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Finding Training Time

Posted by JoshuaHickey Oct 29, 2011

Perhaps the most important variable to consider when creating a training plan is availability.  This dimension is most often overlooked but being consistent week over week is one of the best ROI's in a training program.


Tip # 1 - Outline an entire week for maximum availability to train given life's responsibilities (work, family, etc).


Monday               5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Tuesday              5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Wednesday         5 - 7 am, 5 - 8 pm

Thursday            5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Friday                5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Saturday            Open

Sunday              5 - 9 am


Tip # 2 - Choose two quality days you'll treat with the highest priority to nail these two workouts.   The two quality workouts are best done outside, not indoors.  Optimize those two workouts with purpose, my training goal every Wednesday is to become a faster runner and my training goal every Saturday is to become a better cyclist.  You now have a progressive week over week opportunity to insert two hard training days where you will adapt to consistency.


Wednesday        Quality High Intensity Training Run Outside

Saturday            Quality High Intensity Bike Outside


Tip # 3 - The Long Slow Duration run does not have to be when its light outside so do it when it does not compete with life's other priorities.  Scheduling Sunday before church is typically my plan but I'm also willing to put the headlamp on at night and run 8 - 12 PM any weekday to free up Sunday.


Sunday              Long Run


Tip #4 - The remainder for most full time people is a weekday indoor gym routine.  When I first step foot in the gym I remind myself train hard on hard days train and easy on easy days.  Indoor spinning, swimming, treadmill running and active recovery all make up my gym time.  But I'm willing to negotiate and sub-optimize this routine anytime in the interest of keeping my sacred time outside on Wed & Sat to perfect my quality days because the rest icing on the cake.


Monday               5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Tuesday              5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Thursday            5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

Friday                5 - 7 am, 5 - 6 pm

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Skyline 50K

Posted by JoshuaHickey Aug 8, 2011

On August 7, 2011 at Lake Chabot, Castro Valley, CA I completed the Skyline 50 K.  My goal for this race was sub 5 and I nailed it at 4:56 which is an average 9:37 min mile for 31 miles.  The course has a total elevation gain of 4,750 ft and this was my experience.


Course Profile.gif

  • Mile 1 - 3 - The trail contours just above Lake Chabot & the pace starts fast to burn off adrenaline & get toward the front of the herd (7:22, 7:35, 8:27). 
  • Mile 4 - The first climb is presented and the trail will gain the ridge with some false tops which let me catch my breath & sustain a good uphill pace (10:10) 
  • Mile 5 - 6 - The trail passes through Grass Valley and Bort Meadow & I settle into a more realistic ultra race pace (8:03, 8:29).
  • Mile 7 - 8 - The climb to Big Bear and Skyline goes through Redwood Park (10:09, 9:01).  At this point of the race I am alone and completely in tune with nature as the oak and redwood trees that have soaked up the costal fog are shaken from the wind causing it to rain dew on me.
  • Mile 9 - The single track downhill feels like skiing through the trees and I hit my max speed of a 5 min mile pace just loosing myself playing in the woods (7:40)
  • Mile 10 - 14 - I'm feeling really good on the early climbs (9:22, 11:53, 9:14, 9:45, 9:23)
  • Mile 15 - I get to really play again navigating single track on the downhill (8:50)
  • Mile 16 - 19 - I feel totally lost in the woods as the single track course traverses through rollers (11:39, 10:51, 10:09, 10:13, 10:42)
  • MIle 21 - This HIll is the big one (14:16)
  • Mile 22 - 25 - I follow another experienced runner who looked the part w his shirt of and 5 finger shoes as I pick up my pace really racing through the single track and mimicking his form (8:14, 8:31, 8:08, 8:52)
  • MIle 26 - 28 - Finishing off the remaining rollers (10:30, 12:01: 10:06)
  • Mile 28 - 31 - The course contours just above the lake and seeing the lake I know this is my home stretch (9:22, 10:00, 9:14).
432 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, lifestyle, ultra, visalia

Race pace strategy includes 4 choices:

  1. The sandbag it pace
  2. The safe pace
  3. The I'm going for it pace
  4. The stupid pace


The sandbag it pace is a comfortable pace you do socially with others.  The safe pace is your own pace that is familiar to you based on training so your simply executing what you've already proven to yourself you can do in training.  The stupid pace is going out at a DNF I'm going to explode but its fun to show off while my adrenaline is high pace.  The I'm going for it pace is PR worthy meaning your taking slightly more risk than training reveals because you know its not a training day its a race day. 


