triathlon and family can mix

Posts tagged “intervals

Sprains, Strains, and Automobiles

One week to go.


Swim – 2:30:00 (p) – 2:10:00 (a) – 5800m
Bike – 5:00:00 (p) – 4:48:30 (a) – 133.20km
Run – 2:15:00 (p) – 1:45:02 (a) – 22.30km

Total – 9:45:00 (p) – 8:44:31 (a)

This week was a bit of a mash-up, and not in the horrible ‘Glee’ show-tunes meaning of the word. Racing on Sunday, which is my normal rest day, and the unscheduled rest day on Monday threw a bit a kink into my training plan.

I decided to push Monday through Wednesday ahead a day, catching up with my big days Friday and Saturday.

Everything was going great until my run on Friday, a 60 minute Negative Split (NSR) when I felt some pain in my right achilles around the 15 minute mark. I decided to turn around, head home, and if everything felt alright, head for another lap. Yeah, well one lap it was. So maybe a little rest is needed, but hey, no running until Tuesday on the plan. Hopefully 4 days rest will do it some good.

Wednesday morning was the last of my high intensity days, leaving me pretty stoked; stoked because I am not a huge fan of Fartlek intervals. The plan called for 60min ER – 5x3min FI (3min RBI).


I lost count and ended up doing 6, no wonder I was gassed by the end. I guess I don’t hate them as much as I say….

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With the great weather where in Calgary over the past month, wait, did I just say ‘nice weather’ and ‘Calgary’ in the same sentence? I digress. I have been able to get out on the road for an early morning ride for the past couple of weeks.

Sure it is cold, and one morning I came home with frozen toes, but I would rather that than ride on the trainer, again. The early morning air and watching the sunrise almost makes up for nearly being run over.

Seriously, I am surprised at some of the risks drivers will take to get ahead of a cyclist. That is another post for another day.

Question: Do you have a love/hate relationship with Fartlek Intervals?


Intervals and Commuting in Lycra

Week one of the CTS Half Ironman plan is in the books.

Commuter Coverage (Medium)

Swim – 1:30:00 (p) – 3:00:00 (a) – 8400m
Bike – 2:45:00 (p) – 2:29:03 (a) – 71.67km
Run – 2:00:00 (p) – 1:58:29 (a) – 25.26km

Total – 6:15:00 (p) – 7:27:32 (a)

This week was all about getting back into the interval training, high intensity if you will. One thing is for sure, intervals suck. I mean who wants to be hunched over, gasping for breath with sweat pouring off your forehead. Oh, right, I do.

Good example; Saturday afternoon’s run called for a 45min ER with 4x5min Tempo Run (4:13-4:03/km) 5min RBI. If you do math real quick, skip this next part. With the intervals, I have a total of 5 minutes to warm up, get my heart rate in check, and decide my route before I am switching between 5 minutes of high pace and 5 minutes of rest. That is all.

No rest for the wicked, eh? (Ha, slipped a Canadian phrase in there).

I had an absolute blast, even though everyone in Baker Park thought I was a touch crazy. My route was a 1.2km stretch from one end to the other, I would run hard out and easy back, sometimes past the same couple two or three times. The look on their faces were priceless.

I had to cut my bike 15 minutes short on Friday morning, conference call at 0900 was looming. I was able to get all of my intervals in mind you, so I reckon that is a decent trade off. Not a big fan of riding on the stationary at the YMCA, but I am a huge fan of swimming with the tri club, so something has to give. I have no issues packing my bike and heading for a ride afterwards, but being downtown is not conducive to a lycra wearing roadie with wet hair. So the stationary is where I will stay.

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The Calgary Police Half Marathon is just less than 2 weeks away, and for the first time this year, I am feeling pretty optimistic about it. Now, I am a pretty optimistic guy, but after slacking on the longer runs over the past 4 months, I was worried about lasting the distance.

Well after a couple of great runs last week and the prospect of one more long run this weekend, I am confident that it will be a great race. I am going to remember to bring some sort of energy with me this time, don’t want a repeat of last year now do we?

Question: What are your thoughts on intervals?

Treadmill Thoughts

Not sure if a blog post is warranted, but some ideas you just can’t fit into 140 characters.


I like to people watch. Not creepy like, but more trying to figure out why people do what they do, like.

I will tell you why this has popped into my head. I pedaled away on the trainer at my local YMCA at Monday lunch, watching all the people on the treadmill. Some were running, some were jogging, and a couple of people were walking. I had a thought; what if the TV on the treadmill was connected to your effort level? The faster you go, the better the TV gets.

