28 August 2006

IMC Bits

Here is some of what I wrote Scott before and after the race...

The big question (as always) is how hard can I ride and still run well. I've been able to check out the entire bike course in pieces and in whole. I have a very good feel for the key bits of it as well as the parts that require mental focus. Here is what I am thinking. I would value your input.

Even in my Oly races, my best swims have come from a relaxed start. Given that it is a long day, I'm going to start relaxed. An hour at 160 bpm in the water might buy me up to 3 minutes. I will get double that if I can elevate my HR in the last hour of the day. Also, the drafting rule will be 10 meters between bikes. That extra five meters makes a big difference — so there is much less motorpacing opportunity on the way down to Richter Pass.

The last time I was _really_ strong on the bike (relative to fitness) was when I rode with Matt Brick in Taupo. I'm going to pace similarly this time...
Settle, eat, drink for the first 20 minutes
Relaxed steady to the base of Richter (about 1:45 ride time)
Mod-hard up Richter (30 min climb)
Relaxed down Richter and through the rollers (2:50-ish ride time, 100K)

Key bit...
At Mile 60 (this is the start of the flat) — (9x) 3 min steady, 3 min mod-hard, 3 min steady, 1 min drink & eat

That will be a 90 minute main set and will get me along the flat, through the out-and back, and up to Yellow Lake. It is this point of the course where (nearly) everyone backs off and fades. It is a very good point to work harder. From Epic, we know that I tolerate this main set very well — it ends with a climb. I then have the long descent from Twin Lakes back to town.

Back to town, stay aero, stay relaxed, steady cycling

I'm going to start the run with a 1L hydration backpack. That will free my hands and give me a one kilo incentive to drink. I'm going to place another 1L hydration backpack in special needs. Last time I didn't get enough calories on the return leg.

I'm going to run relaxed until the lake (the first 5 miles)
Settle, get my drink down, work on cadence
Then 5 miles steady, not tempo, alongside the lake
Careful not to exceed threshold through the rollers
Grab the hydration pack
Return to the flat bit
Five miles of moderately hard to hard returning on the flat
When I leave the lake, there is still plenty of racing to go due to the 2K out-and-back at the end
Push through the end

I'm not going to wear a watch on the run. No distractions, smooth execution, focus forward.


The overall strategy is to use my efforts where they will most benefit me. Treat the race like a personal TT and aim for my best overall time -- the fastest way for me to get from A to B. Speed up where others slow.

There are two hours of solid work on the bike and 80 minutes of solid work on the run. The rest is smooth steady -- moving along at a comfortable, efficient pace. Eating, drinking, good technique.


The Swim

Matt Lieto decided to swim on top of Monica's left shoulder and was riding her for 1200m. She missed the first group and ended up pulling mine. Great swim, felt easy to steady. Some pick-ups with pace changes. The new wetsuit is pretty sweet -- came out with Jasper and Courtney.

The Bike

Five guys passed me on the way to Richter. I was well behaved and let them go. 2:31 thought 90K, negative split. Drank a lot on the bike -- more than normal. I was expecting a hot day and that worked for me.

Duration: 4:58:22
Work: 4339 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 261
Distance: 179.387 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 2046 242 watts
Heart Rate: 0 210 142 bpm
Cadence: 29 180 90 rpm
Speed: 6 77 36.1 kph
Torque: 0 158.8 26.2 N-m

The maxes about look too high in some cases. The averages look about right. Note high cadence average, which includes a lot of gliding downhill. Once my pace was over 45km.h I'd back off. Quite an efficient ride for the split.

To be competitive, I need to get my AeT wattage back up to 265-275w. With my new position that should do the trick.

Duration: 2:29:10
Work: 2198 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 262
Distance: 90.339 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 549 246 watts
Heart Rate: 79 165 142 bpm
Cadence: 29 180 90 rpm
Speed: 6 71.5 36.3 kph
Torque: 0 103.1 26.5 N-m

Heart rate never hit threshold on the bike. Pretty controlled.

