First Outdoor Ride of 2009  

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I really don’t mean to upset any of my mid western friends and followers especially anyone from Minnesota, or Chicago who spent the last couple of days shovelling dirty white stuff, but I had to post about the first outdoor ride of the year for me. It’s kind of a big deal.

As you can see from the snap, the snow is far from gone, but the temperature had crept up to 9 degree C which is about 48 Farenheit. The wind was brisk from the South West at 42 kmh gusting to 58, or 26 and 36 mph, and it was wet because with the temperature and the amount of snow, there was an extreme amount of runoff from the thaw, but I dug out my old hardtail, my workhorse, and headed out to do some hills and just get the feeling of cutting through fresh air and blowing snot without a tissue. As cold wet and numb as my toes were, and as windy as it was, it still beat my pain cave by a country mile.

The biggest thing though was after I returned, my 8 year old was waiting at the door waiting for me to get his bike out of the basement. How could I say no to that. Son go out riding in the fresh air, or sit in his bedroom playing Nintendo DS. I am so glad he asked me, and I didn’t have to kick him out the door.

Last thing before I go, scoot over and wish Amy good luck tomorrow. She will appreciate the encouragement.

The biggest loser biggest liar and Fitness RX  

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Loser Liar

The biggest loser biggest liar story is getting pretty well known by now. Just do a Google search, and you’ll get a ton of replies with articles and blogs reporting the story. But just in case you haven’t, the condensed version is that Dane Patterson, the latest cast-off from the reality show, was videoed completing the Desert Classic Marathon held in Phoenix. The rub is that he had a little help in the way of a ride in the production van, reportedly from mile 17, straight to the finish where he was mobbed by family and friends and taped receiving his finisher’s medal. The reason according to the production crew was to keep the production schedule.

Fitness RX

But I have one that bugs me almost as much. The cover of the December 2008 edition of Fitness RX features “The All-American Athlete, Actress, and Model” Hannah Cornett. So multi talented is this blue eyed blond beauty that she competes in Surfing, Mountain Biking, as well as triathlon. Her list of accomplishments includes

Hannah Cornett Results

Fourth place finish at the USAT World Championship in Cancun
First place at the MX Suma International Triathlon in Akron OH
First Place at the Cleveland Triathlon in Cleveland OH
Third Place at the Redondo Beach Triathlon in Redondo Beach CA
Third at the Long Beach ITU World Cup, in Long Beach CA

Training Schedule

Even more impressive is to prepare for these outstanding results, She completes 2 days of swimming up to 1.5 miles in pools or 500 to 1000 yards in open water, 2 days a week of running building to a distance of 10 km, and 45 to 60 minute spin classes three or four times a week. All while training and competing as a competitive surfer and mountain biker.

My Rant

I don’t want to sound mean or vindictive, but these results on this training schedule don’t add up. Turning in the results reported in the magazine would put her in the same class as Simon Whitfield or Emma Snowsill. Competing with these world class athletes is just not going to happen doing the amount of training reported in the magazine. Giving the benefit of the doubt, the results could be age group, or special categories, or something else, but I would think it’s the responsibility of the magazine to double check the facts and report them accurately.

Incidentally, I did a quick Google search, and First place in 2008 in Cleveland went to Mark Durno in 1:55:58, and Third in Rodondo Beach in the sprint distance, was Jason May in 43:30. Of course, if I have my facts incorrect, I am always open to correction. Check out the article if you can get your hands on a copy.

Amy Kloner in Capetown  

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Amy Kloner is a professional triathlete from Atlanta whose blog and web site I found while browsing for triathlon blogs. I left a few comments on her blog, and to my surprise, she almost immediately responded to me.

Amy is in Capetown South Africa for a race this weekend. I believe the race is the 11 Global Olympic Distance race that she is competing in. I checked the Ironman site and there are no events scheduled for South Africa this weekend, so it’s a good chance it’s the 11 Global.

Feel free to cruise over and check out her sight, and read some of her blog and leave her a good luck message for Sunday. I’m sure some positive encouragement would go a long way when she is suffering on the hilly, windy, bike course on the cape.

Can’t Wait for Bed  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM

I am sitting here trying to think of something to write about, but all I can think of is how tired I feel. I had a lunchtime presentation today, so I swam at the 6:30am early bird instead of my regular lunchtime swim. I hate working out in the morning. I am awake, but my body isn’t. I’d much rather have some breakfast and sit back with a coffee for an hour or so, and let my body come around. But this morning, it was up and out the door woofing down a banana as I went.

To top it off, Last night’s spin was a killer. Another coach Gord special. Lots of climbs as well as lots of work off the bike. Mainly squats and lunges, and finishing it off with a major set of superspinups. And since it was an 8:00pm class, which finished at 9:00, by the time I got showered and home, it was 9:30pm, then another couple of hours to whine down before I could fall asleep, 5:30am came way to fast, and now, lounging on my lazyboy can’t come fast enough.

