Friday, November 28, 2008

Limiters from the Back of Pack

I often have my own internal conversations about what easy, low hanging fruit I can pick off with regards to my endurance performance. I am writing this list for myself to read in the future. If anyone else can gain perspective off it, great!

  1. Consistency. How many times do you have 2-5 great weeks followed by the flu, work, family, or other commitments? And do those other commitments (never, sometimes, often) build into multi-(day, week, month) lapses in your workouts? Fix: get in a workout. Figure out your minimum levels. For me, a 3 mile run is still a run. Or more recently 20-30 minutes on the rollers is very doable daily.
  2. Repeatable. Yep, this is the corollary to rule #1. But if you're doing stuff that will leave you sleeping in the next day and missing your workout. You blew it. Once is OK. But if you don't write it down and learn from it you will be here again and again.
  3. Weight. I should put this much farther down the list. Not because it's not important, but it's the known factor. Everyone knows the less you have to haul, the faster you will go given the same amount of power. If you spend $5000 for a 1lb lighter bike, great. But look at that 10, 15, or 20 pounds of cushion covering your six pack and ask what it's costing you first.
  4. Genetics. I'm only listing this to mention you can't do anything about it. Cross it off your list and stop using it as an excuse you're not better. Have you fixed everything else?
  5. Diet. Never mind your weight. Do you notice how you feel after drinking tons of soda and burgers/fries vs. fruits/vegetables/lean protein?
  6. Core. How much difference does this make? After two weeks of fit-ball exercises, I perceive a fairly significant difference in my running stability. One might argue there are much faster folks who don't do these exercises, but we haven't sat down and tested their base against your base core strength.
  7. Flexibility. Much like core. One will hear "I don't stretch." Or even read articles on why stretching is bad. Touch your toes (or try).. How do you think your range of motion compares to mid-pack or faster folks?
  8. Leg turnover / cadence. While it's clear one can look at different cyclist and runners and find that there is no one cadence that works. How much time have you spent pushing your envelopes to see what works? (do you even know what you run/ride at?) If you plod around at 60 cycles per second normally, 110 is going to blow you up but quick. If you toss a few accelerations here and there, you can gradually bring up your cadence. After giving yourself a bit of a range, you can then better determine which is more efficient for you.
  9. Form. Here we're getting to level 2 stuff. Doesn't form come from core, flexibility, and practice? If you think you have all the level one stuff and you're still slow, how's your form?
  10. Focus. How many 1, 3, or 6 hour trainer rides have you done watching Lord of the Rings movies or what not? Are you anywhere near riding a bike, or just turning pedals and keeping your heart rate in a particular zone? I'm combating this on rollers where I have to at least focus enough to stay on them. Ditto with running and i-Pods. I dig the the music too. There is a time for it. Spend time focusing on form, pedal stroke, and just plain being in the moment. On race day (especially endurance ones), you will do much better by staying focused. This doesn't happen by trying it for the first time while racing.
  11. Don't spread it too thin. If you've spent years not improving at skiing, swimming, biking, running and underwater chess, knock it back a bit. I pared back to just cycling recently, only to add in running finally. I'm going to stay away from the pool for a while and focus on improving what I'm doing now.
  12. Sleep. It's shocking how much I perceive sleep/diet/training all hinge on each other. Is your case of the "training Mondays" because you stayed up later Friday and Saturday than the rest of the week?
  13. Work harder. Caveat, this can't be in conflict with rule #1 or #11.
  14. Water? Do you drink enough? OK, I'm out on a limb here. Yes, you need water.
The bigger point is, there are a large number of variables for general health. Many seem to effect endurance performance. Which one could really be keeping you down? Is it obvious? Grab the easiest one or five and knock them out. See what happens. My personal experience is it's hard to keep all the balls in the air at once. Then again, when I work on consistency and core, my diet likes to fall in line.

Feedback welcome.

Disclaimer, I'm not a coach and I just peel this stuff off once in a while to see if it sticks.

See you out there!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I started the morning giving myself hope for my cadence. I did rollers workout #1 again. I may do it yet one more time in the name of "one hour on rollers". Then I'll see what happens when I build into the plan.

Turkey, potatoes, several cran-* dishes and rolls. That was some good eats. Then pie. Tomorrow, I may have to crank up the iPod extra loud to drown out the blubbering on my run.

