Training & Keto update

2017-05-29_19-08-35

So this past week was a good one.  I had a couple of diet and training break throughs and a lot of fun.

On the diet front I kept to my keto diet exclusively through Wed, when I had a bit of a meltdown.  All through the day I just felt more & more sluggish, and my mood turned really sour.  I bagged my run on Wed since I was feeling so bad.  After reviewing my intake over the prior few days, I quickly figured out that I was really low in my carb intake since the weekend, even below what I had planned in my diet.  Taking a UCan w/protein really helped and I was still in keto and feeling MUCH better the next day.

I now know that 25g of carbs aren’t going to cut it when I’m looking at 10+ hours of training a week.  Now the challenge is to figure out where the sweet spot is.  It seems logical that I’ll need to do some sort of carb cycling.  What remains to be see is if it will fit into a standard week (5 days on, 2 days off) or some other construct.  Also the total daily carb intake will likely need to move up, in small increments as the weekday workouts increase in length, particularly the evening workouts.

As for the training breakthroughs, they happened over the long weekend.  We planned to be at the shore all weekend, so I decided to head down Thurs night.  Since the weather was crap on Thursday, I did my ride on the trainer, opting for a 45 min Sufferfest ride.  Since I was anxious to get on the road, I skipped the 15 OTB run, packed up the car and drove down the shore.

Friday AM I met up with Team Zebras in Lavallette and had a great OWS in a nice little protected cove.  Times were below average, but this was more about getting comfortable in the new Roka wetsuit.

Friday afternoon I went out for a run.  It was pretty warm, with wind out of the west, but I just went easy and kept to Z1.  Felt a bit stiff and sore during the run but I think that was mostly due to lack of sleep.

Saturday was the Nave-Sink-or-Swim Open Water event.  I always look forward to this race as it is like ‘opening day’ for the triathlon season.  Everyone comes out to race the 1.2 or 2.4 mile swims and meet and catch up, chat about the upcoming race season and just have a good time.  Since I hadn’t done a LOT of swimming and almost all of it has been at/around MAF I had no idea what I was going to be able to do.  Plus this would only be my 3rd swim in the new wetsuit.  My plan was to go out at a moderate pace at the start, then push on the second loop.  The swim was counter-clockwise, meaning that the return leg of each loop would be against the current, but close to shore.  Since the 2.4 racers were the last wave, we got the brunt of the current, and the 2nd loop was MUCH harder than the 1st.  As it turns out, I finished with a respectable 1:06, 32/34 split, good enough for 44th OA and 3rd AG.  That was a pleasant surprise.

After the swim, we had a nice group come back to the house for more training.  Since I only did 20 miles on the bike the day before, I figured I’d split my run with 45 min, then 20 miles on the bike, then another 20-30 min run.  The first 45 min run felt pretty good.  I kept in Z1, and just plugged along.  I jogged out the last 5 min, then got on the bike for the IBSP out and back.  I did take a bottle of UCan with me, just to experiment with it, and planned on drinking it during the hour long ride.  With the wind off the water, I was able to just get aero and cruise along.  However as I rode, I started feeling better and stronger.  I kept waiting for the HR to get way above Z1 but it didn’t happen.  The out and back inside the park was averaging over 17mph, almost 2mph better than Saturday.  On the 2nd run, I ran at about 12min/mi for the first bit, then at the turn back to the house, decided to just push and see what happened and ended up clocking a 10:30 mile.  HR was well into Z4, but I never felt like I was losing form, or really struggling at all.  Looking back on it, Sunday was the best training day I’ve had since OHS, and probably a good bit before OHS.

I really ignored diet most of the weekend.  Keto on Friday was 1.4, but on Saturday was down to 0.7 and 0.3 on Sunday.  I didn’t bother measuring on Monday since I knew it would be way down.  I’ll pick it back up this week and see how quickly I can get back above 1.0.

