October 2006 Archives

Coughing Fit

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I coughed myself to sleep on Saturday. It's time, it seems, for my annual fall cold weather cough. =(

Sunday dawned cold, rainy, and with winds gusting to speed limits. I decided I was better off not running. I'd been planning to have a rest week this week, so skipping the run wasn't too bad. Then again, rest weeks should be something more than being lazy and skipping every second run. =(

By Monday evening, I was feeling a bit better, until I went to bed. I had to prop myself up to fall asleep, and did not get as much sleep as I would have liked. Still, I got up at 5am, and got ready for swimming.

Ah, swimming. Was there ever an exercise that was quite so much fun when you're already having trouble breathing? I struggled mightily, and ended up quitting and hauling myself out of the pool before the end of the session.

Surprisingly, this decision was praised by my coach. Apparently, the harder I'd worked, the more I'd coughed.

Instantaneously, I cancelled tonight's run. Tomorrow's is on, though.

I'll get through this. For now, though, this cough is annoying!

Good Advice

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Yesterday's swim was ok. I tried to focus on my pull technique during freestyle. We did a 400m free, that went like this:

100m free
10s rest
100m free
5s rest
200m free

My total time was 6:45, which I was pretty pleased with. I felt surprisingly strong throughout, though I have to admit I went out much too hard.

We also did a 300 IM, which I handled fairly well.

I went out fairly hard for the tempo run last night. Again, too hard. I had a stitch in my side by the turnaround, and between nursing that and my mind wandering, I couldn't keep the pace up all the way home. My time was a bit disappointing, but hopefully a lesson was learnt. If nothing else, I got some more practice at pushing myself.

Of course, the CRN had an excellent article about overdoing speed yesterday. I took it to heart, and went out very easy today.

It was nice. I was able to enjoy the run (despite the cool temperatures). I gazed at the stars (the 3 that were poking through the clouds), and my mind wandered all over the place. I thought about astronomy, my dreams, my training plan, bridge, work, old friends, money, parenting.... You know, the usual stuff.

In the end, my pace was pretty slow, maybe even too slow. Still, if I can avoid injury, everything else will come in time.

Easy and Hard

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Yesterday's tempo run went well. I've been running strong negative splits on my tempo runs, which tells me that I've been going out too easy. I think this run was better paced. I wasn't really able to pick it up the last kilometer or so, on account of general fatigue. I just couldn't seem to concentrate. It feels like, when you go harder, blood stops flowing to your brain, so you go into lala land, so you back off a bit, so blood returns to your brain, so you suddenly realize you've backed off and try to go harder again. Around and around it goes.

By the end, I did not feel fast, but I came in under 25 minutes for only the 6th time ever. Not quite speedy, but a solid effort.

Today was my long run, and I opted for the same route as last week. At first, my shins felt a bit tight, but as time went on I started feeling stronger. I picked up the pace the last mile, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because I could.

I'm about 3 weeks into this running 5 times a week thing. I'm leary of my shins or ITBs tightening up, and I'm trying to be diligent about stretching to prevent that. I have no real expectation on my times, yet, but I'm finding that I have a not insignificant level of conditioning already.

Some final words. First, congrats to Marisa on her BQ. Secondly, IM Hawaii was yesterday. For the first time in a few years, I did not follow the webcast. Michellie Jones won her first (of many) Kona title. Natascha Badmann was apparently dry heaving for much of the run, but still managed a top 10. Plus, it was nice to see my personal favorite Lisa Bentley get on the podium. I'm looking forward to reading the local triathlon mailing list on Monday to see how the locals did.

Fall is a big racing season, and there's lots out there on the web to help motivate me. I'm starting to get really excited about what lies ahead.


A Lot Tougher

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"It's going to get a lot tougher."

I heard these words last week, during the impossible butterfly set, from the coach. The one that stole all the oxygen from my body, even though I failed at it.

I can't say that I was surprised. The competetive season is probably in February and March. No matter how tough workouts get now, we're still laying a base for what's to come.

As bad as last week was, today was tougher.

I ended doing about 1000m warmup, with a fairly large variety of strokes and kicks. The coach pulled me aside towards the end, and gave me some technique stuff to try. Basically, he's been trying to get me to correct a problem with the finish on my freestyle pull for weeks now, but despite the fact that my mind wants to learn what he's teaching, I'm proving to be a stubborn student. Today's lesson was instructive, because what he had me do felt wrong, but was apparently very right.

Now, to try to catch and hold that feeling. The trick may be to try to hold it when I'm dead tired, or sprinting, or whatever.

