Wanna Watch Me Go Crazy

Let’s do another fun post! What do you say we talk a little about the madness that is caused by training indoors.

Living in Wisconsin and training for triathlon has presented some really interesting challenges.  For one, training outdoors is near impossible from late October until, well, about now.  I just started running outside again.  I’m still a little afraid to ride outside because I feel like the windchill will likely kill me.

Anyway, this winter while training inside, I found lots of new fun things to do while I was on the bike. First, it started as dancing on the treadmill while I ran.  I would get to a song that really made me happy and I would start bopping my head, followed by running side to side with the music and ending up dancing on the treadmill.  Odd strike patterns, running on my toes, running sideways . . . It was all fun and all caused by the madness of training inside so much.

Then, as you can see in the video above, I started getting bored on the bike.  During our training sessions, we would be on the bike for hours listening to music.  I started singing along or lip syncing the songs, then it turned into a really fun ideas to start recording myself doing so.

Seriously, how do people deal with this and not go totally insane?

Hope you enjoy my ridiculousness!

The Snow is Melting

Today was the first time, in what seems like forever, that it was comfortable to be outside.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still cold, but I didn’t feel the need to bundle up like I was trekking through the snow in North Slope, Alaska.

This morning Nick and I ran a few errands, came home, and cooked lunch.  After we ate, we relaxed and may have taken a short nap.  Around 2pm, we took the dogs on a 2 mile walk.  They were excited to be outdoors for more than a few minutes.  The weather was nice, the snow had mostly melted, and the sun was shining.  Whoohoo!

After our walk, we completed our 2-hour bike ride with drills on the trainer, followed by a 15 minute easy run on the treadmill.  I can’t wait for warmer weather to be able to do some of these workouts outdoors.

Emily on the Trainer

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

Sunday Morning and Hungry

Last week I took a trip to Michigan to do some recruiting.  At Michigan State I was well out of my element and someone pointed out that I was likely to never find a qualified candidate being a graduate of Penn State.  Whoever said that was sort of right.  I did find a few people that I thought were great, but on the whole, I am just not impressed with any college student.

That isn’t the point of the story, except that I was in Michigan and had to do a run there.

The point of the story is this.  Last weekend we had a workout on our schedule and it went like this:

Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile
Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile
Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile
Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile


So, Saturday morning we were holding off on the work out.  We did other things like mow the lawn and plant some trees.  Then, in the afternoon, we were trying to decide whether or not to complete the workout Saturday or Sunday.  After a short debate, we decided to get it done.

As we started, I was having some issues with my rear derailleur.  After about 10 minutes, I jumped off my bike, took it upstairs and changed out a cassette.  This seemed to correct about 60% of the issue I was having, but it was still quite annoying.  The first set ended up being pretty easy, the run didn’t phase me at all.

By the time the second bike portion was complete, I was in my zone and had no issues at all.  Jumping off the bike with about a 1 minute tradition to put on running shoes and a hat, I was feeling unstoppable.

During the third set, I got a little bored on the bike and having done a little extra riding on the first 2 sets, I decided to cut this one to 30 minutes and run.

On the last of the trainer rides, I put on a GI Joe movie, which was quite entertaining for the last 45 minutes of riding.  For me, the bike trainer is all about finding something to zone out to, and in this case it was Chasing Amy and GI Joe.  Having had 3 awesome runs prior, I was thinking I would get off, finish the last run in about 8 minutes and then pop upstairs for dinner.  I was wrong.

The last run took me almost 10 minutes.  My legs were gooey and weren’t functioning properly.  It took me about 3 minutes before they worked properly and even then, they were tired and I couldn’t keep the faster pace I wanted to.  Either way, I finished.  Afterward, we went to get a burger from Culvers.  I was incredibly hungry after the workout and amazingly, Sunday morning, I still felt like I was in the initial stages of starvation.  Oatmeal and apples cured that.

A few things I learned from all of this.

  1. My clothes weigh about 10 extra pounds at the end of a long workout
  2. Garmin only allows 5 activities in a brick workout (come on Garmin, get it together)
  3. My legs are awesome for 3 hours, and then start to tired at 4.