So, a little stretching, and then a lot of sleeping. I’d like to hit the pool hard tomorrow, and I am just hoping I am not coming down with something.

Run Faster  

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This is a blog that I follow regularly called “Ticket to Kona” by Paul Kindzia, who is a 12 time Ironman finisher, with a current PR of 10:39.

Paul is currently following the program in the book Run Faster by Brad Hudson. From the looks of it, this is a very high intensity training program designed to make you faster. You likely won’t find any couch to 5k plans here. And if you read Pauls Blog you will see there are a lot of tempo runs, intervals, and hills.

So I guess this is another one for my “to read” list. Probably after my I finish Chi Running. Anyone who has read this book, feel free to leave a review or comment.

Pancake Day  

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In honour of the day, I posted this link to an article on the CBC website. There are a couple of recipes, and a bit of pancake history as well.

Like I need another excuse to eat. Shrove Tuesday is still celebrated in my part of the world with a meal of pancakes. Better known here as Pancake Day, in my grandmothers time, the pancakes contained little hidden surprises like coins, or a needle. If you got a coin it meant you were destine to grow up rich. The needle symbolized becoming a taylor. I don’t think this part of the tradition is followed much anymore, as you can imagine the stress of a missing darn needle after the plates are licked clean. I never heard of anyone swallowing foreign objects, but I was always a little paranoid at nans on Pancake day. Pancake meals are still quite common though, and my work is no exception. Like I said. Any excuse.

Of course in other parts of the world, the last day before Ash Wednesday, is known by the name Fat Tuesday, and is the last day of sinning prior to the start of the season of lent. And of course, Translated to French, Fat Tuesday translates to Mardi Gras, and we know what kind of sins go on during that celebration.

Given the temperature here in Newfoundland, I think its a safe bet that most people will keep their shirts and jackets on and stick with the pancakes. Enjoy.

Hitting the Wall at my Sunday Masters Workout  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM

Has this ever happened to you?

I am not even really sure if it was a bonk by definition. I have read about it a few times, and I have felt the feeling before during workouts. Just for kicks, I googled the word, and the first hit that came back was a Wikipedia entry describing it as follows

“In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes the condition when an athlete suddenly loses energy and becomes fatigued, the result of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles becoming depleted.”

I am not really sure that I had depleted my glycogen stores. What I do know is that part way through our opening set of our Sunday masters, I suddenly felt weak, sluggish, even a bit shaky. So I assume it was a bonk.

I had a great week of training. 4 good midweek sessions in the pool, as well as three good spin sessions including our 2 hour marathon spin class on Saturday. I did three sessions of core work during the week, and come Sunday evening I was feeling awesome. Which pisses me off even more. If I felt horrible before I went, I wouldn’t feel so bad.

Anyway, as for the glycogen store depletion, this is what I ate today. I had 2 wholegrain pancakes for breakfast, a chicken sandwich and an orange for lunch, a carrot muffin and some grapes for a quick snack mid afternoon, and then before I took off for the pool, I woofed down a Larabar that I had just finished making, and a banana.

I arrived at the pool ontime, and finished an 800m warmup, then we went into a main set of 6x50 drill swim followed by 3 x 100 fast. After the first drill swim set, That’s when I really started to feel like crap. So I got out, went to the locker room, managed to fish out a 20 dollar bill with my wet shaky hands, get change from the front desk, and then get a bottle of Gatorade from the machine. After I downed a half bottle, I jumped back in the pool, and immediately started to feel better. And only missed one set of 300.

The main reason I still think it was a bonk was that as soon as I got some quick carbs into me, I felt better. Of course it could have been that I felt so good going into the workout that I just swam way to fast during the warmup, and first set. Who knows.

Anyway, I am so glad I managed to complete the remainder of the workout. I feel good now. Next time, I’ll keep a couple of gels in my bag. Just in Case.

Chocolate Milk as Recovery  

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I ran across this article from Seattle Pi called “Living Well: Get your carb-protein workout ratios right” and as the title suggests, the article focuses on the correct ration of protein to carbs for post workout recovery. Nutritionist Emily Edison makes the point that despite the popularity of recovery bars and shakes, that protein alone is not enough for full recovery.

The part that really caught my interest was the section by Boston-based sports nutritionist, Nancy Clark. Interestingly enough, she recommends athletes, "get that foundation of carbs with some protein in the form of chocolate milk."

This is not the first time I heard about chocolate milk as a recovery drink. I can’t remember where, but I am certain I read about it, probably in a running or triathlon magazine. I am sure there was a beginner triathlete forum on the subject because I can remember someone making the comment about how one of the popular brand name endurance drinks must be better for you than just plain old chocolate milk.

