Monday, November 28, 2011

The Routine of Recovery

Myself included, most endurance athletes don't know enough about proper recovery techniques.  I am constantly tinkering with what to do on an off day, or how to wind down after a long workout.  This common mistake is evidenced by most available training plans; in contrast to the detailed descriptions of each workout, usually the plan simply says "recovery" for an off-day.

Several months ago I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with Bryan Huberty of P.R.OJECT 305, and a certified ChiRunning instructor.  While I had already been running with a similar form to what ChiRunning promotes, Bryan helped me to refine some minor issues to increase my efficiency.  As part of increased training and working with a triathlon coach, the techniques Bryan provided have helped me achieve greater speeds and distances while staying injury free.

Yesterday, on his blog, Bryan describes (in immense detail) various recovery strategies, including his own protocol as an elite athlete.  Check it out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Day to Be Thankful & Trotting for Turkey

I'm writing from NY where I'm glad to be with my extended family to share Thanksgiving dinner.  I have many things to be thankful for: a wonderful wife, awesome family, good health, and a successful career are among the ones that come to mind.

In order to justify the copious amounts of food I will eat tonight to show my thanks, I joined a good friend of mine (and some of her friends) for a 5 mile Turkey Trot this morning.  Before I headed out for the run I woke up super early to finish the prep on our holiday turkey.  After a final rub of sage butter it was off to the races.

The weather was beautiful (if not a bit cold) and there was a great crowd.  I was hesitant about the run because of a sore calf, but once adrenaline kicked in I forgot all about it.  I had a great run and was really happy with my time.  I finished the five miles in 38:20 at a pace of about 7:40/mile.

Now it's time to eat turkey.

My handi-work: the ultra un-kosher turkey!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the Way to Ironman Arizona 2012

I had heard that Ironman Arizona would sell out fast, but 10 minutes?  That's madness.  Think of the thousands of people (those that made it and those who sadly didn't) scrambling at their computers to pay hundreds of dollars to have the privilege to enter a 140.6 endurance event.  

Thankfully, due to some good planning, I made it through the registration process along with about 10 other Tri-Locos.  In advance of registration I had secured a form from another event and completed the entire application in Word.  Once registration opened I simply copy/pasted my answers and was through the process in just a minute or two.  Seems like this may have been the difference between making it or not.

My hand was shaking before that final click of the mouse as I pondered the year to come.  There will be a lot of hard work and sacrifice between now and IMAZ, but I am committed (maybe I should actually be committed) and am confident that I'll prevail.  

Here's to 361 days of staying healthy and strong, and a good showing in AZ!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Running in Louisiana Paradise

I'm currently on a business trip in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana - a small town on the bayou about 15 miles south of New Orleans.  Despite getting down with some great cajun/creole food (a much heavier diet than I'm used to) I've stuck to my training and have yet to miss a run. 

Out on the Bayou
My first run in JF was a tempo run of about 7.5 miles.  There is some great scenery around here, but running on the main road - a narrow two laner - was a frightful experience.  It was clear from the expressions of those driving by that they don't frequently see joggers around here, especially ones with water bottle waistbelts!  Thankfully the varied pacing of the run helped me pass the time and I had a great workout.

As my weekend long run approached I couldn't fathom running 13 miles starting from my cabin.  Instead, I opted to take the 45 minute drive to New Orleans simply for some running scenery.  I think this is a sign of a great city or town: people will go to extraordinary lengths just to spend time there.
  • I began my run from the French Quarter,
  • Headed for a long loop through the Garden District (running along the street car path in the neutral grounds - you call them medians - on St. Charles, along with dozens of other runners was a cool experience)
  • Came back through the quarter,
  • Zig-zagged through the Marigny,
  • and, finished at Cafe Beignet on Royal

My New Orleans long run was a great way to spend Sunday morning off and was well worth the drive.  I'm looking forward to having another day to explore NO on Friday. 