I reckon it would look something like this:

Walking – Basic TV with “Bunny Ears” – You all know what I am talking about, fuzzy, don’t move another inch it is perfect, kind of TV. 3 channels, and all daytime talk shows. Sorry Oprah.

Jogging – Basic Cable – Just enough channels to get by for 30 minutes, as long as you don’t want to watch sports highlights. You gotta run if you want Sports Center.

Running – Full Cable – Now you have your pick, Home and Garden TV or the Comedy Channel. Just be careful, laughing and running can be a dangerous combination.

Sprints/Intervals – Pay per view – Any time, any show you want. Re-run of Breaking Bad Season 1?  You got it sweaty.

If somehow I could convince the YMCA to implement this, I think that you wouldn’t see many walkers or joggers in the gym.

Question: What would you watch if you were sprinting?

Fitness Testing

Am I getting better? What is the best way to quantify the time you spend in the pool, saddle, and paths is actually increasing your fitness?
There is only one way to tell.


Over the past two years, I have used the training philosophy of Chris Carmichael as outlined in ‘The Time Crunched Triathlete’. To summarize the philosophy, I highly recommend reading the book from cover-to-cover by the way, high intensity training can yield the same race day fitness results as ‘tradtional’ training; meaning ‘long and slow’. I can attest to this, my performance greatly improved along with my results.

As part of the training plan, the CTS system utilizes a field test to determine your thresholds, then calculates various ranges for each training session. It looks something like this:

Pedal as hard as you can for 8 minutes, twice, with a 10 minute break in between. Then hit an all out run effort, for your guessed it, another 8 minutes.

Seem pretty easy right, not so fast. Pun intended.

Wednesday morning was my third time performing the CTS field test. This week is a Rest and Recover week after a 3 week base building period in which I peaked at 11.5 hours of volume. As part of the R&R week, I plan to test my fitness to better dial in my workouts ensuring that I am training as hard or as easy; according to my plan.

So off I went. After a decent warm up, about 10 minutes, consisting of some Power Intervals, High RPM spins, and rest in between efforts, I began my first interval. One tip is to bring the resistance up slowly, reaching your target power in about 45 seconds. So I set at 310W and began mashing. I was feeling good after 60 seconds, so I kicked it up another 10W and settled in for some pain. After the 8 minutes, I dropped to 200W and tried to catch my breath.

The 10 minute rest didn’t last as long as I would have liked, and before long I was heading back to 320W. Now Chris, sounds like we are buddies, says that the second interval will be better than the first. Good motivation, but a lie. The second kicked my butt pretty bad. It took me 90 seconds to get to 320W and I dropped it down to 200W with about 10 seconds left on the interval.

This is what the bike portion looked like.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to link my TacX computer to my Timex Ironman Global GPS yet, so only heart rate this time.

CTS Field Test - Bike

I then hit the treadmill. Being tired from pushing on the bike, and really hating the treadmill, I took a quick minute warmup, then started the interval. Nothing much to report here except I did feel like I was holding back a little. Maybe tired, maybe the new shoes, or just lazy? Not too sure, I will make sure to push as hard as I can for the next test.

The bike intervals were done at 320W and an average of 92 rpm. An increase of 30W from my last test approximately 6 months previous. Not bad I reckon. The run portion was done at 4:17 min/km (14km/hr) and increase of 0:07 min/km (0.4km/hr). Not as good of a result as the bike, but getting faster nonetheless.

So a couple of more days of R&R, which translates to a long slow run on Saturday, typical triathlete, then back to the base phase for another round.

Question: Do you test your fitness? What process do you use?

Disclosure of material connection: I have received no compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brand, products, or services I have mentioned.

Swim Etiquette – Round Two

I posted, awhile back now, what I thought was the important swim ettiquette rules.


That post has become one of my most viewed posts and continues to get views today. Some of the comments made me think that I missed a couple of rules and the way to deal with rule breakers.

So here are some of the missed etiquette rules. Hope it didn’t get you in trouble at the pool…..

Clockwise or Counterclockwise?
It doesn’t really matter. Typically though, each lane will swim counter clockwise. I have come across lanes that alternate from clockwise/counter/clockwise and so on. I asked once why they do that, and I got a confusing answer: “So when you are swimming, you are always next to someone on your left or right”. Make a little sense I guess, but I am not sure why that is important.

Which ever way you decide to swim, make sure everyone in your lane is in agreement before you start.

