Between Training and Jet Lag


As you might already know, I just returned from a week long trip to London with my family. Because of Daylight Savings Time, England is only four hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. That doesn’t sound like a lot and should make for an easy adjustment to the new time zone: all you have to do is try to sleep a little on the red eye flight, and then do your best to stay up until about eight o’clock the next day thereby giving you a full day awake so you can sleep the next night. Presto! You’ve adjusted to the time change.

Well, none of that happened. We had over two hours of really terrible turbulence that shook me awake whenever I tried to sleep, so I stayed awake on the plane for the entire flight until ten minutes before landing. Yes, the landing gear touching the ground woke me up with a snort. I stumbled around the train stations to our flat and promptly went to bed for three hours, starting at 8am. That was not my intent, but I simply couldn’t function without some sleep.

I did pack one pair of running clothes and wore my running shoes in the hopes that I would go for a run around Battersea Park, but that didn’t happen. For the entire week we were there, I couldn’t fall asleep before 2am and wanted to sleep until noon (although I begrudgingly woke up at 8am with my alarm).

So, if you are planning a race abroad or in a different time zone, plan to arrive to the location early, preferably a week prior to the event to allow your body time to adjust. I know I didn’t feel like getting up and going for a training run until the Friday we were leaving. And, if you can’t arrive that early, give yourself a break. Same goes for any training while traveling. If you are simply too tired, rest. A much needed break from your workouts may be in order. The same rules apply upon your return home: sleep and rest.

Tri it Forward


The 2018 Triathlon Race Season is almost here! If you have friends who are interested in the sport of triathlon, or if you are new to the sport yourself, click on the link at the bottom of this post and tri it forward!

And, if you’re like me, you like free stuff. Who doesn’t? To get two free weeks of triathlon training, message, email, or call me at 610-241-4164 to get started. You have to be brand new to the sport of triathlon or have competed in a few races at the sprint distance and want to improve.

Tri It Forward


Training with Heart Rate Zones


Training with heart rate zones may seem overwhelming at first, but once you understand your zones, you can properly train for any endurance sport. Get out your calculators or put on your thinking caps for the rest of this blog post. Let’s do some math!


First of all, find your resting heart rate. Without a heart rate monitor, you’ll need to take your HR (heart rate) before you get out of bed every morning for seven days. Take your heart rate for a full minute in the carotid artery. At the end of the week, find the average out of seven days. Mine is 59 bpm (beats per minute).
Secondly, to find your max heart rate without a VO2 max test, which you can do if you choose: run a hard workout such as 6×800 repeats on the track with 2 minutes rest in between while you wear a HR monitor. Look for the max HR after uploading your workout. Mine is 185 bpm and may spike higher, which is different than the standard 220-your age.
Third, calculate your HR reserve. Here’s the formula:
Max HR – Resting HR = HR Reserve
For example, mine is 185-59= 126 bpm for Heart Rate Reserve.
You can base your training on heart rate reserve or a percentage of your max HR.
                                                      Max HR %                         HR Reserve %
VO2 Max (Zone 5)                          93-95                                91-94
Lactate Threshold (Zone 4)         82-91                                77-88
Marathon Pace (Zone 3)               79-88                                73-84
Long Run (High Zone 2)               74-84                                65-78
General Aerobic (Zone 2)             70-81                                62-75

Recovery (Zone 1)                          <76                                    <70

