Saturday, December 31, 2011

See ya 2011!

We want to wish everyone a happy and successful 2012!

Early in the new year, look for some serious base training for the first six weeks. We will be taking part in Coach Troy Jacobson's Super 6+ program. We know right now that we'll be making some significant modifications. We'll be adding swim workouts and swapping one to two bike workouts for run workouts. 

We'll also be posting our race schedule in the next week or so.

Have a safe NYE and a strong start and finish to 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Now Back to Running

Webb: Thursday night means speed/track work with the SEAC running club. Except for Elle. When the temps drop below 40F, Elle takes her work inside. Since it was 30F at the beginning of the workout tonight, I headed to run club alone.

w/u - 1.5 mile run to track
main - 800m (200m recovery)
          400m (200m recovery)
          200m (200m recovery)
drills - lower-leg drive, lunges, bounding, etc.
shake-out - 800m as jog the turns, stride the straights
c/d - 1.5 mile return jog to store

Webb: Winter arrived tonight. Wow it felt cold. According to my phone it was 30F when I left, but it definitely felt colder than that. Can't say I'm much of a judge at this point given how warm this winter has been.

I struggled a great deal tonight. I simply could not get enough air. My windpipe felt like it was the size of presta bike valve. The legs were there. To the extent I could get oxygen to my quads that is. During the drills I was able to get some more oxygen intake. Still, I had to stop a few times on the return jog to cough violently. Once back at the store, and the warm interior air, immediately I was able to breathe fine. I definitely miss the usual winter acclimatization.

Elle: Elsewhere, I headed to the warm, cozy gym.

Warm Up: 10 min. @ 1% grade, speed = 6 mph, increasing 0.1 mph every minute, holding steady at 6.5mph
Set #1: 10 x 30 sec. at 5% grade, 9 mph followed by 30 sec. off the treadmill
Set #2: 5 min. @ 1% grade, 8 mph
Set #3: Track simulation - 4 laps of jog the turns (@ 6 mph), stride the straight-aways (@ 10 mph)
Set #4: 1% grade, 7 mph
Total time: 50 min.
Total distance: 6.2 miles

Then I did 5 quick pull-ups, just for good measure.
Cool down: Walk home from the gym (~ 1 mile)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 8 of SufferFestukah: Breaking Away

Ffiona loves SufferFestukah
Webb: About 14 days ago, Elle hit upon an idea: There are eight videos (not counting the Extra Shot) and eight nights of Channukah. "What if ... ?"
It was stupid.
It was crazy.
It was on.

Eight days of suffering ended today. Eight indoor sessions. Eight hours and 23 minutes on the trainer. More than 200oz of fluid consumed. More than 200oz of sweat lost.

60-minutes total, with the main set a 20-minute sustained climb, mostly at a steady effort. Mostly, because it isn't a Sufferfest workout unless there are attacks.

Elle: This has the best music of all the workouts, in my opinion. I especially love 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' by The Swing Movement. I could have listened to that song for the whole ride.

Webb: Thanks to a <ahem> technical error on Day 2, we totally lucked into this being our last workout. Not that it was easy, it wasn't. It was a great capstone to SufferFestukah. As triathletes, our motivation on the road is not unlike the soloist in cycling. It is you against everyone; you are out there on your own. When I realized this was going to be about solo efforts, I decided to honor SufferFestukah by pulling out my race kit. (I absolutely love my Endurance Junkie racesuit, so I like to save it for races only.)
Team Triathletes Journey survives SufferFestukah

Elle: Sweat, sweat, and more sweat. Stinging my eyes, falling into my mouth, dripping off my nose and chin.

Webb: I've purposefully tried to be somewhat vague in my description of the workouts. The #1 reason is everyone should have their own first experience with each Suffferfest video. So with that in mind, I won't tell you how rotten the final 5 minutes are after the 20 minute climb. Enjoy!

Elle: I can't believe I finished all of the days. I struggled a couple of times just getting on the bike to start the workout. However, at the beginning of this, our final video, I realized that it felt natural, like we do this all the time. I am already so much farther along in my preparation than I was last year. 2012 is going to be great.

Webb: The one thing we'll change for next year is to include Extra Shot in every workout. I think we'll use it like the shamash. Each day we'll start the workout with Extra Shot. One wonders how many new videos there will be next year and what will they entail? Perhaps the bigger question is, "Who will join us?"

Elle: I'm glad SufferFestukah is over, it's been painful and sweaty. But there's part of me that's going to miss going to Sufferlandria every day, I started getting used to being there. But the pool and the treadmill are calling...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 7 of SufferFestukah: The First Rule of Fight Club is ...

Look at all of those candles...
... oh, we're gonna talk about it.