Training aids can really help increase your swimming power and efficiency; most common for me pool side is a water bottle, kick board, and a pull buoy. On occasion I will bring paddles with as well, although my shoulder doesn’t really like them after breaking my collar bone.

If you are just borrowing them from the pool, most have a decent supply, treat them with care. Put them back when you are finished and if you break them, point it out to the lifeguard. No one likes to pick out the right size paddle only to find the rubber strap missing.

Wether you are borrowing or have your own, try to keep them neat and tidy at pool side. It makes it easier to grab the right tool for the next set, and can avoid un-necessary rest time fiddling with it.

Picking a Lane
Take a minute to survey the pool and determine the speed of the fast, medium, and slow lanes. Also have a gander at how each lane is swimming; if you want to do intervals, then joining a lane that has two swimmers grinding out a 2000m main set wouldn’t be the best choice. Pick the lane the best suits your speed and workout.

Joining a lane already in Progress
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone jump in and start swimming with guys swimming side by side. Can you say collision?

Unless you are swimming with a club, or a bunch of buddies, you will have to join a group already swimming. No problem, they don’t own the lane. Once you have made the all important choice (see above) get in the lane and stay at the wall until each swimmer has either turned or stopped for a rest. This gives them a chance to see you there, acknowledge another swimmer is joining, and swim accordingly.

If you want to dive in, you can make it look cool by the way, then stand right at the edge until all swimmers have passed you then dive away.

So you now have a vague idea of the rules, what if the guy in your lane seems like he is from Mars? My suggestion is to continue swimming with the proper etiquette for about 200m, passing if and when you have to. Typically they are newer swimmers and setting a good example will help them along.

That being said, some won’t catch on, so intervention is required. Next time you are both at the wall, kindly mention to them about the etiquette, give them a tip, and start your next interval.

If they continue to make it tough for you to swim, then move to another lane and forget about it. Not worth ruining your day over.

Question: I missed some last time, did I miss any this time?

High Intensity Training

It is the winter season, meaning a majority of your workouts will be high volume, low intensity. That doesn’t mean that all of your workouts have to be.


I have spent the last two years training at high intensity in the build period for each of my races. This intensitiy allowed me to compete in various distances up to a Half Ironman with an average training volume of 9 hours a week. Pretty important when I am trying to split my time between training and my family.

Training at high intensity can be intimidating for some. Hey, it can be embarassing when you stop half way up the hill to walk; especially when the group you passed at the bottom jogs past you before the top. Don’t let that intimidate you, by incorporating higher intensity training into your swim/bike/run workouts, you will be leaving them in your dust in no time.

There are ways to make high(er) intensity training more enjoyable. Really, there is a way.

Timing – Complete your intervals early in your workout
It is no secret that when you are tired, your form breaks down. Ever heard of the Ironman Shuffle? After 2400m in the pool, I start to wave at something at the bottom of the pool with my left arm. No, I am not halucinating, my arms and shoulders are tired and it is much easier to ‘wave’ than catch the water with my entire stroke. By completeing your intervals after a quick 10 minute warmup, you can not only compete the intervals at the intensity you want, but with good form as well.

Technology – Track your Pace/Power
Most runners run their slow run too fast and their fast run too slow. I have experienced this many times over the past two years when I forget to charge my GPS watch and notice it just as I am heading out the door. With the invention of GPS watches and power meters, training in a zone is much easier than before. Each will allow you to complete each interval at the perscribed intensity; not too high, not too low, but just right.

Testing – Know your zones
Testing sucks. Going all out for a specific period of time can be the hardest training session of your season, but it is totally worth it. By utilzing numbers that remove the error in perception, you can target each interval to exactly what you want to gain. If the goal is to run at your lactate threashold or just stay aerobic, your pace will help you stay in the correct intensity. My test of choice is the Carmichael Training System (CTS) field test for swim, bike, and run. I have found this to be the most accurate and has proven results for me in the past.

Recover – Be ready for your next session
Nutrition and rest; probably the two areas where we all could use some tweaking here and there. High intensity training will reduce the amount of glycogen in your system, so it is important that you replace what you used after each workout. Test what works for you, sweet potato is working awesome for me right now.

This year I planned to incorporate some high intensity training into my base period during the winter. With 5 weeks complete, the results are promising. So much so that I will continue to keep it up and can not wait for my build phase.

Oh, and I like going fast. Typical triathlete….

Question: Do you train at high intensity? How is it working for you?