Lessons learned:

  • Consistency is key.  If I keep plugging away, I will see results
  • MAF/Z1 work is real, and the speed WILL be there when needed
  • Carbs aren’t the enemy.  The are just another tool in the bag
  • My Roka wetsuit completely and totally rocks

Where did the time go?

I knew that I hadn’t posted updates in a while, but I didn’t think it was two months, so here is the summary for Jan & Feb

Charts

I’m a bit surprised that the bike volume was about the same for both Jan & Feb, since I rode the Tour of Sufferlandria in early Feb, and I figured that would have bumped up my bike volume a bit more.  But ToS was a great block of bike training.  Hard efforts and some really tough days mentally, but I got them all done.  I tried to carry the training through the following weeks, but fell apart last week after the 60 miler for the Sourlands Semi Classic.  I was tired, flat and truly suffered the last 15 miles of that tough ride.  I took four full days off and got back to an easy TRX class this past Friday, then a solid 38 mile ride on Saturday.  I definitely needed a break.

This coming month will be tough with a full 6 day trip to Orlando for SANS pen-test training, leaving me little time for IM training.  I’m thinking that 30-45 min bike or run each morning and 30-45 min bike or run each evening should keep my volume where it needs to be.  I think that the hotel has a decent fitness center, so time and energy management will be my biggest challenge.  That and diet. I struggle with eating well on the road.

Speaking of diet, I’ve been slipping back into some bad habits again, so I do need to get back on the ‘eat cleaner’ bandwagon.  Sugar and sweet treats are my kryptonite.

Strength training has been going pretty well, but I’m stagnating a bit.  I need to come up with a new routine that I can fit into 30-40 min after TRX class, or find a different set of classes.

March through mid-April will need to include a big run block.  First big event is the Rutgers 1/2 marathon.  No way I’m going to be ready to even start that sucker unless I get back to regular running.  Tula will be quite happy about that.  She loves running with her daddy…

Speaking of which, looks like it’s time to get out and run…  Till next time…

Earning my awesome

My training has been going pretty well and was beginning to see some good progress in my tests and during my workouts. However I felt I really needed to focus on diet and fueling.  I had lapsed into a bit of a lazy diet with way to much sugar, and processed foods. I chose to kick start this aspect of my training through a 14-day detox program with Pursuit Athletic Performance.  

The program called for two ‘shakes’ each day with a regular meal in between.  The program was not a calorie reduction diet, but focused on eliminating grains, sugars, dairy, and processed foods.  Caffeine is out too.  The program focuses on fruits, vegetables and clean meats & fish for the regular meals. Some foods aren’t ‘approved’ because they lead to  inflammation, or create an acidic environment in the body.  Basically the point of the detox is to push a big “reset” button on your metabolism.

So how was it?  The first week was tough, especially eliminating coffee.  Typical foggy head and low grade headache through day 4 or 5.  On the first weekend I attempted to fuel my long bike ride with water and a couple of Larabars and ended up in an epic bonk.  It took a bit of soul searching to decide if I really wanted to continue the program, I wasn’t feeling a lot different, but I was losing a bit of weight and a good bit of body fat.  I wasn’t feeling hungry, but I was having a lot of problems focusing on tasks, reading etc.  In the end sheer stubbornness kept me on the program for the second week.

But within a day or so into the second week, the fog lifted and I started to feel much better.  My weight and body composition bottomed out, and I realized I had a lot more energy.  I no longer had energy spikes and troughs but just a steady, level feeling of energy through the whole day.  I started falling to sleep a lot faster, and sleeping much deeper and completely through the night.  I was waking up feeling good and not sluggish.

By the end of the second week I was really feeling awesome.  My weight had stabilized about 6 lbs lower and 3% less body fat than when I started.  My workouts felt great and my recovery seemed much quicker.  What amazed me most was my mental focus was a LOT better and emotional stability was much, much better.  As I was continuing the program with some minor tweaks into the third week (I had to have my coffee back!) I was also handed a lot of new responsibilities at work, covering a role for a co-worker who retired.  While I could sense the stress level increasing with the workload, my ability to “remain calm and carry on” was so much better than before.