Power intervals. 5 times. Time trial efforts followed by climbs. With attacks coming at any and all times. Basically, intervals within intervals.

Webb: I entered the 53t fighting ring and almost didn't come out.

Elle: OK, so this may be my favorite SufferFest workout. The attacks are killer. I love riding with Cadel "Don't touch my lion" Evans, and this is the funniest so far (the little joke at the end is just evil). And I love the 'basket' ride in the beginning.

Webb: Earlier I wrote some workouts have a purpose in not letting you fully recover. Unbeknownst to me, Fight Club is one of those workouts. Sure each interval has a recovery, but it is the lack recovery after the attacks that are key. Whether you are in a cycling race or racing against the clock in a triathlon, there will be times when you need to drop the hammer for even a few seconds to close a gap or to pass someone. In those races, you will need to return to your pre-sprint effort (i.e., don't let up) so as not to undo what you just did.

Elle: Just the type of workout that I like! However, around the 4th interval, the vomit fairy was threatening to pay me a visit...

Webb: This workout must improve your power output. I am no physicist or engineer, but I seem to recall that power is the product of speed and force. For those of you who know what I am talking about, skip ahead. When it comes to power in cycling speed is not measured in mph/kph but in RPM. Force, then, is how much you put into your pedals. Fight Club starts each interval in time trial mode where you are essentially doing cadence work, working on your speed (i.e., high RPMs). The second part of the interval then has you climb in a low gear/high resistance, thus improving you strength to apply more force to the pedals. Put the two together and blammo! Power!

Elle: With legs screaming, face grimacing, vomit fairy circling, I fought through this workout and came out the other end a stronger cyclist, I'm sure of it. With the celebration of SufferFestukah, I feel that I've really got a sense of the Sufferlandrian motto, IWBMATTKYT (I Will Beat My Ass Today To Kick Yours Tomorrow). If this sh*t doesn't prepare me to kick some serious cycling butt in the spring, I don't know what will...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 6 of SufferFestukah - Putting Hay in the Manger

Webb:  Santa brought us two whole workouts for Christmas this year!!! We started out with a run and then after a short break, but distinctly a break, not a hurry-change-and-don't-forget-nutrition type of BRICK break, we then saddled up and did the next installment of's workouts.

THE RUN - Workout #1
A 70:00 endurance effort along the Charles River.

Xmas day run from Elle Steiner on Vimeo.
Webb: We had a major run accomplishment today. We ran in zones 1 & 2 100% of the time. Normally we set out to do that and creep into zone 3 several times. I actually had to implement a method in our endurance runs that I picked up somewhere. When the HR touches zone 3, we stop and walk. We did not have to do any of that today.

Elle: It was nice to do a LSD (long, slow, distance) run, and with it being Christmas afternoon, Boston was very quiet. It was sunny and nice out, and there was a general calm and peacefulness that gave the run almost a mystical feel.

Webb: I wore pants today. It was about 35F (27F with a gusty wind chill factor), marking one of the first few cold days of what has been a remarkably mild winter. (Did I just trigger a Nor'easter?)

Elle: So I bundled up, big time. I had a tank, a long-sleeved thermal, and a shell. Plus running tights, a headband, and my toasty Mizuno running gloves (the best running gloves ever). Obviously after about a mile, I had to remove the shell and the gloves. If it weren't for the wind, I might have removed the thermal at one point...

Webb: One of the things you can count on in Boston is that no matter what the weather is like, the hour or the day, including holidays, people will be running along the Charles. Today was no different. This city runs.

Elle: Another name for this run could have been 'Goose-Dodge' or 'Squirrel Alert'.

Webb: I have to say the highlight of the run, no, the highlight of the day, was Elle pointing out the squirrel scrambling up a tree with an inhaler in his mouth. An inhaler!

SufferFestukah - Day 6
THE BIKE - Workout # 2: Local Hero
You represent your country, Sufferlandria, in the UCI Road World Championship race. You'll have a tune-up race and a time trial before you get to the race and its five intervals, <ahem> laps at Geelong. Total time 85:00.

Webb: Oh this might be my new favorite Sufferfest workout.

Elle: At this point, SufferFestukah is really kicking my ass. It was tough to get back on the trainer AGAIN, but I was excited to do this new workout. And while I liked it, I think I have to choose Revolver as my favorite SufferFest so far. Webb is more of a long, slow distance athlete, while I like things short and fast.

Webb: While that may be true, I liked the variety of Local Hero. You know what they say, "Variety is the spice of suffering." Although Health Hath No Fury has a better peloton perspective, and is thus more race-like, Local Hero gave us CX, time trial, breakaways and sprints, all from an individual or small-pack perspective.