Anyways, back to the set. I missed a 50 free sprint while I was working with him, for which we were supposed to remember our time.

Our first tough set was 600m, with a full 5 minutes of rest in it. Sounds easy, right?

25 fly
50 free
15s rest
50 fly
25 free
60s rest

We did this 4 times. The first and third times though, the fly was fast and the free was easy. The other times, the free was fast (the 50m matching our previous time!!) and the fly was ez.

This is where me not being able to figure out how to not go hard on fly would be a drawback.

We were promised we would need the minute rest. Um, no kidding. It started at 60 seconds of huffing and puffing, and restarting a bit winded still, and went downhill from there. I didn't even give a thought to looking at my free sprint times. By the last iteration, the only part of my stroke that counted as sprinting was my head rushing to the surface for more oxygen.

Bear in mind that, while I'm doing all of this, I'm trying to remember to focus on the technique hints I'd just been given.

After an easy 200m free to rest up, we got another tough set.

6x50 m free, holding the time remembered above.

The pace times are as follows:
50 seconds

I figured that my time should probably be something like 45 seconds. That meant that, IF I held that time (not likely), I'd begetting 5, 5, 10, 10, and 10 seconds rest. If I slowed down, I'd be getting a whole lot less.

I think my times were something like:
43 seconds

Again, I'm supposed to be focusing on my technique improvement.

This set wasn't so bad, although you'll notice that I didn't hold 45 seconds. It wasn't that good, either.

I've been a runner for a few years now, and I've never worked as hard as I am working now, in my coached swims. I always figured that I was a pretty motivated guy, but I'm starting to see how being coached can take you out of your comfort zone.

It's a good thing.

A Gift


After last night's weather, you can imagine how excited I was to drag myself out of bed at 5am this morning.

So I got drank my water, ate my oatmeal, read the news, but did not open the curtains. Didn't check the weather either. Bad news can wait, right?

At 10 to 6, I finally peek at the weather.

Drizzle. 12 degrees celsius.


12 degrees would make an excellent daytime high for mid-October. For it to be that warm in the middle of the night was a real blessing.

I opted for a short sleeve technical tee under my jacket, but 6 minutes into the run, my jacket came off. Rumours of precipitation were greatly exaggerated. There was no rain at all. Just a pleasant, mild wind out of the west.

If this had been spring, this would have been one of those days that gets everyone outside. Sure, it's not warm in the grand scheme of things, but after being cold, it felt fantastic.

I picked up the pace over the last 2 km, probably because the wind was finally at my back. I really didn't want to stop - the moment was just too perfect. I felt sorry for the people behind the solitary lights in houses, just now waking up, and having no idea what they were missing.


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I ran before dinner tonight. It was about 7 degrees, raining hard, and the wind was strong out of the east. The wind was strong enough that I felt like I had to lean into it to prevent being blown over.

So much for a tempo run. This was a survival run!

The whole drive home, I was dreading the run. The grey clouds just seemed to sap the will out of me. I wanted to train, but I didn't want to be outside.... My natural inclination was to try to outwait the rain. I wanted to go home, get inside, eat dinner, and just be comfortable. Getting myself out the door was tough.

Getting back home was tough, too. I angled my hat to keep the wind out of my face. I was pushed around, dripped on, and my nose was running. Plus, I had that vague uncomfortable feeling behind my belly button that sometimes comes up during running. It surprised me, as I hadn't eaten in hours.

Anyways, I completed the loop. Survived the run. Can't say that I'm like to remember the run a month from now, but at least I didn't skip. THAT I would have remembered.

Bike Dreams

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It's amazing what our subconscious will do. One casual conversation, in which the fact that I will never bike to work in winter gets mentioned, and I spend the last hour before my alarm goes off dreaming that I'm buying a commuter bike. In October. No, it couldn't be that I just like thinking about owning a second bike....

(I'll readily admit that I do miss cycling. Next fall, I think I'll buy some cold weather cycling gear, and try to ride further into the fall than Labour day.)

I had to leave the pool a little early today, but I still got over 2500 metres in. I didn't feel terribly fast, and it certainly did not feel like an endurance set, but I was on pace for over 3000 metres when I left. Strange.

Of course, given that it's October, and I'm still trying to focus on technique improvements, the fact that I'm polishing off such long swims with ease is pretty amazing. I have a feeling that by the time January rolls around I'm gonig to be polishing off some prety amazing swims.

Long and Lonesome Highway


I was up at 5am, but couldn't drag myself out into the cold until nearly 7am.

Fortunately, it wasn't raining, so it wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday. Unfortunately, I talked myself out of wearing gloves, and my hands were freezing the whole way.

