Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Musings: Training Interruptus

How-day, Mon-day.

Who else stayed up last night after hopping on the Maple Leafs bandwagon?  I'm married to a sports fanatic (13 years today as a matter of fact!) so if there's a game on chances are it's being watched in our house at least by G.  That being said, I'm a sucker for playoff games so I will tune in if any Toronto teams make it in.  We had two teams in various playoffs so there has been a game on TV pretty much every night.  Sadly the Leafs lost last night but I think it's safe to say that the future looks bright for them!

I had big plans for the start of this build cycle.  After having a crappy couple of weeks, I was ready to start busting my butt again but my body had other plans.   I wasn't feeling so hot on Easter Sunday but I had a good night's sleep and woke up on Monday feeling pretty good other than a bit of a stuffy nose.  By Monday afternoon I had started sneezing and had developed a bit of sinus congestion.  Tuesday morning I woke up with a full on sinus cold.  I was totally zonked all day Tuesday and all day Wednesday.    I napped a bit, did a little bit of work but didn't have a lot of energy to do much of anything and I couldn't' concentrate on anything for too long so I didn't even get another blog post done.  Thursday I was feeling a lot better and was tired of being cooped up inside so I went out for a very easy 30 minute run.  That was probably a bit ambitious as my Garmin said it was going to take me 26 hours to recover.  I opted to skip swimming on Friday morning and take another rest day.  I wanted to be as close to 100% as possible so we could ride with Morning Glory on Saturday.

I've got 9 weeks left until Tremblant.  This time last year I was questioning whether or not I'd even get to the start line.  I don't want to jinx myself but I'm feeling pretty good these days.  I'm taking better care of myself and I'm doing the necessary work to keep my gluts and hamstrings happy.   I know if I want to have a solid run I need to start adding a bit more intensity to my run workouts.  That has been lacking since my race in March.  Everything I've been doing has been mostly zone 2 with the exception of yesterday's long run which brought me into low zone 3 (charging up every single hill you find will do what).  I need to start incorporating a few zone 4-5 workouts but I'm a bit afraid to do so because I know that's when injuries can happen.  I was thinking about this yesterday while out on my run and my plan is to do as much hill work as possible and alternate tempo / interval work every other week.  I think that will be the safest approach for me.  Running hills will keep my legs strong and it will only benefit me in Tremblant and Lake Placid because both run courses are fairly hilly.  Especially at the end.  So that's the plan.

Despite being sick last week, I still managed to log some solid training time on the weekend.  Nothing like jumping back into things with both feet, ha ha.  Let's take a look shall we?

Monday:  Rest Day - I got very little work done as I spent most of my day tracking all my friends running Boston.

Tuesday:  SICK

Wednesday:  STILL SICK

Thursday:  30 minute run in the rain.  5 minutes after I left the house it started raining.  I figured I was out I might as well keep going.

Friday:  REST

Saturday:  127km ride with Morning Glory and my longest ride this year.  This was hard.  It was WINDY all the way back.  My legs were killing me by the end.  I did a horrible job hydrating and I think that was the problem.   The fact that I was starving with about 10km left was also telling.  We actually stopped 2km from home for a "snack".

Sunday:  2100m swim + 18km hilly run.

Total time:  7h 18 minutes.  Not bad for a sick week.  :)

Here's to a healthier week ahead.  I'm off to a workshop on healthy aging today so stay tuned for a post on that later on this week!

Here's a little Monday humour for ya....

Do as the Captain says!

~ Coach PK 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Musings: Marathon Monday

It's not just any Monday, it's BOSTON MARATHON MONDAY!  My Social Media feeds have been all Boston all the time since Friday and I've loved every minute of it.  I know what the excitement and anticipation feels like and it's so awesome to see it through other people's eyes.   It's also Easter Monday so to those of you that have the day off, enjoy!  Speaking of which, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Weekend.  Ours was spent with family eating, riding, running and eating some more.  It was a lovely weekend.   It was just what I needed to get me out of my funk.  Yup, I've been a bit down in the dumps for the last week.  I was feeling a bit out of sorts and very unmotivated.  I think it might have been the weather.  It was pretty grey and rainy this past week and I was worried that I had done something to my glut and hamstring again, which weighed heavily on my mind.  I had an appointment with my ART guy on Wednesday and all seems to be good.  Yes, things are really tight (surprise!) so I have to keep on top of that.  It may require another appointment but everything seems to be fine.   Ironically, it's coming up on the one year anniversary of my injury so staying on top of any issues is definitely in the forefront of my mind.   I do not want to piss away any more race entries!!!  Nor do I want to miss the Morning Glory ladies camp in Lake Placid coming up on the second week of May.  I'm SO EXCITED for that.  It will be excellent prep for Tremblant and Lake Placid 70.3.  I seem to have chosen all the hilly courses for my races this year so I should work on finding my climbing legs.  That is part of my next month of training....bring on all the hills!

