Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is it more expensive to eat healthy?

According to Men's Health magazine, over the past two years, the cost of vegetables, meat, fruit, and other high-nutrition, low-calorie foods has increased by an average of 19.5 percent. But the price of junk foods have actually decreased slightly, by 1.8 percent.

Researchers recently estimated the cost of a diet based on high-calorie foods versus one based on healthy, low-calorie foods. You could eat the high-calorie diet for $3.52 a day. The low-cal diet? Hide your wallet - cost $36.32 per day!

That dollar figure looks pretty bad on the surface, but think about what else is effected by what you eat. The long-term costs of bad eating habits can make that look cheap.

Here's just a few of the ways that being overweight can effect your wallet:

- More expensive life insurance premiums
- More expensive health insurance premiums
- Lower pay - I'm not making this up
- More expensive clothes
- More visits to the doctor (obese people tend to spend 42% more than fit people on medical costs)
- Prescription drugs
- Travel (most airlines now charge obese passengers for two seats)

Overweight people are 25 percent more likely to be hospitalized for heart disease than slim people. Their hospital stays are 16 percent longer. Their risk of high blood pressure is 44 percent higher; the risk of developing kidney cancer is 42 percent higher; the risk of high cholesterol, 33 percent higher. And those numbers only get worse if you’re obese.

Bottom line is that while eating healthy will cost you more at the grocery, the return on investment is something that you need to keep in mind. Plus, everyone knows that the benefits to eating healthy far outweigh the additional cost.

45 minutes of weights (back, biceps, abs)
Swam 864 yards (0.49 miles) in 16:48 (34:13/mile pace)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fartlek run

Instead of my typical "Tuesday Intervals", I decided to mix it up and do a Fartlek run on the indoor track at the gym.

Here's the workout:

10 minute warm-up run (8:30/mile pace)
10 minutes of drills (butt-kickers, shuffles and grape-vines)

40 minutes of fartlek running - picking up the speed for one lap, every third lap

10 minute cool-down - jogging a few laps, walking a few laps, then stretching

I didn't time my miles during the fartlek running, but based on some of my lap times, I was running around 7:45 - 8:00 miles.

It was a good workout, went by faster than I thought it would. Total workout was 1 hour and 10 minutes, and I covered around 6.5 to 7 miles.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Treadmill vs. Outdoors

Up until my last minor injury (shin splints), I would routinely run on a treadmill at the gym for at least one of my running workouts each week. It was mainly for convenience, but I could also keep close tabs on my pace and pass the time while watching SportsCenter.

Once I got shin splints, I started wondering if the treadmill had anything to do with the throbbing that was coming from my lower leg every time I finished running. After looking on the internet, fully expecting to find out how bad treadmills were for your joints, bones and muscles...turns out that the main cause of the shin splints was worn-out shoes. It was still enough to keep me off of the machine ever since.

So what are the real differences between running on a treadmill and running outside?
There is a slight decrease in energy expenditure when running on a treadmill because of the lack of wind resistance and because the treadmill belt does propel you along. To make a treadmill workout closer to outdoor exercise, I've always heard that you have to raise the treadmill incline to 1%.

I have no scientific proof to back this up, but in my experience, you will be much more prepared for the demands on your muscles and joints on race day if you run outdoors during training. Can you practice running downhill on a treadmill? How about turning, or running around obstacles? Nope. It's just straight, flat running. Boo! Plus, it's beautiful outside...God created this world for us to go enjoy it!

Something else to keep in mind when running outdoors is the surface that you are running on. Sometimes it's necessary to run on sidewalks, but avoid it if at all possible. Asphalt is by far the better choice. It's 10 times "softer" than concrete, and that makes a big difference in energy dissipation and shock absorption. If most of your running is on concrete, I would put that at or near the top of the list of suspects for recurring injuries. You would be much better off running on grass or dirt alongside the concrete, if you have that option and don't mind having grass-stained shoes!

50 minutes of spin (around 17 miles)
45 minutes of weights (chest, triceps, abs)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Ran these same hills again this morning. As a bonus, it actually felt like fall this morning. It was around 56 degrees, but it felt cooler than that after the miserable heat this past Thursday morning. I'm excited about more mornings like this!