Elle: While I didn't kill myself, I gave this workout all I had that was left after 6 days of SufferFest workouts plus a 7.7-mile run.

Local Hero on my Trek Speed Concept 7.0
Webb: I dialed back the intensity on this one. Not only had we just done the run, but we also have Fight Club and The Hunted coming up in our final two days of SufferFestukah. We have not done these videos yet but I am anticipating us throwing it down.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 5 - SufferFestukah: Muhahahahahahahaha

Ffiona wants to be involved with SufferFestukah
THE WORKOUT: A Very Dark Place
This is one of the four videos we already know and love. The main workout is 5 x 4:00 intervals with 3:00 recoveries. None of the intervals are the same and that is a good thing. Lots of Time Trial efforts and climbing.

Webb: We set out to do this one as prescribed. In my brief experience, four and five-minute intervals are great training for time trials. Even though AVDP has climbing, that is ok because we are building sport-specific strength. Funny thing about cycling is that it is rare to find someone who is a great climber and time-trialist, even though they have at least on similar quality: You have to embrace the suffering.
At the gates ...

Elle: At this point in SufferFestukah, I feel like I've resigned to the pain and suffering - I got on my trainer ready to throw down and go to a very dark place.

Webb: This was fairly predictable. Interval #1 was hard because I still needed to warm-up a bit. Interval #2 felt good because I was warmed-up. Interval #3 saw the first wave of nausea. Interval #4 was rough fighting with the likes Spartacus and Thor on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. Interval #5 killed me as I chased Cadel "Ne touche pas!" Evans up to the Col du Glandon in the famed Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré.

Elle: The nausea hit about half way through and then just came and went from there on out. Even after the workout was over, I didn't feel super fantastic. 

Webb: There is no doubt this will be a staple of our workouts leading into the Spring.

Day 4: SufferFestukah: Earn your bike.

A festival of lights and suffering
THE WORKOUT: Hell Hath No Fury
A stage race. Four stages, with Stages #2 and #3 featured at 20:00 each. Stage #1 is more preface than Prologue and Stage #4 is a nifty Team Time Trial (TTT). Seventy-five minutes of race conditions: Peloton. Attack. Peloton. Chase Group. Peloton. Attack. Hills. Attack. Bridge-up. Peloton. Hill Sprint. Attack. Bunch sprint.

Webb: Brilliant! This may be my favorite SufferFest workout.

Elle: I have to say, it was really tough getting on the trainer today. I was tired and exhausted, physically and mentally. But there was no way that I was giving up on SufferFestukah, so I dragged my butt onto that bike and took a trip to Sufferlandria.

Webb: This video is the closest I have seen to actual race conditions. Granted, I have only been in a handful of cycling races, including an ill-fated attempt at a stage race. Still, it felt real enough to bring back some of the anxiety of being in the peloton. "Patience, patience, patience." "Is that attack for real? Why are we letting him go?" "Gawd, I hope no one attacks. I'm gassed from the last one; I'll be dropped if the peloton responds." "Is anyone here organized???" If you have never been in a cycling race before, I recommend doing this workout to help you prepare mentally.
Recovery is such sweet......recovery.

Elle: At one point, I turned to Webb and said, "Wow, how did people used to train without 'The Sufferfest'?????"

Webb: We need more coverage of women's cycling. There were some moments when I wondered if this is what it was like when The Cannibal was eating up his competition. I don't know why. I am not old enough to know much about it. It just seems that this is a pivotal moment in women's cycling and it would be a shame if we were missing out on some great sporting feats and story lines.

Elle: I had some trouble watching the screen near the end, with all of the sweat pouring into my eyes...

Webb: Whose idea was SufferFestukah??? It was supposed to be a stupid, crazy challenge for the Triathletes' Journey team. It now feels like a mini-camp. I am tired, yet, each time on the trainer I feel a bit stronger and definitely fitter. There are times my legs are numb to the point I am telling them to move. During the ride, after the ride, the numbers look better no matter how useless my legs feel.

Elle: I feel like I have earned my bike today.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 3: SufferFestukah: We're Still Triathletes

Doing Revolver - at the crack of dawn.
Webb: And on the third day, they did two workouts. As crazy as doing eight days of workouts is, we have to be even crazier and make sure we do not totally ignore swimming and running. We wanted to run with our Thursday night track friends at SEAC. I have missed the last few because of work and was damn sure I was not going to miss out on a December track workout when it is a blistering 50F outside.

1-minute intervals at maximum effort with a scant 1-minute recovery between each. All out. Everything you got. 100%. 15 times. Check it out for yourself if you don't believe us.

