Zenman's 2013 Training Journal: 29 August

small zendurance cycling logoThursday, 29 August

Training and Race Preparation, Post ”Casual” Iron

In this Entry, I discuss a quick return to training to specifically target my next two races after finishing a “casual” iron-distance triathlon. First, I must stress casual. The previous Entry 22 August: Choices: “Racing Out of the Dark Ages, I discussed my clear choice to take it easy at Peasantman.

This clear choice to go easy at Peasantman enabled me to resume training and prepare for Survival of the Shawangunks (S.O.S.), 3 weeks later, 08 September. SOS is a “goal race” this year - for the first time, though I have done it the past three years. (See 2012 Triple Ultra for more on my SOS history.)

Seven days after SOS, I will participate in Savageman for the first time. As mentioned in my previous Entry, Savageman has a reputation for the most challenging bike course in all of triathlon - with sustained climbs that peak at 20-30 percent grade. I’m intrigued...

Below is an 8-day excerpt from my training log - beginning 4 days after Peasantman. Following that, I offer commentary and analysis on how I devised this training. (This is a lengthy Entry. To save time, scroll down to the Commentary below and refer to this excerpt if needed.)

Training Log Excerpt

Thursday, 22 August:
AM: 70 min Bike: TT bike on stationary: Zendurance Cycling Drills, (9X) “power” intervals: increasing resistance, decreasing duration with generous recovery between each, 5 min spin at 90-100 rpm
20 Run: “Cadence volley”: 2-5 minutes at 185+ strides/min, 2-5 minutes natural cadence
PM: 30 Swim: 200 yd repeats with Tempo Trainer: 1.22/1.20/1.18/1.20/1.18/1.16 (followed by 15 min steam room)

Friday, 23 August:
AM: 40 Run: Hilly recovery, plus (5X) hill repeats (30-36 left-right strides) at high effort
10 Strength: Rope skip/jump/hop and balance disc
Mid: 45 Swim: 20 min steady w/ bilateral breathing, 100 yd/50 yd repeats with Tempo Trainer (see summary below), (followed by 15 min steam)
PM: 40 Bike: Beautiful, easy evening ride

Saturday, 24 August
AM: 70 Strength: Pilates/yoga mat session
Mid: 185 Bike: Very hilly, on road bike

Sunday, 25 August
AM: 50 Swim: 20 min at 14 strokes-per-lap (SPL), (3X) 300/100 repeats with Tempo Trainer (see summary below)
Mid: 125 Run: On trails: 30% hilly strength run, 70% rolling cadence focus. in Vibram 5-Fingers

Monday, 26 August
AM: 30 Run: Hilly recovery
20 Strength: 10 min rope skip/jump/hop, 10 min stretch
Mid: 40 Swim: 20 min at 14 SPL, 75-yard reps with TT: 1.06, 1.04, 1.03, 1.02, 1.01, 1.00, 0.99 with generous rest between

Tuesday, 27 August
AM: 65 Bike: TT bike on stationary: Zendurance Cycling Drills, (6X) “power” intervals: increasing resistance, decreasing duration with generous recovery between each, 5 min spin at 90-100 rpm
25 Run: Cadence focus: 185+ strides/min
PM: 30 Swim: Easy, 14-15 SPL (plus 15 min steam)

Wednesday, 28 August
AM: 70 Strength: Pilates/yoga mat session
Mid: 30 Run: Hilly recovery
PM: 15 Swim: Easy recovery before leading Swim Mastery Program (plus 15 min steam)

Thursday, 29 August
AM: 105 Bike: (5X) 10:00 standing hill climb repeats
10 Strength: Rope skip/hop


Accurately evaluating one’s state of recovery after and iron-distance tri can be difficult. (I know all about this from experience!) On the surface, one can feel rested and healed - no soreness, an appetite to resume training and apparent normal energy levels.

