This August, I will be participating in 2010 Tour for Kids Ontario, a challenging cycling adventure comprised of cyclists, cancer survivors and volunteers. Together, we will cycle hundreds of kilometers over 2 or 4 days, raising funds and awareness for children living with and beyond cancer. (I’ve signed up for the 4-day epic, planning 160km each day, and likely 200km a couple days).

The Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation is a primarily volunteer based organization that supports the three amazing and necessary children’s cancer camps in Ontario: Camp Trillium, Camp Quality and Camp Oochigeas. 100% of every dollar raised goes directly to these wonderful camps!

Please help me reach my fundraising goal and give these courageous children and adolescents the opportunity to attend year ‘round camp programmes.

You can make an instant and secure online donation by clicking on this link: http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?SID=2521076

For more information on how YOU or a friend can participate in 2010 Tour for Kids Ontario, as a cyclist, volunteer or a sponsor, please visit the Tour For Kids website at http://www.tourforkids.com.

Thank for your generous support!

Dan

Spring is Almost Here!

Wow… it’s been while since I’ve posted on here. For a variety of reasons (work, health) I didn’t do any tris at all in 2009, or much racing in general. I did manage to squeeze in an old favourite of mine in October, the Niagara Falls Half-Marathon. I hadn’t trained too much, so was happy to pull out a respectable time (for me, anyway).

With the great weather we’ve had here in Toronto over the past couple weeks, I’ve been out running a few times and have started to think of the 2010 season. I’m again likely not going to get into too many tris, since getting to the pool has become a bit of a hassle (or that’s my excuse, anyway).

I have made a committment to a few friends to join them for a great weekend of cycling in the Tour for Kids in August (four days, 100 miles or more each day). I’ll post the link to our sponsorship page once I get registered. I’m also thinking of heading to Niagara Falls again in October, though this time I may do the marathon depending on how I feel about long training runs in August and September.

Depending on how I feel, I may squeeze in a few other smaller events, though we’ll see how the summer schedule works out… hopefully the warm weather comes around for good soon, I’m looking forward to getting out more on the bike!

Peterborough Half-Ironman This Weekend

Well, race week is finally here. Seems like it sort of came up out of nowhere, but it’s already early July, and it’s time for this year’s big race, the half-Ironman in Peterborough. I actually followed a training program this year, and have spend the last 20 weeks getting ready for this. I didn’t have a great race a couple weeks ago in Muskoka, but hopefully have sorted out some nutrition and will be good to go!

I’m really taking it easy this week as I taper down, did a short 5km run yesterday, and hit the pool today. My run was so-so yesterday, but I felt great today in the pool. I have maybe once swam a 1:30/100m in the pool, but managed to rip off my last four 100’s in 1:28, 1:30, 1:32, 1:30 (with about 30 seconds rest) today. I couldn’t believe it on the first one, but it seems like something is finally starting to click in the pool. We’ll see how it works out on Sunday, but hopefully it is a sign of good things to come!

Race Season is Just Around the Corner!

It’s now almost mid-June, and with it came our first taste of the summer heat here in southern-Ontario over the weekend. I was out on the bike for a 4 hour, 110km-plus ride on Saturday, and sure felt the heat. We had made the trip up to Peterborough to get in some practice on the bike course, and it was an almost identical day to race day a couple years ago when I got destroyed on the bike ride. Hot, humid, and a strong wind blowing from west to east, making for a brutal second half of the ride. I think I’ve learned that one key to a good bike split on the course is to take advantage of the wind when you have it. There were a couple flat stretches where I had a tailwind and I managed to keep it over 50km/h for 2-3km. Definitely helped bring the average speed up! On the flip side, there were some downhills heading into the wind where I had to pedal hard to hit 30km/h.

I’ve been training pretty hard the last couple months, and am actually feeling fairly strong on the bike. We’ve been doing lots of long rides, and I definitely have learned a thing or two about nutrition since the last time I did this race. One of the keys for me is adequate electrolyte replacement. It’s great that the PowerGels now contain extra sodium, and I drink mostly eLoad while I’m riding. I’m hoping that this change in nutrition, plus sticking with a little more intense training plan will pay off come race day in a little over three weeks!

