More Data for Better Living – Swim Stroke Rate

So I know my stroke rate in the pool is slow – usually around 44 spm. I was racing on Sunday and my stroke rate was ~60 spm. I know that a faster stroke rate is better, and it’s definitely better for open water – I hadn’t been aiming for it, I just fell into it. I went back and looked at my previous four races this year. Same deal – my arms always move faster when I’m racing.

I’m much faster in the water when I race and I had been chalking that up solely to the wetsuit but now I’m thinking it’s a combo of wet suit and a higher cadence.

Goal Setting 2017

I’ve been at loose ends for a while now, really since last May. Sort of floating along.  I’ve been consistent with strength training for almost 8 months, which is great! I don’t have any goals for 2017. I was planning to set my year around Wildflower, but Wildflower isn’t going to happen so I have been needing to give my self something to build my fitness year around.

One thing I haven’t focused really ever is getting faster as a runner. I used to believe I was “slow.” Now I know that I’m as fast as I work to be and I could get faster if I put in work.

I still have not broken 30 minutes for a 5k, so that is going down this year.  I can do push ups (go me!) so I want to increase those and work on pull ups. The overarching goal is consistency. To stick with it and not sorry too much about outcomes.

The plan is as follows:

  • One Long Run, One Tempo Run, One Interval Day, two full-body weight days and one yoga day. I should be able to separate all runs and strength sessions by minimum 8 hours and generally 24 hours.
  • I may add in easy runs or some cycling and swimming at a recovery level but only if I do not have excessive fatigue. When in doubt, leave it out.
  • Tracking mood and energy levels with nutrition. I am not trying to lose weight, I’m weight stable and have been for four years and my focus for the last year has been getting adequate protein – 100g per day.
  • I need to keep a good handle on sleep hygiene. No caffeine after lunch, get to bed at a consistent time, solid bed time routine.
  • Schedule baseline testing and retests. For me this will include racing with a focus on 5ks. I did a 5k on New Year’s Day and I’m planning to do the same race next year to see my progress.
  • Profit.


Tired right now

Since the events in my last blog, I have raced three times. Two trail runs and one triathlon. No race reports.

I’m very tired right now. Had a very, very big work project that ate all my energy in May and June. I’m completely burned out on triathlon. The emotional work of trying to decide to race Alcatraz took so much out of me that I don’t think I can even race the Oakland Sprint much less jump into the bay.

There is only so much bandwidth in any of our lives. I am stepping back from tri right now because I can see that it’s too much. It feels like an obligation, rather than a privilege and that’s not a flavor of energy that I want to associate with my stress releasing me time activity.

I focusing on strength training and endurance running now. I’m lifting twice a week and keeping up with my yoga practice. I’m running three days a week and once the reg link is live, I’m hoping to do the Golden Hills Trail Marathon in October.

After that, I will probably switch to working on running speed and 5 k training with the long term goal on being able to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes (that’s 8:00/mile which is fast for me but I think within sight).


Tri this – Swimming while slow

Triathlon season starts this week, for me (Wildflower, baby!!) and I haven’t swum since my last tri, on August 31. I am starting in on The Sufferfest Intermediate Triathlon Training Plan (woo hoo!) While I have been forced to accept that I am a decent swimmer, I am still not a _fast_ swimmer.  To complete the assigned yardage for this training plan would take me well over the time estimate for the workouts. I know that, as swimmers, when we get tired, our form goes to shit and all our swimming becomes an iteration of crappy habits.

So what do I do? I swim for an hour. It’s a solid workout. It ensures that I get drills in  – which are super important for adult onset swimmers, your form can never be too good – without spending time flailing on the back end. I also check in and see how much I improve. It’s quite easy when you can see the yards per workout going up over a season. And, I don’t start my day feeling like a failure. It’s a What you can, When you can, technique and I’ve had good results with it.

So, new swimmers, don’t worry about not making your assigned yards. Get a _quality_ workout in, don’t spend time being discouraged that you can’t do it in an hour (like I used to), and have an easy yardstick for improvement.




