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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weight Loss and Training

Weight is a highly individual thing.

Some people eat whatever they want and don't gain an ounce. Others (ie. me!) just get a whiff of food and gain a pound.

I see this kind of comment a lot:

"I run 4 times a week but I haven't dropped any weight!"

I can relate.

I trained for Ironman. Every week was 10+ hours of training, 8,000-10,000 calories burned through exercise. This went on for 8-9 months.

So how many pounds did I lose while training for Ironman?


On race day, I weighed almost exactly what I did when I started out in December/January.

The reason? Training became a license to eat. And eat I did... extra carbs, extra protein, even extra fat... when you know you're burning calories like crazy you feel you can consume them like crazy.


And now the worst part... how much did I gain after Ironman?

SIX pounds.

When the training slowed down to 3-4 hours per week, with an unchanged diet, the weight shot up. Fast.

Obviously, something needed to change, so I am back to dieting before things can get out of control.

The Food Plan

Ultimately the only way to lose weight is to control what's going in. I've lost a lot of weight this way, so I'm back to it.

Before excercise, I require roughly 2400 calories per day just to keep the lights on. (You can calculate this on any number of sites on-line)

My eating plan:
  • 2000 calories 5 days each week
  • 2400 calories 2 days each week
  • 600 bonus calories each week for fun/enjoying life

This means a 1400/week calorie deficit.

2000-2400 isn't terribly restrictive, and if you choose wisely it can go a long way. A cup of strawberries is 50 calories, a peach/apple/orange are all around 50, celery and cucumber are nearly zero. The volume of food I'm eating is pretty close to what I normally eat, it's just less caloric.

The Training Plan

I'm ramping up to average about 6 hours of exercise each week, and each hour for me burns about 800 calories. That's an extra 4800 calories.

I consume 200 calories/hour during exercise on average, which I don't count toward my daily total. I also allow myself some recovery calories over and above my normal calorie allowance (300-400/week).

Bottom line: I will burn 3600 more calories than I consume exercising.

Weight Loss Projection

Total weekly deficit = 5000 calories, which is about 1.5lbs of loss per week.

So Far...

I'm down 7 pounds, from 191lbs to 184lbs. It's only been a week and a half!

Some of that has to be water weight and such... so I'm not popping the champagne just yet. I expect that getting to my target weight of 170lbs will take a few months.

170lbs by Christmas!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ontario Trail & Ultra Races

Trail Race Calendars

A friend of mine sent me these two main calendars for trail/ultra races:
  1. Ontario Ultra Series/Ontario Trail Series - This is geared toward the Ultra crowd (>42.2km) but there are other shorter distances at most of the events.
  2. 5 Peaks Ontario - A series of five trail races, typically featuring "Sport" (around 5K) and "Enduro" (around 12K) options.

There are other one-off events here and there, I've mostly found out about them on Running forums. The Running Mania site has a great Ultra/Trail section, most upcoming races are discussed there.

If anyone has any other sources of information, please let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ride Report: Tour de Greenbelt (Newmarket)

I participated in the Tour de Greenbelt for the second year in a row.

Click here for my 2008 report.

Great work, Meghan!

I did this ride with one of my daughters again this year which was fantastic. The bonding time I get from biking with them is tremendous, and seeing her so excited about cycling and being part of an event like this really excites me. Exercise and cycling is just a part of our lives, I hope it's a part of their as adults someday too.

You can kind-of see our equipment laying at our feet... basically it's my hybrid and a trail-behind bike for Meghan, with its own handlebars and pedals. It's very cool! And she doesn't just coast, she pedals her heart out... a big help getting up hills!

The Ride

This year they've added longer options - 50k and 100k - to the 25k ride from last year. We did the 25k, but this time they attracted a more serious crowd with the longer distances. I could see myself doing the 100k in future years on my own.

My only complaint - the route. It wasn't the best of the Greenbelt by any stretch, and included some very busy roads. At one point we even took to the sidewalk... I just didn't feel comfortable in the traffic with my daughter.

The best thing was the start/finish at the Farmer's Market in Newmarket. Fantastic! The theme of the ride was fresh produce from the Greenbelt, and being able to buy a bunch of stuff after the ride was excellent. We stocked up on local strawberries, raspberries, broccoli, eggplant (despite Meghan's disagreement), brussle spouts... all right off the farm. Nice.

A great time for both my daughter and I!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ironman Tattoo


  • I'm proud as hell that I did it
  • I want to pressure myself to live up to it. I won't ever be the fat guy who people say "YOU did IRONMAN!?". If I'm not living up to it, I want to embarrass myself into doing better! Take that, future self.
I'm not really a tattoo guy, so I went with the simple M-dot without any fanfare or flair.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Trail Running in Durham Forest, Ontario

This is a bit of a follow-up to my post on Mountain Biking in Durham Forest, where I talked about the forest itself a bit more, how to get there, etc.

I recently took up trail running as I prepare for the Vulture Bait 25k, my first trail race. Today I ran in Durham Forest.

