In 2000, a few of us training for Ironman Utah, and one guy training for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike, race decided to do a spring century ride. Unlike this year, the spring weather in Colorado is often snowy, wet and chilly. Since misery loves company, the small group of about half dozen of us rode a torturous, windy 100 miles.
The result of the torture was we all achieved the fitness bonus we were looking for.
In the years since, that spring century ride turned into the annual tradition of the VE100 – or Vernal Equinox 100-mile ride. This spring century is both a training goal and a training boost. What does that mean?
The first goal is to have at least one 50- to 60-mile ride under our collective belts in February. In some winters, this is not an easy accomplishment. This accomplishment is best done in a single ride, though it can be split between two days.
If you’ve accomplished 50- to 100-percent of the estimated ride distance (in this case a century) or estimated ride time (best used for mountain bike events), within a single ride or two consecutive days, in the two to four weeks prior to your “event” then you will have the endurance to complete your event. Generally, the higher the percentage you’re able to complete before the event, the faster, more comfortable or both you’ll be during the event.
The previous paragraph is important. I use the 50- to 100-percent rule for much of the endurance training I design for athletes.
Aiming for the VE100 gives all of us a spring target or goal event.
Everyone finds that a few weeks after the VE100, overall endurance fitness is boosted. This boost can then be used to the athlete’s advantage.
Out of the twelve people that successfully completed the VE100, none of them have identical race schedules. But, all of them will benefit from the ride.
It doesn’t matter whether you target a sponsored event or if you design your own, training for a century ride can, and will, make a positive impact on your fitness.
Q. I’m using your advanced level 100-mile mountain bike training plan in Training Plans for Cyclists. I want to run two days per week. How can I add running into the plan?
A. If you’re not strength training, I suggest moving the day off to Monday and run Tuesday and Thursday. (Substituting one run for strength training and the second run for form work or speed skills on the bike.) If you’re strength training and need a day off, I’d put a short run before strength training and substitute the second run for the form or speed workout on the bike. If you’re strength training and don’t need a day off, substitute the running days for the workouts shown on Tuesday and Thursday.
I just reviewed recent test/baseline results with an Ironman athlete. He improved his 5k time from 23:23 to 21:49 (a 6.7% improvement). This performance predicts a half-marathon improvement of 33 seconds per mile. I have no doubt he'll get it.
We’ve worked together just short of a year.
It takes time to:
improve pace, recover and go to the next level.
increase endurance without losing too much speed.
work on nutrition strategies that fit a lifestyle and racing.
have the self-control to go easy so that when it’s time to go fast - you can.
All the same training principles I used with this fellow are in my training plans.
There is an interval workout assigned for today. You’re not sure if you should do it or not because you’re just not feeling like your regular self. Should you quit being such a wimp and toughen up cupcake – or – is your body telling you to take it easy?
Here’s what I tell my athletes:
If you have symptoms (aches, sore throat, runny nose, headache, etc.) and just don’t feel up to the workout, skip it. One day of rest might keep something more serious from settling in.
If you just feel “off,” go ahead and warm up. After the warm-up, try two of the intervals (if they are less than five minutes long). If you don’t feel better during the second interval, just call it quits. Cool down and head home. Sometimes, many times, you’ll feel better as the intervals progress. If this is the case, you’re just shaking out some cobwebs.
If you are within seven to 10 days of the onset of a cold or flu, forget any intervals that drive your heart rate high for over 30 seconds or so. If you do decide to do some short intervals, make the recovery time high – some four to 10 minutes.
The goal of an interval session is to improve your fitness. Anything that might set you back should be avoided.
In addition to thousands of emaails about athletes using the training plans in my books to help them meet fitness and race goals, I’ve gotten loads of compliments on the cover of my book, Training Plans for Multisport Athletes,second edition. After people tell me how much they like the cover, they often ask “Who is the runner?”
My answer, until a couple of weeks ago, was “I don’t know.”
