Archive for January, 2009

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Rest is a beautiful thing

January 31, 2009

After hella stretching and taking some time off of running last week, I’m back in the game this week and am feeling great. I’m not quite 100%, but close enough to hit the treadmill/sidewalk and start adding up those base hours again and challenging myself. One spot on my left calf is still a little sore (but not tight anymore) but hopefully that will heal up very soon.

And by challenging myself I mean trying crazy new stuff like figuring out how long I can do a headstand in my living room.

Headstand Day 1

I was only able to keep my feet off of the wall for about 3 seconds, but I was pretty proud of myself. So in case you were wondering if I was taking myself and my training too seriously now that I’m being coached and am putting in WAY more off season training hours than last year, I think you have your answer. 🙂 There is still plenty of time for messing around and having some fun. Tomorrow morning I’ll also be heading downtown to the Lululemon store for a free yoga class. Since getting laid off, the yoga budget had to get cut, but I’m glad there are still free classes around that I can check out.

And tonight I finally registered for my second 70.3 ever, and first (of two) in the 2009 season. Rev3 Here I Come Baby! I grew up only about 20 minutes from the race start, so this will be a really great homecoming for me. I never thought I’d be able to get myself in HIM shape so early in the season, but the way everything is coming together already, I have a really good feeling that I’ll be tearing it up come June.

picture-2

And despite hating ranting on the blog, I feel the need to say that I hate Active.com. A piece of my soul dies every time that I have to use them to register for a race. Charging $15 registration fee? WTF. Seriously? Just because a race is more expensive, you decide to up the registration fee. And every time a race forces me to use your site you have the balls to try to sell me on stupid discount clubs and anything else out there? They do have a somewhat interesting new search tool, but it is only in beta and would only really be interesting or groundbreaking 5 years ago. I may never understand why even some of my favorite race directors stil use them year after year. At least a quick google search for “active.com sucks” proves that I’m at least not the only one.  There you go. My rant is over. All appologies, except to Active.com. Bikereg.com is way better.

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A Lesson in Calf Stretching: Soleus Edition

January 24, 2009

FYI: This blog has moved to a new address. Catch up on new posts at: http://swimbikerunlive.com/

After almost a decade of running and working out, and going on three years in triathlon, I’m still surprised about how much I have to learn about training and my own body. It can be humbling sometimes when you realize how much you still have to learn, but I wanted to share my experiences this last week so hopefully no one makes the same mistakes (or at least corrects them faster than I did).

As triathletes, we are like scientists studying our own bodies. We test our bodies daily with different workouts and the occasional rest day. We heavily analyze its outputs on a regular basis so that we can ultimately kick ass on race day. Sometimes our body is predictable and you know just how it is going to react, but other times it trows you for a complete loop and it takes some detective work to bring your body back to normal.

That is exactly what happened to me last week. I had this huge ball of tightness in my left calf that was a big pain. I limped a little for the first mile of my runs, but after I warmed up it was completely gone and I was good as gold. I could pull off easily doing more than an hour without too much worries, but after a while, the tight muscles throughout the day was wearing on my body.

I did everything that I could to try and rub it out without any luck. I spent multiple sessions per day on the foam roller, mashing out my quads, calves and hamstrings and I got downright violent about it after a while. I could feel a huge lump back there, but it just wasn’t budging. After asking around to some more knowledgeable athletes, making a quick visit to my favorite massage therapist at Boston Body Worker, getting the green light from Coach Brett to take some time off of running and doing some reading online, I finally figured out the culprit.

Apparently all the foam roller work and my go-to calf stretch (putting the ball of my foot up against the wall, keeping my knee straight and leaning forward) wasn’t even touching the right muscle. Apparently there is a whole different muscle underneath the meaty wide part at the top of your calf (gastrocnemius). It is that muscle underneath and closer to the bone that was so tight and giving me issues (soleus).

soleusdiag

soleus diagram

Now that I figured out what the problem is, I was able to actually find some stretches that actually addresses said problem. Enter: your friendly neighborhood Spiderman.

stretch-calf-soleus2

  1. Stand with one leg in front of the other, with both feet pointed forward. Place hands on a wall or similar for support
  2. Keep back knee bent, with the heel pressed to the floor
  3. Push your hips forward, while pressing your back heel to ground
  4. Hold the stretch
  5. Repeat on each leg

Notes

  • All stretches should be felt in the back leg NOT the front leg.
  • The calf muscle group is made up of Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles. In general, stretches that bend the knee focus on the soleus muscle, while stretches that straighten the knee focus on the gastrocnemius muscle.

