Friday, March 29, 2013

Weight Loss and Pace

About a month ago The Nurse decided she (we) was (were) going to use Myfitnesspal to keep track of calories. I was afraid to do it with her since I'm much bigger than her. I didn't want her to be discouraged since I get a lot more calories than she does. Nevertheless, I started tracking my calories and it's been going great so far. It's amazing how this changes your choices in food if you stick to it. You're also less likely to eat many tiny snacks. If you're not tracking calories, having a bite or two of something several times a day can quickly add up.

I've been planning on losing weight for the Ironman in September so it would be a little bit easier. I know I could finish at 250lbs or so but why make it such a challenge. Losing weight over the winter didn't happen. Some triathletes also seem to think they can eat whatever they want since they train so much. I'd say I half thought that. Most people who found out I weighed 250 never believed me. Even when I was 275 playing football in HS no one ever believed I was 275.

To the point...My starting weight was 250 and now I'm down to 236. I've been quite surprised at how much faster I've been able to run at the same effort. It's probably a combination of eating better and weight loss. Supposedly:

Every 1 pound lost = 3sec/mile faster

So, if you're running 10 minute miles and you lose 5 lbs, theoretically you should be able to run 9:45 miles at the same effort. Granted there are countless variables but bottom line, if you lose weight you should be able to run faster at the same effort. 

Recently I've been able to run training runs at at least 45 seconds - 1 minute faster with the same heart rate. I say training runs because I haven't raced in over a month and I never run as fast in training as I do in a race. The biggest indicator was a 12 mile run I did 2 weeks ago. Normally my long runs would be around an 11min/mile, this run was 10:15/mile at about the same effort. 

I would tend to agree with the 3 seconds per mile theory but it's probably on average. I think the more you weigh the greater the increase would be at first. Then when you start getting to a "normal" weight, you might only see slight increases per pound. Then I would assume your pace would increase if you started to become underweight. I'd like to get down to 220 for the IM. I chose 220 so I can still remain a clydesdale for a little longer. However, like I've said before, if I'm "too fast" (IMO) for the clydesdale category I'll switch to AG. 

In short, lose weight, get faster. Simple enough.

As an aside to this post, given my weight, I once tried to seek out other people with similar paces who weigh 250 pounds. I was trying to figure out if muscle mass (massive legs) played a role in not being able to finish 16-20 mile runs without walking. I'm like Gimli from LOTR, very dangerous over short distances. I even wrote to Runner's World but didn't get a response. I think Ben from Ben Does Life is probably one of the few. However, I think he is a little different since his muscle mass is probably lower and hasn't lifted weights most of his life. This is why I hate indoor triathlons on spin bikes. I can't spin my legs at 130 rpm for too long. 

I got a response from a former body builder but he wasn't quite as big. He noted that losing muscle mass made him much faster. Another guy on a forum even said "not many people your size do what you do. You're, pretty fast when considering your weight."  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Second Ride Outside

Saturday was my second time riding outside this year. Last year it warmed up earlier so it made training much easier. My first ride outside was Friday 3/15. It was a brisk 50 degrees outside but we're cycling and going downhill. When running in the cold they say to dress like it's 20 degrees warmer. In cycling I think the opposite applies...dress like it's 20 degrees colder. I always have a difficult time since I break into a decent sweat during climbs no matter what the temperature. Then, I'll freeze on the descents due to my moist clothes.

Anyway, we had a fairly large group given the weather. The ride started about 40 minutes from my house. There aren't really any "hills" close to me so some driving is required if I'm going to make it through Triple-T. I had everything ready to go the night before, so I could easily get out the door, except for one cycling shoes.

I came to this realization while I was sitting at a light waiting to turn into the parking lot where everyone was meeting. If you were in the car next to me at this point in time and looked over I'm sure you were frightened, possibly amused. There was yelling, cursing, arms flailing, hat throwing, pounding on my arm rest and a punch or two thrown at the passenger seat. I don't think I've ever been so mad before a workout. My mind was racing to find a solution...maybe I didn't really forget them and I'm only imagining, I really forgot them...there's a bike shop a mile down the road, I'll just go buy some new shoes and cleats...crap, that'll take 30 minutes at least...maybe someone will have an extra pair of shoes...year right, how many people wear size 13 and have Look pedals? (Someone did have 12.5 MTB shoes but I have road pedals)

I tried to remain calm and pulled into the parking lot. First thing when I get out of my car, "Hey Brian, how are you?" Me: "Pretty crappy, I forgot my shoes." I stood around for a minute and thought about going home and just riding from there. Then I realized if I went home, I would just be pissed the whole ride and not in the mood to do anything. I figured my pedals have a decent platform so, I'll ride in these beauties...

My running shoes which were retired 3 years ago that I probably shouldn't even be walking around in but still do.

Perfect cycling shoes right?

Good thing we're riding hills...

I'd post my Garmin data but I can't get it to upload.

Strangely, riding in these shoes was not bad once I figured out what I needed to do. I was waiting for my feet to slip when I had to stand up to pedal but they didn't. The worst parts were actually the descents when I was going to fast too have any resistance on the chain. The first time I tried to pedal my feet flew off the pedals and I thought I was about to experience my first high speed crash.

