Saturday, March 31, 2007

More new training ideas

This week, I developed some new training techniques, none of which will help me win a triathlon, but all of which will help with the Spartan physique. First, I had a pile of logs on the side of my house from when the borough cut down a tree down the block. I had carried these home earlier in the year and piled them next to the house (for our fireplace). This week, I decided they didn't look good there, so I had to move them. They weigh between 30 and 115 pounds (I weighed the biggest and smallest today just to see what I was dealing with). I have noticed that a 115 pound piece of a tree feels much heavier than a 100-pound plate at the gym. Obviously there are no handles, and the shape is just downright unwieldy. So that was a pretty good workout just getting them to my back yard. No tools (like a wheelbarrow) were allowed for this exercise. Then, since I have always wanted to do the caber toss, I took the small log (30 pounds) and started throwing it as far as I could. Now I know the caber toss is all about flipping accuracy, not distance, but you nonetheless have to be able to put some muscle behind the pole if it's going to flip. I threw this log several different ways, including like a shot put, and up over my head backwards. It makes a very satisfying thud when it hits the ground. I also just threw it straight up and tried to catch it. It's kind of like a solid wood, cylindrical medicine ball, with a flaky, scratchy surface.

Well, I learned today that those high intensity movements definitely worked some new muscle groups. Yes, indeedy. The log toss is going into my regular cycle of heavy activity.

I also did the mountain-stone grip routine that was demonstrated in one of the movies I posted earlier. Fun stuff.

I agree with Craig that this forum of communication is motivating, even though I am not really doing the same things as you (I will eventually, I swear). It is still helpful in the effort of keeping me on track doing some kind of fitness activity.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Swim Drill Should Make me Faster

Did 6 sets of 50 yard drills in the pool after my warm up. Originally thought I might do 8 to 10. I did one drill then the next. After 6, I decided to stop drills because I wanted to get 400 yd without stopping and arm fatigue was setting in.

Both Drills worked the way they were suppose to.

Drill #1 Buoy (has a longer name, for this will call it the Buoy). Swim 25 yd without twisting body in water. Essentially this causes your chest to be driven down and you absorb a full frontal amount of resistance. Designed to cause you to raise your hips and legs in the water. Very effective, tiring but not killer. The second 25 you swim regular freestyle focusing on good form. Then rest 30 sec to a min.

Drill #2 PUNCH IT. Swim freestyle 25 yd. Instead of opening your hand to get an effective pull/push, you clench your hand into a fist and focus on using your whole forearm as the paddle. Designed to increase efficiency of stroke by making you use your whole arm. Works, works well. Secondary effect is you tend to sink more because your arm stroke is not helping you maintain buoyancy. Hence, I had to kick harder. The second 25 you swim regular freestyle focusing on good form. Then rest 30 sec to a min. Killer! I have felt comfortable in the water until now. Half way down the pool on the first 25 I felt uncomfortable. Panic is not the word I would use because I knew I could stop doing it at any point. Really caused me to focus on the stroke, mainly because I was not getting a good rhythm to breath, which I believe was the real problem. I was not getting enough breathe when my face was out of the water. I will continue this drill, hopefully next time it goes better.

I will take a second to say this format has really inspired me to work harder. I would say the last two years this early in the spring I would not have gone this hard this quick. I also have planned well to get to the pool, which is always a hassle, mainly to keep up with Matt. Also Eric is logging some time on the bike which makes me want to get on mine, which I am going to do this weekend.

Thanks, keep it up. The information has also been great.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Last summer, I bought a trampoline at a yard sale. It is a full sized round one, like all the kids have these days, but it has no safety features. No pad over the springs, no netting around the sides, etc. It was an incredible bargain, in my opinion, at 25 bucks. It had been $50, but we showed up in the last hour of their sale, so I talked 'em down to half price. I'm one tough customer. We set it up in the back yard, and have been bouncing ever since. It was kinda hard to use in much of the winter, but we had a beautiful day yesterday, drying everything out, and it was still pretty nice today, so I decided rather than running, I would bounce for 10 minutes. That's it! 10 minutes. With no break. And no, I didn't have my 20-pound dumbbells with me. So what I determined in this 10 minute period was that this is a very enjoyable way to get an excellent aerobic workout. I throw in a lot of variation, like knee drops and back drops, and one-legged hops, so unlike running it is kind of exciting. My treadmill doesn't handle the back drops very well. They say that trampolines are excellent for your core, because you have to stabilize your guts and spine well, or you have trouble. By throwing in the back drops, I find that the stomach muscles get more than just stabilizing work. It's like doing really big crunches. It's also good for kinesthetic sense development and balance, which I figure can't hurt.