Got my motor running!

I got back to the whole working out reality on January 1 (how trite)!

I started back with Rubber Glove – to set my cycling FTP and LTHR for the Tour of Sufferlandria, which is coming on February 6-14.

All done!
All done!

Then on Saturday, January 2, I went to the gym and lifted the things. It was quite wonderful. I go to the Downtown Oakland YMCA. They have child watch, which is $2 an hour for child care while you are in the Y, so Pip gets to go to “Y School” and I can get a workout in.

The lifting was fun. I bought a program that I’m going to be using, if not following, as it’s not triathlon specific but I really like the instructions and the sets/progressions.

For the record, I squatted 20 pounds. 20. Sigh, big ass with no muscles. I am the poster child for glute amnesia. BUT I’m not gonna jack my hips like I did back in 2010-11, I’ve been keeping my issues at bay with yoga and increased strength is gonna help me start to get ahead of the curve.

20 pounds means that for all the running I do, my poor quads are doing just about all the work, all the climbing, all the cycling. Poor quads! The great news about having suck weak glutes and hammies is that progressing them is probably gonna go quite nicely! Stronger ass = faster run splits!!

Now, other things, I did much better than I expected at. I can do a cable row like a boss, so the old lats are still present and accounted for.



I am not getting aggressive!

I’m just trying to set some goals for my next race, the Oakland International Triathlon, on August 29. (You’re gonna come out and cheer, right?) (I won’t be finishing until, like, 11:00 AM, at the earliest, you can make it to the finish line by then!).

I really want to do it in three hours!! But I don’t think I can and that’s bumming me out, so it’s time to have a conversation with myself.




Be real jackass! You did 1:35 at Monte Rio going hard the whole time. There’s no way, in the same year, you’re gonna maintain the same pace for twice as long, it doesn’t work that way. If you pulled a 3:10 that would be phenomenal!

Really looking at training data, what is realistic? What is your body telling you it can do?

Swim – you did a 2000 yard swim with a pull buoy that was 48 minutes or 2:24/100 yds. Race day will be a bit faster with the wetsuit and not having to break rhythm on the walls.

My previous Olympic, the swim was 38:25 – in retrospect I think that swim was short. That would be a 2:21/100 and I think that’s reasonable.

Realistic goal, let’s say 38 minutes, anything up to 40 minutes will be just fine. (and look, we’re back to writing in the first person)



T1 is long on this race – it’s a run from the water, up and over a pedestrian over crossing and into the transition area. Looking at last year’s times, I’m giving myself 8 minutes.

Bike – this is where I feel the least prepared to go how I believe I should be capable of going (torturous grammar!). I love biking and I want to be able to hammer the shit out of a bike. But 25 miles is a long way to go. Given that it’s gonna take me at least an hour and a half I need to recognize that no one could hammer for that long.

My last race I averaged 16.8 mph. My last hard training intervals I was pushing to get 20 mph and I was getting 18-19 mph for a very hard interval. I should think that 16 mph would be really good! That would give me 1:33 for the bike and anything under 1:40 will be fine.





Tempering my expectations doesn’t mean I’ll be pissed off if I go faster! And once again, I will race without a watch on swim and run and go by RPE. I will use my bike computer on the ride. The bike is where I tend to really back off if I don’t have something to spur me on.

I want so badly to do as well, relative to my age group, as I did at Monte Rio (5th!!) but this is a much bigger race, with a much deeper field. I will move myself up in the world. From the back of the pack to the middle of the pack is big move. I’m not gonna get to the front of the middle of the pack for another couple of years.

Instead of being disappointed, I need to fuel my hunger! These are the thoughts for the off season, for strength training, for the days I don’t want to get up at 5 and get on my bike trainer. What do I want? Well, for one, I want to be in the top half of my age group at The Oakland International Distance Triathlon.


