Friday, February 27, 2015

Cycling KM's

Bike Hours, Run Hours, Swim Hours, Family Hours, Wife Hours and maybe some relaxing hours.

That's what we talk about as triathletes and Dadathletes with other multiple sport friends, it's about getting those hours in.

"Yeah Dave, I clocked in a short hour on the bike last night, grabbed a few extra KM's"
"Struggling to find some running time, need to add more KMs to my schedule for the IM in March"

Crazy talk! but it's the world we enjoy.

I don't have a hard and fast training plan when it comes to my workouts, outside of having a particular Tri-Event I don't really hit the pool on a regular basis, so as we creep closer to the winter the focus is on running and riding at the moment.

I implore every Dadathlete to ditch public transport where possible, BEST move I ever did, now granted I don't like riding in a heavy down pour so I get the train or rain days. But travelling to work under your own steam will change your outlook.

1. You don't suffer train delays
2. You know exactly how long it takes to get home everyday without exception
3. Time to yourself, to think, clear the head, prepare mentally for the working day
4. Right there is your conditioning - day in day out.

It's not easy and it harks back to being ready to commute, bag ready, kit ready, clothes for the day (or week) ready. Come home feed/ feed baby/ bath baby/ and then prepare your pack.

We all love a MAMIL ride on the weekend, friends side by side rolling down Beach Road or spinning up the Hills with a little group followed by a cheeky poached egg and coffee to right the worlds wrongs. But we have a kid! and 8am ain't a guarantee availability on a Saturday or Sunday for that matter.

How can this view not encourage a morning ride to work 

Riding to work will give you KMs but how you use them is up to you, here are some simple tips to help improve that morning ride and create a training/ learning opportunity.

Have multiple routes, a long one, short one, hilly, and flat, you might even have a technical route that requires twisting paths to work on bike handling skills and concentration.

Know when to use these routes to your advantage; I like to do some speed/ sprint work so I choose my short route with long roads without traffic lights to stretch out in the aero position. On a Friday like this morning I try add some KMs in with a longer ride, flatter but try and get 20km before I hit the office.

Ok I love my Strava - it features on this blog, it features in my discussions; but any system where you can easily get time/ speed and distance data is useful as Triathlete. 

Ride with a purpose, I like to keep track of my time to get home with traffic lights my 10-12km spin tends to take 28mins but on good days I look to get under that. 

Even an equipment adjustment can add to your training; I like a challenge in the morning so some days I set myself a goal of staying in the Big Ring for my ride to work or limiting gears to 2 changes. This ups my output. You may if working with the N+1 rule (N being the amount of bikes you own) using your training bike or maybe investing in a steel frame, something with a bit more weight than the road racer you normal saddle up to. 

Feel that increased effort as you wrestle a heavy frame bike in only a big ring to work each day and tell me that's not improving your riding.

Even if you're not always adding any of these elements a bad training session will always beat no session at all, worst case senario you've refreshed your mind and avoided that squished 5th carriage with a 15min delay on a 34C day.

Find the training opportunity in your daily life and you won't have to find time to train! 

Food Glorious Food!

I love eating, not as much as I love cooking. 

Preparing food for me is a chore at times and something I'd rather not do; but the eating is the fun bit. 

But I'm busy as you've already guessed, with a heavily pregnant wife and busy work schedule, coupled with trying to run a small but semi-successful PT Business on the side (insert plug of facebook page Zen Fitness) along with cycling, running, fitness and trying to keep my hand in playing some rugby this winter - life is not slowing down at ALL! 

So I look back to that error I made at Elwood and evaluated my preparing for the week; I generally spend a Sunday afternoon making sure I have enough Lycra washed and shirts ironed for the week ahead and would neglect the most important life force FOOD. 

Food prep I always saw as a mass of containers and ingredients when all I want is a sandwich! But it doesn't have to be - simple basic meals made up on the spot on mass make a huge difference and streamline a early rising morning. 

Keep it Simple! 

I'm a hungry guy so a salad is not going to keep me busy, plus a salad won't last till Friday in the fridge before it becomes a little soggy. Look at some grains/ pasta/ rices/ cous cous.