If anyone wants to come to my house and bounce, feel free. (No liability is assumed. Bounce at your own risk. You have been informed of the dangers.) I'm gonna work up to 20 minutes, I think, once the weather is reliable, and combine that with the weights, kettlebells, and medicine balls (not on the trampoline) for a nice well-rounded and fun fitness routine. Of course I still need to get the bike and swim in there too, so I'm sure it will alternate.

Speaking of the bike, I have decided that everywhere I go on my bike, which I ride to campus 3 times a week, sometimes twice a day, I am going to go as fast as I can. I'm sure this makes for some funny looks, as I must look like a nut, but it has already helped with the breathing recovery efforts. I think my best triathlon would be the 2 lap swim, the 1 mile flat or downhill bike and the 200 meter dash. I would be really good at that. And of course we require everyone to carry 20-pound (or bigger) dumbbells in each hand for the sprint. I just figured since I have to ride my bike anyway, I might as well make a race out of it. Things are going well.

Ironman 70.3 WorldChampionship on the Tube

The ironman 70.3 World Championship (half-ironman) is going to be televised this Saturday (Mar 31) 2pm on NBC. Two points of interest for me. A guy, Vinnie Monseau, who won the triathlon I competed in (beat me by almost 20 minutes) and is a local here, competed in this Championship. He was 430ish, but is only an amateur.

The second point of interest is the dude (Christopher Legh) who won the half-ironman they do in Morgantown, WV (which I volunteer for) took fourth place in the Championship that is going to be televised.

So, my point is even though neither one of these guys could pick me out of a crowd, I know them or know who they are. Actually, the Mr. Legh, after winning the triathlon went back to his hotel and packed up his stuff. Then he decided to drive closer to the awards ceremony area. I was working traffic control to keep people from driving into this area. So, when he tried to make a turn into this area, he forced me to yell at him, I even went so far as to tap the hood of his SUV to get him to stop. He was nice, since it was a rental, and informed me who he was. I said "I don't care who you are, my instructions are to keep any and all vehicles out of this area, so beat it dirt bag". No, I didn't say that. I folded like a cheap lawn chair on a windy beach. "Park over here Mr. Legh, by all means, run over the person in 250th place, they probably slowed you down anyways when you lapped them on the bike and deserve it".

I believe it is an hour coverage of this event from Clearwater. They always show the winners than follow two to four people on the human interest part. Someone making a come back, someone disabled, someone old, and someone who had their head severed and reattached, and without use of half their body still seem to be able to train 40 hours a week, finishing the event under the time limit. Just kidding, but it is usually good stuff.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Improving the Swim

There is still a ton of room for improvement here but there are improvements already.
Last night I worked on 4 stroke/breath to see what that would do for me. (I was only swimming 50's). Well at the end of the hour I was still managing 50 in about 55 seconds, much better than my 1:10-1:15 from my post earlier this month.

I decided to try 4 stroke so that I would always breathe on my strong side, just to get an idea of the results. It proved to me that I need to spend much more time working on my weak side breathing technique. (I'll post my weak side time on my next trip to the pool).
I also felt that by sticking with my strong side and breathing less often. I'm starting to feel the swim much more. One of the things I've read online is to make your forearm part of the paddle, not just your hands. I've been trying to remember to think of that. I can't say I'm successful there yet.

Anyhow, I hope to have as much improvement in swimming as I've had with running over the last 5 months. I guess I'll find out in 5 months.

Monday, March 26, 2007


We've taken a brief respite from the blogging, it appears. Just to keep it going, I'll post something. Today I walked a mile carrying the 20-pound dumbbells. I walk about 3 miles an hour, so this took almost exactly 20 minutes. Now, admittedly, a 20-minute mile is not something that is going to strike fear in the hearts of my competitors, but I do what I can. While walking, I do curls, overhead presses, triceps raises and other such things just to keep it exiting, but I never set the dumbbells down. That's my rule for this exercise. This is about holding onto a 20-pound hunk of steel in each hand for 20 minutes, while walking. Very simple.

