The Better Part of Valor

August 28, Day 191

Weeks Workouts: See description.  


I suppose it was bound to happen eventually.

Tuesday I set out to do my speed-work run, which was a 5 min Z1/5 min Z2/25 min Z3/5 min Z2/5 min Z1 run.  I like to think of it as a “stair step” run.  It was a warm evening but not terrible.  I remember feeling thirsty as I hit the turnaround to come home, but other than that I was feeling great.  No problem hitting my paces.

At 28:28, I felt my right hamstring twinge.

Uh oh.  Happily I’m not as dumb as I used to be, so I shut down immediately.  I tried to walk it out, but no dice.  I pulled it.  It’s a mild pull, but a pull nonetheless.

If you’ve never done this to your hamstring (the long muscles in the back of your upper legs) let me tell you just how much you use that muscle (hint: it’s a lot).  It’s painful, and it sucks because it’s coming at a critical time.


So I stopped walking and called for a pick up to go home.  It was a lighter week in terms of volume, but a lot of speed work.  I did my swim on Wednesday OK, but my hamstring felt “loose” all day.  On Thursday I had a bike, and I did that OK too without many issues.  By Friday when I swam I knew it wasn’t right yet, but the pain was gone.  I was staring at a 90 min run on Saturday and figured we would see then.

And see I did.  I knew deep down it was still not right but I had to go out and test it.  I was nervous going out, babbling and stalling until I finally got myself out the door.  I was fine, everything felt OK.

For two miles.  Then it clenched up on me, HARD.  Now all my mind can say is:


I tried to stretch it out, but no go.  I called for another pickup, frustrated as all get-out, meanwhile madly googling on my phone for tips on what to do.  I found one that said to shorten my stride and go extremely high cadence, so I tried that and it worked OK.  I mean, I could still feel it, but that was enough to shift the impact away from the muscle.  When my wife came to pick me up I waved her off an told her I’d stay nearby but was going to try it.

Yeah, I know how stupid that sounds, but I had to.  Mentally I had to know if I could continue if this happens on the race. The good news is, I was able to finish all 90 minutes.  But it cost me and I was sore the rest of the weekend.

This time I set out to heal it properly.  I stayed off it all weekend and properly iced and stretched it.  I even canceled my bike and swim on Sunday to get an extra day of rest.  That caused me no end of anxiety, but it was the right call.  One day of missed workouts is not the difference at this point, but healing this muscle might be.  So, I didn’t do my 3 hours on the bike or 2000 meters in the pool.  I’m hoping discretion is the better part of valor.  But still, missing a workout is not what I want to do right now.


Today I am wearing a support sleeve and iced the muscle again this morning.  I’ll also do it at lunch and after work.  I still feel it, but it’s mild again.  I hope it will respond quickly because I get right back on it tomorrow.  I can’t miss lots of days right now, and I have a huge dress rehearsal on Sunday with a simulated race of 1200m swim/4.5 hour bike/45 min run.  I gotta nail that.

So, looks like lots of icing, stretching, and getting acquainted with this guy again are on the docket until it gets better:


Meanwhile, keep me in your positive thoughts if you can.  This is a delicate time as you can see since I have dipped under the 50 days left mark.  These next 3-4 weeks are where I build the fitness that will carry me though the race.  I need to persevere or this whole adventure might end.

Wish me luck.  Cheers!

The calm before the storm

May 8: Day 85

No workouts this week

Weight: 174


This is my prescribed week off.  I completed my 12 week off-season prep regimen, and now I have this instruction staring me in the face:

“This plan can be used for general fitness and weight loss. It s also intended to be able to be interrupted at any time when ready to begin Week 1 of your formal plan. However, I recommend that you take at least one week off, or cut the weekly volume in half, before starting Week 1 of your formal plan. Therefore, time the end of this plan for one week before your formal plan begins, but it does not have to end with Week 12.”

