycling.  After moving into a new condo with a 25m pool downstairs I decided no more excuses, I’m going to swim everyday.  Since I began daily swims I almost never swim more than 1500m (it’s just 30 minutes), but I’m consistently getting into the pool, and my times are coming down.  I did a 500m TT in 8:15 (1:39/100m) in the beginning of January.  7 weeks later I did another 500m TT today in 7:30 (1:30/100m).  These times are far from elite, and they aren’t even FOP amateur triathlete times, but they show improvement.

As someone who didn’t grow up a swimmer, has never had any formal swim coaching, and still mostly swims because that’s what he needs to do to get to his bike, these are my thought on how to make the pool more interesting, and ultimately become a better swimmer.

Do a Workout

When I swim I usually find the time is going by too quickly, the opposite problem of most triathletes at the pool.  If I’m doing a set of 10x50m it’s all out for 50m as I race the clock to get back to the wall, and then the rest intervals seems to fly by and I’m at it again.  This is a really good way to not only chew up distance, but actually improve.  I almost exclusively do 50s or 100s when I workout, rarely is it longer, and they’re always all out.  Few things are more mind numbing than showing up to the pool, hopping in a lane, and mindlessly swimming back and forth to try to get to 2000m.  Doing a workout makes the time fly, and will make you a better swimmer.

Make use of your warm-up and cool down

When I WU or CD I swim 100m breathing to the left (my strong side), 100m bilateral, 100m to my right, 100m left, 100m bilateral.  When I started doing this in January I couldn’t breath to my right at all.  When I tried my head would come out of the water, my legs would sink, and I’d barely get a breath.  Every time I’m in the pool I’m doing 200m exclusively breathing to my bad side, and 400m breathing bilaterally (something else I couldn’t do before January).  I’ve become a better, more balanced swimmer by learning to breath to the right.  It also means that your time in the pool doesn’t get started on the wrong foot by mindlessly swimming a boring 500m WU.  And, it makes it a lot easier to remember what lap you’re on when you’re doing something slightly different every 100.  This may not be the traditional way to learn a swim skill or do drills, but it has worked for me, and helps the WU and CD breeze by.  I might involve swimming with closed fists to into my routine next, to work on my arm position.

Think about 1 thing

Technique trumps fitness in the pool.  You see it when an 8-year-old girl dolphin kicks past you, and when that overweight senior leaves you in his wake.  There’s a lot that goes into a stroke, and a lot to remember.  Am I keeping my elbow high?  How’s my head position?  Am I making myself long and narrow?  Am I catching a lot of water?  How’s my kick?  It can be overwhelming.  When I go to the pool I only think about 1 things.  I may decide I’m going to focus on keeping my head down through my entire stroke.  Or maybe I’ll focus on my catch.  But I wont focus on both, because then I find I don’t really focus on either.

Most people aren’t going to make it a goal to swim every day, nor do they have the luxury of a 25m pool downstairs.  Take my advice for what it’s worth, I don’t swim under 1-hour in an Ironman, and have no qualifications in the pool.  But by making better use of my time in the pool doing tough intervals, using the WU and CD to work on weaknesses instead of falling into mindless swimming right off the bat, and only thinking about 1 aspect of my stroke per swim I’ve seen some great improvements.

When the Workouts Suck

When the Workouts Suck

Missing the target on a workout sucks.  Cracking, and barely managing to get to the finish is even worse.  Yesterday I was doing a Trainer Road workout called Lamarck.  It was 4x10min @FTP on 2 min rest.  I knew it was going to be a tough workout, but I should be able to get through it.  Right now I’m in a phase where I never feel fully recovered, but I felt pretty good all things considered.  I completed the first 10min interval, but it was really tough.  The 2min recovery seemed to fly by and then I was back at it again.  30sec in to my second interval I felt really fatigued.  1min in I wondered how I was going to make it through.  2min in I cracked.  My legs gave up, I couldn’t hold close to my watts, and I was spent.  I spent the rest of the remaining 36 minutes of the workout ignoring the actual workout, and just riding at a steady, but much easier output.  I was disappointed, but didn’t think too much of it.

You can see where it all went south

You can see where it all went south

Yesterday afternoon I was planning on doing some run intervals.  I was thinking 4x1k, 4x800m.  I was feeling fatigued, and it was cold and windy, so I settled on doing an easy-to-moderate 90min ride on the trainer instead.  I could watch a movie to help pass the time.  Well….that didn’t go so well either.  In the warmup I was struggling to hit a pedestrian pace (about 55% of FTP) and at 10 minutes I completely shut it down.  My body didn’t want to do it, and my output was so pitiful that I had no option but to listen.

