Monday, November 30, 2015

Counting Down the Days

I love 4 day weekends.  I wish I had a 4 day weekend every weekend.  But alas, someone decided that 5 day work weeks should be the norm.  Idiot.  But I digress.   I didn't get to blogging much last week because things were busy and to be honest, my brain just needed to decompress a bit.  I was even fairly quiet on Instagram as well.  G and I had a nice 4 days off.  It was a good combination of active and lazy which is just what I needed.  We went mountain biking, did some hot yoga and visited with family.  It was lovely.  I am counting down the days until Christmas when I'll have another week and a bit off.  But first I'll have to get through 3 weeks of insanity.  This time of year is usually always crazy.  People want to spend the rest of their advertising budgets so they look at shooting some photography.  Because the Christmas season isn't hectic enough, ha ha. 

Anyway, I had hoped to get a few more workouts in but I was feeling a little worse for wear this past week.  My knees were still kind of bothering me so I didn't push things too much.  I'm heading to my first shockwave appointment tomorrow so I'm crossing my fingers things start to improve after that.

This how my week rolled out:

Monday: 1700m swim
Tuesday:  6.7km run, 45 minutes of strength work in a.m. Icy sidewalks made for a "fun" run.   60 minute ride in p.m. with G. 

Couples computrainer time
 Wednesday:  1800m swim - almost ALL stroke work.

Thursday:  8.6km run and an hour long mountain bike ride.  We went to Hilton Falls which was PERFECT for me.  Flat single track with lots of turns and a little bit of rocks.  Turns are my problem so getting to work on them without having to worry about climbing or descending was great!

Friday:  75 minutes of hot yoga
Saturday:  OFF
Sunday: 1h 50 minute ride at Watts Up.  It was a test week so we did 4x 3 minutes at max power.  Max power being the highest amount of power you could hold for 3 minutes.  I always go out too hard on things like this so this time I started conservatively.  I managed an average power of 208 for the first set, 226 for the second set, 234 for the third set and then I brought out the shovel and dug deep and found 237 for the last set.  I think it's time I got my FTP tested again, ha ha because I'm pretty sure it's higher than my current 216w.  I'm happy to say I rode the entire time with NO fan either.  Sure I was a soaked sweaty mess by the end but I worked through the discomfort of being really hot at the start. 

Total time 8h 36 minutes.

I'm hoping to get back to yoga again this week.  I felt great after Friday's class and my knees felt a lot better, which was nice.

Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of the month so you know what that means?!  It's the final installment of Tri Talk Tuesday for 2015!  Tomorrow we're talking Christmas gifts! So tune in tomorrow for that if you're looking for things to add to your list, ha ha.

How was your week of workouts?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Riding the Rollercoaster of Pain

Monday Monday Monday.  Meh.

Who do I need to talk to to make 3 day weekends the norm?  Two days goes by so quickly.  Friday night we went out to Woody's with a couple of our friends.  They've now experienced the best burger in the West End of Toronto. 

Saturday G and I slept in a bit and had a nice lazy morning before we decided to hit the trails.  Of course once we got to Albion Hills it started snowing.  I'm not confident enough in my mountain biking ability to handle slick conditions, especially rocks and roots.  So there was a lot of "oh boy" "oh shit" and "uh-oh" on Saturday's ride.  The snow didn't stick around but it did a great job of pelting me in the face and beading on my glasses so I couldn't really see.  So it wasn't a lot of fun because I spent most of the time being frustrated (because I couldn't see) and scared (because I couldn't see).  We did, however, see 3 deer while we were making our way through one of the single track paths.  They watched us warily and eventually wandered away as we meandered through the path.  That was pretty amazing.  Especially since it was super quiet.  

The deer were literally that-a-way!
G was quite patient with me and took me on paths that he thought I'd be ok riding.  He was pretty good in judging what I could handle and what I couldn't.  There was some more walking on some of the more rooty and rocky trails.  But I managed to make it through one entire trail without walking.  Yup, I made Albion Witch my bitch, ha. 