I purchased some Powerbar Recovery Drink last year, and when I got it home I compared the nutritional information to good ole chocolate milk that we had in the fridge for the kids. What I found was that per serving, it was almost identical. In fact, I later compared the nutritional information from the website of Scotsburn Dairy, the brand I drink, I was surprised to find that the milk had more electrolytes. Almost 1.3 times as much sodium and potassium, and The main advantage that I could see for the Powerbar drink is that it doesn’t require refrigeration, so you can toss it in a gym bag and leave it in your car or locker until you finish your workout. However, it’s probably not a good thing that the drink contains enough chemicals that it has such a long shelf life. There is definitely something unnatural added to make it survive for so long away from the refrigerator.

So in place, on a Saturday, or Sunday after a long bike or run workout, I down a glass of chocolate milk. That tides me over until I can get something substantial into my stomach.

Let me know what you think. What’s everyone’s favourite recovery food?

Larabars  

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When I did Ironman Florida, I pretty much had my race nutrition program down pat. Every 15 minutes I would consume gatorade, then 1/2 Powerbar with water, more gatorade, then a gel. I had no problem ever in training. I love to eat, and this was part of the fun.

But after about 8 hours of racing, I was sick of gatorade, sick of Powerbars, and sick of gels. Next time around, I plan to supplement with some real food, and I am seriously going to give these Larabars a try.

I stumbled on to them at Primal Fusion, and from there, I linked onto Enlightened Cooking where the blog author Camilla talks about how she experimented with the mix until she got one that was close to the packaged product.
Camilla also has some variations, and also some other interesting information like a comparison of the nutritional information for Larabar, and Powerbars.

For quick reference, the recipe is below, but check out both of these blogs, they have some interesting info.

Recipe
Recipe Very Cherry Lara Bar adapted from Camilla
(makes 6 big bars or 10 tiny ones)
Ingredients:
1 cup of pitted roughly chopped dates
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 & 1/3 cup of raw almonds
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
oil for your hands

Equipment:
1) Food Processor
2) Big Mixing Bowl
3) Measuring instrumentation
4) Plastic Wrap

Directions:
1) Process the dates and cranberries until it forms a ball, your food proc
essor will make a weird noise
2) Remove fruit paste from food processor and place in mixing bowl. Do not clean food processor
3) Pulse almonds until it looks chopped (a few steps before it turns into almond meal)
4) Oil your hands. Knead the nuts and cinnamon powder into the fruit paste until the nuts are incorporated.
5) Shape into a brick and then slice and wrap.

Inside Out Sports Cast Iron Challenge  

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Here is an interesting challenge from Inside Out Sports. These are the guys you have seen in the tents at the athletes expos at most North American Sports events.

It’s called the “Cast Iron Club” and it’s basically a challenge consisting of 72 miles of swimming, 3360 miles of biking, and 786 miles of running before December 31. They provide forms to fill out for logging your workouts, and it’s based on the honours system. There is a $7.00 charge and the deadline for signing up is April 31. For meeting the goals you receive a certificate and a tech running shirt.

So just to put the numbers into perspective, I did a little creative math and used an online conversion site, and figured out that if you start logging workouts beginning in March and finishing by the Dec 31 deadline, 72 miles of swimming averages out to 2900 metres per week. 3360 miles on the bike averages out to 84 miles, or 135 km. 786 miles of running averages out to 20miles per week, or 32km.

When you put into that context, these goals are hardly a challenge for anyone following a serious long distance training program. In fact, for a lot of Ironman plans, this would only represent one workout in each sport during a week in the base periods.

If anyone signs up, drop me a line and keep me posted on progress.

February 17 Winter Storm  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM


I could have just copied my previous post “Battered by Yet Another Winter Storm” and just changed the date, but that would be cheating, and also, after a couple of weeks of stretching, yoga, and core work, I managed to get through this afternoon with no lower back stress.

This is what it looks like on the radar. All of the blue green and yellow is snow. St. John’s is pretty close to the centre of the image

And this is what it looks like for real. I am not quite sure where to enter this in my training log. The snow was getting wet and sticky, and it took some manhandling to get the thing through the snow. I am waiting for the Carbon Fibre version to come out.

Now you all know why I haven’t been doing any running yet.

Ironman Triathlon Training dot com  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM

Very short post today as I just came from spin class, and I did a brisk 45 minute swim today at lunch, so I am ready for the bed, but I did find something interesting today.

Anyone planning to do an Ironman needs to check out this site. It’s called Ironman Triathlon Tips, and it features one tip per day on training, nutrition and gear. Yesterdays tip was about getting enough sleep. Today’s was about pacing the bike.

I am only just starting to scan through the pages, and the tips are short and to the point. I don’t think you will find any full training programs here, but there certainly are some interesting topics.

Have a look, leave a comment.

Diet, Nutrition, Obesity, and Diabetes  

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Diet and nutrition has been front and centre in the news recently. On the drive home this evening, there was an interview on CBC Radio with Leslie Beck discussing weight loss and the lengths people will go to in their efforts to lose weight.

Beck made reference to a recent editorial by the Canadian Medical Association highlighting the need for regulation in the weight loss industry in light of the preposterous claims made by some of these clinics. The editorial states the weight-loss industry in North American is worth 50 billion dollars annually.

