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Posts tagged “time crunched triathlete

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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21 Day No Complaint Challenge
Weaselhead Hill, Trends, and Hippos
Wind is Your Enemy

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?


Weaselhead Hill, Trends, and Hippos

Back at it, in more ways than one.


Swim – 3:00:00 – 9100m
Bike – 2:02:51 – 61.0km
Run – 2:25:25 – 26.48km

I said in my last post “Wow, Wednesday already. I wish every week would go this fast.” Yeah, well it is now almost 2 weeks since then. Jeez time flies.

This was my last week of semi structure in my training. I always have a plan, but for the next 8 weeks I am going to live and die by my training schedule. There is something comforting about having a plan written and all you have to do is hammer it.

Easy enough right?

The Half Ironman plan from “The Time Crunched Triathlete” will be my main stay for the next 8 weeks, peaking for Escape From Alcatraz June 1. I then have a couple of weeks to recover before cycling through the plan again for Ironman 70.3 Calgary.

I am tired and hungry just thinking about it.

Saturday afternoon was perfect for a rip on my bike; the earliest I have been able to get on the road and it was awesome. It was so great to have the fresh air, wind, and dust in my face rather than the stale air of my 70’s inspired basement. You read right, even dust is better than the trainer.

Sunday afternoon I took my brother to run part of the Calgary Police Half Marathon course as he has never run the race before. No one should ever run the Weaselhead hill for the first time at 14k into a half marathon; that is just cruel. It was a great run with great company. I don’t usually get the opportunity to chat much while training, so it was a welcome change.

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Some really odd trends in my top posts. I wonder what it is about Recap – Week 50 that has people interested. I can see Ironman Tattoo, that is a good post…..

Friday afternoon we made an impromptu trip to the zoo here in Calgary. Not sure if you knew, but the zoo was almost washed away by the floods last year and this was our first time there since.

What a blast. I forgot how much fun it can be to just let the afternoon run by without much of a plan. Fortunately for us we received an invite for supper around 1730, so no need to rush home and utter our favorite phrase, “what should we make for supper?”.

Question: Now spring is here, has your training ramped up for race season?

Fartleks and Coffee, What?

I think it is about time for a rest week.


Swim – 2:00:00 – 4550m
Bike – 2:15:48 – 75.3km
Run – 1:46:22 – 20.0km
Strength – 1:30:00

Total – 7:32:10

I have been going pretty steady since the new year with only a couple of missed workouts here and there. I have been seeing some positive gains on both the swim and bike, and being able complete 3 runs last week without cringing; chalk that up as a win.

With 14 weeks until my first big race of the year, Escape from Alcatraz, I have some time before I need to ramp up my training. I am going with the tried and tested ‘Time Crunched Triathlete’ Half Ironman program from Chris Carmichael; my second time through the plan. This time hopefully I won’t crash, break my collar bone, and be able to complete it from start to finish…..

So what do I do? Do I stick with the plan right now, slug it out until the first part of April and get on with it? Or do I switch it up now and have a little fun before the ‘real’ training kicks in?

Oh the questions.

I am enjoying my Friday speed sessions with my new found running buddy, even if he is totally faster than me. I was able to beat him in a sprint over the Peace Bridge a week ago, but it took everything I had. I recently referred to it a ‘Fartlek Friday’ and it got me thinking about the name, ‘Fartlek’. I know that it is Swedish for speed play, but it just sounds weird. Say it three times fast. Go ahead.

Weird right? I wonder if it started as a joke, “hey Sven, I bet you can’t get people to use fart repeatedly in a sentence.”

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Recap – Week 50

So me and my crazy challenges have started anew. This time it is a familiar challenge; ditch the java for 30 days.

Every time I have a cup of coffee with a friend or at home on the weekend, I don’t feel very good. I thought it may be the amount as with my profession, I tend to meet a lot over a coffee, so I switched to decaf for a while. Didn’t help. So as of Thursday I am coffee free for at least 30 days. I have done it before so I am confident it will be successful this time ’round.

As a addition, I am going to count the days that I go not only coffee free, but caffeine free. Even though tea has much less than coffee, caffeine effects the adrenal system. If I am already using it heavily during exercise, and if you swim with us heavily is the right term, why put more strain on it than necessary.


Question: How do you switch up your training plan?

Run Intervals

HIIT, my favorite buzzword of the week.


Call it what you want, ‘Intervals’, ‘Fartlek’, or good old ‘Pain’, high intensity training is a great way to increase speed and aerobic capacity. I have explored this idea in a past post, High Intensity Training.

I like intervals. Really. You may think I am crazy for saying it, but I like intervals. Notice I didn’t say love……

My least favorite, and the ones I have been hammering all spring, are run intervals. I am not the best runner, but I am getting better. In my last race, I finished the 5k run in 21:52 (4:23/km). This is my fastest run split to date. At least all the effort is paying off; combining the base fitness I worked on over the winter and speed work in the spring, I am feeling as fast as I ever had on the run.

If you have read my past posts, I am a huge fan of ‘Time Crunched Triathlete’. Not only does that fact you can train for and race a triathlon, up to a Half Ironman, in around 8 hours per week speak to me, the shorter, higher intensity workouts are great. My body reacts well to this type of training.

Using the intensity levels defined by Chris Carmichael, my run intervals look like this.

Workout Name Primary Goal Percentage of CTS Field Test Pace Your CTS Running Pace Ranges Percentage of CTS Field Test Heart Rate Your CTS Running Heart Rate Ranges
EnduranceRun Basic aerobic development 97 0 4:31 0 97 0 168
SteadyStateRun Improved aerobic development 98 92 4:22 4:40 92 98 159 170
TempoRun Increased pace at lactae threshold 102 98 4:12 4:22 98 102 170 176
Fartlek Intervals Increased speed at V02 Max 108 102 3:58 4:12 102 108 176 187

Of course, to be able to complete this chart, you need to perform a “CTS Field Test’. I won’t bore you in this post, as I explored it here. It sucks, just in case you were wondering.

Here is what my ‘Steady State (SS)’ intervals looked like back in April. My workout called for a 45 Min SSR (4×4 Minutes (4RBI)). Broken down, it reads like this; 45 minute run, with 4 minutes in the SSR range (4:22-4:40/km), 4 minutes rest in between, repeat a total of 4 times. I did take a longer rest between the 3rd and 4th intervals, but it wasn’t by design. It can tough to keep perfect time and pace when running outside, especially when your mind wanders like mine does. One of the only benefits of running on a treadmill.


A fringe benefit of intervals? They make any workout go by faster.

Question: Do you include intervals in your training on a regular basis? What type of results have you seen?

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.