Friday, July 25, 2008

Serious Geek Stuff

Some of my blog entries are designed more to entertain rather than make a point and if you prefer those – you probably won’t like this :)

This is the 3rd entry in what is probably starting to resemble a bad mini “series” which started with monkeys, talked about suffering and has ended up here…HBO probably is not going to pick this one up :)

Two topics left…this one:

The use of interval training for improved Teleoanticipation.

For anyone who trains with me or VMS – you have probably tried one of the workouts “Hard in the Hills”. It is a series of treadmill intervals sessions that build on each other and culminate in a 27 minute straight set that after warm up (10 minutes at 1%) is 3 minutes at 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 6% and then back down 5%, 4%, 3%, 2% - cool down.

This workout is an original but it is inspired by an interval set from my 1st coach Ted Koutouziis. The reason it is a last workout in the series is that you keep doing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd until you get through those and then you do this one. Of course there are muscular improvements and stride adaptions that come from running at higher grades but I think the real benefit from this training is that it is designed to “increase your toughness factor” and reset the bar of “what you KNOW you are capable of doing.”

It is not a fast workout; you actually pick a “slower” speed than you would normally run (say an endurance pace) and then you don’t change your speed at all throughout the workout. Don’t be fooled, it is still VERY hard. The 3 minute intervals are short enough to let you focus on the block. By the time you get to 4% you should be really feeling it. After a 5% and 6%, the descending part is what I like the most…it is amazing how much easier it feels to run at 5% or 4% after you have been running at 6%. You actually look forward to the 4% instead of dreading it.

The 1st time I did this it was an 8 or 9 out of 10 PE but then it gets easier – almost every time. I am sure I triggered some adaptive physiological response or technique compensation for the intervals but more over, I knew that it is doable and that I “can” do it.

You should not try this workout until you have done the 1st 3 building blocks (see notes at the bottom for first 3 workout descriptions). Also, this is NOT an everyday workout but instead it is a “break through” workout - this means rest before and after.

The HR chart shows what it looks like for me for one of the build up workouts…


Anyway - I wanted to come up with the same type of thing for the bike on the trainer.

Aptly named “Bring me the Bucket I, II, III” actually they are named:

Trainer Painer I-IV…

The idea came from Scott Patton and a spin class he taught at Brooks. I really liked his class as he was always doing something different that I never tried before. This one was a moderately hard interval set with standing recovery instead of seated recovery. Then the next set was the same interval (lower PE) but without recovery but instead standing increased intensity. (see notes at the bottom for actual workout description)

Applying this to a cycling trainer and using a power meter makes this workout REALLY accurate.

I tried this workout 3 times in a row over the course of 10 days.

I popped / bonked / cracked / cried Mommy – whatever term you want to use on the 1st shot at it.

The 2nd time I reset my goal to just not quitting before I reached where I had on the 1st attempt.

On my 3rd try – I made it through the 3 sets.


Point is – I didn’t expect to make it the 1st time and that probably allowed me to quit. The 3rd time – I expected to finish and I did. I had reset the PE of what was next – I recalibrated the toughness of the workout.

We use very similar intervals with the shaved legged tough guys and they are called HIT’s – High Intensity Training developed by Michael J. Ross, M.D.

No one, not even Hurtus completed the 3 sets of intervals on the 1st try. For most of the guys, it takes two weeks to get through 2 of the 3 sets and if you make it through all 3 sets – MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!

What do these do…the intervals are various length and work different systems. This is the training adaption which is real.

More importantly, in my opinion – they teach the mind what is possible.

These are measurable, repeatable and you can’t fake it.

Either the numbers are good and the intervals completed at the right wattage and duration or they are not.

I have had a lot of conversations when people who pimp other sports and they say they had a good “game”…maybe they had 2 HR’s or 3 great catches or a stolen base – maybe it was 3 interceptions or 40 points in the last quarter and I agree that all of those are noteworthy.

But in terms of measureable, definable exacting performance – in my opinion you need duration, a distance and an intensity to create a standard by which to compare.

For cycling TT’s or Tri’s all courses are different and conditions change but the thing I like about “our” sport is that it is measurable – year to year, race to race – am I getting better or worse – the clock lets me know.