The I'm going for it pace is the ideal pace to race with.  When you go for it, you are pushing the line and when you do so the majority of the time you become vulnerable during your runners low experience and learn something new about yourself to improve that line you crossed next time you race.  But on exception you achieve a unique state of mind + body experience where your performance reflects the next level.  Some people never test themselves against this line during a race because of the fear of becoming vulnerable.  If you ask me what you should run I'll tell you don't sandbag it but don't be stupid so if its your B race play it safe but if its your A race I say go for it.  Now you know what I'm talking about.  P.S. B races are done for training purposes & experience so play it safe, A races are to PR so go for it!

284 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, triathlon, lifestyle, habits, visalia

Journey to Vineman

Posted by JoshuaHickey Jul 28, 2011
The Vineman 140.6 journey is a great time to reflect on life, the joy of being out there and living life 100%.  I am thankful that my body, mind and life at this moment is allowing me to be doing what I am doing.  To step away from an ordinary life and at this moment live the extraordinary. 


Before the event I try to rehearse race day in my mind the way I want it to unfold.  I start by recalling positive training sessions that I’ll bring to the table in my bag of well rehaersed tactics for today’s race.   Racing is painful, however, the ability to withstand pain is trained.  At the beginning of the season my pain tolerance was untrained and when those baroreceptors started firing I gave in quickly. However, as I trained my ability to maintain a high pain threshold for a longer period of time also increased.  Holding onto a race day long run pace with Justin, always pushing to take one more step when running on tired legs with JP, epic cycling in the Sequoia National Park with Monte & Eric, open water swimming with the Visalia Tri Club and the list goes on.  With solid training, I know I’m prepared to push my body to endure what it takes to do well. 


But I also have to think of how to react if things do not go as planned and over come adversity.  The Ironman distance magnifies every problem so visualizing the race helps create a race day strategy to pursue the right path.  The flow of this race will present a series choices so its important to train my instincts to bring me back to the present moment and persevere.  The present moment is a series of questions: eat now or wait, nail this hill or conserve that pace for the flat, wipe the burning sweat from my eyes or stay tucked aero, change a flat, overcome a cramp, etc.  Ordinary people give up when things get difficult.  Be extra ordinary and embrace the savage behavior and training instincts that surface when you hit the point in the race when your body says your done and your mind pushes you through. What is important is not as much the external factors that fall on you, but how you interpret them, what you say to yourself, and what actions you take in response to be relentless and push through to finish strong.
318 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: triathlon, lifestyle, vineman, visalia, odwalla

Tip #1, Do eat early - The lean body needs food to restore its balance, in the morning its been nine hours since you last ate.  If you skip breakfast your blood glycogen levels will be on a yoyo for the rest of the day trying to recover.  Breakfast provides that energy reserve to feel more active during the day.  The next time you make a bad food choice for just in time energy needs during the day think about it, did you skip breakfast?


Tip #2, Don't eat late - Set your watch alarm for 7 pm and stop eating.  Put a post it on your fridge, your body does not need any more food to try to metabolize while your sleeping.  Eat an earlier dinner then stop eating.  Note, alcohol impairs the bodies ability to recover from training with a good night sleep & wake up fresh for your am routine so make a conscious choice to only accept this impact on occasion but not the norm.  If you are over weight and not a morning person have you thought about how alcohol could be a factor causing that unhealthy morning feeling?


Tip #3, Food fuels exercise - eating to fuel exercise trumps any diet out there.  Most diets are written for lethargic people and would not fuel an active lifestyle.  Given 33% of Americans are overweight while only 1% can do an endurance event like a half marathon explains to me who's the target audience is for the diet books.  There is a difference between doing a diet with a sedative lifestyle and healthy fuel for an active lifestyle.  Perfect your daily training ritual on what you need to consume two hours before working out and what protein you will consume within 30 min post workout. Instead of boasting about that latest diet which leaves you lethargic on the couch why don't you simply eat something healthy and get your but up for a walk/run?