Time was 23:44 on the way out (7:49/mile)
Time was 23:29 on the way back (7:45/mile)

Total time for the 6.05 miles was 47:13 (7:47/mile pace) - this is only 2 seconds off my time for this same route earlier this month. So I'd say that's pretty consistent.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Happy 35th Birthday...

to Triathlon! It all started back in 1974, in Mission Bay, California. The idea was conceived by Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan. In 1973 Jack competed in the second annual "Dave Pain Birthday Biathlon". Which consisted of a 4.5 mile run followed by what was billed as a quarter-mile swim (the actual distance was between 200 and 300 yards). Jack loved the race and wanted to do more of them...but there wasn't any other events like this, so he started to plan one.

He conceived a run-swim biathlon with equal emphasis on the two disciplines, and several alternate legs. The initial run could be done in racing shoes, but subsequent running legs would have to be barefoot on a suitable surface (grass or sand). The Fiesta Island area of Mission Bay, where the Dave Palin race had been staged, was almost perfect. He designed a course, then called Bill Stock, the San Diego Track Club Calendar Chairman, and told him of his plans. He said he would put it on the calendar, but the rest was up to Jack.

As an afterthought, he suggested that Jack call Don Shanahan, who also had some strange event in mind. Bill wanted them to combine their ideas so there wouldn't be too many "weird" races on the schedule. Jack called Don and he told him that he wanted to include a biking leg. Jack wasn't too thrilled with the suggestion, having never cycled competitively (he didn't even own a bike). But what the hell, he thought, let's go for it. Theye decided to call the event the "Mission Bay Triathlon".

Here's the ad that ran in the track club newsletter:

The First Annual Mission Bay Triathlon, a race consisting of segments of running, bicycle riding, and swimming, will start at the causeway to Fiesta Island at 5:45 P.M. September 25. The event will consist of 6 miles of running (longest continuous stretch, 2.8 miles), 5 miles of bicycle riding (all at once), and 500 yards of swimming (longest continuous stretch, 250 yards). Approximately 2 miles of running will be barefoot on grass and sand. Each participant must bring his own bicycle. Awards will be presented to the first five finishers. For further details contact Don Shanahan (488-4571) or Jack Johnstone (461-4514).

I find it funny that they had to include the part about bringing your own bike. I also find it interesting that they didn't do just the three "legs" that are now common. They ran, swam, biked, ran, then swam again. This seems a lot harder than the way it's done now. The first Mission Bay Triathlon was competed in by 46 athletes and won by Bill Phillips with a time of 55 minutes and 44 seconds. Jack Johnston came in 6th, with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 18 seconds.

Picture is of Don Shanahan directing runners during the first ever "triathlon".

4 mile recovery run
30:23 (7:35/mile pace)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Well...that was not fun

My post yesterday talked about how excited I was that we were officially starting Fall. Well, let me assure you, it didn't feel like Fall this morning! When I got started around 6am, it was sprinkling rain and it felt like a sauna. Temperature was in the low 70's, but the humidity had to be over 90%. It was the definition of "sticky". My shirt and shorts were literally dripping with sweat by the time I finished. I contemplated doing my run on the treadmill, but after looking at the radar, I decided to take my chances and run outside. Plan was to run 8 laps of the road around the mall - yes, I'm getting bored with this too!

I was tired before I even ran my first step and knew early into the run that it was going to be a tough one. My legs started to get heavy after 2 laps. I was drenched in sweat and my shoes were wet after running through all the puddles. I kind of sound like a cry baby, huh?

I've run out of steam on my last few long morning runs, so I brought along a gel pack and popped it during lap 4. It didn't help. In hindsight, my bigger problem was fluids. I drank some water before I started, but running almost 10 miles in the humidity without a drop of water is a recipe for disaster. I've put down close to 80 oz. of water since I got to work, and 5 hours after I finished running...I still haven't peed! I guess I need to stick a water bottle along the route somewhere.

Here's my slip times:
Lap 1 - 9:31 (7:51/mile)
Lap 2 - 9:53 (8:10)
Lap 3 - 9:54 (8:10)
Lap 4 - 10:23 (8:34)
Lap 5 - 10:20 (8:32)
Lap 6 - 10:31 (8:41)
Lap 7 - 10:37 (8:46)
Lap 8 - 10:17 (8:29)

Totals: 9.68 miles in 1:21:28 (8:24/mile pace)

Hopefully this isn't a precursor to my race in 3-1/2 weeks. I only have two more long runs planned before then, let's hope they work out better than this one did!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumn has begun!

