Richard Nelson

Archive for the ‘training’ Category

A motto?

In swimming, training on 2011 August 8 Monday at 20:04:53

I spent some quiet nights in my Denver hotel room thinking about belief v. hope v. optimism, and I came up with this:

Not passive hope; not blind optimism; but an evidence-based belief that we can make tomorrow better than today.

I know that’s true; I mean, the evidence shows us that we can make tomorrow better than today; that I can be better (however you define better) tomorrow than I am today.

But it can be hard to believe it in the face of a motivation-eating black-dog mood, whose ideology seems best called what’s-the-point-ism. Still, I’m trying.

I’m completely unmotivated to do the heavy work-outs Coach Steve is listing for me. So I went to the pool and gave myself permission to do … anything. And all anything was, was 750 yd, 30 lengths, at a medium-hard effort. And it felt good.


Today’s work-out: singin’ in the rain

In training on 2010 September 3 Friday at 19:40:24

Coach Steve listed for yesterday, “Run warm up and down as required (total workout time about 50[ min]), set is 4 x 4[ min] at half marathon race pace or faster (3[ min] RI)”. Well, I didn’t do it yesterday, so it was on tap for today: at 11:40 a.m.—rather later than I’d hoped—I started out. I immediately discovered that it’s not comfortable to carry my BlackBerry in what I surmise to be the iPod pocket of my new Sugoi running shirt—so back I walked. And then I started again.

With Steve’s blessing I’ve been trying something a bit different: the first and last five minutes of every run is a walk. So I walked to Jackman Avenue, and then jogged into the Don valley down Pottery Road (you can see the drop of forty metres on the altitude curve below). Then I began the intervals. First one, ok. Second one, harder. I turned around under the Prince Edward Viaduct. During my rest I thought of giving Coach Steve a “present” of five intervals. During the third interval I realized that was not going to happen; my form was breaking down badly. On the fourth interval I felt like what Montgomery Scott said (or should’ve said): “She can’t take much more this, sir!” And I just stopped. In fact, I had to stop with my hands on my knees like a cartoon post-run sprinter. It was a long slow walk to the top of Pottery Road where I turned off my watch.

During the run I was entertained by the sounds of military jets practising for the weekend’s air show. Unfortunately the ceiling was so low I couldn’t see anything.

(After that I stopped at Sobey’s to buy some bread and walked home in a downpour.)

So what do I think? I could just be lazy and out of shape, always a good way to bet. And the weather was somewhat against me, being warm and very humid. Still, I got three hard intervals there, so I’ll take them.


I’ll put this out there and see how much I get done.

Tomorrow (Saturday): I’m planning to hit the GoodLife club at Coxwell and Gerrard at opening for my first strength work-out in, um, ’way too long. Then I hope to get to the East York Community Centre to do the swim work-out Steve had listed for today; that pool is always a bit zooey, but I can hope.

Sunday: I’ll do the “long” run (two hours) Steve listed for tomorrow. I’m planning to try something different on my seemily endless quest to get my work-out done first thing: I’m going to head out without coffee or breakfast, but with Carbo-Pro in my FuelBelt bottles.

Monday (Labour Day, a public holiday in Canada): I’ll do the “long” bike (three hours) Steve listed for Sunday.

Tuesday (back to work): I’ll double up, doing the trainer work-out Steve listed for Monday, and then Tuesday’s run work-out from work to home. I’ll probably be exhausted!

This sleeping thing

In time utilization, training on 2010 September 3 Friday at 11:25:55

This sleeping thing is getting to be a real nuisance.

Last night I was in bed at 7 p.m.—but still I overslept, not waking up until 6:30 a.m., despite my BlackBerry alarm’s valiant attempt to wake me at 5. So there went my dawn work-out, and my idea of finally re-introducing two-a-days into my schedule.

The problem was at the beginning, and has been for the last few months. Yes, I was in bed at 7, all relaxed. I ended up staying up until well after 9, reading an ancient comic novel by P. G. Wodehouse (Big Money, if you must know). But even so, a short-ish night should’ve been ok. Instead, my body took 9 hours regardless of my plans.

So what’s the new plan for today? Swimming put off for another week, I’m afraid. I’ll bring my running kit* to work and do my run from the office during my low-ish period in mid- to late afternoon.

* In this weather, one’s running kit could be stuffed in one’s pants pockets, save for the shoes—fortunately I have a pair of newish shoes at work.

Wisdom from a friend of mine

In swimming, training on 2010 September 2 Thursday at 15:14:19

Last night, she posted:

“No matter what, this winter is dedicated to training my limiters and kicking ass next tri season.

