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!

Toronto Half-Marathon Training

Between finishing school, starting my own business, and moving back to Toronto, this summer has been a write-off for triathlons. I am planning on coming back strong next year though, and now that I am settled in, am starting to get back into training mode.

I have signed up to run the Toronto Half-Marathon on October 14th, so I have about six weeks to get myself back into reasonable shape. Signing up for a race always gives me the motivation to get out there and train! I got out running about 4 nights last week, and am looking forward to ramping it up a little more this week!

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

On Friday afternoon last week, my friend Jill emailed myself and a few of my other active friends, asking if any of us wanted to race with her in the HSBC Triathlon Series Binbrook Triathlon on Sunday. I really haven’t been training much this summer, other than a few bike rides and a little running, and haven’t been in the pool since January. But I figured there was no better way than to kickstart my season by getting out there and getting killed in a real race!! I also managed to talk my girlfriend into racing with me, so the three of us were up at 5:30am on Sunday and off to the races!

The weather forecast called for a warm, sunny day, and with how badly I felt on my first brick workout this week, I was expecting a tough day. With my complete lack of swim training, I also had no idea how I’d fare on the swim. We arrived at the race site an hour early, but still had to register and get setup in the transition area. I ended up making it down to the water only a couple minutes before the race started, and only had time for few quick warmup strokes before the gun sounded and we were off!!

SWIM: 750m – 16:44 (2:14/100m)
6/13 M25-29, 40/185 Overall

For not having any swimming under my belt, the swim wasn’t too bad. I think the course was a little long, as the fastest swim pace for the day was 1:47/100m. So my pace wasn’t too bad (my goal is to consistently swim under 2:00/100m). I felt alright for the first 100m or so, but after a couple minutes, had to fight to catch my breath. I finally settled into a nice rhythm about halfway through, and focused on staying on the toes of people ahead of me. The swim wasn’t nearly as rough as a lot of the races I did last year (I didn’t get punched once), and overall, I was pleasantly surprised with my performance in the water.

BIKE: 27km – 49:29 (32.7km/hr)
3/13 M25-29, 26/185 Overall

I have been on the bike quite a bit lately, and was expecting to have a good ride. I had a decent transition (7th fastest on the day), but lost the time I gained there trying to get on my bike. I had my shoes clipped into my pedals, but as I tried to climb on, one of them caught on the ground and got pulled out of the clips. So, I had to stop, climb back off, grab my shoe, put it on, then get going again. Probably cost me a minute or so right there… not a good start to the bike!!

Out in flat, open fields, the ride was also pretty windy. There was a good headwind for the first 7-8km, and with very no speedometer, I wasn’t sure how fast (or slow) I was going. I finally hit the 10km marker and was disappointed to see that I was just under 20 minutes, barely over 30km/h. I knew I would have more wind with me on the way back though, and tried to pick it up a little for the second half.

Overall, the bike speeds also seemed pretty slow, so maybe the course was a little long. I passed quite a few people on way back in, and was very suprised when I came into the transition to see only 3 other bikes on the rack for my age group.

RUN: 6.5km – 31:34 (4:52/km)
5/13 M25-29, 34/185 Overall

I felt alright coming off the bike, but after half a kilometre, I knew I didn’t have the legs left for a really fast run. I just hoped I could hold on to a decent finishing spot. The terrain was tough, with a lot of trail and grassy running, which made things slow. It was also very open, and by the time I got onto the run course, the sun was up and the heat was on. I gritted my teeth and kept moving on the run, and surprisingly, only got passed by a few people on the run. I think the heat was getting to everyone out there.

Total: 1:39:48 – 4/13 M25-29, 24/185 Overall (Full Results)

All in all, not a bad start to the year. I was happy with my swim, felt alright on the bike, and was a little disappointed with the run. This was my first race ever with the HSBC MultiSport series. It was fairly well run, though I really missed the mile markers on the bike and run course. TriSport marks out every 5km on the bike and every kilometre on the run. In yesterday’s race, I really missed the markers on the run, as I had no idea what sort of pace I was going.

I had a great day and it felt awesome to get out there and do it. The girls also had a lot of fun and we all finished strong!! Can’t wait until the next one!!

