Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Track Running for Dummies

First off I'll offer up that I don't go to Master's swim practice because I have no idea what to do and I don't want to look like an idiot.

So, i write this trying to help others as well as release a bit of aggravation.  Running track at an early age (I think it was a form of babysitting for my Mom), admittedly, I am a track practice snob, but accept people don't have the same attitude towards it that I do.  Basically there was a coach watching nearly everything going on for every interval I did from age 6 - 18, created a serious sense of urgency and regimen that should be followed.  This is not for everyone I know, but there is a purpose for doing track workouts and that is to get faster so I've come up with a few guidelines (gripes) to help steer people to a better result for themselves, and others at the track.  It is such a powerful tool to get faster if taken seriously.

#1 Drills - Pay attention to the coach when they tell you how to perform them.  There are specific reasons for them to help with form in the long run.  Faster running starts with proper running, and it helps reduce injury too!

#2 Timing - Wear a watch.  If you pay a ton for a private coach, then fine, your coach is responsible for timing, but at a large group workout, with many people in your speed range, it is easy to think someone else will have one.  What happens though?  Nobody brings one or the person who always has one gets fed up with it.  Get a $20-30 Timex that lasts forever and be done with it.

#3 Workout Knowledge - This goes along with Timing in that each person should make an attempt to know the workout before showing up.  Don't rely on others in the group to remember it.

#4 Track etiquette - For the most part everyone gets the picture pretty quick, or others are quick to help them out, but you don't "jog" in lane 1 and if you do run there if you hear "TRACK!" that means, "please get out of my way" in the nicest form.  They don't mean to yell or sound angry, but their heart rates are probably up around 180 bpm and can hardly spare much more effort than that.

#5 Chatter - For warm-ups, stretching, drills, and rest sessions, talk all you want as long as you are getting what you need done.  For intervals, for the most part, if you are talking, then you aren't running fast enough and you should move up a group.  For longer intervals or training runs that don't take you up to VO2 someone might be able to get some good conversation in, that's why they call it conversational pace, but for track practice you should be pushing yourself to move that pace faster so you can feel what a pace past your comfort level is like.

#6 Group Mob - My club is fairly large and we bring a lot of people to the track for our practices.  Its not much of a problem for me, but I'm sure the other groups and individuals see it as a nuisance.  When doing intervals or drills, try to keep to 2 people widths.  All too often you see 3-5 people across when larger groups work out.  Its a bit of a problem for others to work out and avoid this mob, especially adding a HUGE chunk around a corner to pass.

#7 Clothes - This is advice purely for comfort.  "Cotton kills" was what my Dad always told us when working out in the cold.  This holds true for just feeling good in the SF weather.  When its 50 degrees out, you will still sweat, and cotton holds that moisture too well.  Your clothes stick to your body, and any warming capabilities are now lost.  Invest in some basic "Tech" t-shirts and proper running shorts or tights.  There is no reason to add negative aspects to going to track and uncomfortable clothes makes it miserable and adds to the chaffing dangers.

I guess the bright side is that I set out on this trying to come up with a top 10 list.  Maybe my perception is worse than reality and I have to lighten up.  Don't get me wrong though, I love seeing so many people out trying to add something positive to their lives and I always try to support that.  Having the fattest population in the world is not a race worth winning.  Good luck to everyone and I hope this was educational for a few.  Nobody wants to look stupid out on the track and it is a great, safe place to improve running, just stay out of lane 1;)
Just for a laugh - long time ago, me in the red.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Personal Life" Season Almost Over

Coming out of March marks the end of a crazy time of year for me and marks the beginning of some massive blocks of training.  The year planned is both amazing and daunting.  Three bachelor parties, two weddings, volunteer events, family reunions, work responsibilities and of course a schedule stock full of races that I somehow have to get ready for.

Fortunately both my friends and loved ones are very supportive of the goals for 2011 and I am doing my best to be present both physically and mentally.  With just Tri For the Cure - AZ, and my friends Bill and Anne's wedding left before Oceanside, I'll finally have some breathing room for the smashing my coach has planned for me to get ready for the final push for IM Texas.

Its crazy the things you do to try to get your workouts in and remove some of the training anxiety that comes with both inactivity and guilt for missing a session.  Sometimes it wasn't quite the best idea, such as my hangover run through the strip.

That hurt a bit.  Instant headache.
I am a bit amazed that the body can absorb most of this punishment, and with a little rest, keep up with the training demands.  There is a limit though, and I think I have approached it and pulled back enough to keep from getting ill.  My friends are slowly coming to realize the changes in my priorities and lifestyle, and there isn't enough I can do to thank them for that.  While my former self comes out to play sometimes, he is now content to save those nights for very special occasions.  

As for my next two months, it is going to be a test both physically and mentally.  Oceanside, Wildflower and the IM Texas to top it off.  No more shirking swim practice, Aquatic Park is my friend.  With the longer days, come longer training.  Here's to crushing it for the next two months!

Below are the guys responsible for my lack of training, ha!
Kenny had to have a Vegas bachelor party

Nothing like it.

Bill's was a little more mellow watching Spring Training in Scottsdale.
Salt River Stadium

Monday, March 7, 2011

Performance Tracking for 2011

You can see my goals for 2011 from my past posts, but I have been wrestling with a good way to track my progress in training to make sure what I'm doing is helping.  One of the hardest things is to keep a manageable record of what an athlete is doing, that can translate into tangible evidence of improvement.  One of the greatest things an athlete can have going into a race is a sense of confidence that what they did in training has helped them prepare for race day.  My buddy Dan came up with idea in general and I've workout on my own tracking to fit my training.

In finding my data points to monitor, I also didn't want to interfere with my normal training, so in setting my record points, I picked the ones that were most logical, and wouldn't require a major change in training schedules.

#1 - 1 hours cycling wattage:  This can be done in any of the 2-3 classes I take at M2 Revolution.  The total average of the class is taken into account, including warm-up, and rest periods in between intervals.  A 10 minute treadmill run is completed before jumping on the bike.  Noting the 5-Sec Max wattage as well to see if the squats I am doing are helping overall strength.  The goal is to see my watt/kg ratio improve, not necessarily total watts improve.

#2 - 20 Minute Treadmill run distance:  As a normal warmup to many cycling classes I run for 20 minutes.  5 minute warm-up and 15 minute increasing pace to 20 minutes.  Will track total distance.

#3 - 1 Mile Open Water Swim:  I have 2-3 swims a week and I try to swim in Aquatic Park as often as I can.  In cramming this workout in before spin on most occasions, there is limited time after work, so I push myself to get three buoy laps in (approx. 1 mile).

#4 - Weight: As with anything, speed should go up with reduced weight, but there is a floor to this improvement.  Last year I got sick when I hit 180 pounds, so I want to track this very closely to see if performance drops off as I get closer to it, and if that is my ideal race weight.  I've probably been having too much fun with my new toy doing this.

You can see a worksheet I made here to track all these metrics.

Training for events is a hectic thing to do.  Monitoring progress is a great way to keep yourself on track with training.  Hopefully creating my benchmarks in my normal training schedule will keep interruptions to a minimum, while allowing me the insight to change workouts accordingly along the way.