Archive for June, 2008
OK…so admittedly this is a triathlon blog, but given everything that is going on in this country at the current point in time I feel the obligation to put this video out there to the twenty people who accidentally click on my blog every day. This will be one of the very few departures I make from talking about, well, what really amounts to myself, so take a few minutes out of your day and watch the video….you’ll enjoy it! Obama may not necessarily bring gas prices down below $4.50 a gallon, but if I was a betting man, I’d take that horse every time over the alternative.
This morning I finally made it to my first masters swim. I must admit, I’ve been putting off attending a masters swimming program because I felt a little bit intimidated. My swimming isn’t where I want it to be and I didn’t want to be the guy holding up everyone in the lane.
Most of the intimidation factor was wiped away when I saw the other swimmers in the program. For some reason I had visions of what could probably only be described as a division one collegiate swimming team and that I was going to be the fattest guy within 500 yards of the pool area. This, however, was not the case (thankfully). I was easily the youngest person there by probably about a decade and it was quite clear that most of the people in the group were there for fitness swimming as opposed to part of a triathlon training program. Now, this says nothing about their swimming ability, but the thought I had was “hey, if THEY can do this, then I can do it…no matter how hard it gets.”
The intimidation factor was completely erased once we got past the kick drills (which I forgot to bring my fins for…duh) and on to the main set. There were four people, including me, in my lane (busy morning according to the regulars) of which one I knew was going to be slow but I didn’t know about the other two. The guy in my lane seemed like he was going to be going pretty good, but I found myself constantly having to slow up and wait behind him despite the fact that I was giving him a 12 yard jump start on each 25. This made me feel really good. On the next set, I actually lapped both him and the faster female in my lane (who was wearing zommers…so she probably wasn’t that quick to begin with anyways).
Turned out today (and every Friday) was a short day in which they cut it short and have coffee and treats afterwards. In a way, I’m glad that my first time out didn’t kill me, but then again, I still don’t know how I’ll feel after 4000 yards in the pool. Nonetheless, I know that if the other people in there can do it, so can I.
I enjoyed the environment. There is a huge difference between telling yourself to do another set of 500’s compared to having a coach staring down on you and the peer pressure of the rest of the group doing it as well. This is exactly what I needed for my swim training. With my run training and biking, I never have a problem motivating myself to finish my workout so long as there is actually some gas left in my tank. With swimming though, I find myself making little bargains and convincing myself that what I’ve already done is enough. No longer though…I’ll be doing masters swimming at least three days a week and I’m looking forward to faster swim splits ahead.
I think my hatred of the gym (24 hour fitness in particular) has finally boiled over this morning and I plan on joining a masters swimming program within the next few days. Maybe it was the fact that I drove 15 minutes to the gym only to find a “pool closed for maintenance” sign posted on the front door, but more likely, I think it is the culmination of all the things I hate about going to the gym. So, without further ado, reasons why I hate the gym:
1) Butt Naked People in Locker Room. Yes, I know it’s a locker room, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a towel. It’s 5:30 in the morning and I haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet, the LAST thing I want to see is a 70 year old butt naked fat guy drying his hair under the air dryer (this actually happened this morning…).
2) Nasty happenings in the bathroom. Again, I understand it, but some of y’all are just filthy. I mean, seriously, you should go see a doctor. Please do everyone a favor and either (a) hold it until you get to home/work, or (b) embrace the courtesy flush. When I’m having to hold my nose just to take a leak, there’s something wrong.
3) Waiting, waiting, and more waiting…then hurry. Maybe I’m just too considerate. Maybe I should just act like everyone else and take my sweet ass time when somebody else is waiting. Maybe I should, but I don’t. I hate waiting for what feels like forever to get into a lane, onto a machine, etc. and then feel rushed (and not get in my full workout) because somebody else is waiting to use it. Ughh…just frustrating.
4) Gym Guys. You know who you are. You carry around that gallon of water and take up four machines at once while you wear a shirt that would embarrass most runway models so that you can look at yourself in the mirror while you grunt so loud that people in the next room don’t know whether to be annoyed or call for help. Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t understand the desire to get huge. It really doesn’t look good. I’d take a cut triathlete’s body any day of the week over what some of these muscle guys look like.
5) Gym Women. You’re almost as bad but in a whole different way. You’ll spend an hour doing cardio boxing or stretch yoga or something of that sort and then walk next door into Starbucks and order a grande carmel something or another. Here’s a quick hint for you: you’d need to spend another few hours punching air to burn off all the calories you just ingested with that “coffee”.
6) Nasty Pools. I don’t know why this one didn’t come to mind earlier, but this is actually near the top of my list. Whether it’s improper chlorination or seeing clumps of hair pass by beneath you as you do a lap (check and check again this morning), gym pools are just nasty and leave me feeling dirty. God forbid you get into the pool after a swim class put on by the gym where 90% of the participants likely wear depends in their day-to-day activities. Ewww…I’ve said enough…I’m grossing myself out.
So, for all the reasons I’ve listed (and despite the fact that I’m paid up at 24 Hour Fitness through next March), I’m quitting the gym. I might use it once a week, but primarily I plan on doing my swim workouts with the masters team. I just can’t take it anymore (and yes, it was the old guy that pushed me over the edge this morning)…
I used to wonder what Joe Friel meant when he referred to “breakthrough workouts” as those workouts that take you 48-72 hours to recover from. After the longest ride of my training so far last Sunday (52 miles), I no longer have this same sense of wonder. Just to prove that I’m following Friel’s advice, he advises in his ironman training book that “your butt should give out before your legs” when talking about long rides; well, Joe, I’m happy to report that my butt is still sore from my ride the other day (but I’m guessing that this isn’t what you meant).