Lots of pine needles on the last few paths we were on.
 We got home around 2:00 pm and we spend the rest of the afternoon chilling out.  I tested out my new wobble board and lasted all of 30 seconds.  I think I need to stick with the bosu for now, ha ha.

Sunday was G's last cyclocross race of the year and it was really close to home so I went to swimming, left a bit early and made my way over to Kingsmill Park to cheer him on. 

G takes his colour co-ordination seriously.
 I had to leave early to get on a call for work.  Thankfully that was only 30 minutes.  I hopped on my bike and did a 60 minute workout from the Watts Up Home Cycling program.  After that I went out for a 6km run.  And there it was again.  My knee pain.  It had been bothering me all week.  My ride last Sunday irritated everything and they haven't felt normal since.  This week, I switched my bikes as I thought it was my tri bike that was causing the problem.  Nope.  I rode my road bike yesterday and when I went for a short run an hour later, my knees were killing me.  I am beyond frustrated right now.  I can't do half the things I used to do at the gym without having some kind of pain in my knees.  I have been diligent about doing my physio work and keeping my glutes and hips strong.  I'm working on my ankle and foot mobility.  I am really losing hope that I will ever be 100% pain free again.

I am going to get my bike fit looked at on both my tri bike and my road bike as those seem to be triggers.  It's funny though I never really had any knee pain riding either of these bikes in the summer.  I definitely know I had no pain when I was racing.  Maybe part of the answer lies in a really long warm up (i.e the swim).  I don't know.  I am getting desperate.  My chiropractor mentioned trying shockwave therapy so that may be the next step.  For now, ice and Voltaren have been my best friends.

Anyway, I'm still trying to keep my head up and keep moving forward in whatever way my body allows me to.  On that note this is what went down last week.

Monday:  2150m swim
Tuesday: 6km run + 50 minutes of strength work
Wednesday:  1800m swim
Thursday:  6km run, 50 minutes of strength work in the a.m.  60 minute recovery ride in p.m.
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  60 minutes of mountain biking
Sunday:  1000m of backstroke & drills, 60 minute ride + 6km run.

Total time:  8 hours.  Intensity level was pretty easy this week.

I'm only working 3 days this week as it's American Thanksgiving and G has it off, so I've taken it off as well.  There will be some more mountain biking and hopefully some yoga and a lot of down time.  I feel like I need it.

Did you get snow this weekend? American friends, what are your plans for Thanksgiving? 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Runner's Brain - Book Review

 Disclamer:  I was given an electronic copy of the book "The Runner's Brain" to review in exchange for my honest opinion.  All opinions are my own. 

When I started running, I was solely focused on training my body to go for long periods of time.  I didn't actually think about the mental side of things.  It wasn't until I did my first Ironman that I actually started to focus on the mental aspect of endurance sports.

Let's be real, when you're out there plodding away for hours at a time, you're going to experience lows and highs.  Doubt will creep in.  It might even creep in BEFORE you toe the start line. And that can be your undoing.  Doubt can make even the most gifted athlete falter.   The importance of a strong mental game cannot be underestimated.  Not only do you need to be physically prepared, but you need to be mentally prepared as well.

Developing that is not easy.  It can require a lot of mental trickery and game playing - at least for me.  Luckily Dr. Jeff Brown has stepped in and created a "How To" book.   He is the head psychologist for the Boston Marathon.  He specializes in an area of psychology called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  CBT for short.  The approach of CBT is to focus on negative thought patterns and challenge the individual to re-calibrate and restructure the brain with more productive thoughts.  I actually saw a CB therapist to help me deal with my fear of flying.  I've learned to reframe situations by applying logic and that seems to eradicate any fear I may be experiencing.  This type of psychology can also be used to help you in your running and Dr. Brown shows you how in this book.

The book is divided into five parts.   Part One is called Running and Your Brain and it goes over running and effect it has on your brain and what it can do for your brain.  It also gives you tips and strategies on how to start identifying yourself as a runner.  Very useful for new runners who don't see themselves as such just yet.

Part Two is called Brain Strategies and it delves into the importance of goal setting (there are some AMAZING tips on how to do this), visualization, and training your brain on how to respond to certain situations.  It also talks about the power of good running outfit (or "enclothed cognition" as it's referred to in the book).   That's something I think we can all get behind!