Speaking of training, despite my low motivation this past week, I still managed an alright week of training.  I'm chalking that up to our 3 day weekend and the nice weather we had.  This is how things rolled out...

Monday:  1850m swim + 30 minute upper body & core workout at home

Tuesday:  8.2km easy run part of it with my friend David who is running his first Boston marathon today!

Wednesday:  2500m swim.

Thursday:  18km easy spin along the trail + 30 minutes of upper body, core and balance work.

Friday:  68.5km around the GTA with G.  It was a beautiful day for a ride!

Saturday:  15km run in the pouring rain.   I thought it was going to suck but it was actually quite nice.

Sunday:  78.5km ride with Morning Glory.  This was part of the development ride so it was a very nice easy pace.  Just what my legs needed after a 15km run.   I think I will be back out with MGCC this week, the mornings are looking warmer and rain free so that means all systems go!

Totals for the week:

Swim:  4350m

Bike:  165km (getting back on track!)

Run:  23km

Total time:  10h 45 minutes

How was your week of training?  Are you tuning in to watch the Boston Marathon this morning? I will be firmly planted in front of the TV for the next couple of hours!

Happy Monday folks, make it a good one!

~ Coach PK 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

These are a few of my favourite things.....Take TWO

It's been a long while since I've done one of these posts!   5 years to be exact.  Holy moly how things have changed, especially technology (look at my iPod shuffle, ha ha ha).   I'm still out pounding the pavement but I'm not listening to music when I run anymore (CRAZY!) and I'm spending a lot more time on my bike so there's some bike gear love in here too.  As a coach, I am always on the lookout for informative articles and videos so I'm sharing one of my favourite resources so without further ado, these are a few things that I either love (hello stroopwafel) or find incredibly useful, or both!

GU Stroopwafel in Salty's Caramel.

OMG.  What is a stroopwafel you ask?  It's a European thing, specifically from the Netherlands.   Honey Stinger was the first company to do these waffles and while I do like a few of their flavours, I am VERY partial to salted caramel anything.  At $2.59 a piece, they're a little more expensive than gels but they are a great option if you want something a little more substantial to eat without having to eat a bar.   I've also found the REAL stroopwafels in the odd European deli (once at a No Frills!) and they are way cheaper and just as tasty, however I strongly suspect that they don't offer the same performance benefits as one of these....

Kinetic Revolution.

I discovered this website when I was rehabbing my knee problems a couple of years ago.  This site is FULL of free exercise resources for runners and triathletes.  James Dunne is the face of Kinetic Revolution.  He's the guy you see in all the videos.  He's a total "form nerd" and he will often analyze the running form of various pros in a step by step post, which is incredible to watch when it's broken down the way he does it.  The site also offers fixes to various running gait issues.  There is also an entire section on mobility and stretching.  I've found some great stretches on this site as well as some excellent exercises.  

My wobble board.

I just re-discovered this when we got back last week.  As of late I've found that my transverse abdominus (lower abs) aren't that functionally strong.  Meaning when I run, I don't feel they are engaging.   I think my core in general could use some waking up so I've taken to the balance board for a couple of minutes a day to work on engaging those muscles.  Not only does it work my core but it also works my legs and ankles as well as my sense of balance (which is horrible).    I figure I should start incorporating this sort of thing into my training given that I'm going be helping someone run 8km up a mountain in the dark in July.  My goal right now is to balance on it for 30 seconds unsupported.  I'm currently at 7 seconds.  Clearly I've got some work to do!

Cat 5 Cycling Gear case.

This was an afterthought purchase last year at Watts Up and it is THE BEST THING EVER for keeping all my cycling bits and pieces in ONE spot.  I used to have my arm and leg warmers in a bin with my running gloves and hats and other stuff or, in another bin somewhere else and inevitably I wouldn't be able to find them when I needed them without having to rip the house apart.  Now, I keep pretty much everything in this handy compartmentalized bag.  It even has room for bottles on either side.  AWE-SOME.

Night Runner 270 Shoe lights.

