Check out my latest guest post on the iThlete HRV Blog. In this month’s post, I will be covering how tapering for an Ironman affects your Heart Rate Variability.
Ahhh the old love-hate relationship with tapering continues. While greatly anticipated, this break in training and the general feeling of malaise that comes along with it I did not. I guess you can’t have everything.
The Ironman Lawn…
I was finally able to get my lawn looking somewhat manicured with some extra time on my hands now. I had been cutting the front mostly so that it at least looked well kept from the street. The back was another story. I had cut a few sections so the dog could go do his thing, but most of it had grown so high it was going to seed. When my dog ventured into that territory I would see him occasionally jump high into the air as of the long strands brush up against his belly. Kind of entertaining.
Training-wise things were actually going pretty well. The somewhat shortened workouts had high intensity and I felt good while I was doing them. I had one of my best tempo run workouts of the season on Wednesday with a solid 7:50 pace in Zone 3.
FTP Test Gone Bad…
I had a 3 hour bike planned for Saturday, but I decided to break it up into a 1 hour FTP test on the trainer followed by a two hour easy ride on the road. I wanted to get an accurate assessment of FTP before my race. I felt it was also a good time between resting a bit and race to do it. I was hoping for a little improvement over last year(253 watts), but what I got at the end was nothing like I could have expected.
Obviously a bug in the TrainerRoad iPad app. Despite this issue I was able to calculate my FTP to be around 248 watts based on this test. A little depressing that I lost 5 watts, but really 5 watts isn’t that big a deal really. Perhaps it will help me to chill a bit on the bike. The main reason I wanted to do the FTP test was so I could plug in accurate number on Best Bike Split and get an idea of my race plan for the bike leg. It looks like it will be just a smidge slower than my bike leg last year at Lake Placid. You can check it out here if you are interested…
Bon Voyagey Bike…
On Sunday I had to take my bike down to Keswick Cycle in Glenside to drop it off for the TriBike Transport pickup on Tuesday. I finished up some last minute maintenance, did a final cleaning and removed the pedals. I also ordered the additional gear bag option too, so I loaded a duffle bag with my wetsuit, aero helmet, spare tubs and some tools. The TBT website said only pack aero helmet if in a hard case, so I put it in a cardboard box with some extra packaging materials too. Hopefull that should be ok. I filled out a couple forms at the shop and handed my bike over to the guy at the shop. Bon Voyagey! See you in Coeur d’Alene!
I stopped at a nearby Chipotle for lunch before heading to Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting for our monthly stock-up on organic, frozen fruit. WF was rather crowded, so I was happy to get out of there.
I still needed to do a 1-2 hour run when I got home. It was brutally hot & humid and I was really not into it, so I decided to just run on the treadmill. I tried to load up this FitTrip app on my iPad which shows point-of-view(POV) trail running videos coordinated to your heart rate. Well it didn’t work so well. Downloading the videos took forever and then when they finished it would pop up a message saying it failed! WTF! I eventually got one to download successfully and then it would not connect to my HRM using the ANT+ dongle. Ugh!
I finally gave up and just watched some similar videos on YouTube which worked fine. I had unfortunately wasted a bunch of time trying to get that working. I ended with only about a 7 mile easy run, but I figured that was good enough.
Geekin’ Out on Training
Training volume this week was basically chopped in half. Still managed to miss one of my 3 strength training workouts though. No sense is cramming now right?!
A few red marks on the old HRV training guide this week. Body is recovering a bit so this is expected. Hopefully next week things will pick up a bit.
The PMC chart shows the plan for the taper. The pink line dropping is the fatigue withering away with the form(yellow) increasing. Fitness(CTL in blue) declines a little bit, but it will be worth it.
The HRV timeline took a bit of a nose dive during this first week of taper. It make sense since I felt a little crappy. Things ended on a high note on Monday AM so it looks like recovery/taper is working. Hope that continues until race day.
That’s all for this week. Next week things should get easier and hopefull start feeling great again.
