Monday, February 5, 2018

Weekly Advice

  • It's highly likely that I say this a lot, but as an endurance athlete patience is absolutely critical.
    • If your "A" race isn't until the fall and right now you're worried about an upcoming event that is - likely - a single sport event, your concern is misplaced. Focus on the big things, not all the little things.
      • But focus on the little things too. They're just back burner things. Like keeping the beans warm. They're not mission critical, but they're a nice accent and good source of protein.
    • Success isn't overnight
      • Sometimes for every one step forward I take in the pool, I feel as though there are a corresponding 1.5 steps backward. This can even vary day to day. It can even vary within a single workout!
      • But, if you are patient (and your stroke doesn't suck or get worse), the speed will come
  • Also, as a human patience is critical.
    • If I need to bullet this out for you, there are other issues at play.

Those are some of the things that just need to be reiterated week after week. For the real "advice" column this week, we're going to talk about triathlon cycling and fitting.

  • If you get fitted to your tri bike, you should approach it with these things in mind:
    • What do I want?
      • From this fit. From triathlon in general. From your fitter. Do you want to take advantage of every piece of aero fruit your fitter says he or she can pick? (well, your fitter is likely exaggerating as they're probably not fitting you in a wind tunnel so they - like many others - are just guessing) Do you have a hip impingement but still want to get low? Do you just wanna make it through the bike and have your under parts remain in one piece?
    • What am I doing?
      • What's my schedule this year? What are my short and long term goals? 
    • What have I done?
      • Race wise, injury wise, fitness wise, etc etc etc
    • Is my fitter full of crap?
      • Tough to say, ask around. 
    • Am I full of crap?
      • Tough to say, ask around.
    • What's an efficient use of my time and money?
      • You wanna be efficient on the bike, AND with your money. If your fit costs hundreds of dollars and your fitter tells you that you NEED to spend another many hundreds of dollars (or more) on the piece of equipment that will TRULY get you as fast as possible, you should probably leave. Now, with that being said, if that purchase will allow you to hit the goals I mentioned above, then by all means, spend that cheddah. But spending all that money for a "maybe" is a tough sell. You can be aero, and you can almost always be MORE aero, but that "MORE" will cost you quite a bit, usually. Whether it be money, sustainability, discomfort, etc. it will take its toll somehow.
For your review: here's some blogs I've written previously about fitting (there have been a lot over the years).

And a video!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Weekly Advice (a day late)

managing various kinds of stress is difficult
  • if you're an athlete that works (most athletes) you've got:
    • stress about your fitness
    • stress about completing workouts as scheduled
    • stress about the quality of each workout
    • stress about work
    • stress about girls/guys/kids
    • untold other stressors
  • to that end, how do you minimize?
    • it's taken me quite a while to realize this, but...when I die I doubt I'll look back on that Saturday ride where I only managed 4 x 15' @ 280w when I was supposed to average 290w and say: "Well shit, that was pathetic."
    • setting priorities is important
      • your kids
      • your family
      • your house
      • your job (this could probably be interchanged a bit depending on how much the previous 3 rely on this one)
      • your social life
      • your happiness
      • your hobbies (i.e. triathlon) - this one should probably come last, let's be honest
    • be realistic
      • this is tough. i know self awareness is not always a glaring strength of many people, but really sit back and take stock of you and yours.
        • "is my training schedule realistic?"
        • "how is my work:life balance?"
        • "am i making generally good decisions?"
        • "what should my next lotto numbers pick be?"
      • you know, stuff like that
    • de-stress
      • take a little ''me'' time
        • spa day?
        • shoot off some gunz?
        • go karts?
        • driving range?
        • medicate
          • just kidding, except not really.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Weekly Advice

My number one top tip for you this week is:

Don't do stuff you're not used to. Remember last week (or the week before) when I said to challenge yourself and try new things? Yea, that was bullshit. That guy was an idiot. You should take everything he says with a massive piece of rock salt. Because this weekend that guy tried "a new thing."

When that "new thing" is an adventure run (could also be called a partial hike) that is 21 miles, gains 5000+ ft of elevation, and lasts 4.5hrs, well, that is something that you should TOTALLY DO. Even if your previous long run is only just under 2hrs. Strap up your camelbak, load some clif bars, and put on your dancing (/trail run) shoes and get after it.