Normally I would get really wrapped up in the situation, and my self-talk would focus on the negative aspects of the issue, and blaming all those around me for creating the situation.  Suddenly I’m able to see through to a positive solution, even finding learning moments in some of the most stupid situations.  That was a huge breakthrough for me.

The whole process culminated for me on Thursday, during my bike/run workout.  Since this past week was a planned recovery week going into XTERRA Jersey Devil, the bike/run was “as you feel”.  Coach Debi instructed “Listen to your body and ride as you feel – slow or fast – just listen to what the body wants to do!”  I opted for a quick MTB ride and trail run at Chimney Rock since I hadn’t been on the MTB for awhile and wanted to make sure the Mojo was running well before the race.  I got to the park only to discover that I left my bike shoes at home.  Since I was squeezing the workout between a conf call, and a dinner engagement, I was not happy to have to waste 30 min driving back home to retrieve the shoes and then back to the park.  Normally this would have ‘popped my cork’ and I would have blown off the workout. Instead I just figured I’d do what I could with the time I had left. I

Back at the park I started out on my normal 1st loop.  Within 10 minutes I felt like a completely different athlete.  I was grabbing harder gears on the climbs, blasting through technical sections that I’d normally take much more carefully, railing corners and bombing descents.  Everything felt smooth and effortless, and just got easier and easier.  My brain and body became disconnected in a way that I’ve never felt before.  I was able to just stop thinking about what I was doing and let my body push the bike around.  I had reached a state of Zen on the MTB that I’ve never felt on a technical trail.  Even a bad line choice was instantly corrected without conscious thought or effort.  My iPod seemed to be plugged directly into my emotional center and was pumping out a continuous stream of perfect tuneage.  I had flow.

I cut the bike ride about 12 min short, as I wanted to make sure I got as much of the planned run as possible.  Transition was quick and off I headed down the trail.  My legs felt light and springy, and I was moving along quickly.  As I headed into the technical section of the trail, I hit the first incline and simply bounced up and over, leaning into the turns, and flowing over the roots and rocks I felt solid and sure footed. I began to pick up the pace and I could feel my body respond with extra power.  In fact as my pace began to really increase I had to exert some effort to slow down and not leave Sunday’s race on Thursday’s workout.  At one point I realized I was feeling so good, moving so well and smiling so wide that tears of joy were flowing out of my eyes.  I’ve not felt that good on a workout in a very, very long time.  I stopped at a sunny spot to pull my emotions back under control, take a quick selfie pic, and then head back out to finish the run.  On the 2nd loop of the run, I really focused on what was working well for me.  My balance seemed better, I was more confident in my footing, I was light on my feet, letting any loose footing roll under control.  Descending the last rocky section on each loop was faster than I’ve ever run on that section, nailing each foot fall without thought.

Back at the car I began to process what just happened.  As a coach I understood that my training was falling into place exactly as planned, and feeling this good during a sharp taper prior to a race was a very good sign.  I also knew that losing 6 pounds would also be a major improvement on the bike and run.  But my overall feeling of awesomeness couldn’t be explained by the weight loss alone.  By focusing on eating much better, cleaning out the sugar, processed grains and most dairy I was really altering my body, mind and spirit.

So I would say that the detox program was a big success for me.  Did I really need to use a ‘program’ for the results?  For me, I need structure to make these types of fundamental lifestyle changes, and the 14-day PAP program provided the right structure at the right time.  The PAP Detox group on Facebook provided a good sounding board for questions and encouragement during the tough early days.

I’m continuing the same meal plans (shakes/smoothies 1-2x day) and a smart lunch or dinner.  I’m adding back in some detox-forbidden foods (coffee!) and will continue to experiment with small changes such as adding back some dairy and some whole grains.  But not too much change too fast.  I don’t want to lose any of the awesome I’ve earned!