Wow…It is already a week since Ironman Lake Placid! Most of the past week was spent totally resting and recovering from the 140.6 miles the previous Sunday. We had a full, very rainy, day on Monday after the race to relax in Lake Placid before the long drive home. I cannot imagine doing another IMLP on the day after like this guy did! Amazing! This year I didn’t make the mistake of rushing out to the Ironman Store to stand in a long line unnecessarily at 7am to get finisher’s merchandise. You can usually get it online anyway, but I wasn’t planning on buying anything this year since I overdid last year. Ironman gets enough of my money anyway. We headed into town just before 12 noon to pickup my special needs bags then headed to Dancing Bears to meet my in-laws for lunch.
My quads were pretty sore on Monday and peaked on Tuesday, which is typical DOMS-48 hours. I was basically sore in the same places that were hurting me during the run. Fortunately, I have my PTA/trisherpa wife who gave me a really good massage to work it out pretty quickly. It was gone by Thursday. Other than that I really didn’t feel all that bad post-Ironman. Some people look pretty bad hobbling around town. My Heart Rate Variability (HRV) was down in the 50’s after IMLP and had gradually drifted back to the mid-70’s by end of week. A pretty good sign I was recovery.
Now with IMLP behind me, it is time to direct my thoughts to my last race of the year, Timberman 70.3. Last year I was dying to do something else after Lake Placid, so this year I decided to through a half-ironman in a few weeks later. I figured I could ride out my fitness to that event. It is a race I always wanted to do anyway. I am really looking forward to have another race to do. A 70.3 is probably going to seem like a sprint after doing an Ironman.
I was a little confused with how to train given only 3 weeks before Timberman. Fortunately, Tawnee Prazak from Endurance Planet posted that they were taking some questions on their Facebook page for the next “Ask the Coaches” segment with Lucho(Tim Wagoneer). Perfect! So I posted my question out into the ether-world to let the experts advise me…
I just finished IMLP on Sunday(11:52) and am doing Timberman 70.3 in less than 3 weeks. I have totally rested all week so far and was planning on doing a long, slow swim, bike, and run Friday, Sat, and Sunday resp. Also I am 45 yr old, middle of the pack AG Triathlete and my HRV is back up in the 70’s now(Thursday after IMLP). So, should I do more shorter high intensity work for the next week and a half or just maintain fitness with more Zone 2 work or combine? Also should I bother tapering? Maybe a couple days? I would like to do well perhaps 5:45-5:50(PR).
Meanwhile, Friday came and I was itching to get back to moving my body again. I decided to do a easy 45 minute swim at the pool. It felt good to get back in the water again. All systems were good to go.
Saturday, I got out in the afternoon for a fairly easy ride for about 2.5 hours. I interrupted the ride after a couple hours to meet my wife over at Sleeping Dog Pro Cycles while she was testing out a new road bike, which she ended up purchasing. A little present for being my ironman sherpa for the last 6 months. Flowers don’t cut it with her. 🙂 As for my ride, I felt really good and ready to ride. No aches or pains and my power seemed pretty good. All system go.
I was planning on doing a 1-1.5 hour easy run on Sunday, but then Endurance Planet Ask The Coaches Podcast episode came out. This kind of changed things a bit after they answered my question. My question comes up around an 1:03-1:10 into the podcast. I probably should have better clarified what I meant by the “long, slow swim, bike, and run Friday, Sat, and Sunday resp” because they took it as doing all three things all three days. What I should have said was a easy 45 minute swim on Friday, a 3 hour easy ride on Saturday and a 1-1.5 easy run on Sunday. Come on guys, can’t you read my mind? Ha! 🙂 Regardless, Lucho actually suggested doing the first two of those anyway, said to skip the run altogether on Sunday, which I did very happily! That was pretty cool.
So, as for the week upcoming I will continue to taper with not much volume. I will probably try to do some Zone 3 tempo work later on in the week, but for very short workouts and only if I feel recovered enough. I definitely don’t want to re-damage my muscles. If I get sore, relax. Continue to taper. Thanks Tawnee and Lucho, that is a big help!
