The Ironman-O-Meter

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 12 – June 1 > June 7, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC and SOCIAL UNREST!– PART XII

Lots of questions have been going through my mind lately, so I thought I would break out the old “Ironman-O-Meter” (patent pending) and see if it can provide some insight to what the heck is happening.

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Question Number 1:  Will this race be held in October as expected?

Ironman-O-Meter says:  About a 15% chance.  I was at a 10% chance of it happening about a month or so ago, but I am just a little more optimistic about it than before mainly because of what Ironman Corp. is doing planning-wise.  Although they have canceled or postponed many of the spring races, they have moved several to the fall.  I take that as a good sign, mainly because they want the races to occur as long as they can be done in a safe fashion for everyone.  A lot of the cancelations come as directives from the host cities that are sticking to state guidelines for dealing with Covid-19.  USA Triathlon and Ironman have both come out with safe practice policies recently that will allow us to race more cautiously, so that is a little more promising.  There are plans to eliminate a lot of the social event things that Ironman does for a race, as well as making the race more athlete self-supported.  I may be forced to carry my own nutrition on the bike and run instead of having well-stocked aid stations which is not a big deal.  I train that way all the time.  The City of Louisville, where the race will be held has had some social unrest due to a shooting recently, but I hope the crisis will settle down by fall.  I would think that with the losing out on summer and fall sports, Louisville might welcome us dopes on spokes.

Question Number 2:  What chance is there of me joining a group ride with the local bike group?

Ironman-O-Meter says: About a 25% chance.  A group ride opportunity popped up on Facebook for Saturday that almost looked perfect for me, but I took a pass on it.  This is the same group of great people that I accidentally came upon riding last week and joined in, and I enjoyed some company for a change.  I feel a little safer on some rides in a group because groups tend to be more visible to traffic.  But very few of these riders are training for Ironman and the couple that may be training probably aren’t following the same plan that I am.  What happens when I join the group is that my prescribed ride usually goes out the window.  First to go is the tempo, which is almost always faster than the Z2 zone ride that I should be doing.  And secondly, the distance usually ends up being farther than what my plan called for.  Lastly, the ride can sometimes turn into a testosterone-fueled ride, with someone trying to be the big dog.  That someone is usually me.  It’s probably better that I skip the extra tempo, distance, and one-upmanship and stick to my solo ride. The first rule of the Be Iron Fit training plan is to follow the plan.  The second rule is to FOLLOW THE TRAINING PLAN.

Question Number 3:  Will all dog owners say that their dog is friendly while it’s growling and baring its teeth at me?

Ironman-O-Meter says: 100% of the time, every time.  While doing my Tuesday run I came upon a guy and his two little kids walking his dog off-leash in the nature preserve where the posted sign says pets aren’t allowed.  This dog did exactly what off-leash dogs do in public, he approached me very aggressively, with snarling and barking and got close enough where I took my pepper spray off the safety and was ready to unload it on him.  Now, I don’t want to spray the dog.  He’s just doing what dogs do.  But I also don’t want to get bit either!  The owner quickly yelled at the dog “What’s the matter with you?” like it was the dog’s fault he was off-leash in public.  A sorry was tossed my way as the guy retrieved the leash from his 6-year-old and I turned and finished climbing the hill.  On the way back down a few minutes later I encountered him again and although still not leashed, he was being held by the owner.  That’s when the guy says “Sorry, he’s really a friendly dog.”  Yeah, sure looked friendly to me.  Every damn time.  

 

That’s enough questions for the Ironman-O-Meter for now.  I don’t want to blow any circuits.  Thanks to Rebecca and Emily helping me design the Ironman-O-Meter.  It may need some tweaking, but it did the job.

 

TOTALS FOR WEEK 12:

  • Swim:  2 / 3000 yards
  • Bike:  4 rides  /  93 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  23.5 miles
Gunners-2-1
A little bit of a dial-back week this week.

Enjoying the Ride

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 11 – May 25 > May 31, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART XI

The weather was pretty awesome this week.  I was in upper Wisconsin at my lake home at the end of last week and the beginning of this week.  I was able to do a long ride and long run last weekend and began this week with a Tuesday run on the Bearskin Trail that runs through town before heading back home.  We would have stayed longer but the in-laws have sold their local home and were leaving for Florida so we needed to be back home to say goodbye.