Peak 1min (362w):
Duration: 1:00
Work: 22 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 375
Distance: 235 m
Min Max Avg
Power: 308 419 362 watts
Heart Rate: 145 157 151 bpm
Cadence: 57 85 67 rpm
Speed: 12.1 18 14.1 kph
Torque: 34.6 69.8 52.6 N-m

Peak 2min (343w):
Duration: 2:00
Work: 41 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 347
Distance: 511 m
Min Max Avg
Power: 239 419 343 watts
Heart Rate: 144 157 150 bpm
Cadence: 57 91 73 rpm
Speed: 12.1 19.1 15.3 kph
Torque: 25.6 69.8 46.5 N-m

Peak 5min (327w):
Duration: 5:00
Work: 98 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 331
Distance: 1.592 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 240 386 327 watts
Heart Rate: 145 156 152 bpm
Cadence: 70 99 84 rpm
Speed: 15.8 28.9 19.1 kph
Torque: 23.1 49 37.6 N-m

Peak 10min (319w):
Duration: 10:00
Work: 191 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 320
Distance: 3.294 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 207 386 319 watts
Heart Rate: 137 156 150 bpm
Cadence: 70 103 86 rpm
Speed: 15.8 32.9 19.8 kph
Torque: 20 49 35.8 N-m

Peak 20min (300w):
Duration: 20:00
Work: 359 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 306
Distance: 7.776 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 102 394 300 watts
Heart Rate: 136 156 149 bpm
Cadence: 70 105 87 rpm
Speed: 14.5 52 23.3 kph
Torque: 9.9 49 33.5 N-m

Peak 30min (287w):
Duration: 30:00
Work: 516 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 297
Distance: 13.024 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 394 287 watts
Heart Rate: 122 156 147 bpm
Cadence: 66 119 87 rpm
Speed: 14.5 52 26 kph
Torque: 0 52.1 32 N-m

Peak 60min (262w):
Duration: 1:00:00
Work: 943 kJ
TSS: n/a
Norm Power: 275
Distance: 32.045 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 394 262 watts
Heart Rate: 119 160 144 bpm
Cadence: 45 119 90 rpm
Speed: 14.5 52 32 kph
Torque: 0 52.1 28.3 N-m

Run — did the plan. It was pretty toasty out there! The issue with the slow run was more bike fitness than run fitness related. Once I get my bike rolling, the run should move back into normal territory. Nearly even splits, however, we had a buildign tailwind and that helped the return pace. When old school with a mesh singlet — kept it cool and that made a big difference. Think that I'll stick with that in future races.



SWIM: 51:57 | BIKE: 4:58:23 | RUN: 2:56:36 | OVERALL: 8:51:23 | POSITION: 3

TOTAL SWIM: 2.4 mi. (51:57) | 1:22/100m | 15th

TOTAL BIKE: 112 mi. (4:58:23) | 22.52 mph | 9th

FIRST RUN SEGMENT: 13.1 mi. (1:27:29) | 6:40/mile
RUN FINISH: 13.1 mi. (1:29:07) | 6:48/mile
TOTAL RUN: 26.2 mi. (2:56:36) | 6:44/mile | 3rd

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 2:52

The strongest man (and woman) won. The ten meter rule is great! Really makes the winner earn it. It's also easy for the officials to enforce.

Ten months to an 8:20 Ironman starts in November. Considering that I couldn't even run a half marathon last August, my body did great this year. I'm going to give it a big break.


20 August 2006

Maximising Athletic Performance

Hi All,

This is the start of my Good, Better, Best thoughts. They are flowing from a desire to expand my seminar thoughts -- an outline can be reached HERE.

What I am working towards is a "master" PowerPoint presentation that I can tailor to various audiences. It would take me all day to run through the current draft and I haven't typed up the PDF attachments for Key Workouts; Training/Racing with Power and Benchmarking.

If I come to your tri club then we'll run through the key topics that apply to working athletes. Due to time constraints the only places (over the next year) where you'll hear the Full Monty is my November 2006 Seminar as well as Epic Camp (assuming I'm chatty!).

There is nothing "new" here. I'm pulling thoughts together from what I've experienced over the last eight years.

If you happen to see a gap then shoot me a note.


Labels: ,

16 August 2006

Tri Talks

Hi Gang,

I'll be talking to the Seattle Tri Club on September 13th -- details on their website

My race schedule filling for 2007. If I happen to get close to your club and you'd like me to drop by for a chat then drop me a line and we'll see if we can make it happen.

