Monday, December 27, 2010

IT Band Pain

It sucks to go from running a marathon one month ago, to not being able to jog an easy mile today. Even more frustating is missing a work out due to pain, yet feeling 100% fine until you start to run. To fix this, I'm following the instructions in this article:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 0

I consider today my first real day back on the bike to prep for 2011. I did 37 miles with Jordan, and it was cold. I heard it was 18 degrees. I'm not sure it was actually that cold, but my bottles were completely frozen around mile 26.

My HR averaged 151 for the 2hrs 17min that we were out there. Last year at this time I wasn't seriously training, was overweight, and a lot of the things I accomplished in 2010 were not even within my perceived realm of possibility. I know that I'm light years ahead of where I was a year ago. With that said, todays ride still left me wiped out :-) and I had to take a nice 3 hour nap on the couch. I'll admit that two pints of Guinness with lunch may have had something to do with my afternoon slumber.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be back in the gym on a consistent basis. My priorities for the next few months are:

1. Flexibility - I'm going to be stretching/rolling out twice a day on days that I work out

2. Core training - This includes fixing strength imbalances in my right leg (source of my IT band trouble)

3. Nutrition - For the month of January, I'm going to break out the spreadsheet again and track what I eat, and the number of calories consumed/burned. Last year, this helped me develop healthy habits, and bake them into my life. Just like with everything else, if you don't plan your nutrition, you're planning to fail. This is actually a lot less of a PITA than it seems, as long as your prepare most of your own food and snacks for the day.

4. Consistency - It's been nice to skip out on early morning trips to the gym these past few weeks, but that ends today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jersey Shore Century: Garmin Battery Fail

My buddy Mike and I set out to ride 100 miles this Saturday, between Sandy Hook NJ and Barnegate Inlet. We got it done in about 7 hours, with a mileage of 101.2. Unfortunately, since my Garmin battery died at mile 77, I only have data for about 75% of the ride. I use a Forerunner 405 which features a claimed battery life of 8 hours in training mode. I'm sure that claim does not include the use of cycling accessories. Mine gets about 5 1/2 hours of life on long rides, which means I won't be using it at Leadville next year.

The ride went well. I didn't have any of the foot problems which I suffered from on previous long rides. I attribute that improvement to my marathon training. On the other hand, from mile 80 on, I had really bad IT band tightness in my right leg. We had to stop a few times to stretch. At mile 90, I literally could not pedal my bike until I sat on the sidewalk and stretched. After that, it loosened up a bit, and I finished pretty strong. Mike had been talking of a sprint finish, but I wasn't sure if he was serious. I moved into the big ring around mile 99 in preparation, but the sprint never materialized. Afterward, my legs felt surprisingly snappy. I attribute that to marathon training as well.

For the rest of December and January, the plan is to work on flexibility and core. I need to get rid of these IT band issues.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back on the Bike

Got on the mountain bike two days ago for the first time this fall! It was a fun one, too. Alan and I got about 30 miles in, with more than half of that on dirt. We took the short cut up into Ringwood directly from Oakland, and spared ourselves the torture of riding Cannonball from the trailhead in Pompton Lakes to Bear Swamp. That would have been a 50+mile day.

I was definitely noticing a lack of core and upper body strength when riding technical single track. In many technical sections, I found it hard to hold a line, and the switchbacks on the race course kicked my butt. This just means it's time to get back in the gym. I was also running pretty high tire pressure, and that definitely didn't help me.

Today I ventured out on my fixie and played in real traffic. Need to work on my track stand, as the sketchiest moments were when I was trying to start moving again, and I couldn't stand up on the pedals. Skipped my usual loop to avoid some of the hills. Need to get stronger before I attempt some of these climbs with the 42x16.

Going for my first run since the marathon tomorrow. Then ride the fixie on Thursday, and maybe a hike Friday morning before work. Any chance to get out in the woods during the remnants of fall I'm going to take! Saturday Mike B. and I will be looking to get in 100miles on the road, down the shore. Our route will take us by the Jersey Shore house.

GTL baby, all day, every day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pay Attention to Detail

I finished the Philly Marathon yesterday in 3 hours and 55 minutes. I'm stoked with my result. My training was spot on, and I executed my plan perfectly on race day. I ran 9 min/miles for the first half, 8 min/miles for the second half, and I had enough in the tank to let it rip on for the last 3/4 miles or so. I didn't make the mistakes I made early in the bike racing season like going too hard too soon, or taking in too much nutrition.

A number of people have asked me what was harder: the marathon or Leadville 50? I never considered dropping out of the marathon, and I finished strong. The thought of dropping out of the Leadville 50 did enter my mind, merely as a way to end the suffering. But the truth is you can't really "drop out" of a race like that. If you're riding near other people, they won't let you. And if you're by yourself, well, what does it mean to drop out? Stop riding? And sit there at 11,000ft waiting for someone to pick your sorry ass up? That's not gonna happen out there. So you just keep pedaling, and do what you need in order to keep moving forward. "Dig deep" they say.

What bothers me about my Leadville performance - and what a lot of people don't understand when I say that I'm dissappointed in that performance - is that my suffering was not due to improper training. It was due to nutritional mistakes, and poor bike fit. Tactical errors that could have easily been prevented, had I planned a little bit more carefully, and paid attention to anomalies during training.

