Tag Archives: training

Why I Decided to Try Ironman University

When the Ironman/WTC folks announced their new “Ironman University” coaching program there was a ton of negative comments posted all over the web and social media. The program was slated as a 14-day online program that would make you a coach, capable of training athletes to complete an Ironman event. With no prerequisites required either. So, basically anybody off the street could plop down $600(now $700), complete the course and become an Ironman-certified coach.

I have to admit, I am as cynical of WTC as many others are since they are just a corporation mainly out to make money for shareholders. Many of the negative comments were things similar to what Coach Brett Sutton had stated: “14 hours of online study does not make you a coach, and it sure as hell shouldn’t qualify you to take on athletes preparing for the biggest endurance test of their lives.” Yeah, no shit Sherlock! Obviously you are not going to become a Brett Sutton or Matt Dixon after completing 14 hours of online training. But what is really necessary to help someone reach their Ironman goals? Many people succeed with no coaching whatsoever.

I would hope that any person looking to hire a coach for an Ironman event would consider their other qualifications besides just completing the Ironman University curriculum. But, there are many peopIe out there coaching with probably less training than that. It also depends on what the athletes’ goals and their budget are. Not everyone can afford to hire Brett Sutton if all they want to do is cross the finish line in 16 hours and 59 minutes. On the other hand, I really think that WTC should have some type of requirement as to IU attendees having finished at least an Ironman or two to show they have at least have some experience and been through the rigors of completing the event.

I decided to try to take a more positive look at this course. I have been coaching myself for the past couple years after having been coached for a few years before that. My coach had passed along much his knowledge to me and I read everything I can get my hands on to build as much knowledge as I can about the sport. I have attended workshops on things like ChiRunning and functional strength training to expand on that knowledge. I would love to be able to coach other people in triathlon someday. This would be a great way to give back to the sport that has done so much for me personally. For now I just want to accumulate as much knowledge and experience as I can about the sport. Much of the knowledge I gain I put into practice myself to determine what really works and what does not.

Ironman University Curriculum Menu
Ironman University Curriculum Menu

I have also been investigating what I would need to do become a certified coach. USA Triathlon is the typical standard certification that most coaches mention in addition to their experience.  Well, in order to attend a level 1 USA Triathon coaching clinic, One requirement is that you have to have a reference from someone that you have already coached. Huh? So, basically you have to have already coached someone with NO Qualification before attending level 1? Wouldn’t it be better to provide some education before certification?  Why isn’t anyone complaining about that? So how do I learn the things I need to learn in order to coach someone so that I can get certified?

The USA Triathlon certification is also ~$550 plus it requires you to travel to a major city and pay for lodging for at couple nights. Surely an investment of over $1000. If I do consider pursing this coaching thing going forward, I would still look to complete this, but I obviously have to have some kind of education and experience in coaching first. I don’t see USAT providing any education before certification.

The Ironman course seems pretty expensive at $600, but I considered what I would pay for a coach at around $150/month for one season for 6 months…$900. You also have a curriculum put together by 5 of THE BEST coaches in the business and access to their knowledge. Even if I am only using this knowledge for myself, why wouldn’t I do this just for coaching myself?

I also frequently help guide friends who are training for Ironman or other triathlons. Having a good base knowledge of triathlon coaching in addition to my personal experience would highly benefit them as well. Some friends are just downloading random training plans off the web, so I would think my little bit of knowledge that can be customized for an individual would be better than that.

The convenience of the online medium for the Ironman course is also bonus. I can complete this course on my schedule at my pace and not have to fly somewhere to attend in person. I don’t know where the “14 day” piece comes in, since you have 90 days to complete the course work. Perhaps they are referring to the 12 modules included in the course, plus maybe a couple extra days? Not sure really.

Despite all the negativity about Ironman University on the web, I have decided to pursue this. Even if I gain some valuble knowledge for only coaching myself, it will be well worth the $600. If it also provides me with the ability to help some friends get through their first race and get me a Level 1 USAT certification down the road, than even better. What is wrong with learning, especially if you can learn from some of the best in the business. You have to start somewhere and I think that this is a good opportunity to do that.

First Impressions

The Ironman University course was opened up for use late in August and I have been using the tool for a few weeks now. It is obviously, full of Ironman propaganda, but it so far chock full of well laid out information. It also has good exercises along the way to demonstrate and further reinforce the concepts it teaches. There are also handouts for each section, with sample questions and area to make notes.