After that, I did some kettlebell style arm swings until I was unable to safely perform them. These actually provide a better aerobic workout than the walking, but I like the muscular durability that the 20-minute-long carry affords. When I started, 10-minute walks with the dumbbells were pretty difficult, so I must be getting stronger, but looking like a Spartan is going to require a calorie cut for me, which is something I have trouble doing for long periods of time. Our semester is more than half over now, so the stress is really ramping up and the deadlines are coming fast, consequently my eating tends to suffer. I'm hopin that when May hits, it will feel like a weight has been lifted and I can really make progress with the weight. Assuming I stay on top of the workouts, I should have a good Spartan body underneath the fat that is just waiting to be revealed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pushed too hard

I keep thinking that a big key to improving is better core strength and weight training. Yet I haven't really done much about it.
Well I've got a very mild case of what the guy in this link had.
hip adductor
I'm not in pain the way these guys are/were. I'm just noticing that something is going on and I don't want it to turn into a big problem.
I was impressed with the site so I figured I'd post them here.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Due to my quest for Spartan fitness, I have discovered the kettlebell. For the uninitiated, a kettlebell is basically a canonball with a comfortable handle on top, and a flat bottom, so it doesn't roll away when you set it down. They come is all sizes up to really heavy, like 150 pounds. These things are supposedly the secret of the soviet supermen of old olympic glory. Old-school real-world lifting and moving. The exercise I started is just a "simple" one-armed swing from between the legs and up in front to slightly above shoulder height. Back and forth like an elephant trunk, swaying gently in the breeze. I do 25 with each arm, then do something else, like run on the treadmill for 5 minutes, then jump back into the swings. They are even kind of fun. These things provide an incredible payoff for the time, including aerobic dividends. If you try to reach as far behind you as possible on the downswing, you get your quads involved handsomely, you get hammies, glutes, all kinds of "core" parts, shoulders, and super grip strength. The core is where all the power is for people who have functional strength, rather than "workout strength." Unfortunately, I don't have a kettlebell, so I have to use a regular dumbell, but I employ the same movement. Supposedly, due its different weight distribution, the kettlebell gives you a somewhat better workout, though it can't be terribly huge. I'm having wonderful luck with the dumbbell, but my birthday is in May (hint? A 50 pounder would be cool).

I am also hoping to start playing with some kind of medicine ball. 25 pounders look good. Anybody up for a game of catch?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

HR Check up

From Early February: I ran 32 minutes at 6mph. HR started in the 172bpm range early on and got to 185 at the end of the run.

Tonight's Run:
5.5 mph 10 minutes = 154 bpm
6.0 mph 10 minutes = 164 bpm
6.5 mph 7 minutes = 174 bpm
7.0 mph 3 minutes = 180 bpm

Not an identical run for comparison but I feel that it does show improvement.
Without the blog I probably wouldn't be keeping track of this information nearly as well.

Also for the sake of record keeping. I put the HR monitor on when I woke up the other morning to see what my resting HR was. 54 bpm was my resting HR. Lowest it dipped to was 48 bpm.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wet Suit Options on Internet

A couple wetsuit vendors I found in my search for a "cheap" wet suit to minimize my outlay for what some people in family may see as non-essentials.

EBAY Seller - looks like a good price for the sleeveless

Other - Multiple suits - also prices look pretty good

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Tango Questions

I read the updated Tango website. Here are the questions that remain for me: What is the definition of canoe? If people have long, sleek, ocean-racing canoes and we have an old aluminum fishing canoe, that would not be a very even match. I went looking online, and what people call canoes seems to vary widely. Are there rules about foils, keels, and rudders? Foot braces? What are the rules about paddles? Can we use two-ended paddles? Are there square-inch limits on the paddling surface? In one picture on the site, people have double-ended paddles. But in "real" canoe races ( --This is what a rules page should look like!), you can't use doubles. Can the same canoe be used for the safety canoe in the swim as in the canoe portion of the race? How do we transport them if that is the case? Is there a map available of this course? That might help answer some of those questions. Any size limits on the swim fins? I would love to show up with 4-foot long fins and see if anyone says anything.

