I have been looking forward to this event and put some ridiculous amount of hours training for it.  I love this course and it is one my favorite 70.3 events and was anticipating a good showing. I knew this course was going to be HOT as it has been in the past so I prepared myself for the heat as much as I could. However, living in cold Cleveland and the unusually cold days the week before the race made it a little bit of a challenge. I started heat acclimating a month before the race, spending time in Sauna, staying away from air condition, keeping windows closed in my car, and exposing myself to hot conditions as much as I can. I knew I am acclimated when 90 degrees felt comfortable. So even with the cold conditions we had here I knew I am ready to tackle the heat and was looking forward to it.

However, Eagleman had something else planned. I made few mistakes that I paid for dearly at the end. So here is how my day started.

First mistake:

I decided to go for my favorite breakfast which is full of calories and have proven to give me boost in training days. My wife made me Belgium waffles and I took two large waffles with me. The morning of the race I ate both and added honey and that filled me up. Fine but that’s one more waffle than I usually eat. About 30 minutes before race start and drank mix1 drink, that’s 200 more calories on top of the 1400 I already ate for breakfast, then 10 min before the swim I grabbed one Clif shot and ate that, that’s another 100 calorie. So a total of ~1700 calories before race. This is more than I ever eat and too close to race time and will never repeat that.

Second mistake (this is where my day  almost came to an end):

The race organizer decided to make this a wetsuit legal. I think that was a big mistake since the water temperature was well above the 76.1 mark. However, when they measured it at 4am it was around 75.8. We raced about 3 hours later and the air temp was already above 80 degrees. Now I only have one wetsuit and that is a full body wetsuit. I put that on few minutes before we got in the water. Jumped in the water to do my quick warm up and immediately opened the wetsuit to put water in to cool me down. However, the water felt warm so that didn’t help. Kept pulling on the wetsuit to let water in everywhere as I waited for the start horn. Kept pulling on my kneck, sleeves and just trying to let water in everywhere. About 5 minutes later we started swimming and I started hard and was feeling comfortable and got into my pace. Half way through the swim, I started feeling really hot and felt very uncomfortable in my wetsuit. All I kept thinking about is stopping and ripping it off but just kept swimming and stuck with my plan. As we got closer to the shore, I started feeling cramps in my legs. Not a good sign. I never cramp when swimming. As we got closer to the shore I stood up and tried to do a dolphin dive and that’s when both legs locked up and a dolphin dive ended up looking more like a cow drowning. Made it out of the water and started ripping that wetsuit off and immediately felt nausea and everything in my stomach wanted to come out. My HR was very elevated around above 170bpm and decided to stop and take few breaths before getting out of T1. Didn’t want to try jumping on my bike feeling like that. Now during hard intervals, it is very hard for me to get my HR above 160 so 170 is a mark I haven’t seen for a very long time.

Putting a full wetsuit in that kind of heat with warm water temp is a big mistake. I wish I used my speedsuit instead and maybe come out of the water a little slower but feeling good rather than dehydrated and on the verge of collapsing. Never ever again!

Had few issues on the bike but these are attributed to computer technical issues which I have no control over and losing my water bottle didn’t help either.  Temperature reached low to mid 90s while biking and losing a water bottle is the last thing you want to happen. I was licking the sweat off my face just to get my mouth wet. It was that bad. Still managed to finish in 2:30 which is still a huge PR for me on the bike. At least I knew all the hard biking sessions I did over the winter have paid off even on a off bike day. I probably could’ve crushed that bike course if I didn’t have these issues 🙂

Now the run and this is where you pay dearly for any mistake you’ve made earlier. I started the run feeling already dehydrated. Still licking water off my face. I don’t recall seeing a water stops at the beginning of the run. Maybe there was one but I missed it. Couldn’t wait to get to the first water station after mile 1 which felt like an eternity. At that point my run turned into a jog then walk until the first aid station. Grabbed all the water I could and started running again and looking for the second aid station. At this point the temps were way above 90 and probably over 100 on the tarmac. The first half felt very slow but started to feel ok after mile 5 and decided to just run till the finish and just grab water, pepsi, and lots of ice at each aid station without stopping. This worked until mile 11. The distance between aid station 10 and 11 felt like 100 miles. Once I reached mile 11 aid station I decided to stop and hydrate as much as I could. I felt sick to my stomach and almost collapsed. First time I thought I might not be able to finish this thing. I was looking at the side walk next to the aid station and felt like sitting down but I knew if I do that, it will be the end of my race. Instead, I grabbed probably 6 cubs full of ice and started dumping it all over my body and drank tons of water and pepsi. Resumed the walking and then jogged till the next aid station and finally made it to the finish in 5:20.