Thanks for reading!!
Nothing real exciting to report here for my second week of taper before Ironman Lake Placid 2014. I ended up swimming a little more than I planned on Tuesday, but then totally bagged my run on Thursday night. We were heading up to Lake Wallenpaupack again from Thursday to Saturday and I just didn’t give myself adequate time management to fit it in. Oh well. I also bagged my 10 minute brick on Saturday too. I seem to be an all or nothing kind of triathlete. When I have a big build training week I usually do every single workout minute, but when it comes to recovery and taper weeks I frequently blow things off. Perhaps it is my way of giving 110% on those recovery weeks!
Power Meter Crisis Averted!
I did have a bit of a panic when I set out on my bike ride on Wednesday night. I was planning to upgrade my Stages Power Meter to the latest version of firmware, but I was unable to connect it to my iPhone via Bluetooth to update. I thought it was just my iPhone Bluetooth causing the problem, but when I proceeded out on my ride my Garmin 910xt would not pick it up on ANT+ either. Hmm.?
I changed the battery in the module when I got home and it immediately started working again. Phew! I did a little more inspection of the module with a flashlight and magnifying glass later on. When I first received the unit my bike mechanic had broken a couple of the tabs that lock the battery in its compartment. Stages immediately sent me out some new caps, but I was never able to lock the cap in place so I always wrap it with black electrical tape.
Apparently, when I washed the bike after my last long ride, water got in and shorted the battery. Turns out that one of the little tabs that had broken off was lodged in the compartment locking slot and would not allow me to lock the cap securely. I was able to remove the broken tab and am happy to report it is locking securely in place now. Crisis averted.
I tweeted about the issue after my ride and the folks at Stages quickly replied to get me help I needed(See tweet below). I wasn’t able to respond right away and they even shipped me some new caps before I have got back to them. Just a sign of the great customer service they have there. I had a similar experience when I needed those new caps the first time too. I hope to do a gear review on my Stages Power Meter after Ironman this year. Spoiler alert…I have been very with happy it!
@bri_tri2 Brian, Please call us at 800-778-7218 we would be happy to assist you.
— Stages Cycling (@stagescycling) July 17, 2014
Open Water Swim at Lake Wallenpaupack
Since we were up at the Lake for a couple days, I was able to get in a little open water swim there on Friday. My in-laws had rented a house on the lake and I could walk right out the door in my wetsuit for a nice swim. I hit it just early enough to avoid most of the crazy boat traffic that starts around noon. We were situated in a very narrow section of the lake and it gets crazy with boats flying back-and-forth there.
It did get a little rough as I rounded the bend heading towards Ledgedale Recreation area. The waves were angling into each other as the boats rounded the bend as well. And apparently “no-wake” zone means nothing to these folks. Once I did get around the bend it did mellow out a bit, but by then it was time to head back. My wife followed along with me in the kayak and I think she was bummed to have to turn back so soon. I only wanted to swim for 30-40 minutes and I was at around 18 by then.
It was a pretty nice swim otherwise. Water seemed ok initially, but I was getting pretty hot by the time I returned to the dock. I averaged around a 1:46/100y pace which is what I did at Black Bear Half this season too. I would be pretty psyched to get that at Lake Placid too. Or even a 1:47 would be an improvement. Strava totally botched my upload for this too, but I will embed it just for the hell of it.
SSD Workouts – Short, Slow Distance!!
I did my typical bike and run on Saturday and Sunday, although the duration was quite a bit shorter than usual. Instead of calling them LSD workouts I changed it to SSD since they are much shorter. I have to say I felt REALLY good on both of the workouts too. It is that time where you have to reign yourself in a bit from going crazy fast since you feel like the Six Million Dollar Man.
I ended up averaging 18.5MPH for a 36 mile ride on Saturday night and it felt like nothing. By the way, Saturday evenings are the best time to ride. At least were I ride. There is hardly any cars out on the road and it is just so nice. There is usually minimal wind at the end of the day too.