At first I wasn’t quite feeling it and only felt my quads working, but once went up against the wall and leaned forward, I could feel all the muscles through my calf stretch out and cry. Clearly this was doing a WHOLE lot that all my other stretches wasn’t. It was a little painful, but in a good way.  All the little pieces of scar tissue (or whatever the hell was built up there) were being all broken up, and I turned into a very happy boy. My LMT also had me digging my thumb into my calf muscles and flexing/relaxing my foot to work out the rest of everything that had built up.

Besides trying to keep everything else above and below the calf nice and loose, I also found a whole bunch of knots in the arch of my foot, that is helping to loosen up my ankle. Seriously, I think I’m falling apart. Take a golf ball, or heavy lacrosse ball if you’ve got one, and roll it around under the arch of your foot to stay nice and flexible there too.

Seriously. I think I may be falling apart, but I’m glad I’m at least catching these little things early in the season. My LMT thinks that it is probably because of me changing my stride up to try and keep my ass off the ground with all the icy sidewalks. Man, I can’t wait until Boston dethaws. I’ve seen huge progress so far, but am still taking another day or so off of running before jumping back into the game full steam ahead next week.

So there you go, my little tri tip of the day. Enjoy. 🙂

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Spin Until You Puke Workout Mix

January 17, 2009

FYI: This blog has moved to a new address. Catch up on new posts at: http://swimbikerunlive.com/

 

After finally being able test out my new spin workout without making anyone puke, I decided that it was good enough to share. A lot of us have turned into spinning/bike trainer drones this time of year since the weather (at least for people up North) isn’t exactly conducive for road riding. Hopefully this quick 45-50 minute workout can break up some of the boredom.

spinning

I put the length of each song in case you despise my taste in music want to make your own mix.

A roadie in my class really likes workouts like these because there are a lot of fast accelerations that will probably help him out a lot for racing crits.

This workout is based on doing a lot of progressive accelerations (30 seconds easy, 30 seconds faster, 30 seconds SPRINT, then repeat.) Except for some of the standing sets where you’ll be pedaling slower, lets use these standards so no one is asking, “Am I sprinting fast enough, or is my “easy ” too “easy?”

Easy: 85-95 RPM

Medium: 95-100 RPM

Fast: 100-115 RPM

And resistance is obviously dependent on your fitness and the bike you are on, but this is a tempo workout, so your heart rate should be well up there and shouldn’t drop down too far at any point in the workout. Oh, and thanks to Bree Wee to helping me out with some of the music. But without any further delay, I give you my official “Spin Until You Puke” workout.

puking

WARM UP

Colbie Caillat – Somethin’ Special – 3:08

  • Easy Warmup. Low resistance

Step Into Liquid – 2:29

  • :60 slowly increasing pace/resistance. 1:30 easy but fast sprint

MAIN SET

Cake – The Distance – 3:01

  • Resistance 4/10
  • 2x (:30 slow/ :30 medium/ :30 fast)

Hilary Duff – With Love – 3:06

  • Resistance 5/10
  • 2x (:30 slow/ :30 medium/ :30 fast)

Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Steeling – 3:34

  • Hold +95 RPM cadence. Only change resistance.
  • 2x (:30 light/ :30 medium/ :45 heavy)

Garbage – #1 Crush

  • Stand for entire song @ 60-70 RPM. Only change resistance. Heavy set should be HEAVY.
  • 2x (:60 light/ :45 medium/ :30 heavy)

Screaming Trees – Nearly Lost You There – 4:08

  • Back into the saddle. Resistance 5/10
  • 2x (:30 slow/ :30 medium/ :60 fast)

Mix Master Mike – Kalahuta Show – 2:33

  • Resistance 6/10
  • :20 slow/ :20 medium/ :20 fast
  • :20 slow/ :20 medium/ :50 fast

Filter – Hey Man Nice Shot – 5:02

  • Stand for entire song. Resistance 7/10
  • 2x (:60 easy/ :45 medium/ :30 FAST)

3 Doors Down – The Champion In Me – 3:34

  • Back in the saddle. Hold fast +100 RPM. Only change resistance.
  • 2x (:30 light/ :30 medium/ :45 heavy)

Fat boy slim – Funk Soul Brother – 4:04

  • Resistance 4/10
  • 2x (:30 slow/ :45 medium/ :45 fast)

BEGIN COOLDOWN

Porno For Pyros – Pets – 3:37

  • Resistance 4/10. Easy pace
  • 3x :30 sit/:30 standing

Music Prep (unknown artist)

  • Resistance 3/10. Easy pace
  • Let HR come to rest and spin along gently.