T2 is much shorter, the dismount is right before transition, so I’m giving myself 2:00.

and the Run. Sigh. My right IT band has been in not premium shape the last two or three weeks. Hills are just deadly to it. Good thing my race is just about pancake flat! My usual weekly long run on trails has been replaced my a run from my house, but that’s good too as my race is on asphalt so I need to be used to the surface. I’ve been doing my old PT exercises and the leg seems to be holding up. The IT just gets tired easily.






The plan is to stick to doing PT exercises every day, avoid steep hills and stairs, and generally taking care of myself. This is on top of the right ankle injury from swimming and the shin splints that have been making a return.  I don’t know why my legs are complaining so but I also know that I had no such problems in my last training build and I was doing drills during almost every run. Hmmmmm…

Pace goals wise, this week I did thirty minutes at goal pace/effort and that ended up being very consistent, I was able to get to and stay at 10:30/mile without undue effort. I feel that the run pace is dialed in and that’s going to be my goal, which would give me about a 1:06.


That means my totally reasonable, based on training data, goal time is

38 + 1:33 + 1:06 + (8 + 2) = 3:19 [All my triathlete people will understand the order of operations].

Which, by the way, would be a thirty minute PR over the distance, which is HUGE. Instead of having my chamois in a bunch because I won’t be hitting three hours, I should be well chuffed that I could cut ~12% off my previous best at this distance.509981548_f_hell_yea_card_p137994298350043481qt1t_400_answer_2_xlarge

Further goals include: Not giving myself stomach cramp by chugging a gel in T2, not giving myself a back cramp by biking too hard, not losing ten seconds in transition to worn out bike shoe ratchets (solved by the purchase of tri bike shoes last weekend).

So there. I feel better now. I have a reasonable, training based goal time.

15 days to race day.


Sick burn!

No, really, I have a terrible sun burn on my back. Next time I will be wiser and ask Mr. Haar to put the sunblock on my back. It’s decidedly painful and distracting.


This morning’s swim set was as follows:

Warm up – 200 easy, couple fo fast 50s, 100 easy, then…

1 x 2000

Yeah, screw you too coach!!

Anyways, I did it. Miraculously, I didn’t lose count of the 40 laps although I thought of little else besides my current lap number. I did it with a pull buoy. My right ankle is just coming back from a swimming injury that I’ve been nursing since June. The tendon in question was giving me a heads up or a tingle after yesterdays long bike/run brick. I’m not about to reinjure myself 19 days out from my next race and either not train until my race or limp myself over the line. The time was alright.


To be honest, I’m not feeling great about my prep for this race. I’ve had a couple of big disruptions, the aforementioned right foot and the new job I started in mid-July. I am trying a new training program and it hasn’t inspired me. It is very important in life to know what you don’t like. Constrasting my current training program with the last one I used (Sufferfest, ahoy!) I’ve learned a lot about what I value in a training program. I will definitely be taking that forward into my next training block.


What did I learn this week? – July 9 Edition

  • No, you cannot skip sunblock for that one hour lunch time run, even if the temperature is pleasant.
    • Bra straps on sunburn suck.
  • I need a new mantra – getting out of bed has been a struggle this week.
  • Swim Test – 1000 yds in 25:15    2:32/100yd average
  • This was so so. I took it easy because I was worried about being able to finish the distance and it was my first swim with kicking after a few weeks of just pull buoy to rest my foot. (Did I mention I hurt my foot?)
    • FYI Rachel – yes, you can swim 1000 yds (dumbass) and if you go out too fast you know how to back off and recover while still swimming. Next time, a bit harder, eh?
  • My foot is well enough for light kicking in the pool – yay!
    • no kick sets and some buoy work still going on.
    • Bonus: Next Tri is a wetsuit race.
  • Run Test – 6 minutes – avg 8:03/mile
    • Pretty good! I was feeling crap and didn’t want to do it but I did it anyway. My mood and perceived energy level don’t seem to actually effect my athletic performance that much.
    • Based on treadmill runs that was RPE 9 for .75 miles.
    • On reflection, I’m quite pleased with that test. It felt like death and I wanted to stop but I like the result, so there.