Free Training Tools. Must Read for New Triathletes.  

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Here are a couple of tools to help out with training and race planning. These can save you a lot of time trying to set out your paces for training sessions, or for races if you have a time goal in mind, and need to know what paces to hit to get you there.

The VDOT calculator is for setting training paces for running, and takes a time from a recent test like a 5k or 10k race, calculates a Vdot score that then determines training paces for intervals, tempo, recovery runs, etc. It also gives you a projected finish time for other races. You can find the calculator here, but if you want to do a little more reading, click here.

The pace calculator simply calculates paces from event times, for example, if you want to know what running pace you need to qualify for Boston, you just enter the time, and the distance, and it will calculate the pace. It includes converters and calculators for all 3 triathlon disciplines. You can find the calculator here.

Finally, if you are thinking about Boston, click here to get your qualifying times.

Let’s do an Example.

Jim is a 43 year old triathlete who is contemplating trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Does Jim have any hope?

From the Boston Athletics qualifying table, Jim’s qualifying time is 3 hours and 20 minutes. From the pace calculator, Jim has to run at a pace of 7:38 minutes per mile. But Jim’s Vdot score based on the finish time of 47:14 in his last 10 k race tells him that my his projected marathon pace time would be 8:25, and his estimated marathon finish time should be 3:40:43, so Jim needs to get off the couch and do some speed work.

Power to the Pedals Review (Part 2)  

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That's me at last years June 11 20K ITT

As promised, part 2 of my review of the Power to the Pedals program. In Part 1 I gave an overview of the program, with some initial thoughts, but was careful to state that my final word on the effectiveness of the program wouldn’t come until I gave it a real test in an event like a 20K Individual Time Trial.

Well that happened last night, on a sunny but freezing cold evening. The conditions were not ideal, but were decent. Clear and dry pavement, typical wind profile, headwind out, tailwind home, 20k with some gusts, but not overly difficult.

Based on where I thought my fitness level should be, I set a goal of breaking 40 minutes. At the mid way point, I was already well over 23, so I thought any chance to meet my goal was out the window. To break 40 I would have to ride the back half in less than 17 minutes. I knew I would be faster coming home, but not that much faster. As it turned out I was wrong. I crossed the finish line in 39:05.

So how does that result factor into my review of the Power to the Pedals program? I dug into some of last years results and found that on May 20, I clocked 42:52. But conditions that evening were very windy. Everyone was a couple of minutes over their best times, so a straight comparison is probably not that relevant. But digging a littl further, I realized that I didn’t break 40 until June 11, and then by only 5 seconds (39:55)

That leads me to conclude that I am more fit on the bike at the beginning of this year, than I was at the beginning of last year. And the main difference in the two years was my winter training program.

Of course it could be argued that any winter training program would give benefits. And it could very well be that the main benefit of the Power to the Pedals program was consistently riding the trainer 3 days a week, but I did indoor training other years as well, and not with these results.

So my final word is that the program did produce benefits, and if followed correctly, will get you fit and ready for the spring startup, and get you a jump on the season. I’d like to try to do the program next year with the aid of a power meter to get an idea of power improvement, but winter is a long way away. So for now I’ll be hitting the road, and looking forward to shaving additional time.

Now get on your bikes and ride!

Amy Kloner, The Return  

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Long Weekends. I love-em, but I hate-em. As good as they are, the letdown when you return after an extended long weekend is just purely depressing. And I am not sure when the next one is. Probably July 1st, Canada day.

But it was a good weekend, and it marked the return to the blogosphere of Semi Professional Triathlete, Amy Kloner. I use the term semi professional to describe an unbelievable group of athletes who train and race in the pro category while holding down a full time job.

As you can see in the picture above, Amy makes an already sweet looking ride, look even better. I only wish I could get that aerodynamic.

Go to her site and check out her race report from the Gulf Coast Triathlon, in Panama City Beach. And encourage her to keep making regular blog posts.

Race Hydration, Opposing Views  

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This is a hot topic that is very important to training and racing, especially as the distances go up.

I recently read an article in Triathlete Magazine titled “Fuel by Feel.” It advised athletes to drink when thirsty, and eat when hungry. A similar article appeared in Active dot com in 2009

Then on April 28, 2010, I saw an article in TriFuel entitled Hydration: Water is Essential to Good Health & Performance The article started with the statement “It amazes me how many athletes don’t drink enough during training and racing.”

I guess sometimes you can certainly become a victim of information overload. The more you research a topic, the more opposing views you will find. When this happens you are left having to figure it out on your own.