As well, CBC Radio’s Crosstalk today was a discussion about the high rate of type 2 diabetes here in Newfoundland. And just last week there was an article about a study conducted by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation where they compared the cost of healthy foods across the country, and found my home town of St. John’s to be th highest in the country.

After my masters swim workout last night, there was a public swim, and I am sure that over half of the kids in the changeroom were obese. I don’t mean a few pounds over the textbook ideal BMI, but big enough that 35 years ago when I was a kid, they would have been ridiculed. Not to say that was right, but it speaks volumes to how the attitude of society has changed in 30 to 40 years.

So I’ll keep up with my servings of fruit and veggies, and steel cut oats for breakfast, and stay away from my favourite fast food places. Hopefully my little bit of effort will help skew the statistics in the opposite direction, and maybe the example I set will sink in with my kids. I gotta go, I have to go get my 8 year old son a snack. He wants a piece of fruit, I can’t believe it. Maybe the example I am trying to set, is making a difference.

Lance and The Comeback  

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Lactate Threshold Testing

Here is another interesting item to check out. It’s a video clip from the Carmichael Training Systems web site,of Lance conducting a Lactate Threshold Test. This really highlights the importance of field tests of whatever type when determining training zones, and in determining training progress. The test highlights a couple of important markers for Lance’s training progress for his Tour de France comeback.

1. He produced less lactate early in the test meaning he was utilizing more fat for fuel.
2. His power at LT is 25 watts higher than at the Astana training camp.
Of course, according to Chris Carmichael, everything with Lance’s training progress is a good news story, but it is very interesting to see the progress and to be able to follow it online.


2009 Tour de France


I am really looking forward to this year’s Tour. It’s going to be a humdinger for a whole bunch of reasons, including the comeback of Lance. Whether or not he can win is anyone’s guess, but with the media scrutiny, especially from the Europeans, it will certainly be interesting to watch. I can’t wait for July.

CTS Coach Nick White  

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This is certainly worth a read An interview with Nick White, a coach with Carmichael Training System, and coach to 2008 Kona Champion, Craig Alexander.

Nick also has another pretty famous client, 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, and 2008 Olimpic Silver Medalist, Simon Whitfield

Of course, the interview appears in a CTS Newsletter, and is a tad self marketing, but there are some interesting tidbits in there. One is that Alexander and his wife are expecting their second child, and good for them. Another is that Simon is serious about making a transition to long course, and has his sights set on Clearwater 2009. Now that would be the year to qualify. He also has it in his mind to have one more crack at a gold medal in 2012 in London

Interseting as well, Nick describes one of Craig’s key sessions. “Getting out behind the moped at race pace for 3-4 hrs was a key session for Craig. Training at race intensity levels and at race speeds for extended periods of time – including at altitude - was huge for Craig’s training.” It seems that intensity is the key for long course success as well as short course. Go Figure.

I am looking foward to hearing a lot more about both athletes, and best of luck to Craig and baby number 2. Look forward to 3 times the work.

Mark Allen, Fit Soul Fit Body, Life Balance  

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Endurance Corner

It’s been a while since I checked out Gordo Byrnes Endurance Corner. so I snuck a few minutes during my lunch break to catch up, and found several interesting new posts including one about Ironman legend Mark Allen

Mark Allen

It seems that Allen has a new web site, Fit Soul, Fit Body, as well as a new book to go along with it. So after checking out the corner, I went over to Marks new site to check it out.

Fit Body Fit Soul

If you want to get a feel for what the site is really all about, I suggest you check out the Philosophy page. This section sets the tone for what the site is all about, and begins with the statement “Fitness” needs a makeover. It’s not about the size of your muscles, how fast you can run, or how much you weigh. There are plenty of physically fit people who are unhappy, eternally pessimistic, and drained of spirit."

Another interesting page in the site is The 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You. Pretty much self explanatory, and definitely worth checking out as well.

My favorite section is The Fit Quiz, a series of 15 questions where you add up the scores assigned to the multiple choice answers. I scored 33. The questions are geared more to a balanced physical and spiritual state of fitness.


Balance

I gave the site a quick glance, and it sparked my interest enough to put it in my favorites folder. I gave The Fit Quiz, a test drive, and I placed the book on my “to read” list with about a dozen other books that I don’t have time to start reading. This may not be for everyone, but I think there certainly is value in trying to live a balanced life. Check it out, and at the very least, take the quiz, and let me know your score.

Vancouver 2010, Own The Podium, Another Rant  

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A little off topic, but I heard another interesting story on CBC Radio on the drive in to work this morning.

The story commented on the recent success of many of Canada’s winter athletes in world cup events, and how much success was attributed to the Own The Podium program.

For anyone reading this outside of Canada, here is a little Olympic trivia. Canada holds the dubious distinction of being the only country ever to host an Olympic games and not win a gold medal. The Own The Podium program was established to put an end to that by not only winning one gold medal, but coming out on top of the final medal standings.

