Season Planning Seminar

The Invitation:

First thing back after Christmas (well at least close to first thing) is a good time to lay some plans for the next season. This is partly because everyone is highly motivated at this time of year and full of the ‘New Years Resolutions’ vibe. This week, we’d like to have a club seminar/workshop on self-coaching and season planning. The seminar to start will be informative, but informal, and I’m going to try and address some basics about training for triathlon and explain some of the associated jargon used to discuss this kind of stuff. I’ll also give an idea of how you can design and monitor progress with a training plan. We’ll finish off by each sketching out a plan for ourselves for the season ahead (2013!). Hopefully when you leave you’ll have an idea of what kinds of training lies between here and a successful event or events in the coming year, but also some self-coaching skills to monitor and adapt that plan along the way.

If you’ve attended the club seminar on this topic in years past I hope I can make the evening of value to you. While the actual training plan template I’m going to stick with is based on Joe Friel’s TTB which is the template we’ve used in years past, the seminar won’t be just walking through that process.


Room ED-177,

Tuesday Jan 15

8:30-10:00 pm

There should be enough time to shower and get over there by then. The club will be buying some Pizza for attendees. If you cannot figure out how to make it there by 8pm… then you really need to work on your transitions before race season.

Homework Part 1:

Homework is optional but recommended.

Please come to the seminar this Tuesday evening with some idea of what you’d like to do in the sport of triathlon (or swimming, biking or running as standalone sports) in 2013. If you’re hoping to sign up for your first ever race now isn’t a bad time to decide which one you might like to try. If you’ve been racing for years and have so many favourite races that they conflict with eachother on your calendar then now isn’t a bad time to start choosing. The race calendar in Alberta doesn’t change much from year to year, if you have a look at these websites you can probably get a pretty good idea of what your options may be for racing in 2013.

FYI:The club’s training plan is loosely based around an end of May race and/or an early July race. Examples would be Coronation Triathlon or Oliver Half Ironman, and then Edmonton ITU [out of date website at the moment] or Great White North. Registration for Great White North is still open but there are less than 100 spots left if you are interested in that.

Homework Part 2:

I have attached four documents. They are stolen directly from Joe Friel’s book about season planning for Triathlon.

  1. A survey of your basic abilities in Swim&Bike&Run. Hopefully this will help you identify what you need to work on in training.
  2. A good survey of your mental strength in sport. I have done this survey at the end of my season for 4 years running and learn something about myself each year. It is worth 5 minutes of your time, maybe not right now, but sometime when you need help procrastinating.
  3. A worksheet that can help you identify quantify what is most likely limiting your athletic success if #1 didn’t give you a good enough idea.
  4. A page that can help you outline the steps in training between now and success in 2012 by stating some goals and identifying what it will require of you. If you do take the time to fill it out, it will help you make a commitment to what you want to do. Putting things in writing can be an important step in the process.

Doing these surveys ahead of time is optional, but will likely be very beneficial.


Training methodologies are sometimes a bit like a religion. When you involve part of your life (i.e. all the training you do) with the way of thinking laid out by a certain school of thought (i.e. some group of exercise physiologists suffering from a severe case of groupthink) then you can become pretty defensive about the way you understand things to be. I’ll be among the first to admit that the way I understand and think about training is influenced by the people I have learned from, but I made an effort to do a good job in choosing teachers who knew their stuff. So, what I’ll cover is a very popular and very successful training methodology, it is not the only philosophy that exists. While I’m in the process of giving disclaimers, I’d better add another one: Triathlon is a fantastic sport but it’s a bad religion. We do this stuff for fun, think about that when you’re planning and setting goals for 2013.

Resources for the Season Planning Seminar

Also worth referencing for an “idea” but no more than idea… is Friel’s hours breakdown. As I will stress in the seminar. Appropriate load is the load that creates a training response that can be absorbed by your body, not by what some chat suggests. This is merely an idea of some typical patterns.

The presentation slides are attached here.

The Friel ATP chart is attached here.

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Coaching Update #5

Weekly Updates:

2011-03-21 to 2011-03-27

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 85 km 2:50:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 85.08 km 7:22:25 5:34 5:12 4:27 min per km
Swim 7350 m 2:55:00 2:26 2:23 2:20 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 0:50:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 13 hrs 57min One Day Off

2011-03-28 to 2011-04-03

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 85.41 km 7:04:32 6:00 4:58 4:04 min per km
Swim 7000 m 2:40:00 2:30 2:17 2:06 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 13 hrs 24min One Day Off

2011-04-04 to 2011-04-10

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 75.49 km 6:35:22 8:48 5:14 4:08 min per km
Swim 1500 m 0:25:00 1:40 1:40 1:40 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 0:50:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 10 hrs 50min One Day Off

2011-04-11 to 2011-04-17

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 128 km 4:20:00 24 29.54 30 kph
Run 50.71 km 3:58:41 6:07 4:42 4:01 min per km
Swim 1000 m 0:20:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 0:10:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 8 hrs 48min One Day Off

This was a big run training block. In fact it was huge. Together, these four weeks represent 25 hours spent running and 184 miles covered. They brought my run fitness from nothing special in early March after a few disrupted weeks of very poor training (no excuses, but also no regrets about that – details were in Update #4). I put together a series of workouts with great focus, good nutrition, and rather careful attention to not overdo anything. A big help to motivation was that everything had a purpose. I was clear on why I had added everything to my plate regarding training and so when I was out there running I knew what kind of training stimulus I was hoping to apply to my body. Sometimes it was simple, “another 40 minutes of forefoot running in the ecco biom shoes”, which I’m confident has been contributing to greater efficiency and much stronger lower legs. Other times workouts were race specific, training my ability to run marathon pace at the point in my long run where my stored glycogen was on the edge of being depleted. This knowledge of why I was doing things helped get me out the door. And getting out the door and training is an absolute prerequisite to getting to the start line and being ready to race.

