Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Swim Drills and Accomplished Goals

Somehow amidst a 32hr training week last week, I only swam about 5k. Well, the remedy for that is 5x swims this week starting with today. You know, maintaining motivation for three sports is tough, so with the lighter week of swimming last week, I am all re-jazzed for some serious swimming now. Plus, with help from Trevor Glavin (Training Bible Coaching's newest coach), I identified some big areas for improvement in my swim stroke with my "catch" and "finish". I feel a plateau break through on the horizon once I improve on these things.

With the end in mind, check out the stroke of this world champ:

Here are a couple of drills that help with both, compliments of Crucible Fitness and Endurance Nation:

PROBLEM: Dropping Elbow on Catch

DRILL: Fist Drill

Swim regular freestyle with a closed fist for a half length, then open your hand and feel the increase in power.

Use normal to fast arm speed and do not use fins. Concentrate on pulling with the forearms.

PROBLEM: Short Finish

DRILL: Flicker Drill

Aggressively accelerate the hand at the end of the stroke, brushing your thumb against your thigh. Hand exits explosively and "flicks" water behind you. Do half lap of Flicker, half lap swim.

Keep the acceleration and thumb-to-thigh, lose the flicker.

Finishing your stroke, every stroke is critical. When swimming, always brush your thumb against you thigh. This is adds 3-4 inches to every pull, but requires more tricep endurance.


I had mentioned numerous "mental toughness" achievements that I experienced during the Desert Classic Duathlon. While these are super important, at the end of the day, the finish clock is what counts. With the results from the race officially posted, I was able to definitively say that I not only improved in all areas year-over-year, but more importantly exceeded my targets, or goal times that I set out at the beginning of the year for each leg of the event, except on Run #2. Having only done three transition runs all season, all of which were last week, I am cool with not having crushed the run off the bike. It is extremely satisfying and motivating to achieve goals. If you have questions about setting goals, check this a simple explanation of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Icing on the Cake: Desert Classic Duathlon

I officially completed my training camp week by racing the Trisports.com Desert Classic Duathlon. I finished top-3 in my age group, 25-29, top-10 overall amateur and knocked off a number of pros. The placings aside, my biggest victory of the day was in the "mental toughness" category, a category that I believe I have the most to improve in. Well, I also got some 3rd place schwag in the form a this very nice Phoenix Triathlon Club cow bell and a bottle of Windhawk anti-inflammatory pills:

The morning greeted racers with a fresh, overcast 50 degree morning and welcomed everyone with this beautiful Arizona sunrise that overlooked Four Peaks:

The first 3.5 miles on a nice smooth desert trail and was fast and furious. My goal was to stick on the feet of the fastest guy out there. I did this well and was in the 3-person lead group (2 in my age group and 1 in the 30-34 age group). After about 1.5 miles one guy from Tribe Multisport came cruising around all of us. Fast. This disruption broke up the group and I fell into fourth with about a 5 second gap behind 3rd place. I made a conscious decision to not pursue and to hold steady. By transition I had made up the ground on 3rd place. I must have had a slow transition as I never saw 1st or 2nd place guys in my age group the rest of the race. I passed the 30-34 age grouper later on the bike. In the past, I would have typically backed off earlier and would have started to obsess about the pending bike prematurely. Not this time. Mental toughness victory #1. Here is me at the start in the second row with the blue and orange top. One of my good Xterra buds, Tom Obrien is 2nd from the left in a red Phoenix Tri Club top (this was his first race on a road bike).

Once on the 21 mile out-and-back bike course, I tried settling in with a big enough gear to go fast, but a comfortable enough gear to warm up my heavy legs (24hrs of riding & 6hrs of running the week leading up to the race). Right out of the gate a 2.5 mile climb awaited. Nothing steep, but enough to know right away that my upper limit was going to be, just guessing, 20-40 watts off of my standard. A 3 mile descent followed where I realized that my 2hrs in the saddle on my Cannondale TT bike was not enough to get comfortable. The rest of the course had a mix of wind and numerous rollers that had me out of the saddle jamming away. I stayed positive and focused on moving the bike forward as fast as I could with the juice I had, no lapses. Mental toughness victory #2. Here is my Cannondale TT bike, compliments of Focus Cyclery:

The final 2.7 mile trail run was pretty straight forward. I worked through the run/bike transition stiffness by picking up my cadence on the twisty desert trails. 3/4th of the way through this leg another 25-29 age grouper passed me. I didn't panic or lack confidence to stay on his heels. So the pace picked up a tick. Mental toughness victory #3. Another 35yr old joined us and as we approached the one and only short climb. We all took a 2 second wrong turn and then headed up the climb. The 35yr old was the fastest of our group and I stayed with him down the back side of the hill and put some distance on the other 25-29 age grouper (thanks Xterra running!). I stayed on his heels and finished off the race strong. Mental toughness victory #4. All in all, my run was pretty good and my bike was fair, but good enough all things considered. A podium is a podium:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Anatomy of a Big Week

Over the past seven days, I've been doing nothing but training. Not a bad life. Here is the Anatomy of a Big Week.

1st: Take off work. I am an 8am-5pm employee of a large home builder (not a good industry right now, I know), so the first thing I did was to take off from work the entire week. This meant turning off the phone, setting the 'out of office' message on the email etc. I needed plenty of time to train, recover and focus.

2nd: Round up training buddies. Fortunately Trevor Glavin was able to join me for the majority of the week and Tom Obrien and James Walsh hooked up with us for a number of workouts. The motivation of this crew was a critical piece of meeting the week's demands.

3rd: Find a great home base. It's February and cold in most places, but not here in Arizona. With plenty of sunshine, mountain biking, road biking, trail running and lakes to swim in, AZ is the ideal spot for an early season triathlon training camp.

4th: Train. The week started off with 24hrs of Old Pueblo where we started out blazing, but fell victim to a tough crash that left one our teammates needing stitches. Fortunately, our team mate was OK and we were better off in the long run as we were super under-prepared for the cold, snowy conditions...yes....snow in Tucson, AZ. After pulling the plug on the race, thawing out our bodies and washing up our wet, muddy gear, we headed out for a long road ride through Cave Creek, AZ and down to Bartlett Lake. We wrapped up the 5hr ride with a 1hr transition run through McDowell Mountains the last 25mins of which was pretty close to race pace and left me way tired, but excited that I could push myself that hard after a long day. Only by getting lots of food and rest, the big week will officially and successfully end for me tomorrow with the Desert Classic Duathlon.

5th: Savor and Carry the Momentum. I am satisfied with the 32+hrs of training (17+hrs of road biking, 6+hrs of mountain biking, 6+hrs of trail running and 2hrs of swimming). Now, my plan is to recover appropriately and carry this fitness and mental "high" through the upcoming weeks of training.

Friday, February 22, 2008

First Things First: 2008 Xterra Season

I am pumped about the upcoming 2008 Xterra triathlon season for three reasons:

1. This will be my 3rd and final season racing in the 25-29 age group and I've learned a ton, all of which will be executed at races this season.

2. My coach, Brian Grasky of Grasky Endurance has my training dialed-in even if it is only February.

3. I will be doing all five of the Xterra US Points Series races with a crew of great guys including Trevor Glavin, James Walsh and Tom Obrien.

As a testament to my pumped-ness, I will keep this running document of my training, racing and other tri-related things.