However, if an athlete really digs deep to race an iron - beyond the aches and pains of muscle soreness and the caloric deficit - it can exact a “chemical debt”. That is, it may require sometime for the endocrine system to recover. Failure to (patiently) allow the endocrine system to recover can result in Chronic Adrenal Fatigue. This will severely delay recovery. (Oh yes! I speak from experience!)

Discernment is essential.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - the first 3 days after Peasantman, I closely monitored my physical, mental and chemical states. I experienced no setbacks or negative response. My sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, emotional state and appetite for activity all seemed in balance.


On Thursday (the first day in the excerpt above), I did my first quality training sessions. The first one was a 70-minute bike stationary session. I started with a thorough warm-up and some Zendurance Cycling Drills - totaling 35 minutes. The legs, lungs and heart felt good! So I executed 9 power intervals - high-intensity/short-duration intervals with lots of rest between each interval.

These power intervals (again: very high-intensity/low duration, lots of recovery) prime maximum neuromuscular recruitment. This is an anabolic stimulus for the body - enhancing recovery - and a great tune-up leading into a goal race (SOS). In the log excerpt, I identify the 20-minute transition run (on flat, paved terrain) as a “cadence volley”: I alternated between very fast cadence (for my EU size 50 feet) and a more normal stride. Again, short duration with a focus on neuromuscular.

Swim Training Methods

The 30-minute swim that evening was structured as (6X) 200-yard repeats (after a “zen-swim” warm-up). I used the Tempo Trainer to focus on increasing my cadence, while striving to maintain stroke length (stroke-per-lap or “SPL”). The majority of my swims all summer have been recovery swims - with a sole focus of efficiency as an easy pace. These 200’s at tempos of 1.22-1.16 tasked my neural system with maintaining that imprinted efficiency with increasing cadence.

Note: A “1.22” means that I am stroking every 1.22 seconds. Therefore, a “1.16” tempo is faster - each stroke is allotted just 1.16 seconds.) Notice that after the first time I reached 1.18, I “retreated” back to 1.20, then “attacked” again. My technique started to get “fuzzy” and my SPL began to rise. The retreat let me re-group and go again. (For more on my swim training methods, scroll down to "Swim Methods Continued".)

Recovery Runs

Friday morning I started with a “hilly recovery run”. Sounds like an oxymoron? I start out from my house running very, very slowly uphill. Steep uphill. Honestly, people pass me while they are walking! That’s OK with me, I let them “win” (and laugh to themselves) - it encourages humility. That slow and gentle approach to a steep uphill stretches out my calves, achilles, ankles and feet.

These “hilly recovery runs” are mostly on grass and gravel trail - the surface, terrain and camber are constantly changing. This robust variation is great for the neuromuscular - challenging stability and adaptability. For these morning recovery runs, I use the same course - up through part of the Cornell campus - traversing grassy slopes, picturesque trail segments, beautiful vistas of Ithaca, great architecture and beautiful trees!

For this run, (and for most of my recovery runs until S.O.S.) I wore my new pair of Vibram “5-Fingers” that I will use for S.O.S. I finished this particular run with (5X) short, steep hill repeats - 30-36 left-right strides, with generous recovery on the descent. Like the power intervals on the bike, these repeats are anabolic - stimulating recovery without taxing the metabolic system.

Swim Methods Continued

The 45-minute midday swim focused on an interval set of alternating 100-yard/50-yard repeats. For the 100-yard intervals, I initially set a TT at 1.22. For the 50-yard intervals, I initially set another TT at 1.06 - a faster cadence than the 100. I alternated between these two with minimal time between. The 50’s felt like sprints - though I strived to maintain the same SPL. The 100’s felt like cruises - where I strived to hold a pace, yet recover.

I did this 100/50 alternation 5 times. With each repeat, I increased one of the tempos: 1) 1.22/1.06, 2) 1.20/1.06, 3) 1.20/1.04, 4) 1.18/1.04, 5) 1.18/1.02. This set was both a metabolic and a neuromuscular training.

