Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Steady Effort on the 'Mill

Elle: Nothing too exciting today, just a steady effort workout on the treadmill:

THE WORKOUT: Treadmill Run
20 minutes @ 6.8mph
20 minutes @ 7.0mph
20 minutes @ 7.2mph
To be done at a 1.5% - 2% incline

Elle: I started at a 2% incline, but after about 30 minutes, my knee issue came back to haunt me, and I started to lose power in my left leg, so I went down to 1.5% incline. I've noticed that this has been happening ever since the injury has been 'healed'. It's pretty upsetting, it's as if someone flipped a switch and removed all the power in my leg, turning it slightly noodley. Which is scary, if you're trying to work it out on the treadmill - the whole second half of the workout I had visions of myself losing control, flying off the back and crashing into unsuspecting gym-goers.

But I was able to complete the workout, intact on the treadmill, without injuring myself or anyone else. Hooray.

Webb unfortunately seems to have caught a bug and spent the evening throwing up, and thus missed the treadmill tonight. Feel better Webb!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Does sledding count as a workout?

Lenny, Elle and Webb with their big, red tubes
Elle: Not when there's a conveyor belt that brings you to the top of the hill. We took this past Saturday off to go tubing with our friends Lenny & Lisey at the Amesbury Sports Park.
We had a fun time with friends, but I have to say, the experience would have been a lot more fun if they had let us walk up the hill instead of forcing us to use the human conveyor belts. We would have gotten some exercise in and kept warm in the process. You can see Webb and I nearing the bottom of the hill in this video taken by Lenny. Keep in mind, we didn't add any music to this, that is the music that they blast at the park. Fun times.

Webb: I liked the conveyor belts. I also prefer escalators to elevators. There is just something cool about them. (By the way, I think moving stairs that transport people downward should be called de-escalators. Down escalator doesn't make sense to me.)
The Amesbury Sports Park

Elle: We were supposed to do a workout Saturday night, but both of us were feeling slightly under the weather. Tired and lots of sneezing. I'm still sneezing. A low-grade bug, perhaps?

Webb: I was tuckered out. I fell asleep in the car on the drive back. It was only about a 60 minute drive, yet, I could not stay awake. After I kicked off my cold, damp shoes I told Elle I was going to lie down for a bit. Two plus hours later I emerged from the bedroom in a disoriented haze with a slight queasiness in my stomach.

THE WORKOUT: An easy, aerobic run
Approximately 60:00 along the Charles River

Elle: We got up Sunday, and after much procrastinating and time-wasting, we finally got out for our "long" run. But because we spent so much time putzing around, it ended up not being as much as a long run as planned. I had to get to a massage that was booked for 12:30pm (70% of the proceeds for this special event went to support the MSPCA). But I got almost a full hour in.

Webb: I was pretty miserable for the first 40:00. I felt like I was holding an asthma attack at bay. Very little air was getting into my lungs and I kept coughing. Surprisingly, my HR stayed pretty low. I thought with the lack of oxygen my HR would kick up. I've heard that Michael Phelps' coach monitors his HR and if it does not elevate by a certain point he pulls him out of the pool because it indicates he needs a rest day. I thought that might be the case with me, except I already had a rest day the day before. With about 20:00 left in the run, I started to feel normal. The last 10:00 I actually felt good and considered pushing the run out to 75:00. Alas, I remembered I promised to drive the Lovely Elle to her appointment.

Elle: Thanks for the ride, Webb.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Did I finish?


*That's for you Bike Snob!

5:45am: Get out of bed
5:45am - 6:15am: Set up the bikes and prepare to suffer
6:15am - 7am: Swear, sweat, gasp for breath, repeatedly pray that you don't throw up all over the living room (aka The Sufferfest's Revolver)
Click here to watch Chris Horner @ the 2011 Tour de France,
not knowing that he crashed, where he is,
or that he even finished the stage

Elle: Apparently, while my mind had resigned to the idea of getting up to do Revolver this morning, my body fought back the entire time. After the first sprint interval, I was already half-way to Vomitville. And never really turned back from there. During the recovery sets I spent my time working out a vomit escape plan - I knew I wouldn't make it to the bathroom, but I was pretty sure I could make it far enough to be off the rug, and onto the hardwood floor, which would result in an easier clean-up.

Webb: Readers of the blog know how much we love "Revolver." (You can read the previous review here.) This morning was no different. Another delightful winter morning ride where you can feel each muscle fiber firing in your quads, spittle collecting at the corner of your mouth and blood vessels bursting in your eyes. Where you question whether 30 seconds is actually longer than 30 seconds. (Little known fact: Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity whilst in Sufferlandria.)