Webb: Why is Revolver in  all caps? We had a bit of disagreement between us whether Downward Spiral or Revolver was harder. I was in the DS camp. Not anymore. The argument is concluded.

Click on the image above to see more of Barry Crowell's Designs

Elle: As per usual, Revolver chewed me up, and spit me out.

Webb: Getting up at 5:45am was near impossible this morning. That had nothing to do with Revolver. I actually like doing morning workouts - if I know I can go back to sleep afterwards. I had to do it if I was going to fit in SEAC running club.

Elle: This morning's visit to Sufferlandria almost didn't happen. Luckily Maxwell (the orange cat) woke me at around 5:50am for breakfast, that's when I realized the alarm had gone off, and Webb had shut it off, probably half asleep. So I turned the lights on and told him to get his butt out of bed; it was time to suffer.

Webb: What can I say? It was brutal. Serious nausea at #13 and I nearly cracked at #15 trying to keep up with the pro women. Here is the thing though. You won't get faster doing intervals 1-3. You get faster doing intervals 13-15. So if you want to get faster, you have to hang in there.

Post-running w/ Laura @ SEAC
warm-up : 1.5 miles
Main:  400m  ON
                       4 x 100m OFF/100m ON
                       200m OFF/200m ON
Drills: Lunges, back pedaling, lower-leg drive, etc.
Shake Out: 800m of Jog the Turns-Stride the Straights
cool-down: 1.5 miles

Webb: I missed the SEAC crew. I think @Dan_SEAC, our speed leader, must have missed me too because he knows how much I love workouts that start with 400m.

Elle: I didn't know if I was going to have any energy tonight, but once I got on the track, it felt good to bust it out.

Webb:  It is my belief that if you want to get faster you need to run fast. That is why I do my efforts at closer to my mile pace rather than say a 5k pace.  I also tend to recover at a slower pace than others because I also believe the harder the effort the easier the recovery. (There are some workouts that intentionally deprive you of a complete recovery and they have their purposes. At some point, we'll do one such cycling workout I like to call Surge n' Purge.)

Elle: In the summer, when it's light out, the track is full of activity, with baseball games and soccer games, all going on at once, spectators in the stands, people on the basketball courts. But in the winter, the lights are out, no one is there except us, and there is a silence at the track that is kind of meditative.

Webb: The last time we did Revolver in the morning and SEAC speed at night, Elle woke up with her knee all messed up. For that reason, I cautioned her as we stepped on the track.

           me:  Ok, you're gonna want to take it easy tonight. Don't go too hard.

          Elle (with no trace of mockery): Don't worry. I plan to run with you.

And there you have it.

Elle: In traditional SEAC running club fashion, post-run involved lots of stretching and socializing, plus some eating of homemade turkey chili (thanks Emily @ems1030) and apple cake (thanks Natasha), and the drinking of beer. Lots of beer. Was that wise? Perhaps not. Was it fun? Most definitely.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 2: SufferFestukah: What Comes Down, Must Go Up

Day 2 Chanukah candles
Climbing, climbing and climbing. Three sustained climbs. "Is that it?" you ask. Sure. Oh, did you want to know about the attacks, the responses or the just hang-on-and-don't-get-dropped-tempo-before-the-next-attack? There are too many to review.

WebbYeah, yeah the schedule called for The Hunted. We made a game-time decision to switch to Angels. I have done this workout twice before and enjoy it. My two main weaknesses are climbing and a poor V02max. That's it, just those two. Otherwise I'm solid.

Elle: One might point out that the last-minute change-up was due to Sufferlandrian technical error. And that Sufferlandrian is Webb. But it's all good in the hood, suffering is suffering.

Webb: I decided to treat tonight's workout more like an endurance effort with skills work than the true crushing-climber it is. Low cadence, big gear work is good to smooth out the pedal stroke while working on sport-specific strength. For the most part, I followed the directions, modifying it by dialing back the intensity. That is until I had to chase Contador up Alpe d'Huez.

Ffiona (the cat) loves to watch The Sufferfest;
she's a huge fan of the sport.
Elle: It's hard to hold back when you're riding up there with the likes of Contador, Voeckler and the Schlecks...

Webb: Overall, I feel good and ready to take on Revolver in a few hours. <gulp>

Elle: I, however, am scared as hell to get up in 6 hours and jump back on the trainer to take on Revolver. Tomorrow will definitely be the toughest day - and we're not even half-way through SufferFestukah! Who's crazy idea was this, anyway?!?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DAY 1: SufferFestukah - The Festival of Lights and Suffering

THE WORKOUT:'s "Downward Spiral"
See the menorah on top of the armoire?!?
This workout is basically two sets of descending intervals where recovery time equals work time. The intervals are at max effort and if done correctly should increase your power output. Ideally over time, you'll get to the point where you can link the efforts together in a race and establish a new PR. Read the full review in an earlier post.

