Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Maximizing Results with CrossFit and Endurance/Triathlon Training

As Carly and I head into the stretch run before our first Half Ironman together down in New Orleans on April 22, 2012, I've received many questions from people curious about what it is like getting ready for a Half Ironman. The race itself involves a 1.2 mile swim, then a 56 mile bike, and a finale of running a half marathon (13.1 miles). For myself, my training has been a mixture of programs I've come across over the years. My wife Carly has been following a modified version of the Triathlon Dominator program by Ben Greenfield. Carly will be the first to tell you how obsessed I am with following Ben Greenfield and all of his fitness/triathlon advice but the guy knows his stuff and brings up lots of ideas that make you re-think nutrition and racing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday Tunes - Avicii Live Set at the Ultra Music Festival (March 25, 2012)

At the Ultra Music Festival in Miami this past weekend, Avicii headlined Saturday night with a surprise appearance by the fifty-something Material Girl, Madonna (currently known as MDNA). Although Madonna being on stage received mixed reaction, Avicii did his thing and got the crowd dancing to all of his big hits, including the fist-pumper anthem of 2011, Levels, which he mixed in with current indie rock hit, Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye. The set is a non-stop rager and should be good to carry you through a 45-minute run ending with Levels as the grand finale to push you to the finish.

01.) Madonna – Girl Gone Wild (Avicii Remix)
02.) Lenny Kravitz – Superlove (ID Remix)
03.) David Guetta & Avicii – Sunshine w/ Florence and the Machine – Spectrum (Acappella)
04.) Avicii & Nicky Romero – Nicktim w/ Justice – D.A.N.C.E. (Acappella)
05. Avicii – Fade Into Darkness w/ Florence & the Machine – You’ve Got The Love (Mark Knight Remix) w/ Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Albin Myers Remix)
06. Avicii & Sebastien Drums – My Feelings For You w/ Albin Myers – Hells Bells
07. Avicii – “ID2?
08. David Guetta feat. Sia – Titanium (Alesso Remix)
09. Avicii feat. Salem Al Fakir – Silhouettes
10. Avicii – All You Need is Love
11. Avicii – Levels w/ Gotye feat. Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know (Acappella) w/ Avicii – Levels (Vitzi’s Old School Intro Edit)

YouTube Stream:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekly Review: March 19 to March 25, 2012

This past week was a mixed one. On the positive side, I hit my goals of doing 3 core routines and 2 strength exercises while getting an extra long bike workout in. On the negative side, this was due to some issues with my left leg which prevented me from doing my runs. The first issue that popped up was a sore left calf muscle, probably due to last week's 13-miler. Nothing serious, but I opted to just rest it knowing that I had a half marathon coming up. Later in the week, my left quadricep started to bother me and while doing some muscle manipulations, I felt a pretty noticeable knot in the muscle (Carly also verified) that is probably the source of the  pain. Knots aren't the end of the world but it will take some patience and diligence with rolling them out every day to remove them. It could easily turn into ITB issues if not cared for accordingly. I was debating whether or not to run the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon yesterday up until Saturday afternoon when I went for an easy run between football games to see how it would feel. It did not feel great at all. I could have been a hard ass and tried to gut out the race but it was pointless because the race was a "C" race for me and more of a fun thing to do. It was tough having to pull-out of my first race ever but I opted to play it conservative and focus on getting recovered and ready for the New Orleans Half Ironman which is a "B" race for me, so a little higher on the priority scale. Hopefully this is one of those "one step backwards, two step forwards" scenarios.