For my part, I disagree with the fuel by feel strategy, and you can click here to read why.

I am a big fan of planning. You go into a race with a plan, and that includes race nutrition. I think too many athletes just make the decision at the aid station to skip nutrition. They are caught up in the moment, don’t want to stop, and don’t realize the potential impact. But it usually comes back to bite them in the butt. The medical tents at Ironman races are full of them.

If you are experienced, and decide to follow the “Drink when Thirsty” strategy, learn to recognize the signs, and do not ignore them.

For any upcoming big race, especially the long ones, Ironman or half, come up with a plan, and stick to it.

Ironman 101: SMART goal setting.  

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Click here to check out a pretty cool post by Tri James at Ironman 101 on goal setting. He came across a clever acronym “SMART” which lists five key attributes for good goal setting.

The two that strike home for me are “Attainable” and “Realistic.” Obviously, It’s useless for me to set a goal of winning Ironman. It’s just not going to happen, meaning it’s neither “attainable” nor “realistic.” Similarly, setting a PR in last weekends Harbourfront 10k was “realistic,” but this early in the season not “attainable.”

Another consideration should be “Control” which could fall under realistic, but what I mean is that it’s no use setting a goal that you have no control over.

For example, a goal such as qualifying for KONA is beyond your control. As a competitor, you have no control over how well your peers will perform. On the other hand a goal of finishing in under 10 hours is something you can control, provided it is realistic and attainable. And if that result gets you a top 5 in your age group, it may get your slot.

That’s kind of what happened to me when 2 years ago at Ironman Newfoundland 70.3. I had a performance goal in mind that was ambitious, but attainable. I fell short, but on that very hot and humid day, a lot of other competitors also came up short, I placed 7th in my age group, and snagged a Clearwater slot in the roll down.

So anyone looking to improve their performance, remember “SMART” and “CONTROL” and be that “Competitive Jerk”

Ironman 101: SMART goal setting.

Race Report 2010 Harbour Front 10K  

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That’s a great shot. We don’t have tens of thousands lining up like at The New York Marathon, but look at that backdrop. That’s Cabot Tower high on top of Signal Hill.

Race Morning

Started as one of those dichotomies. It was cold, but the sun was rising, (First time in weeks) so the deli mina was what to wear. Shorts and be cold at the start, or tights and long sleeves and risk overheating. Well, I am a wimp, and I didn’t think overheating was a risk, so you can see in the pic it was tights and short sleeves over a base layer. I never once felt hot.

Plan

In my last couple of races, I tended to go out hard and try to hold pace, My target this time was to better the target from my VDOT score which was 47:04. The plan was to start slow and not overdo it on the first 2k, and then negative split. The course is slightly uphill going out, and mostly downhill on the way back, so negatively splitting was not hard.

Start

As planned, I took my time. It seems going slow is not a problem for me. All I had to do was keep with the old guys. At the 5k mark, my time was 24 minutes and change. Not great. I was either having a crappy race, and would be luck to break 50 minutes, or I was brilliantly executing my plan. Time would tell.

Thats me leading the pack in the grey T with red trim.

Homestretch

Funny how perception changes. What I know was only about 2k seemed like 20. I was feeling good, and had a couple of people in my sights. I shortened up my stride and tried to quicken my pace and pass them. I felt like I was flying, but I am sure spectators were wondering why I was going backwards. When I finished, my time was 47:14.




Post Race

10 seconds off my target was not bad. I was hoping to improve, but the truth is that with a week’s vacation, and limited training in between, I was lucky to not loose too much fitness.

Next up is my first crack at a 20k ITT. I plan to focus on the bike in the next couple of weeks, weather permitting.

Cyclist Tragedies in Quebec  

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A tough and tragic weekend for cyclists and triathletes in Quebec as no less than 4 cyclists in 2 separate incidents lost their lives in collisions with motor vehicles.

The first incident occurred Friday in Rougemont on Highway 112 where a group of 6 triathletes in training for the Lake Placid Ironman, were run down by a pickup leaving 3 dead.

Just 2 days later, a fourth cyclist on Highway 117 in Val Morin was hit and killed by a driver who was later charged with impaired driving.

As much of a tragedy as these two stories are, the biggest tragedy is the attitude of many of the people commenting on the stories on sites such as CBC. Comments on the first report seemed to be heavily skewed towards motorists blaming the cyclists for causing the accident.

It was almost as if a large majority of commenter’s used the following template. “It’s unfortunate but, I was driving down the road the other day, and I saw a person on a bike and…” INSERT DETAILS HERE.

