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the personal blog of Greg Bassett, IT Security, Travels & Endurance Sports

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Training & Recovery 30 November – 6 December


The “off-season” is often a time to set up challenges, streaks or other gimmicks to keep training going.  I’m as guilty as the next person of really slacking off in the cold winter months, so I certainly understand the appeal of the challenge.  In discussions with other friends the subject came up about “junk miles” during these challenges. “Junk Miles” being a catch all for simply going out and swimming/biking/running or just “working out” simply to keep the streak going.  I think there is some merit to that for elite or even top-tier challengers.  But on the other hand for the 90% of us that participate in endurance sports for health, fitness and fun, the winter streak or challenge can be a good way to stay off the couch.

I usually participate in the USAT National Challenge each year, and this year I’m leading the Somerset County YMCA Multisport Club program.  Doing so makes my effort extra visible, so I’m going to try and stay on track, AND lead a number of workouts during the challenge.  I can’t keep up with a lot of the members (yet), but I can do bike trainer workouts or swim sessions and not have to chase people all day.

In the past, I’ve often just used these challenges to log “base miles” but it appears there is some science that says ‘base mileage’ may not be all it’s cracked up to be, especially for the time constrained amateur athlete.  So I’m going into each workout with a specific plan in order to improve a particular aspect of my fitness.  My swims are going to focus on form, specifically maintaining good form during very hard efforts.  On the bike, it’s seated hill climbing and regaining raw power.  On the run, it’s simply getting back to actually “running” instead of walking or walk-runs.

All of that is a very longwinded way of explaining this weeks workouts.  The USAT Challenge has extra points for swims in December, bike workouts in January and running in February.  So this week I had three swims, two bikes and one run.  The swims went pretty well, with Mon/Wed spent leading my lane for masters swim sessions.  I’m able to snap off some 1:15ish 100s and am doing so without getting choppy.  Thursday morning’s bike ride was miserable, just not feeling it after about 45 min, but stuck it out for the full 1:15.  Saturday’s ride was the exact opposite, as I was able to hold a reasonable pace for the whole ride, and didn’t completely run out of gas.  I did the same route that I rode on Thanksgiving afternoon, and felt a whole lot better.  Sunday’s run was the high point.  I decided to do a true walk/run split, by 1/4 mile segments.  That knocked 11 minutes off the same 5.5 mile route I did last week, and I felt strong and solid the whole way around both loops.  The run gave me just an additional bit of encouragement that I am improving and that I can continue to get back to at least the paces that I had prior to OHS.

Also, Sunday marked the longest unbroken streak of workouts since OHS.  11 straight days.  I’m certainly feeling the cumulative effects, and will be doing additional rolling/compression and other recovery work to make sure I don’t end up injured.  I’m going to press on through next week w/out a break to see how the body reacts.

In the coming weeks I’ll be doing the Tour of Sufferlandria again in January, and ramping up mileage & intensity for the 10k NJ Trail Series run in February.

It’s going to be a great winter.

Training & Recovery 23-29 November


It didn’t feel like 6 hours of training, but there it is…  Mon & Wed I missed BOTH swims.  Mon I turned off the alarm vs hitting the snooze button (Doh!) and overslept.  Wed I got to the pool only to realize that I had forgotten my swim gear at home.  (Doh!).

But I had a good 5k running with a friend at the Morristown Turkey Trot, clocking a 38:15, over 3min faster than the Swamp Devil 5k and a tad over 12:00 per mile.  Slow, but a nice improvement over two weeks.  I suffered a bit on the bike ride later in the afternoon, but it was good to get out for a bit.  I think I went out way to hard on the bike, trying to keep up with Hootus, and that lead to suffering at the end of the ride.

The long “run” on Friday was my standard two-loops of Natirar with Tula.  I wasn’t feeling it when I started so I just planned to keep HR in ZR/low-Z1 and ignore pace.  I was surprised when I was having trouble getting HR into Z1 after a mile at under 15:00.  I decided to push up the two hills each loop which did get my HR into upper Z1, but it never felt really hard.  I was pretty happy with the pace results at the end of the walk and physically felt awesome; like I could have gone a bit longer.  I think I’m about a week or two away from actually RUNNING during my shorter runs, or a true run/walk approach to my long runs.  I’m also seeing HR drop pretty quickly after harder efforts, which is always a nice sign of improving fitness.

TRX classes are also starting to pay off.  I’m feeling stronger in my core, arms and legs, and the exercises are getting to be a bit easier to complete without surgical area discomfort (core, chest).  HR is a bit lower during the workouts as well.  A couple more weeks like this and I’ll be adding progressions to the moves.  Yay..