The body has responded. In discussion with my coach after that inopportune gap in my training he encouraged me to not completely rule out the option of an aggressive return to training. If you listen to how you feel and are careful not to stretch yourself to the point of destruction, it’s possible not to start from square one. It wasn’t reckless advice, it was actually exactly the opposite. It was a reminder to be careful about both what I was asking myself to do and how I was responding to it on a daily basis, not just on a week-by-week time horizon. I jumped back into training, and my training stress balance (TSB) on the run went negative (green line at left). Last season when focused on progressing my running but also doing a lot of cycling and swimming I was able to handle with no problems a TSB of -2. I could handle without any extended recovery, dips to -3 during the early season, but later in the year found that I was limited by general fatigue from doing enough to reach those deep depths of TSB. So, I figured that -3 would be a good general target and that I’d see if I could handle dips to -4.

I’ve mentioned before that I like to use different units than the conventional TSS, if you want to compare, one of my units is 1 hour of aerobic activity per week, at mid to high zone 2, which amounts to around 50 TSS, and one hour at threshold amounts to two units, or 100 TSS.

That’s generally how things went, I maintained a stress balance with my running of a bit below -3 for a whole month and I’d stretch it past -4 with my key sessions of the week. There were a couple occasions where I just ignored the extra interval-section of my shorter runs, but I did strides frequently and never compromised on the plans around the long run sessions of the week. Overall, for this period of time, my weekly hours were nothing spectacularly high, in fact they trailed off a bit, as I chopped a bit of swimming out to make sure I could do the running. I was also running a bit faster as the weeks progressed during aerobic conditioning runs and so the total time it took to get the weekly mileage targets was reduced. As a whole, my net TSB was never more than -1 below my run TSB alone. That’s the benefit of doing a lot of aerobic development on the skis over the course of the winter. I was capable of training the run harder by shifting focus without having to add a whole bunch of focus. That strategy was a good one.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

The current chronic load at 6.4 hours/week is the same as a CTL of 46 TSS/day. I’ll try to taper my TSB to about 12-18 TSS/day which amounts to getting around 1.5-2.0 on my scale. That’s where I was when I ran well at Ironman, when I ran well at Great White North, and when I ran well at Chinook in 2011. It’s also the same runTSB from Calgary 70.3 in 2009 when I had a dismal performance, but I’ll attribute that to heat and over-reaching rather than poor prep. I can get into that range without much difficulty in the next two weeks, which is exactly what a taper should be:

Expected metrics for race-day:
CTL=6.0hrs and TSB=+2.0hrs
(CTL=43TSS/day and TSB=14TSS/day)

This week:
Photo from gallery: Spring 2011
Next Week:
Photo from gallery: Spring 2011

So, what are the markers of progression?

First, I got my chronic training stress from running higher than it has ever been in my life. That’s the red line above, it’s not ahead of last June by much, only a half percentage, but it’s ahead none the less. That stat is a tough one to move, and it’s not a random fluctuation that I’m at last season’s run fitness. I’ll go back to the beginning of this post: 184 miles in four weeks – that’s why I’m back in ready-to-race fitness.

Secondly and more in depth: Back in mid-February I had my VO2max tested as a part of a research study and found I scored 61.2 L/kg/min. That was alright, I thought it was pretty good for early season actually. That same week I tested my MAF fitness with a 5km TT at 160 bpm which I botched up a bit and ran it with an average HR of 164. In any case, the tested pace of 4:28/km resulted in an estimate of my VO2score of 61.29 on the run. (The formulae for calculating these scores is from Alan Couzens of Endurance corner and the details are here: That nicely matched the recorded actual VO2max and so I’m working directly with an unmodified formulation of the measurements. This weekend at the St Albert 10 Miler, I averaged a HR of 167 and thus scored a VO2score of 66.3 which indicates I’ve made a fitness improvement of a bit more than 8% over the course of the past two months. That’s indicative of real progress!

One of the things that I think is a bit hokey about trying to measure these things quantitatively is that if you train with a lot of specificity for your testing protocol, then your performance at the testing protocol is going to be skewed in favour of showing that you are better than you might be in reality. There are studies out there that show that your performance in power output over a 1 hour max effort is a good guide for what your performance could be over an ultra-distance triathlon. There’s also studies that show you can estimate your 1 hour max effort quite well by doing only a 20 minute max effort and then adjusting the result slightly. Well, if you start training specifically to perform well at the 20min TT, you might improve your result, but by doing so you are probably also reducing the effectiveness of the estimation that it is for your performance at the much longer race. If you can improve 11% at your 20min speed, 8% of that could be attributed to fitness, and 3% could be attributed to the skill of performing the 20 min test. Only the 8% is going to translate to other measures of athletic capability, your skill for 20min TTing is good if your race is a 20min test.

I made the long explanation as a round-about way of saying. I was doing everything in training that I know how to do that will get me specificity at the marathon test (which is the race). Meaning that when on the weekend I measure that I think I’m in 8% better shape at the moment based on a few numbers, maybe I have also got 3% of marathon skills improvement that doesn’t show up in the fitness testing protocol because I wasn’t practicing to be tested at anything other than the marathon. We’ll see how this works out. I can’t say that I know what my marathon readiness was like in February because I couldn’t test it, and so I can’t tell you after the race in two weeks if I was 7% better or 10 % better, or even 25% better. I do think there’s something to that though. We watched Ryan Hall run a crazy fast marathon in Boston yesterday, but a few weeks ago he wasn’t ready to put together a fast half marathon. Why’s that? He’s got the fitness plus the skills for marathoning. He might have more skills than anyone on the planet, because he coached himself to do it. He attributed it to being strong, and in the post race interview I heard someone asking if he was going to get fast at some short distance stuff so he could be faster in the marathon. His response was a round-about way of saying “no”, maybe he’ll do some faster stuff because he’s interested in seeing how fast he can run 5000m on the track, but to be fast at the marathon he said he needed to be strong. That was encouraging. I wasn’t “fast enough” to be “fast” at the 10 miler this past weekend, that was my limiter on the flats and on the descents. But I was definitely strong enough to keep going, I have power in my legs even when they’re tired. I think that means I’m even more ready for a marathon than I am for 10 miles, that’s my 3%.