The closer we get in training to increasing our level that we “know” we can tolerate – the higher the mind allows us to calibrate the race pace, race duration and tolerance for discomfort (err – bring me the bucket) we can endure.

AND…the better chance we will perform to that standard.

Enough opinion and boring info - next time I will go back to making fun of Hercules philosophy that squats can cure everything and the Sinker’s fascination with lack of floatation :)




Treadmill workouts:

Same for all –

Purpose: This is a treadmill workout designed to work on your leg strength and toughness factor.

Have fluids available and gels if needed.

Heart rate should not go above zone 4.

Warm-up well. 10 minutes zone 1,2 at 1% elevation at your marathon or long run goal pace.

Hard in the Hills #1:

Then do 5 minutes at your zone 3 pace with a grade of 2%, the recover at 1% grade at the same pace.
Then 5 minutes at 3% then 5 minutes at 1%.
Then 5 minutes at 4% then 5 minutes at 1%.

Your HR may build to the Zone 4 level during the last hill interval - if you hold the same running pace.

Cool down at 1% grade.

Hard in the Hills #2

After warm up do a set of 5 x 5 minutes with 5 minute recovery. Each 5 minutes increase elevation by 1% starting at 2% -

Example - go 2% for 5 minutes then recover at 1% for 5 minutes then 3% for 5 minutes etc..

Hold the same pace throughout the work - If the intensity is to high - back off the pace but leave the % incline.

Cool down.

Hard in the Hills #3:

After warm up do a set of 5 x 5 minutes with 5 minute recovery. Each minute of the set increase elevation by 1% starting at 2% -

Example - go 2% for 1 minute then 3% for 1 minute, 4% for 1 minute, 5% for 1 minute, 6% for 1 minute then recover for 5 minute at 1% - repeat after recovery.

Hold the same pace throughout the work - If the intensity is too high - back off the pace but leave the % incline.

Cool down.

Hard in the Hills #4:

After warmup - set the pace at marathon pace or long run pace.

Then do a pyramid set of 3 minutes each for from 2%,3%, 4%, 5%, 6% and back down trying to hold each % for 3 minutes each.

This a 27 minute set and there is no planned recovery in the set.

If the intensity is too high - back off the pace but leave the % incline.

Cool down.

Cycling Workout

Trainer Painer III

Goal: Break up the boredom of a trainer ride
Heart Rate: up to zone 4
Power: 90% FT and 100% FT for "on" intervals, soft pedal for "off"
Volume: 1-1.5 hours
Warm up done as:
10 minutes increasing from PE of 1 to PE of 9 each minute...
(if you are doing this on the trainer or exercise bike - increase resistance of switch gears to add effort - keep cadence constant)

Then 2 minutes easy spin
Then 6 x 30/30 with the 30 on being at a PE of 8-9 and the recovery as a PE of 3-4
(for the trainer use a big ring/15 for the on's and small ring and 15 for the off's)

Then 2 minutes easy spin

Main set done 3 times with different "recovery"

Use a PE of 6,7,8,9 for each (17,16,15 or 14 for rear on trainer or a constant power 90% FT)

4 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling
3 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling
2 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling
1 minutes on and 1 minute off done as easy pedaling

Take two minutes easy spinning.

Repeat the above with the ON intervals done standing at a low cadence (PE7 or 90%FT) and the 1 minute off done at the ”on” intensity level (PE9 or 100% FT) so it is NOT a recover but instead a seated TT effort at a hard level - this is VERY hard then go directly to the next standing interval.

Take two minutes easy spinning.

Repeat the 1st set with the ON intervals done SEATED or STANDING at a normal cadence and the 1 minute off done easy.

Warm down.

Before > Preride meal, 500ml carbohydrate electrolyte beverage
During > 600-1200ml carbohydrate electrolyte beverage as needed
After > 3:1 ratio carbohydrate to protein IMMEDIATELY after and again at 1 hour after ride

Monday, July 21, 2008

Clearwater Bound!!!

Paul Cantin – VMS Client #1 scores…



If I were betting and not knowing the athlete, I would have said there is no way that you could race 2 Half IM’s in 7 days and have them both be GREAT performances. Maybe if they were both flat or “easy” courses but to back up Rhode Island 70.3 with a Vineman 70.3 in 7 days is a strong week!!!

