Category Archives: II-Workouts

The Triathlon Chronicles: Training Week #1- Here We Go!

Week #1 is in the books! Welcome to Triathlon training.

My first Tri ever is now squarely in my sights, and the Escape The Cape Triathlon (I’m doing the sprint distance: .4mi swim, 10mi Bike, and 3.1mi run for those new to all this) in Cape May, NJ is only 106 days away.

Ok, the way I think I’m going to break out my updates is to follow my training: have a Swimming, Brick, Biking (when I get into it more) and Run updates then throw in any related thoughts after.

It should be interesting, because while I may have some experience in the competitive endurance world, I am a total newcomer to both swimming and cycling competitively.

So here we go, the first weekly update:

 Swim: I am starting literally at the beginning, just trying to build a solid base.  I got 3 laps in the pool without feeling like I was going to die, and I will continually build from there. Yes, I know that is laughable and next to nothing, but one thing I will say is this:  dude, swimming is so much harder than running. Holy Hell, that was hard… at least for me (at the point I am at right now). I can run multiple miles on a random weeknight with no real issue, but 3 laps in the pool kick my ass. Seriously? Out and back 3 times. That’s it. I would like to have thought that I was capable of doing some more here. Oh well, just like I was telling a friend who is going through a similar introduction (should I say “rough introduction” at that…) it’s just like when we began running with the Couch to 5K program. Little steps that add up to big ones. Slow and steady, trust the process. My first thought when I got out of the pool was “damn, I can’t wait to go for a run later in the week just so I feel a little bit like an athlete again”.

 Brick: I had my first ever Brick workout this week. For those who are as new to all this as I am, a “Brick” workout is one with 2 different types of activities. Again, I am brand new to all of this, so I am starting small and building from here, but I got 5 miles on the stationary bike and then immediately ran 2 miles on the treadmill. I feel like I held a decent pace for both. I averaged 15 mph on the bike – so it took me approx. 20 min on the bike to cover the 5 miles, and then a 9:00 min/mile pace on the treadmill- so it took me approx. 18 min on the run) and let me tell you, by the end of that run, my legs were feeling a whole lot like jell-o. The entire idea behind the brick is to get used to running on tired legs, and get your legs used to working in one direction and then switching gears and working in a different way. It is NOT as easy as it may sound. I know I was not setting land speed or distance records, but I feel surprisingly content with my start, and I’ll just keep incrementally building from here until I am race-ready. (at least bike/run wise)  

 Bike: With over 18” of snow on the ground right now, I’m not engaging in cycle only, outside workouts just yet. I have big plans for this but I’m just not there logistically yet. Stay tuned for more in the future, but nothing good to share right now.

 Run:  Ahhh, finally, something familiar. My weekly “Long Run”.  I actually go for that tomorrow, but I. Can’t. Wait. I need to preface this by saying that while I am training for Escape The Cape, I also have another race on my schedule one month earlier that is greatly altering my approach to the running aspect of this plan. I (along with a team of charity runners for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program – we are “Team Running My Ass Off”) am registered to do The Broad Street Run in Philadelphia on 5/4, and that is a 10 mile race. So don’t be surprised to see my running miles rack up much more aggressively than the rest of the workouts. That being said, this week’s long run is a 4 miles. Hell yeah!  So last weeks 3.1 miles was technically the starting point, and I begin upping the run mileage by one mile each week, including this one (with a few step back and taper weeks built in, of course) Last week’s run also coincided with the blog’s own virtual 5K fundraiser The Sweet Cheeks Virtual 5K that is going on this weekend. So I was out there pushing to run a great race. Overall I’m happy with the results, 5K in 27:11.