In two weeks we will see!

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Coaching Update #4.5

One weekly update:

2011-03-21 to 2011-03-27

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 85 km 2:50:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 85.08 km 7:22:25 5:34 5:12 4:27 min per km
Swim 7350 m 2:55:00 2:26 2:23 2:20 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 0:50:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 13 hrs 57min One Day Off

I’ll post another full update in a few weeks when the big push for marathon fitness is over. I’ve got some solid work to do this week including a 10km race simulation on Saturday that I hope to run right around 40-41 minutes, and that is backed up with a no-pressure-on-pace long run on Sunday. It’ll be my one kick at a long aerobic run with sore muscles during the buildup. I’ve done a lot of running like that in past, but have really made an effort in scheduling to not require that I do it very often this time around, this is the one situation where I am going to tackle it. It will probably be a relatively easy long run considering I am a lot stronger at this point in the season than I have been previously, I still want to do it though as it will have some training effect in adding some robustness to muscle durability. The alternative – trying to run a blazing 10kms the day after a long easy run doesn’t really achieve either of the training effects. The easy long run is going to be pretty superfluous as far as race specificity goes because I’d probably feel fresh the whole way, and the 10km race simulation will probably have me feeling a bit flat and not likely to boost capacity for dealing with lactate. The weekend after that is my toughest long run of the buildup, 20 miles with 10 of them at marathon effort, I’m hoping I can bring them in below 4:30 pace again, and if so I will declare myself to have a realistic hope of qualifying for Boston.

To compare with a week of my previous marathon build (March 2009) I’ll post some stats from a week that totally knocked me on my ass:

2009-03-09 to 2009-03-15

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Fixie 25.1 km 1:12:00 18 20.92 22.8 kph
Run 87.49 km 7:25:50 5:28 5:06 4:32 min per km
Swim 2700 m 1:30:00 3:20 3:20 3:20 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 1:00:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 14 hrs 7min Two days off

Oddly enough, it looks just about the same! ~85kms in 7.5 hours accounting for about 55% of my weekly activity. If you look closely you’ll see that my fastest run pace this past week was barely faster than my fastest run pace that week, my average run pace is actually a bit slower than it was that week, and my slowest run pace was actually slower last week than it was in 2009. What these stats don’t show is that… my fastest run pace during that week in 2011 occurred during the 12.5km marathon effort interval during the second half of my long run. Also, that my slowest pace occurred on a recovery run instead of on my long run where I was hurting, and that the average pace for my long run in the 2011 week was actually considerably faster than my average pace for the week. It also doesn’t show that I backed up this week with a Monday night workout over 2.5 hours in duration of running to the pool, swimming for an hour twenty, and then running a round-about-way home with zero calorie consumption across the whole thing. In 2009 I backed up that week with three days off and a weekly mileage of 16 kms. The fitness is in how things are put together, not purely in the generic stats, but I have faith that it’s there.

Some other cool stuff from the long run this weekend:

Photo from gallery: Winter 2011
Photo from gallery: Winter 2011

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Track Split Lookup Tables

It’s getting close to the season when lots of people are starting to throw down a weekly workout on the track instead of navigating the snowbanks and icy-sidewalks focused on aerobic conditioning. The easiest way to do the math is usually to run in the inside lane, but I really don’t like running the sharpest corners unless I have to. Instead I’d rather do the workout on one of the more outside lanes on the track… If possible it’s usually nice to run intervals on an increment of 10 seconds because it’s then pretty straightforward to keep track of the incremental time. The same idea as using a pace-clock in the pool, you graduate from swimming your 100’s on 1:35 straight to swimming your 100’s on 1:30 without going through a phase in between, keeping track is not worth the mental effort. If you can choose the lane so that the extra distance brings you across the line at the right time you can really save yourself a headache.

Unfortunately, that math is generally too hard to do accurately enough on the fly in my head. It generally requires some relatively difficult pace to calculate and some weird distance. I cobbled together a set of lap splits for track workouts that will tell you the splits required to run certain paces in different lanes on the track. The general method for using this would be to look up the pace you hope to run in the left columns (both per kilometer and per mile are listed) and then run your finger across that row to find a lap split that is the closest to an increment of 10 seconds, choose that lane and get running.

Photo from gallery: Weblog Photos

Doing this can increase your interval distance by up to 13% on an 8 lane 400m track or up to 19% on an 6 lane 200m track. So, if you’re dead-set on doing a certain distance interval, then use the inside lane. But let’s remember that those intervals are chosen to try and get a certain physiological response from the average person. I can personally guarantee that the physiological response of the average person varies by a lot more than 13%, and physiology probably varies more by time and speed than by distance. At least in my opinion, the benefit of running the wider corners of lanes 6-8 outweighs the insignificant benefit of running the inside lane to make an interval of a very specific length. It will probably also help you shy away from setting a new 800m personal record each time you show up to the track. You’ll pick the lane that corresponds to the pace you want to run, and then you’ll run the pace you wanted to run. This neatly evades the racing that can otherwise happen, between other athletes at the track, and with your former self, that can often happen when you get into your racing flats and start running in circles.

I’ve got these tables in my smartphone so they’re always accessible and I think I will print one out on cardstock and laminate it in to keep in my gym locker which has a 200m indoor track. Do what you want with them, hopefully it’ll improve your training – Enjoy!

