Saturday, January 30, 2010

A 50K week




I finished out the week with a 10K row this evening, which brings me to 50,647 for the week.  I'm very happy with that.  If I keep up that pace, I'll be done in 20 weeks!

I also had a great workout this morning at CrossFit Rochester.   As I mentioned the Saturday workouts are my favorites of the week.  Today we did a workout in teams of two. 4 rounds, 7 minutes per round with one minute rest between rounds.  The exercises were pull ups, push ups, sit ups, and squats.  Each round you and your partner would echo the reps of a ladder.  So, you do one rep, your partner does one rep, you do two reps, your partner does two reps, and so on until the 7 minutes is up.   I really love the CrossFit workouts that feature those four exercises (Cindy, Barbara, Angie, etc) 

Great way to start out the weekend!


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
10K
10,000
48:10.5
2:24.5
Total for Day
10,000
Meters to go
924,404

Friday, January 29, 2010

Card reader


In order to gather the data from my rowing, the computer on the Concept2 rower -- the PM3 -- allows data to be saved to a smart-card.   I am really loving all the information that is gathered by the PM3.  I can very accurately track my progress.  This is particularly helpful for my CFE workouts where I am really focusing on improving my rowing time.

The down-side to the PM3 and smart card arrangement out of the box is that you have to have the PM3 within range of you computer or laptop to download the data.   Not a horrible inconvenience, but I really never use my laptop in the vicinity of my rower. So gathering the data means disconnecting the laptop from it's 9 cable connections (my laptop is well connected...), taking it to the rower, connecting it to the PM3, downloading the data, then reconnecting the laptop so I can update my blog, etc.

 (four cables on the left, 5 on the right...)

Earlier this week I ordered the athena smart card reader from the Concept2 site.  It arrived yesterday and today was my first chance to use it.  It works like a charm.  No more connecting and disconnecting the laptop to get the data off my log card!  Sometimes even a little convenience like that can make my day.

(a new fixture on my desk)

Here's the results from this morning's 10K row.  I'm starting to think I might be able to do the 10K distance for the March Madness challenge...

Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
10K
10,000
46:30.3
2:19.5
Total for Day
10,000

Meters to go
934,404

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rowing, double-unders, and shoe laces

Tonight's WOD was another one from CrossFit Endurance:  6x90:90.  Six rounds of 90 seconds all out rowing, followed by 90 seconds of rest.  Like many of the CFE workouts it sounds fairly easy, but it is much harder than it sounds.

After the rowing WOD, I decided to work on my double-unders with a quick 2-minute drill.   Double-unders a rope jumping exercise where you swing the rope under you twice for every single jump.  (Check out this video if you want to see what double-unders look like.)   The objective of the drill is to see how many double-unders you can do in 2 minutes.   It is something I need to work on for CrossFit anyway, so every few weeks I do the drill to see if I've improved.

For most of my workouts, I wear Vibram fivefinger shoes. These are shoes that are shaped like your feet (with individual pockets for your toes and everything), that have minimal padding in the soles.  The idea behind fivefinger shoes is to give you as close to a barefoot experience when running, walking, etc. as possible.


I am a huge fan of these shoes -- particularly for running -- and while I wear them for most of my CrossFit workouts, I don't like them for jumping rope. There are two reasons for this.  First, occasionally if you miss the jump, the rope gets caught between the toes of the shoes, and if you are racing against the clock, the last thing you want to do is waste time untangling a rope from your shoes.  Second, if you are swinging a rope at 300 miles per hour and it hits your feet, and you don't have shoes that have a reasonable amount of protection on top... well let's just say it brings out some of my more colorful language.   So for jumping rope, it's back to my Chucks




Anyway, about half way through the drill one of my shoe laces becomes untied.   Might not sound like a big deal, but if you clicked on that video link, imagine what might happen if a shoe lace is dangling in the path of that jump rope which, again,  is traveling at approximately 300 miles per hour... OK, the truth is that nothing really dramatic happens.  But it does tend to mess up the smooth rotation of the rope and it always makes me miss the next jump.  That typically causes frustration and, again, colorful language.