Rather than head south, like I usually do, I headed north, and ran the loop around a block of the experimental farm. The block is maybe 7 square kilometers, and the roads along each of the 4 sides are generally straight and long, with few side roads. While it's fairly flat, it's generally very nice for running, especially since there are multi-use paths along 3 of the 4 sides.

It wasn't until I got to Greenbank, which is maybe 4km of uninterrupted, flat path, with either dead corn stalks or empty fields liking one or both sides of the road, that the difference between running in subdivisions (where I've been generally running lately) and running on the open road really hit me. My mind would wander, as it is wont to do when I run, but every time I momentarily snapped back into reality, it struck me that I really hadn't moved very far.

When your surroundings are changing rapidly, it's easy to feel like progress was being made. Here, it was hard to tell I was moving at all.

In a way, it was a good thing. My running focused on maintaining a rhythm, and with fewer interruptings, turns, etc, I suspect my pacing was more even than usual. The other benefit was that, with less navigating and traffic to think about, this was one of the more peacful, thoughful runs I've had in a while.

One final note. Kudos to the Amazing Hip, who is volunteering at a local race this morning. I'm reminded that it's been over a year since I last volunteered at a race. As runners, we always appreciate the volunteers when we're out giving our all. It's only fair that we return the favour every so often.

Growth and Challenge

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I ran yesterday, I ran today. I'm on a mission!

This morning it was cold and rainy. My least favorite kind of weather to run in. It was even windy, for an added kick in the shins. Still, I will not be stopped, so out I went for a 5k tempo run.

I was a bit slower than I was on Tuesday, but that's ok.

What is less ok is my diet over the last 10 days or so. I am NOT on the road to being fitter and faster, based on what I'm putting in my mouth. I've never been one to care, especially, but this time I aim to do at least a little bit better. I refuse to focus on my weight, but I'd like to cut down on sugar, potato chips, etc. I've done well in certain moments (such as turning down free cake), but for the most part my diet has been haphazard and undisciplined.

The good news is that, in the RBF, motivation is never hard to come by. Flipperhead, who was my saint and lifeline on my whirlwind Boston trip earlier this year, ran a BQ today. I'm so happy for her, and maybe just a tiny little bit jealous.

That jealousy translates, at this point, in a desire to train harder, to run harder, and to try to do the little things to make myself a better runner.

The Routine

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I ran last night before dinner. I put in a fast 5k on my home loop. I ended up doing 5.4km in just a shade over 25 minutes. This probably was just about as fast as I could have gone. I've run that loop in under 25 minutes maybe half a dozen times before, so clearly I've been faster than I am now. Still, it's a very good starting place.

Today I ran my local 8km loop in the rain. It was just mild outside to be bearable. Barely. I put the weather out of my mind, and did the run, only walking at the two turnarounds.

That makes 3 workouts in the last 26 hours. The good news is that the tough part of the week is over. I swim again tomorrow, but don't plan on running again until Friday.

If I want to both swim and train for a marathon, this compression is going to become part of my routine.

Float Like a Butterfly

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Yesterday, over thanksgiving dinner (number 3!, but who's counting?), a friend of mine who swims on Mondays told me that the coach had given them a lot of fly. So I wasn't completely surprised, I guess, when we had a lot of butterfly work today.

Butterfly, or fly, is probably the toughest of the competetive strokes to learn. I'm approaching bare minimum competency at it, but it took me well over a year to get that far. Fly evolved out of breaststroke. It has some of the same basic body movements, but is generally much faster.

One of those components is that both strokes share the same "head up, head down" movement for breathing. This means that breathing at any given moment is much harder than for backstroke or even freestyle. (Trust me on this one - I've tried breathing before my head was fully up out of the water - not fun!) Fly also features a huge power surge, even moreso than breast stroke, which can really make the lungs burn.

I'm at the point now where I can do 25m of fly continuously, but 50m is a challenge; doable, but tiring. Part of the problem, I guess, is that I only seem to have one speed for butterfly - all out. The stroke just doesn't seem to be designed for energy conservation.

Anyways, the set featured some of everything - fly kick, one-arm fly, and fly swimming. Whenever the drills isolated one part of my technique, they showed that I have a LOT to learn.

The main set today was only 150m long, but was just brutal. It went like this:
- 25m fly, breathing every 2nd stroke. Rest 10 seconds
- 25m fly, breathing every 3rd stroke. Rest 10 seconds
- 50m fly, breathing every 2nd stroke. Rest 10 seconds
- 50m fly, breathing every 3rd stroke.

Well, I tried. And I failed.

