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Sunday, January 30, 2011


Every triathlete has heard about it, and every triathlete has been told do it. Some do and some don't and until last Tuesday I was apart of the latter. This past week I finally mustered up the courage and decided to join the local Masters group here in La Crosse. I had no idea what to expect but have been told by many people (triathletes or not) that masters is simply the way to go, and one of, if not, the best option to improve your swimming.

Masters is a great community of swimmers from around the nation, whom all meet at pools all around the country everyday. All sessions are led by coaches who may be the local swim team coach, to a former olympic swimmer, to even a college coach. The swimmers themselves may be new swimmers, triathletes, former college swimmers, or even olympians. I have heard that all of these prospects have been in these masters classes, and that the diversity of one class to the other can be completely different, and that is one of the reasons why masters swimming is so unique. The resources in these classes are plenty and the knowledge that can be shared around from everyone is endless.

My class is led by a former high school swimmer adn now local swim team coach who still swims actively. She leads our group which is a bit on the smaller side with about 6-8 swimmers. We have triathletes, former swimmers, and a couple that are new to the water. Everyone is really friendly in the class, and we all have our personal goals of what we want to obtain from the class, of which, Katie has figured out from each one of us. Our class if Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays all meeting and finising before the sun even rises. Swimming that early in the morning is never fun, and one reason why I quit at an early age, but it's a great start to the day when you jump out of the water.

The great thing about masters classes is that there is always someone right next to you to help push you through the set. Last week while doing a tough set of sprints I was starting to fade a bit in the water, but Megan who swam in the lane next to me and of just about equal speed was able to help me grind it out and finish the set. This is one of the many reasons why I have joined masters, as if I was doing that on my own I most likely would have vut the set short. Another great reason, at least for me, is to learn my pacing speeds in the pool. Before when I set would say easy or moderate I would always seem to swim a few seconds too fast, or put in too hard an effort. But when you are sharing the lane with 3-4 other swimmers all of the same ability it teachs yourself to pace better and not blow yourself out halfway through a distance set.

Katie watches us all swim from the deck and critiques our stroke and offers advice, and ideas on how to improve our imperfections. She can also right up some great sets that I could never think of on my own on the spot. Variety in swimming is key, not just to improve but also to keep away from the boredom of doing 100+ with no one else around of variety. Our coach seems to be good at pushes us in the pool, but heck I have only been their for 2 classes so who knows what she has in store. Every Tuesday is a distance set, and every Thursday rotates between distance and sprints. Friday's have low attendence so I am hoping to use a few of those for some one on one coaching.

Class runs through April which not only gives me plenty of time to improve my swim to the ability that I believe I am capable of, but also a chance to make some great triathlete friends in the area. Can't wait to become a fish!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

I would like to see...happen in 2011

Well we are 20 days into the new year, and it is finally time that I state some goals that I will be chasing for the upcoming year. Last year I had three goals, and three goals only. They were all time related, and while they required some great effort in training, I feel they left a lot of potential on the table in me. This year I am taking a new approach to my goals for the year. First, I will have goals in training that I would like to accomplish through the year. The main idea behind this is that my training goals will help propel me to reach my racing goals in 2011.

2011 Training Goals
b. Hit 95% of all workouts throughout the year
2. Volume: Swim 350,000 yards, Bike 4,000 miles, Run 1,000 miles

The first goal is a two-part goal, with consistency being the driving force in all my goals this season. I decided to put consistency into my goals for the single reason that I lacked much of it last year. This time last year I was not able to swim, was just starting to run again, and spinning in my trainer was not requiring hard efforts. Once summer started, my run training faltered during the month of June, while I smashed a lot of miles on my bike. Some weeks I was able to hit all my workouts, and sometimes I was so busy with work that my hardest weeks turned into easy recovery weeks. Things finally got on track in August and I had my first 100 mile running month, along with putting in great swim and bike volume as well. Then after Ironman it appeared on was on a breakup with my bike while I focused on training for a half-marathon, and soon after that, got back into the pool to prep for 2011. All throughout the year it seemed that my training had more ups and downs then the IMWI bike course, and that I was never putting out one consistent week after another, which is key to this year. I realized that this was a huge fault in my training, and if I wanted to have any chance in reaching the success that I feel I am capable of in 2011, I would have to be consistent. With this stated, my goal trainingwise, is to hit 95% of all my workouts throughout the year. That equals out to 19 every 20, or in better understanding skipping 1 workout about every 2 weeks. Doing this, will keep my weeks productive, and I will rarely have to do any restructuring as I seemingly did every week last year. I am planning my training over the race season right now (April-October), but will mostly write 2 weeks into the future with details of each training session.