A quick bit of research and I came across what has got to be the definitive internet resource on keeping your shoe laces tied: Ian's Shoelace Site.  Who knew there were so many ways to tie your shoes!  I'm gonna have to check out a few of these knots to see if I can keep the laces from slowing me down next 2-minute drill.

This evening's results:


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
Warmup
1,018
4:25.7
2:10.5
6x1:30/1:30r
2,713
9:00.0
1:43.8
Cool down
1,020
4:30.9
2:12.7
Total for Day
4,751
Meters to go
944,404

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gotta love bubble wrap..

 I heard a story on the radio on the way to work that bubble wrap turned 50 this week.  Quite coincidentally, bubble wrap has been literally saving my butt the last two rows!

In the course of doing some research on rowing a marathon, I came across one of the tips on the Concept2 "Training for a Marthon" page which described using bubble wrap as additional padding on the seat of the erg.  No $20 high tech gel seat pad, no custom seat cover that holds your iPod... good old-fashioned bubble wrap.   As much as I am a "gadget guy", and am seriously tempted by that iPod-holding seat cover, I have to admit that in this case, the simple solution seems to be the best. 

So for last night's 10K row, and again this morning when I did a second 10K row, I put 4 sheets of bubble wrap on he seat and was surprised at how much more comfortable the row was.  FTW!

Yet another thing to toss in my gym bag to take to my CrossFit Endurance workouts!

Here are this morning's results.



Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
10K
10,000
47:22.7
2:22.1
Total for Day
10,000

Meters to go
949,155

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First 10K and more challenges

Tonight I rowed my first 10K.  And other than being a little "saddle sore" it wasn't too bad.   I was focusing mostly on technique and not worrying about pace.  It felt good to get that one under my belt as it is the longest single distance I've rowed to date (yesterday's 6K was the second longest).

And speaking of long distances, I have decided to participate in the Concept2 Global Marathon Challenge in April.  This challenge is sponsored by Concept2 and is open to anyone with a logbook account at the Concept2 web site.  The challenge is to row 42,195 meters in one workout.  My friend Bethany at CrossFit Geneseo has agreed to do it with me... not sure who talked who into doing this... but on Sunday April 18th we will both be tackling that monster.   I have to confess that it has me a little bit nervous... that's a long time to be sitting in a rowing seat!   Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the challenge!

Tonight's row:

Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
10K
10,000
48:05.5
2:24.2
Total for Day
10,000

Meters to go
959,155

Monday, January 25, 2010

First week in the can

Week one down and I did 25,499 meters for the week.  Not a bad start to the journey. 

Week 2 started off this morning with a warm-up paced 6K.   Which leads me to an interesting thing I noticed last week.   My objective is to spend 2-3 rowing sessions each week working on speed and time.  Typically doing intervals or time-trials and going all-out.   These are my CrossFit Endurance workouts.   The other 3-4 days I decided would be technique sessions where I would not worry about pace, but rather focus on my rowing technique: smooth pull, fast hands on the turn-around, tempo of the stroke, torso pivot from the hips, etc.   What I found last week is that on those technique rows I was very unsatisfied with my average times and I found myself losing focus on the technique.  I just can't let go of that competitive streak!  That is something I will be working on as I  move forward.  I figure if I really work on the technique now, the time will take care of itself during the CrossFit Endurance workouts.   We'll see...

Results follow:


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
6K warmup pace
6,010
27:53.6
2:19.2
Total for Day
6,010

Meters to go
969,155

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Community

I really love Saturdays.  I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard!  There are all the obvious reasons to love a good Saturday:  no work, sleeping in, getting to wear your favorite pair of jeans all day (I really miss working at home sometimes!)

