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4.33 miles in 51:04 @ 11:46 pace and 170/185 bpm for 643 calories
4.22 miles in 46:11 @ 10:54 pace and 170/185 bpm for 646 calories
1,400 yards (35 laps) in 30:00 for 294 calories
5 miles in 60:00 @ 12:00 pace for 755 calories (treadmill @ 1% incline)
2,350 yards (47 laps) in 50:00 for 490 calories
20.45 miles in 1:18:13 @ 15.7 mph and 143/175 bpm for 1,094 calories
4.15 miles in 50:00 @ 12:00 pace for 629 calories (treadmill @ 1% incline)

After my little disease vector Emma brought home a particularly nasty rhinovirus, I took two weeks off from training.  Since then, I’ve been on the road a lot—Chicago, Seattle, and Minneapolis just this month—and barely squeezing in time to exercise.  But I have managed to stay on track, even if I’ve been skipping blogging about my workouts until tonight.  Here’s a quick recap of some highlights:

  • I’m back to running in my Brooks shoes, the ones that gave me blisters during the Houston Half-Marathon.  I searched dozens of different running Web sites for a cure that would keep me running in them, and I finally found it: duct tape!  That’s right, I loosely wrap the arch of my foot in duct tape before each run.  I sweat enough that it doesn’t stick to my foot, and I’ve completely eliminated my blister problems.
  • I swam in the hotel pool in Seattle on my first morning there.  My local pool is a saltwater pool, and this was my first time in chlorine in a while.  It was nice to be able to swim on the road.
  • I ran on treadmills in Seattle and Minneapolis, 1% incline for about an hour each time.  I read that 1% incline makes a treadmill run roughly equivalent to running outdoors.  It was a lot more boring but it felt good to squeeze in early morning workouts before my meetings.
  • My first real bike ride in a while went nicely, although I had to cut it short to make it to church on time.

I had a great dinner with Debbie and Tim while I was in Minneapolis.  They took me out to Craftsman and I had an incredible meal—perfect Midwestern with a bit of a twist: an incredible cheese plate with a really good local guyere, a spicy lamb sausage with kale and chickpeas, a couple glasses of Rose, and 2.5 hours of catching up with my sister and her fiancé.

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5.69 miles in 1:05:21 @ 11:29 pace and 152/170 bpm for 897 calories

One of the most important muscle groups for endurance athletes is the heart and lungs—the muscles that define aerobic capacity.  Simply put, aerobic capacity is your body’s ability to transport the necessary amount of oxygen to your muscles for them to operate efficiently for long periods of time.  Aerobic capacity is also called “base” for short and is often referred to as an endurance athlete’s “engine.”

The thing about growing your aerobic capacity, also called “base training,” is that unlike other sports which require high-intensity weightlifting or sprinting or other workouts, base training is a slow and grueling activity where you purposefully keep your heart rate low for extended periods of time.  Mark Allen, six-time Ironman World Champion in the 90’s, wrote a great article where he describes the base-training regimen he used at the start of each season: “During those first few months of training, I would literally have to walk up even the easy hills on my runs to keep my heart rate from going too high…”  That’s right, the Michael Jordan of triathlon walked up hills during run training for months at a time before going on to win one of the world’s toughest endurance races six times—including a five-peat!

What I’ve found is that base training requires a great deal of patience.  Why?  Most athletes love to train, and the natural inclination is to get out there after a day or two off and really push.  But if you want to go race an Olympic triathlon that requires you to exercise for three hours straight, or a half-Ironman for six hours, the last thing you need to do is train at top speed.  You must have the discipline to watch your heart rate and put in the miles, and you have to enjoy slow and steady progress.

Today, for me that meant running a bit over five miles at 11+ minute pace (very slow!) to keep my average heart rate under 160.  You’ll notice in my summary line at the top of each post I list two “bpm” (beats per minute) numbers—the first is my average heart rate and the second is my maximum heart rate for the session.  You’ll notice that the the slower I run, the lower my average heart rate.  I don’t stare at my watch the entire run so I don’t hit my exact heart rate target (today was a bit too slow for example) but I get close enough to train my base and hopefully grow my “engine” to where I can run longer and longer races.

Milestones

  • Highest weight: 228 pounds
  • Lowest weight: 187 pounds
  • Current weight: 216 pounds
  • Started training: March 17, 2008
  • First Sprint: June 26, 2008
  • First Olympic: May 17, 2009
  • First Half: TBD 2011
  • Longest swim: 2.05 miles
  • Longest bike: 63.57 miles
  • Longest run: 13.33 miles

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