I've finished icing my balky calf for the night and it's time to catch some ZZZs.  Hopefully I'll be feeling rested enough to complete the ambitious interval workout I'm supposed to do tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Upcoming Miami Beach Latin Music Half Marathon

It’s been almost two weeks since Ironman Miami 70.3 and by now I’m fully recovered. My speed has crept its way back into my runs and Coach Obi-wan has crafted a varied plan to prepare me over the next month. The plan features short tempo runs, weekly long runs, and lots of my favorite workout: speedwork! At Miami 70.3 I ran a 2:10:03 half marathon (my first time running that distance); my goal for the upcoming half is to break 2 hrs. I think it’s pretty attainable – especially considering that I don’t have to swim and bike first!

As I wrote the other day I’ll be out of town for the next 8 days on a business trip. It’s going to be hard to get any workouts other than running in, but since my next event is only a half marathon I suppose it’ll be alright to let my biking and swimming slip a bit; hopefully I’ll also find time to get in some light core work.
Our lodging for this trip is a bit unique; we’ll be staying in fishing cabins down at the edge of town (2 per cabin). This certainly means that any thoughts about a hotel gym can be flushed out, but the basic kitchen in each cabin means I’ll have the means to whip myself up a good, healthy breakfast on a daily basis.

Eating healthy on the road is always a huge challenge; but, at least now I know exactly what is in one meal each day. I’m looking forward to some good Louisiana cooking for breakfast and lunch; I just have to worry about keeping my snacking in check!

Off for some much needed rest; I'll be up early for a pre-dawn (cold) run along the bayou.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All You Need is a Pair of Shoes

One of my favorite things about being a runner (I think I can actually call myself that now) is that not only is running by far the easiest workout to sustain when traveling (for business or pleasure), but there is no better way to experience a new place than at the speed of a long run.  The pace of a run (my runs at least) is perfectly suited to taking it all (the buildings, streets, people, public spaces) in, in a way that driving in a car or even being on a bike can't replicate.  It’s become routine now that in anticipation of each departure I log on to Google Maps and plot my course; sometimes I even check out others’ running routes.

For the past two days I’ve been in St. Thomas of the United States Virgin Islands as my company wraps up a Vision and Code for the historic Charlotte Amalie.  This was my third trip to St. Thomas and another opportunity for me to lace up (elastic triathlete laces of course) my shoes and take to the streets.  Despite my hotel being located up on one of Charlotte Amalie’s hills I wound my way down to the waterfront and back for an easy few miles.  I didn’t feel great through the run (probably a combination of the mental and physical exhaustion of all that’s going on for me right now), but nonetheless the run gave me a chance to see the town in a way few get to - I was out before the cruise ships had emptied their passengers onto the historic downtown.

On Thursday I will hit the road again, this time traveling to Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, a quaint fishing village south of New Orleans.  I’ll be in Jean Lafitte for a little over a week as part of a team studying the town’s urban fabric and helping craft a plan for its future.  My days will be full of touring the town, conducting site analysis, holding community meetings, and creating maps & diagrams to guide the City; but, before I begin each day I will aim to rise before most and see the Town from a runner's eye.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Always Check Your Bike

As I sit here writing this, I know I am guilty of an offense that most triathletes and cyclists likely commit weekly: putting blind faith in our bikes and assuming that all will be well.  It only takes one SNAFU to remind us how fickle our two-wheeled machines are and that one screw loose (not counting the ones in our head) is all it takes for things to go terribly wrong.  At speeds from 18 - 40 mph there is little margin for error. 

Coach Obi-Wan, who is more diligent than most at staying on top of his bike's maintenance was fortunate to avoid mishap today when his handlebars detached from of his bike.  Yep, you read it right!  He had been dealing with a bit of a stem/fork issue over the last few weeks and was lucky that his Felt waited until after Miami 70.3 to rebel.  A reputable bike shop had worked on the bike and assured him that it was good to go - umm...not so much.  Thankfully there was no ensuing crash or other tragedy and both he and the bike are safe; this can only be attributed to the force being with him and his strong bike handling skills.  