Elle: The big victory here was that I did indeed finish the workout without throwing up all over the place. The minute it was all over, I jumped off the bike and hung out by the bathroom, just in case. When the nausea didn't subside, I decided to just lie down on the floor. While I was down there I asked Webb, a la Chris Horner, Tour de France 2011, "Did I finish?"

Webb: This was the first time doing "Revolver" on the new Cervelos. Right. I owe an apology to Andy Schleck for all the times I have mocked him for dropping his chain. Perhaps this is a Rival thing and not a SRAM thing (meaning Red), but shifting gears sucks compared to Shimano Ultegra. I suppose it is  possible this is part of the initial breaking-in period with new cables. However, it does not explain the Double-tap system sending me down one gear or up two. I've decided when people say they like how "chunky" SRAM is (usually accompanied by something like, "that chunk sound means you are in gear"), it is because they spend so much time trying to get into gear that when it happens it is a celebration. I haven't passed judgement yet (yes I have); we'll see how it goes after we adjust the cables in a couple of weeks.

Elle: The take-away lesson for me here is, if you're planning an early morning workout, hydrate properly in the hours before the workout. Or face the vomit fairy.
Post-run w/ Laura

WORKOUT #2: Run Hill Repeats
w/u: run to Boston Common
Main: 5 repeats: short, long, short, long, short
Drills: Back-pedal, Frankensteins, Lunges, Lower-leg Drive
c/d: jog back to SEAC

Elle: I honestly didn't think I'd make it tonight. It was cold, snowing, and I kinda felt like crap. Then I thought, I'll feel like crap at home too, might as well go for a run.

 I was surprised how good I felt. My numbers don't look great and I definitely labored. Somehow, the entire day wasn't as crushing as I thought it
Recovery drinks
would be. Granted when we returned to the store there was a moment when I was literally too tired to move from a standing position to sitting. Once I had my recovery drink, I came around a bit. Sometimes it is all a matter of perspective.

And by the way, Miss I-Felt-Like-Crap kicked my arse up and down Beacon Hill. There's that perspective again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What a Beautiful Night to Workout Indoors

Webb: Another 40F degree night in January. Unbelievable. It would have been another good night to run outside, however, we had some biking to do.

Elle: So I finally made it back to the gym for one of my favorite workouts, a 2-hour combo that starts with a spin class and ends with a strength class - I blogged about it this past December here. Well, on this particular day, the focus was hills, lots of big, heavy hills. Ugh. And when followed directly by a full hour of strength & conditioning, this makes the 1-mile walk home from the gym way more exhausting then it should be.
When I did this last year, at the end of the season, a fun time was had by all. But after a couple of months of "off season," this workout is a killer.

Spin Class (focus: hills)
Strength & Conditioning Class
Total time: 2 hours

Webb: I may need to join Elle for one of these classes sometime. She really seems to love them. Elsewhere, I stayed home to handle some domestic responsibilities and do a late-night turbo session.

90:00 as
30:00 at 90+rpm in HR zones 1-2
30:00 as 10 x 1:00 70-80rpm (big gear) HR zones 2-3,  2:00 90+rpm HR zones 1-2
30:00 at tempo, 90+rpm HR zones 2-3

Webb: I made up this workout on the fly. In some ways it would be a good workout simply because I hopped on the bike so late. At the same time, I couldn't do any workout videos or movies that required high volume. I chose instead to find a fast-paced foreign film with subtitles and then do an aerobic workout with the same goals as Spinervals Vol. 39. (We don't own that, so I went with the spirit of it: Aerobic with some work in HR zone 3.)

I found a fun French film called "Point Blank" (ou "A bout portant," si vous plait). It is a suspense/thriller that manages to keep you on the edge of your saddle without a lot of car chases or stunts. They do have them, but it is the story that provides the action. It follows formulas in some ways and provides a twist or two here. This looks ripe to be re-made in Hollywood in the next few years.

I liked the workout well-enough. It was just interesting enough to feel like I was doing something other than just watching the movie. I've found that cycling while watching a movie can make me more stir-crazy than if I just give into the sofa. So I need the workout to occupy some of my thoughts but not so much to distract from the movie. This turned out to be a good combo.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

But if I were a cocker spaniel...

Webb: There are planned workouts and there are workouts. We all hope they are mostly the same. Last night, they were not. The following workout was recommended by a reader to the blog. It is the first in a series designed to make us faster over longer periods. Sold! We modified it, because that is what we do.

60:00 on the treadmill at 3% grade
1st 20 minutes:   6.8 mph
2nd 20 minutes:  7.0 mph
3rd 20 minutes:   7.2 mph 

Elle: I was nervous about this workout, I'll be honest. But it's time to start putting in some hard running efforts, so I was all in.
During the first 20 minutes I knew I would not be able, or at least was seriously doubting my ability, to finish the workout as prescribed. So I altered it on the fly. Instead of going up 0.2mph every 20 minutes, I opted for 0.1mph. Now that might not seem like a lot, but in the beginning of the season, as one of the first hard TM efforts in awhile, I thought that would be best.
It was difficult, but I put in a good, hard effort. I had to reach back into my suitcase of pain a little bit, and was glad when it was all over.