By the end of the first 50, I was beat. Really, really beat, and gasping for breath. I started out again after 10 seconds because hey, that's what training is all about. Almost immediately, though, I found that I couldn't breathe every third stroke anymore. I tried, but after 2, I needed air. Over the whole 50m, I maybe breathed every 3rd stroke 2 or 3 times. Each time was a struggle.

Come February, if I do the 200 I.M. like I'm planning, the race will start with 50m butterfly. When I'm done, I'll still have 150m to go.

Clearly, there's a lot of work ahead of me.

Thanksgiving Run

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I slept in on Sunday. When I finally woke, to a peaceful house (not mine!), I had to drag myself out of bed. Forunately, the sun was shining, the weather was more beautiful than I had any business expecting for October, and a long run awaited me.

I ran the usual route that I run when I'm back home, only with a different start point. I did not have a watch on, and did not know how long the run would be. I eschewed my usual walk breaks, and tried to keep the pace comfortable.

I'd been dragging all week, both in the pool and on the roads, but for some reason, I felt great on Sunday. Maybe it was the new shoes. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was the awesome scenery. Maybe it was that I'd slept in. Maybe it was all the friendly runners I saw, whom I had had no idea existed in my hometown. Whatever it was, the miles just rolled by.

GMap Pedometer hints that I may have run as much as 18km. More importantly, I ran three days in a row and enjoyed it. What better incentive can there be to train?

New Shoes

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Yes, 947km is too much for one pair of shoes. So I finally picked up a new pair, Saucony's Grid Omni V. They felt good, good enough that I noticed how dead the previous pair was.

This morning's run, in my hometown, was a randomly picked route down semi-familiar streets. I ran up airport hill, and back down by the golf course. It ended being just longer than 5km, which was perfect. The shoes felt good, the sun was warm, and it was a great day to be running.

I happened to come across IM (Ironman, this time) Canada on the TV afterwards. Naturally, this show like all others focused on Ironman was a bit over the top. That didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the coverage. I could smile, remembering the triathlons I did this summer. It made me feel that there were far too few of those. I really do love triathlons, and I can't wait to do them again.

Motivation really can come from everywhere; even from watching the television.

A Friday Run

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Yes, I actually ran on a Friday. Yay me!

I have the day off today, so rather than the usual trial of finding time to run, it was a trial convincing myself that it was time to run. Important tasks seem easy to put off when you've got (seemingly) the whole day to deal with them. The fact that it was 2 degrees outsie when I got up didn't help. Still, eventually, I went out and did the local 5 mile loop.

The prospect of running a marathon next summer is really making me think. I've been pretty laissez-faire this summer, but slowly, the idea of working my butt off this winter is starting to sink in. I've lived with the knowledge of my potential for just about long enough. It's time to start doing. It's time to convert the confidence I have in my potential as a runner into some amazing memories.

It starts with consistency and commitment.



This morning's practice seemed like the first one of the year to include all four strokes. By some coincidence, we also had to write down our goals for the year. Ergo, I actually commited to doing a 200 IM at Winterlude.


I also wrote that I'd like to get down to 1:20 for the 100 free. A little while ago, that would have seemed ambitious, but it might just be within reach this year. Who knows?

As it turned out, we even did a 200 IM today. By the end of last season, I was getting comfortable with 100 IMs (which you can't do in a 50m pool). 200 IM is SO much tougher. Basically, recovering from 50 fly off the start is MUCH harder than recovering from 25 fly off the start.

My work is cut out for me.

The main pointer I got today was that I need more vertical flexibility in my flutter and dolphin kicks. This isn't a big surprise - I hear this all the time. Physically, this might be the most difficult part of swimming for me. My ankles are very flexible - horizontally. I can point both feet out to opposite sides, no problem. Having watched overhead video of Leisel Jones, I can probably say that this helps a great deal with my breaststroke. Vertical flexibility, though, is something I just don't have.


It's not really realistic to think that I'm going to be able to pull myself to a strong 200 IM. I'm going to need a good kick. That my ankles are the weakest part of my stroke just means that I need to work harder on them than on anything else over the next few weeks.


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So I didn't play with my alarm last night, expecting it to go off at 5am, just like yesterday.

Well, that would assume, I guess, that I didn't turn it off when it went off yesterday.

So, instead of being out the door at 6, I was out the door at 8. Fortunately, the fog, which had started building up well before dusk yesterday, was still thick. It looked idyllic, and I was expecting a calm, beautiful, even surrreal run in the fog. Instead, what I got was a sticky, humid run. (I mean, come on! It's October!)

