Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week In Review: June 16-22, 2014

June 16-22
Weekly volume: 8:27:43
Swim- 1:15, 3x
Bike- 3:57:05, 4x
Run- 2:10:38, 6x
Strength- 1:05, 2x
Full rest days: 0

Notes: Believe it or not, this was my biggest week in a while. And the best part is -- nothing was forced. My goals were just to be consistent, and do sessions as long as I felt good (didn't have to feel great but I refused to do a workout if I was at all questioning whether it was a smart idea). In the process, end outcomes were not even on my mind. Most workouts I started not even really knowing what I'd end up doing until I gauged how I felt and went with it. Only a couple times did I have definite goals such as my Sunday bike that included 2X25min or so worth of time spent at ~160-190 watts (aka tempo watts).

One interesting finding: I started the week on Monday with an oddly low HRV of 63 average upon waking, which is weird because Sunday was a really mellow, restful day spent with our dads for Father's Day. So that said, I can mostly attribute that low HRV to being stressed over the ginormous workload I had waiting for me (and man I worked some long days last week coming off the East Coast trip).

But then fast-forward through the week, and by the weekend HRV was getting back to the 80s. Guess I was recovering well even with daily workouts :)

Ya know what else was nice? I worked my BUTT off during the week, but by weekend I had earned some free time. I'm making a strong effort in all this to allot more time and energy to doing enjoyable things outside of s/b/r. I love s/b/r and I geek out on triathlon daily (truuuust me), but I'm at a point in my training/active life where all triathlon all the time ain't healthy (and you can make that case with any sport -- Michael Jordan understood this).

So, for example, Sunday morning I did a tough bike/t-run but still all under 2 hours total. During that workout, I noticed something: I started that bike (on trainer) giggling so hard at so many random things and was just in such a good mood.... hm. That, compared with days where I've started bikes just feeling grumpy. Got through the workout and it was hard, but over relatively fast. I'll be honest the run wasn't as great as I'd hoped for but I just went with the it. I then had time to enjoy an afternoon with my sister, her boyfriend, John and friends on the beach (complete with snorkeling) then later on watching the USA v. Portugal World Cup game with John literally just gelling out on the couch enjoying a kombucha beer. Later on we cruised around on beach cruisers for fun... it was perfect and just what I wanted. (As an aside I've pretty much been glued to my desk since then but it's all good if I can have days like that :))

Here's a Strength Workout I did.

Extensive warmup
dowel exercises, mobility, light jogging, etc as well as:
3 X 15 ea. lateral band walks and 15 band pullaparts
2 X 10 ea. birddogs, 20 bridges, 10 SL bridges, 10 ea. side legs lifts.

Main Set
Part 1. 
4 rounds:
20 walking lunges with weight (DBs each hand)
5 box jumps
abmats of 20, 25, 30, 35 reps - fast/hard effort
Part 2. 
3 rounds:
20 deadlifts (with Oly bar)
15 ea. core rotations with med ball
30" plank with scap pushups

As you can see from that workout, the wrist was really doing well (I was wearing brace). In fact I did a SUP sessions on Sunday and on Monday my wrist felt the best it had since before the fracture! I took that as a cue that's it's clearly time to get moving again and work on increasing mobility, strength and function. So, again, on that strength workout I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could handle holding 15+lb DBs for the walking lunges, as well as the 45lb bar for DLs. 

As the week went on I was weaning myself off the brace even more and I think as of the weekend I pretty much have been without the wrist brace, feeling stronger and more mobile every day. I don't even know where it is right now as I type this... I think in my car? lol.

Anyway here's an example of going with the flow, notes straight from TP from a Wednesday ride:

"I was thinking originally this would just be a Z1-Z2ish sorta morning spin. I was reading questions for podcast and also a review article for another podcast during the beginning to maximize time. But even with that watts and HR increased nicely and easily without trouble. Very soon watts in 130-140s. Then easily into150s. And legs were NOT rejecting the effort! Whoa!