Monday starts two big challenges.  First, Fran starts at The Max Challenge, and I’m going to join her in the diet portion.  I need to really clean up my diet, and want to support her, so this is an excellent time to do so.  Second, the annual USAT Challenge starts up with a month of swimming in December.  I’m going to use the swimming in December to pile on a lot of base HR (ZR-Z1) training without a lot of joint stress on my body.  I’ll probably swim 3-4 days a week, Mon-Wed with the masters group at the Y, and Friday evenings and (possibly) Sunday afternoons.  I’m also going to throw in two 30 min base ‘walk/runs’ on the treadmill after TRX classes on Tues/Fri mornings.  The rest of the week I’ll do some easy bike rides to spin out my legs and maybe one longer bike ride on the trainer or outside depending on the weather.

Total workout times will likely stay in the 8-10 hour range.  I’m hoping that workload at my job continues at the same pace so I can keep up with this workout/recovery program.  So far it seems to be working.

Training & Recovery 16-22 November


Not a great week.  Was pretty tired on Thursday, so made it a rest day, and never really got motivated to do anything sunday.  Still got some solid work done.  Two great swims and two great TRX sessions.  TRX is getting better as I’m able to do more with less soreness or HR spikes.  The Turkey Ride on Saturday with Cyclecraft was a TON of fun.  Beautiful skies, lots of people and got to ride with great friends.

Maybe the week was better than I thought

On the recovery note, the cardiologist took me off my last med (enalapril) so my BP is rising a bit, but I’m no longer dizzy when standing up.  I’m going to continue to monitor BP closely and we’ll see where it stabilizes.

Going into a busy holiday week is always hard on my training schedule, but I’m looking forward to being with family and friends and ESPECIALLY a short work week.


Training & Recovery 9-15 November


Back to a full week of training.  Had a disappointing ride on Wednesday, just could not keep moving for the full 90 minutes I planned.  Simply ran out of gas.  But the week got better as I kept hitting the workouts.  Thursday I hit Masters swim and found my mojo again.  It was hard, and I was whipped at the end, but it was a complete, solid workout.  Saturday I experimented with my BP meds, and had a better bike workout, doing the full 90 min while watching the Ironman World Championship on TV.  It was a great ride, and a very emotional experiences.  I so love this sport, and as Sean Astin put it “I love identifying as an Ironman athlete, it’s badass”  Just writing those words makes me smile.

Sunday I ran my first post-OHS race at the Swamp Devil 5k.  I felt good and the weather was fantastic.  I started off at 11min pace, but that quickly started to slip.  I ended up power-walking the last mile simply to keep my HR under 150.  I finished in just under 42 min, which is a bit less than twice my 5k PR.  I felt bad about being so far behind my past level of run fitness, and was questioning whether I’ll ever get back to where I was before.  But I have control over my training and diet, so I’ll do what I can to hit all my goals in those areas and see what happens.

Lessons learned:

  • I have a great support network.  It was wonderful to have a bunch of friends waiting for me at the 5k finish line to cheer me in.
  • I’m really grateful for the new Masters swim sessions.  They are going to kick my ass each and every session, which will help my overall cardio fitness.
  • You can never be too well informed about your health.  I’m learning a lot about my medications and potential impact on my training and fitness.

Training & Recovery 2-8 Nov


Short entry for a recovery week.  I was feeling a bit run down by Friday, and decided to make this week a lighter, recovery week and focus on swimming and TRX.  Well, the best laid plans often go awry.  I over extended myself on Tuesday’s TRX session (though I really thought I was going easy) and I could barely get out of bed Wed morning from DOMS.  I tend to forget how fast muscle strength drops off at my age.  So Wed/Thu/Fri were simply off days.  I probably didn’t need all three days to recover, so I picked it back up on Saturday with a 90 min bike ride and Sunday with a 90 min hike.  The bike ride sucked from the outset.  Very low pace, struggling with low BP sensations, and complete lack of power on any incline.  Sunday’s hike was better, but still pretty weak on the hills.  As HR increases, I tend to get dizzy, similar to how I feel if I stand up too fast.  I’m almost positive it’s the BP meds.  I think it’s time to meet with the cardiologist again and discuss my meds.

Lessons learned:

  • A solid reminder that we don’t get stronger from the workouts, we get stronger from the recovery.  Train Hard, Recover Harder.
  • Stretching and movement are VERY important after strength training sessions.  Keep the DOMS monster at bay.
  • A well planned recovery week isn’t a failure!  It sets you up for achieving more in the following weeks.

