For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Making it work...

Racer at END-AR24 last weekend...
END-AR 24 is over and was a great success. Amazingly (or perhaps not so much so when you think about it), i didn't miss a workout during the run up to the event.  I did have to incorporate my longer effort last week into a checkpoint hanging mission, but so be it.  Again, i'm loving the brevity of this schedule.

But i'm also loving how fit i am starting to fee.  Today i swam a straight 500 yards in 6:45 - my fastest time yet.  The week after next i'm going for my 'off by 50' short course 50 yards, and at least right now, i'm pretty confident i'll get it.  After that i might even try the short course 500 yard 'off by 50' - which will be a little harder as i'll need to shave about 30 seconds off of today's performance.

But who wants things easy, anyway?

Sunday, August 19, 2012


There is something transcendent about swimming for me - i really don't know how else to describe it.  Maybe it's due to the fact the the medium i'm moving through is pretty much - to within a few percent on either side, depending on the state of inflation in my lungs -, the exact average density of my body.

But maybe it's just because i have the sense of moving through something, period.  Of course i move through the gasses that make up our atmosphere all the time, but it's not the same.  There is a greater notion of 'passage' in water.  The only thing similar on land must be bushwacking - which is slower, far less pleasant, definitely less fluid, and often painful.  But it does share the fact that after i've climbed out of a trailless valley and stand on a knoll looking back at my journey i don't just think, "look how far i've come", I think "look what i've come through!"

And water has texture, taste.  It feels slippery, cool, and everything changes with every stroke - pockets with temperature gradient, auditory changes at each breath, and alternating views of the two halves of the world - the infinitude of the sky (clouds, sun, distant horizons) and hidden mysteries of the sea, passing by in the thin window of visibility it offers.

this was my thought yesterday, looking back acrossed the lake to the point from which i'd set out 30 minutes earlier, that of coming 'through'.

Alas, today i'll be setting points for the 24 hour race up in Pembina, moving through once again, but this time ending up with decidedly more scratches.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A hard run (the triangle of pain)

The triangle of pain - clockwise from the pin.  Short and sweet and sweaty.  
Had a good run today - despite not really being motivated at the start.  Did i mention i love these short workouts?  i find that even in cases like my run today, once i commit to taking that first step i'm able to just turn it on and pour in the effort - squeezing the most out of those precious few (well, 600) seconds.

I am currently at my in-laws cabin in minnesota and didn't have the sometimes useful crutch of the treadmill to make me work hard, so i opted for a negative split attempt on a slightly less than three quarter mile loop of dirt road right out the front door.  It starts off with a climb of about 50 or so feet over about two tenths of a mile, starting at a relatively modest incline and then steepening as it goes.  Of course i get to lose that elevation gradually over the rest of the run, but i'm a big believer that any run other than a flat steady state run is harder than a flat steady state run.  So in my mind this is a bit tougher (and i shouldn't expect to be as fast) than a three quarter mile interval on a track.

Off i go.  First lap is 4:18, about a 5:56 pace.  Not bad, but it wasn't easy.  I rest for one minute and twenty four seconds (so that i have exactly 4:18 left in my 10 minutes -- motivation!!!) and bolt towards the hill.  My insides were rebelling as i neared the home stretch.  9:56.

Negative by 4 seconds.  Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Micro Test #1 announced

Sure it's a bit narcissistic to announce one's future athletic endeavors (or attempts, rather), but it does serve at least one slightly less unseemly purpose than just getting people to click on a link to my blog on FB and see how cool i am - it helps me to follow through.

Yeah, i know - sounds like a personal problem.  It is of course, but i'm hardly alone here folks...  i'm sure there was a commercial that aired over and over during the olympics showing regular people training hard with a voice-over saying 'you don't need this, and you don't need that... you just need fans'.  I wanted to link to it here but haven't had any success finding it and have wasted way too much time looking - so if you know what i'm talking about and can shoot me a link, i'd be appreciative.  But i digress.

I've decided my first "off by 50" test is going to be in swimming - the 50 yard freestyle.  I'd have shot for 50 meters, but don't have access to a 50 meter pool, so in fairness have looked at the American record for the short-course (25 yd pool) 50 yd free:  18 seconds and 87 hundredths.  Multiplying that by 1.5 means i'll have to swim it in 28 seconds and 30 hundredths.