The evening bike was an enjoyable scenic ride on my road bike around Cornell and the surrounding area. Take time to behold the beauty - especially in the wonderful evening light! It also served as an assessment before Saturday’s bike session: All systems go.

Training Weekend

Before venturing out for a beautiful Saturday morning ride, I arose early for my Pilates/yoga mat session - for me, the ultimate body tune-up. After a smoothie and some tea, I headed for the hills! Again, for this ride, I chose my road bike. That is the bike I will ride for Savageman.

The 3-hour ride included many seated and some standing hill climbs of varying pitch and duration. While the ride offered some training benefit for S.O.S., it was primarily in preparation for Savageman. It was an aerobic ride - focusing on efficient hill climbing technique while maintaining controlled breathing. At the crest of every hill, I quickly accelerated before settling in. And the weather was beautiful!

On Sunday morning, I first headed to the pool for another focused swim session. I started with a 20-minute steady “zen swim”, maintaining 14 SPL and bi-lateral breathing. The interval set was an alternating set similar to the Friday set, except that the alternating distances were 300/100 repeated 3 times. Tempos for this set: 1) 1.22/1.06, 2) 1.20/1.04, 3) 1.18/1.02. It felt great - I was able to maintain 15-17 SPL for all intervals.

After returning home for a smoothie and some tea, Betsy and I headed to Treman State Park - just a 15-minute drive from home. For this 2-hour run, I wore the Vibram “5-Fingers”. The first 30% of the run included some very steep ascents and descents. For the remaining 70% of the run, I concentrated on maintaining cadence over rolling trail terrain - similar to the conditions of S.O.S. I was able to achieve my goals, but I was definitely fatigued at the end. The decision to set the duration at 2:05 was an “on-the-fly” decision, based on my perceived fatigue. Success!

Into the Week

As anticipated, the accumulated fatigue of Saturday and Sunday required a day of active recovery on Monday. I started with a 30-minute “hilly recovery run” - as described above, without the hill repeats. However I did 10 minutes of rope skip/jump/hop and 10 minutes of stretching.

Midday, I swam 40 minutes - starting with a 20-minute “zen swim”. For an interval set, I did (7X) 75-yard repeats. Tempos: 1.06, 1.04, 1.03, 1.02. 1.01. 1.00, 0.99. For me, these are fast tempos - hence the small incremental increase in tempo (decrease in time for each stroke) - just one one-hundredth of a second. These swim interval sets are designed to prime my neuromuscular system for the swims in S.O.S.

Tuesday, I was back on the TT bike on the stationary trainer - a power interval set to tune-up for the 30-mile ride at S.O.S. As compared to the previous TT session on the trainer, I did fewer intervals at a higher load/intensity. I followed the bike session with a 25-minute run at high cadence, while remaining aerobic intensity. In the evening, I swam very easy for 30 minutes (followed by a steam).

I felt burned out on Wednesday - as expected. I did an early-morning Pilates/yoga session to stimulate recovery. Midday, I did my hilly recovery run. In the evening, before leading the Swim Mastery Program, I swam a lazy 15 minutes and then enjoyed the steam room.

My legs were sore Wednesday night. I awoke Thursday figuring I might have a “no legs” day - focusing on a swim. However, in the morning, I rode to get a few food items, and my legs felt better. Hence, I headed out for a 1-hour 45-minute ride that included (5X) 10-minute standing hill-climb repeats at low cadence and high resistance on the steepest pitches in my proximity. Immediately afterwards, I did (2X) 5-minute rope skip/hop intervals. (Not easy to keep the balance and coordination!) This session was aimed at Savageman - now 16 days away...


My intention in sharing my training is to reveal the “layers” of training - how specific sessions address specific upcoming races - in this case S.O.S. and Savageman. It is possible to train for multiple events at one time and enjoy the synergistic benefit of the training in all the events. You can have your cake and eat it too - as long as it’s a healthy cake!


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