Think ahead - if I'm cooking a pasta dish, I'm always cooking triple; same if it's a Chilli for Mexican night, that meat can double as burrito mix in a weeks time when I put it in the freezer. Make a big dish of Zucchini Slice so you can cut it up freeze it and serve it up later for lunch in the week. 

OK I lied a little you will need some containers for these meals

Go big with your current meals like you're cooking for the family and a few guests, get some small sized containers and start to stock up - it's much easier to have a meal in the freezer you can grab in the morning throw in the bag and get cycling to work. 

TIP: Salads are always nice, but throw in some rice/ cous cous for some slow release carbs to keep you going; also don't freeze the salad - instead make 2 batches and have them Mon- Tues in the week instead when it's freshest.

MY DAILY FOOD DIARY - most days.

5:30AM - my eyeballs have not opened yet but I can find the kettle in a firestorm; get that brew going. I feed the cat before myself and then I prepare some fruit and oats with milk or greek yogurt before I ride to work. 

That Coffee is needed more than you could imagine at 5:30AM

10AM - A little breakfast snack bar for a couple of handfuls of nuts, this small trail mix I will generally pick at all day.

Behave like a Squirrel, graze all day on some nuts and dried fruits

11:30AM - Mid-Mid Morning snack a sneak a piece of fruit Apple or Banana 

1:30PM - prepared meal time; today was one of the many batches of Tuna Pasta I made, as a carb machine I love this and some proteins with the tuna to boot.

4PM - 2nd piece of fruit/ chocolate milk, I need a sweet fix and I'd rather choc milk I bring with me from home than a chocolate bar. You could and I have inserted a protein shake instead here in the past as well. 

8PM - It's dinner time; I have a meal plan on my fridge as to what night it is example: Monday is Stir Fry Night, this helps with both of us knowing what to cook and assists with the weekly shopping requirements.

Fruit and Fro-gurt - YUM and great after a warm day riding or running

Liking a little more fruit to end my day I throw some fresh chopped melon from the fridge with some frozen yogurt (fro-gurt?)

This is pretty standard daily meal plan; it's not crazy and I always try to keep my fluids up with a drink bottle on my desk along with avoiding drinking beer during the week at all, and maybe the odd extra sip on the weekend (wink wink) I'm not elite! And this meal plan might NOT make you age group champion 2015 or even a top 20 finisher. But it will make you healthier than burgers and cafe meals during the week. 

It will help with being able to enjoy your free time with the other half instead of over thinking whats for dinner tonight, or having to make sandwiches the night before while all you want to do is jump into bed. 

I'm not a dietitian, I read as much as you have about crazy paleo and veggie diets. I'm realistic! I need to eat, it must be tasty but I don't want to shovel rubbish in my mouth - yes some will say this is carb heavy and you'll be right. This works for me. I burn this off, my body is conditioned to a high carb intake off set with fruits. 

The main take away point is meal prepping to have a stress free training time and leisure time. Do a bit extra to get a bit extra back; I'm finding you extra hours in your week. Who doesn't love time travel! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Tree falls in the woods, if nobody is around does it make a sound ???

Good question unsure of the answer. 

But same applies to blog I guess - I'll rattle on until someone hears me or comments they've heard a sound of me falling over. 

Back to this post - WESTERFOLDIANS 

Great little group made up of majority of the fine people from my Parkrun on a Saturday morning, I like being involved as Westerfolds Park is a fabulous place to go for a run with the paths and routes you can take along with the wildlife such as the birds and the odd grazing kangaroo. 

You can always find a new 20km, 10km, 5km route to be marked out - I even made up a nice little 3.5km route for when I'm feeling a little lazy.

As soon to be Dad, this group means I can sort out a run at my favourite park - but not always on a Saturday at 8am. And I'm all about flexible training!

So if you live in the area, like to run - or you're passing by and want a run drop us a line I'm sure someone will join you for a run. 

Baby Got Back

Week 39 of Pregnancy - Still no baby. Into the final week of my PT Group before I take a months break to be with the baby.

But my back is killing me; it's like a dull pain in the left trap/ shoulder blade. Almost maybe like I slept on it funny. Surprising it gets worse the longer I sit in my office chair! So it could be an allergic reaction to the office.