Lessons Learned:

– Pre race nutrition: the best races I have had involved my normal breakfast with additional calories in the form of sports drink till race start. No need to fill up that much.

– Need to get myself a sleeveless suit. When air temps are high and the sun is strong and water temp is borderline or anything above 70, swim with either  a speed suit or at the max a sleeveless wetsuit. The next time I will put my full wetsuit on is if I ever do Alcatraz!

 

Gear Reviews

If you are tired of the Garmin ANT+ USB stick, then you are not alone. This thing is big and small. Too big to keep connected to a laptop and too small to put away somewhere and not have to spend time looking for it.

 

And since I have been using my laptop to log my bike trainer workouts, I have been using the Garmin ANT+ more often. So when I heard of the new Suunto Move Stick Mini, it didn’t take me long to order one.

As soon as it arrived, I was very impressed with how small this thing is. Just take a look at how small it is compare to the Garmin ANT+ in the photo below.

I immediately connected it to my laptop, turned on my TrainerRoad software and tested it out with my Garmin HR strap. TrainerRoad was able to recognize the new Suunto Stick Mini and displayed my HR on the screen immediately. Then took my laptop down to my trainer and tested the Garmin Speed and Cadence and everything was displayed nicely within my TrainerRoad application. On Mac OSX 10.7.3 (Lion) there was nothing to install or upgrade.

I have been testing the Suunto Mini Stick for the past two weeks and logged over 10 bike trainer hours with no issues at all. If anything,  the number of signal interruption has gone down. I can’t attribute this to the new Suunto Mini Stick or probably just software issues. One thing to note is the Suunto Move Stick Mini uses the new ANT+2 and USB 2 technology which can handle up to 8 channels.

For the past two weeks, the stick didn’t leave my laptop and have no plans on taking it out. It is very small and I know for sure if I do take it out I will probably have to spend hours looking for it. So if you plan on not leaving it connected to your laptop, then it might not be a good option.

Since I’ve signed up for Ironman Cozumel (2.4 mile swim, followed by 112 mile bike, followed by a full marathon) which will take place in late November of this year, the main question I have been getting by other athletes, particularly runners, if I’ve  ever done a full marathon. The answer to this is NO and have no plans on doing one before my Ironman.

The answer I’ve been getting is I must run a marathon to prep me for this long day and need to learn to pace myself. I have all the respect for the 26.2 distance and because of that I have been saying no, I don’t think I need to run a marathon to get ready for an Ironman marathon.

So I decided to ask the community at Slowtwich and as I expected they mostly agree with me. Some of them even completed Ironmans without running a single marathon. I have my own reasons but I am going to first share some of the answers I received on Slowtwich:

No. You do not need to run a full. A stand alone marathon will teach you little to nothing about pacing the run in an IM.

I’ve run over 75 open marathons and two IMs. The run in each have not remotely resembled each other. I really think running a marathon to prep for an IM is only important if the marathon fits with what you want to do training wise.

I never would, i wouldnt run that long based on what I may find out while running it and spook myself.

No, you need to run two Ironman to get ready for an Ironman.

Having this discussion with Ironman athletes is completely different than pure runners. If you’ve done a long distance triathlon you know it is all about the bike. This is where you can set yourself to have a great run or bonk.

These are my reasons for making this decision:

  1. My Half Ironman season starts in June with Eagleman. I want to do well and improve in all of them. Doing a spring marathon will set me back in my training.
  2. It is all about nutrition and bike. To set myself for a good run, I need to figure out my bike nutrition and pacing. The best way to do this is bike, bike, and more biking.
  3. I am doing three half Ironmans leading up to my full Ironman to practice #2.
  4. Tri running is different than open marathon running. Legs are tired and it is usually in the middle of the day and hot. The best solution for tired leg running is following a high frequency running program. Running a full marathon will not help me here.