 

Lessons Learned

Reminder to never check e-mail at 4:30 in the AM. There can’t be anything good in my inbox at 4:30am. One of the dozens of messages waiting for me got me pissed off, and was about to set the tone for the whole day. I often struggle with having an appropriate emotional response to messages like this. They can put me in a really bad place in my head, and all my engagements with everything and everyone is poisoned by the negative thoughts.

And for training this can mean skipping my workout and emotional eating, pushing me further away from my goals

But not today.

I got into the pool and started my workout. But instead of continually mulling over the issue and following my thoughts into the worst possible scenarios, I tried to stay in the moment with my swimming. Focus on the stroke, focus on counting laps. Focus on anything else BUT the issue at work.

And ever so slowly as the workout got harder, I was able to give back more effort. Effort that had to come from somewhere, so I gave up thinking about work.

And then the workout was over. I felt better getting out than I did going in. And even though it wasn’t a PR type day for a workout, it was an emotional PR day. That’s a big bonus. Money in the bank.`

Quickie week in review

Another pretty good week of workouts. EC strength workouts are a bit tough to get used to, but that’s to be expected. Good long ride on Friday, and a nice MTB on Saturday. Also got 2x PAP workouts done.

This coming week I hope to start masters swimming again at Berkeley Aquatic Club,  On Saturday I’m riding the Hell of Hunterdon (80 miles, 5000′ climbing) and Sunday running the NYRR Colon Cancer Challtnge 4-miler.

I also want to TRY to get in 2x core workouts a week.  We’ll see how that works out!

Limitless

As I was progressing through my outseason training, it began to be very apparent that my running needed some help.  I’ve been given some advice by other coaches that I should consider a professional gait analysis.  As I did the research on this, I came across some strong recommendations for Pursuit Athletic Performance (PAP) in Old Saybrook CT.  I signed up for their gait analysis evaluation as a birthday gift to myself.

My appointment was for this past Friday, and the session went really well.  I was the first athlete of the day, and had the full and undivided attention of Coach Al Lyman and  Dr. Kurt Strecker (DC).  The evaluation included assessment of:

  • muscle length
  • joint mobility
  • joint stability
  • motor control and coordination
  • appropriate muscle action
  • resiliency and resistance to fatigue and
  • functional strength

This was accomplished through a combination of static measurements, stretching measurements, and video recording of my running form on a treadmill, both barefoot and in my normal running shoes.

Here is the video evaluation:  (not pretty)

The evaluation lasted almost four hours and I came away with a very detailed and specific report.  Basically my core strength, stability and balance need a LOT of work.  Without this rebuilding, I’m on a course to get injured during training or racing, which will set back my long term goals of a Kona qualifier.  None of this was surprising to me.  I knew that I was hitting the limits of my run fitness based on how I felt after racing or running hard sets, or anything longer than about an hour.

I came out of the evaluation with a set of exercises and stretches to get me through the first phase of rebuilding my running.  The evaluation criteria and results and recommendations was presented in a printed guide, with photographs of the specific exercises and stretches, as well as a DVD with video examples of the same exercises and stretches.

So now, the rebuilding work begins!

 

Food as Fuel

I’m just about through my first Whole30 session.  30 days of focused attention into what I shove in my pie hole.  I dropped all grains, dairy and sugar from my diet during January to see how my body would react and how it would affect my training.  The results are pretty awesome.  I dropped  over 5 pounds (from 162 to 155) and lost 3% body fat (18%-15%).

The Whole30 program is a really strict approach to a Paleo diet, which is based around the theory that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were healthier, stronger and lived longer (excluding accidents and being eaten by saber-toothed tigers).  During my experiment, I focused on good quality, organic meats and eggs, lots of vegetables and fruits.

Some of the stuff I ended up eating weren’t Whole9 approved.  For example, Lara bars are considered a “sweet” and should be used sparingly in the Whole30 program.  I love Lara bars, and would occasionally use them as breakfast or a mid-morning snack when I had a early morning workout.  I also ate Kind bars for the same reasons.  Kind bars are less paleo because of the added honey as a sweetener, where Lara bars are just fruit & nuts.  I kept adding Hammer Whey to my breakfast smoothies because having a chicken breast for breakfast isn’t my thing (yet).  I also used Hammer Recoverite right after a hard workout because this stuff just works for me and really does help me recover faster.