Well, my formal plan begins next Monday, so here we are.  I plan to take it easier, but I won’t be taking the whole week off.  First, I have the half marathon I am doing for fun on Saturday.  I’ll probably do a few light runs Tuesday and Thursday to stay loose for it.  Second, it will drive me nuts to just do nothing so probably I will add in one swim and one bike (at low intensities) just to again, stay loose.  However, I do vow to do the following which I think will help give me the physical and mental break I need before I start my 22 week full IM regimen:

  1. No workouts longer than 1 hour (other than the half, I’m not that fast).
  2. No workouts at higher intensity than Z2.
  3. No workouts in the morning!  I get to sleep past 4:30-5AM for the week.
  4. No more than one workout a day.
  5. At least two full days of rest.

It’s funny that I have to actually write out a plan on how NOT to exercise too much, but there it is.  The fact is, I DO get a little stir crazy during weeks like this, even though I know I need to rest.  The temptation is real.  However, I think these are reasonable and attainable goals for the week.


Because I won’t be doing much this week the blog may take a short hiatus.  I promise when my 22 week plan starts for real I’ll be back on fairly regularly to chronicle this journey.  Plus, I am sure I will share some stuff from the Running with the Cows half.  🙂

I hope everyone has a great Monday!  Cheers!

Rumble Strips: The bane of my existence

Mar 18: Day 34

Planned workout(s): Bike, 30 minutes in Z1, 50 minutes Z2, 10 minutes Z1

Weight: 174

This is going to be a bit of a mini-rant.

I’ll admit, I got spoiled in bike friendly states like Idaho and California.  Both of these places focus on infrastructure that is bicycle friendly.  Idaho especially was a joy to train in, as you could route easily anywhere and find either a street with a bike lane or wide shoulder to get there.  All the highways were designed in this way also, so I could go on a 3 hour bike safely without being in the path of traffic.  This is better both for cars AND for me.

Kansas is not one of those states.

Most of the streets here have about 4 inches of shoulder between the edge line and the ditch.  I’m not even exaggerating.  The below picture is perfectly representative of what most streets and highways here are like.


There isn’t even a safe way across town.  I often will drive across town and park before going out on a ride if I am taking a route that starts far from the house. It’s just not safe, and most cars have no idea how to give proper clearance to a bike (or don’t care to).

This is going to be a problem finding a safe place to bike enough to train to ride in an IM.  Basically I try to bike really, really early when there is a minimum amount of traffic, and stick as much as possible to lesser used roads.  The problem is, most lesser used roads aren’t even paved, which is a no-go on a road bike.  There is a lower trafficked pathway around the local lake I plan to use as that is a 50 mile loop, perfect for my longer rides.  It was on that route I biked today.

This is one of the rare places where there is an actual shoulder by the road, about two feet of it.  But imagine my dismay when there was a rumble strip right along the middle of it, which looks a lot like this one (only with a steep gravel ditch on the side):


Now, rumble strips are great for drivers who tend to doze (or stay at their phones) during a drive.  I’m totally an advocate.  But there is a right way and a wrong way to implement them.  The RIGHT way is to put them right next to the line and leave an appropriate amount of shoulder on the other side for bicyclists so that the rumble strip is between the car and the bike.  In some states that is 4 feet.  I don’t need 4 feet.  I would be happy with two.  But I need more than 6 inches between the rumble strip and the ditch, because the cars and trucks speeding by can create gusts of air which can push me off the road.

And off the road into a steep ditch can mean bad injury or death.

As a result, I ended up riding on the road side of this rumble strip, putting me basically on the white line. This is not where ANYONE wants me to be, not the cars, and certainly not me.  This is pretty dangerous, and I can only pray I am lucky enough to not get injured this season because of it.  As it is, it is discouraging me from actually road cycling my long days.

And that sucks.