Swim training began this week!  And although boring, as usual, it didn’t suck.  Well, it had its moments.  I only got in the Thursday swim because we were traveling on Tuesday, and I only did 30 minutes.  I tried using my Garmin 935 watch in the past for swimming in my pool, but it never read the distance correctly.  Garmin must have updated the pool swim feature for the watch as it now lets me customize the pool distance to a more realistic 15 yards for my pool.  Still a little long, but more in the ballpark than 18 or 25 yards, which were the only options before.  Anyway, here’s proof that I was swimming:

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Look out, Mark Spitz!  I’m coming for you!

The Saturday long ride was interesting.  I saw a lot of interesting things on this ride and thought I would share some photos.  These photos are screenshots from my Fly12 bike flashing light/camera.

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15 minutes into the ride and I had to wait for Mama Duck to get her ducklings across the road.

 

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This trucker gave me a nice wide berth on Hoff Road.  Thanks for sharing the road, trucker guy!

I caught up with the local cycling club that I follow and rode with them for a while, and I made a new friend.  Hello, Angela!

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This white 1967 Olds Cutlass 442 was parked off of Hoff Road in the Midewin Nature preserve and rumbled by giving me a smile.
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This farmer was kind enough to give me space too.

 

Okay, enough with the photos.

The Sunday 8.5 mile run was interesting too.  I was coming up to pass a guy who was walking ahead of me, and as he reached into his pocket for his phone a deer appear not five feet in front of him.  He never saw the deer as it bounded right past him!  I was shocked that he didn’t see him.  Unbelievable how much you miss when you are paying attention to your dumb device and not your surroundings.  I enjoyed it though.

Lastly, with all of the turmoil going on in the country and especially in the midwest today, I refuse to let it get to me.  Focus on the positive and stay away from the negative.  I do my part to be a good upstanding citizen.  My best to you all.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 11:

  • Swim:  1 / 1470 yards
  • Bike:  4 rides  /  128 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  26.5 miles
Gunners-2-1
KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

 

 

 

Reliving Previous Week 10’s

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 10 – May 18 > May 24, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART X

As I wrap up this tenth week of a 30-week training plan, I was thinking about what was I feeling in my previous four Ironman training Week 10’s.  So I thought it might be interesting to look back at what I wrote about in those weeks.

2013 Ironman Wisconsin Training Week 10 – I was blogging my journey for my first Ironman on a triathlon blogging site that is no longer around, but my son Ben was able to recapture those posts.  It looks like I was actually looking forward to the next third of the training plan.  Hmm… imagine that.  I would never look forward to what was coming now!  Since I can’t share a link to the post, I will copy it below:

  • WEEK 10 – April 22, 2013Week 10 is in the books!  I can’t believe I am 1/3 done with the training.  Week 10 ends the Base Phase of the training program and now I am heading into the dreaded Build Phase!  The next 10 weeks looks challenging, with an extra swim added per week, along with some intervals added to the bike and run training.  I look forward to getting out of Heart Rate Zone 1 and 2 and into zones 3 & 4.  
  • This week took a hit, with heavy rain flooding many parts of the Chicagoland area.  We were spared here in Mokena for the most part, but getting outside was not in my plans.  As a matter of fact, even the Will County Forest Preserve District closed the two local preserves because of flooding, and those are my running and now cycling haunts.  But I did well inside, missing only my Sunday long run due to my daughter’s confirmation and party.  Sacrifices are a two-way street.
  • My butt is continually sore and uncomfortable in the saddle on long rides.  My Saturday 3 hour ride took that to a new level of soreness, and I am wondering if a better saddle may alleviate some of my issues.  I also think I just need to ride more.  I’ll get there.  
  • The swim this week wasn’t the best.  Tuesday’s swim was after a run, which caused me to cramp up in my lower legs and feet.  I just couldn’t swap them that day.  It is readily apparent to me why the swim is the first event.
  • I joined a Facebook group for the 2013 Wisconsin Ironman.  Good group of people and they have shared tons of valuable information.  I’ve been quietly respectful of them, but I will come out of my shell soon and interact with them more.  They are having tons of fun.  
  • WEEK 10 TOTALS:
  • SWIM – 4400 yards, 2 swims
  • BIKE – 77 miles, 3 rides 
  • RUN – 17.5 miles, 3 runs (skipped a long run again this week due to family responsibilities)

2016 Ironman Lake Placid Training Week 10 –  Another upbeat post in 2016 for Ironman Lake Placid.  There was a three-year gap between Wisconsin and Lake Placid, so it seemed like it was still kind of new to me.  Since this race is a mid-summer race, it seemed to be much colder than my other Week 10’s.  The best part of this week was the 3-hour ride with fellow Gunner John.