For me, one of the great things about Saturdays is my morning workout with my friends at CrossFit Rochester.  I'm not sure exactly what it is about CrossFit that breeds such a great sense of community.  Perhaps it is the sense of shared experience, or shared accomplishment (or shared adversity - try "Murph" some day and you will know what I mean).  Or maybe it is just that CrossFit appeals to a certain "type" of person, and whatever that type of person is, when you put a bunch of them in a room together they just naturally seem to gel.  In any case, I really look forward to seeing the Saturday morning crew at CrossFit, struggling through a WOD together, then hitting the local Starbucks afterward with everyone to relax and hang out.  I've never been to another gym where there was such a great sense of community... It has made my Saturday mornings something to really look forward to all week.

Rowing was my second workout of the day and I did some more intervals: 5x400m with 4 minutes rest between sets (and a stray 500m row thrown in when I set the C2's monitor incorectly for 500m instead of 400m... ooops).   Results below.


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
Warmup
1,023
4:49.4
2:21.3
500m
522
1:45.5
1:45.5
5x400m/4:00r
2,101
11:24.5
1:52.2
Cooldown
1,020
4:43.5
2:18.9
Total for Day
4,666

Meters to go
975,165

Friday, January 22, 2010

Intervals, intervals, intervals

I pull a lot of my rowing workouts from the CrossFit Endurance site.  As an endurance athlete, I have always struggled with balancing the need to log lots and lots of time in running, biking, etc. in order to get in condition for races.   Let's face it, not a lot of people have the time to put in 8+ hours a week training, and have a full time job, and be a parent, and have friends, and watch "24" each week.  The CrossFit Endurance folks don't believe you need to put in all those hours in order to do an endurance event.   As long as you follow a metabolic training program like CrossFit, you can add an endurance program that is based largely on interval training, and be well prepared for longer distance races.   The thought process is that by logging lots and lots of long-distance training run/bike/swims, you are really just training your body to go slowly for long periods of time.   Wouldn't it be better to train your body to go fast, and build the aerobic capacity at the same time?

Almost a year ago I attended a CrossFit Endurance certification, which focused on running, and I have been a big fan of the CrossFit Endurance program ever since.   In addition to fixing my running technique (I'll post something about POSE running and barefoot running another day), it really got me to concentrate on training with intervals rather than lots of long distance run/bike/swims.  For me, the results have been significant in the triathlons I do.  With just a bit of interval training last year, and no long distance training, I improved my times by about 10%.  This year I am hoping to improve on that by increasing the number of interval training sessions (while keeping up with CrossFit 4-5 days a week).   This summer we'll see how it pans out.

Today's rowing was a CrossFit Endurance WOD that was posted yesterday.   5-4-3-2-1:  5 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute rest, 4 minutes of work followed by a 4 minute rest, and so on down to 1 minute.   Man, those 5 minute intervals are killers....  Tried rowing against a pace boat on the PM3 monitor for the first time.  Seemed to help having the visual queue.  Plus, I really hate to lose, even to an imaginary pace boat! :-)   Results below.


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
Warm up
1,019
4:08.4
2:01.8
5:00/5:00r
1,333
5:00.0
1:52.5
4:00/4:00r
1,067
4:00.0
1:52.4
3:00/3:00r
824
3:00.0
1:49.2
2:00/2:00r
548
2:00.0
1:49.4
1:00
301
1:00.0
1:39.6
Cool down
1,000
7:58.0
2:26.1
Total for Day
6,092

Meters to go
979,831

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rest days... I should look into those

Today was a rest day -- which was really needed after Murph yesterday -- so no CrossFit workout.  But I decided to do a quick 2K row after work.  Time was actually worse than the second row in Murph!  Not too surprising based on how tired/sore I am.  I think in the future, I'll just rest on my rest days!



Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
2K
2,024
7:58.0
1:58.0
Total for Day
2,024

Meters to go
985,923

Double duty

Yesterday I ended up rowing twice. First thing in the morning I did an easy 4K row to get some distance in (I keep wanting to say "get some miles in"... triathlon/biking lingo kicking in!) Then last night at CrossFit Rochester we did one of the "Hero" workouts: Murph.