Design artists at VeloPress work on the cover presentation for the book. Since great cover designs tend not to be the forte of authors, most publishers hold the right to design the cover in the book contract. They select photos from in-house photographers or file photos purchased from freelance photographers.
When I presented at the Triathlon America conference, a good looking fellow approached me and said, “I’ve been wanting to meet you. I’m Michael O’Neil and I’m the runner on the cover of your book.”
An interesting triva fact for you is that Michael has been the manager for several professional triathletes including Susan Williams and Sara Groff. His company is named “ethos”and is involved in several ventures.
I think most people look upward and forward to define success. What I mean by that is when athletes look at race results; they typically look at what the fastest people in the age group do. If your aspirations are to be on the podium, place higher in your age group or as a higher percentile of the age group, you look up.
Heck, I do this for the athletes I coach. I look at current race times or training times and then scour the race results to estimate placement – for people that want to place high in their category. After the race there is a debrief time to evaluate how the event went – was it a success?
Some people define success as only placement in an event.Yes, that is one measure.
Consider broadening your definition and consider looking back. I’m working with several people right now that are achieving tremendous success – but I am not measuring race performances. I am looking at:
Power production compared to some six weeks to six months ago. In some cases, I’m looking back as far as a year. Can you produce more power now, over any given amount of time, than you were able to do some time ago?
Pace for a given heart rate now, compared to the past. If you can produce an eight-minute mile average pace in 30 minutes at a heart rate cost of Zone 2 (description found in free download Training Intensities document) now and six months ago that same workout “cost” you Zone 3 effort, you’ve improved.
Is your endurance higher now than it was a few weeks or months ago? Can you swim, ride or run farther than before?
Are you healthier now than you were in the past? Less prone to injury, fewer colds?
If your meals and snacks are healthier today than they were last week – or even yesterday – that is success.
The list can go on and on…
My favorite dictionary definition is, “the favorable outcome of something attempted.”
Though today you might be discouraged because you are spending your time looking upward and forward to what others have achieved, or perhaps what you once were able to achieve, I say look back and see what you’ve accomplished recently.
If you’re injured, I know you want to be up and running today, but you must be patient. Perhaps you couldn’t walk more than five feet last week. Maybe you were water running last month and your injured foot couldn’t bear weight. Maybe the flu bug knocked you down last week. But today…
Either today is already better than you were before – or –you have the opportunity to make it that way. Look back and see what you’ve already accomplished and remove yourself from any pity party. If you’re currently stuck in the pity party, you now – this minute – have the opportunity to attempt something and enjoy a favorable outcome by the end of the day.
Celebrate the seemingly small stuff ~ that is success.
Sorry to be MIA for a few days. My husband Del had full knee replacement surgery last Tuesday. The doctor told him about 10 years ago that he had arthritis in that knee and at “sometime in the future” he would need a knee replacement surgery.
For the last 10 years he gradually lost the ability to do things. He didn’t really cause much of a fuss because after all, he could still walk and he wasn't keen on a major surgery. The walking he did wasn’t without pain and the pain slowly got more and more frequent over time. Last fall he took a trip to visit his brother Farron in Seattle and the touristy walking really caused him problems.
That pain from his vacation lead to another trip to the doctor and an MRI. Of course the arthritis didn’t go away, and in fact had gotten got worse. He had bone cysts and inflammation of the bone surface due to bone-on-bone contact between the femur and tibia. The doctor told him he could continue to put off knee replacement surgery as long as he could stand the pain.
That was the problem. His ability to tolerate pain for so many years gradually stole his mobility and most importantly the fitness in his bad leg. Now that he is post-surgery the physical therapists are saying that the quadriceps muscles in his bad leg barely fire. Those muscles have limited strength and his range of motion is not good. In short, physical therapy will be longer and more difficult for him than for someone that kept a higher level of fitness before surgery.
The big lesson is not to wait too long before getting a bad knee replaced. The lower the fitness is in your bad leg/knee prior to surgery, the longer and more difficult knee replacement rehabilitation will be for you.
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a family member in the hospital. That’s a good thing.