Part Three is called Training and Racing and it touches on topics like group training vs solo training and the benefits of both.  It also asks the question "should you compete?"  There are plenty of runners out there that don't race and there's nothing wrong with that.  It's a question that many runners don't actually ask themselves.  For many, a race provides the necessary motivation to get out and train.   For others, they just don't have the interest.  Hitting the pavement solo is enough for them.  This part also touches on the psychology of racing and how to manage competition and the anxiety that generally comes with it as well as dealing with post race blues, which are normal for many people.  I found this particular chapter to be incredibly interesting and helpful.  Especially the tips on calming the pre-race jitters.

Part Four is called Challenges and it deals with just that, some of the challenges that runners will face during a race.  There is an entire chapter dedicated to "Hitting the Wall" and the best strategies to deal with it.  I found it interesting that I use a fair bit of the techniques that they discuss, especially when the going gets tough and it gets me to the finish line standing upright and smiling (for the most part) every single time.  It gives you strategies for mentally dealing with hills.   And the BIG one for me, dealing with something every runner feels at some point - the fear of failure.  There are some great strategies in here for dealing with self doubt.  There is a chapter that deals with Life Changes, like getting older, having kids, dealing with a major source of stress and of course dealing with injury.  All of these things can affect your running and your mental running game.  This section also has a chapter on how to deal with weather as well as "Boredom Busters" for treadmill running.  I'd buy this book for this section alone.

Part Five is called Resources for Runners and it is a goldmine of information.  There is an entire section of worksheets to help you gather your thoughts (I've included a screen grab of one of them below).  Personally, I find it much better to put my thoughts on paper and these work sheets give you the opportunity to do so in a way you might not have thought of doing.  There is even a pre-race checklist in this section.  There is also a Runners Flip Chart that lists negative self talk and how to re-frame it as positive thinking.  There is even a positive thinking worksheet.  I used a very similar worksheet when I was working with my therapist.  It's amazing how something so simple can be so powerful when you stop and take a few minutes to actually *think* things through and write them down.  I wish I had this book when I did my first Ironman! 

This section helps you put everything together with their "7 Step Fit Brain Training Plan".  The last chapter in this section gives you a glimpse into how some of the greatest runners think from Dean Karnazes to Meb Keflezighi to Joan Benoit Samuelson, Dr. Brown had the pleasure of speaking with them to find out how they think.  There are excerpts from 8 elite level runners that give you a look into what goes through their heads when they're racing and training.  It's pretty cool.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to up their mental game whether it be in running or even in triathlon, I think these strategies would apply to both sports.  Since I am a sucker for a real book that I can actually flip the pages of, I've actually ordered a copy for myself.

If you're interested in getting a copy for yourself or for that runner / triathlete in your life (Christmas is coming!!), you can find it here

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sporting Memories I Cherish

A wise person once said it's better to spend your money on experiences vs. things and the older I get the more this resonates with me.   Perhaps that's why I race so much.  Some of my most cherished moments have come from races or from the training required to do these races.   It's no wonder sport plays such an important part in my life.  Instead of fancy clothes or the latest and greatest thing, I chose to spend my money on DOING things like races.  It's an added bonus if we travel somewhere to race.   Last year my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage and instead of getting each other an expensive piece of jewelry, we decided to take a 3 week trip to Europe and throw a half Ironman race in there for good measure.  Because that's what we like to do.  We shared so many incredible moments on that trip, and those are memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Running down the finishing chute at Luxembourg 70.3 after having a great day of racing.

Climbing to the top of Alp d'Huez
Running and triathlon have brought so many wonderful people into my life.  I've made some incredible friends, whose company and friendship I will always cherish.

Boston 2013 - Before all hell broke loose.
Me & my pal David post Scotiabank Half this year.  Such a fun day.
Me and Irina at the Woodstock Tri this year
The West Toronto Pacers Crew -stopping for coffee mid ride - Summer 2014
With some of my closest friends at Ironman Switzerland in 2008
Training for Ironman Lake Placid in 2006 - it was the May long weekend and it snowed!  
The West Toronto Pacers Crew after Harry's Spring Run off this year
Running is how I met my husband.  I can't even begin to describe how much it means to me to have someone as supportive and encouraging as him by my side.  I know how lucky I am.  We share the same passion for racing and leading a healthy lifestyle and I cherish that every single day.