Volume is my second training goal and is really only a goal to make sure that I am putting in the time that I feel is necessary to the net the results that I would not only like see in 2011, but to set me up for a successful 2012 and getting back to the Ironman distance. Going back to consistency it's important that I spread this volume out correctly and not putting in 400 miles of running in the final couple of months to make sure that I hit my goal. This numbers for volume do not necessarily mean I will be training more, but again, training more consistently. I feel that I will keep the same training weeks as I did last summer, maybe a bit less, but over the course of 12 months I will have greater volume. For example I only really swam 5 months last year and put in about 110,000 yards which comes out to about 22,00 per month. This year if I swim 350,000 yards over 12 months I will average just under 30,000 yards a month, or just under 8,000 yards a week. This is still a lighter volume and something that is very attainable. Running will peak through the second half of summer through fall, but my months will average just under 90 miles a month. This will be a big jump from last year, but again, with consistency easily attainable. I would like to put on about another 500 miles biking and as long as I don't take a vacation from my bike through the fall this should be rather easy.

Racing Goals
This is where goal setting gets a bit tricky. How hard do I make the goals that I want? make them too hard and you might set yourself up for failure, and overtraining. Too low and you lack motivation and the feeling of success when you accomplish your goal. At first I did not want to make any goals based on race times, but have decided that is really the best way to measure my improvement. If I want to finish top 10% for a race and the nations top elites show up it would make it almost impossible suddenly. That said I have two time goals for the year:

Race Goals
Sub 5 hours at Racine 70.3
Sub 1:35 at Haunted Hustle HM

In reality if I beat my Racine goal the HM goal shouldn't be too hard. After all, if I want to go under 5 hours at Racine I will have to run close to a 1:50 split in the HM which should correspond to about a 1:35-1:40 time in an open HM. I have no specific reason for my Racine goal other then I see that I hold the potential in me to reach that time. After the race (Racine) last year I felt that I held back a little bit on the run and could have beat 5:20. Mix in a bad swim, and the chain coming off my bike twice and I could have been near 5:15. Also this year is really about running, getting a solid base of miles and getting my pace a little faster off the bike in the longer distance since this is something that I struggled with mightily last year. My goal time at the HM is simply to get me to train hard for the race and hopefully build a strong run in me. Both of these race goals are building blocks for my return to Ironman next year and erasing my horrible marathon time, and becoming more competitve in the race in general. Of course the only way that these goals can be met is through...CONSISTENCY!

While I am at it I would like to see a few things happen this year...
Podium one race
Have an epic smashfest weekend
Become a more proficient bike mechanic
Discover trail running
Move up a lane in Master's

Oh and the Packers are gonna win come Sunday!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 - What Are You Going To Make of This Moment?

I have never been one to use quotes or mantras to set the tone for something in my life, but I am going to give it a try this year. I have decided to incorporate the mantra "What are you going to make of this moment?" into not only my training, but into my life as a whole in 2011. If you have known me at all in the past decade you know that I am someone that lives in the moment, never lets an opportunity by, and always says yes. That all changed somewhere in 2008, and now I am hungry to get that back.

With this year I will be experiencing many new adventures. First and foremost I am currently moving across the state to La Crosse and returning to school. I will be going back to obtain my bachelor's degree that I bailed on 4 years ago to earn my associates in Fire Science and Emergency Medical Sciences at the time. I am also moving in with my girlfriend, Kate, whom I have been with since the beginning of 2010. I will be getting a new job, making new friends, and being introduced into a brand new and smaller community. I have left the past 7 years of my life back in Milwaukee, looking for a change in scenery.

If there is one thing that has changed in me since 2008, it would be that I have passed on opportunities, at least some of them. I still have done a lot and been very productive, but I feel as though I was content for awhile just working for tips in restaurants and doing my own thing away from school. Last year I strictly worked and trained and while I was happy at first, I soon realized that I was missing out on a lot as most of my close friends were now starting careers with the same degree that I bailed on a few years back. Like I said the hunger is back again, everyday I am doing as much as I can to finish school, and bring out the potential in me that I have kept quiet for so long.

This now goes back to triathlon in the sense of training and racing. Last year I was careful and showed restraint in my training. Being only my second year in the sport and with an Ironman race looming over the horizon all summer I wanted to nail everything just right. This led me to be very careful in my training for Ironman, not too overtrain was key for me, and to be fully healed from my shoulder/arm injury before I got back into the pool. This ultimately had me to undertrained in both the swim, and run for Ironman. I did the best I could with balancing training and work last year, my job had demanding hours that sometimes prevented training that day or the next morning, having worked until very late the night before. Now with another years experience and knowledge under my belt I better understand how my body adapts to the training, I understand more of what I need to do, and what I need to avoid. I wouldn't say that my hours or volume per say will increase (although I am sure they will over the course of the year, but my daily averages will probably stay the same), just my efficiency and consistency. I want to see where I can take myself, wether it is a top AG'er, a KQ'er, someone who just loves to swim, bike, run, or someone that does all that and promotes the sport as well and helps others along the way. I did this with the sport of Lacrosse in High School and College and loved every minute of it.

So when am I faced with decisions that effect future outcomes this year I will constantly ask myself the question of "What are you going to make of this moment?" It's important to get the bike rolling early in the year and keep the momentum going throughout the year!

See you all in La Crosse!