This weekend is my one and only tune-up race for the half-Ironman, the Muskoka Long Course triathlon. With a 2km swim, 55km bike ride, and 15km run, it is a great distance to stretch things out and see where I’m at. It’s also a fun race to be at as it attracts a lot of the top pros – pretty cool to see them powering across the finish line. I’m looking to significantly improve on my 2006 performance here – check back on Monday for the race update!

There was an interesting article posted on xtri.com this week, Maximizing Economy: An Essential Parameter for Triathlon Success. The key point in this article is that in addition to increasing aerobic capacity and your lactate threshold, triathlon training should also focus on improving efficiency – being able to move at the same speed but with less effort, using less energy and allowing you to keep up a faster pace for a longer time.

The author goes on to provide a number of tips on how to improve cycling efficiency, mainly, finding an optimal cadence, and ensuring proper positioning on the bike. It was interesting that this author quoted studies that show a relatively lower cadence (~70rpms) tends to be more efficient than higher cadences. As always though, the key is to find the optimal cadence where we are able to produce the most power for the least amount of effort. Guess I’ll need to get a power meter sometime soon!!

Anyway, some interesting stuff, check it out.

Triathon Swim Training Video

I was doing some searching on YouTube for some swim training videos. Came across this one that seemed pretty good, the coach broke the stroke down into five “keys” to look for:

  1. Hand position entering the water: want hands entering at 1 and 11 on the clock.
  2. Hand glide position: focus on getting a glide with arm outstretched.
  3. Kick: Keep legs straight, kick from the hip.
  4. Stay long in the water: reduces drag and helps apply force with the pull.
  5. Hand exit position: finish stroke strong, pull hand out at lower part of hip, not at the waist.

Hopefully this helps. I know these are good pointers for me to keep in mind!

Sample Training Week for Half-Ironman Triathlon

As I mentioned in a recent post, over the last few weeks I’ve started getting ready for the upcoming triathlon season, and am focusing on preparing for the Peterborough Half-Ironman on July 6th.

I have been following a slightly modified training program from Triathlete Magazine’s Week By Week Training Guide. This is a great book, as it contains programs for any distance of triathlon (from sprint up to Ironman), and for any level (there are 10 different programs for each distance). The programs vary based on your skill level and time available for training.

I am currently on Week #7 of the 20 week training plan, and decided to try Level 5, which is for somewhat competitive people who don’t have a huge amount of time to train. I thought it would be interesting to share how my week shapes up (Source: Triathlete Magazine’s Week by Week Training Guide).

Monday:
REST

Tuesday:
Swim – Base Intervals (6×100) + Swim Sprint Intervals (11×25)
Bike – Short Hill Climbs (11 x 1 minute climbs, 80 minutes total)

Wednesday:
Run – Speed Intervals (13 x 30 seconds, 52 minutes total)

Thursday:
Brick Workout: 1 hour bike, 30 minute run

Friday:
Bike – Foundation Ride (90 minutes)
Swim – Fartlek Intervals (6 x 150 build / descend, 1900m total with warm-up and drills)

Saturday:
Bike – Long Ride (2 hours 15 minutes)
Run – Foundation Run (35 minutes)
NOTE: I will break these workouts up into morning / afternoon

Sunday:
Swim – Base Swim (1500m continuous)
Run – Long Run (1 hour 5 minutes)

There you have it. Assuming the swim workouts take me an hour, it’s about a 12 hour training week with 3 swims, 3 bike rides, 3 runs, and a brick workout. It’s definitely more volume than I have done in the past, and hopefully I’ll see the payoff come July!!

Plan Running Routes and Calculate Running Distances Online

While I’m on my training runs, I like to know what sort of pace I’m running and, which when combined with my heart rate, tells me if I’m working hard enough, or too hard. I’m not lucky enough to own a GPS-enabled watch, so I’ve had to resort to other methods to tracking my distance on the run.

Early in my running career, I used to get in the car and drive my regular routes, which gave me a good idea of the distance. Not to mention being environmentally unfriendly, the big problem with this method was that a lot of my runs included trails and off-road areas. While I was tempted to try to drive these routes too, I figured the chances of my little Japanese-made sedan surviving the bumps and hills were pretty low, so I settled for taking a guess. 🙂

A couple years ago, I found a great website which let me plan and and calculate my running routes online. Check out: www.gmap-pedometer.com, a nice, easy to use program that lets you plot a series of points. It is built on top of Google Maps, so the interface might be familiar. You can use the Satellite and Hybrid views to zoom in to street level, and for most major cities, the resolution gets high enough that you can even follow your favourite trails through the woods! I also try to make a mental note of where the kilometre markers are located (or mile markers, if you prefer), and use these to help work out my pacing on the run.