Felt like power was there so did a 15min solid tempo of 170w avg, peaking at ~190watts at times.

Easily could have done more but had to get on podcast and knew I'd be riding Thursday with client so no sweat.

Did not drink water during. Lost 1lb. 130 to 129. Temperature was normal not cold or hot (it was 6:30am when started)"


That said, not every workout is this magical effort, and I don't always feel amazing. Later that same day after bike with notes you see posted above, I got out the door for a lovely little evening run and didn't feel like superwoman:
"just a shakeout to be consistent with running. sadly legs did not feel that great, but what can i expect after the bike then sitting all day with 3hr of podcast recordings,  2hr combined of followup chats, and then training new intern for 3hr. wore compression during all that btw.

Just went easy on run, later saw after that pace was actually good at times like low 8's. not pushing hard at all."

Alright gotta jet... thanks for keeping up with my training and journey. Less than 3 weeks till Vineman woo hoooo!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Minimalist Training So Far, Workout Details Included

I have a few blogs in the works right now, but this one's most timely. In effort to be transparent with my altered "less than traditional" training approach leading into Vineman, I want to keep this blog up to date with what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, etc.

I won't lie, a couple times I've found myself a tad nervous about ditching the bigger "more traditional" volume and what that will mean come race day in terms of performance. But then those fears completely go away nearly every time I do a workout or I take a step back and see how I'm doing overall. Why? Because for the most part I feel phenomenal and on top of my game. I also am not holding myself to any strict schedule, I am not using heart rate at all (only power on bike and GPS), and I'm allowing myself the freedom to train how my body feels. I have loose overall goals I want to hit each week and certain intnesities I want to reach, but I just let it come and it's not foreced. Mentally this is really good stuff for me, and it's showing with the physical performances.

Here are 5 positives I've noticed so far since the shift in training:
1) Recovery between workouts is better than ever;
2) ...As a result workouts are QUALITY, and I'm feeling awesome 9 outta 10 times;
2) Drastic improvement in overall energy and mood;
3) Work productivity and mental focus are consistently solid;
4) Lower stress and namely I'm not sweating the small things. (Like if I can't train on a Sunday because we have family obligations or whatever, I don't stress out about missing a long ride. Quality of life improving...)
5) My body is adapting well. My muscles aren't as tight and locked up, and I've even put on lean muscle mass already! (Had a massage this week for first time in a while, and my massage therapist was like," whoa what's goin on?! You're not your typical tight and tense self.")

As for the negatives I've noticed? None. So far. That said, sometimes I miss those long weekend rides with my peeps, but it's not like I will purposely deny myself those workouts that I find fun and rewarding; currently I just haven't been able to ride long outside due to the wrist fracture. Eventually I'll still do group rides when the time is right and if I feel like it, but just not force it. Same with long runs. I love running long in the trails, and if the moment comes where that sounds fun, I'm in!
Speaking of fun... here we are playing around with the GoPro in Chesapeake Bay!

Ok so check it out...

Training Log
We're backing up a bit and I'm starting 8 weeks out from Vineman 70.3 (because that's sort of the timeframe for training that matters). Reminder: Broke the wrist on May 13.

May 19-25
Weekly volume: 7:23:58 
Breakdown of volume:

Swim- 10:00, first post-fracture swim attempt in ocean. Didn't go that great.
Bike- 3:06, 4 trainer sessions
Run- 2:22:58, 4 runs total
Strength- 1:45, 2 sessions
Full rest days: 0

Notes: This was the week after breaking wrist, and I was ready to start some light workouts again. My body did not feel that great overall yet, as I was only ~2 weeks out from some pretty gnarly training/racing that had me feeling depleted, rundown and overtrained. So that said, this is the week in which I first made a conscious effort to change my training style, decreasing volume to begin with. Then once the body felt better I'd slowly add in some intensity. But all my runs this week were easy, and bikes were easy up until Sunday when I felt ok and did this workout:

Bike trainer 1hr, with 4 X ~8:00 strength sets
15' spin + 5 X 30" SL drill (in aero)
Main Set
5 X 1:00 sprints/high cadence on 1:00 easy. 
Goal watts 200-250w.
~2' spin
10' @ ~70.3 race watts, 160-190w.
~2' spin
~2' spin
5 X 1:00 ME some out of saddle while in aero, goal watts 200-280+.
on 1:00 recovery.
spin until 1hr total.