The finish line of my first Ironman - Lake Placid 2006

What are some of your most cherished sport related memories?

Thanks to Deb at Deb Runs for another awesome Wednesday Word Prompt!

Deb Runs

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Nicely Balanced Week

Good Morning!  I cannot believe how amazing this past weekend was.  Yes, it was a bit chilly in the mornings but that rapidly changed and the day went on.  The weather has been nothing short of spectacular for November.  Normally it's cold and rainy but we've had very little rain and the temperatures have been well above normal.   I ran outside in SHORTS yesterday.  If this is fall, I'll happily take it. 

I had a nice easy going weekend.  Not a lot of running around for a change.  We went for a nice leisurely mountain bike in our neighbourhood.  There is a small series of trails around the Etobicoke Creek that we explored.  So we rode from our house instead of driving somewhere which was a nice change.  Saturday night we actually went out to see a movie!  I can't remember the last time we did that.  I sprung for the VIP tickets and we went to see Spectre.  It was ok.  Not as much action as I had anticipated but I also didn't mind watching Daniel Craig for 2.5 hours.  The VIP seats were awesome.  I don't know that I can go back to the regular seats, ha ha.  Given the amount of time we actually go out to the movies, I think I'll always spring for the VIP seats.  I even had a glass of wine while watching the movie!  It's almost as good as being at home except that I have to keep my shoes on and I wasn't wearing my pj's.  Ha. 

I thought last week would be an easier week in terms of workouts because I was going to be busy.  While I spent less time working out this week, my intensity level was higher.  Probably because I've started running again.  I skipped a lot of my swims last week, mainly because I just wasn't feeling it.  I worked late on Tuesday and had the worst sinus headache that carried over to Wednesday so I slept in.  Sunday I didn't feel like dragging my butt to the pool to work on fly so lounged around on the couch and had a coffee and then I went down into the pain cave.  It's only November.  Missing a few swims now isn't going to make or break my 2016 race season.  

Monday:  2350m swim
Tuesday:  5km run + 60 minute strength work
Wednesday:  60 minute ride
Thursday:  6km run + 60 minute strength work
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  18km ride

Sunday:  90 minute (50km) trainer ride + 7km run in SHORTS!  I hadn't planned on running but it was too nice out to pass it up!

Total time:  8h 5 minutes.  

My knees were killing me after yesterdays workouts - specifically after my ride so I think I'm going to have to go back to Gears and have them look at my fit yet again.  I could do without the burning feeling in my kneecaps after a hard bike workout.

I'm going to slowly add a bit more time to my runs this week.  My goal this week is to get to 20km for the week.  I was at 18 last week so I don't think that should be an issue. 

How was your week of workouts?  Did you have good weather?  Who else got out and ran in shorts?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Age is Just Number

I've always thought that you are only as old as you feel and I still feel like I'm in my 20's.  For the most part.  Yes, I notice a lot more age related aches and pains and I certainly don't recover like I used to but I don't *feel* like I'm almost 45 years old.  I think I've been blessed with some pretty good genes as well because people constantly peg me as being mid to late 30's, which I will happily take, haha.

I think the bigger part of my "agelessness" is the fact that I am physically active and I take care of myself.  Most people I know that lead a healthy lifestyle seem younger than they are.   My group of training partners is diverse in age as well.  Some of my closest friends are 10+ years younger than me.  Many of the people that I work with are younger than me.  I think those friendships and associations also help to keep me young at heart.  


I remember when I turned 31 and how hung up I got on that number.  I was officially a 30-something.  I'm not sure why that bothered me so much at the time but it did.  When I turned 41, it didn't phase me one bit.  In fact, 41 & 42 were two of my best years in terms of athletics.  Almost all of my running P.R's came the year I turned 42.  So much for slowing down as I got older!  I like to think I'm like a fine wine and I'm getting better with age.  I know that the time for P.R's is probably getting a bit more limited but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop racing.  It just means I have to rejig my racing priorities.  For now this "old broad" triathlete will keep pushing her limits every year to keep those 20 somethings on their toes.   