Autumn officially arrived at 5:18pm yesterday, so that makes today the first full days of fall! I'm really excited to welcome fall in this year. Summer will always hold a special place in my heart, but the heat and grass cutting keep it from getting the title of "Luke's favorite Season".

I like fall the best for several reasons. The weather, football, leaves turning and Halloween. I love fall for all these reasons, but also because I'm a runner. If you are a runner, I'm sure you will agree...Autumn is the perfect season. That early morning run in the crisp, cool air is the best. Get me out on the road early in the morning with a temperature around 45 degrees and the sun reflecting off of all the colorful foliage - I'll run all days long!

Speaking of early morning runs...when does the freakin' time change back? I hate running in the dark! This 7:30 sunrise just isn't working for me!

45 minutes of weights (back, biceps, abs)
Swam 864 yards (0.49 miles) in 17:13 (35:04/mile pace)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A new kind of Intervals

Today is Tuesday, so of course I did some interval work this morning. My normal intervals are called repeats...same distance several times with breaks in between. I decided to mix it up again this week and did a kind of intervals called pyramids.

Pyramid intervals are defined as starting out with a short interval, then lengthening the distance of each consecutive interval until reaching a max distance, then going back through the intervals in reverse order until you get to the distance that you started with.

I always do intervals on a track so that I will have a more accurate measurement of the distances. The track at the gym is 0.0714 miles per lap (14 laps = 1 mile). Here's what my intervals looked like:

1 mile warm-up at 7:45/mile pace
5 minutes of drills (butt-kickers, shuffles and grape-vines)
Intervals: - with 1 minute rest between each
3 laps (0.214 miles): 1:36
6 laps (0.428 miles): 3:09
9 laps (0.643 miles): 4:44
12 laps (0.857 miles): 6:23
9 laps: 4:39
6 laps: 3:12
3 laps: 1:29
1 mile cool-down
10 minutes of stretching

Total workout was 55 minutes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mrs. America - a triathlete?

So turns out the the newly crowned Mrs. America (Andrea Robertson, 32) is also a triathlete. Apparently she has participated in over 50 triathlons and has even won her age group before.

Robertson hopes her beauty pageant title helps put a new face on female athletics. Her pageant platform focuses on healthy life habits, and she is an ambassador for the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Sometimes femininity gets a little lost in athletics,” she said, noting that celebrity athletes such as Serena Williams have started to change that trend. “I think it’s cool to be athletic and still proud to be a woman.”

Well Andrea...I think it's cool too!

50 minute spin at the gym (around 19 miles) - pushed it pretty hard, lots of intervals!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dodging the puddles

Managed to get in a 4 mile run this morning in between rain storms. Went 4.0 miles in 30:23 (7:35/mile pace). Nice easy, recovery run, didn't push it too hard.

Speaking of rain, if you run much, you've most likely been caught in the rain or had to run when it was raining. As you know, your shoes are the most important tool as a runner. So what do you do when your shoes get wet? I've heard lots of ideas as to how to dry them out, but I've found that taking the insole out, and stuffing them full of newspaper works best. The paper absorbs the moisture and you can just lay the insoles out do air dry. Whatever you do, don't out your shoes in the dryer! The dryer is too hot and it will melt the glue on the sole and shrink the leather.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Medium run

Thursdays are typically reserved for a long run. To my surprise (and excitement), my training program only called for a 5-6 mile run today, which I'll call a "medium" run. So I did 5 laps around the mall for a total distance of 6.05 miles.

Lap 1= 8:58 (7:24/mile pace)
Lap 2= 9:25 (7:46)
Lap 3= 9:38 (7:57)
Lap 4= 9:48 (8:05)
Lap 5= 9:33 (7:53)

Total time = 47:22 (7:49/mile pace)

As usual, I started out of the blocks too fast and my pace suffered as my distance increased. I need to work on holding back for the first few miles so that I have something left. Being able to do this will be crucial to a good half-marathon time on October 18th!