Despite the frustration from an early season injury, the key is staying positive and celebrating some of the other small wins to keep myself motivated and pushing forward. Here are some of the positives:

  • Turning recovery day into a very light workout day as opposed to 100% off. A part of getting better is frequency so I've decided to do a short, light 1000yd swim on Mondays to try to get extra pool time in and my body used to swimming more
  • First "big" swim of the year. I hit 3200 yds for a swim session on Friday which is probably the longest I've swam in a year for a workout.
  • First outside ride of the year on the bike. I haven't ridden outside on my back since the Poconos Half Ironman last October so it was great being out there. It is funny because the ride was a substitute workout for not doing the half marathon but that is a benefit of triathlon/cross-training in that there is always some kind of workout you can do. I averaged 21 mph over 40 miles and dropped a guy trying to draft me so great early season ride
  • More improvement on body composition. I slightly loss some weight over last week (.1 lb) from 170.5 to 170.4 which is negligible but my body fat % dropped down to 8.3% from  the previous week of 9.8% and lower than my best this year at 8.6% which overall is a new personal low for me. I'm hoping the difference is more lean muscle mass from my increased focus on lifting. I did track everything I ate last week pretty extensively so I'll post that up later this week for everyone to get an idea of how my diet/nutrition plays along with the workouts.
Overall, an up and down week but I'm optimistic I'll get over the leg injury. Being that both issues occurred on the left leg, it does cause me to re-evaluate any strength/mobility discrepancies between my right and left leg which maybe causing the injury. I think my left leg maybe over compensating for my right leg somewhere during my stride. I'll have to test it out and fix it.

Total Time: 10hr 31min
Total Distance: 99.75 miles
Swim: 5300 yds/2hr 26min
Bike: 88.67 miles/4 hr 33min
Run: 8 miles/1 hr 06min
Strength: 2hr 26min

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

In The Kitchen: Coconut Curry Stir Fry and Fruit Salad

Not to be stereo-typical (but I will be), I have really neglected making stir fry despite my Asian background. In terms of quick and easy to make meals, stir fry is a great go to option. Yet, I've NEVER made stir fry in my life  until yesterday. The inspiration behind giving it a try came from my Vegas trip when I had incredible stir fry at the food court inside of the MGM. It was crazy delicious and best of all, extremely healthy with all fresh vegetables, lean beef, and coconut curry sauce. I have also been looking to burn through my Philly Cow Share beef so this was a great opportunity to do so.

The Difference

Visual of what "Darwin" looks like

Competing in races involves just as much mental capacity as well as physical capacity, even more so for endurance races where you actually have time to "think" during a race and not simply just react. Occasionally I'll have the mental battles either during training or a race so I thought it would be different to share some of my mental approach to training and racing to give you an idea of what goes off inside of my head. Today's story is called, The Difference.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Losing Nearly A Pound of Weight Despite Binging in Las Vegas for Four Days

Last week I went to Las Vegas with a group of guys for our annual Vegas trip and being an active triathlete in training for a full distance Ironman race later this summer, one of my priorities was figuring out a way to fit in the workouts among all the fun and not trash by body too much and coming back with un-needed weight that I would have to spend extra time working back off. After all was said and done, I came back from Vegas to a pleasant surprise of actually losing nearly a pound and decreasing body fat % by another .1 %. The instant feedback from people that heard about this was a lot of disbelief and questions on how the hell that was possible. To be fair, I did go into the trip with the goal of losing weight upon returning so that did motivate a lot of my actions while in Vegas. Goals and execution are two distinct things though so here are the "Four Pillars" I followed and how I went about on the execution.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekly Review: March 12 to March 18, 2012

I really had no expectations for the past week due to the travel schedule. I arrived back from Vegas last Sunday night, was in Philly for a day on Monday, then headed back out to Seattle on Tuesday and stayed there until Friday morning for my flight back home. With all the travel, time limitations, equipment limitations, and overall wear & tear on the body from lack of sleep, The week ended up more respectable than I had originally thought.

I started off the week again on Monday instead of the usual rest day and did a swim workout. The more I think about it and reading feedback from other athlete's training schedules, I may start doing light, recovery type workouts on Mondays rather than taking the entire day completely off so that rest/recovery day doesn't mean no workout day. On Tuesday, I had planned to do a bike workout in the morning and swim at lunch but I hit the intervals a bit too hard and ended up puking after the last one which wrecked by body for the rest of the day and I made the decision to not do the swim before leaving for my flight.