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Coaching Update #4

The weekly updates:

2011-02-14 to 2011-02-20

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 2:45:00 30 32.73 40 kph
Run 18.31 km 1:56:10 7:39 6:21 5:08 min per km
Swim 2400 m 1:00:00 2:30 2:30 2:30 min per 100 meters
Telemark 145 km 14:00:00 10.23 10.36 10.5 kph
Yoga 0 mi 0:45:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 20 hrs 26min One Day Off

2011-02-21 to 2011-02-27

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 65 km 2:10:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 27.5 km 2:31:30 6:07 5:31 5:09 min per km
Swim 2800 m 1:05:00 2:19 2:19 2:19 min per 100 meters
Weights 0 mi 0:10:00 na na na no pace units
XC 12 km 1:20:00 9 9 9 kph
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 7 hrs 56min One Day Off

2011-02-28 to 2011-03-06

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 60 km 2:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 6.5 km 0:43:30 6:42 6:42 6:42 min per km
Swim 1750 m 0:30:00 1:43 1:43 1:43 min per 100 meters
XC 14 km 1:25:00 9.88 9.88 9.88 kph
Total Time 4 hrs 38min Four Days Off

2011-03-07 to 2011-03-13

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 96 km 3:12:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 50.96 km 4:30:07 5:36 5:18 5:00 min per km
Swim 6450 m 2:09:00 2:06 2:00 1:41 min per 100 meters
XC 10.22 km 0:48:40 12.6 12.6 12.6 kph
Total Time 10 hrs 39min One Day Off

2011-03-14 to 2011-03-20

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 85.9 km 7:28:26 5:31 5:13 4:34 min per km
Swim 5500 m 2:10:31 3:00 2:22 1:33 min per 100 meters
Yoga 0 mi 0:40:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 13 hrs 18min One Day Off

I had a bit of a washout for the first week of this period, it could have been good training but then I went Telemarking for two days. It was fun, but it killed three planned runs. Sure I logged lots of hours but Telemarking is pretty non-specific preparation for a marathon, at least it uses your legs I guess. That trip also hampered the next week because I should have been working on the revisions on my thesis demanded by the examining committee that weekend, but I went skiing instead. They needed to be done the next week and so I botched another opportunity to do some high quality consistent running in alright conditions. The next week I travelled to Calgary to attend the funeral of my Grandfather, and then started work. While that didn’t force me to take 4 days off, run once and really come off the rails with training, I don’t see that I necessarily should have done otherwise. Death is a motivation sucker, it always will be and that’s just how it’s going to be. I actually don’t really care that that week was a write-off, but I am frustrated that I started to slide in the two weeks previous. It’s a good thing Dave demanded that I come out and go skiing the following Sunday or I would have skipped out and taken another zero.

The next week back took some getting used to, I had slipped a fair amount in my consistency with everything and it really felt like I was trying to get a heavy locomotive rolling again. It seemed that the whole metabolism managed to slow itself down and needed some time for the pressure in the steam chambers to build up before I could roll out of the station. I did get moving by the end of the week but was frustrated by the fact that my well laid plans for preparation for this upcoming marathon had been all-but destroyed. Part of me wanted to give up, it was a large part. I asked Dave what I was supposed to do when I just didn’t care about a race anymore. It wasn’t like I was asking if it was OK to switch to the half-marathon, I was wondering about quitting all together. Maybe I’d go to Vancouver and just be a tourist for the weekend with that plane ticket I now wished I hadn’t bought, maybe bring a bike and write off the whole idea of running a marathon.

Then I got roped into a long run that evening by Keegan and went along with it. I stand by the statement that I’ve been making quite a bit recently. “If you’re smart about who you choose to surround yourself with, peer pressure only does good things.” I tapped out a 1h49 half marathon and stayed strictly aerobic for the whole thing. Decked out in full tights and jacket, running in loose snow and doing some single-track trails… that’s a totally amazing time. It was at this point that I drew the analogy that I was the big locomotive that was taking a while to get going after a lousy three weeks of training. Hindsight helps. I figured that my best bet was to try and put together a good week of training, keep it mostly aerobic and then see where I was at before I made any drastic changes of plans.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

The last week of training went well. I didn’t roll over 20 hours or anything that would have seemed super impressive last year during the Ironman build, but I did run with good consistency and put together some pretty good runs, nothing junky. Everything had a purpose and I was happy about it. It wrapped up Saturday afternoon with a good long run of 30kms with a 5 mile section thrown in after 30kms where I was able to maintain a 7:22 pace in variable snow conditions. I got home feeling beat up, but happy. I think it’s a real positive sign to feel like the marathon training plan is back on track. Unfortunately it’s not really, there is a pretty significant hole in the middle of my buildup (as evidenced by the falling CTL [red] on the chart at right). I have modified the plan from here on out to account for this. I’m cutting the amount of running above aerobic threshold scheduled for this coming week in half. I’m also cutting out all of the VO2 focussed intervals that the Pfitzinger plan has scheduled in favour of strides and some running just slightly above marathon pace. I’m trying to be conservative with what I can ask my body to do without as extensive a base-buildup as I should have done. I’m then paring back the total volume anticipated by 10-15%, slicing it off of most of the runs with the exception of my long runs which need to stay at the higher durations as they are needed for focus on duration. The marathon on May 1 didn’t get 10-15% shorter.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

I’m posting the planned weekly schedule from here to the race [here]. It’s accurate for running, and if the weather co-operates I’ll be adding some aerobic cycling to the mix once the roads are clear. There’s not going to be stress on the muscles in my legs for that kind of stuff so I’ll sprinkle in what I have time for. For completeness sake I’ve included the PMCs for all three sports and my total at the left here as well, click on the mini-picture to expand.

Finally, I have one other stat to note… I swam a 15:31 for 1000 yards on Friday. I went out pretty conservative in the first half. I think that partly had to do with me not really wanting to suffer as much as I could have suffered for 15 minutes but also a bit of disillusionment with the purpose of doing this when Keegan had opened up with a 1:15 1000yds next to me and I was feeling super slow. I did turn it around in the second half which is nice and it made for a good workout even though it’s evidence that it wasn’t the best test of my actual 1000yd TT speed. Despite being a long ways off how well I was swimming last march at this time this is a huge improvement in my swimming since Christmas when I was struggling to come in with 50 second laps on only 100 and 200 yard intervals in a workout. I’m also happy to report that I’m actually tackling flip turns with some regularity. The immediacy of the Spring Thaw Triathlon, where successfully doing flip turns could amount to a full 0.5% improvement of my finish time has convinced me that it is worthwhile. Buying carbon aero widgets to do that would cost me between $1000 and $1500.

