Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, See Ya! Hello 2013!!

Christmas is over - had a good one, my crew had fun. It's always good to get together, have a few bevies, reflect on the year that was and look forward to the possibilities of a new year. With Christmas this year came a nice surprise - SNOW!

I can't remember when we last had snow at Christmas - mind you I can't remember last week, but it was nice. With snow on the ground it was obviously time to play in it! Logan had me on fort building duty. Here we are in the fort ready to pounce.

We managed to put a tunnel in despite the snow not really being of the packing variety. Our fort was a 2 room dwelling complete with storage space for snowballs. We were loaded for any battle. We were on guard in case anyone on our street decided to attack - no one did. Intimidation - check!

However, due to my insubordinate attitude, I was banished from the big fort and relegated to the backup fort. In this new fort I was more laid back and even thought about napping.

That did not last as I was attacked shortly thereafter!

The next day we ventured to the local tobogganing hill for some sledding.

Good times!

Ok, 2012 is in the books now it's onward to 2013. 2012 was fun for some parts, disappointing for others. Fun in the sense I went to Hawaii twice and got to see the Hawaii Ironman live, I successfully got into the 2013 Ironman Lake Placid and 2013 Ironman Florida, had a family tour of Alberta, did some family camping. Disappointing because I missed most of race season due to an operation to remove a benign lipoma from my right groin which prevented me from training. I did get in a couple of races but I was so out of shape it wasn't too much fun. This is now done and overwith and training has been going well since the fall. Right now I'm building base and looking forward to 2013.

Next post? 2013 New Years Resolutions!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Festivities Post Mortem

So here I am after overindulging over the past 5 days. Not really but I feel disgusting. I had a gameplan to eat and drink moderately but that went out the window once the food was in front of me. It was so plentiful and so good!

With too much of this!

Did I mention too much of this?!! Actually this pic is from Kona and I think there's a hidden message here - oh yeah, run! I need to get back on the road. Running remains the activity that gives me the most bang for the buck.

Nuff said!


I must also commit to strengthening my core. With a recent hip flexor/lower ab strain I have found that the little core work I've done has made a big difference in my swim. bike and especially my run.


Despite feeling tired and sluggish from an acute case of FADTS (Food And Drink Toxicity Syndrome) - pronounced "fa-tees", I did 90 minutes on the trainer while watching Ironman TV on YouTube. It's a cool site for all things Ironman from Europe - check it out. I was not into it but once 10-15 minutes went by I came around.

No, no, no - that's not the right attitude. Although you're still the most interesting guy in the world.

Ah yes, it is vitally important as we age to concentrate on flexibility as well to prevent injury and maintain healthy joints. Did this pose just this morning.

Now, now, now. What did I just say about attitude?!

Always good to end on a positive note. One more overindulgence session to go (New Years) and then it's focus time! Be good - or if you can't be good, be good at it!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

World Class Coaching Tips

I was leafing through an Inside Triathlon magazine from Jan/Feb 2012 while in my office/bathroom and they had an article in it highlighting philosophies and tips for pro and age grouper athletes from world renown coaches. Above is Siri Lindley - she's coached prominent pros Carfrae (for 7 years) and Cave. Some insights: "every age grouper should aim for one speed session, one long endurance session, and one strength session in each sport every week. If you can do that you have all your bases covered."

Joe Filliol, former Canadian and British National Triathlon Coach, and now coaching Findlay and Carfrae. He advocates trying to achieve the maximum sustainable training load for any given athlete. "The key word is sustainable or consistency. It means that the level of training, the level of work you can back up day to day and week to week for a long period of time. When progressed over time, athletes will be able to absorb and tolerate a higher and higher level of work. Also, "Age groupers can make it more complicated than it needs to be at times. Be consistent. It's easy to overdo single sessions but then sacrifice consistency."

Darren Smith, Australian coach who oversaw Olympians Lisa Norden (Silver) and Sarah Groff (4th) at the London Olympics. He advocates the importance of proper technique. With good technique comes efficiency and reduced incidence of injury. Also, "Focus on what you "can do". Don't focus on what you can't do or can't control, which is other people. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Maintain strengths and improve any deficiancies."