I wrote a post about these babies when they first came out.  Now that I'm back to running at dark o'thirty from time to time, these are back on my shoes.  I had forgotten how awesome they are.  What's even MORE awesome is that the folks at Night Runner have designed a new pair called the Night Runner Pro.  This is from the press release:

"Built for adventure, the Night Runner PRO is equipped with two ultra-light, rechargeable, 300 lumen LED shoe lights that easily attach to shoelaces. The patent pending, bi-lateral winged design features 270 degrees of visibility with two rear-facing red tail lights so the user is visible from all sides. The removable lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack allow for up to 10 hours per charge. Night Runner Pro will be the first in the industry to provide visual performance feedback through flash alerts by way of bluetooth/smartphone integration".

From the sounds of it, these are going to be great. The one thing that bothered me a bit on the originals was the battery life. I found that after a couple of morning runs I had to charge them again. These ones come with a removable battery pack vs. having to plug in the actual light. You can also purchase additional packs if you need longer battery life. I'm also very curious to see what this visual performance feedback is like. They've got a kickstarter campaign happening right now that gets you a pair for $55 USD vs. the $89.99 USD that they will sell for. Plus you also get a playlist from Doug and Renata, the company founders. There's an even better deal if you have a partner that's a runner or if you want to get a second pair for a friend - you can get two pairs for $105.

The original Night Runner 270

So there you have it! I promise I won't wait another 5 years before I do another one of these, ha ha.

What are some of your favourite things?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Musings: Preventative Measures

Well, here we are.  Monday again.  Our first week back home was a fairly busy one.  I still haven't finished unpacking my suitcase.  Does anyone else do that when they come back from holiday?  Every time I go to the spare bedroom, I grab another handful of clothes from my suitcase and put them away.  At this rate I should have my suitcase unpacked by the end of next week.  :)   Then maybe I can tackle all the remaining boxes that we have left to unpack.   I had completely forgotten that we still hadn't fully settled in to the house before we left for Florida.  So that is on my list of things to tackle this week.

Last week was all about finding a new routine.  I'm not getting out and riding 90km mid week anymore and although Morning Glory has started with their morning rides, I'm not ready to get up at 4:30 to ride in the cold and dark just yet.  The weather was pretty crappy last week.  That being said I did meet up with my running buddy on Tuesday and that run ended up being a very soggy one.  Wednesday was nicer so I actually went out for a ride mid-morning but that was about it.  Once the weather gets better, things will change.

During the last couple of weeks in Florida, I could feel some tightness happening in my left glut.  I made sure I stretched my gluts and hips but probably not as often as I should have.  I also took the accuball to my hips but again, probably not as often as I should have.   I would start to feel numbness when sitting for prolonged periods of time.  Sometimes I'd feel tightness and soreness in my glut when riding.   I knew I was scheduled for a massage when I got back so I figured that should help and if it didn't I'd go and see my ART guy.  I had my massage on Thursday and when I got up Friday morning my left glut was so sore and irritated.  It hurt for me to sit and standing wasn't that much better.  It was throbbing and aching so I called my ART guy for an appointment and got in for Tuesday.  I iced it and took an Aleve.  The Aleve did nothing, I would have been better off taking a Robaxacet.  The ice seemed to help.  I got up on Saturday and felt ok so G and I opted to go for a cruise down to the old 'hood.  Halfway through the ride I could feel my entire left glut aching.  And it was into the upper hamstring, right where I had torn it last year.  Of course my mind starting going down that "there goes my season" path again.  I was self diagnosing all over again.   Surprisingly after the ride I felt fine which made me feel a bit better.  I'm now hyper aware of any sort of tingling in my glut / hamstring.  As I sit and write this, I can feel soreness and a slight burning sensation in my left glut.  I'm really hoping it's just a very tight piriformis muscle.  I'll have a better idea tomorrow.  For now, I'm icing and rubbing arnica oil on it and will try to resist the urge to get on my bike today because it's supposed to be freaking GLORIOUS out.

I had originally wanted to ride with Morning Glory on Sunday but figured 100km with an irritated butt wasn't a good idea so I thought I'd swim.  Well, Mother Nature had other plans apparently.  I had cooked some salmon for dinner the night before and I think the piece I had was off.   I only had a few bites but that was enough to upset my stomach.  I woke up at 2:00 am and my stomach was churning. I got up again at 5:30 and took a Tums.  Up again at 6:30 to get ready for swimming and I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the couch and skipped swimming.  I went back upstairs to bed and watched a couple of episodes of Ray Donovan and fell asleep again.  By about 9:30 my stomach stopped churning and I thought I'd try to eat something.  I had some plain oatmeal with a little bit of maple syrup.  That was fine.  I then had some coffee.  Also fine.  My stomach still didn't feel awesome but at least I had somewhat of an appetite.  I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely better than I was.  I may have to take some probiotics to balance things out.