A bit of background, in case you aren't familiar with CrossFit.   CrossFit has roots in the military and in particular, the Navy SEALS.   There are a number of workouts done by CrossFit'ers everywhere that are named after veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were killed in the line of duty.  These are called the "Hero" WODs (Workout Of the Day).  Yesterday's workout was "Murph", and it is one of the hardest of the Hero WODs.

Murph is named after Lt. Michael P. Murphy (you can read a bio of Lt. Murphy here).   Murph was a fellow Penn State grad, Navy SEAL, and a man who showed incredible courage in the face of certain death.  He was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005.  The biography I linked to above gives an account of his actions that lead to the rescue of the lone survivor of his SEAL team.

To honor the memory of Lt. Murphy, the "Murph" was created.   It consists of a 1-mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, and another 1 mile run.   Ideally, this is to be performed with a 25 pound weight vest on!   It is a brutal workout.    Living in upstate NY, the winter weather typically does not allow for a lot of outdoor running at CrossFit, so we will often substitute rowing for the running in WODs.   So, yesterday our Murph substituted a 2K row for each of the runs.    And while the "Murph" as prescribed allows you to partition the pullups, pushups, and squats any way you want, at CrossFit Rochester, we always do them serially.  So rather than doing, for example, 20 sets of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats, we do all 100 pull ups, followed by all 200 push ups, followed by all 300 squats.  Oh yeah... with the row or run sandwiched on either end.

Today I'm feeling a bit chewed up and spit out by Murph, but somehow, in spite of coming off surgery a few weeks ago, and having been away from CrossFit for three weeks, I managed to be within 5 seconds of my previous PR (personal record).  So I'm feeling pretty good about that.

So I find myself thinking about Lt. Murphy today.  And I am reminded that the aches I am feeling in my upper body and legs today are nothing compared to the sacrifice of Murph and his family.  I am also reminded of a quote by George Orwell (that is on one of my favorite Forged t-shirts):
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."


Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
Morning
4,015
18:14.2
2:16.2
Murph first 2k
2,018
8:36.8
2:08.0
Murph second 2K
2,020
7:50.7
1:56.5
Total for Day
8,053

Meters to go
987,947

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

3, 2, 1... GO!

My current game plan is to have 2-3 hard rowing workouts per week.  This may change slightly as triathlon season gets closer and I have to put in more time on the bike and in the pool.   Most of these workouts will be CrossFit Endurance style workouts (and I'm actually getting most of the workouts from the CrossFit Endurance site).   The remaining 4-5 rowing workouts per week will be rows in the neighborhood of 5K duration, just to get the meters in towards my goal of a million meters.  I am figuring I'll need to get close to 24,000 meters per week in.

For my non-hard-core rows, I will have two areas of focus: proper technique, and building towards 2K at a 6:05 pace.   Towards the second goal I will row at a 6:05 pace and hold it for as many meters as I can.  Each time I will log how many meters I can hold that pace, and each time I will try to increase the number of meters I can hold that pace.  Eventually I should be able to hold that pace for 2K... at least that's the theory!

Last night I rowed a 6x1:3 workout with my friend Julie.   Coincidentally both of us are in recovery mode, and both of us seem to have a hard time scaling things back!   The 6x1:3 workout is 6 intervals of rowing 1 minute (all out effort) followed by 3 minutes of rest.  Sounds deceptively easy, but as you progress the 1 minute gets longer and longer, and the 3 minutes gets shorter and sorter!.   Felt pretty good about my results, overall.  Particularly since it had been over three weeks since I had been on a rower!

One interesting thing that I discovered last night when I uploaded my results to the Concept 2 site is that while the C2 log card keeps detailed records of each interval of the row, when the results get "compressed" and you lose some of the details.   Of particular note is that the overall time of the workout (rest + work) gets figured into your average split time.  So my split time on the concept 2 site log looks pretty anemic...