May 26-June 1
Weekly volume: 7:00:19
Swim- 40:00, 2 ocean swims
Bike- 2:50, 3 trainer sessions
Run- 2:30:00, 3 runs total
Strength- 1:00, 2 sessions
Full rest days: 1

Notes: This was the first week when I started feeling GOOD again! Body was feeling fresh and a couple runs I was going sub-7:00 pace (one was a spur-of-moment progression run with John that went from MAF to tempo to threshold; the other was an hour run that had 6 X 1:00 max sprints). My weekend trainer session also had 10 X 1:00 max sprints on 1:00 recovery, and I was hitting 270+w, felt great (FTP is low 200s). I also had two great ocean swims, and thoughts that I could do Eagleman at one point. This week I also started ramping up strength training again within limits of wrist; here's a workout:

Strength session:
10min functional movement
Set 1
20 ea side, split squat jumps with 30" lunge hold
60sec battle ropes or shoulder/band work (my partner did ropes, I did band)
Set 2
Tabata (20sec on / 10 sec rest)
2 rounds of 4 sets each:

jump rope (doable for me!)
band pullaparts
box jumps (7 ea round = 56 total)
bridge/ham curl on ball
plank variations on stability ball

June 2-8 (Travel began June 5)
Weekly volume: 4:40:36
Swim- 32:00, 2 swims both in ocean (Pacific & Atlantic!)
Bike- 1:30, 2 trainer sessions (West Coast & East Coast!)
Run- 1:48:36, 4 runs total
Strength- 1:00, 2 sessions
Full rest days: 1

A glance inside my luggage essentials.
Notes: We flew to East Coast Thursday of this week; that morning I woke up super early and at least got in
about 20-30min running in pitch dark before flight out of LAX. Running before travel is the best. Lived in my 110% Play Harder Compression a lot during travel. Sunday was Eagleman; during race I ran on and off the whole time about 5 miles total and walked/stood around a ton. My training was limited this week with the travel and what I could do but I managed and did NOT stress it. Actually, I was able to borrow John's bike while in Maryland and used my client's trainer where we were staying to get in a bike/strength workout! Also of note was that I saw my HRV get back into high 80s upon waking (great for me).

Run with the boys to assess the land in Cambridge. Yup, it's flat.

Little road trip into Delaware to hit up one of my fave breweries. #dogfishhead

June 9-15 (DC Trip Monday until Thursday night; red eye home)
Weekly volume: 5:53:36
Swim- 50:00, 2 swims back in pool
Bike- 2:00, 2 trainer sessions
Run- 2:18:36, 3 runs total
Strength- 0:40, 1 sessions (2.5 miles SUP)
Full rest days: 1 technically, but that day included 5-6+(?) miles walking DC.

Notes: Again, training was limited because it was not the priority this week. Having a fun vacation with John was the priority. Monday we drove from Cambridge to DC and stayed there until leaving Thursday night. I only ran Mon-Thu, and our Tue/Thus runs we did "tourist style" in which we'd run to monuments and famous landmarks (kill 2 birds with one stone!). I did not stress the lack of training, especially with all the walking we were doing; each day at least 5-6 miles walking -- endurance training in itself! Once we were home I got back to swimming and biking. Swam in pool for first time since break, and attempted a few sets of 100s without the brace, with success. My bike fitness felt ok even with having only had 1 bike in 8 days while traveling.Sunday instead of a swim, bike or run I did some endurance SUP mostly because we were celebrating Father's Day the beach. Later that evening bowled with John's family, lol.