As more information came out, the tone of the comments started to become more sensible, but it still leaves me a sense that an overwhelming number of drivers on the roads have no respect for other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. They feel that anything beyond their windshield falls into the same category as the dead raccoons and porcupines on the roads.

I do feel optimistic, and if I could look 20 years into the future, I can’t imagine fewer cyclists on the roads. With professional tours gaining popularity, triathlons popping up everywhere, as well as the price of gas slowly creeping up, the numbers of bikes on the roads, both racing machines and commuters, can only increase, and wit it the attitude of drivers will eventually change. But it will likely be a long painful journey.

When on the roads, be safe, and be careful.

Click below to read more on these tragedies.

NationalPost

Globe and Mail

CBC Story on the crash in Rougemont

CBC Story on the crash in Val Morin

140 Point 6 Miles: Triathlon Conversion Calculators  

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Just a quick post to point everyone in the direction of KC for a link to a cool site that has a bunch of very cool pace calculators. Check it out.

140 Point 6 Miles: Triathlon Conversion Calculators

Nutraceuticals, What are they?  

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OK Before you watch the entire video clip above, guess what it’s about? You may have to watch the first few seconds or so to get the gist, so go ahead, click, watch, and guess before the end.

If you thought this was an ad for the heart and stroke foundation, or maybe a new heart or blood pressure medication, you are not alone. That’s what you are supposed to think. The ad is for Becel Margarine, but they want to think it’s about a cutting edge treatment for the growing epidemic of heart disease.

During my morning commute, while considering my next blog post, I heard a segment on CBC radio about nutraceuticals, and how this new buzz term is being used to market food products. And it was an interesting segment at that.

According to Health Canada, A nutraceutical is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease. In the case of a product like Becel, their pitch is that the product contains omega 3 fats that aid in fighting chronic heart disease. Other products include Yogurt containing probiotics, and cereal containing bran fibre, both to keep you “regular”

As is often the case, marketing professionals creatively use scientific terms, and scientific data to convince consumers that their products will have positive health benefits. They are quite clever to point out that their products contain ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have positive health benefits, and that consuming their product will keep you healthy and happy.

So does this mean we should gobble down tubs of Becel Margarine to keep us from keeling over with a massive heart attack? Of course not. People are not really that dumb are they?

Again I emphasize, balance is the key. Consuming a balanced diet in accordance with Canada's Food Guide, or the U.S. food pyramid, is the basis for providing your body with what you need. A hard training endurance athlete may need to increase some of the macro nutrients, and/or supplement to overcome the additional stresses brought on by that training, but the real enemy is excess. Too much of any 1 product, even bran cereal can’t be good. Again, balance is the key. So beware of fancy clever commercials claiming to cure your every ailment.

Disney, Ironman Florida, and Blisters.  

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So what do these items have in common?

My week in Florida was pretty much a whirlwind. Our schedule included Friday at Seaworld, Saturday at Universal, Sunday at Clearwater Beach, Monday at Downtown Disney, Tuesday at Epcot, and Wednesday at Magic Kingdom. By Wednesday evening I was experiencing that raw burning sensation on the sole of my foot, and between my toes. Yes, all that walking caused severe blisters similar to what I experienced at Ironman Florida in 2006.

Then it dawned on me, the shoes I wore the entire time were the same shoes from Ironman Florida. I had retired them a after Ironman, but kept them around to wear in the basement. They were too worn out to wear as runners, but too good to throw in the garbage. As it turned out, I grabbed them from the closet and threw them in my bag as we were packing, and then wore them almost every day on the trip.

And I am sure they saw almost as much pavement and concrete as Ironman. Anyone who has been there knows that the theme parks are huge strategically layed out with lots of pavement to pound between the popular attractions, past the gauntlet of concession and souvenir stands. As is the case with Seaworld, with Shamoo stadium on one side, and Whale and Dolphin stadium on the other. The only way to get from one to the other is to use a motor scooter, or walk.

So the lesson to be learned, theme parks are not for the faint of heart, or the unfit. And I must now officially retire my Asics 2010 for good. Maybe build a shrine to them and my first Ironman experience.

5 Things About Florida  

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That's right, I am back in town. And here are 5 things about Florida

1. 90 degrees and sunny beats 30 and fog anyday.
2. 7 days is just not enough.
3. Clearwater Beach is just as nice without 2500 bikes in transition.
4. OK, all you local Floridians can call me a tourist geek, but Disney is still fun at 43.
5. I do not like outlet malls, Ross's or TJ Max.

More to come.

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