Fast forward to today and the Trainer Road plan I’m following actually called for an easy 45min ride.  I figured it was timed perfectly.  I managed to do the ride, but it wasn’t as easy as it should have felt.  I followed that up with a quick 1500m in the pool, and that’s where I figured out just how tired I was.  From my first stroke I knew even 1500m would be a challenge.  I got in my swim, but I wasn’t concerned about pace and just got through it.  I’ve decided I’ll scratch my run for later today, and I’m undecided about what I’ll do with tomorrows workouts.

I decided to write about this for a couple reasons.  Most of what I write is all positive – how training is progressing, interesting places I’ve swim/bike/run, or race reports.  The reality is that those posts are really just the highlight reel, and there’s a lot more ups and downs that go into it.  I’ve decided to be self coached, and I don’t always know what I’m doing.  I will now look back at a variety of factors that I think could have lead to this; sleep, nutrition, stress, workouts, etc.  Is there anything that has changed recently?  What caused my body to react this way?  What can I do to ensure I don’t get myself into this situation in the future.  More isn’t always more and it’s important that I learn from this to ensure I’m better moving forward.

 

Running in LA

Running in LA

Lisa had to head down to LA for 6 days.  Since my work is portable I decided I should leave the (not as cold as I would expect) Toronto winter for some running under the Los Angeles sun.  While Lisa was cooped up working for most of the time I got a chance to run all over the city.  I ran around Beverly Hills, Franklin Canyon, Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon, Santa Monica, and Redondo/Hermosa Beach.  Below I’ve written about what I thought of each from best to worst.

Redondo/Hermosa Beach

We stayed in Redondo Beach on Saturday night.  Lisa and I got up to run Sunday morning.  I didn’t know much about the area, or what to expect, but it turned out to be great.  From what I’ve heard rain is a rarity in these parts.  Well, we must have been lucky, because it was wet and windy.  Despite these less than ideal conditions it was still my favourite place to run.  The beachside path seemed to span forever.  There were a number of other runners out getting in their Sunday run too.  Even on a sunny day I don’t think the path would be crowded.  For most of the run it’s residential to the east and beach to the west as you run north/south along the path.  The path is easy to follow, and most of it is straight and spacious enough to do some repeats.  If I was in the LA area this is where I would want to come to run.

Pros

  • Beautiful oceanside route
  • Easy to follow
  • Other runners on route
  • Quite long, you can continue up to LAX along the beachside path
  • Lots of bathrooms

Cons

  •  Flat route, no good if you want hills
It was pouring when we ran so I don't have any photos from the run, but here's a sunset picture from Redondo Beach

It was pouring when we ran so I don’t have any photos from the run, but here’s a sunset picture from Redondo Beach

Franklin Canyon

I tried to find information on Franklin Canyon before I left, but found almost nothing.  If it wasn’t for the fact that this seemed like the closest spot to our hotel for uninterrupted running (no lights/stop signs), I likely wouldn’t have given it a second look.  But it was, and so this is where I ran a couple times.  There is a long run up through some very quite residential streets before you really get to the canyon.  This route is a big hill.  You go up most of the time until you reach the top, and then you’re running down to get home.  Some sections are very steep, and burn the legs going up, and smash the quads coming down.  The footing is good, most of the route is on pavement.  There are a number of trails you can run, and I tried one, but I learned from this trip that I’m not a trail runner.  Maybe it’s just that I lack the technical skills, but I found I had to run a lot slower on the trails, plus they just seemed like a great way to twist your ankle.

Pros

  • Great hilly run
  • Good surface, I didn’t have problems with slipping
  • Trails, if you’re into that
  • Quite route

Cons

  • No good if you don’t want hills
  • You can’t always trust Google Maps (common in LA), some of the roads are gated communities so you can’t get through.  I found this route especially bad for this
  • I ran this canyon 3 times and I only saw 1 other runner, and maybe 15 walkers/hikers, so if you like seeing people this isn’t for you
Franklin Canyon

Franklin Canyon

Santa Monica

Santa Monica was a run I was really looking forward to.  I love to run along the coast, I really enjoy watching the waves crash in as I go.  Usually these routes attract a number of other runners, and Santa Monica was no different.  We must have passed 200 people in LA Road Runner tshirts, maybe more.  They were spread out in different pace groups.  I love that they had some many people out running, but I didn’t think it was so great that some of their groups were so large that they took up the entire path.  Santa Monica was about what I expected.  This was the first run Lisa could join me on, we did an easy 12k.  Early in the morning we had no trouble finding parking.  I figured there would be a certain element of homelessness to these parts, but I wasn’t expecting as many ‘spaced out people.  We came across a handful of stumbling individuals who were in their own world, weaving all over the path. We didn’t see anyone who was confrontational, but I would still consider this a strike against running in this area.  As we were finishing out run, just after 10AM on a Saturday, it was starting to get busy on the path.  I wouldn’t run here if you weren’t going to be done by about 10:30ish because the path would be too congested with beach-goers, walkers, etc.