Finally, Brett Sutton, controversial Australian coach and authoritarian. While polarizing he is probably the most successful. He guided Chrissie Wellington, Nicole Spirig (gold medalist), Caroline Steffen. "I aim to to tailor to the individual rather than the group - different people need to be motivated in different ways. For age groupers it's about you and improving you. Use a training group for the social atmosphere and to improve you. Don't go head to head with the guy next to you because that will just tear you down." He also states, "I think the biggest mistake age groupers make is setting times. Enviromental conditions change all the time - trying to achieve set times under tough conditions will only lead to failure." On training, " Go hard when the body wants to. When the body doesn't feel great, we don't push hard when our body's telling us not to." On Ironman racing, " Over an Ironman, it's not "I'm going to race the guy next to me." It's what your body's capable of doing - the amount of power your body can do over the course of the day. I've seen too many age groupers got their head down 2-3 hours into a race and pay for it later on the run and blame it on their training or nutrition. On avoiding overtraining, "The thing is for most age groupers there is also work and family. So, for instance, if I've got an age grouper down to do a fast run for a Wednesday night and they've had a rough day at work, I'd tell them don't do it. Combining physical and mental stress will only make it worse. Instead I'd tell them to go for a run with an extended warmup leading into a steady pace. If you can feel stress beginning to release and feel good, pick up the pace. If not, don't force it, and leave the pace steady."

Great training advice. You can be simple, really, and usually involves consistency and listening to our bodies. I had a 10 mile "death march" run yesterday where I listened to my body. It was cold, very windy and I started out with a goal pace. Not long into the run I realized my body was not going to be able to match the pace so I slowed down and ran a pace my body would allow. I even walked one steep hill. It didn't help that I've been getting to bed way too late the last few days - duh! Anyway, let's learn from theses coaches - they've proven they know what they're talking about!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

More Winter Riding!

This has nothing to do with my ride - I just took this recently near Deerhurst Resort.

Today's workout was a reverse brick - a run followed by a bike. Today the temperature was around 5 Celsius with a light wind. I ran an aerobic pace at around 8:25 per mile for 6 miles. When I arrived back home the sun started coming out which made it feel a little warmer so I decided to bundle up and get on my bike.

Roads were dry and free of dirt. Bonus! There wasn't much traffic.

With my booties on, my feet were toasty warm. In fact, by the last part of the ride they were sweating.

No snow yet, still lots of greenery.

Nice melon eh?! It truly is a glamorous look. More like I didn't check myself in the mirror before leaving. Kept me warm. My face was okay given I had a couple of chins to insulate me!!

Hopefully I can get a ride in January.....Cheers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chris Lieto's Core Workout

Check out this video. Pro Chris Lieto, who lives and trains in Kona and is one of the best cyclists in triathlon, demonstrates a great corem workout that I plan to incorporate, save for the running with a big rock under water! (check halfway through the video for the workout and the rock thing - you'll know what I mean)


Monday, December 17, 2012

By The Numbers...

2012 totals

Bike: 106h 37m 19s - 1911.06 Mi

Run: 108h 33m 39s - 749.86 Mi

Swim: 16h 08m - 49638.04 M

Hockey: 2h 35m

2011 totals

Bike: 184h 16m 24s - 3367.06 Mi

Run: 153h 50m 10s - 1040.36 Mi

Swim: 43h 24m 15s - 129150 M

The above are my yearly training totals for the past 2 years. For 2012 I will likely do 2000+ miles of biking, 800+ miles of running and 50,000m of swimming. I really surprised at my 2012 running and biking totals when compared to 2011 when I did Ironman Lake Placid. With my surgery putting me back for 6 weeks in the middle of summer I expected my 2012 totals to be lower.

I am curious how 2013 will pan out as I have Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Florida scheduled and quite possibly two 70.3s as well. With two Ironman builds I should achieve a mileage PR. How might this look?

2013 Season: Swimming = 200,000+M,   Biking = 4000+Miles,   Running = 1500+Miles

I think that achieving these benchmarks will put me in a good position for success. We shall see.

I use for logging my training (I good at least 90% of the time for keeping track). It is free, automatically calculates monthly and yearly totals. It's pretty cool to see where you're at by years end.