Webb: FAIL! I launched into the workout believing it would be mostly mental. I started out well enough. My legs felt good, if not a little tired. After about 10:00, I started shifting my focus between the Notre Dame-Tennessee game and my music. Already sweating profusely, I just tried to forget I was running. At the 20:00 mark I kicked it up to 7.0mph and ... felt better? I don't know if it was a second wind or a more natural pace for me at that grade. It doesn't matter because it didn't last. I pressed on. At this point I had given up on the game, not because I was a fan of either team, but because the tiny treadmill screen was bouncing around. All of my attention was then on music. Music. Music. What is that pain in my side? Music. Music. Music. OUCH! Music. Go. Away. Music. Music. Inthenameofallthatisgoodandcleanonthisearthwhydoesmysidehurtsomuch? Music. Breeeeaaaaathe. Music. Stop.

Last night I had my second or third side cramp in 20 years. I had to stop the workout at 33:00 to breathe through the cramp and pray for its release. After a few minutes, I resumed the workout: 3% grade, 7.0mph. One minute in my heart rate had resumed its lofty reading. Two minutes in there was the slightest hint of the cramp. Five minutes in, I knew I was done mentally. I was too distracted with the cramp threatening to return. Once I hit the 40:00 mark I decided to step of the treadmill and call it a night. I'm not sure what caused the cramp. Exertion? Running form? Poor hydration? It could be any or all of these. I'll try not to overthink it. I had a good hard workout and I'll hit again next time.

Elle: Here's a workout from a Runner's World article that would have been a lot more fun, however,  not as effective for Half Ironman training:

The "Run Like a Dog" Workout (Including Warmup and Cooldown)
Walk 8 seconds.
Trot 4 seconds.
Sprint 7 seconds.
Walk 5 seconds in any direction but forward.
Stare 9 seconds.
Lunge at rabbit.
Double back, walk 3 seconds.
Repeat six times.
Collapse on rug.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Bending Crank Arms"

THE WORKOUT: Bike Strength
w/u: 20:00 (5:00 easy spin followed by 3 sets of 2:00 moderate @ 70rpm, 3:00 easy @ 90+ rpm)
Main: Our modified version of "Bending Crank Arms" Volume 19 of Coach Troy Jacobson's Spinervals series
Core: 3 circuits of Supine Glute Bridge (x20) and Planks (1:00, 1:05, 1:10)

Webb: This is an excellent workout to develop strength. Coach Troy has structured a workout of on-bike intervals and off-bike squats. The prescribed workout calls for squats followed by isometric squats (think of squatting down and holding the position until Coach says you can stand). We traded the isometric squats for Sumo Deadlifts with Arnold Presses (SDLAP). (The video shows a sumo squat - or deadlift - with a high pull to an Arnold press; we transitioned from deadlift to press using a bicep curl.)

Elle: Stats for this workout:
Bike Time: 55:00
Strength Time: 30:00 
Total Time: 1:25:00

Webb: I have done this workout several times over the last few years. This was the best I have done. I think it was a combination of continued bike training and improved glute/hip strength. It has improved my ability to have proper pedal form, most notably to keep my heel down as I press down through the stroke.

Elle: I like this type of circuit-y style training, on the bike, off the bike, doing squats, lifting weights, I like variety. That's probably why I'm a triathlete.

Webb: Isometric squats are tough, especially after doing low cadence bike work and squats. Your legs burn and shake. This time we tried the SDLAPs because we wanted a full-body strength workout. What I forgot was how your HR spikes each time you lift the weight above your head. By the time we were on the final bike sets, 5 sets of big gear sprints, I was hurting. I didn't think I would make it through. And yet I did and I am better for it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Downside Can Be the Upside

Webb: It being Thursday night and cold, perhaps 25F, with a forecast of snow, we all know what that means, right? I was headed to SEAC and Elle was headed indoors.

Elle: The weather wasn't horribly bad, and I could have bundled up and braved the cold. But with a brand, new Cervélo waiting for me in a warm, toasty living room, the call of The Sufferfest was too strong.

ELLE'S WORKOUT - Sufferfest: Downward Spiral
You can read Webb's original review of this workout here.
Seriously, once the video started, I actually felt a little like I was going home. The music, the races, the suffering, I think I'm starting to become addicted. But in a good way. The way that makes a big puddle of sweat form around you.