After my run, I did some stretching and actually spent some time on some leg exercises. I did some squats and reverse lunges with light weight and then a few sets on the abduction/adduction machines (the seated ones that works the inner and outer thighs). We'll see how my legs feel in the next few's literally been months since I did any weighted leg exercises.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Am I faster than Shaq?

Last night we watched the show "Shaq vs". If you haven't seen it, it's pretty entertaining. NBA star Shaquille O'Neal challenges other professional athletes at their sport. I've seen a few episodes and I have to admit that Shaq is a good all-around athlete. Last night he got in the pool to challenge Olympic superstar Michael Phelps to a "race" in the pool. To make it even reasonably close, they required Phelps to swim a lot further than it really wasn't a race.

However, Shaq is actually a good swimmer. He's not exactly graceful in the water, but you can tell that he's spent some time in a pool. As we were watching last night I was looking at Shaq's times and wondering how my swim times would compare. So before swimming my laps this morning, I decided to time myself in some sprints.

Shaq swam 50 yards in 38.76 seconds. My best time was 37.25. So this was obviously closer than I would like, but keep in mind that I had to both stop and start my watch I figure that added at least a second or so to my time. For comparison, Phelps completed 75 yards in 38.59 seconds, which gives him a 50 yard time of appoximately 25.73 seconds. I guess that's why he's the greatest swimmer of all time!

Here's the full episode if you want to watch. The actual races are in the last 10 minutes of so.

(3) 50 yards sprints to try and beat Shaq's time, followed by 15 minutes of easy swimming. I didn't count the laps, but I would guess that I swam about 750 yards.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I might consider renaming "Tuesday" to "Intervals" - any objections? On my current training plan, I do intervals every Tuesday. I typically try and work in speed training at least once a week, sometimes twice (see fartlek training). So some people might ask why I do speed training when I'm training for endurance events. Simple - interval/speed running is at anaerobic pace, it's pushing my body in a different way than just doing a long run.

Interval pace is faster than your lactate treshold pace (I'll explain this on a later post). It is the pace at which you feel lactic acid building up in your legs. You will not be able to hold this pace for miles and miles without having to slow down. This helps to improve oxygen delivery to the muscles. The more oxygen which is delivered to your muscles, the faster and the further you will be able to run.

The last few weeks I've been doing 1/2 mile intervals with 1 minute rest between. Since I don't want my body to get used to the same interval distance, I decided to try 1 mile intervals this morning with 2 minutes of rest in between.

Started off with 1 mile warm up at half-marathon pace. Then 10 minutes of drills (butt-kickers, shuffles and grape-vines). Then it was on to the's my mile times:

(1) 6:57
(2) 7:07
(3) 7:28
(4) 7:47

Followed by a 10 minute cool-down and stretching.

It's pretty obvious from the times, that I cannot sustain the pace I ran in the first two intervals. I had to really push it on the last one to keep up a fast legs were screaming at me! I wish I had worn my heart-rate monitor, I'm sure that I was in the 180's on that last interval!

Monday, September 14, 2009


A few months ago at the gym I noticed a guy wearing what looked like gloves on his feet. They looked like something Aquaman would be wearing. They were about as thick as socks and had a "sleeve" for each of his toes. They were very weird. So of course, I went up and asked the dude what they were. He said they are made by Vibram and they are the best shoe he's every worn.

Knowing my foot issues (pronating, flat feet), I thought that I'm not someone that could ever where these shoes. I've worn shoes that do not have good arch support and the result is knee and shin pain that could result in long term side effects. So I always get shoes that are made for my foot.

Ever since seeing this guy in these shoes, I've been noticing them a lot on running and triathlon websites. Both advertisements and people discussing their pros and cons. The sales pitch is that we can run without injuries barefoot (humans did it for thousands of years). It’s our natural mode of transportation and by wearing shoes we are weakening our bodies. It kind of makes sense, but I doubt that cavemen were keeping stats on how many legs injuries they had! I know that when my supportive running shoes start to break down, so do my legs! So how would my legs react to zero support?