I have to say I am pretty impressed with it. Technically it works pretty well too. The only bug I ran into was when I had to exit the course in the middle of section and then tried to come back to that point later. It just showed a blank white window, so I had to start the section over again. Not a bid deal since it was probably good to reinforce that again.

Some of the areas that I am curious to see about is about teaching topics like swimming technique and nutrition. Swimming is a complex beast and I would not feel comfortable teaching someone who was not a good swimmer(like I was in 2008) to become one. This is something that should be left to someone more highly qualified for sure. I am also curious to see if they try injecting their sponsors, like Chocolate Milk, into the nutrition curriculum. I have seen enough evidence about dairy and especially milk, to know that this is NOT a food that belongs in a healthy diet. That goes double when pour a bunch of sugary chocolate syrup in it too. Stay tuned for future posts about the program as I make my way through the course.

 

 

 

Prep for Steelman 2015 Olympic

Well I kind of fell off the blogging wagon a bit here lately(again). In my defense, IMLP vs IMCdA post took a bit of time to put together and I also needed to put together my next monthly post  for the iThlete HRV blog too. I have been training fairly steadily the past 3-4 weeks for Steelman Olympic which despite being a shorter distance event still takes up some time.

Ironman Recovery

I gave myself about a week and half of full recovery before starting back into training for Steelman. I was feeling pretty good after the week of vacation we had after the race in Coeur d’Alene, ID. I really took it easy that week and with the ongoing high temperatures out there it was fairly easy to do so. We took a ride over to Glacier National Park for a couple days, which was a bit cooler, and took in the beautiful views of the park.

Once we were back home, I used the first half of the next week to catch up on some home chores like cutting the grass. This provided a bit more active recovery too. By midway through the week I was eager to get back to it again. My bike arrived back to Keswick Cycle from TriBike Transport by the weekend, so I ran down there to pick that up on a Friday morning.

Yuki

One personal item that has been a bit of a stressor was the recent decline in health of my dog, Yuki. Yuki has been battling Lymphoma for the past 5-6 months. He had been doing quite well up until about two weeks ago. When we returned from our Idaho trip we noticed that his Lymph nodes had gotten larger again. He was still in good spirits for a few weeks after but then we started to notice him get a bit more lethargic. He would pep up though when we went for walks or when his nemisis, “Black Kitty” would stroll leisurely by the front of the house. Actually just saying the words “Black Kitty” would send him into a rage of barking.

Yuki with Tails a waggin'
Yuki with Tails a waggin’

A couple weeks ago Yuki started to turn his nose up at his food. We were cooking him organic, grass fed ground beef or turkey, with some rice and vegetables and he was scarfing it up every meal until the other week. Now he didn’t want anything to do with it. He would take a treat here and there, but that was about it. We talked to the vet they recommended some smelly fish, or canned dog or cat food. We got some of that Little Cesar stuff and the first one he gobbled down and my wife and I were high-fiving each other. That was short-lived because he just barfed it up about 15 minutes later. Ugh!

It wound up being almost a week of him not eating. He was still drinking water though and still walking. Last weekend he really started getting slow and was throwing up foamy stuff a lot. Then he was barely drinking any water. Last Sunday we took him for a walk but he kept slowing down. You could tell he was stuggling to keep up. Monday morning was not good. He had puked a couple more times and was just laying around in strange places. I had to carry him outside to pee. My wife ended up coming home early and we made the dreaded decision that I had not been looking forward too.

Yuki went peacefully in our arms on Monday morning(August 3rd, 2915) at around 11AM. Although it was a very well done process by our vet and as comforting as something like that can be. It still hit me & my wife pretty hard. Yuki was my best buddy and I will miss him. He made me laugh everyday with his antics. He was a very independent dog and his personality was surely unique, but despite that he was still my sidekick in his own way. The house is so quiet now and coming home is so anti-climactic without him around. It will surely take me some time to get over the loss of him.

Training

Despite the issues with Yuki, I still managed to continue training. I did miss a few workouts due to dealing with those issues or just not feeling up to it, but I still maintained some training consistency. The main theme though in the training for Steelman was Intensity! The workouts were much shorter than my typical Ironman routines, but I spent a lot more time with Mr. Zone 3 and Mr. Zone 4. Even had a few wranglins with Mr. Zone 5 too. What a jerk!

