The shot above was taken in Atlanta before a Southern Wedding. We had a baptist minister at the ceremony and he described marriage as...
...bein' locked in a room...
...There's a fi'ya burnin'...
...Just you and the missus...
...You gotta put that fi'ya out togetha!
At least that's what I heard... I was pretending that I was getting married again and renewing my vows. I left the church pretty fired up to be Monica's husband.
It was time well-spent.
Our trip to Atlanta was the last piece of my four week business/transition block. It was a lot of travel for me. What's a lot?
I don't track miles flown but that was a pretty solid push. With that much moving around, work was #1 and I hardly rode at all. Volume was 9/11/15/12 hours per week -- that was the four weeks after Epic Camp.
It was an interesting change for me because (normally) after an Epic Camp, I recover for 7-14 days then slam right into Ironman Specific training. This time, I paused the training volume and focused on two training items -- get strong and get my HR way up a few times. It takes a surprising amount of discipline to rest when we are in good shape. Just like bike fitness in Ironman, it's challenging to build something up and NOT use it (bit like weapons, I suppose).
I've done three fast sessions so far (one life cycle and two running) -- on each one I've been able to access the 180s in terms of heart rate. So my experience from the last entry appears to be confirmed. Mark's protocol is resulting my being able to drive my heart rate 12-15 bpm higher than the last six years.
On my last session, I was running around a little indoor track -- about 25 minutes of work, including 90s walk breaks -- six reps with the max HR in each (174, 178, 182, 184, 182, 185). I still believe that I can get to 190bpm at sea-level if I was racing. The high HRs concerned me a bit so I ran them past Bobby (McGee) as well as Mark. I'm going to be careful with going much past 185bpm outside of racing.
My three-mile aerobic test hasn't budged (yet), 6:27 @ 148 bpm was the result last week -- the day before that fast run. One thing that I am wondering is if my running heart rate performance in earlier years was depressed due to fatigue -- in reviewing my bike step tests, I see fatigue in the data (depressed HR response through most aerobic wattage levels, then rapid increase to functional threshold, no ability to elevate past 160bpm and suppressed lactate response in the aerobic zone).
Effectively, "taking a break" after 16 weeks of training was something very different than what I've done in the past. However, it wasn't all travel. While I need to be careful aerobically at altitude, I decided to address my lack of strength training progress and was in the gym 2x per week.
In the mid-90s, I tried to start running. Knee pain shut me down for a couple of YEARS and I had to come back very gradually with walking/hiking. I started running... too fast, too much, too quickly... all the normal mistakes. Wish I knew about run-walk back then! So, for a two year period in my late 20s, I lifted a lot. Powerlifting stuff -- squats, dead lift, cleans // four day cycle with alternating body parts (legs/core; back/bi; chest/tri; off). I had reasonable success -- my legs have always increased strength rapidly.
The neat thing about strength training is that you end up looking good in clothes... triathlon is more about looking good in a speedo... ha ha
One of the things that I noticed in the gym (back then) was that when I truly committed to "getting strong" I would be able to breakthrough plateaus. My body was ready before my mind -- there is a bit of fear/respect when you stack it up. This year was similar but my mind got a little ahead of my spinal erectors (!) so I had to cap my squat out at 185lbs and use the leg press for going really heavy.
What's really heavy for me?
I managed this yesterday...
Squats (incl bar, thigh parallel, not deep) -- 45lbs, 135lbs, 185lbs (x3) -- all these were 12 reps on 2 min RI except the last set was 20 reps
Then leg press sled -- 360lbs (8 reps), 450lbs (8reps), 500lbs (why not, 6 reps) -- 3 min RI
Then single leg with emphasis on rapid finish -- 8L/8R/8L/8R continuous at 135 lbs on 2 min RI -- repeat
That whole thing took me 30 minutes and I stacked another half hour of mod-hard traditional strength work. I just flamed out on the last rep of the single leg and had to give myself a little help.
In my book, Joe and I talk about taking the squat up to 1.3-1.7x body weight -- for me that would be 215lbs to 280lbs. Too heavy for most of us in my opinion. In my mid-30s I could comfortably get up to 225 lbs but my back can't tolerate that these days (with a slower build-up, perhaps). I recommend that you never place more than 225 lbs on your back even if you can tolerate it. Not worth the risk. I've squat up to 300lbs in early 2002 but that was a lot of spinal compression for minimal gain -- frankly, I was lucky that I didn't injure myself.
My advice (to the guys) would be to start with the squat, take it to mod-hard (not more than 15% over body weight) then finish yourself off with the leg press. In Going Long, we're recommending building up to 2.5-2.9x body weight -- implying for me... 410lbs to 480lbs and that seems a lot more reasonable if you have outstanding technique, multi-year strength training experience and have followed the preparation protocol.
Those multi-year experience and technique pointers are essential for the squat -- it is really worth taking the time to learn how to squat properly. Take your time. I've been lifting (off and on) for over 2o years.
I see a lot of "experienced" folks in the gym using shocking (and dangerous) technique -- get a certified trainer to teach you free-weight technique.
#1 -- the point in the gym is to improve relative to YOURSELF
#2 -- a little LESS with a little BETTER technique
Be careful out there,