1000yd TT

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VO2max testing and metabolic games

I’m in another research study, this one is testing the acute effects of L-arginine ingestion on exercise. They’re looking at the growth hormone levels in the blood during submaximal exertion in endurance trained athletes and so need to have a good idea where anaerobic threshold is. This means that they need to know quite a bit about my physiology to determine what normal is before they can do the double-blind test on what L-arganine will do to my two one hour riding sessions, which are to be done at 80% of my anaerobic threshold power. All that just to say that I could get a free VO2-max test out of the deal which, if you ask me, is always a good trade!

This also required body composition testing done by underwater weighing and I scored 7.2 % body fat which I think was probably reasonably accurate and also pretty acceptable for the base-season of my year. 7.2% fat means I’ve got about 14 lbs of fat on me which either sounds like a lot, or it doesn’t sound like much, depending on who you are. I take this to mean the following: If I think I can lean up to about 6% fat by race-day I have to loose a whole kilogram of fat. That also means I only have a kilogram of fat to loose. If you’re a calorie counter that’s a matter of coming up short on average 100 calories per day from here until race day, which is silly-easy if you adopt that method of body-composition control. I’ll reference you to a recent pair of blog posts written by my coach Steven Lord entitled “Calorie Counting Futility” and “More on Calorie Counting Futility” which very specifically address the issue of leaning-up as an athlete. I think you can probably tell by their titles what his opinion is! I never have been a long term calorie counter and I don’t intend on being one.

I have previously had both great success and negligible success adopting a simple strategy of shifting towards “lean protein and more salad vegetables” during lead-ups to a couple races in the previous few seasons. The philosophical strategy behind that was to phrase the choices positively so that I am trying to get satiated on those fuel sources and then will naturally reduce the component that processed carbohydrates plays in my diet. I’m currently modifying the method to incorporate a bit of a negative statement which I’m not totally certain about, as I don’t like the idea of not eating things, I think it’s more mentally healthy to phrase this stuff in the positive. For now the strategy is again a shift towards incorporating “lean protein and more salad vegetables” as well as “minimizing consumption of processed carbohydrates outside a window of 2 hours before and 2 hours after exercise”. Interestingly, that means if I’m doing a double workout in the day it doesn’t really apply. I am not monitoring my weight too closely these days and I am certainly not monitoring my body composition frequently even though I have access to a four-point electrical impedance tool which has proven reliable in the past. As I’ve written before in this blog, I found that doing so had me miss the forest for the trees.

Now that I sound like I’ve got an eating disorder I’ll get back to the VO2-max test.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

This first figure shows my oxygen consumption with increasing wattage. It shows that I maxed out with one minute at 540 Watts (on an average of 60kms, and strictly less than 100kms, per week on the bike since October – not bad!) and had a peak oxygen uptake of 5.4 L/min which is a pretty good absolute score. I have scored as high as 5.7 L/min previously but that was following the Sea-to-Sea bike tour where I absolutely loaded my body with aerobic work and rode 6 days a week for 9 weeks, a far cry from the point in my season where I’m at right now. My relative score is good but not great. It definitely qualifies me for the study, but it also shows I’m not yet race-ready.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

This second chart shows the results of gas-analysis. I crossed over to anaerobic work at 4 L/min with an estimated power output of between 320 and 360 Watts. The corresponding HR to this crossover occurred in the range of 165-170 bpm. Previously, I had been treating my threshold HR on the bike to be around 176 bpm which is a slight overestimate. The results of the test give me an indication that in future I need to down-estimate my cycling threshold HR by a few bpm to the high 160’s rather than the mid 170’s. A more accurate measure is unnecessary (as HR will vary day to day) and unavailable because the step-test protocol goes in 40 Watt increments and lets your HR settle intermittently rather than gradually ramping through all of the different power-outputs. Interestingly I only reached a max-HR of 196 bpm during the test. I have always cracked 200 bpm during previous tests. It’s possible that I am dealing with a tiny bit of residual fatigue from the race this past weekend which could have made a bit of difference.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

This figure is the one that I find the most interesting but it’s also the most inaccurate as it’s based on a hack calculation I did of substrate consumption during exercise. I used the table of “Thermal Equivalents of Oxygen for the non-protein respiratory quotient” from “Essentials of exercise physiology, Volume 1 By William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, Victor L. Katch” and directly substituted my respiratory exchange ratio (RER) during the test for the respiratory quotient (RQ) quoted from the table. This is a poor assumption and I know it. The testing protocol recording this data was also rather rapid and so it means that I didn’t have the opportunity to settle in to a nice and calm fat burning metabolic state during the early part of the test. This is seen by a low fat consumption in the early stages which is almost certainly false. Then as the test progresses towards anaerobic threshold my fat consumption trails off and so when I hit anaerobic threshold I am by definition exhibiting an exchange ratio of one. This is where the assumption that RER=RQ is obviously problematic. It’s almost guaranteed that I am still metabolizing some fat at this workload but the assumption implies that I cannot be.

RER – the Respiratory Exchange Ratio is the ratio of expired CO2 to the inspired O2 during exercise and it is measured at the mouth by the gas analysis machine.

RQ – the Respiratory Quotient is the ratio of CO2 produced by cellular respiration to the quantity of O2 consumed during cellular respiration. Burning carbohydrates produced 6x CO2 molecules for each 6x O2 molecules consumed giving an RQ of 1.0 Burning lipids which are a more energy dense molecule requires more O2 to metabolize the fuel for the same amount of CO2 produced.

Over a long period of time when the body functions at a constant exertion (or rest) the time average of RER is equal to the time average of RQ.