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John and I seemed like we were enjoying ourselves on a cold April 3-hour ride.  Probably not.

Read the actual post here:  2016 IMLP Training – WEEK 10

2017 Ironman Louisville Training Week 10 – Since I am training for Louisville again this year it isn’t a surprise Week 10 falls on Memorial Day weekend again.  It seems like I did a lot of assessing myself in 2017.  I see that I was starting to realize that all of that crazy swim training wasn’t worth it and I was happy to just do enough.  It worked well for me then as I ended up setting a swim personal best in the race.  Here is the post:  Memorial Day Reminders

2019 Ironman Chattanooga Training Week 10 – It seemed by this point I was doing more writing about the week’s experiences than what the ten weeks meant.  It looks like I hadn’t done any swimming yet, which is not surprising.  I learned a lot in 2017.  The post was about getting the crap scared out of me apparently:  Week 10 Wrap Up: Fear… Parts I & II

2020 Ironman Louisville Training Week 10 – Half of this week was split between home and the lake home in northern Wisconsin.  Glad to get away from the self-isolation and quarantining in Illinois to the beauty of the Northwoods, where apparently the State of Wisconsin doesn’t care if you go about your regular routine.

So here I am again, wrapping up another ten weeks of training and glad to be done with it.  As usual, I am hoping for better weather, for my butt to get acclimated to the seat soon, and for the coronavirus to not kill me or my race.  I’ll keep training like the race is on until it isn’t.

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TOTALS FOR WEEK 10:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  75 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  34 miles
Gunners-2-1
One-third done!  Hey Carl!

Clicks, Ticks and the Same Old Tricks

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 9 – May 11 > May 17, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART IX

I’ve been training on my new gravel bike for most of the spring, mainly because the weather has been wet and I would rather ride that bike through the puddles than my triathlon bike, but I have been on the triathlon bike more now.  And it has been talking to me – lots of clicking and ticking sounds coming from it that the gravel bike being new definitely isn’t making.  I bought the bike in the summer of 2013, so it is getting a little old now and the sounds shouldn’t really surprise me much. But when I am riding over 20 mph at times, those little sounds probably shouldn’t be ignored.  I’m guessing my headset and fork bearings may need to be repacked with grease.  I’ll play around with it and see if I can get the bike back in a silent running condition.  A new bike would be an easy reaction to an aging bike, but I’m going to make sure my bike can last me as long as it can.  I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to pursue Ironman races.  I’m getting a little worn out.  The click and tick sounds could be coming from me as well.

As I did my weekend long ride on Friday instead of Saturday (moved my senior college grad Ashley out of Valparaiso University on Saturday – 2 down, 1 to go!) I could tell that my level of fitness while doing the ride has gotten better but it’s still a long way off.  First I had overdressed for the day and was sweating more than I should have allowed myself.  That lead to getting a tad bit dehydrated and a slight bonk while finishing up a planned 2 hour and 45 minute ride in 3 hours.  This is my fifth time training for an Ironman and it seems I have to relearn the same lessons each time.  But fortunately, I’m a quick learner and it comes back to me pretty quickly.  

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Every time I train for an Ironman, I guess.

It rained like crazy on Sunday and I didn’t get a chance to do my Sunday long run.  I’ll do it tomorrow.  One thing I don’t have to relearn is how to be flexible and get the job done.

Lastly, I finally opened the pool.  I think I set a record getting it ready.  The temperature is up to 85 degrees (yeah, I hate swimming in cold water), and the junk is all vacuumed out.  I should be able to swim next week.  

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I had to stop at my turn around point to empty rocks from my cycling shoes.  Good times.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 9:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  74.5 miles
  • Run:  2 runs  /  9.5 miles
Gunners-2-1
I’m seeing a handful of fall races getting cancelled.  Waiting for the hammer to fall.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 8 – May 4 > May 10, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART VIII

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!  I certainly miss my late mother and think of her often.  If you are fortunate to have your mother and father around, cherish the time you have together.

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My mom never knew me as a triathlete.  She would tell me to be careful when I was just a runner, worried about the marathons in particular.  I wonder what she would think about the Ironmans I have trained and raced.  I’m guessing she wouldn’t have been too happy about it.  That’s what mothers do, they mother.

Week 8 was a drawback week as far as training goes.  The training plan sneaks these in occasionally and it is always a welcome surprise.  It always seems to come just when you need it.  So this week ended with a reduced ride and run, and I reduced the run even more by eliminating it because it’s Mother’s Day and it’s a rainy Mother’s Day.  Maybe I will do it tomorrow on my normal rest day in Week 9.  It’s an easy hour run that I can do without much effort.