All that to say that this wasn't a very exciting week of training.  This is the first real kind of setback I've had so I'm being REALLY cautious.  I DO NOT want a repeat of last year.  Ironically I'm getting close to the "anniversary" of my injury so if it means I have to chill out for a couple of weeks to be safe, then that's what I'll do.  I have resumed my regular hamstring rehab routine as well.  It went by the wayside over the three weeks as did pretty much all my strength training.  But I managed to get back to the gym twice this past week.  Woohoo!

Speaking the past week, let's take a look at what went down.  Not a lot as evidenced by my lack of photos.

Monday:  2800m of fins.  I actually felt really good considering I swam 3200m the day before!

Tuesday:  10.4km soggy run followed by 45 minutes of strength work.

Wednesday:  2300m swim, then 25km ride outside!

Thursday:  30 minutes of strength work.  Today just wasn't a day that was conducive to getting anything done.  I'm not sure why.

Friday:  OFF

Saturday:  50km ride

Sunday:  OFF


Swim:  5100m
Bike:  75km
Run:  10km

Total time:  6h 59 minutes.  Definitely a big change from the previous week but I clearly needed the down time.  

How was your week of training?  Does it take you a few days to unpack a suitcase or do you just get it done? 

Here's some Monday Motivation for you......

Make it a good one!
~ Coach PK

Friday, April 7, 2017

Building Mental Toughness

What is mental toughness?  It's a hard thing to define but you always know when someone has it.  I like to think of it as the ability to suffer through adverse situations to achieve a goal. 

If you are an endurance athlete, chances are at some point during a race, things are going to hurt and you're going to question your reasons for signing up in the first place.  You're going to feel like crap or maybe your perfectly thought out race plan is falling to pieces.  Whatever the case may be, I can guarantee there will come a time when you will have to rely on more than just your body to get you across that finish line.  That is when the race becomes a mental battle.  

How you react to adverse conditions like weather or a having a mechanical issue, will also ultimately affect your race experience.   Luckily, these are things that you can (hopefully) prepare for.  I say hopefully because you can't always control the weather.   That being said, this is Ontario, chances are you're going to get rain and possibly even snow on some of your early season outdoor rides.  When I see rain in the forecast for an outdoor ride, I often think about doing it inside on the trainer.  But doing that would be the easy thing to do.  Getting out in the crappiest of weather and getting your workout done is a good thing.  Yes, it sucks when you're doing it.  I can remember many a bike ride that was done in pouring rain and wind and almost always ended in tears.  But I went out and got it done.  You can't control the weather so what happens if you get a torrential downpour on race day and you've never ridden or run in the rain?  How do you deal with that mentally?   Do you resign yourself to having a less than stellar day?  Your reaction to all of this is a choice.  You can choose to embrace it or you can choose to worry about it. 

If you want to work at building mental toughness, you need to actively expose yourself to being uncomfortable.  Get out when it's raining (but be SAFE).   Go out when the winds are howling (again, be SAFE).   Workouts like these are called "character building" for a reason!   Mental toughness (and confidence) is built by pushing beyond your perceived limits and realizing that you are capable of doing more.  Just like nailing a hard workout, gritting it out in less than favourable conditions gives you a certain sense of accomplishment.  So when faced with said conditions on race day, you are ready.  You've been there.  

How do you harness this toughness when things start to go sideways?  For me, I find I have to just focus on the task at hand, what I'm doing in that exact moment.  I don't think too far ahead because then my mind starts to wander and I lose focus.  If you're in the water, think about your stroke and your breathing, focus on that until you get to the next buoy.  On land, think about your cadence and your breathing, focus on what you can control.  If you're like me, then you're probably carrying on a conversation in your head.  This is the time to rely on your positive self talk.  Don't think about what could go wrong, or what you should have done (shoulda coulda woulda!).  If you have a phrase or mantra, keep repeating it.  The body achieves what the mind believes so keep things POSITIVE.  

Take the opportunity to practice getting uncomfortable in your training and learning how to deal with those feelings.  That's part of what training is all about.  Race day will be the sum of all of your training experiences.  Make sure you're ready for anything!  

What are your go to mental strategies?