Good news is…I know the athlete and I don’t bet against him!!!

Paul swam a PR 37:51, Biked a 2:50 (?) and ran a BLAZING 1:32 for a 5:07.

The best part – VMS rules are in effect – we own the chute!!!

Paul was chasing a guy who was in his AG and went by him in sight of the finish and the guy could not answer…Paul beat him by 9.7 seconds to take the last Clearwater slot – KIA KAHA!!!


Scoreboard – OC – scoreboard VMS – HTFU award winner!!!

The results from the local Jax Tri Series are not posted yet but props to JC, Vann and Lyndon for dominating the dojo…great job guys.

Coming up next week – xTerra Hanna Park…I smell patchouli or is that new bike :)


“Well Peter, it looks like you have missing a lot of work lately?”

“Actually, Bob, I wouldn’t say I have been….missing it.”

Last week was a recovery week and man did I need it.

I am finally getting caught up on things I need to do and things that I want to do (this blog) and even mixed in a trip last week to the best city on the west coast of the US…err…almost US.

Vancouver is INCREDIBLE!!!

The entire scene is just amazing – mountains, water, running trails that are within 1K of downtown where you would assume you are 100K from civilization…great food and it is light for like 18 hours.


I ran and then walked along the path at Stanley Park and can up to English Bay and there was a crowd of maybe 1000 people all sitting on the beach at 9:00pm.


I assumed it was concert or something – nope – just a nice night with good weather and everyone was outside. OH – and for the tri – geeks…they have a 137M pool…yes…next time I am hitting that. 12 laps gets you a mile.


So – why was looking forward to this week so much…I needed it…physically…mentally.

The older I get and the more distance and intensity I try to endure, the more my body tries to remind me that I am not 12 anymore.

Half floating in a 1’ deep tide pool at the end of my street last Sunday, I made an awesome sand castle with Coen we called Butt Island (picture a big pile of sand – really big and a giant butt print at the top). I am not sure if it was the run (18.5 miles) or a cumulative effect of a BIG week but I was really happy to enjoy the semi weightless play ground. We really did a floating attack on Butt Island and Isla Bone as we “swam” around in the tide pools…he loved it – I just glad it I was not weight bearing – I could have stayed there all day.

I spent the day recovering (yes I was actually wearing my Recover Gear shorts under by surf shorts) and playing…allowing my legs to heal. I was also getting myself back to sense of balance that IM training can really effect.

Over the last few years I have realized that my body needs a break to allow itself to heal but more than anything – my mind wants a break to tell me that I am done – at least for now.

Teloanticipation is a term I read that I think explains a lot of what I am talking about.

(This is not my concept – this is a just my 2 cents, 3 lira, 1 Euro on what I think of it)

The concept is simple…when we begin an activity we have a built in pacing system that allows us to meter our effort so that we will finish and stay alive.

No, really, in breathing.

This system is constantly assessing the speed, temperature, nutrition, electrolytes, hydration, distance traveled, distance remaining and metering out the pacing as only it can forcing the body to stay within itself.

One of best examples for me is the one used in Mark Fitzgerald’s book – Brain Training for Runners. The 4 minute mile was thought to be a physical impossibility and then it was cracked. Shortly after…a number of runners cracked it…what was different…they now knew it was possible so their brain allowed them to do it.

A classic story from my Army days was a training run for the US Army Rangers. They would do a 6 mile run at a fast pace every morning all week. The run would start and stop at the barracks. The students were only allowed to drop out of maybe 1 run or they were kicked out.

At the end of the week, the instructors would start the run as usual and when they went by the barracks, they would say…”one more loop” and keep the formation running. The attrition was supposed to be incredible…people would drop like flies...they would only run the formation for maybe ½ mile past the barracks but those who dropped would – they were dropped.


Just for the record – I was NOT a Ranger – I was a pilot and we had a similar “hazing” practice but it had to do with Tequilla shots and lap dances…but I always wished I was a Ranger :)

Other examples have been played out in images around the globe as the most famous of finish line scenes…

It always amazes me to see someone cross the line with great speed and then completely collapse…the equation was solved…perfectly.