My husband had knee replacement surgery earlier this week and he’sdoing pretty good today. Being the endurance coaching nerd that I am, I take keen interest in all things trauma and surgery related because fast healing is critical for those situations…and…athletics.
Sometimes the nifty things I learn aren’t physical training related, but physical comfort related. I found out yesterday that there is a product available so you can wash your hair without water.
The product is named, conveniently, No-RinseShampoo Cap. “The one-piece No-Rinse Shampoo Cap is latex-free and alcohol-free. It leaves hair fresh and clean and eliminates odor. Cap can be warmed in a microwave for added comfort.”
I don’t know how well the product does on long hair, but it does a pretty good job on short hair.
So, just in case you need to wash your hair with no water available (long flights, camping, etc.), you have at least one possible solution.
To achieve 12 consecutive months of riding from Loveland, Colorado to the mountain town of Estes Park is not an easy accomplishment. There is often wind, rain, snow,more snow, rain mixed with snow and a shortage of time due to life that can get in your way.
Left to right: Lou Keen, Mike Keen, Bruce Runnels, Lee Rhodes, Scott Ellis, Sherri Goering, Pam Leamons, Brandy Staves, Darcy Tigis, Ron Kennedy, Peter Stackhouse (event host) and Jerry Nichols. MIA: Dennis Andersen, Kathy Forbes, Kirk Leamons, Todd Singiser and me.
For this year’s awards, 17 people achieved the goal by December of 2011 and one person will score a solid 12 in April. This year Jerry Nichols made the awards and they were stunning – a big, big improvement from year one when my artistic talent with poo proved to be lame.
As with every year the dried, lacquered and glued elk poo was part of the coveted Turd Trophy. Jerry took that theme, added cycling chain and a collage photo of all the riders to make the great awards. He cleverly included a box of Elk Duds with each award, stating that extra poo was collected. (He was kidding and the caramel duds could be consumed by humans.)
Anyone living near Loveland is welcome to participate. Below are the basic rules.
Estes or Bust
Rules to achieve the world famousTurd Trophy Award
Ride toEstes Park once per month for 12 consecutive months.
The starting point can be from anywhere in Loveland, Ft. Collins or Windsor and no further west than the Big Thompson Elementary School.
Either route, Highway 34 or via Devil's Gulch Road (Larimer County Road 43 known as the Glen Haven route), is acceptable. If you ride via Highway 34, you must ride west to at least the Estes Park city limit sign near the Olympus Lodge. If you ride via Glen Haven you must ride west to at least the top of the switchbacks where you can see Longs Peak.
A return trip sans car and via bike back to Loveland is not mandatory, but encouraged when conditions are safe and fitness allows. (This means you only have to rideup (one way) to have the trip count towards your trophy goal.)
Riding from Loveland to Lyons to Estes Park via either Highway 7 or 36 counts. This ride can be one way just to Estes or round trip back to Loveland.
The honor system is strictly enforced - ride with or without the group, with a buddy or solo.
You can start any month of the year and go for 12 consecutive months or begin in January and go for a calendar year.
Rule clarification questions or rule change requests can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Rules Committee will review change requests.
As most people know by now, the federal grand jury has decided to drop the case against Lance Armstrong. A reader dropped me a note and asked if the information that grand jury gathered becomes public or if it is sealed?
I can see both arguments, taxpayers paid for the information so it should be public.
However, if reputation-damaging information is disclosed (whether it is Lance or others on the periphery) then what’s the point?
Here’s a good winter workout for you Vasa Trainer users.
Do a warm-up of around 5 minutes. Then do the following swims at Zone 1-2 intensity (intensity guide in the free download section). Between each swim is a 30-second recovery interval, unless otherwise specified:
300, 200, 100
Rest 1 minute, then do:
4 x 50 at Zone 3intensity, keeping the rest interval at 30 seconds.
Swim easy Zone 1 to cool down for about 5 minutes.
The main goal of the workout is for pace to increase for each segment - i.e., 50's pace faster than the 100, 100 faster than 200, 200 faster than 300 pace.