I will be doing few open running races up to half marathon this spring. I think that is a good distance for improving my running fitness and will recover quicker and get back into my tri training.  I am also adjusting my tri training to allow for more running. Last year, I had 4 weekly runs, one is part of a brick workout. This year, I plan on running 5 to 6 days per week, sandwiching my medium and long runs with short slow recovery runs.

 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of this race, however, I was excited to do one last half Ironman and actually be able to run it and not just swim/bike or swim/bike/walk like I did in my previous races due to my Achilles injury.

The Pocono area was hit with major flooding the past few months and race week, the rain just didn’t stop in the whole NE region. It actually rained the whole way Saturday in my drive from Cleveland to Pocono.

On Friday, the decision was made to cancel the swim due “the hazardous river conditions which have developed over the last few days”.  So the race is now Bike/Run.

Got up Sunday Morning around 4am and had my usual pre-race breakfast. Packed my bag and headed out to T1. The temperature was in the 40s and overcast. I made the decision to race with toe covers, arm warmers and a Castelli WindStopper on top of my tri top which I got from RealCyclist few days before the race. I wanted to be able to take the top easily in T2 and that jersey was just perfect for that and the wet and cold condition.

Before the race I drank a full serving of EFS energy drink and about 10min before the race I took a double shot espresso clif shot.

The Bike:

The race started as a time trial format. Racers grabbed their bikes and started at the mount line. There was about 3seconds between each riders in the AG category. I started about an hour after the first wave. It was crowded the first 5-10 miles. I broke every USAT rule on the bike from drafting to passing. It felt more like a bike race than a triathlon race. Around mile 6 or 7, we came into a giant uphill right after a turn and most were surprised by it. Lots of racers were walking their bikes up. On that hill after averaging close to 25mph the first 6 or so miles I dropped the chain and fell of the bike. Moved to the side and fixed the chain then I had to walk the bike up the hill which was frustrating. I lost about 7-10 minutes in that accident.

The bike course was very technical and the wet road didn’t make it easier. I started to worry about nutrition because I just didn’t feel safe holding the bike with one hand. I had about 300 cals of EFS in my water bottle which I started with. I realized I was drinking that slowly and was worried that I wasn’t taking enough calories so I opened my Honey Stinger Waffle and finished that. Those waffles are nice little treats on the bike. In the second hour, I finished two Clif shots and my EFS drink.

Came very close to getting into a major accident around mile 40 going down one of the hills to suddenly find a turn. I had enough time to slow down but I think with the wet roads and slick wheels, my rear wheel didn’t have enough traction and lost control during the turn. I though I was going down for sure going 20+mph but somehow I was able to gain control of the bike. After that moment, I became very conservative with each hill and turn. One crash was enough for me at this point.

I took my last clif shot about 15 min before the bike finished. Just some water the rest of the way.

Total bike nutrition: 660 ~ 330 per hour
1- EFS 300 cal
2- Honey Stinger Waffle (160 cal)
3- Clif shot cappuccino x2 (200 cal)

The Run:
No body told me I will be doing hills repeats right after biking 56 miles. That’s how the run course felt. I ran through T2 and quickly found my bag and put my Newton racers on. Grabbed my visor and race belt and took one EFS liquid shot with me. My plan during the run was to only drink water the first half and leave Coke as late as possible. I felt I had enough calories on the bike to get me through the run so I kept the EFS shot with me just in case.