~ Coach PK

Monday, April 3, 2017

Monday Musings: Back on Home Soil


I'm coming to you from my favourite chair in our living room.  Yup, we're back on home soil.  I'm happy but sad at the same time.  It's really nice to be back in our own house, sleeping in our own bed.    And of course, the first thing I did as soon as we got in after grocery shopping, was fill up the tub with some lavender scented epsom salts and bubble bath.  HEAVENLY.  I'd like to say the drive home was a breeze, well the second half of it was but the first half was BRUTAL.  I think March 31st is probably NOT the smartest day to leave Florida.  At one point when we were crawling along the interstate, I looked around and noticed that the occupants of pretty much every single car around us were at least 75 years old.  It was the senior citizens exodus.  Which might have explained why the traffic was so freaking brutal.   It took us over 3 hours to get through 2/3 of Georgia.  Georgia isn't that big!  Our first day drive was about 13 hours.  It should have been 10.   Traffic karma made up for it the next day.  We flew through Virginia & West Virginia.   Even with stops, we still managed to make up time.  The Border was smooth sailing as well.  Gotta love having a Nexus card!

I was fully expecting to freeze my butt off when we got back but it was actually quite nice.  The sun was shining as we drove across the border and there was a nice breeze.  It definitely feels like spring. That being said, I don't remember how to dress for these temps so getting ready for yesterday's run was challenging.  It was 14 degrees but in Florida that would have been chilly so I put on capris and a very light long sleeve shirt.  WRONG.  I was quite toasty.  Shorts would have been a better idea, even after the sun disappeared, I was still pretty warm.  Lesson learned.

Now that I'm back home and I have an idea as to what the weather is really like, I think I'm going to try to brave things and ride outside.  I honestly don't know that I can face being back in the basement.  I know that Morning Glory has been out riding during the week and this past weekend and it was only 4 degrees out!  THAT'S crazy talk.  Although there is a good chance I will be drinking that Kool-Aid this weekend.  And I'm planning on suiting up and heading out on two wheels this afternoon to test the waters.

Now that I'm back home, a lot of people have asked me "Now What?".  Well, I currently have a nicely manageable roster of athletes and planning for and monitoring them keeps me trucking along.  I still have to do my practical exam for my personal training certification so that will probably take up a lot of my time over the next few weeks.  I'm also doing some part time work for the Canadian Public Relations Society so I have just enough on my plate to keep me busy-ish, which is perfect.   There are a few other things in the works but I'll keep them under wraps for now until they get firmed up.  That's all I'm going to say about that, he he.

Anyway, let's get to the real meat of this post.  My last week of fun in the sun!  Again, it was all about the bike, however, I surprisingly had a huge week in the pool as well.  Wonders never cease.

Monday:  2286m recovery swim.  My legs were pretty sore from the clay trail run so I had nice easy swim at the NTC.

Tuesday:  2469m swim with SLAP followed by a 90.5km ride to almost the top of the Apopka Trail.  I thought I reached the top when I got to Apopka Station but realized when I stopped at a map on my way back that the trail actually went 1.6 miles FURTHER.  UGH.  Guess I'll have to wait until next year to see what's at the top of the trail!  But I love that I was able to ride 90km on TRAILS.  I wasn't on the road ONCE during this ride other than to cross the street.  Florida has definitely got this whole trail thing right!

Wednesday:  20.5km Another really easy spin on another local trail.  I had planned to do a run and go to the gym but that never happened.

I did come home to this email though, which made me chuckle.   Can I represent Canada instead???

Thursday:  2100m:  last swim with SLAP in the 50m pool and then my last ride with the Clermont Crew.  They even took me on a different route!  My goal was to ride 100km that day but I was pretty pooched by the time I got back and it was scorching hot out.  I realized shortly after I got in that I was just shy of my 200km weekly cycling goal so I went back out and did another 5.8km  Total for the day was 91km.  I didn't have it in me to ride the extra 9km, not after fighting a headwind all the way back, ha ha.

Serious #RideMatchy action happening!  This WAS NOT planned!

Friday:  I had big plans for this morning, I was going to run and go to the gym but we were out the night before and I had a splitting headache when I went to bed so I slept in until 6:45 and then had to finish packing and cleaning out the fridge.  So no workouts.

Saturday:  Another day spent in the car.

Sunday:  Back home and up early to go swim with Normac.  3200m done, followed by a 12km run.


Swim:  10,550m  the biggest week I've ever had swimming!

Bike:  201km

Run:  12.3km

Total time:  11h 50 minutes.

Now that I'm back home, my workout schedule will be changing.  I'll be back to early mornings once again.  I'm kind of looking forward to that.  It's nice to come home after a workout and know that you still have most of your day to be productive.   That should result in some more content on the blog!

Now I need to finally finish unpacking and then go get on the bike!

I'll leave you with this Monday Mantra:

~ Happy Monday!

How was your week of training?  Has spring arrived for you yet??

Coach PK