U2 – One Tree Hill – 5:22

  • Off the bike. Stretch it out

tapeworm

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Spinning Instructor Street Cred

January 13, 2009

I have been feeling antsy about publishing a new blog post ASAP. I have since moved on past the bad news last week and feel like it is bad karma to leave my blog with the last post on top and I’m looking forward to pushing it further down the page.  What can I say? I just don’t do the depressed, angry and bitter thing very well. I was busting my brain to try and think of some new blog-worthy topics, until spin class tonight.

(I was interviewed for a story on Boston’s NPR affiliate, WBUR for a story on all the layoffs today. It should air this Friday, if you want to hear it, email me and I’ll send you a link if they put it online.)

With some extra time yesterday, I made a new spin mix that I was looking forward to testing out in class last night. Despite only two people showing up to class (even though every single treadmill was taken), I still rocked it and started out really hard. The two people in class were regulars and already pretty fit and I knew that they could take it.

That was until the girl started dropping off of the sprint sets and just slowly pedaling along.

Now there are some instructors that get really peeved when the class breaks away from the routine, but as long as you aren’t taking away from the energy of the class, or standing when everyone is sitting right up in the front row, I don’t really care. I was just surprised that this girl was bowing out.

All of a sudden, she grabs her stomach, stops pedaling, and gives me the hand across the throat “no more” sign. As she grabs her towel and water bottle and heads towards the door while I continue on leading class, she lets it fly. But unfortunately she doesn’t make it to the bathroom or nearest trash can.

no-puking

I help her out the door, dodging the splattered puke on my way, and was left sitting there wondering WTF to do next. Not wanting to continue on class while the room fills with the stink of sweat and puke, I decide to call it a day and have the guy at the front desk mop it up. Heck, I was just glad that I didn’t have to do it!

I asked the other guy left in class if I should take it personally that someone puked  25 minutes into my new workout and music mix, but he assured me that I should take it as a matter of pride and consider it as official spinning class street cred.

HELLS YEAH!

So if anyone wants a fun, fast workout that may make you puke your brains out, let me know. 😉

I just hope that she isn’t too embarrassed and never comes back. But she is pretty hardcore for sticking it out so long, so I’m sure I’ll see her again.

    run-puke-run-crazy-single
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Diary of an Unemployed Triathlete

January 8, 2009

FYI: This blog has moved to a new address. Catch up on new posts at: http://swimbikerunlive.com/

 

unemployed

.. well, maybe unemployed public relations guy is more accurate, but whatever. That isn’t the point. If you were paying attention to my twitter feed this morning, you probably already know, but shit hit the fan this morning and I got laid off.  What sucks most is that it was a job that I was pretty good at and I actually liked. The economy sucks, money just wasn’t coming like it used to and despite my best efforts to be indespensible, I got the axe.

And I now that this is two non-triathlon related blog posts in one week, but too bad!

I decided that I can wallow in self pity, be embarrassed, only tell the people that I can’t hide it from, cross my fingers fingers and hope for the best, or hold my head up high and actually try to get something productive out of all my activity in different networks like this blog, twitter, triscoop, etc. So if you know anyone in the Boston area that is hiring for any marketing/public relations/social media position, send ’em my way. 🙂

I am pretty sick at what I do. And at this point, especially with so many other people fighting for only a few jobs, I’m pretty damn flexible. Maybe I’ll even find something fitness-related to make my personal passions into a career. Who knows?!

So you may be seeing a lot more frequent blog posts from me, and a lot more training. I’ve got some new time on my hands.

Now back to your regularly scheduled triathlon posts…

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Breaking Down Barriers

January 7, 2009

Barriers are a part of everyone’s daily life.  In life and work, mental and physical.

Last night I had a fun epiphany, recognizing that what what I thought was holding me back physically, was really just a mental barrier that I had put up myself.  Enter, the treadmill.

