Q1 2016 Totals

Since I’ve been a slacker in posting our monthly totals, I figured I might as well just post the quarterly total, and we can from there.  Here are our distance totals thus far in 2016.

Health Club Dues:
January $1.74/visit
February $3.88/visit
March $2.43/visit

Emily Jan Feb Mar
Swim (miles) 5.8 3.6 7.2
Bike (miles) 254.8 169.2 183.7
Run (miles) 31.9 21.7 33.7
Strength (min) 146 30 49
Nick Jan Feb Mar
Swim (miles) 5.8 6.5 11.6
Bike (miles) 210.3 165.5 321.6
Run (miles) 43.3 30.3 47.3
Strength (min) 72 n/a n/a

Thinking About Getting a Coach?

First a moment of honesty.

I didn’t think I needed a coach.  I was an athlete on and off for years.  After college, I played some club lacrosse and when I moved to Texas I started running.  When I trained for the Alamo Half Marathon, I didn’t need a coach.  While getting ready for Elkhart Lake, I didn’t need a coach.  When we decided to do Steelhead 70.3, I didn’t need a coach . . . or so I thought.

Creating the workouts necessary to compete in any race is difficult.  Running races leave some room for judgement, especially if you aren’t planning on a podium.  Run during the week and on the weekend complete some long distances.  When we trained for the half marathon, the mornings would be great for running and by the time we were done with long runs, I would be so wrecked that I would spend the rest of the day napping or just lounging around.

For Steelhead, I took a similar approach and tried to create my own workouts and hold myself accountable.  This DID NOT work.  My training was disjointed and favored things that I liked to do.  If I had scheduled a swim and I didn’t feel like it, I would go on a run and forget about the swim.  Leading up to Steelhead, I think I had only accumulated a bit more than a mile or so in the pool.  MISTAKE.

When Emily proposed getting a coach to help out, I wasn’t immediately hip on the idea.  In fact, even after I had the coach helping me for a few weeks, I still wasn’t sure.  What follows is what I see as the benefits of having a coach.

Do You Need A Coach

I don’t think that everyone needs a coach.  Some people are able to hold themselves accountable and are able to put together training plans to follow.  I am not one of those people.

If you are athletic and committed, a coach may help you to focus on the right workouts.  A coach may help you get faster.  A coach may add that little bit of extra motivation you need to finish in the top quarter of your age group vs. the middle.

What I found helpful was that my coach helped me find the holes in my plan.  He put me in the pool more often than I would have on my own.  He pointed out my weaknesses and helped me to overcome those weaknesses.  The month prior to Steelhead, I logged 1.4 miles in the pool.  The month prior to Austin, I logged 4.5 and the month before that, 8. I was ill prepared to jump in the water at Steelhead and it showed enough that the volunteers saw fit to take me out of the water (there was a matter of being kicked in the face).

But my coach helped me with that.  He helped me plan a race around my ability.

Which brings me to my next point.  Do you have a discipline that you don’t excel at?  A coach is likely to help spot that deficiency and work with you to overcome it.

I am a poor swimmer, even with the finish at Austin I still probably look like a drowning cat.  That said, I was confident during the swim.  The voices in my head told me that I couldn’t do it, but my coaches voice overruled my thoughts and I was strong enough to finish.  When I wrote up my post-race email to my coach, I speculated that if I had the proper training going into Steelhead that the kick may not have stopped me.  It might have been an annoyance and I may have needed to stop for a minute or two, but I don’t think that the kick would have rendered me useless in the water.

During the Austin swim, I took a few kicks, I was put in a head lock, and I had a muscle cramp that had me stopped for a few minutes.  But these didn’t effect the outcome of my race like they did 3 months earlier.  I was able to roll with it and keep going.

My coach had me swimming on the outside, not on the buoys.  This was important for me to stay out of traffic because I am slow.  I swam around a 2 minute hundred at Austin, but there were folks whizzing by me.  Staying out of the way helped a great deal, even though a few other people had the same plan and I still was put in a little discomfort.

Should you be doing more?  I should have been.

I thought that I was getting a lot done.  But that wasn’t the case.  I posted a chart from Garmin on Twitter a while back. And I will share the updated chart here.  Can you tell where I started working with a coach?  I can.  My bike distancse were a far cry from what they should have been and it is obvious.  Distance by Month

Even with all of this training, the Austin bike course kicked my butt.  This information and knowing that Austin hurt me, I am better prepared (as is my coach) to get me ready for my next hilly race (I’ll share what it is soonish).

Wahoo Kickr Snap

If you are reading this, you probably know that we live in Wisconsin.  If you didn’t know that, you do now.  Living here makes winter training incredibly difficult.  First, motivation to workout inside for 5 months is tough to find.  Second, a whole new set of equipment is necessary to complete workouts.

When we moved here, we invested in some cheap trainers just to get us going.  I actually thought at the time that these would be the trainers we used for years.  I was wrong.  The two different brands that we bought were very well constructed, however the orange one provided ZERO resistance and the blue one was about as loud as a jet engine.  If spinning is your intent, the orange one is great.  I don’t recommend the blue one to anyone, unless you are training to be deaf.

