Monday, January 30, 2012

Power!

I picked up a new toy last week: a new rear training wheel with a PowerTap hub. Now I can train outside with the same metric that I train with inside: power!

Even though I've only been back at M2 for a few weeks, I already have a pretty firm grasp of my power numbers. This weekend, I had a chance to see how those numbers translate on the open road. I learned some new things:

I coast a lot. I definitely push way too hard on climbs. I need to work on consistant power output over long periods of time and varied terrain.

Perhaps the most important performance-related statistic in the world of cycling is power-to-weight ratio. And mine doesn't seem that great. My ten-minute test at M2's puts me at roughly 4.1 watts per kilogram. I've never done a pure 20-minute test, but I bet the ratio would drop down to 3.75 watts per kilogram, and that's being generous. That, my friends, is something that needs to improve!

Back in his heyday, M2 himself used to push around 345 watts over 20 minutes for a P/Wr of 4.75. That kind of efficiency made him one of the most dangerous cyclists in the pro triathlon circuit. Now, I'm not saying I think I can increase my output over twenty minutes by 75 watts between now and July, but maybe 15 or 25 watts might be a decent stretch goal.

On the other side of the ratio, I'm still a ways away from race weight, so perhaps there's hope for me yet: if I can shave off these eight extra pounds and maintain the same power output, I'll be a lot closer to 4 w/kg over 20 minutes than I am now!

Things to think about...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Injury Update

The results are in, and the news is mostly good. The MRI no muscle or tendon tears. Nothing structural's been compromised. It would appear that my pain is the result of a combination of Achilles tendinosis and posterior tibial/flexor digitorum tenosynovitis.

To the best of my understanding, that means that my Achilles and the "sheath" that it's housed in are both irritated and filled with scar tissue and "gunk." Because of this "gunk," the tendon is not able to glide easily within the sheath. Running in this condition results in friction, and friction results in pain and more scar tissue.

I've been referred to another doctor - a chiropractor, actually - to work on the area with an interesting massage technique called Graston. I'll be seeing him bi-weekly for the next six weeks; hopefully this voodoo magic will clear out that sheath and have me running again by the end of February.

I'm not totally sold on this whole "chiropractor" thing, but he seems to know what he's talking about when it comes to running injuries, so I'm willing to see where this takes me. Unfortunately, this treatment method isn't completely supported by my health insurance, so if things don't start to improve in the next few weeks, I'll be going back to the M.D. and we'll do something a bit more invasive (injections?) to get things back to mostly-normal.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Plan

In 2010, I picked up Joe Friel's A Triathlete's Training Bible and Gordo Byrne's Going Long and designed a 24-week training program that followed their advice to the letter. As a result, I found myself putting in 18-24 training hours per week for several months. Tough stuff. In 2011, I went in an almost opposite direction, attempting to maximize my time spent running and minimize my time spent cycling and swimming. This year, I'd like to strike a balance.

Thanks to my bum Achilles, I already know that my running routine is going to be tricky to map out. But I do know that I'd like to swim more. And I also know that I'd like to ride faster. I  think I'll re-join my old Master's swim program, continue spinning at M2, and begin to work intervals into my running workouts after I've taken care of my calf and built up a small base.

I'm thinking I'll swim 4-5 times per week, run 3-4 times per week and spin/ride 2-4 times per week, which will put me at between 9 and 15 hours per week. Totally manageable.

My workout sessions should be around sixty minutes each (runs will be shorter in the beginning, any real road rides will be longer) until I need to start ramping up the mileage in April. I'd like to put in two 6+ hour rides in May and three in June. Running... well, that MRI I had on Friday should give me a whole lot of insight. We'll know more in a couple days!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back indoors.


With rain finally returning to the forecast after what seems like months of sun, I have returned to my favorite indoor cycling spot: M2 Revolution. I actually had a great deal of success last year building some focused, wattage-based spinning into my training program, and as an added bonus, it kept me dry through the wet months of February and March. This year, I'm looking for a repeat.

Side story: When I started spinning at M2 in the fall of 2010, I found that I seemed to be able to produce my best watts when the fit of my spin bike closely matched the fit of my road bike. Every time I tried to mimic the fit of my newly-procured time-trial bike, my watts dropped significantly. I eventually stopped trying to mimic that aggressive, time trial fit and just went for the best watts I could get.