Tip #4, The grocery list - are you disciplined enough to read about nutrition, plan a grocery list, throw out bad food (processed & refined) then restock (fresh)?  Being lazy about the food you surround yourself with at home will make it harder for you to make the right choices throughout the week.  Fast food makes you slow and healthy food is not so convenient so don't be lazy about planning your grocery list. Time invested once a week shopping right & being organized saves time during the week.  You are going to see the results of the food you put into this body in your later years so put good food into your body.  You're a product of your environment, what food do you surround yourself with at home?


Tip #5, The healthy family - what type of peer pressure does family, friends and society place on you to be sedative?  Do you gain weight during the holidays conforming to habits of overweight relatives?  You can't change your family gene pool but you can influence their customs to be more active.  Break tradition, be the one who takes grandma for a walk at Thanksgiving, plan Easter to walk around Disneyland, go skiing for xmas, step up and take over planning your holiday get together to incorporate something active.  It will be hard not to just sit around eating and drinking but take the reigns.  If it's not possible with your extended family narrow the focus to your immediate family to live a healthy lifestyle.  For those you love their health is important to you.  The proactive family member does not wait to hear the bad news from a relatives doctors visit but instead helps contribute even if its the smallest little thing to influence healthy habits ahead of time.  Old people are stubborn and in family tradition you were the child growing up but get over it and take the reigns to lead by example & introduce new healthy traditions. Remember your family's health is worth it.  You're a product of your environment, what active lifestyle habits do you do with your family?

408 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, weight, loss, diet, triathlon, nutrition, lifestyle, healthy, habits, visalia

Last weekend, I did a road trip to Lake San Antonia, CA to do a Wildflower reconnaissance ride.  This course commands respect so I am going to walk through 10 points to set you up for success.


  1. Wildflower is a camping event so arrive early to secure a campsite close to restrooms & close to transition.  Use a triathlon, camping and nutrition checklist to be as detailed as possible so items to bring do not get forgotten and impact your ride. 
  2. Tune your bike.  You'll appreciate using your full range of gears on this course if your bike is ready for it.  Time to swap out that tire that is tore up from the trainer and put on racing tires that will not be thin and puncture.  Test your tubes by pumping them up the night before and looking for loss of air the next morning.  You may be in top shape but could blow this race if your bike is not.
  3. The morning weather is cold so dress in warm sweats pre-race.  The course starts out of the water cold and windy but ends with hot climbs and sun so half of this the ride you will be uncomfortable either way you dress.  Sleeves work best to block the headwind which can be removed easily and mentally dressing cold you will actually look forward to the hill on mile 40 when it gets hot.
  4. Its easy to get caught up in the race, forget about nutrition, tackle the hill on mile 40 then feel the effects of not eating right for the last 10 miles.  Mile 15, 30 and 50 serve as 3 sections of the course that distinctly change as you turn and these turns make an excellent time to take a min off the throttle to eat.  Think about it before the race, when you find yourself making a sharp turn that is the clue to take a gew.
  5. Directly out of the water you get a little warm up zig zagging through campsite lined narrow trails then the first hill hits you hard so focus on not racing this hill to blow up but rather pacing, if you pace it you will pass those same competitors on the 6 rollers that follow.  Racing the 6 rollers is a lot smarter as you have time to explode on the uphill and recover on the down.  Just remember not to go redline on that first climb out of the lake or these 6 rollers will not be your best.
  6. Mile 10 gives you a nice downhill descent and mile 15 - 25 mile is great for going aero then 25 - 35 is another good descent.  You need to be in the aero position between miles 10 - 35 milking the aerodynamic half of this course for all you got being aero & efficient. 
  7. Mile 35 - 45 is a climbers course, the hill comes with about 1,000 ft climb over 5 miles so get in a grove going up.  The descent is wicked fast, 42 miles an hour is what my top speed clocked.
  8. Mile 45 - 56 includes 4 rollers so you have to have something in the tank to finish strong.  These are rollers so there is some recovery to receive on the downhill.  How you feel at this point in the race is a direct reflection of two things, did you eat and execute your nutrition plan because anyone can go off reserves for two hours, its that third hour that gets you.  Plus, have you been doing long 50 mile or 3 hours rides recently.  Bottom line, have you put time in the saddle this season because two hours in a gym sipping on a sports drink vs. 3 hours on the road sucking down gew separates the men from the boys on this course.
  9. You've still got to run.  Brick work, long runs and hilly trails is the homework that benefits here.  Your pace will be a minute slower, think the second half of a marathon, the heavy legs on a brick or the 2nd course loop on a hill.  Running a slower pace, its hard to find that familiar stride so what are you going to revert to?  I say go run uphill, that is your stride at Wildflower.  Given you will not have fresh legs and you will not achieve your pace you'll really benefit from putting that treadmill at the include or running hills every other day to simulate the stride you need to be familiar with on this course.
  10. Beer money.  Ya I said it.  This is the one night you get to camp with your friends and toss down a beer by the campfire & no on is driving.  Celebrate the triathlon lifestyle and tents with people doing the same as far as the eye can see.
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Fresno Race Day Strategy
By Joshua Hickey