While in Seattle, we stayed at a decent hotel, The Double Tree, by the SeaTac airport. Since I primarily stay at Hilton-branded properties, I try to stay at either a Hilton Garden Inn or a Double Tree to ensure the workout facilities have decent equipment. While in Seattle, I was able to get in 3 runs (5 mi, 3 mi, 7mi), two strength/core workouts, and a bike workout on an exercise bike where I translated the TrainerRoad workout from Power to Heart Rate Thresholds so I knew what targets to hit:

TrainerRoad Workout based on Power:

TrainerRoad Workout translated to Heart Rate on my fancy workout planner on a hotel Post-It:

I was supposed to do a long bike on Saturday but opted to sleep in and get some energy back before playing in a couple of football games and then heading out for St. Patty's Day activities. Admittedly, I was a bit wiped getting up at 4am to run 7 miles before my flight back to Philly on Friday morning.

Inspired by all the people I knew doing either the Rock and Roll Half/Full Marathon in DC and the NYC Half Marathon, I ran my own "personal" half marathon Sunday afternoon. I wanted to get a sense of pacing so I did the first 11 miles at pace slightly faster than easy and then picked it up to a tempo pace the last 2 miles to see how that would feel. The run itself was great overall and I'm comfortable targeting 7:45min/mile for the first 8 miles at the Casesar Rodney Half Marathon next week (first race of 2012!) and then dropping it down for the last 5 miles based upon how I'm feeling. I also practiced nutrition and will probably only need half a flask of EFS Liquid Shot and will take water on the course, probably every mile after the first 6.

Overall, I still hit the 4 runs including the #1 workout (the long run) but missed a swim workout and a bike workout. One week missing shouldn't derail me too much so no worries, just have to focus on the week ahead. Here's a training tip. Life-events will no doubt happen that will interfere with training and cause you to miss workouts. For endurance events (half marathons/marathons/70.3/Ironmans), the two key workouts you should never miss and somehow plan around to make sure they happen are the long bike/long run.

Injury-wise, I still get occasional soreness from the Plantar Fasciitis and it was esp annoying this week since I didn't have The Stick with me while traveling to roll out the calves after the runs. I remedied this for the future by getting the travel version of The Stick which will fit in my carry-on suitcase. Good news is that I did not feel it affect my long run at all yesterday. My left hip flexor is more sore/tighter than usual so I'll have to watch that and back-off on any speed workouts for the run if it becomes bothersome.

Weight-wise, today's check-in was bizarre. Apparently I'm down nearly 3 pounds, from 173.4 to 170.5lbs while my body fat % jumped up from 8.7 to 9.8%. I weighed myself twice this morning to make sure it wasn't a bad reading. I'm not sure the factors but it maybe due to being on a plane so much last week. I also know that the long runs generally burn off a ton of weight that is slowly regained through the week so we'll see what next week's check-in looks like.

Total Time: 8hr 24min
Total Distance: 66.91 miles
Swim: 2300 yds/0hr 51min
Bike: 37.5 miles/1 hr 58min
Run: 28 miles/3 hr 53min
Strength: 1hr 41min

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lose Weight and Live Healthier By Laying Off the Wheat. A Book Review of Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD

For the past couple of years, I’ve been making changes to my eating habits based upon Paleo Diet guidelines. I wouldn’t say I was strict about it but since the diet was focused on eating a lot of meat and I loved eating meat, it was something that was easier to follow. This effort also coincided with my interest in gluten-free foods due to a rising popularity of endurance athletes eating gluten free in the weeks leading up to a major race. The primary guideline of eating Paleo-style is eating foods that cavemen ate because the human body had not evolved to consume modern-day food. Common foods on the No-No list are grains, dairy products, legumes and vegetable oil products. The author of the Paleo Diet, Loren Cordain, provides plenty of theories/examples of why these foods shouldn’t be consumed but some of it didn’t make sense to me. Is milk really that bad if it comes from a grass-fed free range cow? What about beneficial probiotics that come from yogurts not jacked up on processed sweeteners. What about sprouting foods like legumes to remove the phytic acid but enjoy the fiber/protein benefits? What about grains…is it really all grains? The example that comes to mind are Asians who eat tons of white rice yet are thin for the most part and seemingly have longer life spans than their Western world counterparts. With all of these questions, it is hard to really pin down what we are eating that we really shouldn’t be eating. I then came across Wheat Belly by William Davis and after reading it, am convinced that one simple thing you can do to live a healthier life is to lay off the wheat.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: Steady140 Spring Break 2012

After a weekend spent in Vegas, part of me wishes I was still raging at a pool/club instead of being back in Philly. The energy in Vegas is always incredible and you feel like it is a non-stop party as soon as you wake up and look outside your window. To relive some of that feeling, I've been listening to this one-hour continuous mix from Steady130 of some of the current songs on the radio that were played pretty often while in Vegas. I always say that partying music and workout music is interchangeable!

Download Link

1. Nicki Minaj - Starships (DalePlay Remix)
2. LMFAO – Sorry For Party Rocking (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)
3. Pitbull feat. Chris Brown – International Love (Clinton Sparks & Disco Fries Remix)
4. Nelly vs. Zedd – Hot in Herre (FactorySettings Mashup)
5. Havana Brown feat. Pitbull – We Run The Night (Static Revenger Mix)
6. Rihanna - Hard (Chew Fu Remix)
7. Richard Vission & Static Revenger feat. Luciana - I Like That
8. Breathe Carolina – Blackout (Wideboys Mix)
9. R.I.O feat. U-Jean - Animal (Lucky Dice Remix)
10. Enrique Iglesias - I Like It (DJ Bourg Remix)
11. Nicole Scherzinger - Wet
12. Mohombi – Bumpy Ride (Grooveshakerz Bootleg)
13. Flo Rida feat. Akon - Who Dat Girl (Dave Edwards Remix)
14. Beyonce – Party (Megaman & Panic City Remix)
15. David Guetta feat. Usher – Without You (Lyrakill Remix)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekly Review - March 5 to March 11, 2012

Looking at my overall schedule for the Spring, I forecasted this week to be a "throw-away" week due to the annual Las Vegas trip. Last year, there was tons of excessive partying/drinking and there wasn't much working out going on. Despite the reality of the situation, I did make more of an effort this year to ensure that training wouldn't be completely de-railed by Vegas and at the very least, be able to maintain.

My plan was to skip my typical Monday rest day and use it as a workout day and "betting" that there would probably be a day or two that I would miss a workout while in Vegas. I also front loaded the week with swim/bike workouts because I knew the chances of getting a swim or bike workout while in Vegas was low while it would be easy to run on a treadmill or outside.

The swim workouts were solid. One day was a "threshold" building day with the 14 x 100yd repeats and the other swim day following it was an endurance swim workout. I totaled 4900 yds which is about what I want to be doing at this point. The bike workouts were great as well. The Monday workout focused around Vo2 max efforts which I haven't done yet at this point in the season so I really felt the burn on the legs. The other workout was a 3 x 12 minute FTP-effort interval. The runs in Vegas went a lot better than expected. Due to lack of luggage space, I chose to bring my new Merrell Bare Access Shoes since they were the shoes I had that packed the most minimally. I haven't run any long distances in these shoes yet and wasn't sure how my feet/legs would react to running in a zero-drop shoe. Thankfully, they responded pretty well and I experienced no discomfort from using them for the longer runs.