Age really is just a number.  It's a category that you get slotted into, but it should never define or limit you.  I look at it as a chance to add more experiences to my life.  Another year means more time to spend with friends and family, more time for adventures, more time to learn and grow.  Embrace it, roll with it and celebrate it.  Above all, make the most of it. 

Thanks to Deb Runs for another great Wednesday Word!

If you had to pick an age that you felt you were at, what would it be?  I'd say that I feel like I'm about 27 years old.  

Deb Runs

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bike, Bike and More Bike

Another weekend over, another Monday here.  Last week was crazy.  Work exploded and I had to remember how to do my job, ha ha.  I have two shoots scheduled this week so it looks like I'll be giving myself an "easy week".   Which is fine by me.  This week was pretty big time wise.  I'm fully entrenched in base work, with the exception of my weekend mountain bike outings.  There is nothing base about that type of riding.  But I'm not out for that long (60-90 minutes) and there is a fair bit of stopping and starting.  G and I hit the trails in Albion Hills this weekend.  It's much more challenging to ride there than Durham Forest.  I did a lot of climbing.  I went on one single track path that kind of stressed me out.  But I got through most of it on my bike.  I walked through a few parts that made me really nervous but got right back on my bike and started riding again.   Baby steps.  I am doing much better than I was last year and that's what matters.  When we got home I took my new running shoes out for another little spin.  I bought a pair of Altra Torin 2.0.  I wore them for a run on Thursday morning and I felt weird.  My feet felt like they were actually engaged and working, which is good, but my knees hurt and my legs felt a little sloppy.  I wore them for my gym workout afterwards as well.  They're great gym shoes for sure.  I had expected more from my run on Thursday so I was a bit concerned.  Turns out those concerns got put to rest with my short little jaunt on Saturday.  My knees felt totally fine.  My form felt better, dare I say, smoother even....!  So I am hopeful that these shoes will be good for me once my body gets used to them.

Saturday night was the "Sporty Spice" girls night out.  I drove out to Oakville to meet up with Sam, Irina, Kim, Nicole, Emma and a whole bunch of other ladies I know from social media / running / triathlon.  Now THAT was a lot of fun.   I talked so much I lost my voice by the end of the night, ha ha.  We were asked to bring our medal from our favourite race this year.  I had a hard time picking one but I settled on Muskoka 70.3 because I raced with G and one of my good friends and I knew so many other people that were racing, it just ended up being a super fun day / weekend.  Scotiabank was a very close second for the very same reasons.

Group shot courtesy of Kim!
Yesterday I made it to my Sunday swim.  It was all fly drills, then fly and free so I managed 1800m before I pulled the pin.  My back is still somewhat tight and all that dolphin kick did a number on my so I got out early.  Which is just as well since I was going to be doing a long ass trainer ride when I got home.  It was my final test ride of the Watts Up Home Cycling program.  I've thoroughly enjoyed using this program so watch for a review later on this week.

This is how this past weekend rolled out.  I'm finally getting back into a regular routine again.  I seem to be having a hard time getting to yoga though.  Another week gone by and no yoga.  This week I probably won't have time until the weekend.  C'est la vie.

Monday:  2000m swim
Tuesday:  60 minute strength session in a.m.  60 minute trainer ride in p.m.
Wednesday:  2450m swim
Thursday:  5km run in the Altra's - my first real run since Scotia + a 50 minute strength workout

Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  1h 10 minute mountain bike ride + 2.4km run in the Altra's.

Sunday: 1800m swim + 1h 50 minute trainer ride / sweat fest.  I've stopped using the fan to cool me down when I ride.  I'm trying to get my body used to the heat.  I think that was part of the problem with Eagleman this year.  I wasn't ready for the heat.  If I can ride inside with no fan over the course of the winter,  I think it will be somewhat helpful when I get outside.  Especially if Tremblant ends up being hot.   I plan on trying to "train hot" as much as possible with this round of training.  We'll see how that works for me come summer time.

