Saturday, January 16, 2016

Minor setbacks, possible blessings in disguise?

Well, I went strong until January, 2016 with my training. Unfortunately, on Thursday I hit a minor setback. A strained peroneus muscle on my left lower leg. Ugh! However, all things considered, I am surprised I went this long without an injury. I was pretty good about managing my stress until about December. Then exams hit, my diet started to include more and more chocolate and muffins and my sleep quality deteriorated. The stress also started to accumulate and I didn't take any training breaks. When I finished my run on Thursday, I knew that everything had caught up to me. I had thought I might be able to get away with training hard while enduring an increase amount of time spent at work, in school, dealing with an ongoing cold and running around doing other things. Alas, I am not invincible!

So, the plan now is to spend some time away from hard training while I let my body heal. I hope to be back up and running this time next week! I will look at this as a blessing in disguise, an injury that reminded me that sometimes I do need to slow down.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A year in review!

As many of you readers already know, 2015 was my get back on my feet year! I would say that I was at my peak triathlon fitness in the spring/summer of 2013. This period of time was highlighted by a 4th place finish at Ironman 70.3 Florida and 4th at Ironman Steelhead and my best ever bike performances where I was able to hold 3.8W/kg for 90km. Unfortunately, personal circumstances and injury effected the end of my 2013 season and all of 2014. So, for 2015...I had just a few main goals to get me back on my feet:

1. Get knee surgery (February) and then run consistently without having to take any breaks for the rest of the year.

2. Compete in 3 sprint triathlons during 2015 (pain free) and hold a relative power of 4W/kg during the bike portion.

3. Go back to school (and survive the first two terms) in order to become an RMT!

Well, I succeeded in #1. It hasn't been without a lot of patience that I have been able to achieve this goal. But, with the help of Adam, I was able to get back to running consistently without overdoing it. I did not miss any of my scheduled runs.

I also semi-succeeded in #2. I competed in 5 triathlons, winning all of them! But I didn't reach my goal bike power. This was partly due to my school commitment being more than expected and also because I didn't think I would be able to run as much as I did. So, less time I could spend biking meant lowering these expectations.

Well, I barely survived going back to school, but I did make it. One more term to go!

Next year, I have somewhat higher expectations. My 2016 goals:

1. Complete Ironman
2. Run a sub-1:25 half marathon
3. Hold 3.8W/kg over 90km in a half-ironman again
4. Win a long distance triathlon

---

If you are interested, and since I like quantitative descriptions over qualitative descriptions...here is a breakdown of my training in the past 365 days:







Which can be compared to 2014 (when I was injured):







Monday, December 28, 2015

Why Ride at an Indoor Cycling Studio? Post #5: Variety.

Previous reasons/posts:

1. The owners of the cycling studios care about you! Click here.

2. You will be an inspiration for someone. Click here.

3. You don't have to make decisions about your training, the experts do it for you. Click here

4. Community. Click here

And, today's reason: Variety.

If you ride then the chances are that you are doing the same or similar workouts every time you get on the bike. If you go out with a group, you are hammering it for almost the entire ride. If you ride on a trainer you might ride a course the same way, which you can then compare on Strava. The variety in your workout is probably only coming from the duration of the workout: a short, medium or long ride. Or maybe the variety comes from classifying your workout as either easy or hard. Doing the same type of workouts over and over can be quite boring over time and doesn't tend to lead to huge fitness gains.

At most cycling studios, the workouts are periodized. This means that they are broken up into different phases of training throughout the year. So, for example, you may do a phase of strength based cycling training, a phase of VO2 max training and a phase of threshold training. And within each workout there is variety built into the warm-up, main set and cool down. Not only does this help keep the riding interesting and fun, it also helps you improve. So go check out your neighbourhood cycling facility to add a little flavour to your riding!

Cycling studios around Toronto:

West Toronto:
WattsUp Cycling
PowerWatts

East Toronto/North of Bloor:
Gears
Mindset Cycling

East Toronto/South of Bloor:
The Cycling Gym
X3 Training

Feel free to email me if I missed any!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Why Ride at an Indoor Cycling Studio? Post #4: Community.

First, some of the top indoor training facilities in Toronto:

West Toronto:
WattsUp Cycling
PowerWatts

East Toronto/North of Bloor:
Gears
Mindset Cycling

East Toronto/South of Bloor:
The Cycling Gym
X3 Training

Feel free to email me if I missed any!

Now, why ride at an indoor cycling studio?

4. Community.



Many endurance athletes are unique individuals. They don't conform to what's considered "the norm" in our society. Either they wake up early to train or opt to train after work. Their friends or colleagues might not even be able to fathom the idea of doing so. There aren't many people our there whose has a goal to ride 200km in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, complete Centurion or an Ironman. Undoubtedly, an individual with such goals will be the minority.

So, where can the endurance athlete go to be surrounded by like-minded individuals? A cycling studio! It is the perfect place to form friendships with other cyclists and/or endurance athletes. Compared to riding in your basement alone, having friends to ride with makes the experience more enjoyable and more motivating. It also opens up opportunities for cyclists to find outdoor riding mates. In addition to that, you can learn things from your fellow rider mates in class. The beginner can learn from the advanced athlete, the advanced athlete can ride and chat with the beginner athlete.