We got to Vegas late Wednesday night (midnight) and rather than start drinking/gambling right away, I opted to just take it easy that night. I still didn't get to bed until 2am or so PST time but managed to get about 6 hours of sleep. I knew this would probably be the most alcohol-free sleep I would get the entire trip so I opted to do my long run on the first day there knowing that sleep/energy would gradually decline through the weekend and chances of doing a decent long run on Sunday (my normal long run day) would be slim. I knocked out 10-miles fairly easily and did not feel any pain from running in Bare Access'. Friday's goal was to spend sometime on an exercise bike and then do a brick run right afterwards. The gym had one exercise bike which was broken so I ended up using the recumbent cycle and then hopping on the treadmill afterwards. We went to Haze Nightclub on Friday night and I didn't get to bed until 7:30am so that pretty much scrapped any workouts on Saturday. I did make it a point to get up at 8:30am no matter how crappy I felt to get an hour run in before the plane ride home so I was able to knock out a 7.5 mile run which felt a lot better than expected.

The arches/heel/plantar Fasciitis is a bit more tender today than it has been but I think it is primarily because of not being able to use The Stick/TriggerPoint to massage my leg muscles after the run. Other than that, still relatively injury-free which is great.

In terms of weight/body metrics, I dropped almost a full pound last week, from 174.2 to 173.4 lbs despite being in Vegas for most of it and the body fat % went up slightly to 8.7% from 8.6%. There were a few specific things I did in Vegas to minimize weight gain so I'll probably talk about that later this week.

Total Time: 7hr 44min
Total Distance: 70.34 miles
Swim: 4900 yds/2hr 4min
Bike: 49.31 miles/2 hr 40min
Run: 19.6 miles/2 hr 36min
Strength: 0hr 23min

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: Super Mash Bros - Mile(y) High Club

For fans of mash-up albums like Girl Talk or The White Panda, this should be right up your alley. Here's a 54 minute compilation of 16 songs by the Super Mash Brothers. The latest album, Mile(y) High Club features a number of popular hits cut/sliced/diced together into something new and fresh. Whether you need some workout tunes or want to crank something out for some party rocking, this is definitely something to add to the playlist. Check out a sample track below and download the album!

Album Download

Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekly Review - February 27 to March 4, 2012

I had a recovery week last week so going into this week, everything felt refreshed, both physically and mentally. This was the first full week training at a higher FTP level on the bike alongside of more difficult bike workouts via the TrainerRoad program but I manged through it fine. I'm really happy with my progress on the bike trainer during the off season and can't wait to get to see how it translates on outside road speed. For the run, I've been slow increasing volume with the goal of hitting 4 runs a week. I hit 31 miles this week which is a pretty good number at this point of the year. I'll probably start dipping into the mid-30's in about a couple of weeks. On the swim, I feel I've slacked off this week. I'm hitting two swims a week which is good for consistency but need to get at least 2500 yds to get any better. It will be a stretch hitting it this week since I leave for Vegas for a weekend away on Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see how this trip affects my fitness overall.

Injury-wise, nothing to really complain about. I'm still feeling occasional soreness/weakness in my foot from the Plantar Fasciitis. It is basically just managing it at this point with lots of stretching, The Stick, and TriggerPoint to keep the ligaments/muscles pliable. I easily hit 12 miles on my long run without having to add time to my pace and no foot issues came up which is great. I think I've hit a sweet spot with the trilogy of The Stick/Triggerpoint/Dynamic Stretching routines in keeping me injury-free so far.

In terms of weight/body metrics, I dropped another .6 pounds this week and the body fat % went down slightly to 8.6% which is an all-time low for me. I'm probably starting to plateau in terms of weight but I have a feeling it will spike upwards after a weekend in Vegas. Another stat I've been keeping track of is morning resting pulse. It has been holding pretty steady around 51bpm so although I ramped up volume this past week, I'm not quite overdoing it.

Total Time: 11hrs 9min
Total Distance: 95.4 miles
Swim: 4200yds/1hr 55min
Bike: 62miles/3hr 33min
Run: 31 miles/4 hr 21min
Strength: 1hr 20min

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