Anyway, as the new year approaches, I will be looking to improve. With aging top-end speed is naturally declining but endurance racing still has potential if the training is consistent and life is balanced. I'm looking forward to the challenge!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great Insight from Tri Coach Matt Dixon

Great article! It runs fairly close to my own personal philosophy when it comes to training. Read on for some great info!

The Pillars of Performance: Part 1The first in a series of articles by Purplepatch Fitness founder Matt Dixon

Posted on December 13, 2012 by LAVA

LinksPurplepatch coachingPhotos courtesy Matt Dixon

This piece first appeared in LAVA Magazine Issue 1, August/September 2010.

by Matt Dixon, MSc

If I were forced to choose one word that encompasses what all athletes are in search of, it would be performance. Whether you are a professional triathlete targeting the top step of the podium or a weekend warrior trying to improve on your last event, you are aiming for performance. It may seem obvious, but there is a glut of misinformation and antiquated training approaches dominating endurance sports, and you may well be consuming, albeit unwittingly, some or much of it. There has been a change in how the smartest athletes and coaches approach their training: they are now including recovery, nutrition and fueling, and core stability and mobility as key components. Combined with swimming, biking and running, these are the Pillars of Performance.

Over the coming months, I will outline the framework and philosophy behind the Pillars of Performance and provide a path to help you achieve your best performance. This path has strong similarities to the approach I use for the professional athletes I coach. Though you might not be training like an elite, the core foundation and methods remain identical.

In this first article, I present the overall philosophy and approach to achieving performance. I question the long-established mindset to training for endurance events, such as Ironman triathlon, and call for a change in our way of thinking. The traditional “more is better — you must suffer to succeed” mentality should shift toward a broader, more comprehensive philosophy that expands your focus beyond merely swimming, biking and running. Although I provide a five-step “path to performance” (see sidebar), this is not a cookie-cutter recipe for success, but rather an introduction to a way of thinking. It can help shape your training decisions and empower you to quash the confidence-sucking emotional responses that often cloud good judgment in training. In subsequent articles, I’ll delve deeper into the individual pillars that complement swim, bike, and run training.

Current state

Make no mistake; there are some excellent athletes and coaches in our sport, doing wonderful things. We owe a lot to the early generation of triathletes who paved the way for the sport, allowing it to flourish and grow as it has. Much of the mystique that exists around triathlon is thanks to the massive-mileage training and epic racing of the early years. The common training philosophy of the day — more is better; only the tough survive! — still dominates today. But does this really result in optimal performance?

Many athletes and coaches build training around the simple accumulation of hours of swimming, biking and running, squeezing in as much time as the body or schedule can handle, assuming good results will follow. It is an endless pursuit of just a little more cardiovascular fitness that will hopefully provide that last step to achieving top potential and great performance. Cardiovascular fitness is seldom the limiter in performance, yet volume of training still dominates as the central focus of most training regimens. This restricted focus on swimming, biking and running relegates concepts such as recovery, nutrition and fueling, and core stability and mobility to mere afterthoughts.

Current results

The result of pure swim, bike and run focus and big miles is athletes who are stuck in a cycle of training hard and being very fit, but also being consistently tired, often injured, and/or failing to perform well or live up to their potential. This is rampant at the elite level, and is nearly as common throughout the amateur ranks, where the additional responsibilities of work, school, family, etc. add to the stress of heavy training. Many of these hard-working athletes constantly succumb to injuries, a symptom of their musculoskeletal system being ill-prepared to handle the stress of swimming, biking and running without parallel improvements to mobility and strength. The result is very fit people who are not as prepared as a complete athlete. They are structurally weak, lack mobility, and are over-tired and undernourished.

These symptoms are difficult to spot on a day-to-day basis (i.e., easily disguised while training), but normally become exposed when it counts — while racing. It becomes really apparent toward the end of an event, when fatigue sets in and performance crashes. Unfortunately the normal emotional response to fatigue, cramps or suffering late in a race is, quite naturally, to blame lack of fitness or race-day nutrition. The motivated athlete will go back to training with a hearty declaration to push even harder in training, likely ending up even farther in the hole.

The motivated athletes will go back to training with a hearty declaration to push even harder—likely ending up even farther in the hole.