While training for my ultramarathon this past winter I had developed some nagging little injuries, but when the pandemic hit and the event got postponed, I was happy to slide into the Ironman training which heavily reduced my running workload.  I realized in Week 5 or 6 that I no longer had those injuries and was feeling pretty good.  But I’m starting to feel the little behind the knee thing starting to come back.  Maybe taking off from running on Mother’s Day is a good thing to give it an extra day of rest.  I’m guessing Mom would approve.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 8:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  66 miles
  • Run:  3 runs  /  14 miles

Gunners-2-1
My wife is an awesome mother!  Happy Mother’s Day Kari!

 

Smile!

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 7 – APRIL 27 > MAY 3, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART VII

My son had a female teammate on his college cross country team that had two great attributes that everyone took notice of.  First, she was smoking fast.  She outright won many of the meets during the season.  When the team ran in the NCAA DIII Cross Country Nationals, she was the runner-up.  So yeah, the competition knew who she was.  And the second characteristic – she smiled when she did it.  I’m not just saying that if she heard you cheer for her that she would flash a smile.  No, she smiled through the entire race like she actually enjoyed running and putting the beat down on everyone else.

This week I thought about that out on the trail while putting in my training runs.  Although lately there have been some times when I wanted to flip people off, this week seemed to be more enjoyable.  Lots of people were being friendly and I took notice.  So I started to smile when I saw people.  Not sure if they noticed me having fun doing what I love doing, but I started to see the benefit of smiling.  My pace quickened a little.  I felt myself sliding comfortably into a pace that normally is reserved for hard efforts.

So smiling may be in my future.  Feeling good about running in this crazy world right now is just what I need.

Training went well this week.  After riding a stationary bike and my gravel bike for my training rides the previous six weeks of training, I finally committed to riding my tri bike for my Saturday long ride.  I don’t mind getting my gravel bike dirty and riding it is fun, but I was pushing hard and only finishing with a 15 mph average.  So I was eager to ride the tri bike to see if there was a difference.  Yes, there is a difference.  I did 45 miles and averaged 17.5 mph.  That’s something to smile about.

I’m not alone when I say I haven’t done any swim training yet.  Most pools are closed due to the pandemic, and the lakes are just now starting to hit 60 degrees allowing some swimmers that are braver than I a chance to swim.  But that’s way too cold for me.  I will open my pool soon though.  I usually open it in May when the temps start averaging around 60 degrees or more.  I looked at the forecast for next week and see that we have another cooler week coming, so I think I will wait one more week before opening the pool.  I’m okay with waiting.  Swimming sucks.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 7:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  72 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  25 miles

Gunners-2-1
Note to self:  Start taping up the nips!  YEEOUCH!

Runners Are Bad! Dogs are Good!

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 6 – APRIL 20 > APRIL 26, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART VI

Keeping in step with my new motto from last week, I gave myself a day to think about what to write today.  My personal desire was to have a somewhat angry counterpoint to a few articles in the Chicago Tribune this past week or two shaming runners for their behavior during the coronavirus outbreak.  (If you want to read them, I posted some links at the bottom of this post.)  But I have decided to address them and then move on.

In essence, the beef with runners is that we are not following the social distancing rules in the minds of those that have swarmed to the places we run to take up space where we had plenty of room to exercise before.  When the stay-at-home mandate took effect, we were told that we could go outside and exercise but only if we maintained social distancing.  So what did non-exercisers do?  They came in droves to the trails with their families and pets.  The almost immediate effect of all those people now joining the regulars on the bike and running paths resulted in the complete shutdown of some of those places.  Thanks to the non-regulars, we regular users of the paths were forced off.

I read another article about rats starting to move away from their normal hangouts behind restaurants and groceries where dumpsters normally overflow with tossed food scraps in search of food that is no longer being tossed.  Funny how animal behavior changes when they are fighting to survive.  And just like the rats, runners had to find other places to run since the non-runners ruined our ability to exercise away from the busy streets and sidewalks.  And now they don’t like us anywhere.

When did we runners become villains?  For the most part, we are some of the most healthy people on the planet.  We run for charities, raising millions of dollars for worthy causes.  We support new runners attempting to reach their running goals.  Many of the running and cycling clothing companies have switched their focus to making masks for healthcare workers and frontline personnel.  Some runners and cyclists even do their activity as a way to commute to and from work, helping reduce the impact of driving on the environment.  For the most part, we are good, upstanding citizens.