 All in all it’s a solid start in my mind and if things build from here, I have a decent shot at doing this and not making a total ass of myself. The cycling is still  intimidating, just due to all the amount of new things I’ll have to learn and the swimming has already proven to me that it’s going to be a challenge but hell; I have proven to myself already that if you have a plan, have the motivation, and are willing to put In the work then literally nothing is off the table. This even applies to learning 2 new sports at the same time. So it’s all good. I’ll put the work in, get it done, and let the ass kicking commence. Yes, I know it’s aggressive, but I have been trying to take a page out of my buddy Lonnie’s book in terms of outlook and goal setting, and by that philosophy you have to have a bit of “head in the clouds” when setting goals.  Of course you run the risk of failing or not accomplishing 100% of it, but you also run the risk of feeling the amazement/immense pride/feeling like a complete and total badass when you walk away from something having just completed what you literally thought was impossible a short time ago. I’ve had that feeling a few times now, and let me tell you it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world. One you will never forget. One of my favorite “motivational slogan” pictures from the internet sums this up perfectly for me: 

BOTH FEET 

So since I am just starting off, I am also assembling all of the various “triathlon gear” that I will need. There a lot of pieces to the puzzle that are slowly falling onto place. I was in the place where I needed to replace my running gps watch anyway, so I got myself a Garmin 310 with quick release, which is (while not the newest or fanciest out there, still a pretty sweet) triathlon- focused watch that has the ability to record certain time aspects of the swim, and then switch on the fly to record all of your bike, and then again for all of  your run. It’s gigantic, you feel like you are running with a vcr on your wrist, but the thing is awesome; and it’s got the ability to detach from the wrist strap and attach to my bike so I can keep a check/ record my distances, speeds, etc across all my workouts. My bike (a 20- year old, hand me down road bike…I think I’m going to call it “Big Blue”) is in the shop getting tuned up so when the Polar Freaking Vortex moves away for good I will be good to go.  I also got myself a pair of Tri shorts and a tri top to train and race in. Now, frankly speaking I have lost a ton of weight since I started and I generally feel pretty damn good about the way I look anymore, but I’ll tell you what: trying on those tri shorts and top is easily one of the most humbling feelings in the world. I feel like a stuffed sausage. (and kind of naked…it’s tight and there’s not a lot of it). It just makes me really appreciate how loose, comfortable and awesome running clothes are.

 First Tri in my sights is the The Escape The Cape triathlon, in Cape May NJ. When looking for my first Tri, I knew I wanted a sprint distance to introduce myself to the sport, and quite frankly I started looking around to local races that looked fun. I had heard good things about this race and knew that  you start the Swim leg by jumping off the back of the Cape May (NJ) – Lewes (DE) ferry and swimming back to shore. How awesome is that?

Looking forward,  I’m going to be posting weekly or bi-weekly updates just like this, and I’m excited to bring you along for the ride with me. I can’t always promise fantastic results, but I will give you honesty and a sense of what this is REALLY like for a runner who has never had the opportunity (or reason) to swim or cycle competitively. So far, so good.  But I realize that this is just the first step in a long plan…so time will tell.

 Thanks again for reading. And damn it feels good to be back and actually following a real training plan again 

Till next time, 

Take it Easy
Andy

2014 Goal Check: 1 Month down & off to a good start

Now that we are little over a month into the year, this seems to be a perfect time to take a step back and look at my progress against my aggressive 2014 goals. overall, I’m happy with the progress that has been made thus far. There are some things that are not attainable in one month’s time, but like I said before: give me a list and I’ll start chipping away on it bit by bit. Speaking of which, here is “The List”:

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Cover 1,000 miles total. Not there yet, obviously. But I have a solid training plan set for the better part of the year already that will carry me up to and past that mileage mark. All there is left to do is get after it. The official training starts on Sat, so it is getting to officially be “Go Time” again.

Get into coaching/ mentoring beginning runners. Done! I am officially a member of the planning committee for DetermiNation, the athletic fundraising arm of The American Cancer Society’s Philadelphia Branch. I have been assigned a group of runners and it’s my job to reach out and help them in any way possible to enjoy the training and race experience. One week in, and it’s so far , so good.

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Record a video blog entry. Not quite there. I’ll get there but I just have not had the chance to sit down and figure out how to make it happen just yet.