A little investigation on the Vibram website reveals the following:
If you currently wear torsionally rigid shoes—including higher end stability or motion-control shoes like Asics Evolution or Kayano, Brooks Beast, Addiction or Adrenaline, Saucony MC Stabil or Omni, Nike Stasis, or New Balance 1122s—it would be wise to drop down into a less rigid shoe before increasing your time in FiveFingers. Of course, some time in a pair of FiveFingers may well be beneficial.

and this:

For some pronators (people whose feet tend to flatten during full weight-bearing exercise) Vibram FiveFingers will be too much of an abrupt change in biomechanics. We always recommend what we call a micro progression into FiveFingers. The too-much-too-soon phenomenon can be a problem for anyone’s foot. In the case of heavy pronators, FiveFingers might not be a wise choice for weight-bearing activities. Pronators will definitely benefit from some focused rehabilitation and foot-specific exercises before wearing any minimalist footwear

So they do admit that these "shoes" may not be a wise choice for weight-bearing activities if you are a pronator. Isn't running considered "weight-bearing"? Either way, I'm not planning on investing the $75-$80 to try out a pair of these, but if you are one of those lucky people that can wear any shoe and never have knee, shin or hip issues, then maybe you should try "running barefoot".

45 minutes of spinning at the gym this morning, followed by 45 minutes of weights (chest, triceps and abs). Probably close to 13 miles on the bike. Pushed it pretty hard. Makes me miss my morning rides on White Lighting. I'll have to find time to get back out on her soon!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

That's more like it.

After a sub-par run on Thursday, I was eager to get back out on the pavement this morning. Went for a 4 mile run and felt good the whole way. Time was 29:15 (7:18/mile pace). I'm not sure if I could keep this pace up for a full 13 miles, put right now doing it for 4 miles isn't a problem. We'll see how things progress in the next few weeks.

Also, congrats for Alistair Brownlee for capturing the win the Olympic Distance Triathlon World Championship last night! Dude is seriously FAST...and also now $85,000 richer!

Friday, September 11, 2009

What does a food label really tell you?

My wife sometimes gets annoyed with my standing in the grocery isle reading and comparing nutrition labels. I try to eat healthy, so knowing exactly what I'm looking at is important...otherwise I could be thinking that I'm eating good foods when in reality I'm not. Here's some of the key things that I look at:

- Don't read the front of the box! It's all advertising. "trans fat free", "low fat", "light", "organic", "all natural", etc. They can put anything they want on the one regulates what the label claims.

- Go straight to the Nutrition label and check the serving size and servings per container. I'm not sure who decides on these amounts, but I always eat WAY more than what they call a "serving size". So keep these amounts in your head as you read the rest of the label.

- Don’t worry about the listed Daily Value percentages. They’re based on government standards, which are not the healthiest guidelines to strive for...just ignore these numbers.

- Calories. Remember, this is calories per serving. Don’t get too excited with “0s” either. Because some manufacturers use ridiculously small serving sizes and because the FDA states that manufacturers can “round down” to zero, some products advertised as calorie-free or fat-free are actually not. I don't count calories, so I don't spend too much time on this, but anything over 250-300 per serving should sound an alarm.

- Right next to or under calories is "calories from fat". Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you “percent of calories from fat,” which is how all health guidelines direct us to limit fat. You’ve got to do a little math. Divide the number of calories from fat by the total calories. (If the serving’s 150 calories, 50 of which are fat, your product is 33 percent calories from fat.). You should get 15-20% of your daily calories from fat.

- Total Fat. This is the one that most people know to look for. Saturated fat is bad, so is Trans fat...look for low numbers (0g is ideal).

- Sodium (aka salt). Limit the sodium in milligrams to no more than the number of calories in each serving. Your daily goal should be less than 1,500mg of sodium. There's lots of sodium is most packaged foods...look at these numbers carefully.

- Carbohydrates. About half of your total daily calories should come from carbs. They are usually listed in grams, so you'll have to do some math (serving sizes are typically in grams too). While keeping track of the amount of carbohydrates you need every day is important, choosing the right carbohydrate-rich foods is equally important. Don't worry about higher carb counts on whole grain bread, cereals and pastas, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
High carb counts are bad in sugary snacks, pastries, soft drinks, candy, cookies, greasy chips and most processed, packaged snack foods.

- Sugars. Fruit naturally contains sugar, so if the food you are looking at contains fruit, don't be alarmed by a high sugar content. Refer to the list of ingredients to see if sugar has been added.