Seeing as just today i did a few of my 50 yd intervals in roughly 32 seconds with a pull buoy between my legs and pushing off the wall rather than diving, i think i might be able to nab this one within a few tries.  I just need to line up a timer (any takers?) and plan it for a couple of weeks from now.  I'm ready to be held accountable!  by mid September I'm confident i'll be "off by 50" in my first event!  woo hoo!

Monday, August 13, 2012

effects of downsizing....

2 hours down to 1.5.  You guessed
it, that's 25% less lactic acid!
I've cut my training time again. For the past month or so i've been working to sort out a schedule that is limited to 90 minutes a week - or rather 75 minutes one week and then 105 minutes the next.  I guess in some sense i'm seeking what could be described as - to get all math geek again - a minimum of the function of my body, given the parameters of my experiment (maintenance of great enough fitness to perform at a particular level, roughly "off by 50," and the ability to "do anything").  I'd like to stick to this volume for the remainder of 2012 and all of 2013, aiming to test it against a number of big and fun efforts along the way.

Anyway, i've noticed two things in particular thus far.

My workouts are mentally daunting, and i don't feel like i'm training at all anymore.

The first thought isn't really anything new - the workouts that i pushed the intensity on before were always ones that were often difficult to get excited about, especially before i began them.  It's hard to work so hard, and i think this is one reason (there may be many) so few people employ high intensity training exclusively.  In what now seems like the ancient past when i was doing three hours a week, i felt i had a lot more mental and physical leeway - sure, i didn't ever train below Zone 3 if i could help it, but these days Zone 3 seems akin to a stroll on the beach.  My workouts do still vary in intensity somewhat, but the three 10 minute efforts all involve shorter duration sprints above lactate threshold, or occasionally, in my 'easiest' workouts, a single longer time trial type interval that is spent at lactate threshold and then pushed above at the end.  My longer efforts - alternating between 30 minutes one week and 1 hour the next, are essentially race pace efforts.  Yesterday for example I ran 4.5 miles with a goal pace of under 6:40.  With my pretty significant lack of running lately i felt flat right off the bat.... sluggish, slow, and labored.  But i've learned that this doesn't necessarily mean i'm going slow, so i pushed through, 30 minutes felt like twice as long, and i managed to go just under my goal.  it was Brutal.  I better get used to it.

The second thought is both cool and kind of scary.  It's cool because although training and fitness is still a big part of my life (i write a blog about it after all) it's not a big PART of my life.  I now need just 30 minutes max on three days during the week, and that includes driving or biking time to and from a gym if i decide to go, changing time, rest time between my interval training and strength training - the whole enchilada.  I've found myself not even considering my training when i'm looking at my schedule each day - its like a quick little errand that can pretty much be fit in almost anywhere (as long as i don't do it too soon after eating!).  This is the cool part.  The scary part is that i've pretty much always 'felt' like i was training and i'm realizing that this had been built into my sense of identity to some regard.  And of course it's still there, it just needs to be adjusted - we tend not to identify ourselves by things we do roughly only 1% of the time we are awake.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Off by 50 revisited - an olympic tribute

I may not be able to beat Mr. Bolt, but i'll be damned if he's going to beat me by more than 50%.....
Like i'm sure most folks out there, i've been watching lots of olympics lately.  In doing so, i started to think about my 'off by 50' rule and what it would mean in a variety of olympic (and some non-olympic) events....

100 meters:  9.58 seconds.  Off by 50 time:  14.37 (equivalent of running 3:53 mile pace for 100 m)
1 mile: 3:43  Off by 50 time: 5:34
10 K (road): 26:44  Off by 50 time: 40:06
Half Marathon:  58:23  Off by 50 time:  1:27:35
Marathon:  2:03:06  Off by 50 time:  3:04:39

50 meter free:  20:91  Off by 50 time:  31.36
1 mile (open water):  16:23  Off by 50 time:  24:35
10 K (open water):  1:54:30 (approx)  Off by 50 time:  2:51:45

10 mile:  17:57  Off by 50 time:  26: 55
40 km time trial:  47:36  Off by 50 time:  1:11:24

I'm pretty psyched now.  except for the longer distances of the marathon and the 10 K open water swim, all of these can serve as great benchmarks and fit into my current training regimen of 90 minutes a week if i get a little creative....