Nov/Dec 2006 -- Noosa, QLD
Early Dec 2006 -- Sydney, NSW
Mid Feb 2007 -- Atlanta, GA
Mid March 2007 -- Las Vegas, NV
End March 2007 -- Lake Havasu City, AZ
April 2007 -- New Mexico
Early May 2007 -- Napa Valley, CA
Mid May 2007 -- St George, UT


13 August 2006

Summer Financial Reflections

I'll get to my Good, Better, Best post in a while. I've completed the outline and want to spend more time that usual putting my logic together to "make my case".


I've been mulling over a few things this year and watching the major economies -- from a distance, on a weekly basis through the Economist, FT and Wall Street Journal. I've also been reading a selection of research that some pals send over from time-to-time.

Interest rates -- globally, I've watched every central bank tighten throughout the year. This time last year there were some outstanding long term swap rates around -- oil prices, inflation fears, a more rational outlook and easing global expectations have made those disappear.

Housing -- despite rates moving up just about everywhere, prime housing is surprisingly robust. Within our portfolio (Prime Scottish Residential), we continue to see 10% per annum growth. The high end, in most places I go, is performing very well.

Inflation -- everyone talks about how we live in a low inflation environment. I simply don't see that. Now my life is quite a bit different that most folks -- my largest single expenditure is airfares. and -- following that -- rental accommodation. Step back from me, though...

What is the largest single expenditure that most people will make in their lives? Think about it relative to personal NAV at the time.


Now if you "own" your house then you've likely seen fantastic growth in your equity over the last six years. You may have also moved up the housing ladder possibly by increasing your personal leverage. I know many folks that have done that.

Consider your debt service obligations as a percentage of total family expenditure -- how have these changed over the last six years?

If you don't own then consider rent as a percentage of total expenditure -- how has that changed?

One of the things that I learned when working in venture capital was sensitivity analysis. Basically, we would dream up scenarios to see how our investments would fare under various outcomes. We also wanted to see what would blow out the banking covenants and/or leave us bust.

Here's one that I've been mulling --
***Knock 20% off the value of your real estate investments
***Set all your asset backed debt service costs to 10%
***Set all your unsecured debt service costs to 15%

Are you still solvent?
Lose your job -- how many months until you lose your house?

If you are under 30 then this scenario may seem far too drastic.
If you are over 50 then you'd merely call this a recession.

This table is great -- outside of the US, you get even wilder historical interest rate data. It's worth looking at the prime rate across your business career -- then look at across your parents' careers.

If you have a similar spread to my peers then you'll see why so many of our parents' generation were hammered in the late 70s/early 80s. The only experience they had was similar to our own. Now they had their parents' memories of the Great Depression but that was ancient history and they were in a new era...

Most of my adult friends have very little direct personal experience with the combination of asset deflation/wealth destruction and high interest rates. There are vague memories but times have been so good, for so long and their investments are so blue chip... that they simply can't fathom anything other than continued asset inflation.


It will be interesting to see where we are a year from now.

War in the Middle East -- high energy costs -- terrorism -- a contraction in consumer demand driven by negative wealth effects -- tightening global monetary policy...

Now there is a lot of very good news out there. Most of my peers continue to do very well -- the people that purchase and rent our properties are continuing to do well.

It's just that I can't help but run my scenarios -- and I sense that much of this feel good factor is being driven by the massive run up in global real estate values. Nothing warms the heart quite like our own home increasing in value. It seems so "real".

What drove these values so high, I wonder?
***Rapid monetary growth driven by low central bank rates
***Increasing loan to value ratios
***Increasing loan to salary ratios

Leave everything the same as it is right now -- assume no further inflation, no deflation -- merely a benign scenario where we all move sideways for a while. If you aren't too leveraged then not a big deal for a few years. However, if you are highly leveraged on low yielding assets then there could be a liquidity squeeze.

Who knows what's going to happen. I certainly don't.

I've simply beeing watching (from a distance) global liquidity as well as risk. I have the benefit of moving around the world quite a bit so I get a feel of what things are like in many different regions. While successful property investing is very "local", the concepts that I have outlined above are pretty much universal from my travels in Asia, America and Europe.