- Look at the list of ingredients.
Bad fats: Saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, tropical oils, including lard, butter, coconut, cocoa butter, palm oils, shortening, margarine, chocolate, and whole and part-skim dairy products.
Good fats: Polyunsaturated fats (like safflower, soybean, corn, and sesame) and monounsaturated fats (such as olive and canola)
Look for "sugar" or sweeteners like corn syrup, rice and maple syrup, molasses, honey, malted barley, barley malt, or any term that ends in “ol,” such as sorbitol or maltitol, or “ose,” such as dextrose or fructose. If any of these are in the first 5 ingredients listed...put it back on the self!

This is a lot to look at, but I typically focus on the Total Fats and sugar content. If you make healthy selections, counting carbs and calories won't be necessary.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

They all can't be good days...

It's Thursday, so that means it's time for a long run. This morning's run was 7 loops around the Mall St. Matthew's, which equals approximately 8.54 miles (each loop is 1.22 miles). I felt slow from the first stride...and never got into a good rhythm. Not sure why, but it was just one of those runs, it never felt good. This was obvious in my time, which was 1:08:33 (8:01/mile pace). I pushed through and managed to never slow my time per loop to over 10 minutes. My best loop was 9:20, worst was 9:58.

Weights only tomorrow, then a short recovery run on Saturday. Hopefully next Thursday's long run will be more enjoyable!

Speaking of running...uhhh...what do you make of this?!?!?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Weight Training

I typically lift weights 3-4 times a week depending on my schedule. Weight lifting used to be the only thing I did at the gym, but it's taken a back seat since I started doing triathlons at the end of last summer. Instead of lifting to get bigger, I now lift to improve strength in my muscles and joints. Lighter weights and more reps have replaced the loaded up barbells that I could only push a few reps out of.

I've also increased the amount of core strengthening exercises that I do. In the past, I would spend maybe 30 minutes a week on abs, all in one day. Now it's a part of every weight lifting session I do. I mix in abdominal and lower back exercises in between sets of larger muscle groups. Core strength training improves power in swimming, and capabilities with uphill climbing and sprint cycling as well. Core strength training will also help prevent injury and will keep me in better shape by strengthening my entire body.

Typical weight lifting routine:
Mondays - Chest & Tri's
Tuesdays - Back & Biceps
Wednesdays - Legs (not so much right now with all the extra running)
Fridays - Shoulders & Traps

Today's Training:
Swam 864 yards (16 yards short of a half mile).
Time was 16:23 (33:22/mile pace)

This is a full minute faster than I did the same distance in the same pool last week...don't ask me why.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


With 6 weeks to go until the Louisville Half-Marathon, it's time to step it up a notch! Instead of running only 3 days a week, I'll add in an extra day of running while still mixing in some swimming and biking on the off days. That means that there's going to be back-to-back days of running at some point each week.

I could definitely feel the effects of yesterday's 6 miles of hills during my interval training this morning. I did my usual 10 minutes of warm-up, starting out easy and slowly increasing the pace. I mixed it up today and added in about 5 minutes of drills after the warm-up (butt-kickers, shuffles and grapevines) . Then I started my 1/2 mile intervals with 1:00 rest in between.

As usual, I wanted to keep them around the 3:40 mark, but the hamstrings were still feeling it from yesterday's hills, so my times weren't as good this week:

(1) 3:34
(2) 3:42
(3) 3:44
(4) 3:46
(5) 3:48
(6) 3:32
(7) 3:35

As my times started to creep up, I told myself that if I could push it and get two intervals under 3:40, that I would call it a day. I managed to find some speed, so I stopped after 7 intervals instead of the normal 9. Finished with a cool down jog and 10 minutes of stretching. No running tomorrow, and I'm glad - the legs need a rest!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Since changing my cadence last week, all of my training runs have been on fairly flat ground...that all changed this morning! I decided to take my new running style on to some hills. Total change in elevation for the 6.05 miles was 334 feet. I did an out and back course from my house. Way out only had a net +14 feet change in elevation, so the way back was a net of -14 feet...pretty much constant hills after getting out of my neighborhood - it was hard to find enough flat ground to check my cadence. Here's the profile:

Time was 23:17 on the way out (7:41/mile)
Time was 23:54 on the way back (7:54/mile)

Total time of 47:11 (7:47/mile pace)

I'm happy with this pace on these hills - they are the same ones that I do at the beginning of my long bike rides and they are tough!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fartlek training

Say what?