Ross Rebagliati

Ross Rebagliati is not quite on board with the new attitude. He feels Canadians should be a little less arrogant over expectations for 2010. Rebagliati is the Canadian snowboarder who made history in Nagano as the first ever gold medalist in snowboarding. He then lost his medal after he tested positive for marijuana, and regained it after winning an appeal to the IOC.

I Like it

As for me, I like the new attitude. I am getting a little sick and tired of Canadian athletes being interviewed and stating how they are just happy to be at the Olympics while Canada piles up 4th and 5th placings in sports and top ten standings. I think once you make a goal public, you are one step closer to achieving it, and the publicly stating the high expectations in Vancouver are a big step. I am so looking forward to next winter.

Easy Greek Alfredo Pasta, and SOOO Good  

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Before my last Corner Brook Triathlon, my wife and I escaped for a couple of hours alone. I was in the mood for some pasta, since it was the day before the race, so we went to a local pizza franchise. I ordered a baked greek pasta, and it was awesome. After I got to thinking, "This is not so hard to make" so I decided to try and throw something together and the result is below.

Very similar to the Fettuccini Alfredo but it’s baked with some extra Greek style veggies.

2 Quarts Chicken Broth
8 oz Pasta, Whole Wheat small noodles like Fuseli, or even a Rotini
1/2 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Low Fat Plain Yogurt
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
4 Cloves Garlic
3 TBSP Parsley
¼ Cup Black Olives
1 Red Onion
½ Cup Chopped Mushrooms
1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Large Tomato
¼ Cup Feta Cheese
2 TBSP Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Pasta

The chicken broth is for cooking the Pasta. Bring the stock to a boil in a pot large enough to cook all the pasta with a little cooking oil to prevent it from sticking together. Add the Pasta and cook until Al dente, Firm but Tender.

The Chicken

Mince 2 cloves of the garlic, and throw it in a large skillet or frying pan with 1 TBSP of Olive Oil, then throw in the two chicken breasts. Cook on both sides until done through, but be careful not to overcook. Remove from the skillet or pan, cut into strips and set aside.

The Veggies

Chop the Onion, Mushrooms, Green Pepper, and heat in the skillet after the chicken is done, but only until slightly tender. Chop the tomatoes and throw them and the olives in the skillet for 1 more minute.

The Alfredo Sauce

Mix the sour cream and yogurt together in a small dipper, and heat it up over low heat. Add in 1 TBSP of the Parmesan, and add in a ladle full of the chicken stock that the pasta is cooking in. (The Starch from the Pasta in the Broth helps thicken the sauce.) Only heat enough to blend in the parmesan.

The Dish

Mix the pasta, alfredo sauce, chicken, veggies, and about half of the crumbled feta, and throw in a baking dish. Top with the remaining parmesan, and feta, and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes on 350.

You may have to play with the cheese topping to get a mix that you like.

This makes about 4 servings, although the amounts of chicken and pasta can be adjusted to suit your training or family needs.

Please Please Please!!! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Four days of steady workouts and still going strong  

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After two weeks of nursing a back injury, and work commitments, I’ve managed to pull off four days of quality sessions in the pool and on the trainer. No running yet, but it’s still early.

Saturday, I managed a good 45 minute spinerval workout. I was going to do a core as well, but that didn’t workout. Sunday was a pretty intense masters workout. Monday, another quality 45 minute pool session with 3 good sets of 4x100, and again today, another 40 minute drill session, and then tonight, my spin class.

Class tonight was taught by one of our Canada Games Coaches. She is tough as nails, and gives a challenging class, and despite my being really tired after a crappy night of sleep, I managed to get my heart rate up to zone 5a and 5b for nearly all the intervals. That’s lactate building, Puke rising up in the pit of your stomach hard intervals.

The first set were 1 minute intervals. Medium tension and seated for 45 sec, high tension and stand for 15, then 1 minute to recover. We did 6. They were pretty tough if you could pedal hard in the standing position.

Next were sets of 3 minutes. The key was to select a tension that you could barely maintain for 3 minutes. 1 set seated, 1 set standing. 1 minute rest in between, 4 sets in total. Typically your heart rate rises steadily until you are pat the LT for your last 30 seconds or so.

Then 30/30’s alternating seated and standing with moderate tension high cadence. I think we did 5 each which burned up another 10 minutes.

We then went into one legged spins to develop a full pedal stroke, but with high tension. This was a cruel strength session. 1 minute each, 3 sets each leg.

Then finish with a 5 minute 20 on 20 off superspin.

Very challenging spin, but given how crappy I felt going in, I managed a really good effort, and feel really good now.

Plan tomorrow is another swim, and core. I have to keep up to the dozen or so hard core bloggers that I am following.

Canadians pay wide range of prices for healthy foods: report  

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From CBC online , “Depending on where Canadians live, they may pay more than double to almost six times more for healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grains, according to a report released on Monday.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's annual Report on Canadians' Health looked at 66 communities across Canada and the prices for healthy food.”

