Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dark Tunnel

If there's light at the end of that tunnel, I still can't see it. For those of you who are in shape right now, and getting tired or burned out of all the running, swimming and biking and are thinking of just taking a little time off...


Going from "Iron-fit" to "not at all fit" takes about a millisecond, just in case you were wondering. The real depressing part is that me, being the anal-retentive record keeper that I am, happened upon Buckeye Outdoors where I had kept all of my pre-Ironman CdA08 training logs... and even though those records are over 2 years old now, lucky me - they are all still in there!

It's not bad having a point of reference, really. I can look back and see what I did, and the results that I got from all that effort. I can use that to gauge my next buildup to IMAZ11, and although I'm 2 years older, I can see what I need to do to reasonably hit my goal for that race.

It's just the darn evidence is there! I used to be fit! Now look at me; fat, slow, and did I mention slow? Muscle memory my ass! That's a myth. Probably started by perpetually skinny people who never would have dreamed of taking 2 years off.

My first Tri of the season, of my return to fitness, is in less than 2 weeks. A nice Olympic up in Clermont Fl, called the Florida Challenge. In the past this was typically only a Half Iron distance race, but I guess to up the attendance, they included an Oly this year. Good for me! Of course I can only look forward to racing and finishing - this is a "one foot in front of the other" day, make no mistake. It's gonna be awesome to be out racing again, though, you know?

The last time I was out here was in '08, right before IMCdA. Didn't PR then, my best Oly coming in '07 at St Anthony's. 32:08 on the swim - a 1:57 per 100 yard effort. Since swimming again, I've been at 2:10 or so per 100 yard, so I'm hoping I can push out about a 36 min swim.

My SA bike PR was 20.9mph average, and in Clermont, I averaged 19mph in the hills. I've got my base rides up in the 18.5mph range, so with the hills, pushing it, lets shoot for 18mph, putting me at 1:23.

Oh, the run. The run will be ugly for sure! My PR is 1:00:51 for a 9:51 pace. Of course, that was at 245lbs, and I'll be running at least at 275 on race day. I'm gonna be very real, here, folks - averaging 11:00 per mile after the swim and bike will be all out. 1:07 or so is the probable outcome, with an extra what, 7 min in transitions? Total time for my first Oly of 2010 - 3:14

The really cool thing is that I've got two more Oly's for '10; Longleaf and Key West - with plenty of time to improve and progress. That's actually gonna be neat to see!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I'm not talking about "Atkins" or "Paleo" or any one of a hundred specialized diets - I'm talking about eating better. Having a better diet. This time around (I'm talking about specific Ironman training) I want to be leaner and lighter come race day, and I know I'm not going to get there simply by training hard. I've got to start eating better.

I was reading Slowtwitch (I know, right?) and was intrigued by a pro athlete talking about eating gluten free. Additionally he was championing probiotics in the form of specialized yogurts and supplements. Now I'm not one to just jump on a particular diet, so I'm researching this stuff.

Gluten Free is a diet generally brought on by folks who are allergic to gluten. Gluten is, essentially, paste - food glue - made by bleaching wheat, and is also made by barley and rye (nooooo, not barley!). Generally, folks diagnosed with Celiac disease go Gluten free. Since Celiac Desease is reported to effect only 1% of the population, even if 75% are undiagnosed, chances are I'm ok. So why go gluten free?

Well, Gluten foods are processed foods, plain and simple. Now I'm getting back to the Paleo diet principles; no processed foods. I'm sure more research needs to be done, but in the one article I read (yea, lazy, just one...) the test group used (200) had 25% of them showed adverse effects of gluten proteins in the intestines. Some studies have shown that 100% of test groups show anti-body response to gluten proteins in the digestive track - meaning what? Wheat Gluten probably causes damage at some level to our digestive track. Means what to me - I'll digest more nutrients and cause less damage by eating non-processed foods (wheat). Sounds kinda like a no brainer. A quick Google search of "positive effects of Gluten" found only article after article of the reasons to eliminate it from the diet. So I'll work on that, for sure!

I was gonna list out some foods that had Gluten, ones to avoid... but at this website, I see that a simple list is way too long! Very dissapointed to see that beer is on list. Fortunately, there are some Gluten Free beers - made from grains like sorghum, millet, rice or buckwheat - all "safe" grains. I don't know on this one - the whole point is to move from processed foods - and I'm not (at least I don't know it yet) Celiac diagnosed, so I guess I could drink a "normal" beer, right?