I hope everyone else had as good of Thanksgiving as I did.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pre-Turkey Day Burn

I don't really want to be a "workout blogger". Having not posted in some time, I should update from the "Life" post. I did have a fortnight totally off of workouts due to fatigue and illness. I hopped back on when I was sure I was ready. The first roller workout was pretty steady compared to starting up last month. And here I am this week...

Sunday, two hours on the single speed outside in 40 degrees. Someone remind me to put it back to fixed so I can work the cadence. I felt I could push the low end but topped out quick.

Monday, gasp! I ran. I had to crank up the nano something fierce to drowned out the sound of my pleas and wailing.

Today, I'm really happy with today's workout. Sixty minutes on rollers doing Ron Rogers interval workout #1. First time I ever attempted these on rollers. I have some feed back for how to improve getting it done next time.. but basically I'm on my way.

The current go forward plan will be: Run M/W/F. Interval program T/R. And a nice outdoor ride on the weekend. As for swimming, I have to remember to cancel my membership before I'm stuck swimming another year.

While I'm at it, IT security stuff has been buggin' me more lately.. Tip of the day, "Turn off autorun". Especially if you take your thumb drive and/or memory stick to photo kiosks.

See you out there.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Here is where the rubber hits the road.

  • I've got 3 flat tires in the basement.
  • Some kind of virus is going through the family.
  • Two birthday parties canceled today.
  • Wifi users now have to worry that not only is WEP a flimsy substitute for encryption, but WPA is on it's way to the "do not use" list.
  • SP3 is out, when to install these "fixes"?
  • Boxes in the basement need to go to the attic.
  • Whitefish Bay schools looks caught up on the wrong side of financial leverage.
  • Update your Adobe Acrobat.
  • Winter is coming.

I hope there is some tail kicking going on at ICEMAN.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Kettles South

Man was my ride ever sweet on Sunday. I got up at the crack of re-un-adjusted CST 6AM and headed off to Kettles Southern Unit. I pounded out two smoother than ever before laps. I "cleared" many of those previously mental block, put my foot down, obstacles.

I've still got a bone to pick with the incline at mile 9.1-ish. I feel there is hope for me.

I do not yet know if I can learn to ride fast over this terrain (or any!). Every ride is and will be a learning experience.

I forgot to hit the lap button on lap 2, but it seemed like I negative split it. I was pretty beat, but much less worse for wear than my last excursion. I cleared 20 miles steady/smooth vs. bonking at 15 of 17.

See you out there!

In other news, I had to wait behind one person to vote today after work. All I have to say about the morning voters is "Suckers!" I mean, "Great job for getting out and voting!"

Monday, November 03, 2008

Help Fat Cyclist (and get new gear)

I've been waiting for the Fat Cyclist jersey to come back out ever since I realized it's availability was "pre-order only", a bit too late. Luckily, November rolled around. And Twin Six was true to it's word and re-released it.

Not only did they re-release it, but they juiced it up by sending half the cash to the Fat Cyclist family (if you're big like me). See for details (this week).

Win Susan!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Game Day Decision

I'm taking my extra hour to Kettle South. Set your clocks back. See ya!

Saturday, November 01, 2008


October is done. I took the day off to celebrate Halloween, last day of October, and our anniversary. It worked out beautifully for me.

News of flames at the Milwaukee CX scene made it all the way out to New York City.

Yesterday was beautiful. I put in some recon at Estabrook. Afterward I ran into Tosa Crosser. His used his keen senses to point out that all my "recon" was for the local cross country race, and probably not the CX course. Then he showed me around today's Kletch Park CX course. A great course, and today would be a great day for it. But I wimped on it for the prospects of a slightly flatter Estabrook.

Get in your last "nice" rides of the season, because I'll bet old man winter is a knockin' on our doors (at least in Wisconsin).

Last night, we headed out on the town for our anniversary. We caught a showing of "The Pool" at Downer Ave Theater. Director Chris Smith was there for Q&A afterward. It was a marvelous movie and overall a great experience.

Just a perfect fall day.

As for "the numbers", October is the most consistent I've been in some time. The LFM marathon was head clearing. It made me remember what I want. I took 4 days off post marathon, then it was cycling every day but two for the rest of the month. Rollers have me sturdy if not strong. It's a base/steady feel. I will be out gunned yet again at CX tomorrow. But it's fun to go "all threshold" for 4-7 minutes of a 30 minute race !

See you out there!!