WEBB'S WORKOUT - SEAC Running Club (hill work)
w/u: jog/run to Boston Common
Main 1: Hill Repeats up historic Beacon Hill short (200m?), long (300m?), short, long
The short intervals were at a relatively high intensity, the long intervals at a less high intensity
Main 2: 3/4 mile run around (mostly flat) perimeter of Boston Common at 1.5 - 5k pace
c/d: jog back to SEAC
Total: approx. 5 miles

Webb: I was glad to hear we were headed for hill repeats tonight. I'm a little burned out on the track workout and was looking forward to a change. When Dan described the workout as 2 sets of short then long, I thought, "hmm, not much of workout tonight." Yeah, that was pretty dumb. Half way into the first short interval I knew I went out too hard. For the subsequent long interval, I held back to make sure I made it to the top with apparent dignity intact. I still struggled to finish. The downside was the upside: a long interval means a long downhill recovery.

For the second set, I figured I would have a better sense of what I could handle. That may have been true. What is also true is that I felt my diaphragm squeezing trying to force my lungs to cooperate in getting some oxygen into my system. I have no idea how well or bad I ran the 3/4 mile interval. I was glad to finish it without dying.

Back at the store, it was fun hanging with the crew. A few of us even started scheming to come up with some brutal February and March runs. Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Easy, endurance-effort run for ~35:00, followed by strength work
time: 36:31 (min:sec)
distance: 3.95 miles
pace: 9:14 min/mile (6.5 mph)

Elle: Webb wanted to go to the gym and run on the treadmill, but with a 40+ degree night in January, I said, 'Whoa, how often does this happen? Never.'
So I suggested that we take it outside.

Webb: It was a good idea to run outside. I don't remember the last time I ran down by the Charles at night in the winter. Typically my winter nights spent running outside are at SEAC's speed sessions. Otherwise I'm either on the treadmill or run during the day.

Elle: It was such a nice night for a run, really unexpected. As were the Boston city rats that we encountered along the route. TWO of them. We did well to stay in HR zones 1-2, except when a rat ran across our path, but what can you do...

Webb: I find them to be cute and I admire their empathy. Granted, I could do without the frantic scurrying. I don't like anything to be frantic or to scurry.

THE WORKOUT 50-minute functional strength
lunges, band walks, hip raises/drops, alternating rows (w/elastic bands), military press on stability ball with dumbbells, and ab/low back circuit.

Webb: This routine targets the posterior chain, the muscles that run from heel to neck, especially the glutes (lunges, band walks and hip drops/raises) and erector muscles along the spine (cable rows, military press on a stability ball). The exercises are done at relatively low weight, high rep with primary focus on form. The ab/low back routine consisted of three exercises done in a circuit fashion: supine pelvic lift x20, lumbar press x20 (actively pressing your lower back into the ground from a supine position with bent knees, feet flat on the floor) and 1:00 planks.

Elle: We keep saying how we don't get enough strength work in, at least we haven't this year, so it was good to do this. And we need to do more.
Plank is one of my favorite moves, so simple, yet so painful, if done long enough. And no equipment required. I still have to be careful with the squat moves, though, I'm not totally out of the weeds when it comes to my knee issue.

Webb: By the end of the workout, I felt fine (except for my burning lower abs). I even wondered if I had done anything of value. However, on my walk to the subway for my commute this morning I started to feel the tell-tale signs of the lunges and the general fatigue of the entire workout. And I noticed my posture felt a little taller? today. Yep, we gotta keep doing these types of workouts to be stronger come race season.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breaking in the New Bikes

The matching Cervélos...
Webb: I don't know what Cervélo is up to, but their Share the Ride Program allowed us to pick up a pair of entry-level S2 road bikes at a great price. It was a nice upgrade for me.

Elle: And a ridiculous upgrade for me.

Webb: This means Elle will have to try some road racing this year.

Elle: We'll see.

Webb:  Whatever. Anyway, onto the workout

THE WORKOUT: 70:00/90:00 as so ...
w/u 30:00 inspired by Coach Troy Jacobson's Spinervals 23A
Main  5 x 1:00 50-60 rpm (1:00 recovery)
         1 x 5:00 80-90 rpm (2:30 recovery)
         3 x 1:00 50-60 rpm (1:00 recovery)
         1 x 3:00 80-90 rpm (1:30 reocovery)
         2 x 1:00 50-60 rpm (1:00 recovery)
         1 x 2:00 80-90 rpm (1:00 recovery)
         1 x 1:00 50-60 rpm (1:00 recovery)
         1 x 7:00 TT effort 100+ rpm
c/d   16:00
Total time: 90:00

Webb: I saw this workout a few months ago when Samantha McGlone retweeted it from Marilyn McDonald (aka @CHYCHOTA) at Endurance Corner. It is a bit different, mostly because we were watching the Boston Celtics - Oklahoma City game (ugh) and ended up doing a little more than prescribed. Plus, the TT effort is supposed to be 90+, but we like to push the cadence.

