Above is a photo of me following my finish in Kona. I was hurtin…big time.It sure felt good though. 2007 was a breakthrough season for me. It was my 3rd year back in the sport and I really felt I was racing and not just surviving through these events. Every year I try to change up the training and add new things and new stimulus. Last year I added a few things which I think helped me perform well. Here are a few of them…..
1. Newton Shoes: The first time I saw Newton shoes was in St. Croix in May. Tulsa, OK isn’t exactly the center of the triathlon universe, so I was a little behind the curve. I heard some good things about them from other athletes so I bought a pair just to find out if the claims were true. At first they felt weird but as I got used to them they began to feel really good, better than any running shoe I have ever worn. I have a high arched rigid foot so a soft flexible shoe works best for me. Newton’s fit the bill perfectly. I felt that I was pushing off more efficiently and my feet were tracking better. I feel that they improve running economy, in other words they lower the energy demand of running. (See my blog entry Buffalo Springs 70.3) For me, they are doing what they are designed to do. Of course with self study n =1, it’s hard to justify it. But there are hundreds of other athletes claiming the same thing. They improved my average run mile splits by 10 to 15 seconds. This is huge! I consistently ran the fastest run splits in my age group at races this year.
2. Power Cranks: I got started using power cranks last winter. It was a bit painful at first and I rode a lot slower on them but once I adapted I felt that they improved my pedal stroke and my pedaling efficiency. I used less energy since I had developed a group of muscles, the hip flexors and adductors, which are often neglected. Like Newton’s, I feel they improved my economy. I used them exclusively from November to February. I used my TT bike with an SRM after that. I noticed when I used the power crank pedaling method for cycling that I could get my wattages to tick up another 20 to 30 with just that little extra push across the top of the pedal stroke. I also think that they helped me develop the hip flexors which contributed to better runs this year too.
3. Vasa Trainer: When the health club where I usually swim closed to remodel the pool for the entire summer, I had to return to my old haunts at the downtown Tulsa YMCA. In the mid 90’s I used to swim here with my buddy Dave Sexton. He and I used to tear each other up in the pool and then we would move over to the Vasa trainer and verbally abuse each other as we took turns on the Vasa after the pool workout. I really felt that it helped me back then. Not the abuse,.... the Vasa. When I returned to the pool some 10 years later the Vasa was still there on the deck albeit rusty but it was still functional. After my workouts of 4000 yards or so of swimming, I would move it over to the Vasa where I was able to work myself up to 20 minutes 3 x/ week just 3 weeks before Kona. When I got off this device my arms were throbbing. I don’t lift weights but I feel this device really provided me with some good functional strength to swim top times in my age group this season. I also used a drag suit in the pool all summer.
4. Yoga: I read some good things about Yoga so I got started doing it religiously last November. I didn’t have time to go to a class so I would just pop in a DVD and work along with Rodney Yee for an half and hour or an hour or so 2 or 3 times per week after the kids got to bed. I feel this really helped me with recovery and injury prevention. I now have the flexibility I had as a teenager.
5. Simulation workouts: Having been to Hawaii in 2006, I got a good feel for what the terrain and conditions were like. I constructed bike and run simulation courses. The summer weather here in Oklahoma is often more harsh than it is in Kona so that parameter was covered. On the bike, I had a course that would take me out highway 48 to Rt 66 toward Bristow, OK were I had some long grades and headwinds. My run course had a flat hot and humid Alii drive and a hill which was more severe than Palani at 10 miles. I also added some hills at around 16 miles into the run which were also run at hot and humid conditions. I did the run the day after a long ride (sometimes up to 150 miles) so the fatigue was in my legs. I ran it at a pace which was much faster than my Ironman. I wore the same clothing and used the same nutrition I planned to use in Kona and really got it down to perfection. When I started Kona in 2006 I was intimidated by the course, this year I wasn’t. The Kona course was much easier than what I had done in training.
6. Training Camps: I did two training camps with my wife, Dana, in Tucson, AZ last winter at the cycling house. It wasn’t exactly a romantic getaway. Dana referred to it as a cycling commune. The weather in Tulsa was icy and cold. Normally, in January and February we are unable to get out on our bikes but this year we were able to put in some of our biggest training weeks of the season and take on Mount Lemmon several times. The base fitness we gained from these camps was very helpful as we both had very good early season races in St. Croix in May and throughout the rest of the year.
7. Hammer Nutrition Products: I have used Hammer nutrition meal replacement drinks on long training rides and Ironman races since I got back into triathlon a few years ago. The Cycling house had a full complement of all the supplements to try for free and I got started using those this year too. With my erratic eating habits due to my work schedule along with heavy training I felt they really helped me keep on top of my nutritional needs and I didn’t get sick all season. I also took Hammer Whey before bedtime and I felt the additional protein load and glutamine helped with recovery after really hard workouts.
A few things that I am going to do next year in addition to those above in 2008 are Epic Camp New Zealand in January. This is the camp of all camps. I have always wanted to do this and see this part of the world. When I first saw this I thought these guys were crazy. The camp is shorter this year so I was able to swing it. I hope I can survive. Stay tuned. Another reason for posting the photo above; )
This year I am getting away from Ironman and do shorter races and move to faster and more intense training. I was getting into a rut with all the long distance stuff. I feel this will help me down the road if I ever decide to race Ironman in the future. It also gives me more time to be with the family and take care of what is important while still being able to do what I love.