Monday, April 5, 2010

When it rains it pours

It's been another busy week and I wanted to share. This blog, along with future blogs are hopefully going to be a bit more introspective. I will certainly discuss my training and what seems to be working vs not working. But I wanted to share some overall thoughts as well...perhaps that is more interesting to people. Who knows. Maybe it's less interesting.

So the other day I read two different blogs. I'm not as good about checking up on others as I should be. Simple forgetfullness really. Anyway, I started with Matts. (He reads this, so hi Matt). Anyway, I really enjoyed it, allow me to copy/paste a little blurb from it.

"The work of a triathlete is no different than the work of a sole-practitioner. I should know, I do both. Often times, it's done in solitude. Sometimes I stumble across others, individuals like myself who are on the same journey. Maybe our paths cross for a brief moment at a stop sign when on a bike ride, or it's at the pool when you got into the lane next to me, or maybe it's at the track when you showed up to do intervals. While our interaction may be brief it's not because we're rude or mean, it's because we're wolves. Legs fed the wolf so our time together is short by our character. It's time to move on, to keep ourselves strong, to find another meal, to live another day. In this game we got lots of work of do."

For some reason that little bit really rang true with me. I think most people understand the difference between introverts and extroverts. While I suspect most people believe extroverts are more outgoing and talkative, that isn't necessarily the case. In reality, the true difference between being an intro and an extro has more to do with your personal energy levels. Using myself as an example, in all of the little tests I've ever taken, I come out almost equal in both right v left brain tests as well as introverted v extroverted tests. But my true introversion comes through in how I recharge my battery, and that is often with quiet alone time.

One might think that I am equally adept at being a loner vs. being a very outgoing excitable person. But if I am being honest with myself, that is not necessarily true. Sure at the age of 34 I consider myself adept and fairly comfortable in large social settings. I don't get social anxeity or issues like that. I don't have a fear of public speaking like others do. In fact I am quite good at giving presentations. But that came from years of practice.
However in my day to day life, I am much more of a loner than many people realize. In fact, if you went to highschool or college with me, the change is pretty significant. In Highschool I was never the cool guy or the top athlete. I started swimming as a freshman and simply did the work. Swimming appealed to me because it was all on me. I was good at team sports, baseball, football, etc. But when I started swimming I was hooked. While there were lots of people in the pool, I was a distance swimmer. It was very easy to simply shut my brain off and swim.

I went to college and it was the same. However from a social perspective things were very different. We were much more of a team, but I was pretty shy and quiet. Especially my first two years. Coupled with my dry sarcasm I doubt people realized I was kidding around very often. To say I was socially awkward would be a bit of an understatement. I'd go party, but often times I'd just read in my room and be just as happy. I don't think people really got that. I won't even discuss my awkwardness with girls. Although I suspect some of you might find that rather amusing.
Anyway, junior year I met a couple people and a lot of my social awkwardness went away. Anyway, the point of all this is the lone-wolf mentality and Matt's blog. I found it so interesting because I've always thought of myself as a lone wolf and to hear someone else articulate the same thought was fascinating. As human nature and psychology have always fascinated me it makes me question what type of person is drawn to different endeavors.

I know people like me who are drawn to the solitude of triathlon. Much of our work is alone. I put in countless hours on the bike in my basement this winter. But I also know many people who specifically try to train with groups and can't get motivated withough a group event of some kind. I don't have any answers, just some basic thoughts. I suspect that the upper level of the triathlon community consists more of people like me. Lone wolves, rather competitive, perhaps quiet or introverted in some ways. But there are always outliers.

In any case, that is what I really love about triathlon. In fact I find myself going to great lenghts to perpetuate the lone-wolf mentality. I prefer riding on my trainer than going on group rides. Partially because I have not gone on real group rides before, I'm intimidated. But my excuse is that I get a better workout on the trainer doing intervals. I don't do group runs. Never have. I may in the future, but Im so paranoid about an injury that I don't want to be pushed out of my running zones unless I am racing. I'll swim in masters classes, but that comes natural from all the years of team swimming. I'm still new to running and biking, so the awkwardness is still there a bit.

So I am making a pact with myself. This weeked I don't have any real plans. So my goals are to first get the quarq installed on my tri-bike so I can do some riding outside with power readings. Second, I am going to set up my road bike. I am not good at fitting, so I may need help here. I want it to match my tri bike as much as possible. With that, I will do the occassional group ride. Even if it is out of my way...a typical excuse.
In life you never stay the same. You are either progressing or regressing. That is the way of things. So it's time for me to force a little change and see how it works for me. Perhaps I will see some big gains, perhaps I will crash and burn in a pile of bikes on the side of the road.

On to the details of the week.
Had a crohns attack on Sat night. Will discuss later.

Went clothes shopping on Friday. I actually fit into size 34 pants. I think I was in a 36 at birth. So that was exciting. I am currently sitting at 205. I have plans to drop to 190 by June. Now that I don't have to study for the PMP, I should be able to handle this.

I did my first outdoor ride on Thursday. It was an interesting experience. First I was very tired from Wednesdays workout. (Will discuss that in a moment.) Plus it was very very windy. In a couple cases I tried to drop the hammer to see what the winter of workouts gave me in terms of speed. But since the course is littered with stop signs and other obstacles where I can't push, it was very tough to tell. I have one section of road that I use as a time trial area. When I am hammering hard its a 5:30 section or so. If memory serves last year in my full race (dork) gear I did that section in 5:24. Thursday with no aero gear, heavy winds, and sitting up a couple times because I am not used to being aero on the road yet (plus crappy roads) I did a 5:20. So I have certainly made improvement. My problem is a lack of input. I am used to having a power reading to focus on...outside I won't have that until I get the Garmin. Which I will have to wait longer for because Garmin shipped the wrong model. Wonderful. All in all, a successful ride.