To calculate HR Reserve:
(HR Reserve x percent from table) + Resting HR = HR Reserve for zone
Example from my numbers:
(126 x .77) + 59 = 156     156 bpm (for the lower range of zone 4)
You would do the calculations for the whole range, so here it is for the higher end of zone 4:
(126 x .88) + 59 = 179
So, my range for zone 4 HR Reserve training would be 156-179 bpm. I usually train by percent of max HR, so that is just taking a percent of your max for the ranges. Therefore, for my lactate threshold of zone 4, I would be in this range: 157-168 bpm. Please note that these calculations are for running.
For cycling, everything is about 8 bpm lower in all of the ranges. To set it up manually on Garmin from Garmin Connect–first login and then click on your device:
1. Go to your device
2. Device settings
3. User Settings
From here, you can add HR zones that are customized for you. You’ll have three choices: Percent of max HR, HR Reserve, or Percent of Lactate Threshold. Garmin calculates it automatically, or you can manually change it around based on your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). I originally had Garmin calculate the percent of HR Reserve, and then adjusted it manually a little higher because zone 2 felt too easy.
Here are a few things you should know when using heart rate to train: heart rate is useless if you are doing short sprints on the track or on the bike. It takes too long for your heart to recognize that it needs to work harder, which is why you see a spike in the recovery phase of really hard and short efforts. Go by rate of perceived exertion or by time for really, really short distances.
I also want to mention that for swimming, your heart rate zones will also be different, which is why I use rate of perceived exertion for swimming as well as timed intervals and train all of my athletes as long distance swimmers, but that’s another blog post. Not to mention that looking at your watch on the swim, if you can actually see it, messes up your swimming form, which doesn’t make this coach happy. If you wear a HR strap during the swim, analyze your heart rate later on and write down notes about how you felt on the swim for comparison.
Remember, your numbers will be unique to you and your training. With HR training, you will eventually become more efficient at each zone so that you’ll see your pace increase while your HR stays the same. It takes about six weeks to see progress, following the 80/20 rule where 80% of your workouts are in zone 2 and 20% are in zone 4. Train slower to race faster. It’s also true for ALL endurance sports. Happy training! And be sure to comment below with questions.
References and further reading: 
80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald
Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas (where all of the heart rate charts are from)
Be IronFit by Don and Melanie Fink
Daniel’s Running Formula by Jack Daniels (if you only get one book on running, this is it)
Joe Friel also has excellent books and online resources, so check him out too!

Circle Swimming Etiquette

IMG_4710In an ideal world, my swim workouts would be in a 50 meter heated outdoor pool that is empty. Rain kept most swimmers away when I snapped this picture on a chilly and rainy early spring day before I jumped in feet first and started my swim. Light rain distorted the otherwise smooth surface and stung my skin with cold. A few leftover leaves waved from the bottom when I turned.

Since this never happens, and I mean never, here are some swimming etiquette tips for swimming and splashing nicely with others. Most pools have a few lanes for lap swimming, but may close lanes for swimming lessons, water aerobics, swim team, or private lessons. So, when you find yourself standing there on the pool deck with cap and goggles in hand, here are a few basic things to remember:

  1. Circle swimming is counter-clockwise, so keep to the right of the black line up and down the lane.
  2. Passing: tap the swimmer’s feet in front of you to pass. Once at the wall, the swimmer you are passing should move to the far right of the lane, you’ll do a flip turn or open turn on the left, and then the swimmer you passed will push off and start swimming behind you. It’s not a good idea to pass up the middle of the lane when circle swimming with others unless you want to collide head on. Lifeguards don’t like that. And, I don’t want to have to pull anyone out of the pool for a concussion. Just pass at the wall, please.
  3. When swimming in a masters group, talk to the coach and find out what the swimmers are doing, what the sets are, and where they are in the set. Take turns leading and give a few seconds in between swimmers to prevent swimming at their feet the whole time. The lead swimmer should know the sets, times to leave, etc. If you switch leaders in a lane, the new leader should understand all of this. When arriving late or leaving early, talk to the coach and the other swimmers in your lane so everyone knows what’s going on.
  4. Wall know-how: if turning or finishing at the wall, move over to the far left to leave room for other swimmers to turn and push off. Lead swimmers start on the right and enter the swimming lane on the right of the line. All other swimmers will follow the lead swimmer and enter from the right of the lane.
  5. If possible, swim with swimmers who are close to your speed, leave enough distance between you and other swimmers, and make sure you talk to everyone to ensure smooth swimming.