I also had a couple of days where I just threw out all the rules and ate what I wanted for a particular meal  Those days were interesting experiments to see how my body reacted to the different foods.

So what have I learned from these last 30 days?

  • I’m much more tuned into my body’s fuel needs.  Sometimes feeling hungry is my brain telling me I’m over-stressed.
  • Having too FEW calories are as bad as having too MANY calories.  I get really grumpy the day AFTER I’ve shorted myself calories.
  • Real foods taste great.  I’ve always liked fresh vegetables, salads and fruits, but I’m finding that I start CRAVING them right after a day where I’ve had stuff that isn’t paleo.
  • I may not be celiac, but I have much less GI distress by eliminating all grains.
  • Sticking to a paleo diet means that I’m thinking about my next meals frequently.  It takes more work to eat this way.

At the start of this experiment I was worried that I’d have problems keeping my energy levels high enough to maintain my workouts.  This was never the case.  In fact, I never had a serious bonk or even “afternoon dip” in energy levels.  I used to have both of these problems on my standard diet.  In fact, my energy levels seemed HIGHER when I’m on this eating plan.  That’s likely due to increasing complex carbs from fruit & veg and eliminating simple carbs from sugar and grains.

So what’s next?   Part of the program is the “reintroduction” phase where I’ll add back some of the eliminated foods one at a time to see how my body reacts.  I’ll probably start with some limited dairy.  Before I do start the reintroduction, I want to get my blood work done to get a new baseline.

Ever forward

 

Progress…

The last few days have been great. Weight and BF% are moving down at a slow & steady pace. I’ve passed through the major ‘deprivation’ stage of the dietary change. My energy levels have actually increased, even with a decrease in total daily calories. Wednesday’s bike, and Thursday’s run went very well, with nice negative splits on the 3x1m intervals.

Thoughts on Endurance Nation Lake Placid Rally

It was really interesting to attend the Endurance Nation camp before drinking the Kool-Aid to see whether people were really getting results, and it sure seems like the training works.  I met up with a bunch of IM virgins who were using the EN program and appeared to be fit, fast and almost ready to race.  Everyone was very enthusiastic about the program, the coaches and the entire EN community.  Coach Patrick was a great master of ceremonies for the event.  He kept the program light and fun, gave great talks about the course, and the keys to success at IMLP.

It will be interesting to compare/contrast the EN camp with the Fireman Ironman camp this coming weekend.  While not exactly the same type of event (Fireman camp doesn’t have scheduled/coached workouts) I will get the opportunity to talk to a lot of other athletes with a lot of other coaching plans, including some pro and top-ranked amateurs.

 

Lovin’ the feeling.

I’m 1/2 way through through my “first week back” meaning I’m back to two-a-day workouts and am definitely feeling the effort.  Muscles are sore and tight from the weight workouts, and I’m dragging a bit from the tri-specific work.  To combat the “first week” burnout, I’m drawing from past experience and telling myself that these sensations are normal, and part of the early adjustments to higher volume training.  While getting up and down stairs is a problem and getting up out of my office chair is painful, I’m also seeing that my fitness hasn’t totally fallen off a cliff.  During yesterday’s brick workout my legs were pretty sore and tight from Tuesday’s PlyoX workout.  However, once I got on the bike, I was able to put some decent power down and finish the 20 mile loop in a bit over an hour.  The bonus surprise occured when I got off the bike.  My legs were still sore and tight, and I wasn’t sure how the run would turn out.  Within 2-3 minutes my legs opened up and I was able to run the full 3.3 mile out-and-back at a decent 9:31 clip.  It felt really good to push the pace a wee bit just to see what would happen, and have my body respond positively.  It felt like welcoming back a friend from a long separation.