My Garmin Data (I finally bought a Garmin - yay)

Roads and Sidewalks? Who needs 'em?

Two words: TRAILS ROCK!

There's something very zen about running through a dense forest, with nothing but your foot steps to keep you company.

I could go on for a few paragraphs trying to explain it, but honestly, just go out and do it. Find a nice trail and run it!

Do you need special shoes? Nope! They make trail shoes, but I got by just fine with some old road shoes. If there were slippery rocks or deep mud, maybe it would be a different story, but to try it? Just go do it.

Do you need to go somewhere special? Not really. I found a ravine near my house with walking trails, that got the job done. Conservation areas, parks, anywhere with trails through trees and you're good to go!

Benefits I've found so far:
  • The surface is soft and forgiving. The impact of concrete and asphalt can be hard on you, even with super-gel soft pillow shoes.
  • The stability muscles get a work-out. Each stride is different, your foot lands at different angles, you have to jump over stuff, it's a much more thorough workout.
  • It breaks you out of your rhythm. No setting a pace and sticking to it for an hour, you need to go up steep hills, down them, recover when you can and do it again.
  • Zen baby, zen! Nature and lots of it... very calming and soothing. And there is no time for boredom, you have to constantly scan for stumps, roots, rocks, fallen trees, sand, puddles, mud...
  • Bugs. I didn't encounter many, but I heard them plotting to get me next time...
  • Bears. Once again, I didn't encounter any, and where I run there usually aren't any, but if you're in a real forest there is a risk of wild life encounters. I carry dog spray on all my runs/rides, though, so I felt prepared. Or bring a whistle... or both!
  • Risk. There are obstacles and some of them could trip you up if you aren't careful (and probably even if you are). I went down a few very steep rocky downhills today that freaked me out a bit, but I feel more confident with every step. And let's face it, dodging cars ain't no picnic either!
Bottom line - if it interests you even a little, go out and try it! Just a short jaunt on some gravel or dirt trail near your house during your regular run... then turn it into something more if you like it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mountain Biking in Durham Forest, Ontario

Now that triathlon season is behind me, I can do things just for fun that don't necessarily lead to a "goal".

#1 on that list: Mountain Biking! I have a Gary Fisher hybrid, an older one that leans more toward Mountain Bike than anything... so I slap some big fatty tires on it, and hit the trails. I like to get out in the fall and early spring, pretty much any time I'm not on the road bike training for a ride or race.

Today's destination:

Durham Forest and the East Duffins Headwaters

Durham Forest is made up of several properties, totally over 1500 hectares of wilderness.
Link to map

Durham Forest is a good place for beginners. There are 4 very well marked loop trails that are well groomed and not technical. There are a few single-track sections that shoot off the main trail, but nothing too serious. This is probably the most popular section of the trails, you'll often encounter hikers, dogs, and other mountain bikers, so keep your eyes open!

Glen Major and Walkers Woods are located just south of the Durham Forest parking lot. The northern access point is on the west side of 7th concession, right next to the giant radar tower at the top of the hill (big tower with white ball at the top). There is another parking lot a few kilometers south of Chaulk Lake Road.

This is an enormous area with trails winding around everywhere. Lots of different terrain, from deciduous forest to pine trees to a recovered gravel pit... The trails are well marked with sign posts throughout, and each post has a tiny map on it so you can figure out where you need to be going. There's a bit more sand throughout this section (especially at the north end), and some of the single track can get a bit hairy. If that's not your thing, follow the "Trans Canada Trail" signs and it's fairly easy.

The Brock Tract is interesting, but I would leave it for last, once the others have been explored. It's not as well marked, and very few people are over there. There is a very cool pine forest on the far south side, though, that's worth the trip. Keep an eye out for hunters... in fact it's probably best to wear something very bright and not deer-like in any way...

I haven't been in North Walkers Woods yet, so I can't comment on it... it speaks to just how huge this area is, I've been there a dozen times and just can't get to everything!

Have fun! Be safe and smart.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ironman Recovery - 2 weeks after Race Day

So it's been almost two weeks since Ironman.

End of Season Plans

Tri season is over for me for 2009, so my training focus is shifting to running.

I have a 25k trail race coming up in mid-October. I'll sign up for another running race or two, 1/2 marathon or shorter, just to keep the competitive juices flowing.

My road/tri bike is parked for the season, I'll bring it indoors for trainer workouts, and use my Gary Fisher hybrid instead as cross-training. Mostly on-road stuff (gravel!), but also some mountain biking, should be fun.

Rest in December, then start up again in January for the 2010 season...

Ironman + 1 week

Monday - rest (day after race)
Tuesday - 10 minute lake swim
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - 15 minute lake swim, 20 minute walk
Friday, Saturday, Sunday - rest, rest, rest!!!

I mostly felt OK, muscles felt good after two days. I was at a cottage on vacation, so just took it easy, did some very light and easy swimming just because the beach was right there, but nothing I would call a work-out. Walked a bit to wake up the legs a little.