Either way for the past 4 days this pain has really set me back, I haven't been able to run or jog; haven't lifted any Kettlebells or done a body weight circuit in the mornings. Riding to work is OK and I do feel it, but have found a little activity recently has helped with some blood flow to the area. 

But it's driving me nuts this spasm of pain that keeps occurring! Might try some heat packs and a light run tonight, as it's been 2 weeks due to work events that I've missed Parkrun and quite keen to get a 5km lap in. 

My next event (life event of baby is next) is a 10km Run Melbourne on the 26th of July; BUT this time I'm doing it with a Pram, need to work on a slight change of stride I'd run it in under 1 Hour if possible so need a good base of fitness and it will start to get colder down here, unlike my American buddies heading into prime Spring Racing time. 

So this back injury better back-off, go back to where it came from and generally back the f#ck off as I'm sick of it! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Getting my fix

Maintaining a good operating bicycle takes time and $$ 

More so in the $$ department.

I had come up to 1000km's on both my bikes I use; the Daily Rider for getting to work was starting to sound a little tight and the rear chain was dragging a little. My weekender/ competing bike had somehow blown the side wall of the rim!?!?!

I know confusing; and sadly in my rage I never took a photo of it; but its clear to say that when I took it to the fine chaps at +Ivanhoe Cycles Megastore (my local shop) it surprised them, and it's never good when you surprise your bike shop tech dudes. 

So between trying to save money for upcoming events and extra baby items; including a pump that will be no good for inflating tires of any kind I've had to stump up $240 to repair and rebuild my rear wheel, thankfully not including spokes. 

Now of course this was never going to be the end of it; riding to work a felt a large object flick under my wheel of the Daily Bike. Didn't get a good look felt like a rock or piece of industrial masonry item on Collins St a quick check of the Tyre on arrival to the showers didn't really show any damage; that was until 6pm when I wanted to ride out to St Kilda for dinner .... flat tyre. 

I don't carry spare tubes. I can't fit spare tubes. In fact I'm so bad at bike repairs I've given up. 

I get covered in grease, lube and oil (and that's changing a tyre) a long with the frustration that accures means I have never changed one flat Tyre correctly instead leaving it to +Ivanhoe Cycles Megastore or +Cycles Galleria - Bourke St to do my dirty work. 

Am I lazy? 

Is this cost effective?

At $35 to change my tube; I've had it happen now 3 times plus this wheel rebuild of $240 I'm not so convinced I'm saving that much money on commuting to work via bicycle; in fact I might be breaking even JUST! 

But then I don't have a $100 a month gym membership nor do I complain when I get home late at night that I haven't been active enough this week. Not so sure what the $$ value of that is?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Strong Father Figure

A confession of sorts: I'm a part time Personal Trainer; I run my own boot camp/boxing fitness group see my Zen Fitness facebook page for more detail.

So the truth is along with that and my ever shortening rugby career, strength plays a big part in my training methods. Its a great place to find that bit extra or perfect a weakness.

I know that there will be some part-time and amateur runners and triathletes who will argue that having a choice over running/cycle/ swim session in an already busy life of feeding/lunch packing/work/wife finding a 4th Session in the gym is difficult. 

And it is! 

I don't lift and shift nearly as much as I did as a Rugby player but it compliments the disciplines so well that a 30-40min session at the end of the day, or to kick start your morning will make a difference. I promise! 

"But Olly I hate the gym, that's why I run" 
"My kid just painted my walls with ice cream, when am I meant to go to the gym?"

And I too love the new found freedom of getting out of the gym and in the outdoors; and having ditched my membership the financial savings were great. You don't need much to pack a punch with some simple weights you can perform some great exercises. 

Kettlebells - we've heard of them, maybe seen them, some us may of bought them to hold the door open on a breezy afternoon. 

Invest in a couple of standard weighted KB's I own 4 weights 8kg, 12kg, 16kg and a 20kg (the cannon ball) With these weights and a exercise mat I've been able to keep up regular strength work which has been great to get my fitness fix on a rainy afternoon, baby watching requirements or generally when I'm home late from work and bored.