Today, I adjusted the stationary bike to match my P3's fit for the first time in a year, and much to my surprise, my watts were actually better than the other way around. Cool. I think I should've actually expected this; I've noticed over the past few months that I feel more comfortable/faster on my road bike when I hunker down into my most time trial-centric position. I think a full year of training on my P3 has actually forced a noticeable shift in my strengths on the bike and riding style. It took a while, but maybe now I'm finally optimized for triathlon!

In other news, we're going on eight weeks since my last real run. I saw a doctor about my achilles and calf today; she's ordering up an MRI, so hopefully I can get that taken care of in the next few days and have a real diagnosis and treatment plan drawn up some time in the next two weeks. Cross your fingers for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Achilles that wouldn't heal.

I was out for my regular, eight-mile morning run in late November when I felt a sharp, shooting pain lance upward from the back of my ankle and through my calf. I was forced to limp almost four miles home.

I stopped running for two weeks before testing the waters again with a short, easy jog. It felt better, but still tight. After the run, I could tell my left Achilles was angry.

It's now been seven weeks since the date of injury. I've attempted a handful of test-runs, but none in the past two weeks. I've been seeing a physical therapist, who has been trying to massage the area and work out whatever scar tissue and/or irritation exists.

On Tuesday, I had some kind of flare-up. I'm starting to feel like I've made no progress toward being able to run again in the six weeks since I essentially shelved my running shoes. Now I'm concerned that I might have to shelve my cycling shoes as well. Cycling doesn't seem to trigger a reaction, but I don't know what else I can cut out of my routine at this point.

Training for Ironman Zurich is supposed to begin on Sunday.

I'm not in panic-mode yet, but I'm getting close. This is not how the season was supposed to begin; this was supposed to be the beginning of my attempt to "put it all together" in what I had hoped to be my third and fastest Ironman race. Now I'm worried I might be forced to limp to the line without the right training under my belt.

If this injury lingers much longer, or if I'm forced to take any extended period of time off the bike, I might have to consider the possibility of scrapping this summer's race - and the entire 2012 season - and spend my time getting healthy again.

Sigh.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Remember when riding 100 miles was a scary thought?


These are the numbers I wore during the first century I ever completed, way back in 2005. Crazy, right? I remember being supremely intimidated by the thought of riding a hundred miles in one day. There couldn't be anything harder than that, could there? Alex and I "trained" for the ride all summer. We set out that morning with droves of other cyclists, all nervousness and excitement.

A lot has changed in the years since. Cycling in San Francisco has changed my perspective. Everyone here is fast or faster. Everyone here rides a nice bike, has a Garmin, races up hills for PRs on Strava. Our rides here are long, hard, and fun.

Riding a hundred miles has gone from a monument of pain and suffering to, well, just a long ride. Climbing a mountain has gone from an epic adventure to just the best way to get a good angle on the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay. The aforementioned pain and suffering are no longer intimidating, unwelcome strangers; now they're old, welcome friends. Setting out for a hundred-mile ride is nothing more than a morning (and a bit of an afternoon) shooting the breeze with two of my best buds.

Two nights ago, I decided I'd celebrate the final day of the year with my longest ride of the year. That'd mean I'd have to ride 125 miles the next day. Six years ago, this would have seemed unfathomable. Even two or three years ago, I doubt I would've been comfortable committing to an eight-hour day. But on Friday, despite having only just returned from a ten-day vacation the night before, I pre-mixed my water bottle, pumped up my tires and set out a few extra Clif bars. And on Saturday morning, I woke up, packed those extra Clif bars away and hit the road. Simple as that.

The ride itself wasn't bad. I rode to Point Reyes via Marshall, climbing Marshall Wall from the east. From there, I turned around and retraced my steps, climbing Marshall Wall again from the west. (For the record, climbing the Wall from the west is a lot harder than from the east, especially when you're dealing with a headwind.)

It was a bit chilly. There seemed to be a lot of wind in all of the wrong places. I was definitely a bit worse-for-wear thanks to the week off I'd just returned from. But... you just keep pedaling. You spend some time with pain. You catch up with suffering. Slow and steady. The miles disappear. And then you're done, and fitter for it. And then you eat a lot of food. No big deal, really!

Sunrise from the start of yesterday's 200K.
Disclaimer: I now reserve "intimidating ride status" for double-centuries. Eek. You double-century people are crazy. Maybe one of these days I'll work up the courage to scratch one of those off of my bucket list.