Sunday, September 18, 2011


Hi there,

I'm over at now.

Maybe I'll see you there....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wicked Sick

I'm wicked sick.

I'm also from Massachusetts and prone to say "wicked".  Just so you know.

Honestly, I'm OK - it's just a cold that has been made worse by having to do a little bit of travel for work.  So I'm going to bed early the next few nights.  Hopefully I will post something more substantial (though I'm not saying good) soon.



Monday, August 15, 2011

The 5th Discipline

Even the fastest rest
As triathletes, we spend an awful lot of time swimming, biking and running.  After all, doing something over and over again to get better at it is pretty much how things work.  So we swim.  We bike.  We run.  And then we repeat this cycle at least a zillion times.  The more savvy triathletes among us also practice transitioning from the swim to the bike and from the bike to the run.  This is very smart because fast transition times mean faster race finishing times.  And faster finishing times means extra bragging rights on the blogs and triathlon Internet forums.  Swimming, biking, running and transitions are universally accepted at the 4 disciplines of triathlon.

A Google search and/or hiring a coach will result in more advice than you'll ever need when it comes to swimming, biking, running and transitions.  What about recovery, though?  Pretty much everyone is aware that rest is important.  But beyond a general acknowledgement of the importance of recovery, there is very little information about how to actually go about it.  This is unfortunate.  Because while resting, the countless hours spent training start to pay off - you get stronger with rest.  There are many ways to rest, and one of my favorites is simply just sitting on my ass.

The 5th Discipline in action
I take sitting on my ass very seriously.  In fact, I'm doing it right now - I'm kicked back and my feet are up.  I have a laptop balanced on the right arm of the couch and the universal remote is on the seat cushion to my left.  The TV isn't on yet, but I guarantee you that this will change within 15 minutes.  I haven't decided whether I'm going to check out what's on Universal Sports or rent a movie from OnCommand.  Either way I'm not worried, because I'm not going to have to move an inch to do it.

On the coffee table in front of me sits a sliced apple and a bottle of sparking water.  But the truth is I might not get around to touching them.  Because to get to them I would have to move about 2 feet.  Though I usually don't consider moving 2 feet getting off my ass, it's still farther than I feel like moving tonight.  Luckily there is a bottle of still water on the table behind me.  It's within easy reach, so I'll be able to stay hydrated.

As I do with my workouts, I try to start with a clear scope and objective for my ass sitting sessions.  For example, my plan tonight was to get on the couch (scope) and not move (objective).  I've always felt that it's very important to try and include those close to you in your world of triathlon, so I told Mary that she was more than welcome to join me.

Sitting on your ass should not be considered "active recovery" - you still have to do easy swims, bike rides and runs.  Rather, sitting on your ass should be considered "active passive recovery" because it requires a conscious decision on your part to do absolutely nothing.  Conversely, sleeping is "passive recovery".  Although going to sleep usually requires some modicum of conscious thought, the benefits of sleep do not manifest themselves in the same ways they do when you are sitting on your ass.  Because when you sit on your ass, the sheer joy of same introduces a significant layer of mental satisfaction into the equation as your body works to achieve homeostasis.

It's likely that as the knowledge base about triathlon continues to grow, most of it will continue to focus on swimming, biking and running.  However, don't let this deter you from sitting on your ass.  The good news is that with a little bit of practice involving a lot of sitting on your ass, you will become an expert in no time.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Simple Math

Getting to here at some point late tomorrow morning for coffee and bagels means.....

Climbing Newport Coast...

Then climbing through Shady Canyon...

Then climbing up and around Starwood Drive in Turtle Rock...

Then descending down through Laguna Canyon...

Then riding south on Pacific Coast Highway for awhile...

Until we pass through Newport Beach back into Huntington.