A few months ago, Curtis and the shaved leg tough guys went up to Georgia looking for a sole to steal…he was in a bind…cause he was way behind…and was looking to make a deal…

Wait…that’s not it…

They were up in Georgia for Speed Week and that is one of the toughest bike races in the States. The guys they were racing are good – not like – I have a day job and I am a good cyclist…but instead…this is what they do for a living…this is how I pay my bills good…


Anyway – the Lindner guys raced hard and by the end of the week – they were finishing with the field and even higher. The pace didn’t slow over the week…the competition didn’t get any weaker…the guys just developed a new threshold for pain tolerance which allowed them to push through and stay on the group.

To quote Curtis – “I thought I knew how it felt to suffer and hurt – I got a WHOLE new level”

Sure, cycling is about power and weight and equipment…(Buy a Trek or Cervelo – this subliminal message brought to you by the fine folks at American Bicycle Company – 904-246-4433) but more often it is about the guy who is willing to turn himself inside out that wins the race.

Listen to Phil Liggett – “He's wearing the mask of pain”

It is about suffering.


Someone once said that, in cycling, ever ounce of your body is crying out for you to stop.

Every nerve and muscle is begging you to quit.

It is the mind of a champion that silences those calls and presses on to victory.


Is it mind over matter?

Maybe…does any of this matter...maybe...maybe not...

A recent theory in racing and training is that there is a “central” authority which controls all of the performance of the body – the brain. It’s goal is to keep the body alive. Therefore, it produces or triggers physiological adaptations to limit our performance and keep us alive.

On the other hand, that same “central” authority has the ability to enhance our performance. There was a great story a few weeks ago about a guy who bench pressed a slab off of his body that weighed 1 ton. It is theorized that in a single instant, the brain, sensing that it was about to die, fired all of his muscles at once at full force enabling him to live. The result – he bench pressed close to a ton and lived.

No Hercules – I will not spot you try to bench the slab…


Back to reality -

Our Central authority guides us in a micro sense and also on a macro sense...

Ironman training for most of us is a 3 or 4 month adaption that over the course of the training increases the bodies physical capacity to tolerate training and builds the mental capacity to press through.

Macro phase (ok - mini-macro), during this training we focus on the 3 week or 2 week building blocks knowing that at the end of that is a week that we can rest.

In a micro sense with individual workouts we learn by overreaching a little in pace or power or duration and showing the “boss” we are still breathing that it is possible.

I have always said I love to train with people that are faster than me – as the harder they press, the more we find the edge. (Yes Tony – I know – you told me this a year ago – I is slow :)

The results of all this…

We recalibrate the thresholds, our expectations, our tolerance for pain.

We achieve higher, better, faster results and with mental recovery…the balance to do it again.

I like this theory…it may be debunked like Steak and raw eggs of the 60’s…but for me…right now…it makes sense.

So – a recovery week behind me, 3 hard weeks to go…I can again look at the 21 hours ahead of me this week and think…”did you take my stapler?” :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aloha Momma Wallis!!!

It is official – Momma Wallis is GOING TO KONA (again :))!!!

This weekend was a hard work payday for the crew.

Let’s start with the short and end with the long…



Sween took the overall series win and JC took the women’s series – incredible job guys. To back it up JC showed Hercules and I who is boss by running 16 miles with us the next morning all the while informing us – “We were not running with her – SHE was running with us.”

Great race to James, JC, Sean, Steven, Michael, Juan, David, Joy, Travis, Jim, Freddie, Lovey (welcome back), Kim and Curtis. Speaking of great - Vegas (err me) lost money BIG TIME on the Curtis under/over for the bike split…I set it at :30 seconds under the field…he smacked it by close to 2 minutes and an average speed of 28.6 without a disk…incredible effort.

Ironman Rhode Island 70.3


...was held on Sunday with 4 of the VMS crew racing. Paul Cantin, Billy Hart, Vann Simmons and Steve Pettit all had great races. The goal was to cherry pick some Clearwater slots as this is a new venue and we all thought,

“Who is going to travel to Rhode Island?”

The answer, lad-e…dad-e…ever-e-body…

Man – it was a who’s who of fast guys and even with some incredible performances on the day – the field was just too strong for the only 45 slots given out.

I am always VERY impressed by people who race to their limits and there is NO DOUBT that these guys did exactly that.