That's not to say I was not suffering during the marathon. It hurt. But by paying attention to detail during training and on race day, I was able to control my suffering, and achieve a good result.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beware of dogs, and not eating

Thanks to an aggressive dog walker and a crappy side walk, I had to cut today's 13 mile run in half with a twisted ankle. I should have continued running on the road, but for some reason the dog-walker was using up the shoulder, forcing me to run on the leaf covered, lumpy, choppy, asphalt side walk. Next thing I knew, I was standing on the side of my right foot, with pain shooting straight to my gut, and blood leaving my head, making me a little woozy. My ankle is still a little tight from a bad sprain in August, and it really does not like to be put in unnatural positions. Oh well, need to take a few days off and let it rest. Philly Marathon is two weeks away.

Since I couldn't get a good work out in today, I decided to try and find a new home gym. While I was out exploring local fitness centers, I got a text message from my friend Paul. Let me tell you a bit about Paul. He is a busy guy: career, family, and still finds time to work out.

Unfortunately, sometimes he doesn't have time to eat. After one horrific experience where Paul bonked for the first time during a half-marathon, he asked me what I thought happened to him. I asked him a simple question: what did you eat for breakfast?

"A banana" he said.

"OK," I countered, "what about dinner last night?"

"A granola bar."

A quick "no gas in the car" analogy, and Paul understood that he needed to eat. Today, Paul asked a more complicated question. He went for a hard 32 mile bike ride yesterday, and today he went for a 14 mile run. He felt great on the ride, but like crap on the run, and wondered what caused the difference. I asked him what he ate within 30 minutes of yesterdays ride. "A protein supplement from GNC" he said.

I'm a computer guy, not a nutritionist, but here's what I told Paul based on my experience. Protein post work out is good, but you also need to replenish your spent glycogen stores. Glycogen (a.k.a carbohydrates) is stored by your muscles, and used when you perform physical activity. Even during fat burning work outs, glycogen is used by your muscles to turn fat into usable energy. When your glycogen stores are depleted from strenuous exercise, you feel depleted and zapped.

After a work out, your body is only going to replenish glycogen stores only for a limited time window. Outside of this window, as far as I know, carbs will instead be stored as fat. I've heard 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes for this window; I don't mess around, though, and I try to get my recovery fuel down within 15 minutes.

I use a fancy, $40 per 15 servings recovery drink. I have no doubt that you can get the same break down of protein, carbs, etc by purchasing the right items at your local grocery store. I just don't have time to get most of my real work done, let alone time to waste playing chemist at home. I also can't afford to spend the day feeling zapped at work, and have a crappy work out the next day because I didn't fuel up properly.

I know that after a brutal, early morning interval session, my recovery drink will be the quickest way to get my body the nutrition it needs while I run around trying to get ready for work. I try to cut costs on bike parts, clothing, etc, but the one thing I will not nickle-and-dime myself is proper recovery nutrition.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Don't get dropped, or the vultures will get you!

I went up to Harriman on my road bike this morning to check out the course for the Bear Mountain race this weekend. I've ridden Seven Lakes Drives plenty of times, but I'm not sure I ever headed towards Lake Welch, unless I was coming from Tiorati Brook road. So I wanted to see what I was getting myself into.

Just before the halfway point of the 20 mile out-and-back course, there was a flock of vultures sitting on and around a picnic table just off the road. They looked hungry. Watch out on Sunday...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Extra Effort

One thing that always bugs me during training rides, is my own failure to give 100%. Overall, I think it is a focus issue. I get mentally distracted, and my level of effort drops.

I noticed this during todays interval session inside on the trainer (it's raining out). In the latter half of my 10min intervals, I would become aware of my legs burning, and my heart rate would drop a few beats. Noticing this, I increased my effort and got my heart rate back up.

This is all a mental challenge. It's not that I wasn't working through the pain with the lower HR, it's that I was focusing on the pain/discomfort instead of maintaining my level of effort. Now that I'm aware of this, I can work on fixing it.

I also know that I need to pay more attention to my resting HR in the morning. On some rides, I'm not sure if I'm "tired" or just being lazy when I'm having trouble getting the job done on a hard training ride. Maybe there is more to it than resting HR, also. Something to look into might be RestWise, which Rebecca Rusch uses. Based on my limited understanding of this system, it takes a more holistic approach to recovery, and determining ones state of recovery.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back to bike racing...

I feel like I've exhausted my infosec blogging abilities. Fortunately, I've got lots of other cycling related stuff to write about. From now on, I'll be posting that stuff here.

Last week I competed in my first mountain bike race in about 10 years. I've been training pretty consistently since December, and had no reservations about racing in the CAT2 class. I've lost nearly 50lbs since last summer, and I've been posting some competitive times on my home course during training rides. I thought I was all set to put on a good showing, and achieve my 2 hour goal for this race. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake.

I've been using a line of nutritional products designed for endurance athletes. I haven't been using them exactly as prescribed by the company, but I feel like they've had a positive impact on my training, and subsequently my overall fitness.

Unfortunately, in the fog of pre-race anxiety, I decided I should start using said products exactly according to the companies specifications. For example, during a typical 2-3 hour training ride, I would drink about 20oz of the carb/electrolyte replenishment drink, and 20oz of water. However, the guidelines say to drink 24oz of the replenishment drink per hour, and nothing about fresh water. This is what I decided to do during the race. Big mistake.

My first lap took me 1 hour 3 minutes. I was hoping for under one hour. Half way into my second lap, however, things started to really slow down for me. Yes, things slowed down as my stomach began to feel full from all of that replenishment drink sloshing around. On top of that, I was craving fresh water, and only had more of the same drink in my bottle. My second lap took me 1 hour and 16 minutes, and I dropped from 5th or 6th to 10th place. Damn.

Lesson learned: listen to your body, and don't switch anything up on race day!