Pros

  • Really pretty route
  • Lots of other runners (at times too many, when a group of 60 LARR take up the whole path)
  • Lots of bathrooms and water fountains
  • Easy to follow

Cons

  • Gets very busy, especially on the weekends (after 10AM on the weekends I wouldn’t even try to run here)
  • Some parts feel a little seedy
  • A number of people on the path in their own world, weaving all over the place, which creates a hazard
  • Completely flat, if you want hills

Santa Monica Path

Post run on the pier

Post run on the pier

Griffith Park

Griffith Park seems to be an iconic place for people in LA to workout.  When Lisa and I road-tripped up to LA from San Diego last year we saw the sunset in Griffith Park and noticed a lot of active people around.  I saw some people running up to a peak in Griffith Park, so I knew when I was coming to LA that I wanted to run up there.  I came to Griffith Park on a weekday morning, and it was buzzing with people.  Not overcrowded, but lots of people around.  Some people hiking, others just taking pictures of the Hollywood sign, and a few running.  I thought about running on the road up to the Observatory, and then taking a path to the top, but ultimately decided to take paths all the way to the top.  As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not a trail runner.  I likely had the wrong shoes for the path because in sections it was steep and I found I had to run very gingerly.  There was a fine sand on top of the hard rock/stone trail, which was slippery at times.  The path was so steep in some sections that it was more like stair climbing than running.  The views are great from the top, and it’s a good spot to get in a workout; certain sections of Griffith Park would be great for hill repeats.  But this isn’t really a place you can watch your pace as you run.

Pros

  • Beautiful park
  • Easy to find your way (the Observatory and Hollywood sign are landmarks you can see from a good chunk of where I was running to get your bearings)
  • Other active people around to get you motivated to move

Cons

  • Some parts are crowded
  • Parts of the trail don’t have the best footing for normal running shoes
  • Steep sections make it difficult to feel like you’re getting a good run in (slow going up and down)
Griffith Park

Griffith Park

A look down at the Observatory

A look down at the Observatory

Runyon Canyon

I was really excited to run Runyon Canyon, but it ultimately turned out to be a bit of a let down.  This could be partly my fault, and not knowing the route, but on my way down it was so steep that I was walking a good portion of it.  There was even a steep staircase for a section of it.  If I was to do it again, then the route that I took up I would also take down.  Unfortunately, this means that only a very limited section of the canyon is actually runable.

Pros

  • If you follow the route I took to the top you can get in a solid, long hill repeat
  • Everyone in the park seemed to be moving, unlike Griffith Park who get a lot more people standing on the paths/trails taking pictures

Cons

  • Some sections too steep to run down, with poor footing
  • To get in a good run of over 5k you’d have to do laps or repeats
  • Trails seemed very poorly marked to find my way to the top (again, it would be fair to put this on me)
Runyon Canyon from the top

Runyon Canyon from the top

You can see people coming down the steep bit

You can see people coming down the steep bit

Beverly Hills

I don’t think Beverly Hills is necessarily known for it’s running, so I didn’t have high expectations of it, and it didn’t really deliver anything special.  I think Franklin Canyon is technically in Beverly Hills, but we wont count it because it got it’s own section above.  There aren’t weren’t really any parks around the area.  This meant that any running was through either residential areas, or commercial streets.  I will say when I was running for a couple km’s along Wilshire Blvd I seemed to hit a lot of consecutive green lights, which made running here a little better, but it’s not somewhere I’d choose to run unless it was my only option.  The curbs are very high and as the km’s build you start to feel stepping off and back onto them in your run.

Pros

  • If you want to see what Beverly Hills is about then running can be a good way to see it, I didn’t run into any problems with motorists or pedestrians

Cons

  • All the running is in residential/commercial area, no uninterrupted stretches that I found
  • Running up and down the high curbs can take a toll on your quads
Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

LA Running Notes

  • Transit in LA is brutal.  I considered taking transit to some other far out places to run, like the Rose Bowl, but the public transit options were lousy.  Even to get to Griffith Park from Beverly Hills took over an hour
  • With that said, it does seem like Pasadena has some great running routes, and miles of running paths around the Rose Bowl
  • Nike offers free group runs/workouts in LA, which could be worthwhile if you’re uneasy running on your own (LA Road Runners would also likely be a good bet, but that’s just a guess)
  • When I was running in Beverly Hills a lot of drivers seemed distracted, and they rolled through stop signs, so make sure you’re aware and alert when you run

 

This isn’t an extensive list of everywhere to run in the LA area, and it’s not even a comprehensive guide to the 6 places I listed.  This is my biased opinion of these spots based on my experience running them (many of them I only ran once).  I typically run on paved, or hard-packed and relatively level paths.  If you enjoy the steep, twisting undulations that trails can offer I’d disregard my opinion.

Redondo Beach

Franklin Canyon

Santa Monica

Griffith Park

Runyon Canyon

Beverly Hills