I believe that when I started this ride, I started at 500 watts or so because my legs quickly felt the effort and I was moving. I was then disappointed by how quickly I had to slow down. Part of that was certainly being tired from the previous day, but I do think if I had paced evenly I would have done and felt better.

Last week Wednesday night:
I read another team mates blog. Scott Bowe. In there he describes one of his workouts. It is a Spinnervals video that I also have. TimeTrialPalooza. It is one of my all time favorite workouts. Here is how it lays out.
1x20min - 5 min recover - 1x15 min - 5 min recover - 1x10 min - 5 min recover - 1x5 min max effort.
The 20 minute effort is supposed to be at your Functional Power (315) and then the additional sets add 5-10 watts. Historically I've started this set at 280 watts and never tried heavier. But I up my wattage fast going from 280 to 300 to 310-315 and then maxing out at 345-365 depending on the day.

I read Scott's blog and he planned to start at FTP which sounded incredibly difficult to me. In fact I doubted I would be able to complete the workout. Looking back I don't know why that was...perhaps it is because when I am told to add 5-10 watts I immediately add 10 or even 15. In this workout that would be really tough...but 5 is doable. Going from 315-320-325-max isn't that bad when I think about it. I had some kind of mental block going on.

So Wednesday I was determined to do that set as prescribed by coach Troy. 315-320-325-max(335)...and I succeeded. Great confidence booster.
Here's one thing I noticed. In the past I have really relied on the computrainers Erg mode. The trainer essentially forces the wattage on the trainer. You either do it or stop. I discovered that using this is very challenging at higher wattages as it seems to force me to a lower cadence than I prefer. I figured this out about 1/3 of the way through the 15 minute set. So I suffered through that and then switched over to normal spin mode which I use for all training. It was MUCH easier. I hit the wattage with ease and a lower HR and RPE.
My conclusion: Manual Erg mode has its place. Specifically sets that are at 90% of FTP or LOWER. It is great for lower wattage enduracne or recover trainer rides too. But with the season approaching fast, I am going to do almost all normal spin mode intervals from now until the end of the season.

Had a great Saturday training day. I'm still nursing the foot. It doesn't really hurt any more. But I am being very careful to not cause a problem. I ran 45 minutes in the AM and then stretched and iced. In the afternoon I did a hard 1:30 ride of intervals again. I was really happy with the day and felt great...until that evening.
I don't know what caused the problem, but I have some suspicions. I had a VERY big bowl of fruit after my ride. We made pizza for dinner...I ate a lot. The stress of the PMP and work catching up. All were contributors. In any case around 7pm my stomach was making some noise and causing discomfort. I went to bed early and had the heating pad. By 10pm I knew the crohns disease was flaring. I can often tell by doing an "intestinal massage". It is exaclty how it sounds...I rub the gut area to find spots of tenderness or areas that feel hard. there were several. In many cases, despite the pain, simply massaging these areas helps to let food through. I did that, took a lot of digestive enzymes to help break things up more. At about 9:30 I decided to take some prednisone. I don't care for taking drugs, and I think that is why my doctor allows me to self medicate without screaming at me. I don't take any OTC stuff unless it is absolutely necessary. I don't deviate from my scripts either. But when my guts get inflamed this way, the fastest way to get better is 20-30mg of the pred on a 5 day cycle. So I am in the middle of that right now.
Typically an attack like this would cause a 1-week training hiatus. However I think I caught this one early enought. I took off on Easter Sunday. But on Monday I ran and swam in the morning and hit the bike hard in the afternoon. 2x20 at 320 watts. The running wasn't the most comfortable as my guts were pretty tender...but all in all it wasn't horrible. The prospect of jumping into the cold swimming pool was the worst. In fact I stood on the edge of the pool for at least 10 minutes before jumping in.

Often times I wonder about the timing of these attacks. With my foot and shoulder problems the attack forced an extra day of "recovery". I had plans to run and bike that day...neither happened. Today my foot felt almost perfect. So perhaps the timing of that attack was perfect as well. Sometimes the mind and body are connected more than we know. And even if you don't know it consciously, the body knows when it is time for a break.

As for my shoulder. My PT and I discovered a tightness in my pec muscle that may have been causing much of the shoulder problem. I've been stretching that area and it seems to be helping quite a bit. I need to work on the rotator cuff strength a bit more...but all in all it seems to be progressing well. I have clearence from the Chiro and Ortho to swim hard again as I won't make it any worse. And seeing that I've noticed some pretty good improvement I'm ready to go. I've swam three times since then and have had little to no pain. In fact the tighness in my neck has gone down quite a bit. All from learning a new stretch. So that is good news. Today I did a solid 2200 yards and while the shoulder is tired and a little tight, it feels like normal muscle fatigue as opposed to a problem. Very good news.

In any case, break time is over. There are about 9 weeks until my first race. (Probably Lake Mills) and I am going to use them. My swim speed is still there, just need to build a little endurance. I can hold 1:20/100 yds for any distance without even thinking. I need to get myself down to the 1:10 range. My running and biking legs are ready to go. Time to put in some hard work and see what I can do this season.

I would like to do another resting week in 2-3 weeks. I'm not sure it's worth it yet. I don't have my garmin, so running data won't really be there. My bike training was inconsistent due to the PMP and I really want the quarq to quantify the difference between the CT and Quarq before going outdoors for testing. I won't worry about testing my swimming for another month.

Going back to the lone wolf/being quiet thoughts from earlier. Do I talk as much as I write? If so, someone needs to tell me to shut the hell up.

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