For those fellow age groupers competing in the Fresno Marathon, a race is mostly about a personal competition against one's self.  It's about getting past your limitations and becoming the person you were created to be.  Now that your training investment has brought you to this race, don't forget to execute your mental game plan, its crucial.  In racing a marathon, your body is being pushed beyond its normal limits, beyond the comfort zone. Racing fast hurts. Those of us who compete should never disguise that basic truth. And when we meet that pain, the kind of pain on mile 20 when another mile at this pace seems a pointless agony we need mental tools as strong as well trained bodies.  The voice that tries to seduce the runner into slowing down or stopping must be silenced.  Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.  Accept right now that this will happen and resolve to keep moving forward when it does. The voice in your head can be trained to provide positive affirmations during adversity.  If there is a will, there is a way.  People have two choices when things get hard, give up or get stronger. 
Find the runners high, the ultra conscious state where you are acutely aware of all your senses, not just pain.  Go primal.  You're an animal, and a marathon is nothing other than a human herd.  Listen to the packs footsteps, stomp it out, find that effortless stride.  Howl, bark or chant as you pass through the tunnels and create energy from those surrounding you. In the herd, embrace your alpha male instincts.  Get your game face on brother.  Visualize the finish line clock reading 3:10, hold on to 7:15's and the crowd cheering Boston is awaiting you.

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As the first weekend of May rolls around, you know it's time for Wildflower.  The Wildflower long course (aka half-Ironman distance) consists of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.  It sure is amazing to witness 30,000 spectators in Central California's Lake San Antonio.  Known for a particularly hilly and grueling course, it is one of the largest triathlon events in the world.

The weekend starts early, camping.  The Visalia Triathlon Club set up on Thursday and warmed up on the course but froze at night.  Repeating the camping experience on the second day and third day becomes more of a routine as one adapts.  Speaking of adaptation, the course commands
respect and will test how hard you have trained to adapt outside on hills and in the dirt.  For race nutrition, I took in some Odwalla superfood and electrolyte drinks on the bike then carried a 5 gel mixture container for the run and felt like I exectuted a solid nutrition plan to finish strong.

I like the mood triathlon puts me in after pushing my body to an extreme then finding peace and calm after accomplishing a 5 - 6 hour event.  The best thing about Wildflower is I feel great and look forward to 17 more weeks of training until Ironman Louisville, KY where the distance doubles as well as time.

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Spring is here and to kick off the race season the Millerton Lake Triathlon took place on Saturday April 17th and was a sprint distance race: 400 yard swim, 12 mile bike and 3 mile run.


Pre-Race.  To start the day, our Visalia Triathlon Club meet at 5:30 to carpool to this local event.  Its a real home team advantage to wake up and nail your pre-race nutrition in the comfort of your own home. 