Understanding performance

To set yourself up for optimal performance you need to make physiological adaptations. Whether you are improving fitness, strength and power, or body composition, your body will improve through a complex set of adaptations resulting from a correctly dosed training stimulus. You likely understand this in its most basic form, as it is the very reason all athletes train, but it is also critical to understand that optimal training adaptations will only occur if you are metabolically healthy. In this context, metabolic health is more than the absence of disease; it also encompasses a strong immune system and hormonal profile that is in homeostasis (balance) with the stresses applied to it on a daily basis. As mentioned earlier, the accumulation of stress comes from exercise (training), but also from the endless challenges we face in everyday life such as work, school, relationships, travel, etc. Proper nutrition and fueling, in terms of timing, quality and quantity, as well as proper recovery and sleep, are fundamental in promoting good metabolic health.

Resetting your lens

Imagine that you have no history in sports, no knowledge of how people have approached training before or how others do it now. If we sat down and discussed training, and I broke it down into several components, it would likely appear pretty logical. Swimming, biking and running would be key, but I would also discuss nutrition, functional strength and mobility, as well as recovery, as key considerations to attaining optimal performance. My guess is that you would not put up much protest. If we think of the swim, bike and run as “cardiovascular fitness,” then these training elements are the essentials for any athlete in any sport. This is a key point, as when I coach athletes, my first goal is to turn them into high-performing athletes, and then train them specifically for triathlon. Every single top performer in any endurance sport has a solid balance of functional strength, cardiovascular fitness and strong metabolic profile from proper recovery and nutrition. The ones that repeatedly perform at the very highest level maintain this profile and key components throughout their careers. They also tend to experience fewer injuries and more consistent results.

Establishing a training program

When building your training program I urge you to think of yourself as an athlete who specializes in triathlon. To do this you have to place equal importance on all aspects of fitness — not just swimming, biking and running, but also recovery, nutrition, and functional strength and mobility ­­­— your Pillars of Performance. This may sound simple, but treating these pillars as equals will result in a more logical decision-making process, enabling you to program in essential recovery without guilt, and promoting necessary structural integrity that will provide the platform to safely (i.e., with fewer injuries) swim, bike and run. Below is a bit more on the “new” pillars of this training plan. We’ll cover them in more depth in future articles.

Recovery — This is the most often ignored component of training, and perhaps the most important. It is easy to understand why many skip it ­— after all, we get no validation of performance gains when we are recovering — but its importance cannot be overstated. I tend to schedule at least two days of each training week as what I call “blue” days — days on which the goal is to place no additional physiological stress on your metabolic health and purely promote recovery and adaptations. I find many of my athletes are hesitant to schedule in recovery, but quickly become much more keen as our relationship develops and they observe the positive effects. Rather than viewing these days as lost training days, realize that they are a key component in achieving optimal performance.

Nutrition and fueling — Proper nutrition and fueling can be broken down into the quality of what you are taking in, the timing, and the number of calories you ingest. If there is one area that is more confusing than any other, it has to be fueling and nutrition. Fuel is food and drink you take in during (and right before and after) a workout. Nutrition encompasses the rest of your eating and drinking. For highly active athletes, such as Ironman and Ironman 70.3 participants, the most common issue I see in this area is under-fueling relative to energy expenditure. In order to promote loss of body fat for many of the athletes I work with, I often find myself persuading people to exercise less while eating more. Yes, you read that correctly.

Core stability and mobility — There is a lot of controversy about the role of strength training in endurance sports, namely, whether athletes benefit from strength training. Much of this comes from a perception that strength training consists of “pumping iron” in pursuit of muscle growth. A proper functional strength and mobility program will facilitate massive improvements in biomechanics, efficiency, neuromuscular recruitment and injury prevention. It should consist of exercises that create improvements in joint stability and range of motion, transfer of power in sport-specific movements, and lay the structural platform to gain maximal benefits from our key sport-specific training (swim, bike, run). In a future article I will explore some key concepts in functional movement and set forth a plan for you to integrate into your training.

Read more: The Pillars of Performance: Part 1 : LAVA Magazine

Don't have LAVA? Subscribe today!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Copenhagen Does Cycling Right

Copenhagen should be the blueprint for all major cities when it comes to combining vehicular and cycling traffic. Cycling is a way of life there and the city is designed with that in mind. The above 2 links at the top chronicles cycling culture in Copenhagen. I have also included the cyclechic links for Toronto and Ottawa as well. For the vast majority in Copenhagen it doesn't involve bike or triathlon racing - it's just an everyday mode of transportation with varying styles.