Anyway, yesterday was the first step in the journey... finally!!!   Results are below.

Description
Total Meters
Time
Pace/500m
Warmup
1,022
4:06.5
6x1:00/3:00r
1,965
6:00.0
1:36.7
Cool down
1,013
5:09.3
Total for Day
4,000
Meters to go
996,000

Friday, January 15, 2010

All systems go!

Just got back from my post-op appointment and now have the official "ok" from the doctor to get back to it!   It has really surprised me how difficult a mere two weeks away from CrossFit, rowing, and being active has been!  

I'll be back at CrossFit tomorrow morning and will get my first official row of 2010 in sometime over the weekend.   Ready for the first steps in my journey!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nutrition

Perhaps it is because its the new year, and I'm being bombarded with commercials, ads, blogs, and news stories about nutrition and diet, but I have been thinking a lot lately about nutrition.  And more specifically about my diet and nutrition goals for 2010.

Through CrossFit, I was introduced to the Zone diet.  In a nutshell the Zone focuses on eating clean foods in a balance of 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat.  You can basically eat whatever you want as long as it stays in that balance, and you stay within your limits for caloric intake (which the Zone simplifies into "blocks"), but if you eat "clean" foods, you will generally find you can eat a larger volume of food and stay full longer.   And, in my experience, you will feel better and have better athletic performance.  I have tried several diets in my life, and I have had better success, and been more satisfied with the Zone than any other as a diet that is sustainable as a lifestyle change.

So certainly one of my nutrition goals for 2010 is to stay in the Zone (I have to confess that between the 2009 holidays and my post-surgery recovery, I have been a bit lax in my dedication to clean eating... ok, I've been eating a lot of crap!).

But last week I was introduced to Bob Seebohar through a conference call on nutrition for endurance athletes.   From Bob's web site:

"Bob is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, the former Director of Sports Nutrition for the University of Florida and most recently served as a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Committee.  Bob traveled to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games as a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Team and the personal sport dietitian for the Olympic Triathlon Team."

During the conference call, Bob mentioned several times about training for "metabolic efficiency".  Basically, as I understand it, training your body to burn fat for fuel.  I have ordered his book, "Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat" and will post a review of it here once it arrives.  

The importance of the link between diet/nutrition and performance has become increasingly clear to me in the past year.   When I am eating clean, and staying within my Zone block limits, I consistently get better CrossFit scores and can pull better times on the C2.   When I "overindulge" or eat processed foods, the next day I pay the price... 

This year I am hoping a renewed commitment to diet and nutrition -- in particular focusing on clean Zone eating - will help me achieve better results in rowing, CrossFit and triathlons.



Monday, January 4, 2010

Chomping at the bit

I rang in the new year by having a hernia repair done.  I discovered my hernia sometime in early November, and decided to have it fixed in late December so that I would have my "down" time when it wouldn't interfere too much with my triathlon training.   So far I am expecting to be in recovery mode for about a month.   I meet with the doctor in two weeks to check my progress and find out how long I have to wait until I can get back to training... and to my quest for one million meters.

My "normal" routine is to do CrossFit 5 days a week and CrossFit Endurance 2 days a week.   Once I start rowing in earnest, I will be doing that 5-6 days a week.  And when spring gets here I need to throw in some biking and swimming.   So, as you might guess, sitting on my butt for the last week has made me more than a little stir-crazy.  And the prospect of not doing much of anything active for a month has me borderline depressed... it is just not in my nature to be a couch potato.  Honestly, I don't know how people can stand that kind of lifestyle.

So now I am chomping at the bit to get back to working out, and particularly to get started on my million meters.   That likely won't happen until February, but we'll see what the doc says.

On the plus side of having to sit on the couch for the better part of a week, I did manage to watch all of season seven of "24" in three days.  I don't know when in my life I have ever watched that much TV in three days.  Not a PR I am particularly proud of... here's to hoping that 2010 will be filled with many more meaningful PRs that I can talk about here!