Much like yesterday, I wasn't really feeling all that powerful. When I finished up, my time didn't really set me afire, either.

It wasn't until I logged the run, and the computer showed me having run basically a 5 minute per kilometer pace, that I was forced to reevaluate the run. Sure, I'd love to be running 4 minute kilometers for hours at a time, but let's be realistic. For now, 5 minutes per kilometer shouldn't be all that comfortable. That I'm running it on an off day in September is encouraging.

Speaking of encouragement, the latest talk around the house involves travelling next june, so that I can run the Salt Lake City Marathon. There are a lot of hurdles to be overcome, but I'm very, very excited about the possibility. I might even just have to get a little bit more serious about not skipping runs.

Constant Striving

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Ugh. Getting up at 5 this morning was tough.

I crawled my way (pun intended) though the 500m warmup. Then we did some fly work, and my crawl turned into a sputter.

Then, we had a short demo. A coach from one of the other sessions, who was swimming in our group, did a demo on open turns. He showed off the basics of the open turn for each of the four strokes, with coach M providing analysis. Watching him turn and swim was instructive. It's always good to take a moment and just watch someone who really knows how to swim. The high body position, the powerful kick, the long smooth pull, the efficiency of it all, remind me of where I should be going. All of this I sort of know, in one sense, but seeing it all laid out in front of me helps keep things in perspective.

It's part of life, I guess, that doing something well requires constant effort and constant learning. There's something lazy in all of us that makes us backslide if we're not working directly and specifically towards a goal. Certainly, I know certain things I should be doing in my freestyle, but when faced with a 200m or 400m set, laziness can set in so easily. If it's all about getting through the distance, and not about focusing on technique, then I probably do more harm than good.

Such was probably true in my warmup. I thought about my freestyle kick a bit, but mostly I was in survival mode. After the demo, we did a 200 free, and I was torn between feeling weak/tired/exhausted, and wanting to focus on a long, powerful, smooth pull. And actually kicking.

So I finished the 200 breathless and out of sorts. While I'm trying to catch my breath, the coach explains that his clipboard disappeared 2 weeks ago, and he lost all our timed 200m times. So we have to redo them. Now.

This is SO not a good time.

Fortunately, I'm in the second (slow) heat. So I haul myself out of the pool, and spend about 4 minutes trying to get my breathing and heartrate under control.

Suddenly, I'm back in the cold water, and we're off.

My lanemate, who is swimming beside me, immediately pulls slightly ahead of me and stays there. Oh, great. If she dropped me, that would be fine. If she was slightly behind me, I'd probably just feel like trying to hold pace. But suddenly, it's a race, and I'm losing. Pull, kick! Pull! Kick! It doesn't help that she's doing open turns, and gaining ground on me on each turn. My open turns are okay, and my pushoff is usually strong enough to gain ground on anyone else doing open turns. In this case, however....

Rather than feeling strong the first 50, and trying to hold power through 150-175 for a sprint, I feel like I'm hanging on the whole way. I feel slow. I'm fighting, but the power just isn't in my arms.

My time ended up surprising me - 3:08.1. Looking up my time from 2 weeks ago, I did 3:10 on September 21st (though, if I recall correctly, I thought I was a second or two faster than that). So, while it felt pretty awful, it really wasn't.

None of which helped me feel any stronger over the rest of the swim. Somehow, I was just getting my butt kicked today, no matter what we did.

Which isn't bad, per se. In fact, it's probably the sign of a good workout. Won't stop me from complaining, though. :)

Feels Like Starting Over


Sometimes, a training log can become more of a personal health log. The gap in last week's training wasn't brought on by lack of resolve, but rather by health.

I swam on Tuesday. On Wednesday, when I got home from work, I skipped both dinner and my run and went straight to bed. I barely ate at all on Thursday, and on Friday I didn't eat at all.

By Saturday, I was on the mend, and feeling ravenous. I was also pretty lethargic, so I decided that going for a run would not be wise. By Sunday, I was myself again, but there was just zero opportunity to run.

So I packed my running stuff up this morning, and brought them in to work. At around quarter to noon, I got changed, and headed out for what GMap Pedometer promised would be a 10.5 km run.

The pace felt pretty good, but my legs felt a bit dead. In particular, my shins felt a bit tender. Not good. They never felt worse than uncomfortable, but I was keenly aware of the fact that my shoes have almost 600 miles in them now. I can't put off buying a new pair much longer.

With winter coming, running at noon is going to be a lot more attractive than running at night, in the cold. I think it's time I started getting in to work a bit earlier in the morning.


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Recent Comments

  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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