It should be noted that I rode FOUR TIMES this week.  FOUR.  And only ran TWICE.  WHO AM I?  
 How was your weekend?  Did you get out and enjoy the AMAZING weather?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How Complacency Made Me a Better Athlete

"Great things never came from comfort zones" or so the saying goes.   This is something that took me a while to learn.  For years I played it safe with running and triathlon.  I never ventured too far out of my comfort zone.  I did the same thing day and day out and wondered why things never changed.  I had always thought I could do better but never really pushed myself too hard.  Hard work made me uncomfortable.  I was happy being comfortable so I got complacent in my ways.

Sometimes it takes a low point in your life for you to decide to make a change.  To stop being complacent and take that first step outside your comfort zone.  That low point happened 7 years ago when G and I tried to start a family.  I had stage 4 endometriosis which had ravaged my reproductive organs.  The chances of my body ever supporting life were slim.  Long story short, after 2 years of trying the fun way and via IVF, we threw in the towel.  It was a heartbreaking decision. 

In the months following,  I lost myself in my running.   Running and physical activity in general, had taken a back seat while all of that was going on.  Now, it became my solace.  A poorly executed attempt at a second B.Q came a few months later.  That's when I finally said Fuck It.  It's time for a change.  I had to stop being complacent. 

When life hands you lemons, turn around and make lemon-aid right? 

I decided to change things up.  I NEEDED to change things up.  I joined a running club and took those first steps outside my comfort zone.  I hit the gym and actually started lifting weights again.  I lost 20 lbs and got that B.Q I had wanted.  I decided I wanted to get back into triathlons again and tackled a half ironman.  I've raced my butt off every summer since then.  I've learned that getting better requires hard work and a lot of time spent outside my comfort zones.  Complacency won't get me closer to my goals.  Every year I've tackled something that makes me uncomfortable in the quest to be a better athlete.

I could never have imagined the friendships and the successes that have come because I decided to take that first step.   It's filled me with a confidence and passion that I never realized I had.  Complacency has no place in my life any more but without it, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Thanks to Deb at Deb Runs for the Wednesday Word Link up!

Deb Runs

Check out Deb Runs every Wednesday for a new word prompt!

Has complacency changed you? 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - A Quick Guide to Indoor Cycling Options

Now that November is here, I think it's safe to say that almost everyone in the Northern Hemisphere has probably taken the majority of their cycling training indoors.  The mornings are too dark and cold for my liking and the evenings aren't much better so I've started frequenting my "Pain Cave"on a more regular basis.   This is exactly why Cynthia, Courtney and I thought that indoor cycling would be a great topic for this months Tri Talk Tuesday.  I'm going to delve into the different types of trainers available and the pros and cons of each as well as other options for indoor cycling that don't involve spending long hours alone in your basement.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere chances are you spend the majority of the winter months with your bike on some kind of trainer.   There is something out there for every budget.  I'm going to start with the pricier options first.

Electronic Trainers (a.k.a "Smart Trainers")

For the longest time the Computrainer was the be all and end all to indoor cycling training (it came out in 1986!) and it's still the most widely used system in most indoor group cycling facilities.   This device essentially simulates riding outside.  In the most basic sense, a Computrainer is a trainer (with a flywheel) that is connected to a software program.  You have the option to ride one of the many courses in the Computrainer database or you can chose to ride in ERG mode which, according to the Trainer Road web site is "like loosening your grip on the reins of the horse you're riding.  You basically give control to your trainer/horse and simply ride."  Erg mode sets the resistance for you and it's based on your FTP so you need to know that number before you start to ride. If you choose to ride a course, you don't need to know your FTP, you can just ride.  The Computrainer will give you power, speed and cadence (if you have the optional cadence puck).  It won't give you heart rate and since that is something I always train with, I wear my Garmin, set on indoor cycling mode.

 There are other electronic / computerized trainer options available now.  Ones that are compatible with MAC, which is kind of a big peeve of mine with the Computrainer.   It's P.C compatible only.