My PMC chart on TrainingPeaks is showing some major recovery with the TSB value heading up towards the 45 mark. I was up to around the same value last year too, but my fitness level(CTL in blue) is forecast to be around 95 on raceday, whereas last year I was around 89. Not sure how well those numbers translate to real life, but we will see in a week.
Well this coming week is going to be an even easier one. A couple short workouts early and then on route to Lake Placid for race weekend. I usually do a couple very light, easy workouts up there too just to get the blood flowing a bit. I like to do a little run on River Road after the long drive too just get that blood that all pools up in my legs from a 6 hour drive.
This year should be pretty fun since there are a bunch of people I know racing this year. I am real excited for a few first-timers: Shanna and Ashley. I have a good feeling they are going to kick some major butt in their respective age groups up there. They have had some great success this season so far too. Best of luck ladies!!
There is also a few veterans returning like my Coach Scott, who has done IMLP for the last 10 years. A true IRONMAN out and out! Also Kenrick Smith who is a coach and soon-to-be pro triathlete. His athletic performance is amazing! Also a friend from John Parks is also doing his 5th consecutive Ironman Lake Placid. He is an animal! These are the people that help motivate me to do this stuff. I wish them all the best and love seeing them out on the course.
My bib number this year is 2422. Not quite as nice as my #234 last year, but not too far away either. I suppose that my Ironman Foundation fundraising last year provided me the lowered number. Well, time to start packing up!
See you in Lake Placid!!
Well it’s taper time! All the hard training is behind me now and I will gradually decrease my training volume over the three weeks before Ironman Lake Placid . It works out quite nicely with the start of the Tour de France too. One of my biggest fears during the pre-race taper period is getting sick. This happens to many triathletes as their immune defenses are at an all time low from all the training. Hopefully, my plant-based diet will help guard me against that with all the good nutrients I frequently indulge in.
I started off the week with an active rest day of mowing my lawn. Taper time is always good for catching up on some of those things that get let go during all the training. The rest of the week consisted of typical workouts. I eliminated the two-a-day workouts, so I end up with 2 workouts in each discipline instead of three.
Wednesday was threatening rain so I ended up getting on the trainer again to attempt a final TrainerRoad 20min FTP test while also watching the Tour de France. The FTP test started out ok and I was feeling pretty good until about 2-3 minutes to go. I this sharp pain down the left side of my back. It felt a pulled muscle and I had a hard time taking a breath. It forced me to briefly stop pedaling until I worked it out. I eventually did and tried to re-coop my lost wattage, but it was too late. It ended up giving me an FTP of 223, which was well below my prior FTP of 234. 🙁 I know this is in correct, so I just manually changed it to 230 again. I am also about 7 lbs lighter than I was during the last test so my watts/kg went from 2.79 to 2.9.
Some Bike Maintenance
Another thing that always seems to get put off is bike maintenance. Friday evening I finally got down to degrease my drivetrain and re-lube everything again. I also did a good wash and cleaning of the entire bike as well. My sweat tends to be quite caustic and I really need to do that more often. I also tried putting some bike tube sealant in my rear tire. I really have no idea whether any of it actually got in there or not, but I hope so. I checked over everything and all seems to be good to go.
My long, slow distance(LSD) workouts on the weekend were cut in half, except for my swim which I cut back 15 mins. Swimming doesn’t really take that much out of me, especially when I take it really easy. And for the effort of getting to the pool I might as well take advantage of it.
We were heading up to Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos on Saturday to Sunday for my in-laws family vacation so I got out on the bike a little earlier on Saturday. I stayed on more flatter terrain for the ride to keep the intensity down a bit. It is amazing how fast a 3 hour bike ride is when you have been riding 6 hours every Saturday. I covered a little over 50 miles for an average pace of around 17.4 MPH. I skipped my brick run just due to lack of time.
My Sunday run was a bit of an adventure since I really didn’t know where I was going. Although I had spent a big part of my childhood at Lake Wallenpaupack, I was not familiar with the area we were staying. I only needed to run for an hour and a half, so at least is wasn’t the typical mambo long run I would usually do.