A couple weeks ago, I was down in Rochester, NY, for the Golden Horseshoe Business Challenge as part of the MBET program (see my report here). At the event, I met an interesting gentleman by the name of Ron Gordon. Ron was very interested in HealthSpoke, my startup company, as he does personal training with executives. We got to chatting, and he told me about competing in some of the early Ironman races in Kona, Hawaii, back in the early 1980’s. He had some great stories about 200 mile training rides!!

Anyway, one of the things that Ron mentioned to me is that he is in the middle of doing 300 straight days of exercise, for at least half an hour per day. I’ve been slacking off lately on my training, and am feeling out of shape. I keep telling myself that I’m busy with school and trying to start a business, but now it’s time to kick my own ass!!

Inspired by Ron, I have started my own “100 Days of Exercise” challenge. The rules are simple – 30 minutes of exercise per day, for 100 days straight. I’ve allowed for the fact that a “workout” could involve 30 minutes of stretching and core work, to ensure that I am able to give my body a little bit of a once in a while. But for the most part, I expect to mix up swimming, biking and running most days, and throw in weights once or twice a week for good measure.

I am now 4 days into my challenge – here’s what I’ve done so far this week:

Day 1: Monday, June 11: Bike for 40km, approximately 70 minutes.

Day 2: Tuesday, June 12: Brick workout. First time for this in a LONG time. Bike 40km, run 5km. It was brutally hot, didn’t take any gels or bars with me, and died on the run. Total time – approximately 100 minutes.

Day 3: Wednesday, June 13: Had a long busy day, but still pushed myself to get out for a run. Did a quick 7km. Could feel the legs getting sore, but managed to finish in 29 minutes.

Day 4: Thursday, June 14: Gave the legs a break and got into the weights today. 45 minute upper body workout. Haven’t lifted weights in a while, so I quite enjoyed this one!!

Anyway, I will try to post periodically and see if I can keep this up! Only 96 days to go!! And if there’s anyone out there reading this who wants to join in, post your own challenge to yourself in the comments!! Let’s see if we can get some more people in on this!!

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything on my triathlon blog. The biggest reason is that I haven’t been doing much training lately. I think it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve even been out for a run. Between school and starting a company, time has been at a premium lately.

Looking at my summer schedule, I already know that I am going to be doing much less racing this summer. I have at least four weddings to attend between now and November, and between bachelor parties and school, a lot of weekends are already getting booked up. I was debating trying to get into Ironman Florida in November, but I think that’s going to be out of the question. Looks like it’ll have to happen in 2008.

My goal is to run a half Ironman in late August or early September, then another marathon in late October. So, I’m looking for a half-Ironman within a 6-8 hour drive of southern Ontario in late August. If anyone out there has any recommendations on a good race to do, let me know!

Hope everyone is doing well with the training! I’m looking forward to spring and getting back outside!!

Comment Policy

Due to my site being quite popular with comment spammers, I’ve got a new policy on comments. Everything has to be reviewed before its posted. Its a bit of a headache, but in the interest of keeping the site clean, I’m going to go that route for a while.

Also, if anyone knows any good spam blockers, please let me know.


I came across this site today, where you can vote on the best triathlon blogs of 2006. Looks interesting, I’ll have to check some of them out!

On Sunday, I was planning on signing up for Ironman Florida. I was down in Buffalo watching the Leafs play the Sabres on Saturday night with some friends, and arrived back home on Sunday afternoon. I went online to signup for next year’s race, and to my shock, the race had already sold out!! It took less than an hour!

Truth be told, I was debating whether or not I wanted to commit to an Ironman. With a heavy school load until next August, and not being sure of where I will end up in the fall, I am worried about how much time I will have to train next summer. At the same time, signing up for the race would be tremendous motivation for me to train hard all winter and get into great shape for next year!

There are 20 Ironman Florida qualifying spots up for grabs in Muskoka. My new plan is to train hard this winter and win one of those!!!

Lance Armstrong Runs the NYC Marathon

The NYC Marathon was held yesterday. There was a lot of publicity about Lance Armstrong running his first marathon. Check out his post race comments in this article in the Toronto Star (you may need to register to view it – it’s free though).

It made me feel a lot better about my own performance in Toronto a few weeks ago to see that Lance, a seven-time Tour de France champion, called the marathon “the hardest physical thing I have ever done.” He did manage to break 3 hours though – 2:59:36. Pretty impressive!