Thursday, March 28, 2013

Favorite Swim Set, part 2

Okay, I realize that calling these posts "parts" is impractical, because someone's going to try to do all of them at once. So, to clarify, these are different sets, not parts of a single set.

400 free
200 pull, with buoy between the ankles, focusing on rotating hips
200 IM kick/drill
8x50 kick, free/fast fly

Main Set
4x100 free at goal mile pace, on base interval
1x100 recovery
4x100 free at goal mile pace, on base interval
1x200 recovery
4x100 free at goal mile pace, on base interval
1x100 recovery
4x100 at goal mile pace, on base interval
1x200 recovery

Cool Down
12x25 IM order, fast
400 free

4100 total yards

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sickness and a Life Lesson

I've been down and out. For a week, from training. I've missed meets, missed sessions, missed the hell out of my teammates. For a week, I've been coughing, and coughing, and coughing. Occasionally spitting up blood. My back and abdomen hurt from coughing so much. And it really still hasn't gone completely away. But I'm sick of being sick so I'm hopping back into training. It's not being sick that really bothers me. Being sick is an inconvenience. But missing training pisses me off. So I'm getting back on my feet, getting back in the pool, and I'll fight this off.

There's a lesson here: Keep going. And I think that's an overwhelming part of triathlon, of sports, of life in general. When you don't think you can go anymore, take one more step forward. When it isn't going your way, take a step forward. That's why triathlon is so appealing to people, why it's grown exponentially in popularity. Because it's a true test of humanity, not just physical fitness. It's a mental workout. People come to the finish line of an Ironman bent double because they've kept going, even when their body starts to shut down. Julie Moss inspired people in 1982 when they saw her fall in the last mile of the marathon, and crawled to the finish. She kept going. Will you?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why Eating More Often is Beneficial

Honestly, I'm always skeptical of new nutrition advice I receive. It seems that everything causes cancer, is linked to heart disease, or helps/hurts mice in a lab study. I believe that what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, common sense reigns supreme when it comes to my nutrition. It may not work for you, but in this case, the science makes sense.

For years, people have stuck to the "three square meals a day" mantra. With post-workout fuel, this works out (for me) to eating five times a day. But three of those meals are around 700 calories, and the other two post-workout "meals" are around 100 calories each. Here's where science comes in: Humans are designed to hold fat. Humans were scavengers, not necessarily knowing where their next meal was coming from. Therefore, by evolution (don't start that argument of creationism vs evolution) human genes gradually changed to hold fat cells because meals were often spaced by days, not hours. Man has been fighting his physique ever since the evolution of agriculture and technology made food more accessible and affordable.

By eating more often, we can counteract this natural propensity to hold fat. Instead of three meals a day, make it five or six slightly smaller meals. Because three meals are too far apart to prevent the body from storing carbohydrates and proteins as fat, by working out (using those carbs and proteins) and eating more often, the body will not go into fat-storage mode.

I was skeptical of the idea, so I decided (like I do with most scientific "facts") to experiment with my body and see if it really works. I did no working out for two days while I was sick, on day one eating three times about 1800 total calories, on day two eating the same, but eating six times. By no means is this scientific, but on between day one and two, I gained about .6 pounds, between days two and three, I lost .4 pounds. Again, this isn't at all scientific, I am simply commenting on my own observations, but I believe that the gain and subsequent loss was caused by my body going into and then coming out of fat storage mode.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Trust Your Gut

Just trust your gut instinct, we've heard it so many times it's become a cliche. But it's become one because it holds true nearly every time it's said. Certainly more than people would care to admit. I can't count how many times I've seen someone get a school test back and groan, saying, "Damn, I got that question wrong because I changed my answer at the last second!"

In sports, trusting your gut is critical in nearly everything. Science can tell me that the average distance runner can "kick" about 200 meters at the end of a 5k. So should I kick at 200 meters from the finish, knowing that if there's someone with me, they'll kick too and possibly outrun me in the final 200? Or should I try to open up a gap on the pack I'm with at with a mile to go and just lift the pace? See, in this instance, I can't preemptively foresee how I'll feel in that situation, if I would feel good enough to solo alone with a mile to go or try to out-sprint the competition.

Trusting your gut is also backed by science, which is rather odd. But in a recent study, it was concluded that runners ran the fastest when they drank a carbohydrate mix as they felt they needed. Many people have a long standing belief that the body needs ~60g carbohydrates per hour of exercise, but those people performed worse than those who simply drank as their thirst dictated.

Funny how science tries to dictate, then corroborates trusting your gut. The most simple thing in the world is also a huge performance enhancer. Funny how that works...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Brooks PureFlow 2 Review

I just finished my 100th mile in the Brooks PureFlow 2. So I thought I'd give the folks at Brooks Running a shout out. This is quite possibly the most comfortable shoe I've ever run in. From the trail to the track, from 30x:20 at 800 pace to a six-mile tempo run, this shoe delivers. Time and time and time again.

The motto of Brooks' Pure Project is "Feel more with less." In other words, minimal running. I've worn two different shoes from the Pure Project, the PureConnect and the PureFlow 2, which is the shoe I'm reviewing here. Some features carry over between all the models including a "Nav Band," which wraps around the arch and stretches to fit all feet widths, asymmetric lacing, minimal heel to promote forefoot strike, and a split toe, which give the toes more room to act independently.

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The PureFlow 2 is Brooks' answer to Saucony's vetted Kinvara line. The main features are pretty similar. A 4mm heel-toe drop promotes a forefoot strike, a softer sole to give the shoe some cushion, and deep grooves in the sole help the shoe flex. Beyond that, they are wildly different. The PureFlow 2 has a much more anatomic shape and adapts to the shape of the wearer's foot, where the Kinvara 3 is much more a traditional shaped shoe with some minimal features. The PureFlow also has a roomier toe box, allowing the toes to spread more freely. However, having wide feet, I found the PureFlow to fit more like a traditional running shoe, slightly tight around my forefoot. With time, that decreased as the shoe started to break in. What really drew me to the PureFlow was the way the toe box and nav band stretched to fit my foot like a glove. And, unlike most minimal shoes that have either a sewn in tongue (Nike Free) or a freely moving one (New Balance Minimus), the PureFlow has one side of the tongue sewn in, and one not, which could prove useful in say, a triathlon, when getting into the shoe but not blistering because of moving parts and seams is key.

Bottom Line: An awesome semi-minimal shoe that offers cushion, comfort, and fit. From racing to training, this shoe is the complete package.