Fartlek - Funny word, sounds like something my newborn does. Fartlek comes from the Swedish word for speed. Fartlek training involves varying your pace throughout your run. In other words, you integrate intense sprints into your workout, followed by a recovery run or slow jog slightly below your normal running pace.

For example, on my 4 mile run yesterday morning, every 3-4 minutes, I would increase my speed to near sprinting for 30 seconds, then slow down to just below my normal pace and slowly ramp back up to my typical training pace.

The idea here is that each time you increase your speed, you are putting stress on your cardiovascular system, which allows your system to improve its threshold. Thus, you will be increasing both speed and endurance. Give it a try sometime. It's a nice little way to break up a monotonous run.

Yesterday's Training:

4 miles in 29:19 (7:19/mile pace)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Little too much

My training plan called for me to do a distance run yesterday. It said to go 7-8 of course, I decided on 8. Left work and parked the car on 3rd Street north of UofL. Ran 4 miles south on 3rd St. & Southern Pkwy to New Cut Rd. and back.

First 4 miles was done in 29:14 (7:18/mile pace)
Second 4 miles was done in 32:22(8:05/mile pace)

Total time as 1:01:36 (7:42/mile pace)

I could tell that I was slowing down during the last few miles, but the first 5 or so felt really good. I probably should have just done 6 or 7 miles considering I'm still trying to get used to the new running style. Speaking of that, I checked my cadence several times during the run and I was always in the 29-31 touches per 20 seconds range, which is right where I need to be!

While I was waiting under the railroad overpass on 3rd Street for the freak rain storm to stop, two 12 year old boys ran up to wait out the rain as well. As most kids do, they starting asking me questions as soon as they walked up. We weren't there more than 3-4 minutes, but here's just a sample of the questions they asked me:

- How much can you bench?
- How fast can you run?
- Do you want to pet my snake? (yes, one of them was carrying a pet snake)
- Do you go to college?
- Do you play football?
- Are you married?
- What are you listing to?
- How old are you?
- Why don't you run in the rain?

It was some good entertainment while waiting out the rain. Also, thanks to whoever is responsible for putting two fresh and clean port-o-pots in the lot across from UofL's baseball stadium. I had to relieve myself and they kept me from having to hold it for 7 more miles! (I bet you were wondering why I had that picture of you know)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What's the goal?

Over the last few days, my wife Jessica and I have had a recurring conversation. The topic has been whether it's good or bad for the sport of triathlon that the number of people competing in the full Ironman distance races continues to rise while the number of participants in the shorter distances doesn't.

The Ironman race here in Louisville last Sunday was started by almost 3000 athletes. That's the largest any Ironman the world! Ironman used to be reserved for only the elite athletes in the sport. Now it's become so "common" to compete in an Ironman, that the top athletes have looked for something even more challenging. Hence, events such as the double iron triathlon have come about. More extreme formats have evolved; there are in fact triple, quadruple, quintuple, deca, and 15× events that are multiples of the original Ironman distance triathlon.

The sport of triathlon offers several distances. Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman, Full Ironman, and then those events listed above that literally take several days to complete.

Joe Friel is an expert endurance sports coach. He's coached Olympic and triathlon champions for years, has published several books and is looked up to in the sport. Here's part of a recent post on his blog:

It used to be that a fast Olympic-distance race was considered quite an accomplishment. Now it pales by comparison with the Ironman. Ironman has become such a force in the sport that you aren’t considered a “real” triathlete unless you’ve done one, or, better yet, finished Ironman Hawaii. I seldom come across a triathlete any more who isn’t at least thinking about doing an Ironman in the not-too-distant future.

I also come across people who have never done a triathlon at any distance and are contemplating doing an Ironman as their first race. There’s no concern for how fast they might go. It’s just get to the finish line so they can hear those magic words, “You’re now an Ironman.” Then they can get a tattoo on the ankle, I guess.