“Sounds like a great dream. Dreams are great. Unfortunately, reality requires a lot of tough daily choices. There lies the gap between a dreamer and a doer.”

And this morning:

“There’s something about tri that has a challenge in it. Everyone has a weakness. No one is an expert in all three sports. I don’t like the swim and that’s the point. It used to be the bike. There’s always a new challenge. Only time will tell if I’m up to it.”

No whining about the weather!

In training on 2007 December 30 Sunday at 19:53:00

Had my first ride outside in what seems like months. We’ve had a fair amount of snow and a couple of freeze/thaw cycles that have left a lot of ice here and there, and turned the windrows (i.e., piled up snow) into something akin to rock. (Managed to damage one of my car’s integral mudflaps on one of them yesterday). But, in general, the road surfaces are clear, no precip. in the forecast, and the temperature around freezing. For the whole ride the temp. stayed steady at 1°C (about 34°F), with no wind, so pretty good. I underdressed my feet and perhaps my torso, but the rest of me felt fine—oh, and I wore my glasses, which acted as a heat sink and gave me an ice-cream headache without the benefit of the ice cream! I’m so glad I got out today instead of doing a two-hour trainer ride watching meaningless pro. football games.

Rethought objectives for the year

In training on 2007 December 22 Saturday at 16:50:00

I’ve been thinking about the objectives I drew up for 2007/08, and have come up with a slightly reordered and extended list:

1. Learn to suffer.

2. Improve my time management, with respect to working out.

2½. Be more consistent. This is a new objective, but I think it may well fall out of No. 2.

3. Get to the weight room twice a week at least. This was No. 4 in my Oct. 28 list; I moved it up because I need to increase my focus on it—I haven’t reached this objective in any seven consecutive days.

4. Improve my technique, in all three disciplines, but especially swimming.

4½. Improve the weaknesses Scott identified. This was in the biomechanical assessment I wrote about here. Especially after I worked with the trainer at my gym, I think that upper-body strength is important—because it’s so lacking!

5. Lose some weight: <170 lb.

6. Maintain a positive mental attitude. This is new, and is derived from an article by Jason R. Karp, “7 Habits of Highly Effective Triathletes”, in Triathlete No. 284 (Dec./07). The “7 Habits” are:

1. Effective training.
2. Consistent training.
3. Adequate recovery.
4. Setting goals.
5. Coaching.
6. Nutrition.
7. Positive mental attitude.

Nos. 1-6 are covered in my objectives. No. 7 intrigues me. All my life I’ve alternated between cheeriness and gloominess. For a variety of reasons, my gloominess has dissipated as I’ve careened into my fifties, and I find that having a “positive mental attitude”, insofar as one can cultivate such a thing, helps a great deal. One example: in the gloomy days, if I lost a work-out, especially through some poor planning or lack of focus or commitment on my part, I was inclined to see it as proof of my unworthiness to aspire to an Ironman, and I would then bag my work-outs for a couple of days. Nowadays I’m much more inclined to shrug, make note of what I could, maybe, have done differently, and move on with my training plan. We’ll see how this goes, but I’m pretty, yes, positive about it.

I’ve also settled on the races I’d like to do:

Feb. 24: YMCA Half Marathon, Peterborough, Ontario

Mar. 30: Around the Bay Road Race (30 km), in the town of my birth, Hamilton, Ontario

May 19: Victoria’s Duathlon, in Waterloo County, Ontario

June 15: Muskoka long-course triathlon (swim 2 km + bike 55 km + run 15 km), in and around the resort town of Huntsville, Ontario

July 6: Peterborough Half Iron Distance Triathlon (swim 2 km + bike 90 km + run 21 km)

Sept. 7: Ford Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon, in Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin

Only Ironman Wisconsin is an “A” race. The rest are really “C’s”: I’m doing them for fun, for practice.

“6½ Questions for 2007”

In lessons learned, training on 2007 December 18 Tuesday at 15:41:00

One of the senior Triathletes of the Dead Runners’ Society sent “6½ Questions for 2007”. Her questions are in bold italics; my answers are not:

1. What one word describes your 2007 season? Does it match what you said last December in anticipation of this year?

Bittersweet. No.

2. What one word comes to mind when you think about your 2008 season?


3. Did you race any new distance this year or try any new type of racing or sport?

Yes: Ironman.

4. What was your greatest thrill or joy this year from training or racing?

Learning to swim in open water; being able to do the Ironman-distance swim in training and in the race (albeit slower than I wanted).

5. What was your biggest disappointment this year from training or racing?

DNF at IM Wisconsin.

6. What was your favorite race in 2007?

Only did one: IM Wisconsin, which I enjoyed despite DNF.