Training Peaks PMC Chart for Steelman 2015 Olympic
Training Peaks PMC Chart for Steelman 2015 Olympic

It was probably a good thing though to spend some time in these zones for me to get my speeds up a bit. My biggest weakness these days are my run speed off the bike. I need to work on this more this coming off-season as well. I think this time preparing for Steelman will be a big help here too.

Track Time! Workout speed
Track Time!

Surprisingly though, the increased intensity had a very positive effect on my Heart Rate Variablility(HRV) which I had not expected. Morning HRV readings went up into the high 80’s and 90’s and stayed up there for most of the time during my training.

HRV vs <a href=
TSS-June 29 to July 30 2015(QV)” width=”625″ height=”249″ /> HRV vs TSS-June 29 to July 30 2015(QV)
Lots of Green Dots in the Sweet spot - iThlete Training Guide-2015 Jul 30
Lots of Green Dots in the Sweet spot – iThlete Training Guide-2015 Jul 30

Pre-Race Speculation

My goal for the Steelman Olympic race is to get a top-10 in my age group. Looking at the past couple years results I think I should be able to do that. I would also would like to improve upon my last result there back in 2012. Despite being 3 years older, I think I have gotten a bit faster since then. I would love to get a podium, but there are a few really fast guys in my age group that seem to show up for that race year-after-year. I am not going to get my hopes up for that.

Other Stuff

My wife and I also ordered a couple inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboards a couple weeks ago. I thought this would be a good cross training activity and something we both could enjoy together. Xterra was offering a buy one get one free offer(Use Code: BOGO10) so I decided to give it a try. I have used their wetsuits for years now and they are great and well priced too. Reviews on the SUP’s were mixed, mainly due to a lack of customer service issues, but we gave it a try anyway. So far they have been great! I love the portability of the inflatables and they work just us well as the regular ones. That is according to my wife since I have never been on one until now. We took them out for their virgin tour at Smithfield beach on the Delaware River. It was pretty fun.

SUP on the Delaware
SUP on the Delaware

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for how Steelman goes. Can’t be worse than Ironman Coeur d’Alene right?

 

Fuel Your Training with Natural Energy Alternative…Or even better, Amrita Bars

While whole foods are a great source of nutrition, but they are not always easy to carry along for a long workout or race. I think a more convenient option is to have a combination of whole foods in an easier to carry package. A great example of this would be Amrita Bars.

Ready_to_ride___fuel__training__ironman__imcda__nourishyourpassion__amritabars_April_18__2015_at_1037AM
Was fully stocked with Amrita bars for my 4.5 hour ride on Satuday.

Amrita Bars are made with non-GMO and mostly organic ingredients that are identifiable with your own eyes. There are no artificial ingredients and they are the perfect balance of nutrients you need to get your through your race.

One option would be to keep some of the whole foods options, like the ones recommended in this article, in your special needs bag as a little something different to fuel you through the second half of the bike or the run.

Anyway here are some ideas for other whole food alternatives…

Source: Fuel Your Training with Natural Energy Alternatives | TrainingPeaks

IMCdA 2015 Training Log-Week#24(June 8-14)-Taper Week 1

Ahhh the old love-hate relationship with tapering continues. While greatly anticipated, this break in training and the general feeling of malaise that comes along with it I did not. I guess you can’t have everything.

The Ironman Lawn…

I was finally able to get my lawn looking somewhat manicured with some extra time on my hands now. I had been cutting the front mostly so that it at least looked well kept from the street. The back was another story. I had cut a few sections so the dog could go do his thing, but most of it had grown so high it was going to seed. When my dog ventured into that territory I would see him occasionally jump high into the air as of the long strands brush up against his belly. Kind of entertaining.

Training-wise things were actually going pretty well. The somewhat shortened workouts had high intensity and I felt good while I was doing them. I had one of my best tempo run workouts of the season on Wednesday with a solid 7:50 pace in Zone 3.

FTP Test Gone Bad…

I had a 3 hour bike planned for Saturday, but I decided to break it up into a 1 hour FTP test on the trainer followed by a two hour easy ride on the road.  I wanted to get an accurate assessment of FTP before my race. I felt it was also a good time between resting a bit and race to do it. I was hoping for a little improvement over last year(253 watts), but what I got at the end was nothing like I could have expected.