On the bright side, I did the ride and got back safely.  And now that I am home, Scully is content to keep me here.IMG_0102

Have a great Saturday everyone!  Cheers!

An Anticlimactic Beginning

Feb 13: Day 1

Planned workout(s): off-day

Weight: 174

Yep, I start my journey by not working out at all.  What a great workout plan, eh?  -.^

There is a method to this madness. Saturdays and Sundays tend to be longer days, since they are days I am not working.  I do shorter, more intense stuff during the week and then long endurance stuff on the weekends.  Each week I’ll do 8-9 workouts Tuesday-Sunday, so Monday is a planned day off for recovery.  If you don’t have at least one off-day to rest and recover, you can get fatigued and it will impact how well you workout the next week.  Over time, you can really screw it up, so off-day Mondays are really, really important.

But they feel kind of silly when you start on one.  >_>

With no workout, I figure this is a good time to describe what the journey will look like.  The event I am training for is Ironman Louisville, which is almost exactly 8 months away on October 14.  I will be following what is called an 80/20 plan, which basically means you spend 80% of your time in low intensity training, and 20% in high intensity training.  There is some good science which indicates that this is an optimal mix for endurance athletes, enabling them to do enough hard training to increase fitness without overtraining and over-stressing the body.

If you’ve never experienced overtraining, it’s bad news.  You can develop chronic aches and pains, lose mental motivation, and end up getting sick really easily because you’ve worn your body down.  If you try to push through it, often you can risk severe injury which will short-circuit your training real fast.  Once, while marathon training, I developed a problem in my piriformis (it’s a butt muscle) that caused me severe pain down the whole leg.  If I stood for more than a few minutes, I would get that tingling sensation like my whole leg was asleep, the bad kind.  It actually felt like my leg had gotten a few inches shorter than the other one.  I couldn’t walk or run effectively for several weeks, and had to spend a lot of time rehabilitating the leg.

I can’t afford stuff like that to happen, so, I have to make sure I spend enough time resting and in low intensity training to allow recovery.

My training will come in a few phases.  This first phase is a 12 week plan designed to get me back into the swing of training.  It will be lower intensity and distance than the main phase, which will be 22 weeks and lead me right into the IM.  I will take a week off to recover in-between the two plans.

The first 12 weeks has a second goal–to help me get to my goal racing weight.  I’ll talk more about weight in other posts I am sure, but I want to get to 168 for this IM.  I need to get as close to 168 as possible during this 12 week period because I need to be really, really on point with my fueling during the second 22 week portion.  If I try to diet during that part, I can hurt my development by not giving my body enough nutrients to recover, to build muscle, etc.  I have to fuel properly, which basically translates to maintaining weight and working more on changing my body composition (less fat, more muscle, but same weight).  However, during this 12 week prep period it’s OK to diet slowly, at no more than 1 pound/week loss.  I only need to get half of that, but to keep myself honest I’ll be posting my daily weight right here on the blog.

If I have to post it on the internet, hopefully I’ll think twice about that burger or pizza.  Lol.

Why 168?  Well, a few reasons.  First, I’ve done this for many years and know I’ve just plain felt better when racing and training around that weight.  I want every mental edge I can get, so coming in at that weight means I have one less distraction to worry about.  Second, there’s a practical advantage to endurance athletes by losing a few pounds.  Have you ever walked or exercised with light weights, like say 1/2 pound dumbbells?  When you pick them up, it feels like nothing.  Not a big deal.  Then you work out with them for a while, and when you put them down, wow!  What a difference!  Now imagine carrying them 140.6 miles…wouldn’t it be great to never have to lug those extra few pounds that far?

The last reason is pure vanity.  I have to do this thing in a spandex full-body suit.  I want to feel good in it.  -.^

As I go along, if you know someone who might feel inspired or interested in my musings, feel free to send them the link.  If you have questions or comments, post them and I will try to answer as best I can.  Tomorrow I start with an actual running workout.

Let the journey begin!