I am very happy to have completed this and am looking forward to more awesome workouts prior to Austin in November.  We are now 29 days out.  Next years race schedule is being put together and we already have a race booked for the end of September.  More on that coming soonish.


For the past couple of weeks we have been sidelined by weather.  It seems like we are able to get great weather (75 degrees with little wind) during the week, but when we get to the weekend the weather changes to rain and 40s/50s.

This weekend I was super excited to get out on a long bike ride outside.  I dislike the trainer and am ready to be done with it.  Emily doesn’t mind the trainer.  It became painfully obvious yesterday by 6am that we were not going to get outside for our ride, so we went to the gym to swim and then came home and rode on the trainer for a bit.

After that, we went out for the Kohler Beer Festival (Shorts & Chefs) and had a great time.

Kohler Beer Fest

Today’s plan was to get outside for a run.  Even though it is in the 40s, and supposed to be pretty nice, the winds were 20+ MPH.  Because of the wind I decided to do a 5K on the treadmill instead and pick up a longer run as part of my brick on Monday.

I am hoping that the weather will turn around over the next couple of weeks so that we don’t have to put up with indoor training much longer.

Stryd Power Meter for Running

Stryd - Running Power Meter

Photo from Stryd.com

This week we were turned on to a new device available on Kickstarter to track power while running.  We are lovers of data and are particularly interested in how to use the data to progress our workouts.  In this case, we see a giant opportunity to give us some new insight into how different aspects of our running form affect our energy output.  Runners World featured an article on the power meter and DC Rainmaker had great reviews when he tested the beta version, this ultimately led us to backing their campaign.

Stryd is a first of its kind power meter for running.  This is something that has been available for bicyclists for a long time, but never made progression to runners.  Stryd will allow you to pair with a multi-sport watch (capable of connecting to a power meter via ANT+) or your phone via bluetooth, and be able to monitor power usage as you workout.  A great thing about utilizing power as a key metric vs. heart rate, is that heart rate is variable.  Heart rate is affected by your day, what you have eaten, how many cups of coffee you drank that day (as a side note, coffee is awesome), or any other number of factors including stress.  Power is consistent.

We are very excited to add a new piece of data to our post run and long term analysis.

Stryd still has 27 days left on their Kickstarter with rewards being consumed quite quickly, but they have been adding a few from time to time to keep up with the demand that is out there for the product.  Because of Kickstarter we also had a chance to Skype with one of the people at Stryd about the device and why we were interested.  It was quite a cool experience and we look forward to future interactions.

We will likely post a few more things about Stryd as we getting further information, but you can expect that we will do some very comprehensive write-ups once we actually receive the devices later this year.

In the meantime, click through the links above to review their company website or Kickstarter campaign.  They are on twitter as well.

Consistency Equals Progress

I feel like Nick and I are finally at a point of consistency in our training.  Since the beginning of January, I’ve only had one week (that’s right, only one!) with three days of exercise.  All of the other weeks have had up to six days of exercise.  This past week, I analyzed our training plan as well as our progress, and I realized that a 70.3 is absolutely within reach.

The Swim

We joined the gym in mid-January to take advantage of the lap pool.  I really tried to begin as if I had no experience swimming (not much of a stretch from my actual swimming experience) and started with the bare basics.  We began very slowly, some days only logging 100 or 200 yards of swimming.  For the first month, most of my time consisted of drills rather than actual swimming freestyle in the pool.  Following the advice of my friend, Kellie, in mid-February I began swimming no less than 50 yards at a time.  This past weekend, I upped it to 100 yards.

Last week, I spoke to a friend who is an Ironman.  (I am very lucky to know someone who has completed the race I can only aspire to finish one day.  He has been so kind and patient with me, answering all of my novice triathlete questions.  I am grateful for all of the guidance he has given me, and I have deemed him my triathlon coach.)  Anyway, he recommended that if I’m going to “get dressed and drive to the pool, do no less than 1000.  Make it worth the trip.”