I talked to Paul and Billy separately yesterday and they both said the exact same thing…”I could not have gone any harder”.

Billy smacked the run with a 1:38 and change off of a 2:35 bike and 30:31 swim…REALLY solid day to finish 4:48:51 and16th in AG.

Paul had a close to PR swim, solid bike and closing in run which got him in at 5:06:59 and 18th in AG.

Vann – solid all around for a 5:08 (35th AG) and Steve was leading the field, 1st in the AG through the 1st half of the run then toughed it out to 4:51 and 7th in his AG.

By all accounts the course is fantastic and well worth traveling there for.

Ironman Austria


...was also on Sunday and I got up at 5am and checked to see how Susan and Saswata were doing. It was 11am local for them and they were well into the bike. Saswata was moving along at well until I saw a 10 minute T2 and though – oh crap – we have a problem. After talking to him later that day – I found out that they stayed wet the entire day from the swim through the run and the 10 minute T2 was because he could not put on his shoes. His hands and feet were just not working. He toughed it out and brought it home with a SOLID 4:03 marathon to finish in 11:43 which is over a 1 HOUR PR from last year. AWESOME JOB!!!

John and Mom finish

Like I said in the beginning – Momma Wallis is GOING TO KONA. I watched her splits on the day and she was leading the swim and the bike and into T2. She was passed on the run but held on for 2nd place finishing in 13:10. I figured there was only one slot and she was close…until I got an email from Walter Arnold who said the woman in 1st already had her Kona ticket and that meant Susan would get it.

Susan is an incredible athlete and inspiration to all of us. Over the years, we have called her Lady Lance as she rode 100+ mile training rides with the “guys”. She got hit by a car last year and worked her way back through her knee rehab to finish Florida when most of the specialists said it would not be possible. She is TOUGH – she does the work and it shows – CONGRATS Susan and ALOHA!!!

Ironman season is approaching and with all the training and racing going on these days – keeping up with it is getting harder.

IM Canada 6 weeks
IM Louisville 7 weeks
IM Wisconsin 8 weeks
IM Hawaii 13 weeks – I think I need to go to the bathroom :)
IM Florida 16 weeks

Hercules and I suffered through 70 mile bike on Thursday, a 4:30 computrainer ride and a 45 run on Friday, 50 mile bike on Saturday and an 18.5 mile run on Sunday. This brought the total to close to 22 hours for the week with 250 miles on the saddle, 30+ running and 10K in the pool. Man – that explains why I am walking like Fred G Sanford – the G stands for “going” to get my Advil.

Computrainer for 4:30 minutes on Friday…are your serious…it was 6 foot and glassy.

What is wrong with me?

Tony diagnosed me and it is Severe Monkaphobia…(no Freddy – he did NOT use the scope for this :))

Stop reading here if you have ANYTHING – really anything at all better to do :)


The dance of 1000 headless monkeys…

This is probably the funniest line I have read lately.

Someone had written in to the mags asking Roch and Huddle what type training they could do to prevent an Ironman Marathon meltdown and they answered it legitimately by saying that through training, nutrition, race sims blah blah blah…


BUT they closed with something like this,

“All of this does not guarantee that you will not be doing the dance of 1000 headless monkeys for 6 hours.”

I seriously can’t say that line without laughing out load….really…it just cracks me up.

For anyone who trains for long distance races – this is it – that single line says it all.

Every mile we run, every hour we ride and every lap staring at the bottom of the never changing black line…it all to keep another monkey away…

They don’t die…you can’t kill them…you can just feed them and put them to bed for a hour, a day, a week or maybe if your lucky for a season or two…but these guys are like cockroaches and twinkies – they are always around when the lights go dim and they definitely are not good for you.

Twinkies-Banana Creme

Monkeys say you want to quit, you want to slow down, you are not going to make it, you should be surfing instead of pedaling this stupid trainer for 4 + hours…Those are the thoughts that we endure in our training to let us know that we can make it.