The other point to this new diet for me is the probiotics piece. Holy moly! A quick wiki search of probiotics shows me that the different types of these buggers is staggering! Looks like there are many benefits to having them in you, and unless I'm dying, no real detriment. The benefits, of course are specific to individual "brands" (strains) of microorganism, so what's a unhealthy eater like me to do? I've only seen ONE non-paid-for recommendation of a "general pro-biotic" supplement - Floragen 3 - so now really, I don't know. I get that the supplimet needs to be coated to make it to the intestines, past the stomach. I also get that probiotics are pretty specific in form and benefit. I just want it to be simple. I don't think, based on this reasoning, that yogurts or other non-coated supplements have much of a chance of making it to where it will do much good. But I could be wrong, no, I'm probably wrong!

So my next project will be to start looking at what I eat and getting rid of the processed foods. That's relatively easy to identify, not very easy to execute. This probiotic piece is gonna take some more looking into. Any of you have any ideas, recommendations, experiences? Thanks!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Garmin Giveaway!

Hope this is for real - Garmin 310XT giveaway contest at this blog - go and check it out!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fitness Measure

I don't like to re-invent the wheel. There's so much research out there, and while fitness studies can often contradict and the terminology can often change or warp, some things seem to stay pretty constant.

One constant seems to be the concept of "Base Training". Now I'm not a coach, and I don't play one on TV or on podcasts, but to me, Base Training is the active pursuit of increased aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness / aerobic training is when you MOVE in such a way as not to push your heart rate and corresponding metabolic engines into oxygen depletion. I'm guessing (since I've probably read it and forgotten) that the point in which your movement becomes anaerobic corresponds not only to the build up of lactic acids but also to the thresholds of metabolizing glycogen (carbs) in the majority rather than fat.

You can get this measured for yourself at a place that actually measures your blood lactic acid levels and a few other things to come up with your own, personal hear rate zones, or you can use any one of a dozen or so formulas to derive not-as-accurate, but useful HR zones.

Why is this important? Well, popular research puts your glycogen stores at about 2 hrs (at anaerobic efforts) for well trained athletes, right? When the carbs run out, we bonk, plain and simple. We fight to replenish these stores on long efforts, and that fight is hit and miss, mostly miss, for many of us. We get a few gels in us, some Gatorade or what-not, cookies or bananas - and what happens? We get sick or our stomach shuts down and we push that 2 hrs to 3 or 4, maybe if we are lucky; so unless you're an animal and can finish a half Ironman under 4 hrs, or insanely good with your nutrition plan - flawless might be a better word - we need to condition our fat-burning anaerobic metabolism and fitness.

So what's the problem? WE ARE! We got these huge egos that make us want to ride or run or swim as hard as we can all the time and push, push push! How friggin' boring is it to ride in your aerobic zones for hours and hours? How sucky is it to stop and walk when the HR alarm goes off? Who really swims "within themselves"? The first time those riders zoom by on their fancy-schmancy bikes and you know they ain't really moving that fast, but you also know they are thinking about what a loser slow fat ass you are! Can't we just wear a sign that says, "BASE TRAINING TODAY"?

The payoff is huge, but the path is long. Big guys like me might have even more at stake with quality BASE workouts. Staying in the lower Heart Rate "fat-burning" zone (and yes, I know that in any HR zone, the body still metabolizes carbs for energy, but the thought is that the majority of energy comes from fat up to a certain threshold...) drops the pounds even faster. Keeping the workouts at lower intensities also, theoretically, lowers the chance of injury. Because I want to concentrate on my running in the months to come, but also know that at 280lbs, my running workouts are a roll of the dice as to which body part will fall apart first, I really need to concentrate on weight loss!

So, what we measure we can manage and what we manage we can improve, right? I like to look at my base training as a measure of heart beats per miles per hour. If you train with a power meter, you can get even more accurate (beats per watt) and it won't matter what terrain you train on or the wind conditions... but I've only got a HR monitor and a flat course to base train on. I stay in a base HR zone, these days for an hour, later it will be longer, and I then divide my average heart rate by my average speed - that give me my heart beats per mile an hour.

Six weeks ago, when I started training again, my base HB/MPH was 8.76 - today it was down to 8.16 - nice - I can see the fitness gain. I'll feel more like the "old" Bigun when I get that down to more like 7.6, and can do that for a 2hr ride instead of just one. But I'll shoot for one hr first. I don't want you to get the wrong impression - speed work is important even in this Base Phase! I get my speed work in after the hour of strict base work with a few Fartliks or intervals, but I know my priority right now is getting my metabolism better and more efficient at burning fat!

Lost 8 lbs in 4 weeks as well. 2 lbs a week - right according to plan! Oh, yea!