The other two popular options are the Wahoo KICKR and the Cycle Ops Power Beam Pro.  I know a few people who have the KICKR and really like it.   The interesting thing about the KICKR is the fact that you don't use your back wheel on this trainer.  You take it off and the bike gets mounted on the gearing of the trainer.  This saves you from the annoyance of having to put a trainer tire on your back wheel so you don't burn through a good tire.

Pricing:  ranges from $1200 - $2000 depending on the model and accessories you choose.  The KICKR is the cheapest of the three but that's still a fair bit of money to spend on a trainer.

Pros:  Simulates riding outside, ability to train with power without having to purchase a power meter, really quiet

Cons:  Price and if you're a MAC lover and want a Computrainer, be prepared to factor the cost of a P.C. into the price.  With the KICKR you have to remove your back wheel to use it.  There are several other electronic trainers on the market, these are the three that I'm familiar with.

DC Rainmaker did an excellent comparison chart of all the electronic trainers he's reviewed.  You can read it here.

Manual Trainers (a.k.a "Dumb Trainers")

By manual I mean powered strictly by you - it's not hooked up to a computer (although with some trainers there is the option to ride online programs, which I will discuss later).

There are 3 types of "manual" trainers:  fluid trainers, mag trainers and rollers

1) Fluid trainer:  A fluid trainer uses fluid to build resistance against the wheel of your bike.  A fluid trainer requires a bit of a warm up period to get the fluid moving so when you first start riding it generally feels a bit easier.   The fluid becomes harder to push through the harder you pedal.  Fluid trainers generally give a more road like feel than a mag trainer.

Pros:  quiet, reliable, cost
Cons:  can't ride with power (unless you have a meter on your bike already), can't ride courses unless you're hooked up to a training app, can be prone to leaking due to expansion and contraction of fluid when heated.

Cost:  between $300-$600 

Kurt Kinetic Fluid Trainer

2) Mag Trainer:  These trainers use the repelling force of similar poles of magnets to create resistance.  Magnets are placed in a configuration that exploits their ability to repel each other, and that is what creates the work load for the rider.

Pros:  Cost, quiet
Cons:  resistance has an upper limit, prone to breaking, can't ride with power (unless you have a meter on your bike already), can't ride courses unless you're hooked up to a training app

Cost:  between $200-$400

3)  Rollers:  These are going to be the most challenging to use of all the trainers listed.   Rollers are just that:  a frame that has 3 rollers attached horizontally into a frame.  Usually one at the front and two at the back.

Your bike doesn't mount into anything so this is like riding on the road except you're not moving forward.  Riding rollers requires balance and concentration.  There is no zoning out on these things.  If you want to improve your core stability while on the bike, these are what you want.
By placing magnets in a configuration that exploits the magnets ability to repel each other, Mag trainers create a workload for the cyclist. - See more at:
By placing magnets in a configuration that exploits the magnets ability to repel each other, Mag trainers create a workload for the cyclist. - See more at:
By placing magnets in a configuration that exploits the magnets ability to repel each other, Mag trainers create a workload for the cyclist. - See more at:

Pros:  cost, improve balance & pedaling efficiency
Cons:  difficulty of use, potential for injury if you fall off, mad balance skills required

Cost:  usually between $200-$400 but there are a couple of newer options that are around $900

Trainer Apps:

This is a whole new category of awesomeness that has become available to the basement bound masses.  One of the big draws is that they can provide a social aspect to a relatively solitary activity.  These have really come into their own in the last couple of years and there are SO many out there with so many different features and costs, it's difficult to know where to begin.  Thankfully there's DC Rainmaker, who actually took the time to delve into 20 different apps and what each one offers.  You can read that article here.   The ones I see a lot of people using are ZWIFT and Trainer Road.  I have yet to try either of them out but will probably give both of them a test run at some point this winter.

Cost: around $10/month

Indoor Group Cycling:

I'm not talking about spinning.  Spinning has it's place but if you're a triathlete or a cyclist, nothing beats the comfort of your own bike.  Enter the Indoor Group Ride.  People have been getting together to train in garages and basements for ages.  Some entrepreneurial folks took notice of that and started creating specific places that you could go with your bike and ride with like minded people.  99.9% of this type of group cycling is done on your own bike on a Computrainer.  Some places will put up a course and you ride it for the duration of the class.  Others will have a specific workout that you do and others look to the long term and design a program that provides you with a periodized training plan.  There are a few places that I know of in Toronto that offer these types of group cycling classes. 