"I don't need bulk in my routine" 

I used to need it when playing rugby and my program back then reflected that, low repetitions coupled with heavy loads on large muscle group areas such Back, Chest & Legs (Nobody Skips Leg Day) This will create strength gains - but with limited equipment available it is going to be hard to maintain a program such as this without a squat rack, bench press and large weight tossing arena.

This is where a powerful, strength v heart rate session will benefit your running/cycling/swimming programs on the off days. With a simple movement workout we want to get what they call in gymland "superset" or exercises putting them back to back, or perform a "giant set" of 3 exercises. 

I like to couple in multiple movements, attacking key areas such as legs, upper body and core where I can. The exercises shown in the video below can be set out either timed - 1min per exercise or in a rep range of 10-15. Ideally you'd like to repeat them at  least 3-4 times with a rest at the end of no more than 2mins.

You could take this in another direction down the HIIT path and perform blasting sets of explosiveness by doing each exercise in a 10sec burst perform moving onto the next one. 

TRY IT - mix it up for something different, put the baby in its swing chair and workout within eye distance or maybe wait till the little cabbage has knocked off for a moment. Baby monitor instead of iPod attached to your hip and get in a quick few sets. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's that coming over the hill?

It's awkwardly rolled over into darkness, the heat from today has finally escape the house via blasting arctic type breeze from the air conditioner - which by the way just cost me my unborn second child to fix last week.

And I've returned from a run.

Nothing long, but steep!

Pregnant wife, busy life and a need to find more hours in my day has forced me to take up what was valuable procrastination time to head out on a run after 9pm. I need to make this 'extra' run session outside of my Parkrun Group Session productive, maximizing results rather than just stepping out for a lazy 5-10km loop of the block or down by the river lap.

I need to find a sure fire way to know that this is making my time worth it - so I found a steep hill, well more like two Hills, one side is long and gradiant reaches upwards step by step, at the crest I have a nice look down into the burbs, before decenting downwards quickly, only to turn around I head up again but this time on the steep side.

It's a fact! Training on hills improves leg-muscle strength, quickens your stride, expands stride length, develops your cardiovascular system, enhances your running economy and can even protect your leg muscles against soreness. 

In short, hill running will make you a stronger, faster and healthier runner. What’s more, the benefits are relatively quick to take effect. In as little as six weeks of regular hill training you can expect a significant improvement in your muscle power and speed.

6 WEEKS! Now there aren't too many magic pills in this world that can give you that sort of result. 

The steeper the better, 

My session isn't a big session in fact its under 5km but its attacked quickly completed generally in under 30 mins and I know it was worth while. 

What a great way to gain more by running less. 

The Art of The PB (non-scientific)

I'm an avid fan of Parkrun, if you don't know it google it or ask a friend. 

This free community running group that gathers in one of the great running locations of Westerfolds Park, they are a joy to hang out with and form a great network from all walks/ runs of life. 

Parents, Kids, Hardcore, Friends and those odd people that turn up from time to time wearing sandals and Hawaiian shorts.

My wife a little runner herself before pregnancy kicked in (only a few weeks away as I type to Dadathlete Time) started with this group; and encouraged me to get along, it seemed the perfect beginning point. 90 odd like minded people jogging 5km on a Saturday morning. Bliss. 

You compete in that secret race, the one that happens between you and your Garmin. Where you question if you can go as fast as last week. I started out posting 27's and 25 min times, that started to get down under 25 minutes and I was pleased for an over sized runner (90kgs moves a little slower than those Marathon whippets)

Dropping down to 24, then 23 and then I started to think nope that's it. We talk of plateaus and base points, I could consistently keep it sub-24 most weeks without too much effort. But anything under 23 seemed a fantasy. 

NEW YEARS DAY 2015 - a small event of 100 runners! having a run outside of the normal Parkrun Saturday AM. 

Prep wasn't great a night in on the couch with good friends of ours also expecting, meant the women stayed up till 1am talking nappies, cots, breast feeding and labor pains - while my friend Tony and I chugged cans and talked cycling, golf, football, oh heck we talked SPORT till 1am - estimated can consumption was over 5 and close to 10.