I made it without any major problems and I think everyone else was just as shocked as I was about how well I was able to ride. Here are some things people said to me while riding (only 2 or 3 people knew, or noticed, at the start of the ride that I was riding in running shoes)...

Do you have cleats in those? (No.) Why are you doing that!? (I forgot my shoes.)

I can't believe you're riding in those.

How do your feet feel? (Not too bad...ask me again tomorrow)

You need like a hard plastic plate in your shoe.

The only positive was that running shoes make it easy to walk around the gas station at a pit stop.

Moral of the story: Don't forget your cycling shoes. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tough Mudder Death Waiver

I'm curious if their death waiver has ever been tested in court? One law blog says they're not aware of any lawsuits and the waiver appears to be "legally sound or no one has tried to challenge it." 

This picture was on their Facebook wall. It's amusing to me because several months ago TM had job postings for 3 attorney positions on their website. I checked again after they posted this picture and it appears they now have at least 3 attorneys. 

I am aware of one death (a friend of a friend) where the family (and doctor I would assume) speculated that the death was the result of a Tough Mudder race. He finished a Tough Mudder race and died a few weeks later. The cause of death was due to the inhalation of certain mold spores commonly found on soil with a lot of moisture...basically places where Tough Mudder races are held. The takeaway was, if you have weird respiratory issues after a TM race, make sure you tell your doctor  you did one of these races so they can treat you for those types of molds. 

Given the popularity of these races and the number of people that might want to think twice before trying one but didn't, it's likely only a matter of time before it's tested in court. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Flip Turns

Recently, I decided I was sick of using open turns in the pool since it's too easy to take an extra breath or two during the turn. There aren't any walls in open water you can turn around on. OK, I really decided to learn them because I want to look cooler in the water.

It's interesting reading about all the justifications triathletes use for not learning how to flip turn. I already mentioned one, there aren't any ways to get an extra breath or an extra second rest every turn. Open turns also screw up your momentum since you have to come out of the water a bit, turn around and gather speed again. Flip turns are more fluid and it doesn't feel like I'm interrupting my swim a couple times a minute. Having to deal with the increased time under water seems like it can only help one swim faster in the long run. Think about it this way, you can either get an extra breath every 25 yds or meters and then not get an extra breath in open water or you can flip turn and learn to "lose" a breath or two and then it'll be like getting an extra breath every 25 yards in open water. I bet if you watched the top triathlete swimmers in the pool, you'd see them doing flip turns. Plus, can you honestly say you don't push off the wall with your legs during an open turn?

I started off by watching a few videos on how to do a flip turn and how to work up to one. I tried a few months ago but gave up after getting extremely dizzy and water up my nose. I can't find the video that I watched but Competitor has a similar video.

Somersaults in the middle of the pool were a great starting point. I definitely needed to get used to trying to flip in the water without flailing my arms like everyone does as a kid when they try to do somersaults underwater. Those got old fast and I felt stupid just standing in the lane trying to flip over. So, I started about 1/3 of the way from the wall and just swam in and tried to flip. The first 10 times were horrible. I was discouraged, dizzy and inhaled a bunch of water but knew the only way I'd figure it out was to keep doing it. Rather than torture myself for an hour, I decided to work on the at the end of my workouts...just don't do it on long run days unless you're properly hydrated. My calves cramped up during the push offs.

After spending 10-15 minutes at the end of 5 or 6 workouts I finally felt confident in my flip turn. It might not look pretty but, I was getting the job done for now. I got over the dizzy feeling however, I still had the problem of wanting to breath in as soon as I got upside down. Once I figured that out, I eventually made it 100 yards with 3 flip turns. The last 2 workouts I manged to make it 200 yards. The only problem is my lung capacity isn't large enough and I'm gasping for air after 3 or 4 turns. It sounds like, based on everything I've read, that not having enough air will fix itself with time as my lung capacity increases.

It's not as hard as you'd think, you just can't give up. It's like when I tried to learn how to snowboard in college after being a skier for 11 or 12 years. I would rent a snowboard with my friends but still have my skis with me. When I got sick of falling, I'd just put my skis on. Then I decided to buy (when I say "buy" I mean make my parents pay for it since I was in college) a snowboard and go without my skis so I'd be forced to learn. It didn't take long before my skis started collecting dust.

This guy does a good job of defending flip turns for triathletes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ramping Up Training

The clocks have been changed and you know what that means? Everyone is going to be training more often. I always get a little annoyed around this time of year. I get used to having the sidewalks and trails virtually to myself over the winter, since 90 percent of the Midwest has been in hibernation. Hell, most days I didn't see anyone outside when I was walking my dog. I guess I'll have to get used to sharing all over again this year. I can't be the only person who feels this way, can I?

Last year around this time I noticed a lot of the bloggers I read were injured. This seems to be a common theme every year. People don't train much during the winter and then jump right into high mileage training as soon as it's warm out again. It'll be interesting to see if this happens again. Hopefully it doesn't because being injured sucks.