The first mile I was doing 7:20 pace but know I need to slow down. I knew I can’t keep that pace so I wanted to keep it in the 8min range. My stomach started cramping due to probably eating too late on the bike. Kept running at a slow pace and skipped the first aid station. My stomach didn’t settle down until mile 5 and that’s when I decided to pick up my pace a little. I started feeling good and kept taking only water at each aid station. Around mile 8 my legs had enough and some voice in my head was telling me to start walking at aid stations. But I was determined not to slow down. My goal for this race was to run without stopping.  I started with coke and found my legs again. More coke at mile 9. Mile 10 aid station were out of coke. Grabbed water and kept running. From there I had to basically “embrace the suck” and just keep my head up and run.  Overall I was feeling very good and legs were strong. No pain in my ankle.   Finally at the next aid station I took three cups of Coke and fueled for the final stretch. I spotted a guy in my age group that passed me during the first few miles. He was slowing down and passed him in the final mile and ran to the finish.

It was an amazing finish through downtown Stroudsburg. Great crowd and atmosphere.

Total run nutrition: water and some coke.

Overall, I was happy with the race to end this season.The race organizer and Pocono have done a great job putting this together considering the conditions. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenging 70.3 course.

Considering the injury early this season, I didn’t have the performance I know I can put together in any of my races this year.  I am hungrier to come back stronger next year. I have gained a lot of experience and know what to expect racing in hot and cold wet conditions. I know how much to drink and how much to eat before and during the race. Looking forward to a stronger and healthier season next year starting with Ironman Eagleman 70.3.

Gear Reviews, Training

freezebikeThe triathlon season is winding down in the northern hemisphere. If you like to milk the racing season all the way to October and you are not one of the few lucky ones heading to Kona then you might need to take some extra layers with you in your transition bag. Few things to consider when racing in probably anything below 60ºF:

– Depending on where you are racing, there is a good chance that the water temperature is warmer than the air during Sept through Oct. Check the water temperature at NOAA and if anything above 60ºF, your wetsuit and your swim cap might be enough. A neoprene swim cap might be necessary for anything below 60ºF.

– For the bike, put on socks and get toe covers for your bike shoes. I like toe covers instead of full shoe covers because you can put them on your shoes before the race and have your shoes clipped on the bike if you wish and ready to go. Get good toe covers and use them. Trust me, your toes will freeze very quickly and if you make it to T2 without frostbite, the run will be painful.

Arm Warmers. There is some magic in arm warmers. They don’t cover much but they do keep you warm. It might be hard to put them on when you are wet. One tip is to keep them inside out and roll them up your arms.

– If it is extra cold, you might need to put on a cycling jacket. Not the best option if you are looking for speed but for the longer distance races such as half iron or full iron distance then a jacket might be necessary. I really like the Castelli Wind Blocker. Short sleeves and you can wear it with your arm warmers. It blocks wind and rainproof. Here is a the long sleeve option as well.

– Another tip is to swim without the tri top and put it on in T1. However, putting a tri top while wet might be a challenge so practice this before you do it.

Gloves on the bike is also a good option. Your fingers will get cold very fast.

Try to experiment with all this during training. Don’t be afraid to go out riding if it is raining or cold. Just like racing in hot conditions, you need to understand how your body reacts to cold and certain weather conditions.

Have you raced in cold weather? Share your experience/tips below.

Here is a company that is going from making the popular bluetooth headsets to making a health aware electronic bracelet called Jawbone Up. This bracelet will be available later this year. According to 9to5mac.com, it is set to be released later this month on 9/25.

Now, us triathletes love to keep track of how many miles, hours and yards we completed day to day. We even love to brag about it on Twitter, Facebook and every chance we get. If this product actually work as advertised, then it might just make a hit amongst triathletes.

Here is a summary to what this bracelet can do (thanks to 9to5mac.com):

The Jawbone Up uses sophisticated hardware and software to track user’s steps, distance traveled, pace, intensity level of movement, and calories burned throughout a day. In addition, the system intelligently breaks down a person’s active time versus inactive time. Perhaps the coolest feature within the device’s “Move” functionality is the ability to remind users when it’s time to get up and be active. This little bracelet can actually vibrate as an alert for the user to become active. Of course, a user reads all of the above information categories from their iPhone or Android device with a special Jawbone-built application.

Another focal point of the Jawbone Up’s iPhone integration is a very neat feature in their “Eat” category. The bracelet – along with the app – can learn what food is best for a user’s metabolism – and can create a custom diet setup for each user. As you can see in the promotional video above, a user can just snap a photo of each and every meal in order to get the “Eat” system rolling. In all, this “Eat” function promises to track your meals, measure eating responses, and improve your personal metabolism: all with the help of a comparatively (to gadgets) good looking bracelet and an iPhone app.