Drank a lot of wine... B.C. interior = wine country!!! Mmm.

Ironman + 2 weeks

Monday - 16k bike
Tuesday, Wednesday - rest, rest
Thursday - 30 minute swim (in pool)
Friday - rest
Saturday - 5k run
Sunday - 1.5h mountain bike (planned)

The bike and swim early in the week were a bit miserable, muscles felt great, but fatigue was almost instant. Clearly not recovered.

Saturday's run went better than expected. I took it pretty easy, but the legs felt good, no pain, and I felt a bit more like my usual self in terms of energy. Tried a few trail sections, that went well (and the soft surface was what the doctor ordered!)

Sunday's mountain bike is just for fun, going out with a buddy. Plan is to take it easy, test the legs a little, but nothing serious.

Ironman + 3 weeks (planned)
  • Two short runs (5k, 10k)
  • Short bike (30-40k), maybe two
  • Swim when it sounds like fun, skip it when it doesn't
Focus: gradual and safe return to running. If anything feels wrong, I'll back off and use the bike instead.

You've Lost That Athletic Feeeeeling

Overall, I feel like I'm being lazy - I am used to working out 6 days a week and putting in hours and hours on the bike. But rest and recovery are job 1...

I've gained around 5 pounds since Ironman, mostly because of all the recovery reward food (and drink!) and the lack of calories being burned... I'll have to take that more seriously and make sure I get my diet more in line with the reduced training load.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Calories burned while cycling (and running)

Here are some formulas I found for calculating calories:

Calories (kCal) = 0.28 * (weight in pounds) * (distance in miles)
Calories (kCal) = 0.174 * (weight in pounds) * (distance in kilometers)

Calories (kCal) = 0.653 * (weight in pounds) * (distance in miles)
Calories (kCal) = 0.406 * (weight in pounds) * (distance in kilometers)

Forget it... technique makes too much of a difference.

The running one has a chance of being somewhat accurate, there are fewer variables in running. But cycling can be done on good or bad bikes, on flats or on hills, with head winds or tail winds, on roads or off... etc. All the factors in cycling have big impacts on calorie consumption.

But it will give you a ballpark that you can fudge for all those factors. Add a few calories if you are on a 50lb mountain bike, drop a few if you've got a Cervelo, that kind of thing.

(As an aside, units of measurement are funny, especially in a whacky country like Canada. We talk about our weight in pounds, but our distances in kilometers. Thus my hybrid Imperial/Metric versions of the formulas... officially we're metric, but we're too close to the U.S. to avoid their influence! Sorry to the Europeans for not providing an all-metric version... and for the baseball analogy in the preceding paragraph...)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ironman Recovery

I expected to be very disabled after Ironman.

To my surprise, my muscles didn't feel too bad. Sure, I lurched around in a bit of pain for a couple of days, but it wasn't even as bad as when I ran the full marathon last year. By the end of the week I felt totally normal, maybe even better than before the race.

I decided to do an easy bike workout - 30 minutes, based on some suggestions I'd read to ease back into it. Seemed a bit silly to go out for 30 minutes after all the 6-7 hour rides in training... but this is what I'd read, so I went with it.

It took about 2 seconds to realize I was very far from recovered.

There were some minor muscle pains, but mostly it was a tremendous feeling of fatigue. The energy just wasn't there... I made it through the ride OK, at a slow pace, high cadence, but it felt like I'd done 100k instead of 15k! I followed the workout with a can of Pepsi and a chocolate milk, trying to pack in carbs and protein to help get over this hump...

What I've gleaned from the experience of others:
  • It takes 4-6 weeks to recover, sometimes longer
  • Rushing back to hard/long workouts puts you at high risk for an injury and delays the recovery period even further
  • Running is the biggest risk - don't do it in the first 2 weeks after an Ironman
  • Swimming is low risk - if it feels good, do it

It's a bit early in the season to be winding down, there are a few good months left, but patience now will pay off in October/November.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The end... and the beginning

The journey is complete - I am an Ironman.

What's next?

It is going to be hard to top this year - ever. It was an incredible journey, and the experience of doing Ironman was so over-the-top amazing.

That said, there is a lot that still excites me, in triathlon and in other endurance disciplines.

  • I've registered for my first trail race in October, the 25k Vulture Bait
  • I'll do the Paris to Ancaster bike race in the spring for the 5th year straight
  • A few friends and I are planning a team for the Moraine Adventure Relay - a 160k run/bike/paddle across the rural and wilderness land above Toronto
  • My main goal for 2010 will be the Muskoka Ironman 70.3, and I will participate in some shorter triathlons (Olympics/Sprints)
  • Ironman - I will go back someday, likely when the kids are older
  • Main goal: a spring or fall full marathon, depending on how training goes in winter

The Blog

Yes, I will keep blah-blah-blah'ing... I want to keep a record of what I've done as I've already found it entertaining to go back and read (and sometimes learn from old experiences!). I hope others have found it entertaining and informative too.