I am writing this as I sit here the morning after, broken and on the couch. My feet hurt. My shoulders ache from the camelbak straps, my shins and arms are sliced to bits from all the plants - whose main goal it seems is to extract all of your bodily fluids - that we had to bushwhack through as we were lost near the summit of our trail. My body hates me. But it was awesome.

So, you know what? Follow that guy's advice. Do some crazy stuff. Just maybe don't go quite as crazy as he did. Crazy within boundaries, how about that?

Don't run into the Yucca, FYI

Hey Tucson

Snow at 7000 ft

Back down through the Canyon

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weekly Advice

It's early (ok, "mid") January, therefore it is important to:

  • Not care too hard about any performance whatsoever
    • For example, I just ran a 38+ minute 10k after a week of being sick. Was it lame? Yes. Does it matter? Nope.
    • Did your FTP test go poorly? Well, it's January. If your FTP test went really well I'd have much suspicion regarding how you spent your "off season." 
  • Do fun stuff
    • See previous post, and continue to reference this step throughout the year but with special focus on "winter" months.
  • Establish trends
    • Running 6 days a week? Check. Good trend to start.
    • Eating vegetarian? Meh, but give it a whirl.
    • Eating less dessert? That's a good, if not fun, trend.
    • Saving more money? This is triathlon, you don't get to save any of your money.
  • Do stuff that you won't have time for later
    • Doctor's appointments
    • House work
    • Cleaning your house
    • Making food at home
    • Saving money
  • Stay warm
    • Live in the Southwest
That does it for the weekly advice column. Follow these guidelines and you will be SET.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weekly Advice

Since I am finally not feeling sick (don't tell that to the 30 minute run I did this morning though, blech) I am allowed to feel mildly inspired, so bear with me.

I have some over-arching thoughts on what the winter means for triathletes and some of the realizations that you should come to sooner rather than later if you're interested in long term success (note that "success" can be defined however you want it. A simple notion but one that is oft-forgot).

  • Don't get too caught up in what you eat or drink or do between Thanksgiving and the start of the New Year. If you don't vent a little, you'll explode. Just go watch the episodes of Mythbusters where they blow up hot water heaters to see how that looks. 
    • Just remember: everything in moderation
      • But it's ok to be excessive 
        • on occasion
  • Find some friends
    • This cannot be overstated. Humans need interaction. Most do anyway. Even if it's virtual. But in reality (haha, get it) we all need some face to face. Training is best done with buddies. You'll be far happier in the long term and you'll push yourself harder, generally.
      • That last bit can be a double edged sword. Be smart, don't get into too many d***-measuring contests. 
        • That isn't just a guy thing, either.
    • Get into some group stuff
      • And I don't mean the 3 way at the house down the street, I mean the swim group that some of your friends talked about last month, or the ''Vegetarian Potluck Friend Dinners" that sounds like a lot of work but actually isn't. Go bowling. Play TopGolf. Take dancing lessons.
  • Generally, don't be a dick.
    • This one seems easy and straightforward, but we all forget here and there. I generally forget when I'm online somewhere like Slowtwitch. Or I get an itchy clicker finger while reading some politically-infused social media post. But usually if I just write that email, or write that post, and then refrain from publishing and erase it, I feel way better AND I wasn't a dick! 
    • This one's tougher in winter because we're all generally in closer proximity with each other (especially you people in a place with a real winter; it's 75 here today FYI) and we tend to wear on each other a little more when we haven't seen sunlight in a while or our toes have been little blocks of ice cubes for the work week. 
    • Wave to people on your f***ing bike ride is a good start.
  • Experiment
    • Do different stuff. The "routine" and "consistency" are great when it comes to life and training, but we can really only burn so many "consistency" matches throughout the year. Take some time to store up some of those matches by doing something that is NOT routine, and is NOT about consistency. 
That's enough for this post. What are some fun things you tried this fall/winter??

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Remember, as a kid...

I used to WANT to be sick so I could stay home from school that day. I had strategies for this. My mom would bring the thermometer into the bedroom when I woke up saying I felt "bad" and when she left to go do something else I'd take the thermometer and stick it up close to the lamp's lightbulb by my bed. This was both genius but also a backfire, occasionally. My mom tended to not believe me when she came back and the thermometer said "180*" or something like that... But, if I could get the distance to bulb juuuust right, the temperature would be something believable. Voila!