I read all the articles on the US Dollar being overvalued but in terms of purchasing power, the States leads all of the "first world" places that I've visited (France, UK, Canada).

New Zealand still has a value-for-money edge over the States but that's driven mainly by a lower housing cost than an equivalent US city. I'm spending all of December in Australia and will enjoy having a look around there.

So that's what I mull over when riding long and not thinking about triathlon training. A rather long winded way to say that you might want to check your room-for-error with your personal leverage situation.


10 August 2006

USAT Long Course Clinic

Hi All --

Click the title or paste this link for full details...



07 August 2006


Before I get stuck into this topic. A few thoughts that I’ve had on doping. I don’t usually think about the topic much but with Floyd in the news all my non-athlete pals keep talking about it to me. Stepping aside from the specifics of Floyd…

It’s not surprising to me that some people choose to cheat. Physical prowess doesn’t imply ethical strength any more than physical attraction does. I think that it is in all of our natures to ascribe high character to high achievers. However, I don’t think that achievement is a good predictor of ethics.

It’s possible to waste a heck of a lot of energy thinking, talking and debating ideas/people that we will never really know. I have enough going on with trying to figure myself out – spending time worrying about a well-known stranger is something that I try to avoid.

When we look for motivation from outside of ourselves, be it guru, coach, athlete, mentor, hero… we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Lasting motivation comes best from the inside, from seeking to be our own heroes. While world champions show us what’s possible – the very human mistakes of others remind us of the need for personal ethical vigilance.

What I saw from watching and reading about Floyd this summer was the guy’s work ethic. The joy and satisfaction that he received from “working” struck me as unique – not winning bike races. The joy of work is a fundamental aspect of achievement and satisfaction.

Do I worry about doping in our sport? Not at all. However, I might if I was a true professional seeking a financial living from relative race performance. Being clean and just missing in a field that you didn’t trust – that would be tough. I can think of a number of ITU and IM athletes that have good reasons to wonder what might have been. At my level, it’s not a concern – it’s possible to beat pretty much every doper by out-training them. Even if you can’t beat them on the playing field, you’ve won a far greater victory within yourself.

There’s no deeper defeat than letting yourself down. If you want to punish someone then bringing that knowledge front and centre can be a lesson that’s hard to swallow. We can come up with all kinds of rationalizations but, ultimately, it comes down to a single event, a choice, a decision.

As for Floyd, I sure wish that the referees would stick to their own protocols. When the drugs police can’t be trusted to follow their own rules, it is bad for their own image and authority. Public credibility is tough to build and easily lost.


There are a number of challenges that face most aspiring athletes. The two most common oppose each other and that’s why (I think) a lot of training discussions can become emotional. On one hand, most of us are training at a level that is less than optimal for overall performance. On the other hand, even at this lower level, the greatest challenge we face is recovering from our training, not stacking more onto ourselves.

This article isn’t directly about those topics – I’ll cover the physiological progression at some stage, perhaps when I am tapering for IM Canada in a couple of weeks. What I want to talk about here is something that I’ve noticed in the very best agegroup and elite athletes that I’ve coached, trained or simply watched from a far.

Here goes…

The most impressive guy that I’ve raced consistently over the last few years is Cameron Brown. To be honest, I haven’t really raced Cam (ever) but, perhaps… someday… you see, he started at a higher level than me and just kept improving. Cam’s been consistently improving, year-in year-out from a very high level. Taking an 8:20-guy and making him _even_ faster is a pretty challenging thing to do. In fact, simply staying in 8:20 shape for a series of seasons is a very challenging thing to do!

Scott knows Cam much better than me so I asked him… “what is the change that Cam made to his program over the last couple of years”. Scott told me that probably the biggest change was that when he “rests”, he really rests. Quite often, elite athletes will do easy training on their rest days – keeping the volume going. I imagine that Cam does this but, watching from a distance, I also see that he schedules decent periods of time where he takes deep recovery – whether he wants to or not.