Webb: Such an awesomely painful turbo session. I posted not long ago about doing this workout and my experience didn't vary much. It was nice to have my suffer-partner alongside me this time. I love it when TheSufferfest commands you onscreen to go HARDER and I can hear Elle's windtrainer kick up. I'm on a fluid trainer so I get to fake it with well-timed grunting and cursing.
Warming up...

Elle: It's always great to be back in Sufferlandria. And equally great to leave...

Webb: Ha ha! Elle Schlecked on a trainer!

Elle: It's true, mid-way through the workout I pulled a Schleck, and dropped my chain. I guess I was pretty excited to be shifting from my big chain ring to the small one. And I would have thought that Contad... I mean, Webb would have showed some freaking sportsmanship and waited for me, but no, he took the opportunity to surge ahead. I guess the yellow jersey was calling his name...

Webb: I've mentioned before how good the music is, but I sometimes wonder if it isn't just about the tempo or energy. On interval 2/8 of the second set, there is  a song called "You Don't Know Me," by Art of Dying. I actually thought to myself,
This type of workout can teach you something about yourself - as you are dying.
And then I nearly forgot myself all over the floor during interval 3/8.

Elle: So, as you can see from the photo, without a lot of room for Sufferlandria, I sit pretty close to the TV. Webb is to my left. That's how we roll.

Webb: This is going to be the best Chanukah evah!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Will We Have The Fuel To Burn for 8 Days?

Webb: Tomorrow night, we will begin our celebration of Chanukah by doing the first of's workouts. Each day we'll do another until we have burned through all eight videos. The tentative schedule is:

Tuesday - "Downward Spiral"
Wednesday - "The Hunted" "Angels"
Thursday - "Revolver"
Friday - "Hell Hath No Fury"
Saturday - "A Very Dark Place"
Sunday - "Local Hero"
Monday - "Fight Club"
Tuesday - "Angels" "The Hunted"

Webb: Doing eight days straight of hard efforts is a good way to get sick, injured or both. So the plan is to be smart and have fun. Having done half of these workouts, I've made some guesses which ones may be good ones to do with a little less than the prescribed intensity. It'll be a miracle if we get through them all.

Elle: I'm both excited and nervous to embark on the journey of 8 days of Sufferukah (and the festival of suffering). If anyone else is in need of a new holiday tradition, feel free to join in on the challenge. Who knows how this will all turn out, but it will be an adventure...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hey Cruzans! We're coming back!

Webb: It is official: The Triathletes Journey team has signed up for the St Croix Sprint Triathlon. The people of St Croix were so welcoming we couldn't resist a return visit.

Elle: Definitely one of my favorite races, can't wait to get back to the gorgeous island of St. Croix, shopping in Christiansted, snorkeling at Buck's island, and of course, all of the hookers.

Webb: It will be our first triathlon race of the season.

Elle: The highlight of the race for me last year was taking a photo with the magnificent Mirinda Carfrae. Also exciting was watching Cat Morrison cross the finish line for the win. It's a pretty small race, so you can be up close and personal with the pros. Can't wait to see who will be there this year...

I like your grey Banana Republic sweater

One of the keys to the early part of our training was to get back in the weight room. Not only did both of us miss the weight work this past season, but it may be why both of us have had some injury issues. We hope today marks the return to consistent strength training.

w/u: Easy one-mile run
Main 1: LEGS - 3 sets of a 3-exercise sequence. There is some rest between the exercises and full recovery rest between the sets. The sequence was:
a) Sumo DB Deadlift (x10)
b) Step-ups without weight (x10 each leg, do not alternate)
c) Lateral Lunges with weight (x10 each leg, do not alternate).
Main 2: UPPER - Pull-up, Push-up, Sit-up sequence over 20 minutes.
Elle  did 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups and 9 sit-ups (5 sets in total)
Webb  did 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 sit-ups (7 sets in total)
This is taken from a CrossFit workout. Those familiar with CF know that they love to do workouts where you try to complete As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes.

Webb:  It was good moving weight again. I have had a nagging lower back/hip/ITB issue going back to May 2010. Sumo deadlifts are a great glute and adductor workout. The step-ups are a great strength move for cycling and even better for me to work on hip stability (hence the no weight). We started doing lateral lunges when I saw that Lance Armstrong is a big fan of them. It is great for triathletes who tend to be injury-prone because everything we do is in the saggital plane (linear, front to back).