One of the most frustrating things for endurance athletes to deal with is a winter weather. It’s tough maintain fitness given cold and shortdays, but to get sick on top of it is maddening.
When I wrote the story on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, one thing that I learned from the research is that aerobic exercise builds the immune system, while long durations of high intensity exercise stresses the immune system.
I was never able to find what experts believe to be the threshold for how much is "too much intensity." Does 30 seconds of anaerobic work tear down the immune system? How about a minute? Is it cumulative? Does 5 minutes spread over an hour tip people over the threshold of tearing down the immune system?
In short, we don’t know for sure.
When I have an athlete that is recovering from a cold, but not quite well yet (some seven to 10 days after the onset of cold symptoms), one workout I will include is intervals right around lactate threshold power (LTP). If you are using power now, you know your training zones based on a time trial. If you don’t have a system now, you can reference the free download intensity document and chart used in my training plans to give you a place to start.
Warm up 10 minutes at Zone 1 to 2 intensity
Beginning at the 10-minute mark, do 10 x 1 minute at the prescribed power level. Take 4 minutes of easy spinning at Zone 1 to 2 intensity between each interval. Intensity levels for each interval are:
#1 and #2 = LTP minus 25 to 20 watts
#3 and #4 = LTP minus 20 to 15 watts
#6 through #10 = LTP minus 10 watts to plus 5 watts
For example, if your LTP is 200 watts, your intervals would go as follows:
#1 and #2 = 175 to 180 watts
#3 and #4 = 180 to 185 watts
#6 through #10 = 190 to 205 watts
I’ve found that this workout helps ease the athlete backinto higher levels of work, without being exhausting. I do adjust the intervals some, depending on the individual athlete. You may have to adjust the power levels some or reduce the number of intervals, but remember the main goal is to recover from the illness to 100-percent health.
Myth #1: Coyotes live in the country or rural areas. (They thrive in cities as large as Chicago.)
Myth #2: Coyotes are shy creatures and won’t approach humans. (There were six reported cases of coyotes approaching and biting humans and 11 reports of human-coyote encounters through September of 2011 in Colorado.)
Myth #3: Coyotes are not pack hunters. (If you read the Chicago link above, you’ll know that coyotes do indeed exhibit pack behaviors.I’ll tell you about a dog getting killed by a pack of coyotes in Aspen later in the blog.)
In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that my six-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback tangled with a coyote about three weeks ago. The incident happened in an open field that’s close to my house. The field is owned by a developer that has not put houses on the land yet. The field is bordered by houses and city features on three sides, open foothills on the fourth side.
I have visited this field a few times, taking the dogs there for a walk or a romp. I go there because I don’t have to deal with the goose poop that litters my local park. When the dogs eat goose poo, they can get a bacterial infection that causes extreme diarrhea.
Additionally, dogs are not allowed off-leash in city parks, even to chase balls, Frisbees or romp with each other. I let my dogs run off-leash in this field to burn off energy on the days I can’t take them for a run.
You might wonder why I don’t take them to a dog park. The closest dog park is a 30- to 40-minute round trip drive and I’d have more time invested in driving than exercising the dogs. Sometimes just 20 minutes of romping is all they need.
When I arrived at the field, I noticed there were no other people walking their dogs in the big rectangular area. Generally, I don’t let the dogs off-leash when there are other dogs or people around. With the coast clear, I let Meeka off leash. Before I had time to let Addie off, Meeka tensed up and took off running like a bullet. I looked up and saw a coyote about 200 to 250 yards away.
Screaming my lungs out for her to “come!” did no good. She responds to the command correctly about 99.5 percent of the time. This was a bad time not to respond.
As I was running toward the pair, still yelling, I saw them touch noses and then a dog brawl broke out. Seeing your dog in an all-out battle is horrible. After only a few rounds, they broke it up and the coyote headed north, Meeka headed back to me.
I was worried about what I would see when she got to me.