TrainerRoad 20 minute FTP Test Result
TrainerRoad 20 minute FTP Test Result

Obviously a bug in the TrainerRoad iPad app. Despite this issue I was able to calculate my FTP to be around 248 watts based on this test. A little depressing that I lost 5 watts, but really 5 watts isn’t that big a deal really. Perhaps it will help me to chill a bit on the bike. The main reason I wanted to do the FTP test was so I could plug in accurate number on Best Bike Split and get an idea of my race plan for the bike leg. It looks like it will be just a smidge slower than my bike leg last year at Lake Placid. You can check it out here if you are interested…

Bon Voyagey Bike…

On Sunday I had to take my bike down to Keswick Cycle in Glenside to drop it off for the TriBike Transport pickup on Tuesday. I finished up some last minute maintenance, did a final cleaning and removed the pedals. I also ordered the additional gear bag option too, so I loaded a duffle bag with my wetsuit, aero helmet, spare tubs and some tools. The TBT website said only pack aero helmet if in a hard case, so I put it in a cardboard box with some extra packaging materials too. Hopefull that should be ok. I filled out a couple forms at the shop and handed my bike over to the guy at the shop. Bon Voyagey! See you in Coeur d’Alene!

Endurance Sports, Race, Sports, Triathlon, bag, duffel, gear, multisport, tri
Gear bag packed up for TriBikeTransport. Aero helmet in box, wetsuit, tools, bike bag & tools, tubes

I stopped at a nearby Chipotle for lunch before heading to Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting for our monthly stock-up on organic, frozen fruit. WF was rather crowded, so I was happy to get out of there.

I still needed to do a 1-2 hour run when I got home. It was brutally hot & humid and I was really not into it, so I decided to just run on the treadmill. I tried to load up this FitTrip app on my iPad which shows point-of-view(POV) trail running videos coordinated to your heart rate. Well it didn’t work so well. Downloading the videos took forever and then when they finished it would pop up a message saying it failed! WTF! I eventually got one to download successfully and then it would not connect to my HRM using the ANT+ dongle. Ugh!

I finally gave up and just watched some similar videos on YouTube which worked fine. I had unfortunately wasted a bunch of time trying to get that working. I ended with only about a 7 mile easy run, but I figured that was good enough.

Geekin’ Out on Training

Training volume this week was basically chopped in half. Still managed to miss one of my 3 strength training workouts though. No sense is cramming now right?!

Training Peaks Training Calendar IMCDA Week 24
Training Peaks Training Calendar IMCDA Week 24
Training Peaks TSS-Volume IMCDA Week 24
Training Peaks TSS-Volume IMCDA Week 24

A few red marks on the old HRV training guide this week. Body is recovering a bit so this is expected. Hopefully next week things will pick up a bit.

iThlete HRV Training Guide IMCDA Week 24
iThlete HRV Training Guide IMCDA Week 24

The PMC chart shows the plan for the taper. The pink line dropping is the fatigue withering away with the form(yellow) increasing. Fitness(CTL in blue) declines a little bit, but it will be worth it.

Training Peaks PMC Chart IMCDA Week 24
Training Peaks PMC Chart IMCDA Week 24

The HRV timeline took a bit of a nose dive during this first week of taper. It make sense since I felt a little crappy. Things ended on a high note on Monday AM so it looks like recovery/taper is working. Hope that continues until race day.

iThlete HRV Timeline IMCDA Week 24
iThlete HRV Timeline IMCDA Week 24

That’s all for this week. Next week things should get easier and hopefull start feeling great again.

IMCdA 2015 Training Log-Week#22&23(May 26-June 7)-The Last Push

I am going to double up here on the last two weeks of build before my 3 week taper into Ironman Coeur d’Alene. It has been a pretty brutal 2 weeks since I really never had a full recovery week since about 5 weeks ago. I did a couple little 3 day recovery before and after the Todd Wiley Lake Placid camp, but still managed a decent training load for the weekend in between. Despite all this I have been feeling pretty good. A few of my longer workouts were in some pretty hot and humid temperatures and were obviously affected. My performances during the workouts when the weather was cooler surely made up for it.

Training Peaks Workout Calendar IMCdA Week 22-23
Training Peaks Workout Calendar IMCdA Week 22-23

Swims…I am still using the Finis Tempo Trainer and feeling pretty settled at around 68-70 spm. This is up from around 58-60 when I started using this tool early on in the season. My paces have picked up along with it and I am hoping this carries over to a few minutes gained in my 2.4 mile swim.  I did both of my LSD swims at around 1:13 for just under 4000 yards. Given that this is without a wetsuit and no flip turns I think I could manage this time in Ironman which would be a 4 minute improvement over the last two years.