Absolutely Disgusting. That’s my reaction. As a person who works out, and tries to embrace a healthy lifestyle, including nutrition, the results of the study are absolutely staggering. For years we have been lead to believe that we pay more here in St. John’s than in other cities in Canada because of transportation costs, but what has been reported by CBC and The Heart and Stroke Foundation's really makes my blood boil. At $299.00 that’s $124.91 more than the cheapest city, Vancouver, by more than 2 times. It also costs $108.00 more in St. John’s than Whitehorse. I could understand maybe 50 bucks or so, but this is really mind blowing to me.

It’s also interesting that the study pointed out that “Transport costs don't explain all of the disparity.” A half dozen apples at 90 cents in Peterborough, Ont., are $7.64 in Rankin Inlet, and the same half dozen apples, costing $5.00 in Calgary are $1.71 in Edmonton. One kilogram of lean ground beef costs $13.21 in Ottawa, but only $4.14 in Barrie, Ont. Doesn’t make sense to me.

But the things that make you go HMMMM, don’t stop there. The report's authors said there was little variation in the cost of snack foods such as cookies, potato chips and pop that should be consumed in moderation. The result, especially in these tough times is that cheaper, less healthy food becomes more attractive.

So it’s no surprise that obesity both here in Canada, and south of the border, is out of control, and along with it, all the associated health problems like Heart Disease, Diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

It’s a situation that is spiralling out of control. As money gets tighter, more and more families are forced to make less healthy choices in the supermarket, while at the same time, society ends up paying more to treat the results of the disease.

Check out the story, and let me know what you think.

Second Masters Set of the Year  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in

I am sitting here barely able to tap on the keys, my arms feel like lead. I managed to drag myself to my second masters workout this year. Not a very good record, and not one I am proud of. Our coach had prior commitments, so in his absence, he decided to give us a challenge set for our main.

The set was a series of 100s on the best pace time we felt we could hold for 10 sets. our lane chose 1:50 if we could average 1:45 to 1:47, we could get a couple second rest. The totals were
6 x 100 then 150 drill set
5 x 100 then 150 drill set
4 x 100 then cooldown

I managed to do pretty well for the first set, and then for the first 2 x 100’s of the second, but then thing went downhill. By the end I could barely manage 2:00.

But I have an excuse for the brutal performance? To start, I missed most of the last week and a half mainly because of a back injury. Then when I started to get back on track, Work commitments caused me to miss all my mid week lunch time swims.

So given the fact that I have been out of commission for about 11 days, ns I almost blew off this evenings workout, I really feel great now, and I am ready to kick start a good six week block so I am fit when the snow finally disappears.

Heart Rate Training Part 3, Maximum Heart Rate  

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So after criticising The Doctors and their use of the 200-age formula for Max Heart rate, it seems only fair that I explain max heart rate, how it ties in to training, how you could find it, and what alternatives there are to setting your training zones.

It is important to note that these posts are my interpretation of the instructions from Joe Friels books The Triathlete's Training Bible, and Total Heart Rate Training

What is Maximum Heart Rate Max HR

Pure maximum Heart Rate is the maximum number of times a heart can contract in 1 minute. It is determined by genetics, and it will decrease over time. It is also important to note that your maximum heart rate cannot be changed by exercise.

When Joe Friel talks about Max Heart Rate, he is usually referring to the maximum rate your heart will contract in 1 minute for each individual sport. Friel has observed that Max HR is different for different sports, specifically swimming, cycling and running. This means that no matter how hard you try, you will not be likely to match your running Max HR on the bike, or in the pool.

Max HR on the run will be higher than on the bike. And your Max HR on the bike will be higher than in the swim. Friels explaination for this is during the swim, you are horizontal, and the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the extremeties, as well your largest muscle group, the legs, are less utilized. The bike, almost exclusively uses the leg muscles, plus you are sitting upright, so the demand for blood carrying fuel to the legs, plus overcoming gravity, makes drives the HR up. Finally the run also uses your leg muscles, but the heart has to work a little harder to overcome to blood being forced to the bottom of your lower extremities due to the constant pounding. Think of trying to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle.

Finding Max HR, and Determining HR Zones

Maximum Heart Rate can be determined for the specific sports by doing field tests where you increase your intensity and continue to increase until you reach the point at which your heart cannot contract any faster, however, Joe Friel does not promote this for two reasons.
1. It can be very dangerous.
2. It is irrelevant as the important number for setting out the training zones is the Lactate Threshold.

Lactate Threshold LT

The Lactate Threshold is the point where the body is disposing of lactate at the same rate as it is being produced. If you Increase the intensity, lactate will start to accumulate in the muscles. LT is what Friel uses to set the zones that are found in the tables in both his books. LT is also variable among athletes, and even though two athletes may have determined from field testing what their Max HR is, one may have an LT at 90 % of Max HR, whereas the other may be at 85% so both athletes using the same heart rate zones would not be correct.

Coming soon, determining Lactate Threshold.