Transition.  I set up my transition area, mentally preparing myself, with a logical flow from left to right in the order I'll need to grab my gear.  This helps the post swim daze where the brain goes into auto pilot. The less decisions made during transition execution the better.  One issue I did not forsee is how cold the lake would be causing my toes to go numb making putting on the shoes very difficult.  I tried to mitigate this issue by applying ample glide and baby powder to my shoes ahead of time but still, frozen toes are a gotcha!


Swim.  I tried to swim hard enough in the open water swim to stay with the top 10 at the start of the bike.  My mindset for open water swimming is as follows: if you think your going to be successful, your right.  You have to get cocky and be the alpha male to take the line despite those around you jockying for position.


Bike.  The bike course included rolling hills so it was just plain redlining the whole time.  My A game on the bike typically is my endurance kicking in for the second half and so by the time I warmed up the sprint course was finished.  I don't typically redline as this would be detrimental to long course rides so I sustained the same 10th place position with a pace at par with the top 10 field.


Run.  I had a solid run on the single track dirt trails. I managed to pass the 9th place guy using the technical trails to my advantage.  I am stoked my time off to recover my hip overuse injury worked and testing it out at this race gives me the green light to get back into training.


Finish.  Finish strong was my mental game.  I had the 8th place guy in sight on the last half mile and slowly moved in but did not take over as I continued to see him look over his sholder every time he heard my footsteps.  Then with the finish line in sight, I went redline and finished this sprint tri with a true sprint, overtaking him for the 8th place finish, 1st place in my age group.  If you practice something leading up to a race like finish a sprint interval strong and think about it in your mind you can set that tone on race day.




Joshua Hickey

VP - Visalia Triathlon Club

975 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, visalia

The Visalia Triathlon took place on April 11, 2010 and was a sprint distance course 400 Yard Swim, 10-Mile Bike & 2 Mile Run.  Preparing for this race was a whole new paradigm for me because instead of racing, I volunteered and learned a new perspective about what it takes to host a Triathlon.  I took away three key areas to hosting a sucessful event:


#1 The City.  Ok, our city does not have a the name recognition as "Kona" but locally, we are on the map as an active city with its own triathlon and that rocks!  City approval is not a small task and a special thanks goes out to the Visalia parks and recreation department for coordinating this process.  When hammering out your PR pace during a triathlon, you take for granted the police department who runs the course on their motorcycles or security officers who man the intersections to allow you to littery fly through town during a race like you wouldn't be able to do on any other day of the year.


#2 The Results - recorded by ON YOUR MARK events.  Participating in triathlon means paying the entry fee to in turn participate in an event that tracks your results.  Accurate data tracking is critical in compliance with all the course rules form the USAT or other governing bodies so you have a reference point against other races or other participants.  Here are your top 3 overall results:


  1. Jacob Dodge, Dinuba, CA                          16    0:43:57    13 - 16 /   1
  2. Monte Mitchell, Visalia, CA                      41    0:45:24    40 - 44 /   1
  3. John Perez, Visalia, CA                          39    0:47:21    35 - 39 /   1


These age groupers each bring their own A game to the table.  This was Jacob's second sprint distance triathlon and he achieved 1st place in both events, talk about potential!  Monte Mitchell is old school and after the event, he ran home on a dirt road through the orchards in the rain.  John Parez is a multi-tasker & family man with a carreer as the athletic director at the local high school and kids who also participate in triathlon.  Each of the top 3 participants are a good role model for their respective age group and their investments in the active lifestyle pays off on race day.                    


#3 The Race Director - Justin Levine.  The race director is the ultimate multi-tasker, directing assignments but capable of filling in for any un-expected task to keep everything running smooth for the paying triathletes.  At a local event, people know you by name and have respect for the rules you preach.  The positive outlook you convey is contagious and the orchastra of spectators and participants alike tend to reflect the positive behavior they see in you.  Justin is a triathlete himself and leads by example to direct an excellent event, one if he participated in he also has the potential to win himself.  Its a selfless act to give back when stepping up to fill this position.  Justin gave me the task of course marshall for course traffic and I hope by voluteering I'm directing participant traffic to a positive experience not only at the race but their impression on the sport of Triathlon and a healthy lifestyle for the Visalia community I live in.


Joshua Hickey

VP - Visalia Triathlon Club

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