It doesn't matter if you don't know anyone at the facility or not. Cyclists, especially with endorphins from training running through their system, are an inclusive bunch. You will be very welcome. I remember being new at WattsUp and, in the first class, I had chatted more about cycling and triathlon than I had ever at work. It was wonderful to be with others who also enjoyed the sport. It felt so good to belong.

Most first classes at these studios are complimentary (at least it's so at WattsUp and Mindset), so even if you don't know anyone riding there, go try a class! (and then spread the word)

Previous reasons/posts:

1. The owners of the cycling studios care about you! Click here.

2. You will be an inspiration for someone. Click here.

3. You don't have to make decisions about your training, the experts do it for you. Click here

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why ride at an indoor cycling studio? Post #3

This is my third post to share with you the benefits of riding at a cycling studio!

I understand why you may wonder about why you would ride at a cycling studio. I get where this thinking comes from. Firstly, inside is not nearly as much fun at riding outside. Secondly, why pay the money when you can ride your trainer at home? With software like Zwift and TrainerRoad at your disposal for a minimal fee, isn't that enough? Thirdly, you can even be competitive with other athletes in your own home on your trainer by using Strava. So, what is the point of going to ride at a cycling studio? Well, here is reason #3:

You don't have to make decisions for yourself.

The average person makes a million decisions a day, whether it’s at work, at home, at the grocery store or elsewhere. When it comes time to make a decision about what training to do, it's hard to make the right choice. Which course to ride, whether to do strength, VO2max, threshold, max power intervals or simply whether to take the ride easy or hard. Going too hard can lead to burnout and going too easy can lead to de-training. At all cycling studios alike, Gears, Mindset Cycling, WattsUp Cycling, The Cycling Gym, Powerwatts and X3, there is a proper training program in place. The coaches at each of these facilities have carefully planned the workouts so that you are getting the right balance of rest and hard work. So you don't have to think, you can just follow along. And you will get fitter.

Previous reasons/posts:

1. The owners of the cycling studios care about you! Click here.

2. You will be an inspiration for someone. Click here.

Friday, December 11, 2015

What's so great about a cycling studio, anyway? Post 2

You may wonder what's so great about going to ride at a cycling studio. I get where this thinking comes from. Firstly, inside is not nearly as much fun at riding outside. Secondly, why pay the money when you can ride your trainer at home? With software like Zwift and TrainerRoad at your disposal for a minimal fee, isn't that enough? Thirdly, you can even be competitive with other athletes in your own home on your trainer by using Strava. So, what is the point of going to ride at a cycling studio? Well, I will have several blog posts to tell you:

2. You will be an inspiration for someone.



You may not realize it, but there will be someone in your cycling class who looks up to you. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner, advanced or if you considered yourself just an average athlete. At WattsUp (and likely all cycling studios), everyone who has walked through the doors has had something about themselves that I have found inspiring. I recall an athlete who rode an inexpensive bike and wore a cotton shirt to cycle in. She showed up twice a week and worked very very hard. It didn’t matter what her power numbers were. She was an inspiration. I remember seeing an athlete push almost 370W in a 20 minute time trial, when his previous best was closer to 320W. He was an inspiration. Then there was the athlete that started off timid and shy about her cycling and became confident and proud. She was an inspiration.

The point is, outside you can’t inspire other cyclists who aren’t of your same ability (at least not to the same extent). You can't inspire others if you are cycling alone in your basement. Sure, your numbers might show up online along side other people’s numbers. But no one can see the human personality behind those numbers. They see a 140W FTP or a 300W FTP and that’s it. They don’t see the sweat and tears that may have gone into those numbers, which may have been equal for both. In the cycling studio, you aren’t just a number. Your personality matters too. And it’s that combination that people will see. You will matter more in a cycling studio.

And what happens when you inspire someone? You motivate them to continue cycling, they then motivate others, and the sport grows.

More:

1. The owners of the cycling studios care about you! Click here.

What's so great about a cycling studio, anyway? Post 1

You may wonder what's so great about going to ride at a cycling studio. I get where this thinking comes from. Firstly, inside is not nearly as much fun at riding outside. Secondly, why pay the money when you can ride your trainer at home? With software like Zwift and TrainerRoad at your disposal for a minimal fee, isn't that enough? Thirdly, you can even be competitive with other athletes in your own home on your trainer by using Strava. So, what is the point of going to ride at a cycling studio? Well, I will have several blog posts to tell you:

1. The owners of the cycling studios care about you!



There are several cycling studios in Toronto: Gears, Mindset Cycling, WattsUp Cycling, The Cycling Gym, Powerwatts (sorry if I've missed any). With these facilities all over Toronto, you must be close enough to one of them. The coaches that own or work at any of these facilities are truly passionate about cycling and triathlon. They are excited for you to succeed. They want you to do well. If it weren't for Pete Oyler and Adam Johnston, I would never have progressed from a beginner cyclist to a professional triathlete. The year I joined WattsUp, I could have either opted to stay home in my basement and follow a generic cycling program (what I had tried to do the year before), or spend an extra hour and some extra money going somewhere to train. I chose the latter and it truly made the difference. It's not just the cycling program, it's the people that are there to offer you feedback, to make an extra effort, to hold you accountable to your training, to motivate you to push yourself. For these cycling studio owners, you matter. And that alone will help your training.

Look for more posts to come!