Within my own training over the years, work and fatigue have “forced” periods on me where my training volume is far less than what I would like to be doing. In fact, whenever I am resting I get pretty restless, somewhat grumpy and a bit down on myself for slacking. The last two weeks have been hard at times because I’ve been traveling, working and (happily) agreeing to social commitments. I rarely have a social life outside of my personal Top Ten list as I find it incredibly fatiguing.

One of my social commitments was a talk that I (very happily) gave to a group of athletes here in Edinburgh. Public speaking is an area where I’m only “fair” and I like to practice whenever possible.

As well as talking… I was listening to myself…

“The key is to see if you are improving. If you are getting better then you are heading in the right direction. If you are on a plateau then things might need to change.”

“When I used to work, my #1 thing was simply to avoid taking a zero. If I could do that then I’d be OK.”

I used to be quite poor at listening while talking. Probably still am… if I am not the one talking! J

All this is interesting to me because I have been “forced” to rest much more this year than in previous years. Not surprisingly, the last time I was resting this much, was the last time I was working a lot in Scotland (summer of 2002). 2005 wasn’t so much resting as a complete lack of training!

When I’ve been on my training camps, I have hit the steady-state volume as hard as I could handle (that tolerance has been variable, but increasing). When I have been working here in Scotland, I have cut the volume to 25-50% of what I’d like. I suppose that it is natural to always wish that we could do more, go faster…

Something that I haven’t done for more than six years is that I have raced once a month and done that as fresh I could manage. “Fresh” being a relative term when you log 24+ hours of travel in the four days before a race (did that a few times, don’t recommend it). I tried to train through a couple of races but that didn’t really work so well for me – I don’t have the depth of fitness to quickly bounce back from hard training or racing.

Some things that I’d like to share…

My power/pace isn’t at lifetime best numbers (a year off will impair fitness, no surprise) but my ability to achieve relative intensity is much higher. In other words, my top-end isn’t great but I can get there much more easily.

There were long periods in my development (2000-2004) where I carried so much fatigue that I’d struggle to get much out of my mod-hard zone. For me, these were valuable times to my overall development but I may have pushed a bit too far at times – of course, that’s likely the only way that we learn how far is too far.

I’ve been using training camps that are followed with weekly recovery and training blocks – much smaller blocks of training than the typical 3-4 week cycles. Each cycle has my overall fitness improving.

I’m able to fit a few other things in my life. I’m less “one dimensional” than I used to be.

I find all this quite interesting because if I am going to be a long term athlete then I will probably want to cycle my intensity through the years; peaking at 40, 45, 50 and 55 years old (say). By “intensity” I don’t mean how hard I am going in training – I mean the sacrifice, focus and dedication required to be my very best.

My Top Ten goal is to be fit and healthy – not world athletic domination (wink). Because I am willing to compromise, it is easier to beat me most of the time. However, when (and if) I am on-my-game then it’s tough to beat me. The level of commitment required to go <8:30 style=""> I used to be haunted by that knowledge but I seem to have transcended my fear of never getting back there. I’m fortunate in that I simply like training and racing too much!

Some more things that I’ve noticed and I could be wrong here on the guys that I don’t directly advise. But, quite often, an unexpected set-back can set the tone for an athlete to breakthrough…

***Norman won Hawaii the year he had an early season injury, DNF’d Ironman New Zealand and was “behind” the whole way.

***My good buddy, Kevin Purcell, won his agegroup in Brazil, following a year with significant downtime due to foot surgery.

***I took close to a year off and got myself back into 8:36 shape within six months.

***When he was 65, supervet Ron Ottaway became one of only three men 65+ to go under 12-hours in Kona. That race performance followed a winter where he was forced by injury to keep volume low for close to three months.

***In July, Clas Bjorling went 8:15 in Roth following a month off (April) due to shingles.

Of course, perhaps what all these guys have in common is that they pushed themselves right to the limit over a long time. There needs to have been some pretty serious training, to get adaptations from a month of zeroes.

As an aside, Ron would want the record to show that he is 10+ years without a zero.

OK, those guys are rock stars. What does that have to do with the average athlete? Here’s another consideration…

Something that I notice in many endurance athletes is an active desire to hammer themselves silly. There must be an element of the endurance mind-set (or our culture, or our personal programming) that leads us towards self-damage in the search for fitness.