We stayed in the Ledgedale Area and Ledgedale Road turned out to be pretty nice. It was a pretty quiet road trafficwise, but when there was a vehicle you didn’t have too much room to get out of their way. The guardrail was tight up against the road on one side and there were pretty high weeds on the side. Despite that most cars got over enough and it was a really nice road to run on. I had one dog barking and coming after me but never actually made it to the road. Another one was a Weimaraner, fortunately on a chain, barking like a maniac at me. Other than that it was pretty cool. The road followed the small inlet to the lake.
Monday(6 more days until race day)
Well, no training today and I really don’t feel all that great. I really feel so much better when I am training. I did get my dog out for a few walks, so I guess that is something. My biometrics are indicating that my body is starting to peak, but I am not really feeling it yet. I did do some initial packing just because I keep seeing stuff I need to take with me and it is stressing me out a bit. So I starting staging things when I see them.
I tried to chillax a bit on the sofa while watching Duck Dynasty and ended up horizontal before 9PM. I eventually rolled into bed and then I could not get back to sleep right away. I can feel the anxiety starting to build in my belly. It is more excitement than nervous anxiety I think. Just so many unknowns here.
Ironman Lake Placid‘s Facebook page reported Mirror Lake water temp of 75 deg F today. 2 deg drop from previous day. Forecast for the week would indicate it is going lower than that by race day. Dust off that wetsuit!
Still feeling a little groggy most of the day. My HRV reading in the morning was 75, which is pretty good for me so things must be coming together. Work went by pretty fast and on the way home the reality of what is upcoming has started to sink in a little bit. By the time I got home(I only have a 4 mile drive to/from work 🙂 ), I started feeling a bit energetic. Almost like I drank about 5 cups of coffee of something.
My training this week has been reduced to walking the dog, mowing the grass, and packing gear. I mowed the lawn and managed to eat dinner in between doing that. The weather was so much more pleasant and less humid, so it was a much more enjoyable experience. I put Pandora on my iPhone and jammed some tunes while making laps around the yard. With the extra energy, I whipped around the yard with reckless abandon. The speed lever for the self-propelled mower was at full rabbit throttle. It felt like I cut it in record time. Wished I would have timed it with my Garmin? They should add that leg to the Ironman.
After cutting the lawn, I started to get some more packing done. While getting my swim stuff out of the bag I saw my little Ziploc baggie with all my swim workouts stacked together on Sticky Notes. The bottom workout was marked “1/28” which was the very first workout of my official training program. It was pretty cool to fan through them all looking at all those different swim workouts I did this season. Getting a bit nostalgic I guess. I also am pretty stoked about not having any shoulder issues this season too. Last season I aggravated my shoulder and had to stop swimming for a couple weeks right in the prime time of the training season.
Only one more day of work to go!!
I was up at 6am after a killer night sleep. My Jawbone Up showed that the majority of my sleep was deep for the night. Other than the one bathroom stop around 3am, it was solid. Work went fairly smoothly and after lunch my mind started to focus on the weekends task. Eventually the workday ended and I headed over to Cali Burrito to pick up some dinner. Then it was back home to continue the packing. My parents were coming later to pick up my dog, so I took him out in the yard to throw/retrieve the chipmunk. His “chippy” is just a stuffed toy that very closely resembles a chipmunk. I wore him out to the point that he could no longer bring it back to me and his tongue was dragging on the ground.
Eventually my wife arrived home and we had some dinner. More packing. Parents came to pick up the Yuki. My Mom decided that she wanted to come up to see the race. Not a great time to decide this with only 3 days away. Trying to find a reasonably placed hotel that allows pets will be quite the challenge.
With most of the packing completed, it was time to chill for a half hour on the sofa to watch part of one of the Tour de France stages I had saved on the DVR. Then it was off to bed. Long drive day tomorrow. Hoping to leave at 8am, but I know that won’t happen.
