Friday, March 13, 2015

Information overload

A friend of mine at work recently announced she wants to run the Honolulu Marathon. Her first long run event. It seems like only yesterday I said the same words, so naturally I began to shower her with all the knowledge I had gained in the last couple of years. She is a very smart person, and it wasn't long before she began to point out conflicting bits of information. Runner's World says this, Training Peaks says that, and so-and-so says something different again. The two things we all agree on are 1) she should start with a walk-run program that gradually increases the run duration, and 2) she should wear proper running shoes. I guess you could say the the confusion started with which brand of shoe, and went off in all directions from there. How often to run. Where to run. What to eat. When to eat. Smartphone vs. dedicated HRM vs. smart watch vs. activity tracker.

The other day I thought it would be helpful to share some of the books I have purchased for my Kindle. Come to find out that not all Kindle books can be loaned, those that can can only be loaned once, and only for seven days. None of the books I wanted to share are load enabled; so much for that. So I did the next best thing, I sent her a bibliography. Keep in mind this is not exhaustive, just some books I have found to be useful.

Abshire, Danny (Mr. Newton). Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running.

Dicharry, Jay. Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention.

Fitzgerald, Matt. 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower. (Bought but not yet read, supposed to be good.)

Fitzgerald, Matt. The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond "the Wall." (Target is advanced runners but good to know. I used his training plans for half marathons, went very well.)

Friel, Joe. Fast After 50: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life.

As I put this list together I realized how much material I had, and how badly I wanted to re-read some of these. The Dicharry book especially, since I have so many range of motion issues. I am still reading "Fast After 50" and even then it will take a lot of time and study to implement Friel's advice. Then there are the books I did not list, especially Friel's "The Power Meter Handbook" and Fitzgerald's "80/20 Running."
Oh. Her response? "Will tag for later; currently on information overload."

This week I managed to find time to get started implementing workout suggestions from "Fast After 50." The more I worked on my Training Peaks calendar, the more confused I got.

Then came a question about protein intake. According to Friel (well, the research he refers to) and old guy like me needs to consume a lot more protein after a hard workout than a young stud. I am a big fan of chocolate milk, and while one 8oz. serving supplies a nice dose of recovery nutrition for a typical morning run, it is not nearly enough after a hard session. I thought the best person to ask was my strength and bike coach, Dorian Cuccia, and yep, he recommends protein powder. Do you have any idea how many brands of protein powder there are? Or that some are considered downright unhealthy? It's crazy.

This afternoon it hit me. I have so many different sources of information that the task of blending them into a smooth, cohesive whole seems impossible. I have a hunch this is how my friend, the new runner, feels. This is not to say I plan to turn my back and just go by feel. Nope. I know that all this information has a role to play in making me a better athlete. What I am looking for is balance.

I'll get back to you when I find it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rethinking my low intensity weeks

In "The Triathlete's Training Bible" Joe Friel presents guidelines for creating an individual training plan. These same guidelines are incorporated into the Training Peaks Annual Training Plan (ATP). (The new site does yet include the ATP. To get there you must revert to Classic, on the drop-down menu triggered by clicking your name.) Friel's new book, "Fast After 50," also gives advice on setting up a training plan, and some of the suggested solutions are different. No doubt he has updated his recommendations to reflect new knowledge.

A key element of an ATP is periodization by week. Friel recommends that young whipper-snappers insert a reduced volume week every fourth week, whereas mature athletes insert one every third week. I am not sure where he or the TP computer draw the line. All I can say for sure is that TP schedules me a rest week every three weeks, with a target of 7 hours of activity, which is exactly what Friel recommends in his book for someone my age with an annual training goal of 500 hours.

Once you have your weekly volume mapped out you can use the TP Virtual Coach to help fill in individual workouts, again following the same guidelines presented in "The Triathlete's Training Bible." During reduced volume weeks you will see workouts that are really the tests he describes in detail in his book, such as the run LTHR test.

About that 500 hours. As I move into the new year I am finding it difficult to schedule, much less do, as much volume as TP recommends. Somewhere between the complexities of life and the vagaries of the weather I have not been able to put in as much time as I would like. One thing I need to fix is my swim time estimates. I have been scheduling swim workouts based on time in the pool, but my Garmin Swim only gives me credit when I am moving. The most I have ever gotten from a one hour pool workout is 40 minutes. But if I shave off twenty minutes there I have to add it on somewhere else, and there are not very many possibilities.

Okay, I admit that the computer did not assign me 500 hours per year. I chose it, because that is the recommended volume for a Half Ironman:

Suggested Annual Training Hours


Friel, Joe (2012-11-27). The Triathlete's Training Bible (Kindle Locations 2069-2070). VeloPress. Kindle Edition.

To be more precise, 500 hours per year is the high end for sprint distance triathlons, which I did last year, in the middle for Olympic distance events which I am targeting this year, and on the low end for Half Ironman, my goal for 2016. So I did not just pull that number out of a hat.

But I digress. My purpose in this interlude was to explain where the 7 hours per week came from. "The Triathlete's Training Bible," table 14.1.

This coming week is one of those weeks. Back in December/January when I laid out my spring plan I scheduled this week this way:

    Swim, pool 1 hr 2250 yds
    Swim, pool, 1 hr 1200 yds
    Swim, pool 1 hr 3250 yds
    Bike, spin class, 1 hr
    Run, Foundation, 30 min
    Strength, 1 hr
    Yoga (no time)
    Run, track, LTHR test, 50 min
    Massage (no time)
    rest day, no activity
    Run, track, tempo time trial, 30 min

Total planned: 6:50
ATP: 7:00

Even with all that my plan is ten minutes short of my allocation. Experience tells me I will be short on swim time, and about the only way to hit my goal will be to extend some runs or tack on a ride. That or give myself time credit for yoga, which is not really cheating.

My inspiration for this blog entry was to say that after reading most of Friel's new book, "Fast After 50," I feel the need to redefine the two runs that come later in the week. I have something similar at the end of every low volume week.

One change I did spot in Friel's new book, instead of taking average HR for the 20 min run to get LTHR rate, he now recommends taking five percent off that. So this week I will get fresh LTHR data, and the result should change my HR zones, but not by much. My last run LTHR test was back in August, and put me at 154. Five percent off that would be 146.

Run Zones with LTHR at 154


Run Zones with LTHR at 146

So I guess that means I'll be running a bit easier.

There are some other tests Friel recommends we old folks do. I need to read over those sections again before doing any more scheduling. I will present my results in a future post.