Maybe it’s envy.  I get that from time to time.  Because I enjoy running or biking mile after mile and they don’t, they want to make sure that they think it is a dumb endeavor.  “That’s crazy.”  “I wouldn’t even want to drive that far.”  “What’s wrong with you?”  “Run, Forrest, run!”  (That’s a put-down, not a cheer most of the time.)

Who knows really why there’s a division being drawn?  I certainly don’t know.  I think people just like to bitch about stuff.  What I do know is that I’m not going to let some non-regulars keep me from doing my activity.

Anyway…  here’s a picture of our new family dog!  He’s a good boy!  And he takes my mind off of the stuff that gets me riled.

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He likes sticks.  And leaves.  And fingers.  And rocks.  And anything that moves.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 6:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  4 rides  /  70.2 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  22 miles

Here’s the links to the articles.  What are your thoughts?

Gunners-2-1
Are we having fun yet?

 

Give It A Day

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 5 – APRIL 13 > APRIL 19, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART V

While on my 27-mile bike ride on the local bike trail Saturday I had constructed a profanity-laced diatribe for this post about the idiots out on the trail, complete with f-bombs and venting that would make a sailor blush.  Although the windy day was the main reason I opted to ride the trail, I usually avoid it.  Too many people not being considerate to others by not following the simplest trail usage rules is what really gets me ticked off.  And now that the self-isolating, stir crazy, cabin fever locals have decided to head to the trail it’s become overrun with people who just can’t seem to think about anyone but themselves.  Then I gave it a day and now I’m writing a completely different weekly wrap-up than what I had planned.

I have found that when I get upset about something if I just give it a day’s rest, I often feel less angry and more forgiving.  I’ve also read that those who have been wronged in some way or another, being forgiving often leads to feeling relieved.  So one day after feeling like I wanted to run over people for walking on the wrong side of the trail, and punching pet owners letting their dogs roam free while holding their leash in their hands, I chose to let it go.  And I feel better about it.

I have a local runner friend who developed a running-related injury and from his Facebook post, you could tell it was something that he was upset about.  So far this year, the work he had been doing as an ambassador for the Illinois Marathon had been for naught, as the race has been canceled thanks to the viral pandemic.  He was also planning on running the race, too.  And now one of his coping mechanisms was letting him down.  Give it a day, my friend.  Maybe give it a week or month if you have to.  But in time you will be back to running, and your marathon will return too.

This week was a wild one.  We had two accumulating snow events this mid-April.  A day after each one the snow was gone.  The week ended with a beautiful 60-degree sunny day.  Give it a day and things get better.

Lots of changes have been occurring to our lifestyles in 2020, and sometimes I think we just need to give it a day.  And maybe another day.  Or a week.  In some cases a month.  But we will return to normal.

I might make “give it a day” my new motto.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 5:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  48 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  21 miles

Gunners-2-1
5 weeks down – 25 to go

It’s A Sign!

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 4 – APRIL 6 > APRIL 12, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART IV

Happy Easter!

Spring is here and there are signs everywhere!  As a runner who spends the majority of his time running staring at the ground 5-6 feet ahead of me, I’m surprised I notice anything going on around me.  But lately, I have noticed a lot of signs out on the trail.  From the little flowers that are blooming right along the edge of the path to the painted rocks that people are placing in public places and along the trail to brighten everyone’s day.  The grass is greening up and judging from the hayfever I’m experiencing, I’m guessing everything is about to go from winter grey to a very colorful spring.

I have also seen some new signs out on the trail.  Signs measuring the six-foot safe passing distance and reminders to please pass others in a single file way.  Someone has placed a reflector sign on the unofficial path that I maintain that’s used to access the nature preserve to help them remember where to get on the path.  Not sure it needed a sign because it’s really the only path like it on the abandoned frontage road, but it’s definitely a sign that someone else is utilizing my little path.

Another sign I’ve been seeing is my buddy John texting “Day Done” in our group chat that he’s completed the day’s workout.  Could that be a sign that he’s joining the Gunners in Louisville this year?!?!  That would be quite a sign!

TOTALS FOR WEEK 4:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  2 rides  /  32.5 miles
  • Run:  5 runs  /  23 miles.

Gunners-2-1
I’m a Libra, what’s your sign?

What’s the Deal with Calf Cramps?