Of course, when you're actually sick, you can't imagine EVER wanting to be sick. It basically feels as though you'll never be healthy again. You basically feel as though you will always be ''damaged goods.'' People have to take care of you, which you want but also don't want. Your normal routine gets put completely on hold. If you're an athlete, you kick yourself for missing scheduled or unscheduled workouts.

I am writing this (I'm sure you've inferred as much at this point) because I am currently sick with a fever. I've done a fair amount of reading as I've been waylaid in a far corner of the house so as not to get Christine sick. I finished the latest Jack Reacher novel and read Artemis today, the new book by Andy Weir (The Martian). Quick book review:

Reacher is still a fun character to follow. But each story (there's almost 20 at this point) grows a bit more predictable (in terms of story arc, not specifics). It's inevitable, I suppose. I can barely post a new blog once a quarter and this guy is putting out a NYT bestseller about once a year. Goals...

Artemis is an entertaining story, but there are some mildly odd factors present in its storytelling. Weird reliance on sex/vulgarity (for reference, there was no sex during the book, but it was discussed a lot) when it really contributed nothing to the story. It's hard to top that sort of: "Dang, this book is reallyyy entertaining and Watney is just a character that feels really...real and I really like rooting for him" when you finish The Martian.

Anyway, don't ever wish for being sick kids. It is no fun.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Safest cities for cycling

A thread popped up on Slowtwitch this week that piqued my interest, because the "original poster" (OP) asked the question: "What city is the safest for cycling year round?" As you can imagine, every response has been different. Everyone that enjoys the cycling where they live (and those that hate it) has responded suggesting that, in fact, THEIR city is the safest. It's a fairly self-selected "poll," as the only people that will respond are the people that likely feel strongly about their answer. Plus, most people simply "lurk" on ST anyway and don't ever post, so the ''poll'' is extremely biased.

Anyway, it got me to thinking: what makes a city safe for cyclists?

Well, it really begins and ends with the city's civic planning system and infrastructure. Certain cities will likely never be "safe" for cyclists (all cyclists, whether they be recreational, commuters, messengers, hobbyists, just a bit of fitness, etc) because the city cannot change the existing patterns. Charlotte kind of feels like this. I cannot imagine Charlotte being a safe place to ride a bicycle outdoors. There is no room to change the dynamic. There are only so many ways "in "and "out" of places in the city that are just absolutely littered with cars. New Orleans is like this as well, but more so because the streets are so rough and relatively narrow and the city itself is so "hemmed in" by the surrounding landscape (a big ass river and a big ass lake) that the number of cycling routes to even get outside the city is basically...1.

Anyway, I could make a strong case for Tucson being one of the most bicycle friendly towns in the US (that I have been to and ridden my bike in <--- a="" drastically="" for="" great="" i="" nbsp="" reduces="" s="" sample="" size="" starters="" the="" there="" this="">government website
 (hmm, oxymoron anybody?) dedicated to the "Bicycle and Pedestrian Program." I'm actually just kind of diving into this website now but man, it is extensive. You can even get a list of current projects and see what is going on as it happens and in what stage of development are individual projects. But the over-arching goal seems to be connectivity and ease of use.

Cool bridges everywhere. You can look down on cars, literally AND figuratively

Signage is solid, but having google maps handy is equally solid

If I want to, I can ride basically anywhere in Tucson and follow protected bike routes. The protection can vary from "The Loop" (fully pedestrian/bike pathways) to "Bike Boulevards" ("residential streets designed to prioritize bicycle and enhance conditions for walking") to simple bike lanes on regular streets. The key point is that I can feel safe riding all 3 of those types of routes. There are definitely sections with more vehicular traffic than others, but I can design a route to minimize those parts and favor the safer parts.

Safety first

See? Cool bridges everywhere
Not only ALL THAT, but the routes for cyclists and triathletes outside of the confines of the city proper are, for the most part, very good. Lots of choices in all directions.

At the end of the day, we - as cyclists - can only control so many variables. I can have bright clothing, bright lights (day or night), a cognizance of the rules, etc, but it really all depends on the drivers and other cyclists. Unless we are truly protected via infrastructure and's an inherently risky activity! So, ride on! (safely)