Elle: I like this workout, since we can do it while watching the game.

Webb: This is a good base session workout. I'm rotten when it comes to climbing and could stand to work on my force in general. Over the last few years I have improved my ability to pedal at 100+ rpm comfortably. Now I feel the need to add some strength/force to the equation to bring my power up. This workout does just that. Plus, the numerous descending sets help make the time pass quickly.

Elle: For some reason I was struggling today, not sure why.

Webb: Although the first ride was on a trainer, my first impression is "Hell yes." The S2 is so much more responsive than my LeMond. I don't have a power meter (and was not wearing my HR monitor), however, based on my RPE and the speedometer, I was cranking out a good 1-2+mph faster with less effort than before. I wish I was tougher when it came to the weather because I want to get this thing outside!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Battling Mr. Cold and his evil side-kick, Wind Chill

The weather: 33°F, feel-like temp = 16°F (with wind chill)
On the beach in Southie

Easy, low heart rate run out to Castle Island and through Southie.
Distance: 8.28 miles
Time: 1:26:40 total (including time for photos)
Average moving pace: 9:37 min/mi
Heart Rate Zone: between 1 & 2 

Webb: The plan originally called for a 60:00 endurance run. We missed some workouts due to travel and pain, so we bumped it to 90:00. When we saw the low temps and wind chill, we remembered what a bad idea it was to try to make up workouts. So we decided to do 60:00, on a treadmill. But neither of us wanted that either. Finally, I came up with a route. I was not sure how long it was or how long it would take us. We were just going to go for a run.

Elle: We're lucky to have made it this late in the winter without having a super, freezing cold run. But today it was frosty, so I donned a tri top, a long-sleeved Mizuno thermal, and a running shell, plus full-length running tights, with a pair of insulated wind pants over them, wool socks, and of course gloves and a hat (with ear flaps).

Webb: The course was a loop that took us to Castle Island and the beaches of South Boston. I knew we were taking a chance running by the water on a cold day. When the wind comes off the water it will push sideways and backwards. A tailwind isn't much appreciated as you are more likely to be dumped on the ground. I had no idea there was a wind advisory. Oh well. It may have been brutally cold, but it was still a nice run.

Elle: Running out to Castle Island on a day this cold with a wind advisory was just plain dumb. If you'd like to recreate the experience for yourself, go for a run with someone standing in front of you, with two hands on your chest, pushing you backwards while someone else slaps you in the face. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Balance Giveaway

The New Balance MT110
No workout for me today, but I saw this New Balance giveaway and thought I'd share:
Get the chance to win a free pair of New Balance MT110/WT110

Fyi: mouth still a pain, and now I'm hungry & grouchy, seeing as I can't workout and all I can eat is soup, yogurt, pudding, and ice cream shakes...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cycling through the sunrise...

Elle: Webb is traveling for work, so it's all me today.
We got up this morning and were on the bikes by 6:30am. It was still dark out, but as we suffered cycled our way through the workout, the sun slowly came up, which was kinda nice.

THE WORKOUT: The Sufferfest - Fight Club
To see the original review of this workout, read the post from SufferFestukah.
I really like this workout, my one comment to The Sufferfest is: kinda wish there was a little dog in that basket for the warm up ride...

I was definitely suffering today. Not just because it's required by The Sufferfest Federation during any Sufferfest workout, but because of the stitches that are currently covering the entire upper, inner right side of my mouth (due to the dental surgery I had last Friday). Ouch! So I stopped by the dentist office on the way to work this morning to make sure all of this mouth suffering was normal, and that nothing was infected. The dentist assured me that, although it will be sore and painful for several more days, that this is all par for the course.
I was also told that I was not allowed to engage in rigorous exercise for a few days. It's almost like they don't want me to win...

But I will persevere.
Spending a couple of days resting and recovering isn't the worst thing in the world...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Runnin' & Cyclin'

Webb: Divide and conquer. As in, we were divided and conquered. The Spinvervals SUPER 6 plan called for a bike and run session today. Elle was feeling pretty good so she thought she would run at the gym and then do the bike with me at home. Although I feel better, I was not going to overdue it with a double-session.

WEBB'S WORKOUT - Technique/Recovery Bike
Webb: This was supposed to be Wednesday's bike workout, but I thought it would be wise to move it up. I have done Spinervals 23A before. It is an easy effort to focus on drills. There are some build sets, some single-leg drills and some high cadence spinning. I love that the high rpm work follows the single-leg drills. It is like some hyper-application model that helps you think about what you are doing instead of just spinning your legs like the The Road Runner. I mean, he's is fast and all, but you gotta practice good form.