With these simple rules, circle swimming works well. I’ve had up to six swimmers per lane for my swim sessions at the Haverford Y, and everyone was able to get their workout completed even though none of my swimmers swim at the same speed, and they all vary in ability. Swimmers should be welcome to swim without waiting too long to start a workout. Swim happy, people! And share a lane with circle swimming.

The Importance of Sleep


Photo from Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama

I clutched the steering wheel of the Crown Victoria on my way to graduate school classes at Kent State University, keeping my eyes wide open. Red light. My head bobbed and hit the steering wheel; my foot slipped off the brake pedal, and the car drifted forward. Tires squealed. I slammed on the brake just in time before hitting the car in front of me. Obviously, I was too tired to drive even if it meant being late to my eight AM class.

A gas station to my right looked like a good place to pull over and stop, so that’s just what I did. I called my mom to have her call me in 15 minutes after I took a short nap in my parked car; this was in the 90s before cell phones had alarms on them. I needed sleep.

Sleep is just as important to me today as it was when I attended graduate school. In fact, all the training and nutrition I can muster is nothing compared to a good night’s sleep. So, why is sleep so elusive for me? Some people thought I was narcoleptic, falling asleep at the wheel of the car, in class during a lecture, on an airplane at take-off, in waiting rooms, on the train. You name the place, and I could fall asleep within 10 minutes of sitting down. No. I am not narcoleptic, but I do have mild sleep apnea that has been untreated for years.

Last year, I finally did an at-home sleep study to confirm what Phil had been hearing all night long–the snoring, the pause, and then the gasp for air. To alleviate symptoms, I’m having a mouth guard made by my dentist that will keep my airway open. I can’t wait. And that’s not sarcasm. I want to know what it’s like to wake up refreshed instead of tired. To go through the day awake instead of in zombie mode. To train when my body has the rest it needs. Hello, sleep! I’ve missed you.

What I’m saying is that when you look at your training plan and your nutrition, take a look at the quality and amount of rest you are getting too. It might just change your life. And, maybe your race times will get faster too.

Strength Training for Triathletes

StrengthSince it’s still the off season for most triathletes, now is the best time to focus on strength training. Workouts are less intense on the swim, bike, and run, which means that you can really build some muscle in the gym that will propel you forward in the upcoming season.

Here’s a sample workout you can do in the off season. Just remember to choose weights heavy enough to make it difficult to complete the last repetition of each set. Rest for one full minute in between sets and reps. Rest is a key ingredient in strength training.

Strength Workout- 30-40 minutes

  1. Warm up for 10 minutes on the bike or treadmill before lifting.
  2. Do three sets of eight for the following exercises: deadlift OR squats, hamstring or leg curl, skater lunges. One minute rest in between sets and exercises.
  3. Superset–alternate exercises for the next exercises: push ups and seated row. Do 3 sets of 8-10, alternating. Rest for one minute. OR Shoulder press and upright row.
  4. Superset: single leg deadlift and bridges.
  5. For the last set of exercises, you can do 3 sets of 8-10: plank rows, V-ups, and Russian twists.
  6. If you still want to do more, add some box jumps, jump rope, wall balls with a jump, or mountain climbers.

After a strength session, my favorite sport is swimming since I’m already at the gym.

Introducing Ikaika

cerveloCongratulations to Amber for naming my new bike! She wins a week of training for free with the Training Peaks program and unlimited coach access for a sport of her choice. Steve also had a wonderful name suggestion of Tyche, or the Greek goddess of good luck.

My new time trial bike will be called, Ikaika (ee-kai-kuh), which is the Hawai’ian word for strong or warrior. I think the name suits her just fine, especially since the sport of triathlon began in Hawai’i, and Kona continues to host the Ironman World Championships there every year. Maybe with Ikaika, I’ll get a chance to race in Kona one day, but until then I’ll imagine I’m back in Hawai’i enjoying the scenery and surf. I need to come for a visit soon; I’ve been away from Hawai’i too long! Mahalo!

Rock and Roll VA Beach