I'm really looking forward to the ride...just one more sleep.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Be The Lemonade

There have been a few things going on this week:
  • Mary is in Boston at an e-tailer's conference.
  • Ian was sick all day Tuesday with a slight fever.
  • I felt sick Tuesday afternoon, felt better Tuesday night, felt sick again yesterday evening and felt fine again this morning.
  • My left knee has a twinge in it.  I might have just made the word "twinge" up, but what I mean is that I'm feeling something going on there.  It's not pain, it's not even a dull ache.  Rather my knee is simply reminding me that it is there.
Needless to say my workouts have suffered a little.  I normally wouldn't get too bothered by this because I rarely have to deal with conflict in my training schedule.  But this week is a little different because I am in the peak training phase before I taper for Santa Cruz.  I probably could have handled any combination of 2 of the 4 exceptions without much difficulty, but having them all hit at once has been a little challenging.

The week started off normally on Monday with my scheduled swim workout.  But with Ian sick on Tuesday (along with my body trying to decide what it wanted to do), I missed a bike and a run session.  I swam again yesterday, but had to cut it short to pick up Ian.  Today I ran.  I was supposed to do 800M repeats, but due to the knee I started the run not entirely sure what I was going to do.  I ended up playing it (semi) safe and did about 30 minutes at tempo instead, which still made for a great run.  My knee is still twinging, but it's no worse (or better) than it was.

I'm supposed to do a recovery bike ride tomorrow morning, but I don't have anything to recover from.  So I think it's best to change things up for the rest of the weekend.  Tomorrow I'll do Sunday's swim.  Saturday I'll ride with OC Velo.  Subject to what my knee wants to do, I think I'll join the "A" ride to go a little longer than I have been lately (75 miles) and then do a very short run.  Sunday, I'll join OC Velo again for a recovery ride followed by a run somewhere between thirty minutes and an hour and fifteen minutes, again depending on the knee.

Mary is back tomorrow afternoon and hopefully the knee twinge ends up being nothing.  That way I can hit it smart and balanced next week since it's the last big one.


Monday, August 8, 2011

As Predicted

A percentage of runners have been running barefoot for a long time, have continued to run barefoot through the current barefoot mania and will continue to run barefoot for years to come.

And then there is the rest of us.

I think it's safe to say that over the last year or so, we've all at least considered drinking the Kool-Aid.  By taking a completely crass view of Born To Run, you realize that it is one of the greatest (and perhaps completely unintended) works of propaganda ever written.  It's an entertaining, readable story that makes some very compelling arguments for barefoot/minimalist running.  We all have a little bit of a primal instinct left in our DNA and the booked tapped into it perfectly.

But human nature is complicated, probably more now than in any time in history.  We live in a world that became increasingly fast paced through the second half of the 20th century.  That pace was then amplified by the technology of the last 10 years.  As a result we have grown very impatient because we can get anything we want within 24 hours.  Information is instantly available.  Books, music and movies can be downloaded in a matter of minutes.  And as long as we are willing to pay for it, almost any product we can think of can be delivered to our doorsteps overnight.

So what happens when information is instantly available and (in the case goods and services) that information can be acted upon so quickly?  Trends come and go faster than ever before.

Barefoot running is a trend, plain and simple.  Like I said in the first paragraph of this post, there are people who have always run barefoot and will continue to do so.  But they aren't the people who have been overly evangelizing barefoot running recently.  They aren't the people who have been propping up Vibram's balance sheet for the last 18 months.  And they aren't the people who will inevitably get out as fast as they got in.

I read a forum thread on today where the poster was commenting on the barefoot running trend by citing Malcolm Gladwell, the author of one of my favorite books The Tipping Point.  I'm paraphrasing here, but the point being made was that trends usually swing opposite to each other with every cycle.  If a low heel drop and minimal uppers are the technological and cultural paradigm of running shoes today, it will eventually go the other way.  In fact, it's already happening.  Have you seen these shoes yet?