One other thing that’s interesting to do is calculate my efficiency in converting chemical energy to mechanical energy. If we look at threshold power and say that I was at 340 Watts (estimate) and I was metabolizing 20 calories per minute that means I was consuming 1394 Watts of chemical energy and exhibiting a conversion ratio of 24.4%. OK, for those of you in the know you’re very aware that 24% conversion efficiency is pretty much the gold standard in cycling so I’ll admit I cherry picked my estimate to put me there. If you look at the results over the sub-threshold exertions (below) you’ll see that there is a trend that shows me displaying a false peak in efficiency while the metabolic process RQ is translated through my blood and lungs to display itself as an RER measured at my mouth. Where the gross efficiency settles before the next incremental increase would be the true measure of my conversion ratio. As shown in the little table I do exhibit excellent conversion factors but I’m not a world record breaker.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

Gross cycling efficiency at subthreshold exertion
160 W 200 W 240 W 280 W 320 W
19.5% 20.1% 23.2% 22.3% 23.4%

OK, one final calculation for the nerds who read all the way to the end:

I know that the result is going to turn out poorly because as I already discussed there’s lots of evidence to believe that fat burning has been underestimated by the testing protocol and my lack of comprehensive skills in doing the calculations. But, I figure I should run the calculation anyways. I finished at 240 Watts with a HR that was settled right around my Ironman HR last year when all prepped up for the race in Penticton. I was significantly more aerobically fit at that point than I am now so I should have tested with a higher fat burning capacity at that HR than I did during the test, but let’s presume I’m the same. Over all of the records at 240 Watts I averaged a caloric expenditure of 14.3 calories per minute. The average percentage of that that came from fat was 21% or 3.0 calories per minute. That means I burned 858 calories per hour while riding the bike at Ironman, which totals a caloric burn of 4476 calories (5:13 bike split) and I will have been able to process 939 calories of my fat reserves on the bike. I have already well documented my nutrition strategy for Ironman on the blog so I won’t reiterate all the points here except to say that I ingested 2500 calories while on the bike. This calculation means I could have had a bike-leg caloric deficit of 1037 calories. Considering that I can EASILY burn 1000 calories per hour swimming (I’ll tell you right now I swam way harder than I biked) then I should have reached T2 having burned through more than 2000 calories of stored glycogen… (average adult’s stored glycogen is 2000 calories) and while I may be able to load myself up on a bit more than that because I’m a big person and because I employed some caloric storage training and because I did pre-race carbo fueling and the pre-race banana that entered my bloodstream during the swim for ~100 calories) these estimates show that I would have been starting the marathon with nothing in the tank, or at least with less than ~20% of my glycogen reserves.

Like I said, the calculation wasn’t going to work. I was burning more fat than this estimate leaves us to believe. I’m pretty sure that I did the bike glycogen neutral or perhaps even glycogen positive to restore some reserves lost on the swim. The deficit by these estimates would have required me to have burned 6.3 calories per minute of fat on the bike. That estimate is probably a lot closer to the truth and it’s not unreasonable to believe that I could have done that, it only amounts to 44% of my calories from fat at that workload. Considering I was riding a mix of easy and steady, that’s not an unreasonable thing to expect of my body. I’ve seen metabolic testing profiles elsewhere online with ironman exertion fat consumption ratios both at and above this 45% range.

I’ll conclude this post with one final thought. Going faster at Ironman doesn’t require that you burn as much fat as you can on the bike. Going faster at Ironman requires you doing the bike split as quickly as you can and still deliver yourself to the beginning of the run capable of running your best marathon. That probably doesn’t mean that you need to have your glycogen stores full if you’re reasonably capable of consuming calories while running and run with any sort of reasonable efficiency. If we look at how much professional ironman athletes eat (or Kona qualifying AG athletes in the M25-39 AGs) during the run portion of the event compared to athletes who are running standalone marathons in comparable times (2:40-3:00) we see a big discrepancy. Clearly the professional ironman athletes are not arriving in T2 with full glycogen stores or they wouldn’t have to eat like that. I know it’s dangerous to compare yourself to the pros to learn how to go faster (Scott Molina on IMTalk last week had excellent stuff to say on this topic – listen if you’re interested) but I think it is indicative of the fastest strategy on the bike leg NOT being anywhere close to 100% conservative.

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Coaching Update #3

The weekly updates:

2011-01-10 to 2011-01-16

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 95 km 3:10:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 10.68 km 1:37:00 13:00 9:05 5:38 min per km
Swim 3300 m 1:30:00 2:44 2:44 2:44 min per 100 meters
XC 35.25 km 4:05:00 8.03 8.63 10 kph
Total Time 10 hrs 22min Two Days Off

2011-01-17 to 2011-01-23

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 60 km 2:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 5.3 km 0:24:40 4:39 4:39 4:39 min per km
Swim 4000 m 1:27:00 2:24 2:11 1:48 min per 100 meters
Telemark 0 km 13:00:00 0 0 0 kph
XC 10 km 0:44:00 13.64 13.64 13.64 kph
Total Time 17 hrs 35min Zero Days Off

2011-01-24 to 2011-01-30

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 55.87 km 5:09:08 6:22 5:32 5:12 min per km
Swim 3200 m 1:00:00 1:52 1:52 1:52 min per 100 meters
XC 13.53 km 1:04:35 12.57 12.57 12.57 kph
Yoga 0 mi 1:00:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 11 hrs 13min One Day Off

2011-01-31 to 2011-02-06

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 60 km 2:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 38.15 km 3:32:30 7:08 5:34 5:00 min per km
Swim 6500 m 2:25:00 2:14 2:14 2:13 min per 100 meters
Total Time 7 hrs 57min Three Days Off

2011-02-07 to 2011-02-13

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 90 km 3:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 29.43 km 2:28:56 5:21 5:04 4:49 min per km
Swim 2800 m 1:00:00 2:09 2:09 2:09 min per 100 meters
XC 55 km 4:26:00 12.41 12.41 12.41 kph
Total Time 10 hrs 54min One Day Off

I did at best an acceptable job with sticking on a training plan during the past period of time. I’m not exactly proud to be posting these stats as it makes it evident that I haven’t been out running nearly as much as I said I was going to be running. I’ve had a few periods of good success, and one week of perfect execution on the run which occurred at the expense of one swim and a day of skiing. It was followed up by a good week of running which then crumbled on the weekend with a total of zero hours logged and coming up significantly short on my mileage target. The causes have been largely due to commitments surrounding the completion of my degree, with a few long weeks of work and relatively high levels of stress that were making it necessary to dedicate 10 hours of sleep per night to be able to function during the day. The result of that is time rapidly disappearing from training. I’ll also take a bit of personal responsibility for not treating these issues with significant enough urgency to solve the problems before they arose. Militantly defending little bits of training time throughout the week has a pretty poor return on investment and so when push came to shove I dismissed the necessity of training in adverse conditions as well as unfortunately trying to save time by making relatively poor dietary choices.