Training & Recovery 26 Oct -1 Nov


Training & Recovery 19-25 Oct


Work is picking back up, so I wasn’t able to hit all the workouts I had planned.  A bit short of hours this week (planned for 8-8.5), but TSS was higher this week.  High point was Thur/Fri walks of 5 and almost 7 miles.  I was pretty wiped out on Saturday (fuzzy headed, cranky, tired) plus we stayed busy all day so I figured another ‘rest day’ was in order.  I felt a lot better by the end of the day so I think skipping the workout was for the best.  Saturday I got back on the bike trainer for a TrainerRoad recovery ride.  I got a very late start (5:00pm) but rode a nice Z1 pace.  Very low mileage, but I felt great through the whole ride and MUCH better than last week.  I’m going to try to get two rides in this coming week.

Since Fran was going to be away from home at the time I needed to be at the hospital for the Mended Hearts meeting, I decided to go ahead and drive myself.  I’m only 5 days out from the 6 week point, so I figured why not.  The earth kept spinning and I didn’t spontaneously combust. I did make a stop on the way home for Starbucks.  Because Decaf Mocha Frappucino Light…

Recovery & Training 14-18 October

Post OHS Training - Week 1 12-18Oct2015

First week of ‘training’ in the bag.  Not bad for 4th week out of surgery.  I did 4×3.5 mile walks, most with Tula Mon-Thu, then a 6.75 mile walk on Friday, again w/Tula.  I was pretty tired on Saturday, so I made that a rest day.

Each of the walks felt better than the last, which is why I decided to push the distance on Friday.  Plus it was a beautiful day, and I really needed a mental break.  I was tired at the end, but I felt great.  My HR stayed steady, except on the hills where it sped up a bit from the effort, but nothing that I haven’t seen pre-surgery on the same route.  It also dropped back to normal pretty quickly on the downhills.  At about 5 miles, HR started to trend up a bit, but that’s to be expected when extending duration.

Since my HR was pretty steady on the long walk Friday, I decided to do a short bike ride on the trainer on Sunday.  I set up the road bike on the trainer, since it was going to be easier to ride with a sore/tight chest than the tri bike.  I decided to try The Sufferfest’s “Elements of Style” video since it’s pretty low intensity, focuses on form and is one of the shorter videos.  Also, I wanted to re-establish the winter training setup in the basement with the Cyclops Powerbeam trainer, TrainerRoad software and the new Garmin speed & cadence sensors on the road bike.

As usual, getting everything set up and reconnected was a snap.  Kudos to the folks at TrainerRoad for making this so straightforward.  I set my output to 60% of my pre-surgery FTP, and was up and riding in no time.  My goal was to keep my HR at about 120 for the ride, but for some reason I was riding at 130ish for most of the ride.  That was a bit more uncomfortable at first, but pretty quickly felt ok.  My crotch and left hand went numb pretty quickly, so I figured the elevated HR and other physical symptoms were mostly due to being off the bike for 5 weeks.

When I got done with the bike, and looked at the data I was pretty down on myself.  38 min, 4.5 miles, and 67w avg power.  Pretty poor showing.  But I figured it was a start, and I was better off than any number of other people weeks out of surgery.  You take what the day gives you and this is what I had today.   After I showered and got some lunch I still felt that ‘post-workout’ glow that I really love and all the bad vibes had disappeared.  Nice.

On to week two….

Recovery – 4-14 October

Quickie update…

Recovery continues and seems to be progressing quickly.  I’m off all pain meds, including Alleve.  As of Tues, 13 October, I’m off beta blockers and only taking Enalapril once a day. The allergy “drip” that has been a problem since I got home seems to be ever so slowly resolving itself, but will probably be another week before it’s all gone.  I’ll be glad to get rid of the cough.

Twice in the last week (Saturday 10 Oct, and Wednesday 14 Oct) I had higher than normal HR.  BP was fine, but pulse on 10/10 was 128 and stayed between 120 and 130 all day, despite doing nothing at all.  10/14, pulse was 89, but as soon as I did anything would jump into 110 plus.  On my 3.5 mile walk HR was 105/125/140 (low/avg/max) but the day before was 84/95/102 for the same route/distance/duration.  I also felt pretty hungry most of the day, and was sleepy after I ate so I’m wondering if there is some blood sugar issue involved.  On both days I did feel a bit more anxious/tense and didn’t sleep well the night before.  I’ll be keeping my eye on this set of symptoms to see if I can correlate to anything.