Most “normal” people have no idea what it takes to even finish an Ironman. They see TV coverage and it looks so easy. Of course, the pros in any sport will make it look easy. It isn’t. Most people couldn’t sit in front of their televisions for 17 hours let alone swim, bike and run that long. Most are doomed to failure by starting at this distance. It would be better had they started with a sprint and five years later did an Ironman. But that’s too time-consuming for people today, it seems.

Our fascination with long-distance events concerns me. I don’t think it’s good for the future of any endurance sport when going slowly for a long time just so one can cross the finish line is held in higher regard than going very fast for a short distance. The person who starts out with an Ironman will likely have a very short triathlon career. Then what? Three-day adventure races? And after a couple of those what’s next?

Perhaps I’ve become an old curmudgeon who longs for the good, old days when distance wasn’t the key issue; speed was. Of course, there will always be athletes who strive to see how fast they can go at short distances. But they seem to be a slowly diminishing breed of endurance athlete. One good thing I see about this shift in attitude in sport is that it encourages more people to participate. Finishing is a lot less challenging than going fast.

While I understand that just finishing an Ironman is a huge accomplishment, I feel that when people start the race knowing full well that they will be taking it easy on the bike, then walking the majority of the marathon, it's kind of cheating the sport. It's called a "race" for a reason. Having to walk the run portion of the race because of an injury is one thing. But not putting in the training to even have a chance to run the marathon is what irritates me. Am I wrong on this??

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tax deduction for gym membership?

The Personal Health Investment Today Act of 2009 or the PHIT Act of 2009 was introduced in the House on April 27, 2009.

It amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow a medical care tax deduction for up to $1,000 ($2,000 for married couples filing jointly or heads of household) of qualified sports and fitness expenses. It defines "qualified sports and fitness expenses" as amounts paid for fitness center memberships, physical exercise programs, and exercise equipment. The act was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Covered expenses include:

• Youth camp & physical activity fees
Membership and dues in a health club
• Exercise/fitness classes or instruction (personal trainer)
• Sports league fees (adult and youth)
Marathon/Triathlon registration fees !!!!
Equipment used exclusively for participation in physical exercise/activities

Excluded expenses include:

• Expenses incurred from private clubs owned and operated by members
• Clubs offering golf, hunting, sailing and horseback riding activities
• Apparel and footwear not used exclusively for physical activity
• Travel and accommodation expenses associated with participation in physical activity

So call or email your legislators' offices and encourage them to pass HR 2105 when they are back in session next week. Find their contact info here.


45 minutes of weights, then 1/2 mile in the pool
Due to the crazy length of the gym pool, the actual distance swam was 864 yards (16 yards short of a half mile).
Time was 17:24
This is a little slower than I would like, but I was really concentration on good form, so I knew that I was going a little slow. Alternated breathing from left side to right side on each lap.

I would also like to quickly mention that Jessica, Kate and I attended the Louisville Ironman volunteer appreciation party at Slugger Field last night. It was a pretty fun time. Dinner, live music, lots of door prizes, etc. It's cool to see all the people that operate behind the scenes on an event this big!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The perfect food for runners is...

bananas! This is good news, since I love bananas and usually eat one everyday as part of breakfast. Bananas are nature’s energy food. They are easy to eat and transport, offer plenty of quick carbs, and are 75 percent water. So in addition to giving you needed fuel during and after a run, they keep you hydrated. It’s no wonder that aid stations in marathons and triathlons are often stocked with bananas.

A banana has about 28 grams of carbohydrates which is more than any other fruit. Carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen. As your body needs it, glycogen is broken down into glucose, the fuel that your body runs on.

Bananas also have a lot of potassium. Potassium helps keep your heartbeat regular, controls muscle tightening, and controls the body's water balance.

During physical activity the body loses potassium. Muscle cramps can sometimes come from not having enough minerals such as potassium. That's why bananas are so great!

Eat 'um up...every day! Yum, Yum!

It's Tuesday, so I did some intervals.

9 x 1/2 mile intervals with 1:00 rest between (around 40 minutes)

Goal was to keep each interval around the 3:40 mark (7:20/mile pace), which I did for the most part...

(1) 3:35
(2) 3:38
(3) 3:37
(4) 3:41
(5) 3:44
(6) 3:45
(7) 3:45
(8) 3:41
(9) 3:37

Checked my cadence at least once during each interval and was always at either 30 or 31...making good progress on making this my natural cadence.

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