Raise $10,000 for charity. Not there yet, but on my way. I know I’m already over $1,000 raised and I’m only a month into the year, so I’m off on the right foot but there is still a long way to go. I’m going to keep promoting the Sweet Cheeks Virtual 5K and see how much I can generate from that, and I have a few ideas bouncing around for other fundraisers later in the year as well.

Have the biggest DNation team for the Broad Street Run. Looks like I will have to scratch this one, as this is not going to happen. I can say this with 100% certainty because there is another team out there that is literally over 100 members strong at this point. While my 14 member team is solid and an amazing show of what a group of a motivated group of runners can do, our numbers are not going to be breaking into the triple digits any time soon.

Have my team be in the top 3 in fundraising for The Broad Street Run. Now this is still doable. The #1 slot is going to go to the 100+ member team, just based on the sheer volume of members, so that leaves me 2 more spots. We are currently sitting at #3 and the virtual is not accounted for yet (and still picking up steam as we close in on race weekend). Time will tell but I have my sights set on a top 3 finish.

Try out trail running. Since January has been the month of ice and snow I have not had a chance to run outside at all ( with a small number of exceptions) so no trail running yet. I have taken steps towards making this goal a reality, however. I am now in possession of a brand spankin’ new pair of Newton Running’s newest line of trail running shoes, the BoCo AT. They are aggressive, badass, and I can’t wait to give these bad boys the test run they deserve. Full review will be forthcoming.

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Half Marathon PR. This will not come till the fall when I have 2 Halfs on the schedule. I’m hoping that all of the cross training that my triathlons are going to require will pay dividends when it comes time to get after it at the Runners World Half with my online running group ( The Sub-30 Club) and at The Philly Half (again with DetermiNation). If I train right, a sub-2 hour half marathon is attainable. I just have to be smart and want it bad enough.

Add muscle/ continue the ITBS routine all year. I have not been as on top of this as I would have liked to be all month, but now that the real training is about to begin a whole new emphasis will be placed on it, as I believe keeping up the regular routine will be instrumental in keeping me going injury free. So just suck it up and do it. Not too much more to say about that.

10,000 push-up challenge. 10K in one year. That breaks out to an average of 28/day. I have not done anywhere remotely close to this. But I am very slowly building up my strength and am banking on the theory that as I get stronger I will make up for missed opportunities and lower early totals with some big later months. I anticipate finishing the year on target with this goal.
And last but not least:

Run at least one race while pushing Tessa in the jogging stroller. Obviously not done yet, but I have targeted the race I’d like to do it in. A local 5K that is organized by one of the area YMCAs, which also happens to be me (and my families) gym.

So all in all some good progress. I’m chipping away and while the list is aggressive, it’s doable. Feeling good and ready to begin the training. I can’t wait for the chance to offer a real deal training report next week.

If you live in the Northeast corner of the US where I do, be safe out there. We have been getting hammered with some pretty consistent rounds of snow and ice and there is no end in sight for the immediate future. Hang in there, spring has got to get here soon, right? Well, here’s hoping anyway.

Till next time, take it easy.

Andy

I Am Officially An American Cancer Society/DetermiNation Run Coach (What?!)

Pretty big news going on in my fitness world right now. Huge, actually.

Right around the new year, I was approached by the folks at the American Cancer Society’s Philadelphia branch of their athletic/ fundraising program, DetermiNation.

It not surprising that they were keeping in contact, I ran with them for Broad Street last year, have been a vocal supporter, and even spoke as the “inspirational athlete speaker” at the pre-race dinner the night before the Philadelphia Marathon last November.