The two-person complete teams require both people to each do all the events. If two of us chose to do that, what are the rules about separating? Do you wait at the beginning of each leg (if you choose to separate), or are you required to be basically near each other all the time? Can you tie each other together? (So in the swimming section, Craig could water-ski on a rope tied to my waist). Initially, I thought the two-person complete was a two-man relay. I was mistaken. That makes it much harder.

I wonder what kind of competitors are in this thing. Are they like us, or are they hardened race nuts who train all the time and are gearheads to boot?

Anyway...just wondering.


Kinzua Tango Stuff. I got to thinking about our abilities. This isn't to show how good we can do, but maybe how people decide what event they might want to do. This chart shows each leg with the distance, then two scenarios which I have listed as "Good" and "Not as Good". The "Good" is based on min/mile pace I believe I could go if I only had to do this one event and I was in good shape or worked on this event. The "Not as Good" pace was established as being 25% slower than the "Good" rate. I believe as a collective group this is our effective range of time.

The best thing to think about is that someone is going to do this all by themselves probably the winner will be not only faster than the "Good" pace, but much faster. You can see your big time losses would be in the half marathon or the swimming if you had someone implode. Of course that orienteering is a wild card.

Bike Gear

Crank Bros. Quattro SL
The link above is to an ebay auction. Seems like a fairly good deal from what I've seen. I just looked again. The black ones have sold out already. Other colors are available.
Of course buying these means you need to buy the shoes too...
Shimano TR02 Tri Shoe

Who doesn't love stuff

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Running Outside

Felt good to get outside yesterday. Ran three miles. Took it easy on my legs by running 9 minutes, walk 1 minute. Did this cycle three times. I do not have a heart rate monitor, but wanted to check my heart rate to see what it was doing. You guys got me interested.

I took it for 10 seconds and then multiplied it by 6. I could only take it when I was walking, tried to do first 10 seconds of walk, hence three intervals. 1st walk - 136 BPM (first 9 minute run started slow and built up) 2nd walk 156 BPM, kept higher pace whole 9 min. run. 3rd walk 168 BPM - really picked up pace last 2/10's of this run.

By no means did I feel I was truly redlining, even though last run burned bad. I have never taken during a race or test day. I assume by feeling, it could be 20 or 30 beats faster than high number above. I believe these seem like reasonable numbers.

Started a book by Eric Harr, Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week. The books subtitle says "from Beginner to Finish Line in Six Weeks". He has a whole plan to take you from Couch Potato to finishing your first sprint tri in this six week period. He then has three other six week plans based on your fitness level. I have chosen to start with the one above beginner. My Rocky Gap triathlon is in twelve weeks, so I do the 2nd level the first six weeks, reset and do the 3rd level the next six weeks. Walla, I do a nice finish.

Also, I am reading a book called Total Immersion. Strictly a swimming book. I plan to really work on my swimming this year. This book talks a lot about being long, and slippery in the water. Also, talks about making your body like the hull of a sailboat rather than like a tugboat. Looks like it is a work smart exercise rather than just working harder.

Saw an infomercial this morning, thought of Shawn. It was called Power 90. Claims you can look like an out of shape dope, and in 90 days you look like a Greek God (or Spartan Warrior) I believe the claim was six days a week, 40 minutes a day. The said in and out of the gym in an hour (if you shower quick). Most of the people they showed were our age to 10 years older than us. Quite impressive results. They almost had me picking the phone up to call.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Goggles or Mask

I've got the Aquasphere Mask for swimming. I'm a big fan. Super comfortable mask. Just figured I'd mention this in case anyone is looking to buy swim gear.
Here is a link

AquaSphere Mask

Sunday, March 11, 2007

KC Tango

Ok, so far I think there are 4 of us interested. Craig, Casey, Shawn and myself. I thought I would make a chart gathered from posts and talks I've had with people regarding their interests.

1/2 Marathon: Casey
Bike: Shawn, Matt, Casey
Swim: Craig and Shawn
Orienteering: Shawn, Casey
Run: Matt
Canoe: Shawn, Matt, Casey

I may be too cautious of a bike rider to make good time on the bike. Maybe we can find out what the trail is and I can try it out this summer.

Obviously the list is a work in progress

Let me know where I need to make adjustments to this list. I'll edit this post. If there are other people that think they can make it let us know.