The third cornerstone of the Jawbone Up has to do with sleep. These sleep features are perhaps the Up’s most instrumental capabilities. The Up basically tracks everything about a user’s sleeping habits: hours slept, time to fall asleep, sleep phases/patterns, waking moments, and overall sleep quality. Within this sleep category, the most important and intutive feature is the “Silent Wakeup Alarm” mechanism. In order to allow a user to wakeup refreshed, the bracelet will send gradual vibrates to the user. Based on your natural sleep cycle, the feature will fully wake you up.

If this thing works as advertised, then it will become a hit among athletes.

I have been looking forward to this race, not just because the excitement of doing a race but I feel like I haven’t had a race where I was able to push myself this year due to my Achilles injury. I have been doing a lot of running lately trying to get back to my pre injury strength and I feel I am close to getting there. It is also nice to do a race locally and wake up in my own bed.

The morning of the race was cold. Temperature was around 50º F.  Arrived at the site around 7am and picked up my race packet. Headed to the transition area and got my stuff all ready. It is interesting how relax and casual this has become. I feel like I have a routine setup and I don’t get nervous or worried like I used to.

I wasn’t sure about nutrition. I’ve done more Half Ironman this year than any other distance so I wasn’t sure what to take with me on the bike.  I decided to follow my training nutrition and take about 200 calories with me on the bike. I mixed two serving of EFS drink and took Clif energy shot mocha flavor. I Like to have a little caffeine at the end of my bike to get me a little boost for the run.

I ate a banana after setting up my bike and took Clif double espresso shot about 10 min before the swim start. The water temperature was warmer than the air. I kept my feet in the water just to keep them warm while waiting for my wave.

My wave went off around 8:30am. The sun was out which made it hard to sight. I was feeling good during the swim and finished the first lap feeling strong. Started with the second lap and half way through I realized I was swimming alone. For a while I thought I hit a nice sport where I am not pumping into other swimmers until I realize I was drifting in the wrong direction and heading toward the wrong buoy. Turned right and got back into place and picked up my pace to make up for the lost time. Finally got out of the water in 0:25:43. First in my age group (35-39).

Ran toward my bike. I decided to play it safe and put my socks on. Didn’t want to freeze my toes. I also had toe covers on my bike shoes. Put my arm warmers on which took forever. I think I am going to try to ware them under the wetsuit next time to speed up transition. My T1 time was 2:29 which was ridicules.

The bike featured nice hills and I was looking forward to it to get me ready for my next Ironman 70.3 in Pocono Mountains. I started well on the bike hammering every downhill and pushing up hills. Then suddenly my right arm rest started dropping. Smart me decided to make adjustments to my aero bars the night before the race and apparently I didn’t tighten the screws enough. I ignored every advise I got about making or trying anything new the night before a race. Now for the next 10+ miles, all I kept doing is getting off my aero position and try to adjust the arm rest. Couldn’t wait to get off the bike at this point.  Bike time was 1:17:24. A lot better than last year but at the same time I knew I can do a lot better.

Ran through T2 and put my Newton Racers on and headed out for the run. I was out of T2 in 50 seconds. Legs felt strong and my HR was around 150 for the first mile which was nice. For the first time this season, I felt like I was able to run without my achilles reminding with every step that it is ready to strike again any minute. Felt good through out the run and crossed the finish line in a little over 49 minutes averaging 7:50 per mile.

Race was great and I was just happy to be able to compete healthy for the first time this season. Now two more weeks and will be heading to Pocono to end my triathlon season.

Thanks to HFP and the great volunteers for putting together this great event.

Nutrition:

1- One banana (90 cal) about 30-45 min before race. Clif shot double espresso (100 cal) about 10 min before the race.
2- Two serving of EFS drink on the bike. Only drank half (90 cal)
3- 1 Clif shot mocha on the bike (100 cal)

Rev3 Knoxville Olympic was my first triathlon of 2011. Luckly I was able to sign up for it the weekend before race day after my local triathlon was canceled due to flooding.