This little tool (www.gmap-pedometer.com) has been a great benefit to me over the last couple years, so if you’re looking to calculate how far you are running, check it out!!

2008 Triathlon Training Begins

After a relatively inactive year in 2007, I am looking forward to getting into a few more races in the summer of 2008. I have already decided to try the half-Ironman again, and will be returning to Peterborough on Sunday July 6th. I had been thinking of signing up for the new Ironman 70.3 race in Muskoka in September, but the quick sell-out of that race helped me make up my mind.

Looking back on my first attempt at the half-Ironman in 2006, I am sure that I made two crucial mistakes in my preparation and race day:

  1. Not Enough Training
  2. Poor Race Day Hydration / Nutrition

Heading into the race in 2006, I was definitely under-trained. I had only done one 90km-plus bike ride (ever), had run a half-marathon that spring but nothing more than 15km for a couple months, and had only swam 2km once. I definitely hadn’t tried putting them together, or even doing long brick workouts.

This year, in an effort to make sure I am better prepared come race day, I am following a program from Triathlete Magazine’s Week by Week Training Guide. This book has training programs for all distances of triathlons, with a number of levels to choose from based on your experience and available time for training. I choose a mid-level half-Ironman training program, which has me training about 10-12 hours a week. I’m six weeks into it, and I’ve already noticed that it’s a lot more volume than I used to do. After a letting myself get relatively out of shape, I feel like I’m slowly getting there, though still have a long way to go to be able to handle the half-Ironman again.

As for nutrition, the biggest mistake I made was not replacing electrolytes during the race. This year, I’ll experiement a little more with my nutrition during the long training rides and runs, and make sure to take salt tablets or a sports drink with electrolyte replacement during the bike ride. I’m hoping that with better training and better nutrition I’ll see a better performance and maybe knock a few minutes off my previous time!

Cycling Cadence – What’s That?

Apparently, it’s not all about speed on the bike. Well, to be more specific – us triathletes need to concerned not only with our actual speed, but we also need to watch how fast we’re pedalling.

In my relatively short triathlon career, I have really had no idea of how to cycle fast. To be honest, I still don’t, but I am going to learn. My strategy for the last half of last year was “Put it in the hardest gear I can push and keep it there for as long as I can.” While this philosophy resulted in a couple relatively decent bike splits near the end of the last year, I don’t think this translated over into fast run splits.

A couple weeks ago, I was in the bike shop checking out some new gear with my girlfriend, and picked up a Cateye Astrale 8 speedometer, complete with a cadence meter. I finally got it setup on my bike and got out for my first ride this afternoon.

Right away, I noticed how the machine gave me immediate feedback when I started slacking off. Within a couple seconds of slowing my cadence, the reading immediately dropped off. There will be no more taking it easy on the bike!!

I wasn’t sure what a “recommended” cadence was for triathlons, so I settled on a target of 80 rpm for today. It was amazing to see the difference that cadence and gear selection make on speed. For example, keeping the gear constant but upping the cadence from 70 to 80 rpm would result in a 3-4 km/h speed increase. Shifting to a harder gear and keeping the cadence constant would also give me 3-4 km/h speed increase.

With only one ride, I can see how having a cadence meter is going to be a huge help in improving my cycling. With my Timex heart rate monitor, I can now continuously monitor my speed, cadence, and heart rate. I’m pretty sure that over time, I’ll be able to find the optimal cadence and heart rate to produce good speeds on the bike, and still leave me with gas for the run.

Speaking of which, I looked up some articles on cycling cadence for triathletes, and apparently higher is better. According to the articles below, the optimal running speed is approximately 90 strides / minute. Matching this on the bike eases the transition from bike to run. As someone who used to like to mash the big, heavy gears, this will be a change for me, but hopefully one that lets me knock a few seconds off both my bike and run times!

PS: Here are links to two good articles about cycling cadence for triathlons:

  1. Cycling Cadence – Trifuel
  2. Lance Watson – Tips for a Faster Bike Split