So, this morning, I’m sitting here trying to study with a sore butt and a long run scheduled for this morning (probably in the neighborhood of 13 miles) and I’m a little torn about what I should do. I’m guessing that I’m going to just go ahead and do the run since my schedule will be completely screwed if I don’t. Plus, considering this is just a little lingering soreness from lactic acid build-up rather than an actual injury, I’m figuring I won’t feel a thing after the first mile or two.
On another note, this soreness shows the importance of doing active recovery workouts. I would have done a little spinning last night had it not been for the fact that my trainer has essentially crapped out on me. The help desk for blackburn sent me back quite possibly the least useful advice I’ve ever seen (“try cleaning the roller with some rubbing alcohol”…gee thanks…I’m sure that will solve the problem of the trainer having no resistance whatsoever). Oh well though…my Computrainer arrives today so I’ll be sure to post more on this later.
So I hinted in a recent post that I might end up buying a Computrainer again and the prognostication has come to fruition. I recently ordered another Computrainer and will have it early next week. So the question one might be asking is, “WHY?” After all, I sang the praises of the advantages of the Powertap in this post and have since loved training with it both indoors and outdoors.
The answer to that question comes down to a couple of factors:
First, the actual replacement cost for me was only about $100 since I was able to sell my old one for just under $1500 and my replacement, with shipping, only cost me about $1575 with shipping.
Second, (the real reason) my current trainer was just not cutting it anymore. I’m not sure what was going on with it, but it would have spouts where the rolling resistance felt almost like nothing at all and others where it felt like I was going into a 20 mph headwind. I’m a little upset since I spent about $300 on this trainer when I got it (before my first Computrainer) and now it’s crapping out on me a little more than a year later.
Third, some points that are relevant to everyone (i.e. the benefits of the computrainer over a standard trainer even with power)
- Ability to construct courses. I love Joe Friel’s book, but I’ll be damned if I can find a long, slow gradual hill with no more than a 2% grade which takes me 6-12 minutes to climb in San Diego so that I can do hill cruise intervals. I’m sorry…I’ve looked…it doesn’t exist. Hell, for that matter, finding a road that goes more than 5K without a stoplights or stop signs is a challenge. The Computrainer’s ability to construct courses will allow me to set up some of these workouts that I’ve been wanting to do from the comfort of my home.
- Spinscan. One of the easiest ways to increase your average power output is to increase your efficiency on the bike. Mine needs some tuning so I’ll be utilizing Spinscan like a madman.
- Course Simulation. So you have that out-of-town triathlon coming up three months from now and you’re curious about the hills, etc? Well if you have the right software (i.e. TopoUSA Racermate Edition) you’ll be able create that course and race on it as many times as you want prior to your event from the comfort of your home.
- Efficiency of time and workouts. This one is big for me. Currently I have more free time to get outside and ride than the average person but starting in a few months, this goes away for good. Having the ability to get in a solid workout any time of the day and have every minute be spent efficiently is huge. Additionally, even when I can make it outside, how productive is a ride when you’re constantly being stopped at stoplights, have to slow up for traffic, etc.? A recent ride on Wednesday on a route that looked great in theory (good distance, good climb, etc) turned into a veritable nightmare on the road (horrible road conditions, worse-than-expected traffic, tons of stoplights, construction, etc.) This experience pushed me over the edge.
With my runs getting longer and longer, I’ve been thinking about replacing my current shoes. The question was, however, what type of shoes did I need? I have a high arch and I’m a fairly big guy (175 or so), so I wanted something that would be able to support me and limit injuries.
With all of this in mind, I decided that it was about time for a new pair of running shoes, so I headed over to Road Runner Sports in San Diego to check it out. I’d heard some good things about the store and I wanted to go to a specialty running store so that I could speak to somebody knowledgeable about what shoes would work best for me. To be honest, having worked in retail for the better part of a decade during my undergraduate years, I wasn’t expecting much more than a slightly more knowledgeable version of somebody that works at a sporting goods store.
This expectation, however, was quickly dispelled of within minutes of entering the store. A salesperson approached me within a few minutes and, after learning that it was my first time in the store, directed me towards a tech fitting area (I can’t remember what they call it). Inside this area, I was immediately greeted, put through two tests (one to determine my arch and the other to determine my running style), sized up, and given a recommendation sheet with the type of shoes I should look at. Wow. I really wasn’t expecting that.
So back to the salesperson. She brought out three different types of shoes that fit the style (neutral) that was recommended for me. I tried all three on and tried them out on the treadmill. I must say that the ability to try them out on the treadmill was probably my favorite part of the experience. I’ve purchased shoes before based on the way they felt walking in them and was subsequently disappointed with the way they felt when I ran.
I ended up with a pair of shoes that might possibly be the best fitting pair of running shoes I’ve ever owned. The only bad part all of this is that I’m not scheduled for another run until Friday (I may sneak in some treadmill work tomorrow afternoon though…I really can’t wait to run in these things!).
I guess the point of this post is twofold. First, you really should go to a specialty running store if for no other reason than the ability to try out the shoes on a treadmill before you leave the store. Second, if you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a Road Runner Sports, I highly recommend you visit them.