Hoka One One "Mafate"
 From the Hoka One One website:
By using an EVA 30% softer and increasing its total volume to 2.5 times that of a typical trail running shoe, we allow for more cushioning than any other shoe on the market today, dissipating up to 80% of the shock associated with heal striking when running.
I'm not saying Hoka One One is going to single-handedly swing the trend.  Personally, the only way you'd ever get me to run in those things is if I could also wear a Japanese school-girl outfit, pigtails and a Hello Kitty back-pack.  But eventually, something will stick.  And most of us will quickly forget what the whole fuss about barefoot running was in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to admit I am a sucker for trends.  But as a result of trying out Vibram Five Fingers a couple times early on, I consciously decided to avoid barefoot running.  I realized that I had already found running shoes that allowed me to run long and far while staying injury free.  I mostly wear Newtons.  To be fair, I'm not surprised that their design borrows from both schools of thought.

I'm also not bashing the true barefoot runners.  I recognize that just because the "trendiness" of barefoot running has eclipsed the act itself, the trend does not invalidate barefoot running.  In fact, I would suspect that there are many barefoot runners that are just as annoyed as I am.

And yes, the barefoot running trend annoys me.  The reason is simple - running is a very intense activity and your feet are way too important to get caught up in hype and for-profit marketing.  I don't know of anything in the world that works for everyone, so I think it's safe to assume that barefoot running is no different.  Yet, the spin on barefoot running has reached such a fever pitch that the message has almost become "unless you start barefoot running RIGHT NOW you will get injured and your running career will be over".  Sure, there are plenty of more reasonable voices out there.  But the problem is that at the apex of any trend it is super easy for all common sense to go flying out the window.

Think I'm wrong?  Then why is Justin Bieber so popular?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Big Brick

Today I went out and did what I'm calling a "baseline brick" for The Big Kahuna 70.3 triathlon in Santa Cruz early next month.  First I went out and rode just over 53 miles with OC Velo.  Then I came home, changed and headed straight out for a 10 mile run.  Both are familiar distances on their own, but this is the first time I strung them together to see what would happen.

Laguna Canyon
The ride was south through Newport Beach, Irvine and Laguna Beach.  It was a pretty routine ride and at times a little more mellow than I had hoped for.  One of the highlights of the ride is a 2 mile climb to the height of land on El Toro Road in Laguna Woods and then a gentle 6 or 7 mile descent down El Toro, into Laguna Canyon and on to Pacific Coast Highway.  To me, this particular stretch of the ride affords a perfect view of the classic Southern California landscape.  The south end of El Toro Road is especially wild, running through large areas of coastal chaparral.  Laguna Canyon is a deep, twisty canyon that ends at one of the nicest beach communities around.

The climb and the descent

It's good to have great training partners, and I've got one.  About 15 miles out of Huntington Beach, Craig told me to get on his wheel.  He wanted to hammer but knew I needed to stay as fresh as possible for the run.  We made it back to Huntington Beach pretty quick, hitting 22 or 23 miles an hour when we had the road to do so.  When we got back to town, Craig headed home to get ready to see Cowboys & Aliens with his son.  When I got home, I got ready to run.

Bolsa Chica Beach Path
I was in and out of the house in 15 minutes.  Not quite the transition time I'll want to lay down in Santa Cruz, but then again I won't have to change clothes and check my e-mail on race day.  The route I took is a familiar one - out of the house, west to the beach and then south on the Bolsa Chica beach path.  At about 7 miles, I turned inland and ran back to the house.  It's essentially a big quasi-triangle that circles the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

It was a pretty typical run, save for miles 2 and 3, where for some reason things got a little rough.  But by the time I hit the beach I had found my legs and finished the run strong.

The Stats:

The Bike - 53.32 miles in 3:08:34; Average speed 17 MPH

The Run - 10 miles in 1:22:27; Average pace 8:14/mile

As I mentioned, I would have liked to have had a faster bike split.  But you know how group rides are sometimes, and all things considered I'm happy to go with the flow.  Luckily, the second half was the fast half and despite drafting off of Craig for the last 15 miles, I definitely felt the ride in my legs when I started running.  I'm happy with the run.  I'll be going for a faster pace on race day but I feel today was aggressive enough to test my ability but not so over the top where recovery is going to take awhile.

Going into this workout, I was pretty sure that things would go fine.  That said, I'm glad to have done it as it was definitely a confidence builder.  So when it comes time to execute the race next month, I'll be building off some experience.


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