What's the point of this story?  If you - for even a second - think that something might be up with your bike, don't ride it; instead, take it to a trusted shop and hope that they know what they are doing.  Unfortunately in this case the shop steered Coach wrong, but on most accounts a good mechanic will help you work through the issue and get you back on the road safely.  Also, make maintenance a habit, not a nuisance.  Remember to conduct a few basic checks (brakes, gears, etc.) before each ride and once a week or so do a more thorough review of the main components/connections. Here's a good bike cleaning and maintenance 101 guide.

Ride safe.

Recovering from Ironman 70.3

Following the Miami Ironman 70.3 I took back-to-back days off from training for the first time in months; it was a respite that both my body and mind needed. After finishing the race I was surprised at how sore my body had become and how quickly it happened.  My wobbly legs and unstable gait were reminiscent of a boxer who'd just been nailed with a combo but hadn't hit the deck yet.  I'd never been that sore from any training (even long brick workouts), but I guess it's unlikely that my workouts ever matched the intensity of race day.  Even sitting down during dinner that evening I was reminded of my achievement by the most painful hamstring cramp I've experience; it actually felt like someone had stabbed the back of my leg.

I didn't plan on it, but I ended up taking the day on Monday and slept for about half of it.  I hardly ever nap or sleep during daylight hours, so I guess it was my body's way of telling me that it needed some rest.  The soreness remained on Monday and began fading Tuesday.  I'd compare the feeling to the type of sore you get after a serious leg workout (squats, calf raises, presses, etc.)  in the gym, after neglecting your lower half for way too long. 

By Wednesday I almost had my legs back, my energy level was back up, and my body began asking for a workout.  I obliged with a short core session, followed by a light swim.  As I swam my laps I couldn't help but acknowledge the irony of me going for a swim (and wanting to) when I didn't need to - I have no tris remaining this year.  This morning, with my legs almost 100% back in business, I went for a casual 2 mile jog.  My dog was none too impressed with my sluggish pace, but nonetheless it felt nice to get back out there.

I'm looking forward to some longer workouts this weekend as I begin to prepare for the upcoming Latin Music Half Marathon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Blanche-ing to Remember: An Experience in Masochistic Massage

As I wind down my recovery from Ironman Miami 70.3, I am eagerly anticipating an upcoming massage to help flush my muscles and refresh my body.  Much has been written and studied about the positive effects/benefits of deep tissue massages as part of an intensive training/racing schedule.  Since I am only a dabbling triathlete (now half an Ironman) and not an expert of any kind, I won't repeat any of that here.  What I will share with you is the story of my first time with the infamous Blanche of the South Miami, FL Massage Envy. 

Blanche is well-known amongst my training group (the Tri Locos) for delivering extreme amounts of pain that we somehow view as pleasure.  Here's the recap I sent to my group after my first Blanche-ing:

Recap originally written on Thursday, August 4, 2011
After all the emails, warnings, and words of wisdom, I headed to my “Blanche-ing” with a calm confidence. Surely there couldn’t be that much pain involved. It’s “just a massage,” I told myself. I will never utter (or even think) those words again. As I type this, the mild throbbing on my legs and back remind me of what transpired in that dark room on Red Road.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How about this Tri-mantra (to be hissed or groaned at any unfriendly hill)

I'm currently reading You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World's Toughest Triathlon by Jacques Steinberg.  So far it's a great read and I'll be sure to post a full review once I've finished.  For now, here's a great poem that I came across in the book.  Enjoy the inspiration!

In my world,
The water is cold,
The wind is hard,
And the road never ends.

In my world,
There are no losers.
Only competitors
still on their way,
And spectators
waiting to be inspired.

In my world,
Victory is not weighed in gold,
But in determination and courage.

In my world,
There are no boundaries,
No limits,
There is no end.
Every day is the last day of my life,
And the first.

In my world,
The word "can't" does not exist,
And nothing is impossible.


by Olivier Blanchard, Greenville, SC