Saturday May 14th:

I left early Saturday morning before 6am hoping to get there early afternoon. The seven hours drive went by quickly even with few stops. I have been trying to stay hydrated so had to make frequent stops every other rest area.

My iPhone GPS app was wonderfull and got me there just around 12:30pm and was able to pick up my race packet and check in my bike right on time. Headed straight to the hotel and got everything ready for the next morning.

My ankle started to bother me from all the walking I did. I injured it last Wednesday after a tempo run and didn’t run since in hope it will recover. However, from all the walking I did, it started aching again so I kept an ice bag on it the whole night.

I had to make a stop at Starbuck to get myself Starbuk VIA to use the next morning. Can’t start my day without my coffee.

Sunday, May 15th (Race Morning):

Setup my alarm to go off at 4am. Ate my special mix cereal and drank my coffee. Packed my car and checkout out of the hotel and headed to transition. Transition area opened at 6am and I was there right on time. Headed to my section and my bike, running shoes, visor and every thing ready for race.

Headed to the swim start to watch the pros. I kept a clif shot with me to eat about 10 min before my wave start around 7:50am.  Right before my wave started, headed to the porta patty one last time. Only in triathlons we get to use these barefoot. Anyway, I didn’t think about it and just did my business and got out. I will be jumping in the river soon so that should clean my feet… right?

The ankle felt ok, however, I knew it is going to start bothering me during the run. My goal was to run in less than 45min but I knew this might not happen with my ankle problem. More on this later.

Around 7:50, the gun went off and my tri season started. I started strong and tried to find my spot. As I got closer to the turn bouy, I started hitting swimmers form the previous wave which is the half rev. That made swimming back a little more challenging as I had to navigate through all the swimmers. Navigation was great and felt strong throughout the swim. As I came close to the dock, I felt like I was on time. As soon as I got out of the water, I looked at my watch and it said 26 minutes… “What 26 minutes… I am way behind my time”.

Started taking off my wetsuit and headed to my bike. Grabbed my sunglasses and for what ever reason, I kept dropping them.  After two drops, they finally stayed on my face. Got the helmet on and headed out.

In the past I had problems getting my shoes on while riding. This time, I practiced a different method to get them on and it worked. Instead of letting them swing and catch the opening with my toes, this time I first grabbed the front of the show, insert my foot and strap them on. Worked great and the shoes were on in few seconds.

The first section of the bike felt strange for whatever reason. I think I need to fuel more before my swim but tried not to take my first clifshot until about 10 minutes into the ride. I averaged over 18mpg for the first leg of the bike which is not what I was hoping for. Started pushing harder and made another mistake of taking nutrition while going up hill. Don’t ever do that again. my speed went down to about 6mph and everyone started passing me. Bad idea!

Finally finshied the bike in about 1:15 minute and headed to T2. Strapped my running shoes and out to the run.

Grimacing from pain in my ankle

About 1 minute into the run, my ankle started acting up. Felt like someone was stabbing me in my left ankle with every step. Tried to block it out and kept my stride short and my head up. It became a mental game. My left ankle wanted me to stop but I kept telling my body “DON’T DO THIS TO ME”. I knew if I stopped I won’t be able to walk the 6.2 miles. Walking was actually more painful so I just kept running and let the momentum take me. Came into a short uphill and the ankle felt a little better, then a downhill and the pain is back again. Kept looking for the turn and just wanted the run to be over with. It is not the kind of performance I was looking for. I worked very hard on my run this season. Finally, 49 minutes later I saw the finish line. This is the section where I usually like to sprint and pass the final few guys. However, this time few guys behind me started sprinting to the finish and passed me. I couldn’t do anything about it. I was just happy to finish.

I was very fortunate to finish with this time. I started limping and one of the medcal personal came over and asked me if I was ok. He took me to the medical tent and gave me ice. Sat there for 15 minutes then headed to the A.R.T tent.