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 TRAINING

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WEEK 3 – MARCH 30 > APRIL 5, 2020

IRONMAN TRAINING IN THE TIME OF PANDEMIC – PART III

It’s a really strange time in the world right now but I am doing my best to keep some normalcy in my life, and training for my fifth Ironman is helping a lot with that.  Many races scheduled for spring have either been canceled or postponed to the fall.  Fortunately, my race is scheduled for mid-October and hasn’t been affected yet but I am training with crossed fingers and doing each workout with the thought in the back of my mind that if things don’t improve with this virus, I may be training for naught.

But since I’m Mr. Optomist, I’m keeping a positive outlook and will keep training for Ironman Louisville until I’m told otherwise.  I’d be doing some kind of training anyway, regardless if I was signed up for a race.

The weather has started to turn a little for the better and with the warmer temps, I find myself riding outside more and relying less on the spin bike.  This has reminded me a couple of things.  First, a spin bike is a decent workout but it’s no substitute for riding outside.  Secondly, riding outside is killing me!  My butt is sore and hates me for making it sit on a bike saddle that was clearly not designed for comfort.  And my calves have decided that cramping up while riding is a fine thing.

 

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Maybe only triathletes will find this funny.

 

As a longtime runner, I don’t remember ever having cramps from running.  It’s only when I started doing triathlons and in particular training for Ironman that they became a thing.  I would get cramps in my feet when swimming, which is really weird because you aren’t even using them much.  I knew when the foot cramps came on it was time for me to get out of the pool because they would get worse before they got better.  Plus it gave me an excuse to quit swimming because I hate it.

Most of my rides are short enough during the week that cramps aren’t a problem.  It’s the longer weekend rides that cause them.  Specifically, I am referring to calf cramps.  I’ll be spinning along doing just fine and then I will get that first warning twinge.  I’ve gotten pretty good at backing off the intensity and avoiding the dreaded “Charley Horse”.  Severe cramps really don’t occur while biking.  No, they save themselves for when you are in bed trying to sleep.  Move your foot just the wrong way under the covers and BOOM – Cramp City.

In all honesty, though, the cramps were a much more frequent occurrence when I was first starting out in the sport.  That first year training for Ironman Wisconsin in 2013 I would experience them much more often after a long ride.  But I am much more experienced now and they don’t seem to bother me as much as they used to.

Other triathletes are always looking at the reason behind the calf cramps.  Some say it’s due to being dehydrated.  Or not enough salt, potassium or other minerals in your diet or hydration drink.  I don’t disagree with those reasons contributing to calf cramps, but I don’t think it’s the main reason.  I have found a correlation to getting calf cramps with an increase in a certain activity that you haven’t been doing and/or the intensity of the new activity.  Calf cramps for me are always at the beginning of a 30-week training cycle when I stop spinning an easy gear on the spin bike indoors and actually have to work when I ride outdoors.  I always want to jump right back in where I left off in the late fall and ride with the same intensity that I had built up over the course of the summer.  That’s a silly mistake that I always make and relearn every spring.  Cramps also generally occur towards the end of a ride, when you have been spinning your legs at 90+ rpm and haven’t given them a single break.

Some athletes will also treat the symptoms of a cramp rather than why they are cramping in the first place.  Somewhere someone decided that pickle juice is the wonder drink to prevent cramps.  What a horrible thing to drink.  And there’s a company out there that produces a drink product that claims to stop cramps as soon as you feel them coming on.  This drink has a combination of ginger, cinnamon and a strong pepper in it that is supposed to re-wire your nerves to stop the cramp.  That seems dumb, but the science behind it kind of makes sense.  The theory is that when you over-stimulate the nerves in your muscles they go haywire.  When you start to cramp you take a drink of their product (or something very strong tasting, like pickle juice) and that strong taste of it refocuses your brain away from the over-excited nerves in your cramping leg.  People swear that it works.  But wouldn’t you rather not cramp up than have to treat it with some crazy drink?  I would.

I do find that after a few weeks of retraining my legs for the workload and backing off how hard I push myself will result in the cramping occurrence to fade and be a lot less of a problem.  By the end of the training period and when race day comes, cramps will pretty much be a non-issue for me.

So I truly believe that calf cramps from cycling come from an increase in the activity from being off for a long period and then working them too hard when restarting your training regimen.  It’s overexertion, plain and simple.  So hopefully I will never need to carry pickle juice with me on a ride.

TOTALS FOR WEEK 3:

  • Swim:  0 / 0 yards
  • Bike:  3 rides  /  53.5 miles
  • Run:  4 runs  /  20.5 miles

Gunners-2-1
I’m not really an optimist.