Fatigue is part of the training process and deep, deep fatigue is an essential part of ultraendurance training. But here are some things to consider from time to time…

Do you have a good feel for exactly how tired you are? How deep have you dug the hole? The highly motivated athletes that I know, generally, underestimate the fatigue they are carrying around and overestimate their ability sustain hard training. I include myself in this category. It is only when I rest that I realise just how fatigued I was.

How many times have you heard someone (perhaps yourself) say… “I don’t like to rest, I feel sluggish when I rest”. Personally, I believe that there are a lot of Top Ten agegroupers that could be Top Ten overall if they only freshened up from time-to-time. It is also a shame to watch some of my elite pals train their asses off then underperform at their key races. If you are doing it right and not getting the results that your training indicates then consider if “more” is really going to get you there.

Nobody really knows who trains and who doesn’t – I believe that most people can be out-worked if you have enough drive and time. When our results are deviating from our commitment – we are often trying too hard. It’s a tough message to believe but I’ve been beating some folks for a few years and I think that they’ve been out-training me. Of course, several thousand aerobic hours over the last six years must count for something.

Back to you…

What are your goals for sport?

Why do you participate?

Why are these questions important to everyone?

If your goal is performance then is your program making you better? Are you improving on the program that you’ve been following for the last one, two, three, four… years?

It’s very difficult to change ourselves – but we can change our advisers and, through them, our approach.

Some programs can make you get more tired than good. I have pals with programs that work great for them but I wouldn’t last two months on their protocol. Remember that there is no one answer and there is a lot of grey out there.

That’s why I like to look at the impact of the program, the coach, the approach… over a number of seasons. I gain a lot of satisfaction with helping athletes head in the right direction over time. I make plenty of mistakes and there are some folks that I can’t help. However, there are some athletes where my guidance has made a difference and that “difference” is what coaching is about for me.

Now you might be simply sitting on a plateau (that happens) but… if you’ve been consistently training for a couple of years with limited progress then you’re likely being hampered either from excess training stress or a lack of recovery. I’ll cover this more in an up-coming piece (Good, Better, Best – that will lay out my case for the physiological progression that I seek with ultra endurance training).

Realistically, the vast majority of athletes (in any sport) are in it more for personal satisfaction, than relative performance and this includes the most successful elites if you dig deep enough into their motivation. The best athletes have an internal satisfaction that comes from working towards and achieving various goals. If that’s the case then consider if being shelled most of your year is actually improving the quality of your life.

But you say you “need your training”… I know all about that but our training can also be a crutch behind which we fail to deal with other issues (emotional, nutritional…).

That brings me to the most important consideration of all…

“My People”

Scott started talking about “my people” a few years ago in something I read of his on the internet. I’ll let him talk about “his” people in his own words – he is part of “my people”, though.

Who are “my people”? For me, they are the people that I’ve met along my journey with whom I could deeply relate and share a laugh. I’ve found them in finance, on beaches in Greece, in the hills, on the trails, in triathlon and at Epic Camp. On the surface they might look pretty well-adjusted. However, inside they are prone to evangelical devotion to their passion (work, booze, running, triathlon, mountaineering, whatever).

My tri-people… we are in triathlon as a lifestyle choice. That’s a cliché and doesn’t quite capture what I mean… more bluntly… training for triathlon is a socially acceptable addiction versus what we would certainly be doing if we were forced to stop (over-eating, booze, drugs, chasing ladies…).

Here’s where a good mentor comes in… constantly choosing a path that runs the risk of losing the exercise drug is pretty darn risky. The more you rely on your training for sanity, the more you’d do well to heed that tip.

Thing is… people like me, people like “my people” are prone to ignoring well meaning advice until it has been learned directly, repeatedly and painfully. I spend a lot of time assuring my crew that preventative rest is essential as well as performance enhancing.

When we are reaching for the highest level and smoke ourselves – a shattered immune system can feel like living in a very deep, very dark cave. Learning how best to schedule recovery is something that many (including the author) struggle with.

Of course, you could also say that it isn’t until you’ve pushed yourself over the edge that you really breakthrough. I think that there is something in that as well.


Labels: , ,