Orange Bike Trainer Cruddy Blue Trainer

The downfall of both of these led us to seek out a new trainer.  After some research, I had settled on the Wahoo Kickr Snap.  It arrived and I was up and running in about an hour (this included dragging the trainer to the basement and changing out my wheel).

Setup was very quick.  I connected via bluetooth to my phone and to my iPad (iPad since there are some cool video connected apps that I wanted to use).  After a quick spin down, I was cycling . . . in my basement . . . in front of my television . . . with resistance . . . without feeling like I was quickly losing my mind from the noise.

The first very noticeable change for me was the noise level.  I could hear the tv, I could hear music.  I was no longer fighting to maintain my sanity.  Truthfully though, I find that the Snap makes hardly any noise at all, and the noise that is present during my rides is due to my gears and chain.  This is a huge improvement over the previous trainer.

Second noticeable attribute, it is much higher than my first trainer.  I really have to reach to get on the bike now.  This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does seem to be significantly higher to the point where it would be nice to have a step-stool, since I am not very tall.

Then I started playing with iPhone and iPad apps.  This is where I think the Snap shines.  The Wahoo Fitness app gives you control of the resistance through a couple of different methods, but the two that I tend to use the most as ERG (where I can set a specific power that I am looking to consistently achieve) and Resistance (which provides a percentage scale of what the trainer can do and allows control in increments of 5%).  ERG is cool when my workout calls for me maintaining a specific power throughout an interval or for the entire workout, even when you shift the trainer re-establishes the requested power output.  Resistance is nice for when I am doing standing drills, I crank this up to 40% or 50%.  This allows me to stand on the pedals and not just pedal through.

The other two modes are Level and SIM.  Level is a resistance level from 0 – 9 which essentially equates to a hill grade.  SIM allows you to simulate resistance based on slope and wind speed.  I just don’t find these as useful.

Other apps, like CycleOps, allow you to pick real courses from around the world.  During the ride, the resistance changes based on the hills on the real course.  This is kind of a fun mode for getting variation in a ride.  Even cooler than that is that some of the courses integrate video and you can watch the course as you ride it.  Overall the app integration is really nice.

Overall, the trainer is really well built.  It feels solid and holds up well to anything I have thrown at it.  Standing drills scared me on the old trainer.  Now I don’t have any issues.  I don’t have a lot to compare the Snap to, however, I do think that spending the extra money on something like this is a good idea if you have to (or just want to) ride indoors frequently.  Don’t cheap out and get a $70 trainer because it seems like a good deal.  You won’t be sorry you put a little money into something that gets used as frequently as it does.

Snap 1 Snap 2 Snap 3 Snap 4 Snap 5



Weekly Activity Report 02/21/2016

We’re back in the swing of things, getting (most) of our workouts done without complaint.

Weekly Activity Report ending 02/21/2016:

Emily –
85,771 Fitbit steps (daily average 12,253)
Run 6.4 miles
Bike 32.9 miles
Swim 1600 yds
Strength 30 minutes

Nick –
96,652 Fitbit steps (daily average 13,807)
Run 7.1 miles
Bike 31.5 miles
Swim 2000 yds
Strength 30 minutes

Weekly Activity Report 02/14/2016

I was in a meeting all week, the weather was freezing, and Nick and I both became sick at the end of the week.  Our numbers were not great, but here they are.

Weekly Activity Report ending 02/14/2016:

Emily –
53,242 Fitbit steps (daily average 7,606)
Run 4.7 miles
Bike 21.4 miles
Swim 0 yds
Strength 0 minutes

Nick –
77,034 Fitbit steps (daily average 11,005)
Run 6.2 miles
Bike 17.3 miles
Swim 0 yds
Strength 0 minutes

Weekly Activity Report 02/07/2016

The month of February has brought healthier eating.  We’ve been (loosely) following the Racing Weight concept, and made a few of Matt Fitzgerald’s recipes from his Cookbook.

We watched the Super Bowl this weekend, Nick and I were excited to see the Broncos win.

Weekly Activity Report ending 02/07/2016:

Emily –
90,553 Fitbit steps (daily average 12,936)
Run 4.4 miles
Bike 78.2 miles
Swim 3200 yds
Strength 0 minutes

Nick –
101,904 Fitbit steps (daily average 14,558)
Run 4.9 miles
Bike 77.5 miles
Swim 4000 yds
Strength 0 minutes

Weekly Activity Report 01/31/2016

We are still trucking along in our training.  We’ve both been pretty consistent in doing our prescribed workouts.  Most of our work lately has been focused on spadework and form.

My swim is getting faster and stronger.  My last few swims, I’ve been extremely pleased with my time and the progress that I’ve made.

Weekly Activity Report ending 01/31/2016:

Emily –
92,177 Fitbit steps (daily average 13,168)
Run 10 miles
Bike 79.6 miles
Swim 4400 yds
Strength 34 minutes

Nick –
112,027 Fitbit steps (daily average 16,004)
Run 12.9 miles
Bike 64.7 miles
Swim 4200 yds
Strength 30 minutes