A PB is weird thing for me - if I give it too much focus I blow-up early and never quite get it. Like my golf swing if I over think it, I spray it. I've tried getting on the tail of stronger runners (thanks Michael) 

It was warm; I had a solid feed before I left the house some cereal, some fruit and a coffee for the road. The course looked great the vibe was good, and beers were staying in place I drank a little extra water and got moving from the start.

Maybe it was the thought of just ticking this run off and going home for bacon that made me stick a 4:09 first km and then power that flat section for 4:14 km No.2 - but then my head started to talk, positive talk! 

"Punch this middle hill under 4:30 and you got a crack at it Olly"

And the Garmin didn't lie; now Westerfolds 5km course has a heart-breaker at the 4km mark; its steep section that goes for about 1.2km but the up side always brings a down hill sprint so I just kept the legs going. 

I crossed that line, and just knew it! Didn't think I would do it, couldn't believe I had done it. 

PB's are a strange beast my thoughts on it is FUEL and ATTITUDE. 

My morning food intake was good, not heavy with small grains in milk and then a little bowl of fresh cut fruit, I may of fluked it with the beer drinking attempt but the light small coffee on the way to the park gave me an early kick I needed.

And my attitude was on point after the first km I had faith in my legs and quickly did my sums on my run. 

** Note I knocked this off a few weeks later to 22:11; Can I run under 22 is my new goal. And I'd like to run a 20 something by years end **

Missing Helmets - Elwood Gatorade Series

It started pretty well a little light packing the night before; maybe one or two beers to celebrate a days hard work. 

Skip to 7:30am at the sun filled Elwood Beach in Melbourne and it dawned on me I hadn't packed my helmet! Rookie error which I can still claim until next summer. Check in was at 8am I had 30mins to get home and back. 

How am I going to remember to pick my kid up from childcare if I can't remember my helmet! 

So I drove home (at speed, a speed that cost me good fine in the post) calling my always sleepy reliable cycling mates who live near by to no answer for my headware issue; luckily I arrived back just in time for check-in and minus a heart-attack. 

I felt out of sync and not in the best frame of mind; I had a new Orca Tri-suit on that I hadn't given enough testing; I splashed around in the water to get my temperature right and was a little nervous waiting for my age group call.

My last event in Novemeber I took an inside line from the swim that really messed me up, it was an error and I got jammed in around lesser swimmers drowning in an elegant manner. This time I got up front to the left side and backed my strength as a swimmer to get out hard.

It worked I jumped out of the water in the front chasing group, and as a non-wetsuit swimmer I felt my transition was going to be sharper this time around. 

Flicked onto the bike and then watched everyone skip past me; I just don't have sprint legs at the moment. I do think I carry too much wheel weight and my gear in the big ring doesn't generate enough, I pegged a few places back but THAT HEAD WIND! 

It just punched you as you turned the corner heading back from Port Melbourne; like a wall and someone holding my legs back. Didn't matter what position I could find nothing eased the burning in the quads as I pushed my legs. 

Making a choice to go hard but not too hard as to bonk out for my run I pushed harder with the wind and conserved energy against it (good plan I don't know you tell me??)

Jumping off the bike into my run I felt good, I had reeled in a few on the final leg of the bike with my fresher legs and after posting a NYD PB for 5km I was keen to show off my new speed. 

I kept my first 1km in the 4:30 range and still felt strong the salt and air intake was starting to suffer but I wanted to crash and burn (just not 1.5km into the run leg) I toughed it out and could feel myself running over some other competitors, splits were at 4:50 in the middle sections but I tried to muster some final hammer for the home stretch and got up over the line.

It worked! Finished 11th for the Rookie Section - gutted I missed a Top 10 but was super stoked I finished with nothing left in the tank. 

My new suit held up well (any chance of cheeky sponsorship request Orca??) Compared to last time my swim was stronger, the bike was harder - but I from talking to people in the wash-up they all suffered a bit, run was great I had energy and timed my intake of energy for that final run. 

But I was taught a lesson in preparing and it hit me like a tonne of bricks when I got that speeding fine in the post; an error of the highest stupidity - something a soon to be "responsible" father can't make once, let alone again. 

All sports talk of preparation and that was lesson this time around - that classic old Bob Knight 

"Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail"
** Click this link for Official Race Result **