I'm still following Holistic Guru's advice and trying to eat well - with intention - and doing light cardio. I have to say after a post-ride massive coughing fit, I felt pretty good. The next morning I felt even better. I'm going to kick this cold in record time. Patience, diligence and soup are key. Oh yeah, and sriracha.
A little incentive to get me to the gym...

ELLE'S WORKOUT - Aerobic Run on the Treadmill
w/u: 10 min. (6 mph, increasing 0.1 mph every minute @ 1% incline)
main: 30 min. (6.5 mph @ 0.5% incline)
c/d: none. Rolled around on the foam roller and did 5 pull-ups

Elle: I had planned on doing the bike workout with Webb, but after my time on the 'mill, I was feeling a little dizzy (was it the pain meds? might I be getting sick? Not enough fuel?), so I didn't want to risk it. Tried to get to bed at a good time to rest up for tomorrow's 2-hour cycling/strength fest.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Infirmary

Webb: Week 15 ended with a whimper. Elle had a non-knee procedure that had her on painkillers Friday and Saturday. Not the best way to workout. Or is it?

Elle: Unless feeling nauseous with a throbbing mouth from gum surgery is the best way to workout, then.... no.

Webb: I take pride in being a good teammate. So I decided to have my annual head cold during this time. If Elle was going to be out of the game and/or have limited action, then I would too.

Elle: You're so very supportive, Webb.

THE WORKOUT: 60:00 Bike, easy endurance effort at 90-100 RPM.

Elle: We watched The Winning Season, a feel-good comedy featuring Sam Rockwell as a high school girls' basketball coach.

Webb: I typically prefer to watch martial arts movies while doing turbo sessions. I find that I have trouble following plot lines because I am more focused on my technique or the workout. Martial arts movies are great because the action motivates you and the subtitles decrease the need for insane volume to follow dialog. Since this was just going to be a turning-the-pedals-over endurance effort and since basketball is my first love, I had no problems watching this. (I actually had placed it in the Netflix queue well before hand.)

Elle: It was no Sufferfest, that's for sure. It was tough to keep the cadence up at times, but the movie was good, and it wasn't too hard to just push through to the end of the hour. Although they kept eating popcorn in the movie, which just made me want to stop pedaling and sit down with a big bowl of buttery popcorn...

Webb: Normally I may have skipped this workout to get over the cold. However, I just read a recent post by The Holistic Guru where she recommended light cardio. (I also had a curry dish and a root-vegetable soup prepared by the lovely Elle.) It helped to clear my head and given that I didn't smash myself, I don't think I'll have any setbacks. I also tried to pinpoint when I may have become sick. Although I may have woken up with the symptoms of a head cold on Saturday morning, my guess is that my first symptoms manifested last Thursday when I just didn't have it that night for my run. Looking back, it may be that my body was organizing its systems against the invaders and I sent them into disarray with a HIT workout. Damn.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's not always exciting

And it's even waterproof!
Elle: Considering my miserable showing at the pool on Wednesday, I decided that more swimming was in order. So I took to the pool again on Thursday for a quick, 30-minute workout from the ever-trusty, 'Swim Workouts for Triathletes' by Gail Bernhardt.

w/u: 100m SW 100m K 4 x 50m (25m build, 25m catch-up)
main: 100m Pull
          2 x 100m T-Pace (+ :02)
          100m Pull
          2 x 100m T-Pace (+ :01)
          100m Pull
          2 x 100m T-Pace
c/d: 200m

Elle: It was a quick and easy workout, perfect for getting back into the swim of things. I'll have to start putting some serious time in at the pool, but for now, at the end of a long day, this did the trick.


Webb: On Thursday night, I ended up staying late at work so I missed out (again) on the SEAC speed work. I decided to hit the gym for a quick High Intensity Training session and some strength work.

w/u: 15:00 at 2% grade
main: 4 x :30 at 5% grade with 2:30 jog recovery at 1%

That workout felt pretty rotten. Or was it me? It was a tough night to be on the treadmill whatever it was. My fitness level is high enough to have had a better session than that. Perhaps it was nutrition or a lack of it. Or it just wasn't a good night.

I also began a strength routine from Ben Greenfield's "Run With No Pain." As I have mentioned, I have had a chronic lower back/hip/ITB issue since about May '10. (The back issue goes back further.) The most recent signs, mind you, not a diagnosis, point to the sacro-iliac (SI) joint. This book is targeted towards those people with a posterior-rotated hip problem.