Elle: This was a fun workout. It was a little tricky, as far a logistics, though, since our gym is pretty small, and there's only ONE pull-up bar. So we ended up working in with two other guys, one I referred to as 'Green-Shirt Guy', and the other, 'Sweater Guy' because he was wearing a nice, grey, Banana Republic sweater. At the gym. Working out.  I've never seen that before. Hey, I'm not judging, I'm just saying what I saw.

Webb: I am a big, big fan of pull-up/push-up/sit-up workouts. I'm sure at some point I'll write about my favorite variation of this, which I call "Back to Basics." Doing these workouts you can feel how connected your muscular system is. Think you don't engage your pec's during pull-ups? Wrong. How about your abs during push-ups? You planking fans know the answer to that. I was happy to knock down seven rounds.

Elle: I have to admit, I do enjoy working out in the weight area and being the only woman doing pull-ups. And since we decided to try some video today, for your viewing pleasure, is me, on my 3rd set of pull-ups. They're not pretty, but they get the job done (don't worry, the video is only 35 seconds long...).

Untitled from Elle Steiner on Vimeo.

Elle Takes a Day Off; Webb Tries Her 3000m Swim Workout

Webb's Workout:

warm up:
 300m (100m swim, 100m kick, 100m swim)
main: 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m @ moderate pace (:20)
          300m, 200m, 100m @ negative splits (:25)
          4 x 150m pull-buoy (:15)
          200m (fast) (:30)
          100m (fast) (:30)
cool down: none
Total: 2800m

Webb: Since Elle had such a positive, albeit tiring, experience with her swim the day before, I had to try it. My biggest challenge was that I only had about an hour to do it since the gym was going to close. I decided I would shorten the warm-up a bit (from 400m to 300m) and do as much as I could before the staff kicked me out of the pool. Since I find pull sets to be valuable for me, I also altered the workout to move those up earlier. It changes the nature of the workout. Elle, who also like pull sets, hated the 4x150 buoy sets. I am convinced that is because they came at the end, especially after 300m of fast sets.

After finishing my pull sets, I was happy to see I had a few minutes to try to knock down the two fast sets. I actually think doing these after the pull sets improved my form. Even though I was fatigued, the prior sets with the buoy helped me re-focus on head position, reach and hip snap. I want to do this workout in its original form and compare their effectiveness.

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Hits the Water, the Other HITs the Treadmill

Webb: This wacky week saw the teammates splitting up their workouts again. Elle took on the lap pool for her first solo 3000m swim set. Webb finished his week of late nights at the office with a lung and heart bursting treadmill workout.

Webb's Workout: "Mike O'Chondria" evolves to "10-10-10"
A couple of year's ago Super Personal Trainer Mike D'Angelo gave us a run workout designed to increase our mitochrondria, which you may remember is the workhorse of the cell. (Mike O'Chondria. Get it? Cute, huh? Ok, whatever.) The workout is simple, short and efficient. After a good warm-up, do 5 sets of 30-seconds ALL-OUT effort followed by a 2-minutes jog recovery. The workout is best done on a track because you can truly give a maximum effort each interval. As Mike says, each interval try to beat your last distance. You can do it on a treadmill, it just won't be the same quality.

Elle: I've never done Mike O'Chondria on a track, only on a treadmill, and I personally think it works just fine.

Webb: A couple of weeks ago I heard about a High Intensity Training (HIT) workout similar to Mike O'Chondria, but scary. Of course, I had to try it. Again, it is simple and efficient. You put the treadmill grade at the maximum (or the maximum you can handle) and then crank the speed up to the maximum (or  the maximum you can handle). Do 10 sets of :30 followed by 1:00 of passive recovery (i.e., step off the treadmill and try to catch your breath). I tried this a day or two after hearing about it  and failed miserably - only completing 5 sets.
So I merged the two into my new "10-10-10" workout:

15 minute warm up
10 x 10mph at 10% grade
Each interval is 30-seconds with a 2-minute passive recovery (The longer recovery made all the difference.)

Webb: I noticed my HR after each work interval creeped up about 1 bpm - which becomes 10+ by the end of the workout. (If you don't have a HR monitor, ask a gym employee to count the beats as your heart tries to burst out of your chest.) What probably makes it a great workout is that by the end of the recovery interval your HR decreases by about 3 beats LESS each time. For example, if after the first set your recover to 120, after the second set you'll be at 123ish. Needless to say, as the workout goes on, it gets uglier and uglier. But hey, you'll feel good about yourself laying next to the treadmill in your own puddle of sweat at the end. And the EMTs will think you're awesome.