Run - tempo + strides
5.1 miles/40min
Here's an example of not knowing what to expect upon starting, then feeling good and going for it and making the most of it. This run was a blast! Day after EM, last morning in Cambridge, legs felt great!!
Dynamic non-run exercises, plus 1 mile easy running.
4 miles tempo (all sub-8:00 pace) AND during that including 1:00 strides done fartlek style.
1:00 easy jog, then walked it out to finish.

Picture taking during that run workout posted above.
Can I just say I love my new Katalyst top by 110% Play Harder?!
I wore it - black!! - in hot and humid Cambridge and it was cool,
comfortable and functional during this tough run!
Check them out here: www.110playharder.com/products.
Use my code 110CoachTawnee for 10% and free shipping.

Bike trainer workout
1:15 total
~15 min spin, building effort.
Main set
Set 1:
6 X 1:00 hard/reaching max effort and big watts (110-150% FTP) on 1:00 recovery. Extra 2-3' recovery after the last one.
6 X 20" standing in hard gear/low cadence on 40" recovery. Extra 5' recovery after the last one.
Set 2:
Intervals of 8'-6'-4'-2' at high Z3/low Z4 watts (~80-95% FTP) on 2' recovery after each.
Easy spin to finish

Sight-seeing and running. Maximizing time!

June 16-22
Weekly volume: TBD
Swim- XX
Bike- XX
Run- XX
Strength- XX
Full rest days: XX

Notes: Week in progress. So far so good :)


If you know me and have read this blog for a long time you know I've spent year training and essentially building a solid base and foundation. So, I've gone into this new training phase comfortably knowing I have that base backing me. That said, this training approach is not something I'd advise for just anyone, especially someone newer to endurance sport. As I wrote recently on CoachTawnee.com, developing endurance fitness takes time and there's no way around that (the other theme of that post is: if you hire a coach, give that coach time to develop you).

So with my current training, I'm NOT trying to find shortcuts, I'm trying to find my way out of a rut that I've put myself in a lot in recent years. It's really just an experiment and I'm making no promises or guarantees on how it'll manifest on race day at the half-iron distance.


Wrist Progress Report
It's doing well. I'm not sure if my healing is "normal", better or worse at this point but I feel like I'm on the right track. Tuesday, June 17 marked 5 weeks since the injury. As of last week, I found that I am now very functional without the brace and am comfortable without it on in safe situations. I have even done a couple runs and trainer sessions without it. When I'm home I have it off a lot more and sometimes I forget it's broken/healing. I can put pressure on it but only in certain positions; hard to explain without showing what I mean. I still swim with the brace on for 80-90% of the sessions, but I did attempt (successfully) a few hundred yards here and there without the brace this past week!

The only "bad side" I still see with the wrist healing is that it's 1) still swollen quite noticeably when compared with the right, and 2) very stiff especially flexion. I do need to get in and see and OT/hand therapist just to get evaluated on progress.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Early Morn' Confessions From the East Coast

It's currently 4:30am ET... I am up and at 'em. I think I'm just excited by the fact that I have six athletes racing this weekend (seven if you count one of my consulting clients), and two of them already landed on the podium Saturday:
My mom and sister! Podium girls!!! I am so stikin proud! That race is short, but NOT easy with a tough ocean swim in harsh surf conditions and a deep-sand run.

So why am I up so early? Not quite sure because I did have a little more time to "sleep in" but that didn't happen so I figured I'd get up and enjoy a little quiet time before sh*t gets crazy. Yea, today is Eagleman and in less than half an hour it will be chaos and full of energy in our condo. Thankfully I'm staying with my athlete and his family at a really nice condo less than 2 miles from the half-ironman start, and for the record this is probably the NICEST accommodations I've had for a triathlon in my life. Actually, our Ironman Canada 2011 house was cool with a beautiful view -- tucked into apple orchards and winery grape leaves, but it was a small and old house. This condo is large and very new.