Dr. Dixon also said he thought I would feel that cardiac rehab would be a waste of my time.  I’m already walking briskly for over an hour, and the rehab center would likely push me into a reduced program under their protocol.  He said he would prescribe it if I wanted it, but strongly felt that I’d probably drop out quickly.  I have a call set up with the insurance nurse on Thursday 10/15 to go over my cardiac rehab benefits, so I’m holding off on any decision until I get more info.  Dr. Dixon also said that I could start running or other harder workouts so long as they were lower body workouts, and base my effort on how I feel.  I tried jogging a bit today, but with the already elevated HR, didn’t find that to feel so good, so I just kept walking.  Assuming I do feel better over the weekend, I’m going to try to setup and ride the bike on the trainer.  After 6 weeks, I should be cleared to engage upper body workouts, and I may try some light TRX work.

Lessons learned:

  • Going into this type of surgery otherwise healthy and fit means a much more rapid recovery
  • There will be days that are off.  Accept them and do what you can.  Progress is not linear.
  • Be grateful for the good stuff, so many people have many more complications & challenges.  Share your story, but be respectful that others have it much harder.

Recovery 22 Sep – 4 October

Getting home from the hospital was a major milestone, and doing so two days earlier than I had expected was a pleasant surprise. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep in my regular bed because of the tight fit of the bed in the room, so I set up my recovery ‘center’ downstairs in my easy chair. Fran quickly took over the nursing duties and kept me very comfortable and attended to my every need. If it weren’t for the post-surgical discomfort, I could get used to this.

The first few days home were pretty uneventful. I had a follow up appointment with the cardiology group and they said that everything looked normal and my numbers were still good. I was a bit concerned about the swelling at the site of the cardiac cath procedure, but the Dr indicated it was normal (it was not, more on this later).

Over the weekend, we got to help out with a TeamNRGY emergency pickup of a teammates bike after a very bad bike accident. That did get us out of the house for a couple of hours, and added some excitement to an otherwise quiet and rather boring week of recovery.

Over the week of the 31st, I started to develop a bit of post nasal drip followed by a cough. The coughing was painful, but relatively non-productive, but the Dr. wanted to see me again, get blood work and X-rays. So off to the clinic again for more labs. Later that afternoon I got in contact with the office and they indicated that the blood work and X-ray were both normal. So I took some OTC meds (Coracidin HBP) and that seemed to help the drip/cough.

Also, by this point I had taken myself off the Tramadol, and was using Alleve liquid-gels 2x per day instead. It seems to work as well as the Tramadol without the opiates.

I also had moved into my regular bed about mid-week. It was a bit tough to sleep completely flat, but over the course of several days I got used to it (mostly). I’m now trying to slowly adjust to sleeping on my side, which is my normal sleep position.

This past week I’ve been going through hot ‘flashes’ that seem to be sort of a sudden increase in metabolism. It’s been happening at night and I wake up really warm and sweaty. I think it’s part of the healing process, as I do get these same events during big build phase of IM training and immediately post IM racing.

The incision point is ever so slowly clearing up. The scabs are falling off (sometimes with some gentle tugging) with clear, pink skin underneath. The very top of the incision is still a bit sensitive. The tightness across the top of my chest (pecs) is loosening up ever so slowly. At this point, any remaining discomfort is isolated to certain spots on my chest, and not systemic across my entire chest and abs.

Last night (Sunday, 4 October) Dr. Dixon, my primary cardiologist called to check in on me after looking at the blood work and X-ray. I explained that I also had concerns about the cardiac cath site. Earlier in the week while I was taking a shower, I noticed that it was oozing pus. I squeezed it and it discharged about 1.5 tbls of pus. It wasn’t sore, or hot to the touch and seem to be mostly solid discharge, sort of like a big zit. Dr. Dixon wanted to see this, so it was back to the office again today (Monday). Both Dr. Dixon and Dr. Rosen, who performed the cath procedure, took a look at the site. They extracted a small bit of gunk out of it, but seemed to feel pretty strongly that it was only a skin infection. Still, I was sent home with script for antibiotics for the next 10 days. The biggest concern of everyone is an infection setting into the annuloplasty ring. That would be very bad, so the antibiotics are a precaution.

Finally, today has been a tougher than normal day. It seems my BP has a tough time catching up when I stand up. It’s been worse than ever today, a couple of times I was wondering if I’d black out completely. Dr. Dixon reduced the Enalapril by 50% (1xday) starting this evening, so we’ll see if that helps at all.

  • Lessons learned this week:
    Patience is everything in post-OHS recovery. This is a long, slow road. It may seem like one step back for every step forward, but you have to take each milestone as a sign of progress (reduction in meds, better quality sleep).
  • The recovery process takes a lot out your general constitution. The hot flashes, and being really hungry, despite lack of activity seems to indicate the the body is in full-on recovery mode.
  • Getting out for walks is a huge benefit for mental as well as physical well being. Just like doing a workout at the end of tough day.

More next week

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