West End:  Watts Up Cycling 
I'm currently testing the Watts Up Home Cycling program and will review that in a week or so. 

East End: Gears Leaside

Personally I'd rather have some company for a 2 hour ride vs. sitting in front of the TV in my basement.  That's one of the reasons these classes have become so popular.

Cost:  $40/class to $300+ / a month depending on how many times a week you want to ride.

With so many options for indoor cycling these days, there is bound to be something that works for you.  Many of these trainers can be found used through your local classifieds, tri group or ebay.  My hubby got his Computrainer on ebay at a fraction of what it would have cost.  So it pays to look around!

Next months Tri Talk Tuesday will be on December 7th and the theme is Christmas gifts for the triathlete in your life (a.k.a things to put on your Christmas list!)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hitting the Trails

Hello November.  You know what that means, right?  It's time to HIT THE TRAILS. That's exactly what G and I did this weekend.  We drove out to Durham Forest on Saturday morning and joined the tons of other people that thought mountain biking was a good idea.  It was a heck of lot nicer this time around then the last time I was out there.  And I'm proud to say that I felt much more confident and comfortable on the trails than I did last year.  I'm chalking that up to riding with Morning Glory this summer.  I still had a bit of trouble on some of the more technical single track spots but all in all, I'm really happy with the way I rode.  We were out for an hour and 20 minutes.  My legs were pretty tired by the end of it.  But it was absolutely perfect out.

Perfect day to be out!

G showing me how it's done!
Afterwards we went to Running Free because I wanted to try on a pair of Altra running shoes.  I'm thinking a lot of my issues are stemming from a few things that aren't working they way they should.  My feet being one of them - in particular my big toes.  They don't flex or splay the way they should and I know when I run I tend to curl them a bit.  I've been working on my toe flexibility for the last few weeks and I've heard nothing but good things about these shoes and how they're supposed to be very good for your feet.  I ended up buying the Torin 2.0.  I haven't taken them out yet but I suspect that will happen this week given the nice warm temps we're supposed to see mid week.  After Running Free, we went to our local bike shop and I got some new pedals for my mountain bike.  I was using egg beaters but I found them really difficult to clip into so I've switched to Shimanos.  We'll see how I like those.  Hopefully they're a bit easier to get in and out of.  It was almost 4 pm by the time we got home.  That made for a long and fairly expensive day.   Saturday night we had a ton of kids come by the house for Halloween.  It was the busiest 90 minutes ever, ha ha.

Sunday I finally made it back to a Sunday swim at the pool.  I actually managed to get 3000m in.  In the afternoon, I hopped on the bike and tried out one of the Watts Up Cycling, home based workouts.  I haven't quite figured out the ERG mode on my computrainer so I'm not sure I did it right but it's been explained to me now so when I get back on the bike on Tuesday, I'll do it correctly.  Stay tuned for a review of this program!

I had a pretty full week of workouts.  I'm slowly building things up again.  My back is feeling better.  Lots of ART work has helped but the knots are pretty deep so I think I need a few more treatments before it's back to it's normal state.

This is what I got up to last week:

Monday:  2000m swim.  The main set was on a certain pace time (1:50/100m) and I consistently came in around 1:35/100m.  It wasn't easy but I'm pretty pleased with this given my lack of speed work in the pool. 
Tuesday:  45 minute strength session
Wednesday:  2100m swim in a.m.  1:05 ride in the p.m.  Started watching the Hunger Games Catching Fire- so good!
Thursday:  60 minute strength session
Friday:  OFF
Saturday:  1h 20 minutes of mountain biking
Sunday:  3000m swim + 90 minutes on the bike.

Total time:  8h 23 minutes.  All the riding was done at an easier pace.  With the exception of the mountain biking.  It's impossible not to spike your heart rate when you're on the trails!

Have you ever tried mountain biking?  How are you changing things up in your off season?