This past weekend I cursed his words of advice.  Sunday morning we went to the gym, completed our weights, then headed to the pool.  The lap pool was full and had people waiting for lanes.  So Nick and I decided to swim in the family pool; it is open on one side and has two lanes roped off on the other.  After about 200 yards, I had psyched myself out of finishing the 1000 yards.  I got out of the pool and relaxed in the hot tub until Nick finished his laps.  That afternoon, I drove back to the gym to swim, again.  The lap pool was empty, and I began my 100 yard sets.  At about the 600 yard mark, I was ready to go home.  My arms were tired, I was having a difficult time breathing on my left side, and the pool was beginning to fill up with three of the four lanes occupied.  Then, I heard the voice in my head saying, “Do at least 1000 yards, make it worth your while.”  Although I struggled to finish, I persisted and just kept telling myself, “I have to make it worth my while.  There’s no point in training for something if I’m not going to put forth the effort.  Some days are better than others, and today is just one of those days when swimming is difficult.”  I was finally done, and I had actually completed 1100 yards.

The Bike

Due to the winter weather, all of my rides this year have been on the trainer.  This has been good in that I’m able to really focus on my cadence.  I ride twice a week, one short maintenance ride and one distance ride.  Both rides, I keep my cadence over 80 rpm and do 1 minute sprints every 10 minutes.  During the 30 minute rides, I really try to push myself.

Today my goal was to be “a beast on the bike”.  I upped my sprints to 1 minute, 15 seconds, and believe me, I feel every bit of that extra 15 seconds.  I kept my cadence over 85 rpm with my sprints at 100+ rpm.  My legs burned!  It was worth it, though.  This was my best 30 minute ride with a distance of 11.3 miles, beating my previous best by over 1 mile.  Progress!

I have no doubt that road riding will produce different results.  Because the Wisconsin weather inhibits that at the moment, my goal is to make the most of the bike trainer.  I’m increasing cadence, increasing distance, and increasing speed.  I’m doing the best I can with the option available to me.

The Run

I have an aversion to running on the treadmill.  Seriously, I do.  When I get on the treadmill I have anxiety, resulting in some sort of panic attack.  My heart races.  I feel like the air has been sucked out of the room and my breathing becomes short and labored.  Time stands still.  I assure myself that minutes have passed, I look at my watch and realize mere seconds have ticked by.  The cycle begins again.

I haven’t been able to figure out the root of my anxiety, other than I am bored out of my mind.  I’ve searched the internet for articles regarding anxiety on the treadmill, only to find countless articles proving “moderate treadmill exercise reduces anxiety and depression”.  Well, not for this girl.  I have tried listening to music, watching tv, and listening to audiobooks to distract myself from focusing on the fact that I am running on a treadmill.  I’ve also tried increasing/decreasing speed and incline, running intervals, taking walking breaks, and pretending to race the person next to me.  None of which have brought any relief.  Most of my treadmill runs are less than 30 minutes, typically I give up after a mile or two.

This past weekend was an absolute first for me.  At the gym on Saturday, I located a treadmill under an air vent and began my run.  My goal was to be on the treadmill for 60 minutes, and I did it!  I ran 5 miles in those 60 minutes, and couldn’t believe I lasted that long.  Now, I’m not saying I cured for my anxiety as I was in hell the entire time.  In fact, at the 50-minute mark, my headphone batteries died.  I was being tortured by the treadmill demons.  Now it was just me and the awful treadmill.  My eyes darted around the room trying to find something to hold my interest for the next 10 minutes.  I turned the tv on but couldn’t focus on the screen long enough to pretend to care what I was watching.  I heard murmurs of a conversation from a couple on the stationary bikes behind me, they were too muffled to understand.  I listened to the  rhythm of feet hitting the treadmill from the guy next to me (who was running a 6 minute mile, no way was I going to attempt to race him).  Nothing with substance to hold my attention.  But somehow I made it through those grueling 10 minutes and finished my run.  I felt accomplished, like a little bit of progress had been made.

As for the run itself, it was great.  My legs felt like I could keep running for miles.  My breathing was as good as it could be on a treadmill, and my form was good.  I believe the miles on the bike and the laps in the pool are really increasing my cardio endurance, thus making my long runs easier.  As soon as the “feel like” temperatures outside are in the vicinity of bearable, I’m layering clothes and running on the road.  According to the forecast, I should be able to hit the pavement some time this week.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how far I can run outside.

Next Steps

As long as everything continues to progress as it has, we are on track to complete our first 70.3 in July.  This is super exciting and at the same time scares the heck out of me!