As you can see from the pictures above weather is not an issue! In the top picture in the background stands a neon-digital counter. It counts all the cyclists at a main intersection for the day and also a yearly tally. Here's a closeup picture of one of the counters. started in 2007, highlighting the cycling life in Copenhagen.

40 years ago Copenhagen was just as car-clogged as anywhere else but now 36% of the population arriving at work or education do so on bicycles, from all over the Metro area. 50% of Copenhageners themselves use bicycles each day. They all use over 1000 km of bicycle lanes in Greater Copenhagen for their journeys. Copenhagenizing is possible anywhere. I realize, for some namely those that have significant commutes, a lot of this is not possible. It is more for those short personal trips that often are under 5K where changes can be made.

Where I live things are improving. My neighbourhood, a newer subdivision, has bike lanes down the central street. During the mild weather we routinely use it as we make our way to the community park in the neighbourhood and also for running year round. The only drawback is that everything from drugstores, bookstores, restaurants, movie theatre and coffee shops are exactly 1 mile away - sounds short enough but unfortunately it is on a road that is very tight for space, has high vehicular traffic and is not well lit, especially during this time of year. Once beyond this mile there are numerous bike lanes and it is well connected. As an example, I recently thought about going to the drug store on my bike but this particular stretch of road is dangerous enough that I jumped in the car instead and drove the 5K out and back. If this road were to ever have a bike lane or even a sidewalk it would get used a lot! There are a lot of people in my neighbourhood that would consider walking to Starbucks or Tim Horton's, Indigo Books or the movies if it were safe to do so. To go to the movies or Starbucks from my house would take 15 minutes, probably about 5minutes on a bike. The impact and necessity of safe passage here will increase greatly once the new high school is completed next fall and a couple of thousand students start making the unsafe trek back and forth to where all the shops are.

Who knows what the city will do but this highlights one example of how we can encourage alternative modes of transportation and get healthy in the process. This concludes my soapbox chat for the day!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Take Stock

2013 will begin my push towards the Ironman Legacy Program of 12 Ironman completions. For those that are unaware, if you complete 12 official Ironman races and have never done Hawaii then you will get to go to the Big Dance. It also requires that 10, 11, and 12 must be in consecutive years. Sara thought it would be cool to get my 12 in by the time I reach 49 so that, with a little luck, I might get to do Hawaii when I'm 50 and when Sara's 40. We call it our 50-40 trip! 

So far I've done 6 Ironmans consisting of: 1989 Ironman Canada (when I was 23), 2000, 2002, 2004, 2011 Ironman Lake Placid and 2006 Ironman Wisconsin. For 2013 I am signed up for Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Florida (my first flat course - interested to see if I enjoy it).

Currently I am building a base and believe I am ahead of schedule. I really didn't have a 2012 season because of surgery on my leg which put me on the shelf for all of July and half of August. I'm getting into the pool twice weekly for at least 1600m per session. I'm working on technique and committing to intervals, either long or short, during each session.

I've had a couple of opportunities to get outside but mostly it's trainer time. My sessions have been usually an hour in length and my longest ride to date has been 1:40. I mix it up with tempo work and 30sec hard/30sec easy for at least 30 minutes. I will likely begin to mix in some mountain biking to break the monotony.

I'm currently running 3-4 times per week with a couple of 5-milers, one shorter tempo session and a long run that has maxed out at 12.5 miles to date. I will incorporate a couple of races over the winter and build distance for the Around the Bay 30K in late March. This race is great because it forces you out the door when it's cold! It is also the oldest race in North America.

The cool thing about Ironman racing is the build. Over time, with consistency and avoiding plateaus, you get into great shape. You hope that you've been smart in training so that you arrive at the start line healthy and ready to have a great performance.

There is no guarantee that I will make the 12 Ironman minimun for the Legacy Program but you never know unless you try. I'm looking forward to the challenge and the journey - hell, I've already got a few flights worth of airmiles built up! If I get to do Hawaii I would be obviously pumped and I would cruise it so that I soak up every moment. More than that, though, is all the memories of the journey that may lead me there....with many more to come.