Speedy Sasquatch (Josh) has a good post on his hatred of treadmills, and I agree with him on every single point. The things just suck donkey balls. Period.

But the fact of the matter is that when I’m doing half marathon training in the winter in Boston, they are pretty hard to avoid. When an ice storm is rolling in and it is already dark by 4:30, there just isn’t any way I’m going to haul my butt out onto the sideways and battle traffic for an hour. Just not worth the risk, time and added stress. That is where the treadmill comes in.

Over the last few yeas, I’ve done a pretty amazing job at avoiding these things as if my feed would explode if I touched them for too long. Besides a few 20-30 minute runs after spin class on a few rare occasions, I hadn’t been on one in years and had no interest in changing that until this season forced my hand (or foot?).

Either way, I had built up this mental block where I convinced myself that I could only handle about 30 minutes on the treadmill. After that point I would go brain dead and either fall off or painfully count down each second until I gave in and stepped off to make some excuse on why I didn’t finish my workout. I’m at the point where I can comfortably run +2 hours at an easy pace outside (and enjoy it), but the thought of doing 3 miles on the treadmill made me a little anxious.

Last night I had a 1 hour/6 mile run on the training plan and didn’t want to bother with the nasty weather looming outside and decided to test my (mental) limits and go for it on the treadmill at my gym. Minutes 0-20 were fine. I didn’t zone out or get fully relaxed like I do when I’m outside, but it was good enough. Having metal bars surround me on three sides while I run in place just isn’t a comfortable place to be.

Once I got towards that 30:00 mark, I could tell that my head, and ultimately my body, were ready to be done. I was getting pretty bored, feeling a little tired (even though I knew at that pace there was no reason why I should be at that pace and HR), anxiously skipping fast though songs on my iPod and checking on the clock every 30 seconds or so, thinking that somehow time must have slowed down.

The funny thing is that once I broke past that 30:00 mark that I had put up myself, it wasn’t bad at all. I was actually way more relaxed and comfortable from 40-60 minutes than I was in the first half of the run. I was able to let my mind just wander, not focusing on the time, like I normally do when running and just kept on going.

Even though 6 miles at a very easy pace is hardly a physical breakthrough, I was really pumped after the workout. It reminded me about the importance of recognizing the difference between physical limitations that our bodies put on us and the metal limitations that we (subconsciously) put on our bodies.

So if there is anything holding you back this off season, or if you are postponing starting that New Year’s resolution, take a good look at what is in your way. Are they real barriers, or artificial ones that you put there with no basis in reality?

Chalenging yourself in training doesn’t always have to be associated with sweat, pain, huge hills and big gears. If your mind isn’t right on race day, you won’t find that finish line. Challenging your perceptions on what you are capable of is just as important sometimes.

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Playing with HD Video

January 6, 2009

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with triathlon. I’m not even going to attempt to draw some connection. It does have fun HD videos of my dog. So if you don’t like dogs or cool new tech toys, come back in a few days. I’ll have some triathlon related posts then. 🙂

For Christmas, Santa brought me a sick new toy. A super tiny HD camera. The thing is awesome and I’ve been playing around with it the last few days and I love it. It is smaller than my regular digital still camera, and takes amazing videos. I may have to pack it along in my jersey pocket once I’m able to do long rides outside this spring to share random stuff that I find on the road.

Flip mino-hd

While the videos look amazing on my desktop, the files are huge and get a little clumsy when trying to move them online or export them to smaller files without losing all the quality.

When I was at home in Connecticut for Chrismas, I was playing around in the yard with my (parent’s) golden retriever, Tucker. Since a few different online video sites now allow you to upload HD videos (YouTube and Vimeo) I decided to play around and see what looks best so I know what makes the most sense for posting little video snapshots while training this year.

In the past, I’ve almost always used Blip.tv because they make it really easy to turn my videos into a podcast, but I’m curious to see how the other players stack up and if it makes sense using a different one, or maybe mix and match.

YouTube:

Click through and hit “Watch in HD” for full quality.

Vimeo:

Click through for full HD

Blip.TV

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1644761&dest=-1]

Click through for Quicktime HD version in Blip.

Click through for larger (non HD) flash version in Blip.

If for whatever reason you can’t see any of the three videos above, let me know. I’m also curious how this post looks in people’s RSS readers, since it doesn’t always look the same as it does on WordPress, but I’m still trying to work out some kinks.

Let me know what you think.