I feel like I was going 100 MPH and we just slammed on the brakes! I thought only training 8-9 hours last week was light, but we cut that in half again this week with only ~4 hours total training. It feels like nothing. Crazy to think that some people may think that is a lot, but after 17-18 hour weeks it is peanuts. It has actually worked out quite well though. The heat and humidity have peaked this past week with temps in the mid to high 90’s and humidity you can cut with a knife. There were also a few other things that lined up well and allowed me to make optimal use of the time.
It’s “Tour” time! Yes, the Tour de France is just finishing up today and has consumed the airwaves on the NBC Sports Network Channel. The Tour is around 3 weeks long and this past week was the most exciting part where they head into the Alps for some battles in the mountains. The scenery is beautiful and with our upcoming trip to the Alps, I started to get pretty psyched up for that. This year Chris Froome from the Sky team has been dominating much of it. There is also a little 23 year old guy from Columbia, named Nairo Quintana, that has been really taking the tour by storm. I can see him being a possible tour winner in the future. It has been a pretty interesting 100th running of the tour this year. The best stage was the 2 climbs up Alpe d’Huez one after the other. Simply brutal!
The other thing that worked out was that my wife had gotten a bike fitting early in the week, so we were able to ride together on Saturday for one of my shorter rides. It was a nice morning for a ride too. Not too hot and pretty cloudy which kept the heat down. Actually, we did a brick workout that day with a short 10 minute run off the bike. We even drug our dog, Yuki, along for the run. We rewarded him with a little wallow in the stream afterwards for a cool down. Then he got a bath too.
My Sunday long run was only 45 minutes, so I just headed over to Rodale Fitness Park where I usually do my shorter weekday runs. The heat and humidity finally subsided here a bit, so it was much more tolerable morning. The park was busy with folks walking, running, rollerblading and biking. As I ran around I tried to grasp the fact that Ironman Lake Placid was only a week away and that this time next week I would be out on the bike cruising through the Adirondacks. What seemed like so far away for so long was finally here.
The upcoming week is going to be a really easy one. As my coach says “just chillax” these week. Love that one. I can chillax like the best of them. Short week of work and then on route to the Adirondacks to settle in for the race. I spent some of today finalizing my checklists and getting some last minute bike gear(cheap H2O bottles are hard to find). Time dot the I’s and cross the T’s.
Geekin’ Out…The Techy Stuff
The Training Totals(since January 1 2013)..
|Swimming||169,586 yds(96.4 mi)||66:37 hrs|
|Cycling||2,274.4 miles||140:59 hrs|
|Running||561.1 miles||88:39 hrs|
Heart Rate Variability
My Heart Rate Variability (HRV)rebounded back into the high 60’s and 70’s this week with the reduction in training. I can’s say I really felt that spectacular yet, so hopefully that will come up even more this upcoming week.
Looking at HRV for the entire training season, you can see the up-and-downs that go with the changes in volume and intensity of training. Overall, it appears to trend upward as the 2nd half of the season progresses. The very high value during the first week or two was from an old algorithm that was used in the Sweetbeat iOS app.
Training Load Analysis(TRIMP/CTL/ATL)
The graph below shows that my fatigue(ATL) has dropped significantly below my fitness level(CTL) giving me a positive Training Stress Balance(TSB) of 24(132 CTL-108 ATL = 24 TSB).
Finally the breakdown of weekly training volumes broken up by activity…
Well, that is all for now. Stay tuned for some more frequent updates once we arrive in Lake Placid later in the week. I am sure the town will be a-buzz with activity. The weather up there has dropped significantly this week and I am hoping the lake water temperature drops too. The reading this morning was 77 deg F at 2 feet down. Need that to be under 76 degrees for wetsuit legal race. The call for Sunday is about 40% change of rain and in the mid-70’s. Rain can be a bit uncomfortable, but I do run well in the rain. It keeps me cool and provides me more oxygen in the air. I don’t like it on the bike though, since it can be slippery , more prone to flats, and makes it too cold. We’ll see how that pans out sine we still have 7 days for that to change.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in Lake Placid!!