The new era dawns

In running, training on 2007 November 4 Sunday at 23:35:00

On Friday I “[r]ather grandly … set Saturday, November 3, as the beginning of a new … era.”

So how have I done?

Saturday, Coach Steve set me a simple work-out: “Run 90″ base pace with 3 x 15″ tempo HR 155 (5″ easy base pace jog RI)”. My plan was to have breakfast and coffee, and get out around 7 a.m., running up the Don River and Massey Creek, probably to the Woodbine Bridge, and back. That would have me back at the house about 8:30, well before M. and our visiting granddaughter would rise.

Well, big surprise, it didn’t happen. Once again, I was tempted to cuddle, and that’s what I did–for two hours! It’s fair to say that this restful, quiet cuddling is among the great pleasures of my life—but it’s unlikely to get me under the finishing banner at Monona Terrace before midnight on Sunday, September 7, 2008.

By the time I roused myself I wasn’t going to be able to get out and back by 10:30 a.m., our projected departure time for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, so I decided to run after we got home—or perhaps even from the fair.

Of course, things didn’t work out. Rather than showing up at the fair at 11 a.m., we were there after 1 p.m. Then we walked around for almost four hours. In due course, I got back to our van, changed, and, indeed ran home via the Goodman and Don trails; it was a nice run. Actually the only thing I did wrong was running after I’d spent more than four hours on my feet. Why hadn’t I run to the fair?

This morning went better: I got a little mixed up about the switch from Daylight to Standard time. I knew about it, but didn’t do the time arithmetic properly. I slept in, but I did get out a bit after 8 a.m. for a three-hour ride.

I also picked the wrong route. About 1 h 20 min in I ran myself up against the Rouge River. I could’ve humped my bike up the slippery stairs on the left bank, but decided against it. Instead, I biked home against the westerly breeze.

I only suffered for about 15 seconds, maybe 30, as I ascended Bethune Boulevard. (This is the same route as I blogged last year; and I always wonder about the name of the street!) The hill doesn’t seem that steep, but I briefly considered clicking out! But I persevered.

At home I had just enough time to inhale a p.b.&j. and a mug of coffee before we drove to swimming, where Coach Kelvin worked on my technique. And I think we had a breakthrough! More on that perhaps later.

All in all, the new era dawned messily, but so far so good. The key point: I did the work-outs, and they were good work-outs.

Tomorrow: some routine blood tests, but I can’t eat for 12 hours beforehand. I’ll swim at lunchtime, and then run home.

The dawn of a new era (well, let’s hope)

In training on 2007 November 2 Friday at 15:41:00

Rather grandly, let’s set Saturday, November 3, as the beginning of a new Ironman era.

I have not worked out since the previous Saturday. Tiredness permeates me like mist. I had almost eight hours dreamless sleep last night—and still fell back asleep when I (big mistake!) snuggled up with M. after I’d brought her breakfast.

Is it a matter of working harder or of working smarter? And if the latter, what am I, Mr IQ Supposedly 169, doing wrong?

It makes me think (despite my disappointment with sport psychology books) that maybe I should dust off my Toughness Training books. Or look hard at what slows me down in the morning—I rather suspect that’s the key.

This all reminds me of an article I read years ago about a fellow who kept losing jobs because he was always late. He’d spent years in various therapies trying to establish the whys of this behaviour; in the end, he found a therapist who instead focused on the hows. They worked on how he could get up and get to work on time; and the problem, in due course, disappeared.

What are my hows?

I made an executive decision not to execute

In training on 2007 November 1 Thursday at 20:49:00

The last ten days or so have been tough. I’ve felt, well, crappy. I clearly had a cold that was floating around; but the cold seemed to dissipate, I worked out happily, and then I was just, well, crappy again. Since Sunday it seems that all I do is sleep. I, er, “worked from home” yesterday. I did, against the odds, get an important deliverable out the metaphorical door, but I also slept more than three hours, in three separate pieces, during the day. Just coming up stairs seemed to tire me out.

So before dawn Wednesday (yesterday) I made an executive decision: I would not work out the rest of the week. I’d recover, and then work out. Today I was even thinking of skipping the weekend.

But I had two conversations that have changed my mind. The first was with a doctor. He suggested that maybe I hadn’t had enough sleep, and he was right: I don’t sleep well when Mona’s out of town, and perhaps having a beer every night was not a good idea.

The second was with my coach. He said that, ahem, “older” athletes need a lot of sleep. And I generally find talking to Steve is kind of enlivening.

So I’ll still take today off; get a good night’s sleep tonight; and be out there at 7 a.m. for my swim class.

I find I’m looking forward to it. Let’s see how I feel at 5 a.m.!