We can go this hard and this long…we tell that monkey who is boss…

Training and racing can take us to the corners of our mind that most people don’t ever explore. In these corners we can find strength, commitment, perseverance, joy and pain and maybe with practice even make peace with a few monkeys.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What a weekend for the geeked up sports fans…

Tour de France…Olympic Trials…70.3 Lake Stevens…fireworks….fire trucks…what more could you ask for :)

YEA…I love Versus. Their coverage is incredible – 4 times a day – too cool - but unfortunately the ending is the same every time. :) I think I have a problem…I really did watch it twice…12 steps…step one…I am a Tour GEEK :)


Swimming is really something to get excited about if you have swam before…it is really incredible to compare the times…at my FASTEST – I could not have done a 100M all out and matched the pace of the slowest 100 in the 1500M finals. Even better, if I could find 30 of the fastest local triathletes and we all did a 30 person relay against the winner – he would have still probably lapped us…that is how fast we are NOT :)


Oh yeah and in case you didn’t notice…Phelps is a freak – 15 races – 15 1st’s!!! Did you see his ankles? Stephen King (another really good reason why I am still not hanging with him) got the bed/sledgehammer scene from the underwater shot - they look like they are hinged.


BUT – My favorite swimmer…Dara Torres – 1st – HOT – 2nd FAST – 3rd my age – 4th did I say HOT – I said that one already? - Man am I 12 or what :)


By the way – what is up with Women’s track and field?


How did I miss this sport in High School, college, hell for the last 42 years?


Pole-vaulting – Jenn Stuczynski - I’m a fan!!!

8/8/08 – I can’t wait!!!

Local News

We have the intercoastal – the hill in Ponte Vedra – ok it’s a 6-8’ rise but the cyclists still attack it. Not the same in Lake Stevens, WA where it is really hilly. It is REALLY hard to prepare and race when conditions are so different from what you are used to and JC did the work and it paid off. She hit her goal of a Clearwater slot posting 3rd in AG and 102 overall including the pros – CONGRATS JC.

Next weekend we have a BIG crew in Rhode Island for the 70.3. Billy Hart, Paul Cantin (Orange County, CA, V crew member #1), Vann Simmons and Steve Petitt are all racing with Clearwater in mind. The course looks awesome and it should be a great race – spots are not cheap – you are going to have to pay to play…find that deep dark spot where you we like to go…slow burning pain is good pain – no one passes you on the run. :)


The 3rd BFAS is here for the local crew, Joy, Team Mayo et al (Steve, Michael, Tyler), Juan (group ride speedster – dude – you get a Tri bike – your going to 1-2 MPH faster), Freddie, Kellie and JC is getting back in time to take a shot at her 1st place position. Defending his overall 1st place position is the shaved leg tough guy turned tri-geek – James Sweeney – Good luck to all of you.

Sprint tri’s – last only around an hour – Ironman – not so quick…settling in for the all day crock pot cooker in Austria are Saswata and Susan…the race is on Sunday and they are ready. Bratwurst and beers after 140.6 – recap coming next week.

That should be it – if I forgot anyone – sorry – it was not intentional.

Speaking of slow burn – coming up:

IM Louisville (8 weeks), IM Wisconsin (9 weeks), Hawaii (15 weeks – I think I need to change my shorts :)) and IM Florida (18 weeks)

The last two weeks have really made me focus on getting myself organized and refocused. I’m fully stocked with all my drinks, meds, socks, shoes, watches, batteries to last me the next 4 1/2 months of training. I got it all out of the way now so I don’t have to worry about it later.

I have also started back working with Alan Couzens (my coach in Boulder – they were featured in this months Triathlete Magazine – Endurance Corner). He gave me some simple big picture advice for the next few weeks – “you want to go xx% faster – do xx% more work” We both know this has limits but we just took spring base week from 15 to 18 hours – 20% faster – hey maybe I can finish while it is light – seriously – in Florida – I never have. 18 hours this past week, 230 miles on the bike, 25 (yes I know – I need more) running and a light week in the pool – let’s just say the Phelps swam more in his events than I did all week.


All in all a pretty good week. There was a short nap in someone’s front yard south of the Gate station on Friday, I bonked bad and had to nap for a few minutes. This was after an emergency stop at Dunkin Donuts for 2 chocolate glazed. It was a good thing I had friends with me…oh wait…Hercules tried to true my rear wheel with his aero bars but other than that – good week :)

This week has 18-20 hours again and better frequency in the pool and on the run.

That’s a wrap – time for a nap…all curled up with Dara, Jenn and Lolo :)