When she got to me, I could see a bite on her rear leg. Luckily, the coyote didn’t “hamstring” her. It was a skin wound and not a tendon wound. I’m assuming this is where the term “hamstrung” came from and that is when an animal severs the hamstring of another animal in order to cripple it.
I also noticed a bite in her side, where the coyote got a piece of her skin sliced open and pulled away from the underlying tissue a bit. It was “V” shaped with each leg of the “V” at about ¾-of-an-inch long.
I loaded her into the car and took her to the vet, which was only a few blocks away. When I arrived at the vet, the tech that checked me in asked if I saw any other coyotes. I didn’t, but then I wasn’t looking around much and didn’t see the first one before Meeka saw it.
Just the day before, the vet tech had an experience in eastern Colorado where she lives. A lone coyote enticed her Doberman to chase. Her Dobie, normally good about returning on command, continued to chase the coyote and ignored her calls to “come.”
The tech looked up and realized that the coyote was leading her Dobie back to the pack. She jumped on her four-wheeler and raced to break up the pending disaster. Luckily, she arrived in time and her Dobie wasn’t attacked by the pack.
She told me should I decide to leave the dog off-leash that I needed to be aware that coyotes will lure domestic dogs into a chase. Sometimes the pack sends a playful female in heat to entice dogs to chase or play. Once lured back to the pack, the pack surrounds the dog and kills it. A dog was killed in Aspen last year prompting a statewide alert, which I somehow missed.
City-dwelling coyotes, like the ones in Bel-Air, California, find dogs in a backyard to be easy prey. One was killed on Christmas morning last year.
Meeka ended up with stitches in her hind leg, in three spots. She had stitches and a drain tube in her side. The tube came out in two days and the stitches were removed in two weeks. On the happy day her stitches were removed, she and Addie had a giant play-fest in the back yard.
Somehow, Addie ended up with a slit in her back leg so it was a trip back to the vet that day to get four staples in Addie’s leg. (Hence two dogs in neck donuts.) We inspected the yard for nails sticking out of the fence, sharp corners on the b-b-q grill, etc. We can’t find what caused Addie’s injury. There’s a chance it could have been a play accident caused by a tooth or foot nail.
Both dogs are happy and fine now. My long-term goal is no more vet visits due to injuries. The short-term goal is to make it one month. I’ll build from there.
Knowing what I know now about coyotes, I’m afraid to let the dogs off-leash. I don’t know how that will change, or if it will.
If you have, or have had, a dog you are surely familiar with “the cone of shame.” The term became more familiar to non-dog owners in the film UP. The highfalutin term for the cone of shame is an Elizabethan collar. When a dog has had some sort of wound, surgery or stitches, the vet recommends putting the cone of shame on the dog to keep the dog from licking open the stitches or making a wound worse.
Below, you can see Meeka modeling the cone of shame.
You can hear her saying the same thing as the dog in Up, “I do not like the cone of shame.”
An alternative that I wasn’t aware of, until recently is the donut. The donut is more comfortable for the dog and doesn’t cause as much house damage. Non-dog owners may wonder, “House damage?”
Yep, the dog goes bashing through the house allowing the cone to run into walls, corners, woodwork, coffee tables, nick-knacks, etc. I just know they are wishing to destroy the cone – whatever it takes. Below you will notice that Addie indeed destroyed her cone and managed to eat some of the parts. Don’t worry, the parts came up (yes up – like in barfing) two nights later at 2:00am. Nothing will get you out of bed faster than the plunger-I’m-about-to-barf noise.
Addie was wearing her cone in late December when she got spayed. Meeka, in the first photo set, was wearing her cone and a t-shirt to cover the wounds she got during a kerfluffle with a coyote. (More on that in the next blog.)
The day Meeka got her stitches out, Addie managed to get a slice in her rear leg that required four staples. Two trips to the vet that day and three trips (due to multiple product problems) to PetSmart for donuts.January was a rough month.
Both dogs in donuts…
Man I'm glad January is over. The 1st to the 26th was rough. February has been much, much better.
The next blog is what I've learned about coyotes recently.