Elle: So I ventured to the pool to do the following endurance swim workout:

The pool @ SEFC
warm up: 2 x 200m (50m swim, 100m kick, 50m swim)
main: 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m @ moderate pace
          300m, 200m, 100m @ negative splits
          200m (fast)
          100m (fast)
          4 x 150m pull-buoy (this is what really sucked)
cool down: 100m
total: 3000m

Elle: So for swimmers, that may not seem like a lot, but for me, it might as well have been a 15-mile run, cuz, freaking-A, when I finished that, and stepped out of the pool and saw that I had been swimming for almost exactly an hour and a half..WHEW!!!! Swimming is definitely my weakest discipline, so it feels good to put in a big workout like that. I was glad when it was over, but felt motivated to improve for next time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SEAC Annual Jog & Nog

3.5-mile easy, fun run

Elle: So last night was SEAC's 2nd annual Jog & Nog - a fun, easy, 3.5 mile holiday run from the store, down Comm. Ave (with all of the trees along the ave. lit up), through the public gardens and Boston Commons to the big Xmas tree, then back to the store. Lead by Dan, who donned a Santa hat, there was also another jogger who had wrapped her body in Xmas lights. How she had them lit, I have no idea. It was a really nice night, and a fun and pretty run.

Elle: Of course once we returned to the store, as per usual, stretching and then drinking commenced. There was an interesting spiked nog (made with soy milk I think?), and of course, BEER. And with all of the runners (I would guess over 30), plus other revelers who stopped by, the party was in full holiday cheer mode.

Webb: I was totally bummed to miss the Jog & Nog again. I love the SEAC running crew. I somehow need to remember next year that I'm going to be stuck late in the office the final few weeks of the year. Looking forward to joining the crew next Thursday for a speed/track workout.

Week 12 - And We're Baaaaack!

Webb: Nothing welcomes you home like a good, hard indoor bike workout. It is like a nice, fuzzy blanket or cup of hot chocolate that makes you feel good inside.

Elle: Nothing welcomes you home like a good, hard Spin class followed by a strength class. It is like a warm, fire engine red Snuggy that makes you feel good inside.

Webb: For our first workout back home, we decided to split up. Elle (the social member of the team) chose to go to the gym to do a strength class followed by a Spin class. I, as the <ahem> less social member of the team chose to set up the turbo in front of the TV and train like a hermit.

Elle: Actually, Webb, it's a Spin class followed by a strength class.

The purpose of this workout on the training calendar was to develop speed skills. I needed a workout with short intervals at maximal effort, while of course always focusing on good pedal form and high cadence. Growing legions of cyclists and triathletes are turning to The Sufferfest's cycling videos. 

The workout is a double set of descending intervals: 2:00, 1:45, 1:30 and so on down to the last interval at :15. Recovery efforts equal work time. You do it again after a longer recovery session. I have done this workout a few times and it is always the same. After the two first intervals of the first set, you are convinced there is no way you are finishing the workout. But you push through it and although it doesn't get easier, you get used to it. A funny thing happens during the recovery intermission: You think you have it under control and can do it again. HA! Right into the first interval of the second set, you droop your head over your handlebar and repeat your mantra: I'm doing this to get faster. Total time: 62:00.

You can try to do this workout on your own, but I highly, highly, highly recommend you download the video ($12!). Nobody has better footage (a little Paris-Roubaix, anyone?) and music. More importantly, nobody has the uncanny ability to mock your suffering quite like The Sufferfest.

Both classes are led by Jonathan, who I'm guessing might have some military background, and who is quite easy on the eyes. He is high octane and does a great job of using visualization that really helps you push yourself (he requests 110%). {Webb: He may be easy on the eyes, but he is harder on the math.} He even had the 2 sides of the room doing sprint intervals against each other. I think my team won. Either way, there was a great deal of sweating.

Then we get off the bikes and move to the large workout room and begin the strength workout. I wasn't able to do all of the moves, specifically some of the more complicated squat movements, due to my recent knee injury, but I still got enough of a workout that now, 2 days later, I'm super, freaking sore all over my body.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Week 11 Goes to ...

... Life.

Webb: I once asked a running coach about how valuable frequent running is. He gave me a thorough answer which was consistent with what many have you read in hundreds of articles and read in another hundred is bad for you. The one thing he said to me that stuck though was, "Hey man, the most important thing is that life happens and you can get too hung up on it."

Webb: Which brings me to one of my favorite things about the sport of triathlon: The professionals have as much respect for us Age Groupers as we have for them. We admire them for showing us that limits are barriers we place upon ourselves. They inspire us to set goals and then smash them. Meanwhile they cannot understand how we can slog through a 40-60 hour work week and still find time for training, not to mention domestic responsibilities. Sometimes we can't.
Webb: Week 11 started out well enough. We knew we had our challenges with a short trip to Arizona planned. It was supposed to be a Face Off In The Desert. It turned out to be Laze Out in the Desert. No swimming. No cycling. Just one shake-out run the morning after our flight. That’s fine. It was great seeing the family and good friends. We’ll see you all again in February for Ragnar Del Sol.