After my first workout, I definitely felt like my posture was better. I am on one hand optimistic and on the other, keeping my expectations reasonable. I have tried numerous exercises and stretches to solve and/or alleviate this problem. My optimism for this is that it seems to recognize an imbalance in the body and tries to correct it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SUPER 6, SCHMUPER 6: Rollin' with the Punches

Maxwell & some frozen Yonanas
Webb: There are plans and there are plans. Today's SUPER 6 schedule included a 60:00 endurance bike and a 30:00 endurance run. We had already decided to drop the bike in favor of a swim workout and with the recurrence of Elle's wonky knee, we dropped the run for her.

Elle: Enough about my crappy knee, let's talk about my pre-workout snack: Yonanas. This birthday gift (thanks Dad!) made the boring "banana before the workout" a little more exciting by way of freezing and smooshing it into a frozen, yogurt-like consistency.

Webb: I need to remember to check gym schedules. I belong to two gyms, one near our home and one next to my office. You know, so there is no excuse to miss a workout. Anyway. The plan was to run at lunch and swim after work. Unfortunately, the gym near my office closed at 1p today. No run for me.

THE WORKOUT: 1400m Drill-focused swim
w/u:     200m free (easy)
            200m pull buoy
            200m kick with fins (alternating between front and back each 25m)

Drill 1:  200m as 4x50m drill/swim: ONE ARM drill
            200m free (easy-moderate)

Drill 2:  200m as 4x50m drill/swim: FINGERTIP DRAG drill
            200m free (easy-moderate)

Total:  1400m

Elle: I think what suffered the most during SufferFestukah was our swimming. I swam 200 meters and thought I was going to pass out.

Webb: I definitely felt like a fish out of water at the beginning. I'm not sure I have found my rhythm, but it did get better.

Elle: Holy crap, we need to spend some serious time in the pool.

Webb: This was a good workout for us. Nice and easy drill focus to start working our way back into proper shape. I definitely missed my swim coach. I was thinking about her while doing the fingertip drag drill - which is the best drill for non-swimmers in my opinion. "But wait!" you say. How is that I whine about not having a swimming background, yet here I blather about my "coach?" A couple of years ago I hired someone who swam competitively in college. Best investment I've made in this sport. Even though she was more like an instructor, I like to refer to her as my coach because she gave me great workouts to improve my stroke and fitness. Unfortunately, Hawaii is a more attractive place to live than Massachusetts for some people. Whatever.

Elle: Meanwhile, outside a couple of sessions with a swim instructor here and there, I learn all my swim technique from books and the internet. I recently saw a video about how you should keep your fingers slightly separated, kind of like a bear claw, to maximize your pull. I thought about that in the pool today.
I was the bear.
I also read that a good, extended reach is key. So I made sure to reach for the salmon on every stroke.


Knee of Woe: Wk 1, Day 2: SUPER 6

Webb: I had to ride solo on Day 2 of the Spinervals SUPER 6. Elle was out of the game.
Icing & pouting on the couch

: Sadly I seem to have broken rule #2 of Triathlon...

Rule #1 - Don't get sick.
Rule #2 - Don't get injured.
Rule #3 - Don't break rules #1 & #2.
*Cannot remember who authored these tried and true rules.

Elle: I woke up one morning early last November, unable to bend my left knee. Luckily nothing was torn or broken, but I couldn't run or bike for a month (per Dr.'s orders). It sucked. Slowly I was able to start working out again. However, to my horror, some symptoms re-appeared last night. In my best efforts to be wise and not make a bad situation worse, I made the (hopefully smart) decision to stand down, and refrain from the scheduled workout.

Webb: It just goes to show when you think you are done with an injury, keep icing or NSAID'ing to be sure you have knocked out the inflammation.

Elle: So, I did an easy 10 minutes on the bike to warm up, then hopped on the foam roller to see if I could roll the bad out of my legs/hip. Then straight to icing, ibuprofen, and sulking on the couch. 

THE WORKOUT: Spinervals 16 Aero Base Builder - I
The SUPER 6 program called for Spinervals 39. However, it also allowed the use of 16 or 17 as an option. Spinervals 16 consists of 85:00 of sets of descending intervals. As the intervals get shorter, the cadence goes up and the resistance goes down.

Webb: I opted for Spinervals 16 since we own it. The workout is great in that it helps you understand the nature of power. Since your primary goal is to stay under your power or HR threshold, you can see how resistance and cadence work together. From there you can start thinking about what works best for you on race day. Is it lower RPM and higher resistance or is it the opposite? Finding that sweet spot is key - even if it may move as your strengths and fitness change.

At one point Coach Troy says, "You should finish this workout feeling refreshed."  This was the case. Sure I was tired and left sizable sweat puddles, but I wasn't smashed. I felt like I put in some good fat-burning, capillary network-building time. I just wish I had the sense to have a second bottle of nuun-water on hand.

Elle: It was super hard watching Webb workout, but if I don't sort this knee problem out now, it will continue to be a problem. Hoping that a good session in the pool tomorrow will help me feel better.