The Michael Phelps Story, Update  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in , ,

Not 12 hours after tapping out my last post on the Michael Phelps story, there is a significant update. Phelps has now been suspended by USA Swimming for 3 months, and has been stripped of his funding during that time, plus, Kellogg’s, one of his major sponsors, has pulled the plug on his endorsement.

So you know what they say about opinions, and yes I have one on this topic too.

The problem I have with this is that by handing out the suspension USA swimming are in essence trying to regulate the moral standards of their athletes. Remember, he didn’t get caught taking performance enhancing drugs, and he didn’t get caught taking a banned recreational substance prior to or during a competition. He violated no anti doping rules. He was caught at a party.

So how far does Swimming USA go in handing out suspensions, and stripping funding from athletes who conduct themselves in a manner that the organization deems immoral?

Do they suspend athletes and coaches for being assholes? How about an athlete who shoots off his mouth in the media, boasting about how he is going to demolish his competitors at his next meet? Or the coach that goes on a temper tantrum because one of his swimmers was disqualified from an event? Or the Athlete who gets caught cheating on his spouse? These are hardly attributes I admire and certainly not ones I would look for in a pole model.

But these are not illegal acts you might say. Well how about an athlete who gets caught speeding? Not that serious you might say. So who determines the criteria for a suspendable act?

I am sure if asked, USA Swimming will quote some requirement in their charter or constitution that states “Athletes must conduct themselves in a manner that blah blah blah” You can probably fill in the blanks. So that gives them the power to pick and choose who they do and don’t suspend because they get to determine for themselves what the blah, blah, blah is.

I don’t think that what MP did was right, given his circumstance, but I don’t think the suspension is right either. I am awaiting the next chapter in this saga.

So what’s your take on this? I would love to hear what some of the readers think about this story. Should Mike be suspended? Should he lose his endorsements?

Michael Phelps  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM in ,


Unless you have been living on a desert island for the last couple of weeks or so, you have no doubt heard the latest new about Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps. But in case you haven’t Mike went to a party, took a couple of hits from a bong, and a little while later, his photo showed up in United Kingdom’s News of the World.

I can see both sides of the story, and for anyone interested in reading further, here is my rant.


Pressure of a Champion

First of all we are talking about a 23 year old kid, who just went through at least 4 years of intense training, of up to 6 to 8 hours per day, 7 days a week for the largest athletic competition on earth. From what I understand, he took no days off unless he absolutely needed absolute rest. Most of his recovery was active. He has been under a microscope since well before even the last Olympics. He has been focused on a singular goal for so long, and last summer, he finally achieved that goal. He has the world at his fingertips, he has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and is set to rake in millions in endorsements. Can you blame him for wanting to blow off a little steam?

Responsibility of a Champion

However, He is not just any 23 year old. He has shown dedication and maturity years beyond his real age. He has the potential to earn millions from endorsements, and is his own self made enterprise. Michael, and certainly his handlers, either his agent, or his mother should have realized that with all this comes great responsibility. Just like Spiderman. Like it or not, he has become a role model for millions around the world. His handlers or he should have also realized that there are a very large number of people waiting for him to screw up, and to capitalize on it. And all efforts made to ensure it didn’t happen.

What to do Now

I really don’t care if Brad and Angelina have another baby, and I don’t really care if Michael Phelps has a draw at a frat party. But there are millions who do. The supermarket checkouts are lined with rags to support their habits, and armies of idiots with cameras ready to fill the pages.

To his credit, he has come out and conceded the authenticity of the picture, and made a statement saying "I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again." This could be pure spin from the desk of his publicist, but for my own sanity, I chose to believe that it is his own words, and he will follow up on his promise, and continue to be a role model for millions worldwide.

HBC Run for Canada Part 2  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM

For any Canadian readers, who read my rant about the cancelled HBC Run for Canada, I emailed HBC relaying my opinion of the cancellation. The email was pretty much a copy of my post. Much to my surprise, I received a reply Feb 2. This is the email I received.

Hello,

Thank you for your feedback regarding the cancellation of the Hbc Run for Canada. We sincerely appreciate your feedback; it was an event that we held a lot of passion for because of it's support of Canadian athletes, and grass root engagement with Canadians coast-to-coast.

Unfortunately, due to the current economic environment, we had no choice but to cancel the event moving forward. We're in the process of developing new programs that will continue to help us support 200 athletes each year with $5,000 bursaries, and once again engage our employees and customers.

We do appreciate the feedback that you've provided. We will take this into consideration as we develop our plans going forward.


Sincerely,
Diane Gordon
Director, Hbc Community Investment


I appreciate the reply, and to a certain extent, I can sympathise with them with the economic conditions right now, however, I really feel honesty is the best policy, and I felt the news release sounded a little too much like they were trying to cover up the fact that they were making a purely economic decision by throwing in a bunch of baloney about focusing on our 200 athletes they are sponsoring for Vancouver 2010.

Anyway, there you have it. I am looking forward to the boat load of medals Canada is going to haul away next winter. I still haven’t told my 8 year old yet.