Anyway, the final decision for me is no racing or participating of any kind in Eagleman. I was going to at least do the swim until I realized that was risky as well because the wrist brace really negatively impacts my left-side swim mechanics and it bothers my shoulder/bicep tendon after a while. The last thing I want is to create another injury with just five weeks until Vineman.
I still got a chance to swim in the Choptank River, where the Eagleman swim takes place. We were GoPro'ing it up and having fun. The water out here ain't like the ocean at home lol. I'm excited to get that brace off!!!
So speaking of Vineman, here's a little sneak peak on what's to come from me....

I've decided to experiment with a minimalist training style leading up to the race. I've already started and I LOVE it. Feeling amazing.

Here's my logic and why I'm doing it:

This year, I started re-building a solid base for 3+ months (mid-January to May 3). However, in doing so I was reverting back to old habits that really didn't fare well for me -- namely digging myself into a deep rut of fatigue. I loved the training but it was taking a toll -- and quickly taking a toll on me this time. I could see signs of breakdown just like what's happened to me before. So this time, instead of ignoring the signs and just continuing to thrash my body (and mental state) with one big/hard day after another I decided it's time for change.  Enter: minimalist training.

I'm not saying this is 100% the solution nor the best answer -- I am away the higher intensity of minimalist training can be risky in itself -- but I have to give it a chance because what I've been doing prior is a) very effective for good performance on many levels, but b) also not so good for me in terms of health, quality of life outside training/racing, and eventually performance once you meet that point of diminishing returns. I've seen my health and energy suffer -- not to any great degree in which I'm risking severe health problems of long-term issues, but enough for me to not want to continue on that path.

Here's the other thing speaking to quality of life: I am a million percent committed to my work and job -- I love coaching, training people, teaching classes, doing the podcast, writing and all that I have going on and I want to be my best at that. When I get so incredibly tired from training every day I'm not my best. It's important for me to continue building my career with great energy, focus and dedication.

I'm also not doing this just for me, but for an education that can possibly help in other ways...
As a coach with a background in and passion for exercise science/ physiology/ endurance sport, I am totally into the idea of doing an n=1 experiment on myself with a different training style. It's like nutrition -- there's no "one size fits all" but if I can at least sample and test what's available out there, then I can at least help others find their "ideal" way coming from experience.

So, it's time to switch things up. Like I said, I am in NO way suggesting that minimalist training is going to be the golden solution for me nor is it for everyone, but I know my life and all that's going on in my world as of late, it just seems like the most reasonable path to take for now.

And ya know what? I look at it this way: I got nothin' to lose. If it works for Vineman and future 70.3s, then hell yea. If it doesn't work and my race is a flop, or maybe just not as good as I've done in the past? Well, then I learned a valuable lesson.

A fraction of my inspiration to take this route comes from Sami Inkinen. And trust me, I am NOT expecting to all of a sudden be an AG champion like he is on 6-7hr a week (YES, folks, there is a genetic component to Sami's success as well as a level of self-discipline that makes Sami a freak of nature -- and I'm saying that in a good way of course -- which not everyone can just accomplish). I had Sami on my podcast recently, so if you want to hear more about his approach to training then listen in.

Anyway... troops are about to wake up. Time to get to work.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Don't Be Stupid

Man! Eagleman on, eagleman off, eagleman on, eagleman off.... sadly it ends there. Race off. It's all good, surprisingly this hasn't been stressing me out, just taking it one day at a time. When I first broke it (3 weeks ago as of tuesday) I was nearly convinced I wouldn't be able to race just 3.5 weeks later. But then last week I got a glimmer of hope when I was able to do a couple successful ocean swims. I thought the swim would was going to be the biggest issue in whether I could race, so once that worked out well, I had made a 180 and was now nearly 100% convinced I could race -- and I got excited to toe the line! I wasn't worried that my training had suffered... I was still totally motivated to get out on the Eagleman course and see what I could pull off.