There have been periods of great success sprinkled amongst these frustrations. I marked an improvement of another 15 seconds per kilometer on my MAF run pace later in January (to the 4:40-4:45/km range). Since putting in the period of 11 days of fantastic consistency I saw an improvement of my default pace from around 5:20/km to about 5:00/km which is nice. I was seeing a default pace (~140bpm HR) of about this speed during my 40 runs in 40 days challenge in May last year. At that point my MAF pace was around 4:15/km. I don’t believe that I’m going to test at that pace this coming week with a MAF run test so that means an interesting thing. I’ve somehow narrowed the gap between my MAF pace and my default run pace. The only thing I think I can attribute this to is my transition into a slightly different style of stride with much more of a midfoot strike. This may not contribute to me going a lot faster when running at a MAF limit but interestingly it is making me faster a very submaximal paces. I think this is good because it likely contributes to improved efficiency at those faster paces at a more rapid rate than if I have a large discrepancy between the two sets of paces. Maybe this isn’t happening, I haven’t tested my MAF pace in three weeks, it could be that I’m already at the aerobic fitness required for the 4:15/km pace which would be nice because that would be goal marathon pace already, nearly 70 days prior to the start!

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

The PMCs at the left show that I have been able to keep building fitness over the past period of time (ATL is ahead of CTL all the way) and so despite really mentally feeling like I wasn’t giving my attention to training the same way that I wanted to I was still progressing. This is a comforting sign and it’s a reminder to me that I need to keep taking stock of where I’m at numerically and in testing rather than just how I feel. It’s fine that I’m not able to be throwing down a bunch of 18-20 hour weeks the same way I did last February, because my fitness is in a different spot and I’m progressing it from there. That said, my training stress balance is not as negative as I know I can handle at this period of the season and so I could be training a bit harder. That’s also OK for this period of time. The snapshot shows that I keep pressing onward with my general fitness for the next period of time until the second week of March which is a bit of a breather (my training stress balance should “come up for air” at that point) before getting into a period of 3 week “Lactate Threshold Phase” and then moving in to what the Pfitzinger plan calls the “Specific Prep Phase” which continues on with the Lactate Threshold work but is directed to helping me dial in the marathon pace. That leaves me with a two week taper into the race. This is on the shorter side as far as tapers could go but I believe that because I am not trying to dig a huge hole it shouldn’t take so long to climb out. I’m training with the focus of getting fast during the final period of time, not trying to get outrageously fit by loading up on volume so a gigantic taper should be unnecessary.

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

At right is an indication of my planned run fitness which shows a progression in training stress from -1 unit to -3 units. I know that this is reasonable to expect of myself, but it’s important to note that I plan to maintain a training stress balance of overall fitness hovering right around zero the entire time while I do this. This is done by paring back my commitments to other sports (skiing is no longer scheduled at all past mid-March for example).

Wrapping up this post

I began writing this post on Monday but didn’t have the focus to keep writing so I put it on hold. Then I got distracted by the very interesting statistics from the VO2 test on Tuesday and writing up a blog post on that. At which point I needed to buckle down and focus for a successful thesis defense on Thursday. That little delay enables me to conclude this post by answering my question posed a few paragraphs higher up about what my MAF pace is at the moment. I tested today indoors (because it was -22oC outside) and stupidly calculated which lane I needed to run in on the track doing 1 minute laps to get me running at 4:15 pace (Lane 6 on a 200m track in case you were wondering). So, needless to say this caused a bit of strife because I set out to test my HR at 4:15 pace instead of following the normal MAF testing protocol which is for me to run at 161 bpm and then measure the resulting pace. After warming up I ran 1500m at that pace at which point I had received enough feedback from my HRM and my breathing rate that I was not in the kind of shape required for 4:15/km at MAFHR fitness. I wouldn’t call it a botched test, it was interesting to follow that kind of testing design and I think I learned a few things from it about pacing (I think this kind of testing protocol would actually be pretty useful on the bike riding in rolling terrain with a powermeter) but I was also able to then dial back the intensity on the run and still salvage a better estimate of MAF pace which scored me around 4:25-4:28 per km. That’s alright, it’s a good progression in the past few weeks so I’m satisfied.

To wrap up I’ll post two tentative schedules. The first is for the next three weeks (well, this week is more than half over already) and is the final three weeks dedicated to aerobic development. I know already that I am going to come up way short this week on running mileage which is frustrating but I’m going to go skiing anyways for two days and enjoy it, I’ll be just fine for hours as a result! I am also posting a tentative look ahead to the following three weeks which the Pfitzinger “Advanced Marathoning” book describes as a Lactate Threshold phase. I currently have this set out according to the second “level” of mileage targets in the plan design and before I start into the next phase of training I’m going to assess whether or not I’ve been successful enough during the current aerobic phase to tackle that or if I need to scale back my expectations for myself (basically determined by if I can put together good consistency for the next two weeks). I’ll post again in three weeks on the subject of doing that mid-build self-assessment.

If the pattern I’ve been monitoring with my MAF testing continues as it has been going I will have a MAF pace that is very closely correlated with goal marathon pace by the point in time that I begin Lactate Threshold focus. That would be ideal. The result would be that my race-pace work is going to be right on the edge of being aerobic so it should be manageable. It also means that all of my lactate threshold work will be above race pace instead of (say, if I switched into that phase of training at the moment) being at around race pace and so will be training my mind to think of marathon pace as the relatively manageable. That’s a big coup. I know that when I was running lots of my shorter aerobic runs at around 4:45-4:50 pace during June and July in 2010 and staying completely aerobic throughout their entire durations I was really developing a strong belief in my ability to take on the 5:00/km goal pace at Ironman. Training that perception in advance of the marathon in Vancouver is important to me as I know it will make a difference in how well I am able to stay focussed in the race-situation.