Chipolte Chicken Salad  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM

A dish similar to this one is served at a local restaurant. The first time I had it, I came homw and started surfing for a similar recipe and came up with the one below.

I add some chipolte chili powder to the chicken before I grill it for a little added kick. You can also add some tortilla chips for a little added crunch and carbs, but you should note that the nutritional breakdown below is without the chips.

Ingredients

DRESSING:
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

SALAD:
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained

Preparation
To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients, stirring well.
To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Tip: Add a spoonful of adobo sauce for a spicier salad. Kidney or pinto beans also taste great in this dish.

Yield
4 servings (serving size: 2 1/2 cups)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 249(30% from fat); FAT 8.2g (sat 2.8g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 23.3g; CHOLESTEROL 50mg; CALCIUM 106mg; SODIUM 650mg; FIBER 7g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.1g

I Love my Newtons  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM


Yes I do.

Before I start with my review of the shoes, you have to understand that good running form has to come before the shoes. I spent a season on the indoor track transforming my running style into a mid foot strike. I used the Pose Method, and had to endure a lot of funny looks from passers by, logging laps on the track as I stayed off to the side doing drills, hops, foot taps, and then on the track doing strides.

Once my stride was transformed, my old shoes didn’t cut it anymore, but until Newtons were introduced, there was nothing built specifically for my style of running, except maybe for running flats.

Newton Running

The first thing that really impressed me about Newton shoes was their web site. It is a comprehensive site containing more information about running in general than the shoes. They have a simple animation that really shows the difference in a heel striker, and a forefoot striker. I now look like the guy on the top.

The web site also has a page that helps you choose the correct shoe. After reading the article, I realized that I had a slight pronation. I sized up the wear on my old runners and confirmed that the wear was more severe on the inside of the sole. I then verified it by talking to one of the reps at Newton Running.

They also provide a lot of info about how to run in them, how long it will take to get used to them, even a paragraph about if the shoes are right for you.

Enough about the web page, what about the shoes?

When I got them, my first impression was that they would be really cool. The mesh in the upper was larger than any shoe I had ever seen. The next thing I noticed was the actuator lugs in the middle of the sole, that protruded below the rest of the sole. These forced you to strike with the mid foot. But the biggest thing was how they felt. These were the absolute most comfortable things I have ever had on my feet. My foot is a little wide and I really have a difficult time finding shoes to fit me, so I was worried about these. But the shoe was constructed with plenty of room in the toe box, but still fit snug on my foot which meant no sliding foot, which meant no blisters on long runs.

The First Run

The shoes exaggerate the midsole striking motion. With the first stride, I became more aware of everything and every sensation Dr. Nicholas Romonov describes in his Pose Method book. My feet were landing directly under my centre, my foot was hitting midsole, and my footspeed seemed to be just a little quicker. I did experience some tightness and soreness in my calf, but I attributed it my heightened awareness and focus on my form. But the discomfort went away after I became accustom to the shoes.

The Downside

There are some downsides to Newton Shoes.

The first is finding them. Their distribution network is pretty small. I had a friend pick mine up when he participated in the Ironman Florida 70.3 in Orlando. There are a few retail outlets, but if there are none near your location, you need to purchase them online, however, the company was very careful to explain that if my shoes did not work out, there would be no issues with a return, or exchange for another model, or size.

The second is the price. It cost me about 200 Loonies, more that any other shoe I have ever worn, but I assume that the cost is partly attributed to the above, as well as the fact that they are a small company catering to a very focused segment of the market. Plus, all the other shoe makers also make 200 dollar shoes. For me, it was worth it.

The third issue is that now that I have tried them, I don’t want to go back to anything else.

So if you are considering new shoes, have good running form, and look like the guy on top , and don’t mind paying a little for quality, try out Newtons.

First Masters Workout of the Year  

Posted by FLATOUT JIM

Well, I bit the bullet and returned to the pool for the Sunday evening 1.5 hour masters workout. Our coach is a former CIS varsity coach, and we are very very lucky to have him. But for some reason he has decided to try to make us into IM swimmers.

Tonight we did a 15 minute walless warmup. That meant that you warmed up for 15 minutes, and you coud take rest breaks, but you were not allowed to hang on to the wall or ropes.

Then we started into 3 sets of 4 x 75m as 25 free drill, 25 back drill, 25 back stroke. I swallowed so much water, I had to go to the potty between sets.

Then we did 8 x 100 descending by 2 seconds each set. Even though we started the first set super slow, I was dying at the end trying to shave seconds off. Of course the toughest part was remembering my split time.

All kidding aside about coach making us do back drills and stroke, I attribute my 34 minute swim split in Clearwater to his masters workouts, so I'll be continuing on.

SEND ME YOUR FAVORITE!!!

So, lets hear it, your favorite swim workout, or even favorite set. I am looking for ideas to keep me from getting bored during my midweek lunchtimr geriatric dip.

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