There was just one little thing, though. I still hadn't ridden by bike outside on the real road since the break. All rides had been on the trainer. I am still required to wear the wrist brace at this stage in the healing phase especially when working out, and with the aero bars that are on the Felt IA, it was impossible to pronate my wrist to grab the bar. But on the trainer that was no biggie; I could just rest my arm on the pad without gripping and it was fine.

Once I could swim I hustled to figure out the bike situation and how I could ride. The solution was getting ski-bend aero bars, and that way I didn't have to bend my wrist to be in aero - perfect! Monday I borrowed the bars I needed and (totally last minute) got in touch with Felt to see if they could help out. I am so lucky to have a great relationship with the guys there. Once I told them I still wanted to try and race, and the aero bar situation, they were able to work on the bike and get it set up all in one afternoon (oh, and they finally internally routed my SRM wire -- goodbye ugly tape haha). I was feeling so stoked and optimistic!

Tuesday we planned to test the setup riding outside. John and I did a little easy ride outside; standard race week taper ride. But first, we had a quick trip to SD for a fast and fun morning photo shoot with Kristin Mayer and Co., displaying her latest Betty Designs collection; see photo. She's a design genius if you ask me.

Soooo... the  bike ride. Oh man. It was a disaster (ok, maybe that's a bit dramatic but it wasn't good). What's that saying about getting back on a bike? I don't remember, but dude I felt like a total rookie and unable to handle a bike, let alone race a bike. Simply mounting the bike was sketchy (which I had been warned about by a couple doc's -- they were right), then it was super sketchy riding whether in aero or sitting up. When sitting up I had to be very "light" on my wrist as to not apply too much pressure, and in that same position is how I brake, which was nearly impossible to execute with the L side. Meanwhile, the wrist brace was digging into my palm as I tried to grip anything, and that was painful as heck after a few minutes (can't imagine 3hr of that). It's been about 24 hours since the ride and my palm still hurts from that ride, as if I have a gnarly bruise.

So, it's one thing to be tough... it's another to be dumb. And after that ride yesterday I felt like it would be unsafe to race especially among thousands of other triathletes -- unsafe for them and me! The bike at Eagleman is flat, which is definitely a plus for my situation (hilly course = no way), but it's also somewhat of a technical one-loop course with lots of turns where solid bike handling skills are a must. I saw the writing on the wall. At one point in my stubborn state I had to say to myself, "Stop, Tawnee, it's just a 70.3. There are a million more. Don't F this up more." And before you ask: I can't ride without the brace, I can't use a softer/more functional brace or ace bandage -- both options totally unsafe at this point.

Bottom line: The risk is not worth it, and this is where I draw the line.

The good news is... and there's plenty of good news when you focus on the bright side...I still have a super fun trip to the East Coast planned (we'll be gone for a whole week. I can geek out on triathlon as sherpa/spectator and give you guys inside photos + results of pro race on my Instagram and Twitter @tawneeprazak. Then once tri stuff is done, John and I are doing some touristy stuff in DC.

AND the second part of good news: I was lucky enough to score a spot into Vineman 70.3 for this year! Yup, going back to Sonoma for Vineman #4. This year it's July 13, exactly two months post-fracture; last year I was able to execute the race after breaking my wrist, and I know I can this year. I'm taking a completely different approach to my training as well, and will be documenting it regularly on the blog. Consider it another n=1 experiment. I'll fill you guys in soon.

To wrap up: It's not Thursday, but how about a little throwback to my first Vineman in 2009....

First off, check out the names on the results here! Classic!

Iconic swim exit shot.

#FELTbicycles back then and now. Bam.

Made a lifelong new friend that day, Sara Davis (who's just in front of me)

Finishing my second 70.3 with a big PR, and super satisfied at the finish.

Podium and slot to 70.3 Worlds!

Whoa, look at this crew! Talk about old school. (And shoutout to my parents have always been there for me.)

So, life goes on! Glad that decision is made.