Webb: Thursday calls for a threshold test. We'll have to put that off until another time, once Elle's knee is up to the task.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Week 15: We Begin The Spinervals SUPER 6

Webb: Today we began Coach Troy Jacobson's Spinervals Super 6 program. 6 days a week for 6 weeks. The program seems to be geared more towards improving bike fitness with some running. Triathletes are encouraged to add another day of running. We are going to do that by taking out a cycling workout here and there. Plus, there is no swimming, so we'll need to find some time to do two or three swim workouts a week.

WORKOUT #1: 30:00 Endurance Run
Easy effort staying in HR zones 1-2.

Elle: We did a nice, easy 5k+ route that begins right outside our door and heads out to the waterfront, which, in the summer, is a really nice run. Once I bundled up properly (I had to wear the full-length running tights today), it wasn't too cold, but a blustery wind made it difficult to keep the HR down near the end.

Webb: It feels good to run again. This season we are going to try to focus more on frequency, trading in a long run for two mid-to-longish runs. Also, last year we would put the run workout as the second workout of the day. The thinking, or what others might call the "common mistake," was that the run leg is last in a race, so we should prepare ourselves to run fatigued. We are going with a different approach this season which takes into account that running has the highest risk for injury and running fatigued increases that risk. Running now comes first when the schedule allows.

WORKTOUT #2: TheSufferfest.com's "Angels"
The Super 6 program actually called for Spinervals 21 - an aerobic focused workout.

Elle: My "go-to" pre-workout nutrition is usually the Roctane Gel from Gu (Vanilla Orange), which I loooove - I think it's super tasty. But since it has caffeine, and we started this W/O a little late, we had a sample of Hammer Gel (Montana Huckleberry flavor), which I tried, and it was very tasty. Yum.

Webb: We do not own #21 at this time, so we opted to do "Angels." Coach Troy offers optional workouts for those who do not own the scheduled workout of the day. We considered doing the optional workout, however, when it came around to it, we wanted to watch UCI footage rather than the TV.

Elle: Now that SufferFestukah is over, returning to Sufferlandria is a little bit like going back home. It's nice to visit a familiar place, there are things about it you really like, but soon enough, you're ready to leave. After the first of three sets, I didn't know if I was going to make it it to the second set. After the second set, I questioned if I could make it to the third. But I survived in the end, sweaty and spent. Just as it should be.

Webb: I did my best to stay in HR zones 2-3 as Coach Troy's workout prescribed. It was tough and I ignored it during the attacks. However, it turned out to be a good workout to feel out my RPE (Rate of Perceived Effort) with regard to cadence and resistance.

Elle: I'd like to point out that Angels is one of my favorite Sufferfest videos because:
     1. You get the thumbs-up from Frank Schleck.
     2. There is a great, little cartoon at the end. I won't spoil it for those who haven't done it yet, let's just say it's an extra incentive to push through the workout knowing you get to watch a special treat at the end.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Run of 2012 w/ the Boston Triathlon Team

Elle: For NYE we went to a small party hosted by our long-time friend and running buddy Sean. Not only did we get to see some friends we have not seen in awhile, but we also met new friends who share our triathlon addiction.

Webb: We had planned to run for 1:25 at an endurance pace on New Year's Day. As luck would have it, we met Ed from the Boston Triathlon Team at the party. He invited us to join him and other triathletes from several teams for a 9-miler the next day. [The actual route was closer to 11 or 12, but we were only going to do 9ish. Some of the other runners did longer runs, up to 20 miles.]
Ed & Elle post New Year's Day run

THE WORKOUT: 85:00 Endurance Run (HR Zones 1-2)
Boston Marathon route from Woodland T stop to Crossroads pub.

Webb: Today was the greatest day in the history of new year's day in Boston. Super bright, sunny day in the mid-40's. In the sun, it actually felt ... warm? We even saw one guy running shirtless.

Elle: We met up at Crossroads at 11am and rode the T out to the Woodland stop, which dropped us right on the Boston Marathon route (which means we got in all of the hills of Newton). In addition to the super fantastic weather, at the top of Heartbreak Hill, I couldn't believe it, but there was Karen Smyers handing out Gatorade, which couldn't have come at a better time.

Webb: It is not everyday you get to have an Ironman World Champion hand out refreshments to you on a training run.

Elle: It was truly a great way to start the year, a nice, easy run on a gorgeous day.
When we got back to Crossroads, they had pitchers of water and delicious, hot, steamy vegetable soup, which really hit the spot. As people poured in from their run, the place got packed with runners and triathletes, including Karen Smyers and Dede Griesbauer. It was so cool to be surrounded by people you can talk to about triathlons and racing, who share your same interests. Let's hope this is a sign of good things to come in 2012.