A good day

Made it to the pool again today. Swam laps for an hour. Still stopping for a short break after every 50 yds. Early in the hour I went 50 yds in 1:05. At the end of the hour it was more like 1:15-1:20.
I'm not concerned with anything other than building up some endurance at this point. I plan on joining a class in a couple months. I'm hoping that will be inspiring rather than totally intimidating. We will see.

A few hours after swimming I hit the treadmill. I've been wanting to put some longer distances up all week and just couldn't get there mentally, I kept giving up after about 35 minutes. Well I got there today. I did a short 2 min warmup. Then ran 6 miles in 62:20. 5.5mph for the first 20 minutes (I think) then 6mph the rest of the way out.

After I finished I realized I probably should have run 6.25 miles so that it was 10K. Ah well... next time.

Road Rate!

It is a beautiful day in New Hampshire so I took the bike out of the garage and took it for a spin. It's a LOT harder work than an excersize bike! Traffic, wind, road debris all play a role. The thing that totally shocked me is that I push myself way harder on the road. Even though I only went 12 miles in 53 minutes I pegged my max heartrate at 225!!! I didn't even know it would go that fast. The average rate was 153 which is typical for my indoor rides. So I really pound the hills and still only average about 13mph. Oh well.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spartans Unite!

Okay, I just got back from 300. I feel so soft. I have so much. I want to run around the block carrying a tree. Maybe I should hire someone to hit me with a stick every time I slow down on the treadmill. I would love to feel like this for months. I could do so much. Of course I would probably abandon schoolwork. Who needs that crap? There's no glory there.

There were some pretty good lines in that movie, but I won't utter them here. Go see it for yourself. It's a heck of a guy movie.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Spring Break!

My last official school obligation before the break was last night at midnight. I turned in my assignment at 11:41 PM. Of course I have many unofficial deadlines and have to put in about 60 hours of work over the next week to try to catch up but I am hoping I get to do a little exercise. We're going to Williamsburg VA for 4 days, so maybe I can run outside like Matt. I just finished 21 days of antibiotics today, trying to kill this sinus infection. I have felt great in the head since I started, but kind of lethargic in the motivation. (Don't know if the drugs have anything to do with that or not.) I think I am going to see the movie 300 tonight to treat myself for making it to Spring break without missing any assignments. My goal is to look like the Spartans in that movie. I already like the Spartan lifestyle, why not get the Spartan physique?

I need to get back in the right mindset. Help me, people! It's been cold and dark here for the last 3 weeks. Trying to save money, I keep the heat low. That makes my body want to pack on the insulation. Girl Scout cookies suddenly look very tempting. Girls Scouts are nefariously undermining our nation's efforts to lose weight! This is madness!

No. This is Sparta!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Finally in the pool

I went to the pool this afternoon. My heart was racing after just a few laps. I guess it didn't know what to make of it all. It settled down and I was able to continue swimming for about 50 minutes before my calves started to cramp up on me. (I think I have horrible kicking technique).
So I would swim up and back which I think is 50 yards in about 1:15-1:20. Then I'd break for a few seconds before going again. So I'm guessing I put in 1506 yards in, which is .855 miles. I'll try to keep better track next time.

I'm hoping to be able to do my run tonight as well. I'm curious how that will go.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


I am still elipting and biking in the gym at work. It seems to be going pretty well. I also just received confirmation that the spinning class I signed up for is going to happen. Still no start date yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Also, shoulder is still giving me fits. PT has yielded little progress. I have regained a lot of strength, but no relief of the impingement. The doc says to continue PT through July-ish. Because the MRI ruled out a tear, If there is still ino improvement, then he recommends a subacromial decompression procedure.

In my case, the impingement is caused by a hooked shape acromian, which is the top of the scapula and is the roof of the shoulder socket. The xray shows where the tip of the acromian is riding the ball of my shoulder joint, causing a thickness in the bone (shows up as a shiny white spot) and irritation with the rotator cuff tendon. A decompression consists of going in and cutting off the tip of the bone to enlarge the passageway. From what I have been able to find out, it isn't as bad as it sounds. It is an outpatient procedure, and most patients are back to full strength and range of motion in 6 weeks or less.

I am still in no hurry to be cut on, but if PT doesn't work out, it doesn't seem to be too horrible an option to consider. Until then, swimming is still out of the question, so I will continue with the bike and eliptical.