Official Time:
Swim: 0:27:16
Bike: 1:14:58
Run: 0:49:56
T1: 1:55
T2: 1:05

My planned 180 Olympic distance triathlon in Caesar Creek Lake has been canceled. The lake is 19 feet above normal. According to the event organizer:

Water levels have risen to a historical high of 19 feet above normal levels. Transition area is underwater, as is the entire beach area.

Because of that, the park and the event organizer HFP racing, made the unfortunate decision to cancel the event. I was bumped as I was looking forward to my first triathlon of the season.

Rev3 Knoxville was my second option. A good 8 hour drive from Cleveland. Luckily registration was still open so I signed up and was able to still use the discount code from 3Dealz which gave me 10% off.

This will be my first race with Rev3 and I am looking forward to it. The pro field is big and looking forward to watching them and testing my limits against some of the top age groupers that will be there at the event.

If you plan to be there, send me a message on twitter and hope I can connect with my virtual friends in Knoxville!

Training for a long distance race requires a huge time commitment. And if you are training for a long distance triathlon, then multiply that by x3.

When I started training for a triathlon last year, I was getting frustrated trying to find the time to train. Having a full time job and trying to be around for my kids, wife and keeping up the house while trying to enjoy my hoppy was not easy. And I was only training for an olympic distance.

I was getting agitated when I couldn’t find the time to train. I tried to workout immediately after coming home from work but that usually added more stress, came home to an angry wife, and left me with no time to spend with my kids.

By the end of last season, I was able to find the perfect formula to my training.

Early morning workouts have been the key to my consistency this season. It allows me to get my workouts done early and leave the rest of the day to deal with real life issues and a second workout.

Waking up before everyone else is not that fun. But once you get used to it, you quickly realize what everyone else is missing. It is amazing how much you can get done during this time and how much energy it leaves you with. Also, there is nothing like going out for a run when everyone is a sleep and it is you, the road and nature.

These are few things that helped me adjust to this routine:

  1. Plan my workout before going to bed. Usually, I have my workout schedule done in advance so I know exactly what I need to get done throughout the week. I usually have my clothes and nutrition ready, bicycle on the trainer or prepared for an outdoor ride. Check tire pressure, shoes, helmet, etc the night before. The last thing you want to deal with is bicycle issues at 5am.
  2. Get your work stuff read too. Set the coffee maker, clothes, etc.
  3. Going to bed early. I realized I need 7-8 hours of sleep. I am usually in bed by 10-10:30pm. No more late night TV or movies, that’s what the DVR is for.
  4. Get the long session done first. If I have two workouts scheduled for the day, I like to get the long or hard session done first. Usually that’s the bike ride, run or brick. If I am swimming, usually I leave that to the evening.
  5. Take time to wake up. I don’t usually rush from my bed to the trainer or running shoes. I take my time to get ready.
  6. Start with 2 shots of espresso. Now I actually look forward to waking up early just so I can drink my espresso.
  7. Eat something. Peanut butter sandwich is usually on the menu. I don’t fill-up on food. I leave that for later.
  8. By 5:30 – 5:45 I am out the door.
  9. Take a break a morning or two and sleep in.

On weekdays, the longest session is usually not more than 2 hours. So I am in the shower by 7am or 7:30. Eat a big breakfast, grab my coffee and out to work.

Getting into this routine took me a while. It is not easy to be up that early. Your body need time to adjust. Once you are done with your workout, you don’t have to stress out the rest of the day thinking about how you can sneak in a 2 hour bike ride.

Also, I found it easier for me to do the hard session in the morning. Your body is already tired after a long day at work. Adding another 2+ hour bike ride, brick session or a long run later in the day can put a lot of stress on the body. Also if life throws me a curve ball then I can deal with it without missing my main session.

I like to leave swimming to the evening, usually after the kids are in bed usually after 8pm. Being in the water seem to have a relaxing effect on me, even with hard swim sessions. It also seems to help with my sleep. And in my gym, everyone like to swim early. This way I don’t have to share a lane with anyone. Actually, few times I was the only one in the pool.

With this schedule, even though I am putting 11+ hours per week training for my Ironman 70.3, I have a lot more energy, feel stronger, and have enough time between workouts to recover well and train hard.

“no one said life is going to be perfect; build a bridge and get over it”