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Coaching Update #2

The weekly updates:

2010-11-29 to 2010-12-05

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 120 km 4:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 32.29 km 2:48:00 5:31 5:12 5:02 min per km
Swim 3200 m 1:20:00 2:30 2:30 2:30 min per 100 meters
Weights 0 mi 0:30:00 na na na no pace units
Yoga 0 mi 0:20:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 8 hrs 58min Two Days Off

2010-12-06 to 2010-12-12

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 120 km 4:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 24.67 km 2:12:30 5:43 5:22 5:18 min per km
Weights 3.11 mi 0:55:00 na na na no pace units
Total Time 7 hrs 7min Three Days Off

2010-12-13 to 2010-12-19

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 80 km 2:40:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 24.12 km 2:02:39 5:08 5:05 4:58 min per km
XC 16.43 km 1:43:57 9.13 9.48 9.76 kph
Total Time 6 hrs 26min Two Days Off

2010-12-20 to 2010-12-26

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Run 41.68 km 3:29:10 5:04 5:01 3:45 min per km
XC 50.77 km 6:33:31 5.05 7.74 12.09 kph
Total Time 10 hrs 2min One Day Off

2010-12-27 to 2011-01-02

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Downhill 202 km 20:20:00 na na na no pace units
Run 23.12 km 2:03:47 5:31 5:21 4:54 min per km
XC 24.25 km 4:05:00 5.31 5.94 6.35 kph
Total Time 26 hrs 28min One Day Off

2011-01-03 to 2011-01-09

Sport Total Distance Total Time Min Pace Ave Pace Max Pace Pace Units
Bike 60 km 2:00:00 30 30 30 kph
Run 40.08 km 3:31:35 5:31 5:17 5:00 min per km
Swim 2600 m 1:10:00 2:42 2:42 2:42 min per 100 meters
XC 14.2 km 1:25:00 10.02 10.02 10.02 kph
Total Time 8 hrs 6min Two Days Off

I did a mediocre job of following my schedule in the few weeks leading up to the Christmas break. I did find bits and pieces of time to train but I was also doing stupid amounts of time in the lab turning the crank and churning out page after page of my MSc thesis. The thesis was considered relatively complete until my supervisor chucked it back at me with major revisions. It wasn’t a very nice realization, I’m not so much cut out for the world of academia, and I’m trying not to think about it too much. In fact I’m not going to write much about it either as that would require me thinking about it. In short, I hope accepting this new job starting March 1 isn’t a huge mistake. Then over Christmas break I just tried to run frequently, I wanted to hit 25 miles per week a couple times and I was successful for two out of the three, I would have been on track to hit it on the week between Christmas and New Years but I found myself in Fernie skiing my fool face off (and loving it!) and so I’ll take a mulligan. These next two charts show my progress up until Christmas and then my progress over the Christmas break.

’till Christmas

through Christmas

Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts
Photo from gallery: Performance Management Charts

The PMCs above show that over the Christmas break when I went totally off program and gave up on trying to schedule anything for myself I still did get in lots of general aerobic work as I had wanted to during that period. The little chart at the left here with the two overlays compares the planned training effect with the one that was actually completed over that break, it lines up just fine. I’m still on track in terms of developing basic fitness and despite not trying very hard at planning my instincts for how much, and how soon, were just about appropriate.

I am due for a MAF Test on the run soon but with the forecast at or below -20o for this whole coming week I might have to wait a bit. There isn’t a whole lot of purpose in measuring MAF pace while running with tights, fleece pants, shell pants and a fleece jacket, the measurement isn’t going to be very accurate anyhow. I do have an estimate of MAFHR from some recent treadmill running that puts it around 7.6-7.7 miles per hour which is slightly sub 5 min/km or a bit better than 8 min miles. That’s alright progression if you ask me, about 25 seconds/km pace improvement over the course of a bit less than two months. Slow and steady wins the race. As I mentioned previously I think it would be good to get to 4min/km at MAFHR in time for the Vancouver Marathon (a bit less than four months) which necessitates me being keeping up this kind of progression in MAF pace. I don’t really have a great indication from previous tracking of these metrics of how fast I can hope to improve, my testing last year started at around 4:20 pace and progressed to around 4:04 pace while I really developed a ton of durability to run at that effort while maintaining volume in the training program. Recently I’ve been able to do a lot of my running rather close to MAFHR and haven’t felt like I’m straining myself much to do it. That’s an alright sign, it indicates I’m in need of conditioning my cardiovascular system and that I’m not straining the muscular/joints as much as I did last year while developing my ability to run.

I was out of the pool for a LONG time and my first time back was tough work but I enjoyed myself, I don’t anticipate that it’ll be easy to swim a ton this winter but I am hopeful that I can do a decent job of it.

The planned training is a bit dubious, I don’t know how everything will work out with the weather looking so outrageously poor. I also don’t really know how the skiing works out as I typically will want to go with other people and just don’t have the interest to go and do three hours of skiing by myself in the woods. We’ll see how things stack up. I’ll have to be flexible here. The key workouts of the week are the runs. I want to put in a good solid effort at getting the frequency up to 5 times per week here or close to that for the next stretch. It’s mostly a matter of getting dressed up and out the door. That’s all it took yesterday and once I was trundling along I quite enjoyed myself, but when getting dressed takes forever because I have to dig up a dozen pieces of clothing instead of just shorts, socks and a shirt, it’s no wonder that it takes a bit more coercion than usual to get going.

Fingers crossed that a cold January makes for an early spring so I can get in the uninterrupted running when it will be the most frustrating to do it inside. I also wouldn’t mind the opportunity to sneak in a couple weekends of skiing in March if possible. Anyhow, here’s the training plan through until the Birkebeiner. Things might require some serious adjusting, but the running framework looks like it’s flexible enough to stick.

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