5-mile easy run in Phoenix, Arizona

Elle: But that one run we had in Phoenix was really nice. It started out great, Webb and I ready to face-off in the desert. We headed out into the sunshine. It was cool, but not too cold. Just right. Although we both had some issues with breathing (from the flight? Allergies? Altitude? No ones knows), and I struggled in the beginning (Note to self: NEVER drink a carbonated beverage before heading out on a run), it ended up being a really nice, 5-mile, easy run.
Webb: This was a tough week. Anytime I know I’ll be missing work, I strive to get as much done as possible to keep any fires sparking while I am away. (That proved to be futile.) Usually that means staying late at the office or taking work home. Last week was no exception. Add to that the never-ending supply of laundry that needs doin’. Seriously, I do not know why The Laundry Industry has not targeted the endurance community with ferocity. "Seventh Generation" or "All" or some detergent company should have a race series. I can’t catch a break. And as you know, it is best not to let it sit unless you want your local Public Health Commission to condemn your home. Anyway, I’m looking forward to Week 12 and getting back on track.
Was horseback riding a leg of Ironman AZ?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Couple that Trains Together ...

There really is no replacement for the loving support of your partner.

elle:  i'm kinda having weird muscle pain all over
         took  ibuprofen
         tried to stretch a bit
 me:  did you try not being weak?
 elle:  f.u.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 11: "I only want to do 45 minutes on the treadmill." "Um, ok"

Ahhh, the tempo workout. I suppose it could be too early in the season to do a tempo workout, but I've been dying to introduce this one to Elle. By the time I discovered this one it was too late to incorporate it into her Boston Marathon training plan last year. I raised the stakes, er um, the grade actually, to challenge the HR a bit.


- 10:00 as easy jog at 1% grade increasing the speed for every minute up until the 5:00 mark, followed by 3 x :30 speed-ups (8mph for us) with :30 recovery.
main - 2 x 15:00 at 3% grade at goal race pace (7mph or 8:34/mile for us) with a 5:00 jog recovery.
c/d - We generally do not do a cool down with treadmill workouts. We prefer to step off the machine, clean it and begin stretching.

Webb: I love this workout. It is hard, but not too hard. And it is sneaky one too. The first set is a mind game. You know you can do it, you just don't want to be on the TM (treadmill). Meanwhile, your HR meanders up. By the time you have your focus and are in the game to train, it is recovery time. Now you are warmed up and thinking you are going to smash it. But oh no. We will call it the Cardiac Drift set. Your once all-too happy HR is a little pissed and you are just now finding out about it. The final 2 minutes though, you know you have well enough to finish strong.
Elle: All of this is true. I was cruising along for the warm up, which I particularly like, and even the first set. But by the second set, I was ready to be done, and it's not like it's that long a workout. But that's how things go when you get back on the 'mill after a 2-3 month hiatus (we'll call it the off-off-season).

Webb: You come off the treadmill a sweaty mess but you don't feel the crush until an hour or so later. You've had your post-workout nutrition, your shower and there you are trying to decide what you want to watch on TV when you realize what you really want is to sleep for 39 hours.
Elle: Again, this is exactly what happened. I felt good off the TM, ready for our strength set. Got home, started to make some dinner, but pretty soon, I only had enough energy to take a shower and fall into bed.

Webb: My advice: Bring good music and drink plenty of water.
Elle: A good, getting-back-into-shape TM workout. And it's more fun if you can watch your partner suffer along side you.


Welcome to the first post of our first blog.

We are early in the first Base phase of our training. It is Week 11 and we are already a bit off track. That's ok. Last season went a bit long with both of our priority races happening in the early Spring. Elle kicked it off with an impressive marathon debut at Boston in April.  A couple of weeks later I was splashing, cranking and running, well, mostly walking, in the St Croix Half Ironman. Both of us crushed ourselves in these efforts and emerged smiling and wanting more. The rest of the 2011 season was yet to come. Eventually we took some time off and now  we are allowing ourselves  some flexibility in the early goings.  We certainly do not want to burn out before we begin.  

We'll mostly post our workouts and hope to post plenty of photos of our training and racing.  As self-coached athletes we welcome comments from the endurance community. It will also be great to hear from our family and friends. Since that Temptress Triathlon entered our lives,  we have not seen much of you.

Stay tuned for our planned race calendar.

Webb & Elle running the Boston Marathon
-Elle & Webb