What WAS surprising, however, was why they were emailing me this time though. The new head of the DetermiNation (Or “DNation”, as it’s called by all those in the know) was asking if I would be willing to join the volunteer committee for the year and serve as a run coach/ mentor for a group of the charity runners. My gut instinct was to say no, just because I’m not entirely sure that I am qualified to serve in that role. But as a few days passed, I thought about it constantly and as most things go with me. “How the hell could I do that” turned into “How can I NOT do that?” This was all cemented after talking about what would actually be entailed and what they were looking for. Since there are already some lifelong runner/ real deal coaches on staff, they needed someone to fill the role of working with the beginning runners. Someone who can relate/ speak directly to/ support/ and possibly inspire these folks who may be either brand new or still relatively inexperienced in the running world to work their way up to the Broad Street 10 mile distance, run their race strong and cross that finish line. That is precisely my wheelhouse. I’m “Mr. Beginner”, if you will. If nothing else, I can relate to every ache/ pain/ ounce of self-doubt/ nervous question that they can come across as a new runner because I was literally just in their shoes not all that long ago. I have value in this role because I’m the proof that it can really be done.

So with it being such a great fit, great opportunity, and great organization: it just didn’t make sense for me NOT to want to work with them.

So I am insanely excited and proud to say that you are officially hearing from the newest run coach/ mentor for DNation Philly. There’s a big part of me that still cannot believe this is happening. I keep saying that I am putting this all out there to help anybody else who wants to take the same path and make some changes for themselves, and this is the next logical step in that process. In addition to just writing on the blog, I’ll have the opportunity to have a real face to face relationship and effect on someone (or a group of someones…which will be even cooler).

Nothing else has changed. The Broad Street plan and Team Running My Ass Off is still in full effect. As a matter of fact, in the post where I announced that I wanted to form a team, I wrote about how one of the big benefits to running through the charity was access to a running coach/ mentor and having a structured plan to get you to the race distance. What I didn’t know at that time was that I was going to be one of those coaches/ mentors.

One thing to share about me is I’m a “list guy”. If you want something done from me, or multiple things done, I like it listed out so I can see it all at once. If it’s there in my face, then I can work away at it and start checking things off. Hence the running tally of all my upcoming races and the visual reinforcement of my weight log in the sidebar of this blog at all times.  So when I made that list of goals for 2014, I immediately got the itch to start checking things off. First and foremost- Act as a coach/ mentor to beginning runner in same way. Done and Done. What I thought was going to be the most far-fetched stretch goal is the first one to be marked as completed. One down, 10 to go. (on a side note, I have also taken steps to mark another off the list as well…I am now in possession of a brand spanking new pair of Trail Running shoes. The brand new Newton BoCo AT trail running shoes to be exact, and I will be trying them out and giving a full-blown review in the upcoming weeks. Just something to keep an eye out for)

But back to what I like to refer to as “DNation Philly”. I have not gotten my assigned runners yet as we are still getting everything organized and put together, but suffice it to say I’m very excited and anxious to meet my group of runners and hit the road!

I’ll be providing periodic updates as things progress and bring you all along for the ride as I try to continue to develop myself as a runner, help others do the same, all the while continue to prepare for the Delmo Sports Escape The Cape triathlon (My First!) coming up in just a few short months.

In an update in my own training, I had another watershed moment yesterday. The IT Band Syndrome seems to have subsided. Between a combo of rest and the yoga/hip & leg/ core strengthening routines I have been using, I have been able to slowly start working my way back into running and rebuilding my (what is a direct result of the rest and more sedentary lifestyle of the past few months) crappy cardio conditioning.

I have run a few times on the treadmill and I am happy to report no leg pain. Hell. Yes. The watershed moment for me though was my ability to hit a benchmark that I like to hold myself to that I have not been able to get to for quite some time. I hit the gym right after work yesterday and was able to run my first Sub-30 minute 5K since Late August/ Early September. I was able to run a 29:27 5K. (a consistent 9:30 pace) and even though 1) it was on a treadmill which I have always found to be easier than running on the roads, 2) it’s only one time so far, and 3) I am still a ways off from the speeds I had worked myself into before I got hurt: I still felt absolutely unstoppable after that run. It’s massively encouraging and confirmation that what I have been doing is working and I’m moving in the right direction. Don’t call it a comeback. Booyaa.

Ok, enough rambling for today. Big news on multiple fronts, and I couldn’t be more excited. I will be back next week, (maybe sooner)

Until then, have a great week and take it easy.

Andy