Biking…I have been averaging around 145 miles/9 hours a week on the bike for both weeks.  My long rides on the weekends were just over 90 miles long running about 5:30-5:50 depending on the terrain. Most of my weeknight rides were steady state rides in zone 2-3, but I did manage to get one good hill repeat ride in on some of my favorites hills: Dogwood & Centennial!

My long ride on May 20th started out a little rough when a large flying insect fly directly into my mouth while cruising along at around 20mph. Ouch! It partially lodged itself into my mouth since it was partially open. I had to actually spit the thing out and it tasted like crap too! My lip

Fat Lip after colliding with a large flying insect
Fat Lip after colliding with a large flying insect

immediately swelled up to what felt like having a gumball in my lip. Judging for the picture I guess it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt though. I didn’t know what kind of bug it was and wasn’t sure if it stung me or that was just the impact of it on my lip that hurt. Eventually, the swelling subsided and my lip resumed to its normal size again. Why do I always get pelted with creatures when I am riding?

I followed the Dream Come True(DCT) route for the start of my long bike ride June 6. This is a nice somewhat challenging route with a little over 4000′ of climbing over 64 miles. This ride was also not without some wildlife incident as well. While cruising a downhill section of backroad that contained some overgrown shoulder a large doe popped out immediately in front of me broadside. I made some kind of grunt or yell as I came within about 10 feet of the animal and it quickly dashed out of my way. Another close call. Not too long after that I came across a lone fawn standing in the road. He scampered in down the road, heading in the same direction, for a bit before he darted up the steep bank. He was pretty young and no mother to be seen.

Fawn on the Run
Fawn on the Run

Runs…My Sunday long runs consisted of a 21 and 20 miler respectively. The 21 miler was a hot & humid one that I did 4 loops of the Ironton Rail Trail(IRT). The IRT is pretty shaded which helped defer some of the defer some of the sunlight but it was still a hot one. I ended up averaging around a 10:00/mi for the run. The next week I ran at the Lehigh Parkway and it was about 10 degrees(F) cooler and much less humidity. The Parkway is also pretty shaded but has about twice the elevation gain as the IRT. Due to the more temperate climate I was able to average a 9:30 pace over the 20 miles while maintaining a Zone 2 heart rate. More on track with what I would like to do at Ironman this year and a good note to finish on before my taper.

 

Training Peaks PMC Chart-IMCdA Week 23
Training Peaks PMC Chart-IMCdA Week 23
Training Peaks <a href=
TSS and Volume-IMCdA Week 23″ width=”625″ height=”311″ /> Training Peaks TSS and Volume-IMCdA Week 23

Heart Rate Variability(HRV)

My HRV has remained fairly steadily in the 70’s during this last two weeks. I have been flirting with the low recovery and low activation ranges most of the time, but still in the “ok to keep going area”. This is pretty much expected from where I am at this point. I should be overreaching a bit at this point, with a good 3 week taper coming up.

<a href=
iThlete HRV Timeline-IMCdA 2015 Week 23″ width=”625″ height=”292″ /> iThlete HRV Timeline-IMCdA 2015 Week 23
iThlete HRV Training Guide-IMCdA 2015 Week 23
iThlete HRV Training Guide-IMCdA 2015 Week 23

Compared to Last Year…

Comparing this years training on the Training Peaks Performance Management Chart to last year looks fairly similar. You can see that the last month or so of this year(top chart) I have incurred a bit more fatigue(pink link) with consecutive build weeks and no full recovery week in between. My Fitness(CTL in Blue) has steadily risen to a value of around 112 during my last build week, whereas last year I was up to 120 or so.

Training Peaks PMC Chart 2015 vs 2014  IMCdA Week 23
Training Peaks PMC Chart 2015 vs 2014 IMCdA Week 23

iThlete HRV Guest Blog Post

<a href=
ithlete hrv blog post” width=”578″ height=”301″ /> ithlete hrv blog post

Please check out my guest post over at the iThlete HRV Blog. Earlier in the season I had done a comparison of a few of the iOS HRV apps and the iThlete one stood well above the others I had been using. They have also made some excellent enhancements to their Pro site which has made my HRV analysis much easier. I have developed a bit of a relationship with them and they asked me to provide some blog posts on how I use HRV in my training. They are also very responsive to their athlete customers and always looking to improve.

I will be providing posts every month on their site relating to how I utilize Heart Rate Variability in my training and life, so check them out.