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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Marathon Training Update

I'm currently gearing up for the Toronto Marathon in May, using the Furman "FIRST" plan (3plus2) popularized in the book "Run Less, Run Faster".

The plan calls for 3 run workouts per week - a track workout, tempo run and long run - plus 2 cross-training workouts (or more if you are up for it!).

So far, I love this plan!

Track workouts - there's enough variety to keep me interested.  For example, week one was 3x1600m, week two was 4x800 at a quicker pace, week 3 was 1200m/1000m/800m/600m/400m with relatively short 200m rests in between.  I enjoy running fast, and even though it hurts like hell, it's very rewarding.

Tempo runs - these are also quite varied, there are marathon tempo runs (5:05/km for me), but then this week we're down to 4:45/km for a shorter distance, then 4:35/km the week after that.  I used to run the same pace every week and just pick a distance that felt right, too random and unfocused.

Long Runs - I'm not used to having target paces like they do, so I sometimes find myself busting my butt at the end to hold it... not the normally advised LSD philosophy, but because there are only 3 runs a week I don't feel like it's taking anything away from my other runs so far.  I'm up to 27k @5:33/km, next week is 32k @ 5:42/km - that could be a toughie.

Cross-Training - Biking - I would be doing this anyway because I'm a cyclist first and foremost, so it's nice to have it be encouraged and accounted for!  I've been doing it once or twice a week.  Sometimes I feel like the biking is just a bit too close to running - sore legs are sore legs - so I've chosen my other new cross-training option...

Cross-Training - Rowing - Bought myself a Concept 2 rower to get some cross-training that is entirely different from running.  I really love it, works so many muscles I haven't used that much before!  Much like swimming but I find I get a much better cardio workout from the rower.  Partially because it's easier to take nice deep heavy breaths, where in swimming breathing is more limited/difficult.  It's different enough from running I can do an LSD, row the next day, then hammer a track workout after that without missing a beat.

Typically I've been doing 6 workouts a week - 3 runs + 3 cross-training days with a rest day.  I feel really great, all the intensity has been good for me.  Rowing has improved my core - I can really feel it after a workout - which should help the running.  Even if it doesn't, it makes me an all around more fit person, which ultimately is the goal of all this stuff anyway, right? :)

To the marathon!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Worst Way to Lose Weight

The Worst Way to Lose Weight: Buy a Gym Membership!

This isn't particularly scientific, but it seems to me that most people I know who buy a gym membership gets fatter instead of thinner.  That's especially true with the January crowd.

Gyms are great at marketing - but the results they show are just as unlikely as the Ab Roller or anything else you might see on a 2am infomercial.

What they don't show:
  • It takes true lifestyle changes (especially diet!) to lose weight
  • By December the people who bought a membership in January are mostly gone
  • The people in the ads are there way more than you will be.  I suspect they live in the back somewhere.
Gyms aren't all bad, I'm sure there are people who genuninely enjoy being there (although I can't imagine why). 

But if you don't actually enjoy it, you won't stick with it.  It's hard enough to stick to exercise and activity you do enjoy. 

In my experience, the dinner plate (and the glass next to it) has had more influence on my weight than exercise.  Increasing your activity level also increases your appetite, so unless you're watching what goes in the time in the gym won't help.

Unfortunately - eat right and exercise are like death and taxes, they are inevitable if you want to lose weight. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hello 2013!

2012 kind of sucked, for a lot of reasons.  I can blame life events or injuries, which would be accurate, but I could have also battled through harder and got the job done.  I didn't, so it was a disappointing year on a lot of fronts, a great year on a few others (Adventure Racing went great!).

Time to look ahead!

Goal #1 - Toronto Marathon PB

I have done three full marathons now, and none of them have quite gone right.  It's the one distance that consistently beats me.

2008 - Toronto Marathon - goal was to finish, result was 3:56.  Paced it all wrong, as most do in their first.  Went out too fast.

2010 - Toronto Marathon - goal was 3:35, result was 3:44.  Again, big drop-off in the last 10km, went out too fast, yada yada yada.

2011 - NYC marathon - goal was 3:35 again (or even 3:40), result was a horrific 3:55.  Yes, big drop-off in the last 10km, but this time due to some very bad knee pain that ended up sidelining me for months.

2013 - back to the Toronto marathon.  It's in the spring, so training all winter for it.  I am sticking to a very specific training plan this time, rather than trying to shoe-horn marathon training into my cycling schedule.  The PB is the main goal, pacing to a 3:35 finish but really anything under 3:44 will be a win.

Goal #2 - Get My Stupid Weight Down

I'm hovering at about 185lbs again, after the holiday season.  This is borderline for someone at 6' tall between "Normal" and "Overweight" in the BMI - which for someone as active as me is just frustrating.

Some years I do better at this than others, but this year I really want to get into those low 170's.  There's no question it helps my performance.

Goal #3 - Sub-20:00 5k

This one will haunt me forever if I don't do it now.  I came close in 2011, with a 20:05, but I don't want this one to be the one that got away.  I know I can do it, especially if I fix the weight thing.

Goal #4 - Biking Something Something

I don't know yet what I want to do the rest of the year, I've only really thought about the spring and running... I'll set some other goals later!  I'm sure biking and canoeing will factor in, though.